Northern Caithness and Meg Sinclair Stokes

Sinclair DNA -  The Assery Connection

Meg Stokes has been has been an un-sung hero in the Sinclair family for years, working on genealogy of the family with a never-failing enthusiasm. I’ve found her a wonderful partner in one of the most important parts of DNA research – documents work. The two are simply inseparable.

She has corrected many of my assumptions in the early days of the DNA study, when we only had 12 or 25 markers to work with and it appeared that some folks were much closer than they actually were. Now she’s had to correct me yet again as I jumped the gun in publishing a page I called “The Brabster Connection to the Earldom Line." In fact, it is a connection she made through the Assery Sinclairs, in particular, James Sinclair, 2nd of Assery. The Assery’s are a cadet branch of the family.

This land lies in extreme northern Scotland, in the parish of Halkirk and our participant’s family stayed in that general area until the very early 1900s when his father immigrated to Canada. As you saw on the homepage, the little sign identifying Sinclair Lane is in Halkirk. Clearly our family was very important in this area, a mere 20 miles west of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe.

Meg is extremely confident of the documents work in this line and will be willing to discuss it with serious family researchers. You contact me at the “Contact” link above and I’ll forward your email on to Meg.

Roland William Saint-Clair’s wonderful book, “Saint-Clairs of the Isles” clearly indicates that the Assery line began with John, son of James Sinclair 1st of Murkle. This John was granted a charter by his father in 1615 in which the son is referred to as “filio naturali dicti Jacobi Sinclair de Murkel.”  In other words, he was a natural son, born out of wedlock. (1, p. 227)

This is the point at which we know the Assery line goes back through the Murkle line.

With the relative geographic closeness of places like Bighouse, Murkle/Dunbeath, Strubster, Sanday, Unst and Stemster in their genealogies, it's clear that our R1b1b2a1a4, L-48 participants are closely related in the timeframe discussed. I'm working out charts which will indicate just how far back they each can share a common ancestor. Obviously some don't relate for several hundred years, but the timeframe of the Sinclairs in the north beginning in the 1370s(1, p. 96) might make this possible.

The fact that the dominant DNA in the Orkneys is R1a1, by a 60% margin(2) makes the far smaller prevalence of R1b1b2a1a4 in these areas significant and points out a later arrival than R1a1. 

Genetic Distance Test #1

More comparisons will follow, but in comparing the genetic distance (GD) of our Assery participant on 67 markers with all close participants, we find 10 who are a genetic distance of 3 or less. (3 are GD 0, 2 are GD 1, 2 are GD 2 and 3 are GD 3).

The Family Tree DNA administrator pages allow some interesting tools. One of these is the Y-DNA TiP tool. This allows me to basically delete generations in time and do comparisons based on it. In other words, I can tell the database to compare 2 participants if I know they do not share a common ancestor for ____ number of years.

A wonderful feature of this tool is that it factors in the various accepted mutation rates of each of the 67 alleles in the participants. In other words, it's extremely accurate.

I won't have time yet to run all 10 members, but today I can run the more extreme distances in this group - the GD 3 participants vs. our Assery participant. The one I'm choosing has good documents research back to Caithness.

We'll pick the assumed Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) as being alive in 1400, a period of obvious significance in Caithness. If one assumes that this Caithness participant and the Assery one don't share a common ancestor for 21 generations (525 years) , then there is an 81.06% probability that they share an MRCA 600 years ago. 80% is the minimum I look for in these comparisons.

When I go to 24 generations, it switches to only a 34.48% chance of an MRCA 600 years ago.

Roughly calculating, it appears that they two share a MRCA sometime between the 1400s and 1500s.

Remember I'm looking at the most extreme genetic distances in this group of 10 (only a GD of 3) so there is a good probability that every one of the 10 mentioned above make their connection to this Earldom line sometime around 1400-1500.

1 - Saint-Clair, Roland William, The Saint-Clairs of the Isles, being a History of the Sea-Kings of Orkney and their Scottish Successors of the Sirname of Sinclair," H. Brett, General Printer and Publisher, Shortland and Fort Streets, Auckland, N.Z., 1898.

2. Website -

Other sources -

AMH  |  Germany  |  DYS390=25  |  DYS390=23  |  S21-U106  |  Anglo-Saxon Visigoths  
E1b  |  I1  |  R1a  |  CCR5-Delta-32  |  Mutation Rates  |  Lineage Smugness

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