DNA testing can be a valuable tool in genealogy research, more so when combined with conventional paper-based research. While many of our Henderson kin are able to trace their ancestry back to the 18th or 19th century or perhaps earlier, very few have the resources to trace their lineage back to earlier days in Scotland and beyond. The lack of records has also led to many errors in making family connections in the 17th century and earlier.
The three goals of the Henderson Surname DNA Project all relate to providing help in our members genealogical research. These are far-reaching goals and will not be met without the cooperation of all members in providing known genealogical information. The goals also require ongoing scientific research and testing.
Goal # 1: Establish Henderson Ancestry – A primary goal of the Henderson DNA Project is to offer project members reasonable proof of their relationship to one of the original, pre-15th century Henderson Scottish family groups that settled in the five areas with documented concentrations of Henderson bloodlines; Glencoe, Caithness, the Shetlands, Upper Liddesdale and the Middle Marches, and finally Dumfriesshire where the family Henderson was established as a barony at Fordell. It is improbable that there was an original, single Henderson bloodline at any one of these locations. For this reason, several unrelated Henderson bloodlines may claim their family origin at the same location identified in clan history.
A male with ancestry traced back to the Hendersons of Fordell through traditional paper research has provided his unique DNA family signature to the project for comparison with DNA results of other project members. A perfect Y-DNA 67 marker match indicates a relationship with the ancient Henderson family of Fordell, and if there is not a match, the member can then focus their research on finding a match in another area. Additional documented lines are being sought in the other areas.
Goal # 2: Confirm Relationship between Project Members – A close 67-marker Y-DNA match would leave virtually no doubt that two participants are related within a given number of generations. Knowing their common timeline, the two members can use conventional genealogy research to determine who their common ancestor might have been. In the case where the two people do not match, they will not waste time looking for a common ancestor. To be clear, it is impossible to pinpoint a specific common ancestor from DNA test results alone; however, a close DNA match provides a high degree of probability of a common ancestor even where a paper trail is unavailable. This has also been useful in cases of adoption and changes in surname for other reasons.
Goal # 3: Identify Member’s Haplogroup – The Haplogroup is a unique DNA signature that identifies a member’s ethnic origin and the migration of their ancestral line over a period of thousands of years. The people of Scotland who share the Henderson or a related surname have a diversity of ancestral origins. Each Haplogroups shows the position of the family line on the Haplotree, a phylogenic tree of the entire Homo Sapiens species. As scientists continue to refine our understanding of the mutations that create the haplogroups, they may also provide information that adds to conventional genealogical research.