McCutcheon (McCutchen) DNA

February 2016:

Hello McCutcheon Cousins

I have some very exciting news for 2016 – see the attached newsletter about to be published by Richard L McCutchen. Richard McCutchen is a direct descent of the American McCutcheons descending from John McCutchen (Circa 1720-1755). According to the ‘Ulster Genealogical & Historical Guild – pp. 1-42’ John immigrated to the USA in 1728 along with at least 5 sons – James, William, John, Robert and Samuel – along with many wives and children. They landed in Pennsylvania and then proceeded to move to Virginia.

It is from this line that most of the McCutchens in the United States descend from and it is from this line that the following DNA results are derived from. Although it is difficult to arrive at exact figures, it is probable that their currents descendants number in the 25,000 – 35,000.

Our line is the second most prolific line on the North American Continent and is therefore a very significant branch on the McCutcheon Tree. So far I have found about 8,000 direct descendants to our line and I know that there are many more.

Now that the opportunity has presented itself, I am sending out this information to you with the hope that several “McCutcheon males” from our line take the opportunity to have their DNA tested to find out where we are on the trunk of the McCutcheon Tree. I hope that some males from each of our distinct lines volunteer to do this. Men with the last name “McCutcheon” of course will have the necessary “Y” chromosome. The cost for this test is $309.00 USD.

Richard McCutchen says: “We would really like for your family to participate. We are testing at FamilyTreeDNA”.

McCutchen Family DNA Report, by Richard L McCutchen

    When Hildegard Smith published The McCutchen Trace Volumes 1 and 2 back in the 1960s, the recipe for genealogical research called for mixing portions of primary documents from family files, and secondary data from archival repositories, along with generous helpings of written correspondence and phone calls to distant kith and kin.  The final product in the form of her McCutchen family history was, of course, only as good as the ingredients and her skill as a “cook”. Fast-forward to 2015 where genealogists like Hildegard now enjoy an “ingredient” that was unfathomable to them 50 years ago. One that replaces the “art” of cooking up a family history, with a means that is scientific and unchallengeable. That ingredient is DNA.

DNA is located in the cells of the body, and can be likened to genetic blueprints. These blueprints are contained within the cells’ X and Y chromosomes. The testing we are now conducting involving McCutchen males is focused on the Y chromosome. During conception and meiosis the Y chromosome does not recombine as does the X, and is therefore passed virtually unchanged from father to son, then from that son to his sons, etc. In essence then my “yDNA”, as it is referred to by geneticists, is virtually the same as that of my most distant known ancestor (mdka) John McCutchen who was born 8 March 1755. Furthermore my yDNA will be virtually identical to that of any other McCutchen males who are descendants of their, and my John’s, common male ancestor. These facts are what make the ability to compare and analyze different McCutchen family lines so critical and useful in the quest to determine our family origins.

The astute reader will have noticed that I said yDNA remains “virtually” unchanged through each succeeding generation. This is because certain portions of the yDNA sequence may undergo a “mutation” where a son’s yDNA will be ever so slightly different from that of his father. There are two types of mutation to discuss in the realm of genetic genealogy – SNP mutations and STR mutations. SNP is an acronym for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. SNP mutations occur so rarely that they are viewed as a unique event, so that all individuals whose yDNA contains a particular SNP are viewed as descendants from a single individual – the man whose Y chromosome first underwent that mutation.

    SNP mutations have allowed geneticists to place individuals in a “haplogroup”. Haplogroup is defined as a group of people who share a common ancestor, and each haplogroup is assigned a letter of the alphabet with further refinement consisting of additional number and letter combinations. SNPs and haplogroups are usually referenced when discussing more ancient ancestors, but they are still meaningful. For instance, Hildegard’s assertion in The McCutchen Trace that the McCutchen line was descended from McDonald of Sleat is now proven to be impossible. Our McCutchen common ancestor was not a lineal descendant of Somerled. The DNA of Somerled is proven to have been haplogroup R1a Modal.  We, as all of the McCutchen lines tested now show, are haplogroup R1b Scots Modal. Liken these two haplogroups to branches on the human evolutionary tree.  R1a and R1b are separate branches of that tree and we, as McCutcheon descendants, can’t be a leaf on the R1a branch as our “leaf” grows on the R1b branch. [Do not be misled by the fact that McCutchen is listed as a Sept of Clan Donald. Septs and tartans were 18th century inventions of clan chiefs as a means of augmenting clan membership and ensuring their continued personal income stream, as multitudes of Scots were fleeing the homeland due to persecution and want: in short Sept does not equate to blood kin]!

The McCutchen DNA test results currently posted on the Clan Donald DNA website identify locations on the Y chromosome where DNA sequences are “repeated” a certain number of times. [The locations contain what geneticists call “junk DNA”, which serve no biological function and may be thought of as “filler”]. These locations are referred to as STRs (Short Tandem Repeats) and are identified using combinations of numbers and/or letters. The predominant value at each of the listed STR segments, also called markers, become our McCutchen Family Modal Value at that marker e.g. at the first listed marker #393 our modal value is 13.

Occasionally one of these STRs/markers will undergo a mutation so that the number of repeats increases (+) or decreases (-) from the modal value. These sorts of mutation are not as rare as SNP mutations, and so they become extremely useful to genealogists. The degree to which individuals share STR values can indicate the degree to which they are related within a genealogical timeframe (defined as the time period after surname adoption; in Scotland usually thought of as after 1400 A.D.). Whereas SNP mutations trace groups of humans over thousands of years, STR mutations allow one to trace individual lines back through the centuries – even to the point of determining whether individuals share a recent common ancestor. To find this elusive common ancestor, it is critical that more McCutchen men agree to test their yDNA, even if close kin in the same line have already tested. Family Tree DNA provides testing in increments of 25, 37, 67 and 111 markers. As with any analysis, the more data points there are to compare the greater the accuracy. This is why at minimum 67 marker tests should be purchased.

I currently have DNA test results from 14 McCutchen males representing the following 10 lines:

  1. Robert McCutchen of Augusta County, Virginia/wife Margaret Callison
  2. William McCutchen born 9 Sep 1793/wife Catherine Overton
  3. Same as above/2nd wife Matilda Collins
  4. Samuel McCutchen/wife Frances Noble
  5. John McCutchen born 8 March 1755/wife Ann Wooddall; thru son William Walker
  6. Same as above; thru son Joseph
  7. John McCutchen Rev War vet 1758-1829 of Cumberland and Westmoreland Counties, Pa.
  8. James McCutchen of Augusta County, Virginia/wife Grisal Campbell
  9. Robert McCutchen 1775-1842 of Ireland/wife Mary Flewelline; thru son Thomas & wife Phoebe Clark
  10. Same as above; thru son Robert & wife Mary Ann Caswell of Canada
  11. William McCutchen of Ireland/wife Jane Gunn; thru son Robert & wife Ann Sadler

(to Dallas Texas area by 1880s & other children to Australia & Canada)

  1. William McCutchen/wife Mary Ann Vickerstaff of West Meath, Ireland, thru son Samuel
  2. Same as above; thru son George Bond (these families to McCutchanville, Indiana)
  3. Samuel McCutchen 1777-1818 of Newtownards, Ireland

Most of the above results are currently in the Clan Donald DNA database, but some testees have not entered their data there yet.  Those names that are italicized already have a 111 marker test result; all others need at least one person to test to 111 markers. We are expecting to add 67 marker results in early January for the line of Hugh McCutchen ca 1730 of South Carolina  who married Isabella Cooper.

    DNA analysis is exciting and sometimes full of surprises.  I hope this initial report has been both informative and motivating, as we need more folks to test. Future DNA reports will focus on analysis of the various McCutchen DNA results to address which lines are more closely related than others; where our origins lie in Scotland; and what to make of our extremely close DNA match to the Clan Campbell.

To close this report, I will leave you with these facts:

         — All of the McCutchen lines so far tested and listed above, whether originating in the U.S. or Ireland, are descended from a single, common ancestor [So Old Samuel who married Frances was close kin to the other McCutchen families of Augusta/Rockbridge Counties, Virginia].

— Our common ancestor likely lived in Scotland before ca 1600 A.D.

— Whether your name is McCutcheon, McCutchen, or McCutchan, unimportant; we are all one family

Here is the link to find out the results so far:

Most of our results (not all yet) are posted at the Clan Donald DNA website here when the page comes up just scroll almost to the bottom of the page where you will see the McCutcheon cluster.

If you can do this and need help, please feel free to contact me.



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