3. Identifying sub-groups in the Borders Family

Click here to open a PDF version of the detailed paper I wrote in 2011 on this subject. See attachments below for copies of various diagrams included in the paper.

In early 2011 it became possible to tentatively classify most of the participants in the Borders genetic family into 14 sub-groups by using cladograms and the TiP tool. Provisional dating of these sub-groups was even attempted:

The modal DNA signature of each sub-group is indicated thus BA (modal), BB (Bonshaw), BD (Dumfries), BE (Eskdale), B29, etc. The "left overs" (the 37 "B"s in the above table) were later termed BX.Note that for various reasons this paper and its tables and diagrams are not being updated.


In October 2013 a Co-Administrator of the Borders Reivers project, Gail Riddell, very kindly prepared a "Neighbour Phylip" phylogenetic tree and calculated TMRCAs using Klyosov formulae of our 24 Borders genetic family participants who have tested to 111 markers. This independent Study confirmed all 24 of these participants (of whom 11 were NPEs with non-Irwin surnames) were descended from a common ancestor, and calculated that this individual probably lived AD 1400 +/- 77 years. She was unaware that this date neatly includes the earliest surviving contemporary reference to an Irving in Dumfries (AD 1376) but, for better or worse, excludes the lifetime of Robert the Bruce and hence the associated Bonshaw traditions.

She also identified TMRCAs for representatives of some of our Borders sub-groups:

B10: 150 years (cf. 650 years in the study of 2011, and 100 years in the oldest available genealogy)

B29: 200 years (cf. 250 years and 150 years respectively)

B9: 375 years (cf. 250 years and 200 years respectively)

B15: 375 years (cf. 250 years and ??? years respectively)

BD: 400 years (cf. ??? years and 200 years respectively)

B23: 400 years (cf. 200 years and 200 years respectively)

B17: 475 years (cf. 750 years and 300 years respectively)

The data for B16 was conflicting and suggests this sub-group may have been misidentified.

The data for BA was conflicting and suggests this sub-group may need subdividing (as the 111-marker STR results are already suggesting).

I believe the obvious inconsistencies in these ages of these sub-groups are indicative of lack of data, resulting in all the above ages being minimum ages rather than average ages, and of the complexities of the mathematical modelling. No immediate follow-up is planned, but I am hopeful that some further progress in this field may be possible during 2014.

James Irvine 3 November 2013

Postscript 2.

These tentative sub-groupings have been shown by BigY and L555 SNP Pack tests to be unreliable and many actually misleading. The extent of this unreliability will become more clear as more L555 participants take one of these tests, but meanwhile the use of these sub-groupings is being "wound down".

James Irvine 5 October 2016