How we successfully “split the blocks” (Y DNA and new haplogroups)

Yes, it’s been a while since my last post, but that’s what generally happens with the coming of spring. I spend a great deal more time in the yard and garden, and a whole lot less on my computer. Still, that doesn’t mean I’ve let my Y DNA studies slide to the side too terribly much.

One of my ongoing Y DNA projects is “splitting the blocks”. Specifically, this means additional advanced Y DNA tests for more known male family members. In the case of my line, I’m extremely fortunate. We have test takers (currently we’re up to six tested at the Big Y-700 level) descended from a set of sons (Peter, born ca 1706, and Benjamin, born ca. 1712) of my 7th great grandfather, James Moore (born ca. 1644). I know of at least one more son (illegitimate son, James Hook, born ca. 1688) who has one descendant who tested, but isn’t willing to upgrade. Needless to say, that’s too bad.

Anyway, about two years ago, there was only one person (me) within our line of Moores who had tested to the Big Y level (I’m a descendant of James’ son, Benjamin, by the way). I had no idea at the time, but testing more of us would actually improve our understanding the real value of Y DNA (to include what could be learned by “splitting the blocks”). As of 2018, “our” (so far that we knew) haplogroup appeared to be BY3368. A year later, as more people under the BY3368 haplogroup tested (other than our group of descendants from James Moore), that changed to haplogroup FT176711, and then, early in 2020, to FGC15791. As we began testing more within our line, at the Big Y level, we began to see more haplogroup changes. I didn’t realize it until this year, but we were “splitting the blocks” in our haplogroup tree.

So, exactly what does this mean?

There’s more than one way to explain it, but I’ll keep it basic. As I said, I tested at the Big Y level in 2018. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I had a number of “private variants”… also known as SNPs. These are called “private” as they have not yet matched another test taker. As another “close” relative tests Y DNA at the Big Y level, there’s a chance that those private variants will be “unlocked” and a new haplogroup discovered in the haplotree.

In the case of my line, I first really realized this when one of my distant cousins tested. Our respective lines come together at our third great grandfather, Cyrus S. Moore (born in 1829). My line descends from Cyrus’ son, John Howard Moore (born 1862), while my cousin’s descends from Cyrus’ son, James Draden Moore (born 1859). Ultimately, both my cousin and I were haplogroup FT176771, but about a week or so after getting his results (generally, FTDNA reassesses after publishing a new result), our haplogroups changed to Y133362. What had happened was we shared a private variant, “unlocking” yet another tier/branch in our Y DNA tree/haplotree. Then, when my dad tested, my results (and my dad’s) ended up being BY132823… yet, my cousin’s haplogroup remained unchanged. Essentially, my dad had a private variant that matched one of mine, and we fell under the new haplogroup. Yet, my cousin did not have this private variant, so his haplogroup result remains as is… and won’t change unless he has a son who has a test which would “unlock”/”discover” the new haplogroup.

So, the two sons of Cyrus listed above resulted in two different branches of the Y133362 haplotree. John Howard Moore was probably the first of haplogroup BY132823, while James Draden Moore’s haplogroup is yet to be determined.

Let’s also look at the two lines that descend from James Moore’s two sons… Peter and Benjamin. When two descendants of Peter took the Big Y-700 test, there results no longer matched those we see in descendants of Benjamin. Ultimately, with sons Peter and Benjamin, the FT176711 block was “split” into two branches. James Moore (b. 1644) was likely the last in a line of about four generations to be FT176711, while Peter was likely FT370928 and Benjamin was likely Y133362.

So, we now have some interesting data that helps walk back our tree. Here’s my line of descent… FT176711 > Y133362 > BY132823.

If this is broken down by the years in which these haplogroups emerged, this line appears like this… ? > 1712 > 1862.

You might have noticed the gap between 1712 and 1862… 150 years, exactly…

Benjamin Moore (1712) > James Moore (1745) > James Draden Moore (1773) > Cyrus Saunders Moore (1829) > John Howard Moore (1862)

So, there were four generations between the emergence of Y133362 and the emergence of BY132823.

If we walk this backwards from Y133362 to FT176711, the estimated emergence of FT176711 was four generations prior to the emergence of Y133362 in Benjamin Moore, in 1712, which would be approximately 1562 (given the approximation of 150 years in four generations). Let’s walk this back even more…

FGC15791 > FT176711 > Y133362 > BY132823

… which would be (approximately)…

1412 AD > 1562 AD > 1712 AD > 1862 AD

Finally, let’s take it back one more branch in the haplotree, to BY3368…

BY3368 > FGC15791 > FT176711 > Y133362 > BY132823

… which would be (approximately)…

1262 AD > 1412 AD > 1562 AD > 1712 AD > 1862 AD

What’s really interesting here is the BY3368 estimate of emerging ca. 1262 AD. Using the McDonald Age Estimation method, BY3368 is believed to emerge between 1248 AD and 1778 AD; while the Adamov et al method estimates BY3368 to have emerged between 570 AD and 1370 AD. Albeit at the ends of the two respective ranges, 1262 AD happens to fit into both age estimation methods.

I do need to add, however, that 150 years between “emergence” of haplogroups is an estimate. It can be lower. In my work, I’ve also seen SNP changes occurring at around 110 years, and spanning five generations.

More Big Y-700 tests are underway or planned for our branch of FT176711, so I look forward to more details. I do plan on another post, soon, showing how I may have broken through the wall in my Moore family tree, using this information…

Published by Robert Moore

Historian, writer, hypertext & Web literacy theorist

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