I promise this blog is not just about DNA, but I must admit I do write about it an awful lot. I view DNA testing as a valuable tool for helping us discover some of the mysteries of our family trees. For reference, here is a list of the posts I have written about DNA and how it can be used in Ackley genealogy:
One of the objectives of the Ackley Surname Project at Family Tree DNA is to try to use Y-DNA testing to identify the English ancestors of Nicholas Ackley, the first known Ackley in America. To that end, I have identified two Ackley men with UK ancestors who have graciously agreed to test and join the project. As reported here, the first of these men is from New Zealand, but his father was born in England, and his Ackley ancestors were from England. His earliest known Ackley ancestor is William Ackley, born about 1858 in Manchester, Lancashire, England, and died in 1921 in Chorlton, Lancashire, England. There are some records giving his father's surname as Ackerley, but the paper trail ends there.
The most recent English Ackley tester was born in England, and his earliest known Ackley ancestor is John Ackley, born about 1818 in Lancashire, England. Interestingly, there is evidence that John's father's surname was also Ackerley, and the paper trail ends there as well. As with the New Zealand Ackley, the surname is consistently given as Ackley for all generations up to and including the project member. At this point, it is hard to know if the names were changed from Ackerley to Ackley for some reason, or if the names were recorded as Ackerley in error, or if an extra "er" was included in the pronunciation of the name for some reason.
What is known for sure is that neither of these English project members is closely related to any of the Nicholas descendants in the project, nor are they closely related to each other. The following sections will detail the DNA evidence from the two types of Y-DNA tests performed that prove there are no relationships between the various Ackleys.
The most common type of Y-DNA testing examines what are known as short tandem repeats (STRs) at specific locations on the Y chromosome. See this post for a more detailed discussion of STR testing. Y-DNA matches are measured by genetic distance; I won't repeat all the details on how this works here, but if you need a refresher, see this post. The relationship between genetic distance and relatedness is summarized in the table below. We will make our comparisons at the the 37 marker level since many of the testers in the project have tested only at that level.
|Table of Relatedness for Y-DNA Testers|
The table below shows the genetic distances between all pairs of Ackley men who are members of the Ackley Surname Project. Sorry for the small font; there is a lot of information to display in limited space.
|Ackley Surname Project Genetic Distances|
The other type of Y-DNA testing that is useful for genealogy is SNP testing, which examines mutations known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The patterns of these mutations can be used to place individuals on the Y haplotree - the "Tree of Mankind". See this post for a more detailed explanation of SNP testing. The FTDNA comprehensive SNP test is called Big Y-700. Results for the Ackley groups identified above will be discussed below.
Before presenting a comparison of the various Ackley groups, it is useful to look at the position of the Nicholas Ackley Descendants on the haplotree.
|Block Tree for Nicholas Ackley Descendants|
|R-FGC52286 Haplogroup Story|
Note that Nicholas Ackley's haplogroup is estimated to have branched off its parent group (R-FGC52285) around the year 850, which is before surnames were commonly in use. From the block tree, we can see that there are many equivalent SNPs in the block with R-FGC52285. At this time, due to lack of enough test subjects, it is impossible to tell which of these equivalent SNPs occurred first, so they are all lumped into one block. Therefore, it is likely that there were many branches between R-FGC52285 and R-FGC52286 that occurred between the years 850 and 1635, the year that Nicholas Ackley was born.
Note the four branches of the time tree that are at the right-hand edge of the tree. These are the four haplogroups representing the testers in the Ackley project; note that the mutations represented in these haplogroups are all estimated to have formed in modern times (i.e., within the last 500 years). In fact, all of them are estimated to have formed between 1800 and 1900.