The Clan Cameron DNA Project and Big Y

Genetic Genealogy is one of the newest, fastest changing and most widely publicized innovations in family history research. We inherit DNA from both of our parents so we each have as a result a unique DNA fingerprint which we can use in combination with traditional genealogical and historical records to document a family tree.

The Clan Cameron DNA Project has been working for some years, becoming more active over the past year with increasing technology and, more importantly, increasing numbers of Cameron participants. The administrators for the project are in North America and New Zealand and generously give their time voluntarily.

The project uses an American company, Family Tree DNA, which offers three tests to consider:

Y-DNA.

This records your direct paternal lineage and follows your father’s paternal ancestry. This line consists entirely of men and is the test used to follow our surname Cameron back to its origins in Scotland and to confirm that presumed known Cameron cousins do in fact stem from the same line. Y DNA is the main focus of the Clan Cameron DNA Project.

Many of those bearing the Cameron surname come in some way from the original Lochiel line, the MacGillonies, MacMartins or MacSorlies. Others will have taken the name for various reasons, and at various times in history. Most families in Australia have a tradition of descent from the Lochiel line through one of the cadet branches and this may by proven correct. Some will be reluctant to find these families stories proven wrong – and of course at any level other irregularities may become apparent. If this might be a worry to yourself, or to your close relatives, it may be better not to join the testing project.

We recommend starting with an initial Y37 STR test, to clarify which group you belong to, once those results are in the project admins will provide you with a review and explanation of your results, and options for further testing. For all testers who fall within the Lochiel group, BigY testing will be strongly recommended.

For more details and prices see the FTDNA website – and watch out for the frequent price reductions in sales, usually in April, August and December.

Autosomal DNA

FamilyFinder focuses on autosomal DNA, which is inherited from both your mother and your father, your four grandparents, etc. This test is designed to find living relatives in all of your ancestral lines within the last five generations and can also give you a breakdown of your ethnic makeup by percentage.

This is the cheapest and currently most widely advertised test. It can certainly be interesting, but often frustrating trying to work out which potential cousins to follow up. It can also be extremely useful when uncertainly related (on paper) fourth cousins turn out to be true relatives on DNA testing, confirming years of work. The American administrators have done a lot of complex work with these results and we can expect more information in the future.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)

Traces the direct maternal line (mother’s mother’s mother, etc). While this can often be of personal interest, it is of little practical help in the search for Cameron ancestry

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