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Border Reiver DNA Project Is Seeking Participants Of Scottish Descent
Posted by: James V. Elliott (ID *****6081) Date: May 13, 2004 at 13:21:57
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If you are an adult male of Scottish descent, are paternally descended from any of the families listed on this web page -, and have ever considered getting your Y chromosome tested, you may do so at a substantial discount by joining the Border Reiver DNA Project at Family Tree DNA.

The Border Reiver DNA Project is a serious genetic and genealogical study started this March by two customers of Family Tree DNA, James V. Elliott and David B. Strong. Although it began as a study of the Elliott Border Reiver family, it has since expanded to include members of other Border Reiver families, including a direct descendant of the legendary Border Reiver, Johnnie Armstrong, a senior officer of the Clan Hall Society, Dixons, Irvings, Kerrs, Littles and others. Members of all Border Reiver families are welcome now, and we emphatically encourage your participation.

The home page for our study, which includes many links to other web pages about the Scots, the Britons, the Border Reivers and their ancestors, may be accessed at the URL below:

We are conducting our study of the Border Reiver families using Y chromosome DNA markers, because the Y chromosome is passed, just like a surname, from father to son with very few changes over many generations. That makes these DNA markers an ideal tool for tracing paternal descent and, by extension, the history of families.

The goals of the Border Reiver DNA Project are as follows:

1) James Leyburn, in his excellent book "The Scotch-Irish: A Social History", characterized the ancestry of the Anglo-Scottish Border people as a diverse mixture of Picts, Brythonic Celts, Scotti, Irish Gaels, both Danish and Norwegian Vikings, Angles and Saxons, troops and settlers from all over the Roman Empire - as well as Normans, Flemish and many others. We intend to use Y chromosome analysis to explore the ancestral origin of Border Reiver descendants, both individually (if we can) and as a group. We have already done substantial reading about both the history of Europe and the latest developments in population genetics, and have compiled a database of more than 200 likely Border Reiver DNA profiles obtained from public databases at Family Tree DNA and elsewhere.

The URL below will give you some idea of the extent of our ongoing study:

2) The Border Reivers rode during a period of extreme chaos in the history of the Anglo-Scottish Border. Many young mothers were widowed, and many children were orphaned. The social customs of the Reivers, affected by a need for self-reliance and the shifting circumstances of the era, favored trial marriages, and allowed even married women to keep their surnames. The larger Border Reiver clans themselves were more like tribes or paramilitary organizations than families, and many born with different surnames joined these clans for protection, eventually assuming the clan surname as their own. As a consequence of all these factors, Border Reiver descendants are to this day closely interrelated. Many with different surnames share the same ancestors, and many with the same surname are descended from genetically distinct paternal lines. Our DNA Project seeks to determine the relationships among these descendants, both on an individual and a family level.

The URL below will give you some idea of the families already included in our study:

The group rate for joining the Border Reiver DNA Project is 99 USD (or 63 GBP) for a 12 marker Y chromosome test, or 169 USD (or 107 GBP) for a 25 marker test. The 12 marker test easily suffices to determine your "deep ancestry", and can provide enough data to suggest whether or not two individuals share a paternal ancestor within the last 14 or 15 generations. The 25 marker test, more favored by DNA genealogists, can identify a shared paternal ancestry within the last 7 generations.

These group rates represent a substantial savings over the cost of joining Family Tree alone. For instance, the cost of getting the 12 marker test is nearly 40 percent less than what I paid for the same test last summer. Once you join our group, you will have full privileges as a Family Tree DNA customer. Family Tree DNA will store your genetic material with absolute privacy and security for twenty years, and will post information about your DNA markers, their likely ethnic origin, and the e-mail addresses of exact matches, on your own personal, password-protected web page. In addition, all other tests you may wish to order will be made available to you at a considerable discount.

Despite the foregoing discussion of cost, this is a serious study, not a commercial venture. If you are interested in joining us, or would simply like more info, please contact James V. Elliott at


James V. Elliott
Group Administrator
Elliott (And Border Reivers) DNA Project

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