DNA Project

In April 2003 the Merrilees Family Association began a project to compare the DNA of males from several MFA family trees to see if they were related. Over a prior 10 year period MFA genealogists in Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand researched and recorded 33 Merrilees' family tree branches until they reached the point where they had exhausted all written records. Their combined findings resulted in more than one-third of the trees converging, and DNA testing is now the only avenue left to determine whether the clan's remaining family tree branches are linked.

The testing was carried out by FamilyTreeDNA in Houston, Texas, U.S.A., co-ordinated by Michael Mirrilees as the project administrator.

The results have been astounding in that all of the 15 family trees tested up to 2011 have returned positive matches confirming the belief of Merrilees family genealogists that most branches are related through a common ancestor. As a consequence more than two-thirds of the original family tree branches are linked by the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) identified approximately 16 generations back.

This forebear is James Mirrilyes, born c.1610 in East Lothian, Scotland who married Elspeth Blair in Ormiston in 1641. He was a blacksmith in Wester Pencaitland.

15 out of 15 MFA Trees now match!

The chart (below) records the current results of the 12 Marker Y-DNA tests on Merrilees family trees.

Genetic Fingerprinting

The FamilyTreeDNA 12-marker test is the industry standard and assigns a value to 12 specific locations on the Y-chromosone (the male chromosone which passes from father to son) to see whether individual males share a common ancestor and are therefore genetically related, regardless of surname spellings. A 12/12 perfect match means the common ancestor is probably only a few hundred years back - in the case of our Merrilees MCRA about 400 years.

Other information:

Genealogy & DNA (background article in PDF format).

Cyndi's web links to 150 sites.

This map produced by Jan Kelly, shows the original locations of Merrilees family tree branches. Those coloured yellow are the Trees which are confirmed as having a common ancestor by DNA testing.