Monday, November 23, 2015

DNA Series: Update on Vance Groups 1 and 2, Part 3

This article, the last in our three-part series on DNA research into Vance Groups 1 and 2, focuses on what is known so far about Vance Group 2.  For more about Y-DNA testing in general and Vance DNA Group 1 please read our first and second articles in this series.

Group 2 of the Vance DNA project is made up of descendants of at least 16 known immigrants to the United States and Canada between the early 1700s and mid 1800s.  Several of those immigrants have been traced to Ireland and most of the others were recorded as Irish so efforts to find the original family have centered on Ireland, but no related lines have yet been discovered outside of North America.  All known family lines carry the surname Vance except for one line of descendants who have the last name Whalen, stemming from a Patrick Whealen from the south of Ireland in the early 1800s.

The descendants of Group 2 most notably include all descendants of Matthew Vance of Pittsylvania and the well-known figures Abner Vance of Abingdon, VA and his grandson Jim Vance of Hatfield-McCoy feud fame.

From initial DNA testing we know that Group 2 split fairly early on (say around 1300-1500AD and probably in Ireland) into two Groups usually called Groups 2a and 2b.  For an overview of what was uncovered from initial testing please read Adam Bradford's excellent summary of Group 2 as a whole.   More recently there has been a surge of advanced Y-DNA testing in Group 2 including three "Big Y" tests and targeted SNP ("single nucleotide polymorphism") testing aimed at discovering the SNP blocks and branching that define Groups 2a and 2b.

Group 2 (marked by red circle) shown with all known L513 descendant lines (click to enlarge)
Credit:  Mike Walsh, L513 Yahoo! Group

As noted in our first article in this series, what we now know is that the Group 2 male line split off from the rest of L513 about 3500 years ago and is defined by a VERY long string of about 31 SNP mutations, meaning no other branches have yet been found so only one family line may have survived in one continuous straight line for about the next 2800 years after it broke from L513.  Group 2 is the last few of that 3500-year-old ancient line (among those who have DNA tested so far, at least).

Group 2's long 2800-year descendant line marked by many SNPs (click to enlarge)
Credit:  Alex Williamson,

In more recent times the family tree branches. Group 2 overall's defining SNP is Z23507 and within Group 2, Group 2a is Z23506+ (positive) and Group 2b is Z23506- (negative) (Note:  there probably is a different SNP that Group 2b is positive for, but we will need someone in Group 2b to take a Big Y or Full Genomes test to find that).

So now the narrative picks up some 2800 years after L513 as follows:  some time around 1300-1500AD a man with the last name of Vance (or something close) and carrying the SNP Z23507 was born.  His descendants then split into two lines which became Group 2a and 2b.  Was this man already living in Ireland?  It appears that both his Group 2a and 2b descendants all come from Ireland, so it's very likely he lived there as well.

In any case on the Group 2b side, descendants started arriving in North America from Ireland by the early 1700s.

On the Group 2a side, one man around 1500-1650AD developed the Z23506 mutation.  In this timeframe one Vance line split off and became my Vance line, who emigrated from northern Ireland to the US in 1804.  On the other line a man in Ireland around 1600-1700AD developed the Z23516 mutation.  That man's descendants split IN IRELAND into two lines - one which eventually became Patrick Whealen born around 1816 who then emigrated to Ontario, and the other which led to Matthew Vance of Pittsylvania born around 1720 who shows up in the US and had several descendant lines there.   Given the timeframes involved, it is unlikely that Matthew Vance was the actual man who developed the Z23516 mutation but it IS likely that the two were within a few generations of each other.

The other Group 2a and 2b descendant lines probably fall out as shown on this family tree picture.  But note that until these other descendant lines (the ones shown with lighter descendant lines) are confirmed through SNP testing, this family tree is only representative, not certain.

Group 2a/2b Family Tree with branch-defining SNPs and likely timeframes marked in Green

So where did the Group 2 male line spend the years between 1500 BC and 1300AD?  When did it arrive in Ireland and with what tribe or group?  Did it also come from Scotland, like Group 1 appears to be?  Unfortunately those questions will have to wait until we discover other descendant lines that split off between L513 and Z23507 and hopefully bring their own clues to add new chapters to this evolving story.