Clan CrestThe Clan McLea/Livingstone Forum

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Title: DNA Project Beginning to Show Results
Posted by: Rob Livingston
Date: 01 November 2004


The Livingston/MacLea Surname DNA Project has begun to reveal some interesting results.  Four distinctive groups are emerging from the haze, some showing possible Norse lineage, others showing Irish and Scottish lineage.

First, it appears there may be a good chance that three Lismore Livingstones (MacOnleas), and a MacKinlay are somehow related to the chiefly line of the Buchanans.  MacKinlay is a surname often identified as a sept of the Buchanans.  Participants from both clans are in the process of refining their results from 25 to 37 markers to get a better idea if this relationship is truly as close as it appears.

Buchanan is a surname that translates as 'house of the canon', a canon being a person devoting his life to the church.  The Buchanan clan has a tradition that their ancestor was Absalon O'Kyan, an Irish prince from Ulster who came to Scotland in 1019 AD as a mercenary.  His task was to help the Scots rid themselves of the Norse who occupied much of Western Scotland at the time.  As a reward for his services, he was granted the lands of Buchanan located on the Southeastern shore of Loch Lomond.

The Buchanan royal connection to Ulster at this time in history might be an important one to the MacOnleas, especially if the MacOnlea surname is derived from the personal name "Donn Sleibhe", which translates as 'Brown of Hill'.  Donn Sleibhe Ua Eochadha, the king of Ulster and the founder of Clan Donn Sleibhe of Ireland was killed in 1091.  This clan was well known for its mercenary excursions into other parts of Ireland and for its infighting that lead to the deaths of many of its leaders.

In Patrick Woulfe's "Irish Names and Surnames" (Dublin, 1923), he mentions that a popular pet name derived from Donn Sleibhe is "Leibhin", pronounced 'levin'.  This may constitute a challenge to the popular tradition that the town of "Livingston" in West Lothian was named for an Anglo-Saxon named "Levingus de Villa Leving" who granted the tithes of his chapel to the Abbey of Holyrood sometime between 1124 and 1152.  Given the timing of the death of King Donn Sleibhe Ua Eochadha in 1091 and the mercenary nature of his clan, it is quite plausible that one of his sons or grandsons found himself with lands in Lothian in the mid 12th Century, just as the ancestors of the Buchanans were awarded lands in Sterlingshire.  We are fortunate to have just recruited a participant whose ancestors are believed to be the Livingstons of Dunipace, descendants of the House of Livingston.  This may prove or disprove the above theory.

One of our MacLea participants in the DNA study has found that he closely matches the DNA values of a McCauley and a McColly.  In turn, these three men have DNA values that closely match the DNA of several McCains of Ulster, Ireland.  These DNA values in no way resemble those of the Lismore Livingstones.  These surnames (MacLea, McCauley and McColly) strongly suggest that they are descendents of hereditary physicians (Mac Leaha and Mac Ollaimh).

A third group of participants appear to have Irish connections in Donegal.  These include two McClays (one from the US and the other a native Irishman), a Livingstone from Australia, and two Beattys who speculate that their surname is the result of a "non-paternal event".  In other words, the two Beattys may have gotten their surname as the result of an adoption or an extra-marital event.  Their DNA does not match the DNA of the majority of other Beattys with a known common ancestor in the US.  So their real paternal ancestor may have been a McClay or Livingston.

A small fourth group of Livingstons (two Livingstons and a MacLeay) have a particular DNA marker, which suggests Norse origins (DYS 392 = 11).  Though the two Livingston participants have nearly identical DNA signatures, they are unknown to each other and have been unable to document a genealogical connection by traditional methods.  The MacLeay participant has entirely different numbers and is unrelated even though he shows the Norse-identifying DNA allele value.

The rest of our study participants are a diverse lot that have not yet been matched with other individuals.  We have 22 participants in the project as of October 31st and we need many more.  If you have not joined the project, consider it.  And if you decide to do so before the end of 2004, remember to write to me for a discount on lab testing.  $US 50 can be subtracted from the cost of a 12, 25, or 37-marker test, which normally runs $99, $169, and $229 respectively.  But be sure to write to me first so that the funds may be transferred to the appropriate account.  My email is  Check out the Project Description at: 

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Title:Date:Posted By:
DNA Project Beginning to Show Results01 November 2004Rob Livingston
   DNA Project Beginning to Show Results03 November 2004Young Bachuil
   DNA Project Beginning to Show Results05 November 2004Andrew Lancaster
      DNA Project Beginning to Show Results06 November 2004Andrew Lancaster

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