DNA Test Reveals Two Ancestors

One grandson of Taylor Duncan ran his Y-chromosomal DNA through Family Tree DNA in 2008. Since the Y-chromosome is passed from father to son, the tested DNA comes from Taylor Albert Duncan. (For you genetics geeks, that’s haplogroup R-P312.) The results reveal two ancestors.

The first is a legendary Irishman named Niall Noígíallach or “Niall of the nine hostages.” Traditional sources date Niall to the late 4th and early 5th centuries and list him as high king of Ireland. He is born in Tara of County Meath to his father’s second wife, probably a Briton.

He grows up to best his father’s first wife and older brothers, cementing his high kingship by taking hostages from the royalty of five provinces of Ireland, plus one each from Scotland, the Saxons, the Britons, and the Franks. Another source claims that the last four hostages all come from Scotland. At any rate, the Uí Néills (literally “sons of Niall,” now known as the O’Neils) reign in Ireland through the 11th century.

Niall dies at the hand of Eochaid, son of the king of Leinster, one of Niall’s tribute kings. Some sources record the circumstance as a war with Leinster, some as a raid on Brittany, France, or Scotland. (It is possible that St. Patrick was abducted in one of Naill’s raids on Brittany.)

Death of Naill of the Nine Hostages

Before he dies, however, Niall sires 12 legitimate sons and countless bastards. In 2006, geneticists at Trinity College Dublin perform a study that reveals 1 in 12 Irishmen, 6% of all Scots, and up to 3 million men worldwide carry Niall’s DNA. This puts Niall in the same category as Genghis Khan, whose DNA shows up in 8% of the Mongolian population and 16 million Asians.

It puts us Eight Duncans descendants in the same category as tons of other people. I hope you enjoy whomever you know named O’Neil. 

The second ancestor the DNA test reveals is much less legendary, but much more useful when trying to build a genealogy. His name is Matthew Duncan. He was born in 1697 and died in 1766 in Louisville, KY. We know nothing about him.

Yet.

If you are interested in exploring your Duncan DNA further, you can contact the Donnachaidh DNA Project.

data provided by Colin Duncan, Bob’s son (2008), and collated by Dawn Harrell [Steve’s daughter] in 2014

Can you add to the story? Please do. Write in the box below. (You may need to click “Leave a Reply” above to make the box, name, and address fields appear.)

  • What stories of our ancestors do you recall being told by Taylor, Virginia, or one of Taylor’s eight children?
  • Have you had your DNA tested? What did you discover?
  • Do you have access to Matthew Duncan’s information, descendants ancestors? What can you share with us?
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