Hello Everyone. 
I've posted the latest Armstrong DNA Results at:
This is an attempt to provide some discussion detail regarding the results as posted.  It is provided for general information and discussion by interested parties.
First,   notice that I have color-coded the results by Haplogroup; thus, blue represents Haplogroup I, rose represents Haplogroup J2, plum represents Haplogroup K2, yellow represents Haplogroup R1a, tan =s Haplogroup R1b, and orange =s a possible sub-clade of Haplogroup R1b.  These color codes are consistent with the color coding used in my Border Reiver DNA Results pages as well as my Donegal Bay and Enniskillen Families Geographic DNA Results page.   Note, I use a light yellow background and/or a red font to highlight particular differences within the various groupings.   Also, since I believe "multi-step" mutations can and do take place, I don't conform to the commonly used method of counting each unit of variation as a single step of variation; thus  I count each mis-match as a single event [example DYS449=27 vs 29, counts as ONE, not two, steps of difference].  Notice too, an examination of the results shown in the columns for each marker appears to show the greatest variation within those loci which have been identified as having relatively higher mutation rates.
I think it is important to note the haplogroups as they provide an initial "sort" of the results, and help us to identify the haplotype patterns which may be identified with particular lineages.    It is also important that each member of the project upload their results to Y-Search,  and keep their research and contact info current.   The individual's personal pages at FTDNA and at Y-Search are useful ways of using the databases as a research tool.     Provided you have signed the necessary release forms at FTDNA, you can also use their FTDNATiP™ calculator to evaluate the possibility you may share a common ancestor with other matching kits.
Second, and proceeding to discussion of the various haplotype findings within each haplogroup, in turn:
Haplogroup I:  This haplogroup is generally thought to be of north European origins; including Scandinavia.   Two of the kits have been SNP tested, with FTDNA's verdict being that they are indeed of Haplogroup I [see green font in Haplogroup column].   This is somewhat unsatifying, in that it appears that all four kits are probably members of the I1a subclade of Haplogroup I.    FTDNA and the University of Arizona lab are taking their time on offering testing for certain subclades, and until they decide to test for "downstream" subclades, we will continue to speculate the kits are all members of I1a.   The likely source of these haplogroups within the "Borders" region and elsewhere in the British Isles is Viking incursions and settlements.
    Kits #30404 and 24599:  Superficially, these two kits seem to share some characteristics, and it is possible there is some shared "deep ancestry".   However, they have enough differences that at present we can't really say they are likely related in a genealogical timeframe.   Perhaps as time goes on and we have additional information to evaluate we may be able to see some closer relationships.
    Kits #25053 and 36936:   These kits are known to be related.   The participants are cousins.   It is perhaps instructive to recognize that even two or three generations apart, mutations can occur [note DYS19/394=15vs16].  It is also very interesting to note that Kit #25053 has a 35/37 match with several members of the Halliday Clan [click on the compare link to examine the coincidence of markers].  There is a real possibility that there was a "non-parental event", eg., an adoption, etc., from out of the Halliday lineage to an Armstrong, establishing this particular Armstrong lineage.  The researcher is continuing to follow up on the possible match. 
Haplogroup J2:   Kits #29084 [Armstrong, member of Armstrong DNA Project & Border Reivers DNA Project] and #37866 [Robson, member of Border Reivers DNA Project]:   These kits have been speculated by FTDNA as Haplogroup I; however, the Whit Athey Haplogroup calculator [see link at bottom of Results page] indicates they are more likely to belong to Haplogroup J2.  The likely deep ancestry source of Haplogroup J2 as found along the Anglo-Scottish border is probably to be found with  members of the Roman Legions which were stationed along Hadrian's wall.   The two kits have no known common ancestry, yet they match 33/37.  They each have no other matches within either FTDNA's private database or in Y-Search as yet.   Each researcher has requested a SNP test for Haplogroup I, and each has waited a long time for a result report from FTDNA.   We speculate that FTDNA and the Lab have NOT found the results they were expecting and are still looking for a correct result.  It is impossible at this point to say which of the two kits comes from the predominate lineage, whether Armstrong or Robson.   Apparently the two clans were from opposite sides of the Anglo-Scottish border... perhaps a "non-parental event" was involved.     We can hope that over time, testing of additional participants will produce some further insight re this latter question.
Haplogroup K2:   Kit #37941 has no known matches within either FTDNA's private database or Y-Search.    Haplogroup K2 is rather rare in persons originating along the Anglo-Scottish border.   It seems to have Northeast Asian origins, and may have arrived along the Borders either with members of the Roman Legions or with the Vikings.   Being unique, if we find a good match with another Armstrong in the future, we should be able to predict a common ancestor with a high degree of probability. 
Haplogroup R1a:   Kit #42198 is a member of Haplogroup R1a, which was formerly called the "Viking Haplogroup".   It is now known that it is not an exclusive marker for the Vikings [see for example the I1a Haplogroup discussed above].   However, R1a seems to occur almost exclusively amongst people of Scandinavian origin; undoubtedly it arrived in Britain with the Vikings.   The R1a haplogroup is remarkable in that it does not seem to have a very wide range, implying that it has not had time to diversify by mutation to any great extent.   Note that the modal markers for 22 of  the first 25 markers are apparently the same for nearly all of the kits found when searching Y-Search for genetic matches.  It is only when examining the last 26-37 markers that much variation appears amongst different surnames.    Until another Armstrong match is found, there is probably not much point in testing for additional markers at this time. 
Haplogroup R1b:   There are several separate groups to be discussed here.  Haplogroup R1b is common to about 60% of the population of Europe, and is thought to be found in populations of Celtic and North European [read "Anglo-Saxon, etc."] origin.  Within R1b, certain researchers have found it possible to distinguish between Haplotype 15 [Ht15] where DYS393=13 [see the tan backgrounds in the chart], and Haplotype 35 [Ht35] where DYS 393=12 [see the orange backgrounds in the DNA Results charts].  FTDNA's 2004 Haplogroup Chart shows at least eight possible sub-clades within the Haplogroup, but they are not testing for sub-clade SNP's as yet.   As with the other haplogroups, the method of analysis here involves searching for patterns of markers showing the least number of mutation variations.   
We now have five Armstrongs who seem to belong to what we have identified as Armstrong Ancestral Modal Haplotype #1 [AMHT#1]:  Kits #20946, 25874, 26295, 29377, 41606.  Most have the same results; notice that with one exception, all share DYS449=32.   The major area of doubt revolves around DYS458; the modal value is 19, but it could be 18 or 20.   As more individuals are tested, we may find that these values denote particular sublineages; or they may merely represent random mutations [note that DYS458 has a fairly high mutation rate]. We do have a 25/25 match between Kits #29377 and 41606.   An upgrade by Kit #41606 to a full 37 markers may be useful in developing a further FTDNATiP™ prediction  whether there is indeed a common ancestor within a genealogically significant time frame. 
Interestingly, we have recently been contacted by the Administrator of the Rains Surname Group at FTDNA regarding a possible match with one of her project members.   The Raines member in question, #14172,  appears to match the AMHT#1 25/25.   This again may be the result of a non-parental event such as an adoption out of the Armstrong lineage to a Raines family at sometime in the past... which perhaps may provide some material for further research.
The next six kits have characteristics which may mark them either as members of AMHT#1, or as a separate modal group.    There is a hypothesis that certain members of the Armstrong surname may have originated with the Traynor surname, since "Traynor" [various spellings] is apparently a celtic word meaning roughly the same thing as "Armstrong" in border English. Traynor Kit #N3722 is a join to the Armstrong DNA Project from the National Genographic Project.   Having tested for all 37 markers, there is a rough coincidence to AMHT#1, with differences at DYS458=17vs19, DYS459a=9vs10, and DYS449=30vs32 in the first 25 markers.  There are fairly significant additional differences between #N3722 and AMHT#1 in the remaining 26-37 markers, which is probably consistent with the probability there could not likely have been a common ancestor any time before perhaps more than 1000 years ago.   
What is perhaps more interesting is the possible match of Traynor Kit #N3722 with Armstrong Kits #22685 and #6040943 [known relatives who came to the Armstrong DNA project at FTDNA after prior testing at Ancestry, which is no longer providing a separate testing program].   Notice that DYS459a=s9 in each case.  There are four mismatches in markers 13-25; but all are in rather fast moving markers.... query whether each of the Traynor or Armstrong kits represents 2 or more mutations from an identifiable modal lineage marker?   And note that Kit #22685 carries DYS449=32, which is common to AMHT#1.    It might be a useful step to have the researcher in Kit #22685 UPGRADE to a full 37 markers, which would make it possible to compare the two kits further.   One issue is whether we are looking at an Armstrong lineage which is most closely related to the original Traynor set of markers?   Is there a common Irish origin for these Armstrong and Traynor lineages?
Other Notes: Kit #41867 Trenor, has ordered an upgrade to 37 markers, which will make it possible to meaningfully compare the kit to #N3722, and to Traynor Kit #N5677 [the latter kit has an anomalous DYS391=12].  Note, Armstrong Oxford Ancestor's Kit #Y5933 lacks enough marker results to meaningfully compare with the other FTDNA R1b results. 
Then, we have a possibly developing second Armstrong Modal Ancestral Haplotype, #2 [AMHT#2].   Kits #N10610, 43700, and 21901 all distinctively display DYS385b=15.  Two of the kits have DYS439=11, vs one with 12.  Only #43700 has further markers through 37;  Kit #21901 has recently ordered an upgrade to 37.    Time and further results will resolve whether we indeed have a separate AMHT#2, and further research will naturally be needed to establish whether there is a common ancestry involved.
The final Armstrong R1b [Ht15] result to be discussed  is Kit #33690.   This kit does not match the other Armstrong results.   The researchers can trace their Armstrong lineage back before 1700.   It is entirely possible they may represent a unique Armstrong haplotype with deep Armstrong ancestral roots.   Finding additional Armstrong test results matching this kit in the future would confirm this hypothesis.   However, it is also possible there was a non-parental event out of another surname to the Armstrong surname.   So far, there has been a rather close 23/25 match with members of the Renshaw Surname DNA Group at FTDNA;   however recent results from an upgrade to 37 markers by Kit #33690 have shown considerable diversity in the additional 12 markers.    Without doing an FTDNATiP™ prediction, this might be consistent with a Common Ancestor, but one considerably removed in time; speculatively, perhaps more than 500-750 years ago.   This leaves Kit #33690 still looking for additional Armstrong or other matches.
Haplogroup R1b, possibly R1b1c or other subclade [Ht35?]:   Since I share DYS393=12, I have a particular interest in this subcategory.   The Donegal Bay DNA Results page shows a number of Strong results which are all apparently related [click on the "DB" link in the green column to compare].   So far, the available DNA results show two separate Armstrong lineages which share the characteristic, plus a Y-Search Trainor Kit#JCHHS, and  Stronge Kit#36440.  The latter kit has been included here because the participant has no matches so far, and I am continuing to monitor sets of results looking for a match.     To date, Armstrong Kit #39841 does not seem to have a close match with any other results either in FTDNA's private database or in Y-Search.   Neither does the SMGF#3 kit extracted from the Sorenson Molecular Genetics Foundation data.   We are probably dealing with deep ancestral roots originating with certain Cavalrymen from central Asia who were drafted into service with the Roman Legions nearly 2000 years ago... They probably represent a rather small percentage of the total population along the Borders, and it may take considerable testing to find matching test participants.
There is competition between various testing organizations, including FTDNA, DNA Heritage, Genetree, Relative Genetics and others.   The problem is to be able to compare results amongst them all.  It is possible to work out how particular markers may be reported slightly differently by these organizations.   The real problem occurs when they report on DIFFERENT markers, making it impossible to compare the results.    Examples of the problem are found on the Armstrong DNA Results page.   Notice the results in DNA Kit #6040943, which was tested by Ancestry.   Ancestry used the same markers as Relative Genetics, and as the Sorenson Molecular Genetics Foundation.   Notice... NO results for most of markers 13-25, and only partial results for markers 26-37.    Kit #22685 had to purchase a "conversion kit" when joining our FTDNA Armstrong DNA Project in order to obtain and compare the additional results shown for loci 13-25.   There is a similar problem in comparing the Oxford Ancestors results in Kit #Y5933... and notice the "missing markers" for SMGF#3.    This demonstrates why it is desireable to try to use one testing organization.   However, we will accept results from whatever testing organization and try to do the best we can with them.
There are other problems in dealing with results from sources other than FTDNA.   Previous contacts and research has indicated a lack of a public central database within Relative Genetics for particular surnames.   DNA Heritage is closely connected with Y-Base, but that database is not as useful as the Y-Search database when trying to search for genetic matches, etc.   The Sorenson Molecular Genetics Foundation database has been relatively "opaque".   It hasn't been possible to simply order up all Armstrongs, for example.   Rather, one enters the results data, and looks for matches.... of any surname.   Only those who have contributed genealogical data are readily useful for genealogical research, and it is not clear that anyone contributing to SMGF's testing program will receive independant reports of their particular DNA test results.  It appears SMGF, which seems to be affiliated with the LDS,  may make improvements over time which will make their large database more useful.   However, SMGF's purposes may not necessarily coincide with those of individual researchers.     Some similar comments could probably be made regarding FTDNA.   However, in the absence of a large number of participants in a managed surname study using the services of another testing company, I suggest it is desireable to continue with the present testing company.   Two old sayings come to mind:  "There ain't no free lunch", and "You get what you pay for"!
We have some participants who have not yet sent in their test samples.     They are encouraged to do so, and "join in the fun".   We welcome all who are interested in using DNA as a tool for exploring their genealogy!  You can join the Armstrong DNA Project by following the menu at:
You can order the DNA test kit on-line and arrange to pay via VISA, etc.   
Let us know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.
Dave Strong
Armstrong DNA Project, and
Border Reivers DNA Project

Previous page

Back to Border Gatherings