Sunday, 5 January 2014

Update - Winter 2013

Current Status

A Happy New Year to everyone!

2013 was a very busy year and I am delighted to announce that the project now has 46 members altogether. Two additional people have taken the Y-DNA test since the last update (Aug 2013) bringing the total number tested to 27, and an additional test result is expected shortly. The new results are discussed below.

In addition, 19 people have done the Family Finder test (autosomal DNA) and 3 further results are expected shortly. It is very encouraging to see the number of members who are undertaking the Family Finder test, but as yet there are no strong matches between different family branches so it has not been possible to identify any Spearin-specific DNA segments. This may change as more people do the Family Finder test and as the technology to support analysing the results improves. I hope to provide a more detailed account of the autosomal DNA results in the next update.

The Y-DNA results are currently grouped into 7 clusters, the largest being Genetic Family 1 (the Limerick Spearin's) with 11 members. There are 2 members in Genetic Family 6 (Spearman), and 2 in Genetic Family 3 (Spearin/Spearing). There is only 1 member in Genetic Families 2, 4, 5, and 7 (singletons), and the remaining members are temporarily in either "Ungrouped R1b" (5 members) or "Ungrouped" (2 members). These members will be move into newly created Genetic Families once additional members join the project and match them. We also need to keep in mind that even though the different families may not be "genetically" related, they may still be “genealogically” related. This situation arises due to NPE’s (non- paternity events) such as adoption, illegitimacy, or legal name change.

On a different note, please add your email address to the "Follow by Email" box at the bottom of the column to the right, so that you will receive an email as soon as any new post is published. All project members are encouraged to do so. 

You can view older newsletters by clicking here

Graph showing new members joining since the start of the project

New Y-DNA Results

The 2 new members with Y-DNA results since the last update (Aug 2013) are as follows:

Member 264985 - a Baker from Canada. This particular family are connected via the Spearman name and 5 members of the family have joined the project altogether, one with Y-DNA results and 5 with autosomal DNA results. This member's mother's mother's father was a Spearman, and this particular line goes back to a John Spearman who was born in Tipperary about 1760. The subsequent generations emigrated to Ontario, Canada, and thereafter to Saskatchewan. The haplogroup for this member is R1b1a2 and there is currently no match with other project members so he sits in the group "Ungrouped R1b" for the time being.

Another member with a pedigree that tentatively goes back to a Thomas Spearing from Exeter, Devon in 1765. This particular individual was a fisherman and trader and was exiled after trading with the French. Several other family members have tested and there is ongoing paper-based research which will help clarify this families origins. The haplogroup for this member is also R1b1a2, with no current match with other project members, so he too sits in the group "Ungrouped R1b" for now.

We are still actively looking to recruit new members so please spread the word.

Website updates

By the end of 2013, our website had received over 30,000 hits. That's a lot of visitors!

This year has also seen major advances in the number of DNA markers available to be tested. Various new tests have been introduced in 2013 including Geno 2.0 (National Genographic), Chromo2 (Britain's DNA), Full Genome Corporation Y-sequencing, and FTDNA's "The Big Y". You can read more about these different tests on the ISOGG Wiki. These new tests will identify new markers for our members to test which in turn will help ascertain the finer branches of the Y-DNA haplotree and the place of each Genetic Family on the tree. These markers will probably be made available as individual marker tests via FTDNA at about $39 each so before rushing out to spend any money on these new tests, it may be cheaper to wait and see what the next 6-12 months bring.

Distribution of Haplogroup I2b1 in Europe
In preparation for the deluge of new DNA "SNP" markers which will dominate the genetic genealogy news for the foreseeable future, the Haplogroups page of the website has been updated. 

The focus for SNP testing is currently on Genetic Family 1 because this group has the most people. Members of GF1 are also part of the I-M223 Y-haplogroup project at FTDNA headed by Aaron Torres and Wayne Roberts. The results so far reveal that the members of GF1 belong to a subgroup of Haplogroup I2b1 known as "Cont1". The particular SNP profile of Cont1 is M223 >>> Z161 > L801/Z76 > CTS6433 > Z78 > Z185 > L1198, the latter being the new current terminal SNP for this group, revised in Nov 2013 (Z185 was the previous terminal SNP but then it was discovered to be upstream of L1198). SNP's that we tested negative for were Z190, Z79 and F3195 (these identify further subgroups of Cont1, downstream of L1198). 

Three people from the Cont1 group have taken FTDNA's "Big Y" test (namely Kit # N18172 Fleet; Kit # 260237 Braz; Kit # 127052 McCall, the latter being F3195+) and their results will help us decide what additional SNP markers (if any) we should have tested in GF1.

As more people test, the migration patterns of this particular I2b1 subgroup will become more clear and may give us clues as to how the Cont1 subgroup moved across Europe in the period from 4000 years ago up to the present day. And this in turn may help us elucidate the origin of the common ancestor of GF1. 

Traditional Genealogy update

Various projects are ongoing with regard to traditional paper-based research and here are just a few of them. In time, all of these will eventually appear on the website, this new blog, or both. Announcements will be made via the blog and/or the Facebook page.

  1. Individual MDKA Biographies of the Australian participants have been drafted and will hopefully be uploaded in the next few weeks to be followed by the Irish members and others thereafter. Project members can use these templates to generate their own MDKA Biographies and these can then be posted on the blog.
  2. Griffiths Valuation & Cancelled Books - a mapping exercise is being carried out to trace all Spearin's in Griffiths Valuation forward in time from the mid-1800's to the 1950's.
  3. Church Records mapping exercise - a similar exercise is also underway to map the different families based on Bob's work with church records from the early 1800's.
  4. Further work on the Cork Spearing's has been carried out and a blog will be posted on this shortly.
  5. at some stage in 2014, it is hoped that several members will visit Limerick to search through the Estate Papers of the Earl of Dunraven. This may unlock the secrets of many of the Spearin branches.
It really helps if people work on their own family trees and make them available online for collaboration with other members. If you need help with this please use the Facebook group for assistance or email me directly for advice -


Our Facebook group continues to grow and currently boasts 182 members, 14 additional members since the last newsletter. It is a wonderful place for sharing information, photos, documents, and newspaper articles. In the past few months there has been some major discussions about the Maine Spearin's and some new sources have been discovered and posted in the Files section. We have also been sharing photos and memories of our family members who fought in the First World War, seeing as how 2014 will be the centenary of the start of The Great War.

If you haven’t done so already, please fill in your family ID in the document “Which Family Are You” – just click on Edit Doc and add your Family ID. This helps everyone to know exactly where you fit into the bigger picture! You will find your Family ID in the Traditional Families table on the website.

And if you have an online tree please share it with the rest of the group - just send me the link via email and I will include the link in our Traditional Families Table.

You should also keep an eye on the Sperring+ Facebook page where Fiona and her cousins have done some sterling work tracing their particular line of Sperring's and Mockridges back into the 1700's.

In the News

October saw the launch of Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 (GGI2013), Ireland's first genetic genealogy conference. This was held in the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) in Ballsbridge, Dublin, as part of the annual "Back to Our Past" genealogy exhibition. FTDNA sponsored the lecture series and I organised it on behalf of ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy). It was very well received by an interested and attentive public, and FTDNA were delighted with its success when I presented to them at their Annual Conference in Dallas in November. As a result they have given a verbal commitment to sponsor the event again this year (2014) so watch this space (and the GGI2013 website) for more exciting developments as they occur.

The lecture series was recorded and you can view the presentations on the dedicated YouTube channel - Genetic Genealogy Ireland. In particular, Debbie Kennett gives a very succinct and easy to understand account of the 3 main types of DNA test and how they are interpreted by Project Administrators, which is an excellent overview for beginners and intermediates alike.

You can view it here ...

Spreading the Word

Please feel free to pass this on to anyone who is interested in researching the Spearin name, or ask them to send me their email address and I will add them to the list.

If you want to be Y-DNA tested at a discounted rate through our project, click here. Currently the discounted rate for the Y-DNA-37 is $149 US (about £90 or 108 euro).

Be sure to get notification of each new post by putting your email address in the "Follow by Email" box at the end of the column to the right.

And if you ever want to unsubscribe from this list at any time, just let me know.

Aims of the Project

Just to recap on the goals of the project - to use genetic genealogy to enhance traditional (documentary) genealogical research with the ultimate goal of tracing each family with the Spearin/Spearing/Sperring surname (or other variant) back to their ancestral roots. The DNA part of the project has the following objectives:
  1. to identify which Spearin/Spearing families can be grouped together and therefore are related to each other genetically
  2. to identify the likely origin of each genetic family
  3. to establish which Spearin families are most closely related to each other and thus help to focus further documentary research (for example, are the Irish Spearin's related to the English Sperring's or the Dutch Spierink's?)
  4. to help people named Spearin/Spearing establish to which genetic family they belong
  5. to generate theories based on the DNA data relating to the deeper ancestral origins of each genetic family, both within a genealogical timeframe (i.e. after 1000 A.D.) and before it (i.e. route of migration out of Africa and into Europe, up to 1000 A.D.) 

Maurice Gleeson 
Project Co-Administrator 
Jan 2014


  1. Maurice, are Karen and I included in any of the Spearin projects you mention in this last posting?

    And is there a way to discover if a "Purtell" might be the "connection" between Margaret Spearin, Karen and I?

    Happy New Year. . . and THANKS for all that you do.

    1. Hi Patti, we are making some headway with the autosomal DNA part of the project and I'll be devoting a separate post to it in the future. We're getting there slowly! :-)