Many genealogists find DNA tests useful. The test itself is simply a saliva sample obtained by scraping the inside of the cheek. The privacy of each participant is protected by analyses being limited to “ancestral markers” rather than to the full personal DNA “fingerprint” or "signature". Participants’ names are not disclosed without their consent, and their e-mail addresses are not released to non-participants.
The interpretation of DNA test results depends on the transmission of DNA remaining unchanged from generation to generation, apart from small and occasional changes (“mutations”) in one or more of the “markers” that make up the genetic elements of the DNA profile or signature of each individual. The DNA signatures of individual participants can be compared to establish the likelihood of common ancestry, but DNA test results are never 100% conclusive. Confidence in the interpretation of test results increases as more individuals participate and as the testing and analysis techniques continue to improve.
Four applications of DNA tests are popular with genealogists:
This Study only addresses application 1(b) above (see also Ordering Additional Tests). In other words, it is not concerned with relationships through female lines identified by mitochondrial or autosomal tests, or with Deep ancestry studies of ethnicity isssues. However individual participants may of course pursue such studies privately, and the Irvine Clan Autosomal DNA Project has recently been established to develop the potential of Family Finder tests (see https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/irvine-clan/about).
Since 2000 many Scottish Clans have launched surname studies and associated websites. Such studies offer opportunities to:
Turning to the Clan Irwin itself, tradition recorded in the 17th century claims that the Irvines or Irvings of Eskdale and Bonshaw (in Dumfriesshire, in the Scottish Borders), Castle Irvine (in Co. Fermanagh, in Ulster), Drum and Marr (in Aberdeenshire), Mearns (Kincardineshire), Orkney and Perthshire were all descended from a single ancestor, who was also the progenitor of the kings of Scotland from 1034 to 1286. For further details see Suplementary Paper No. 7.
Today over adult 100,000 males use the surname Irwin, or one of the several spelling variants, throughout the British Isles, in Australasia, and, predominantly, in North America. While many such individuals possess lengthy genealogical pedigrees, none of these pedigrees have reliably connected the diaspora of the surname. On the other hand some 90% of the participants in this Study have been able to connect their genetic paternal ancestry with a geographical origin within the surname era.
GOALS OF THE CLAN IRWIN SURNAME DNA STUDY
This website does not attempt to describe in detail the underlying principles and terminology of DNA tests for genealogists. For further guidance the following websites all give good background:
FTDNA support a web-based seminar program at:
For a good bit of up-to-date, background reading on the application of genetic genealogy to surnames see
For those interested in deep ancestry a good review is at
For an excellent introduction to NGS testing, including BigY, see