A Clan Donald gateway immigrant search

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Doug McDonald

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Nov 11, 2022, 7:41:18 PM11/11/22
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I'm searching for my own McDonald (actually almost surely a MacDonnell)
immigrant ancestor.

I'm also the DNA project admin for the Clan Donald. We know from the DNA
that I and numerous McDaniel cousins are direct male line descendants of
John, 1st Lord of the Isles. We've got conclusive
Y chromosomal proof of that (a marker called CLD56 that is a 9416 base
delete finally conclusivelky identified via the T2T project). We know
from inpeccable paper trails that that marker arose in either John or
fafaintly possibly his father Angus Og. We know from the DNA and
impeccable paper that we do not descend from his son Ranald, 1st of
Clanranald and Glengarry. This makes us clearly descendants of Robert II
of Scotland. We are also sure from the DNA that we are NOT descendants
of Donald Gallach, 3rd of Slate.

We are officially NOT descendants of Alasdiar Carrach, 1st of Keppoch,
but both by the paper and the DNA I am not so sure that's really "proven".

That leaves us to be likely descendants of Iain Mor Tanister, John's
son, progenitor of Dunnyveg and the Glens and the Earls of Antrim.

If one believes all the lines on Ancestry.com we are in fact just that,
through a well-known path that's probably right that leads back to
Sorly Boy MacDonnell, with a known branch from the Antrim line. That
line is extinct in the pure male line, though most certainly not extinct
with a couple of female generations. There's no quibble about that. BUT,
of course, there is absolutely not findable paper that clearly and
without "ancestry.com copying" that gets us across the ocean.

And then there is this. The purported immigrant married (and there is
essentially no paper doubt about this) a Roger Williams who was nephew
of Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island. His wife's name was Frith.
OF course this increases the probability of Ancestry.com fakery to get
as an uncle THAT Roger Williams (there are others in the line, but they
are well distinguished.) The dates in question are about 1650-1710.

And then we get to the autosomal DNA. I have several male line cousins,
verified by SNP tests, who have autosomal tests (Family Finder and in
some cases one of the others also). We all have matches that claim to be
from the Frith-Williams marriage. In huge numbers. We ALSO have matches
in very respectable numbers to the ancestors of both that Frith
and the Williamses back in England or Ireland.

The purported McDonnell (usually spelled thus) back in ireland is
called, in those myriads of Ancestry.com files, as well as in published
genealogies, John McDonnell "of Moyne, Co. Clare, Ireland". There are
several Moynes (parishes) in Ireland, but this one is like 2 miles from
a place called Kilrush on the west coast. Kilrush is 8 miles SE of
Kilkee, a bigger place. That there was a McDonnell in Kilkee connected
to Sorly Boy and the Earls of Antrim is very well documented. That there
was one in Kilrush is almost as well documented. A standard source (19th
century, and he we begin to wonder) describes that one
member of this family, progenitor of a cast of lots of well known
judges, mayors, etc. "had a brother John, of Moyne, Co. Clare".

Finally, I and my McDaniel cousins have plenty of autosomal matches
to McDonnells from in and around Kilrush, who had descendants there,
in the male line, up to the 1920s, when the matches stop. Lots of these
matches "triangulate", that is I find three people who match my Aunt
Katrine (one generation farther back than me) and all four people match
each other on the same chromosomal segment. I look carefully through all
three people's pedigrees and find no other likely possible common
ancestors. This convinces me that we are related. But it does not ...
and should not ... truly convince me that I descend from THAT John "of
Moyne". But have that info is nice.

Now the "zinger". There is another well-known MacDonnell immigrant known
as Lt. Bryan, to Delaware, with a huge following of purported
descendants. He's said to be from Arklow, co. Wicklow, and to descend
from Somerled, the Clan founder, with a path that does NOT include Lord
John. Many match each other well on the autosomes, and some few of those
match us purported Moyne folks, on the autosomes. But of the ones with
Y-SNP tests, NONE match us purported Moyne folks. Lord John was
haplogroup R1a. The Wicklow folks who are R1a are indeed Sleat or
Clanranald. The rest are R1b and so highly nonconnected. This muddies
the waters just a bit. The Wicklow people do have a better, but not
perfect, case that Lt. Bryan was from there. At least the "real" Lt. Bryan.

There are a few 19th century writings that might provide a better
connection .. but I can't find them, just second hand reports of the
sort that often misquote.

Finally, I have hired, on a lark, a professional genealogist (a
reputable one) to look into my own paper connections back to the
area of Virginal involved in the purported Moyne immigrant. She found
the stuff on either side of the pond and agrees its probably OK ...
but as far as the actually MacDonnell connection, found nothing. She did
not find a paper trail from me back to the purported Moyne immigrant,
but she ran out of retainer before getting back from GA through SC and
NC to VA. I later got mack to SC. A couple of my known DNA cousins do go
back to places in VA close to the purported Moyne person, and one
actually gets all the way there.

That's a long story. I'm running out of leads, other than to dod what
I'm doing here: asking if there any people who have any suggestions
for places to search for leads.

Proving this would make a nice addition to the list of royal gateways,
though I'm not 100% sure people here would agree that the path from Lord
John up to Sorly Boy is up to snuff. The Clan Donald genealogy people
are positive it is, and the DNA is conclusive for the Lord John
to Sorly Boy male line (and for that matter its conclusive all the way
to me). Its a pity that the male line of the Earls of Antrim broke.

Doug McDonald


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