McDaniel/McDonald/McDonnell History Genealogy and Y-DNA

+7 votes

I shared the following with a new McDaniel WikiTreer, and it occurs to me that I should also share it here.

My grandmother was a McDaniel from Licking County, Ohio. Her paternal ancestors first appear in Pittsylvania (formerly Halifax) County, VA and went from there to Greenbrier County, WV and then to Gallia and Lawrence Counties, OH. I have a 1796 deed in which the surname of my 4th-great-grandfather was written McDaniel three times and McDonald three times. The name McDaniel in fact is a corruption of McDonald that appears in the American South. As to ethnicity ...

We grew up assuming that our McDonalds were descendants of Scotland's Clan Donald, but Y-DNA tests of McDaniel cousins prove instead that our particular McDaniel/McDonald ancestors were Irish and probable descendants of a 15th-century Irish warlord known as Niall of the Nine Hostages. In fact, my McDaniel cousins have a close Y-DNA match with a McDonald whose ancestor was Patrick McDonnell born ca. 1818 in Ballynacarrow, County Sligo, Ireland. Discovering that, I did some research and found that heads of families in County Sligo in 1749 include 4 McDaniels and 6 persons whose surname was either McDonall, McDonel, McDonnel, or McDonell.

If interested, you can read here about Niall genetics ...

WikiTree profile: Henry McDaniel
in Genealogy Help by Loretta Layman G2G6 Mach 3 (32.6k points)
recategorized by Jillaine Smith
WikiTree's DNA Project - - has been patiently answering my questions for 5 years or more. Whatever glimmer of understanding I have is thanks to them.

Re: Obvious question... not to me LOL. No, I have not, since it's my mom's line & she never took a DNA test, there's no way to match my dna to Willis who is beyond 5 generations from me. Right? Even if I knew what you meant or how to go about it, how would it prove my relationship to Willis? (See, this is what I mean by the patience of the folks in WikiTree's DNA Project - my questions started out WAY more basic than this!!)

Cheers, Liz
Ok Liz, By "brickwall" I originally assumed you meant there were no ancestors found. I was looking at your question as two different goals: to prove relationship to Willis and to break through his brickwall. As far as atDNA, it would be rare but not impossible to find low cM matches with MRCA up to 8 generations. I've got a few up to 7 generations. If you're on, for example, I assume you've already checked all of your distant matches for his surname, etc.?  Will be impossible to use your 6 and 7cM matches very soon now, however, unless they are flagged.
ah! I had not thought to look at dna matches as a way to help find a way through a brick wall for him. Part of the problem is there are two or three contenders in the area and no one seems to agree on their relationships. I didn't think that dna could help much if you're looking to determine which brother/uncle/cousin from the mid-1700s was someone's father. No idea about the rest of what you're saying. Your last statement "Will be impossible to use your 6 and 7cM matches very soon now, however, unless they are flagged." ... what does that mean? Should I be going into gedmatch or ftdna and, um... how does one flag a match (assuming I can find a match).

Even though I'm not sure what you're saying, I appreciate the response!

Cheers, Liz
Hi Loretta. I’m a Fairfield County Ohio McDaniel. I thought I would test as M222 but did not. Have you made contact with Eric McDaniel?  He is quite active on this site and is an M222 McDaniel, very knowledgeable and willing to help others. My and his lines go back through Pennsylvania.
Liz, yes DNA can help a lot if you're looking for brother/uncle/cousin from the mid-1700s.  But success rate will depend on number of potential matches and their tree sizes, and number of generations.  I've had a lot of success matching MRCA born in mid 1700's myself. I also have use of 100-yo atDNA from my paternal and maternal lines to help confirm. If you use,, they are removing all "unflagged" (my term for no stars, groups, annotations, or messages) distant matches (6-7cM) this month as part of an effort to reduce their server load. Compared to other services, has several times more potential matches for most people. So that will be a huge setback for brick-wall busting.
Hi Phil.  The Y-DNA haplogroup of my McDaniels is R-M269.  However, see Mike Wells's comment and mine below that.
Loretta, R-M222 is under R-M269 : R-M269 > R-L23 > R-L51 > R-L52 > R-L151 > R-P312 > R-S461 > R-L21 > R-DF13 > R-DF49 > R-Z2980 > R-Z2976 > R-DF23 > R-Z2961 > R-S645 > R-Z2965 > R-M222.  In other words, your McDaniels could be R-M222.

R-M269 is 4,500–9,000 yo. R-M222 is like 2,000 yo.
Thank you Mike.  Clearly I didn't  look far enough, relying only on an out-of-date report from a cousin who manages our representative McDaniel's FTDNA account.

Phil, I have values for my McDaniel cousin for only 13 markers. I'll list them here and contact the relative who was then managing that account and ask for the rest. His report was limited to 13 because he was comparing our cousin's results to the DYS recognized as being values for the so-called "Niall of the Nine Hostages".  "N/T" stands for Not Tested.


Would R-L20 fall under this to

4 Answers

+4 votes
Best answer

The connection to Niall of the Nine Hostages doesn't fully rule out descent from Clan Donald - well, maybe clan membership as opposed to biological descent. The clan were mercenaries at that time, and if Niall needed warriors, the McDonalds were happy to rent out their army, if they happened to be on good terms with them at the time. If your County Sligo ancestors were Catholic, there's a very good chance they settled there as "retired" Gallowglass warriors as things became more civilized. Whether the non-paternal event happened before or after would be something to investigate ... were they McDonalds with an interruption to the paternal line, or locals who took the McDonald name after joining that army? 

Check out the Gallowglass project on FTDNA for more info, and the Clan Donald DNA project, which has this to say about M222: 

The group ... is centered geographically in northwestern Ireland. It is always referred to as the 'Irish' or 'Niall' group. Clan Donalds with this genetic signature may be descendants of Colla Uais; descendants of the O'Neill; or O'Donnell kindreds with whom we regularly served in Irish military operations; the O'Cahans from the Dowry of fighting men provided to Angus Og [McDonald] upon his marriage to the O'Cahan's daughter or descendants of Colla Menn from whom Gillebride sought assistants to recover his lands from the Norse.

This group is in addition almost all M222-S658-DF104-DF105. The age of this group is very roughly 2700 years [i.e., much older than Clan Donald].

(My family is I haplogroup, so I've done a lot of research into the distinctions. We are likely descended from Gillespies also associated with the clan.)

by Kelly McDonald G2G2 (2.5k points)
selected by Loretta Layman

That's terribly interesting Kelly. I have to say I was a bit disappointed to learn that my McDaniels were Irish, but I soon embraced that heritage as well. Aside from the Y-DNA of a living chief, does anyone know for certain what Clan Donald Y-DNA looks like? We know that a "non-parental event" such as adoption or illegitimacy could have happened in any generation between. I'll get in touch with the cousin who manages my McDaniel cousin's account at FTDNA and see if he knows anything about M222-S658-DF104-DF105. He has always held out the hope that our McDaniels were nevertheless genetically related to Clan Donald.

BTW, my McDaniels were Protestants, and actively so, as far back as I can determine. The earliest church record I have is a 1788 marriage for Henry Jr. performed by the Baptist pastor John Alderson, Jr. Once the family arrived in Gallia Co., Ohio, Henry, his sons, and grandsons were members of the Baptist and United Brethren churches.

Oh yes, Clan Donald has an extensive Y-DNA project - here's the starter page: From there, you can go to "Participants' Test Results" and then R1b is where your folks would fall. Based on the comments, my money is on your family adopting the name as co-combatants in one battle or another.

My uncle was also hoping to be descended from Somerled (Somhairle) himself. Now, when people ask if my McDonalds are Irish or Scottish, I just say "yes!" And btw many sources (not all) say that Somerled was born in Ireland, so you're Irish either way. Happy (belated) St. Patrick's Day!

One more thought - it's not a very reliable indicator, but the forms of the name without the "d" tend to be Irish, whether by origin or adopted country. Scottish gaelic has harsher sounds, like the trailing "d," or Loch vs Lough in Irish, so an Irish person saying the same name would sound more like "McDannell." (We have both, but the one McDaniel is from the American South as several people have mentioned.)

That's interesting about the Baptists - but keep in mind that the Baptist faith is relatively new in the scope of things, only appearing in the early 1600s, so they would have converted at some point. The question is, from which religion did they convert, and when/where? I would suggest that your research in Ireland should include all faiths, since they may have converted when they arrived here in the US.
+5 votes
In Canada of the 19th century, surnames were spelled in censuses however the enumerator or registrar/clerk thought they should be spelled.  Because we have a hand-written history of our family from the 1930's/1940 and notes on the rural areas where people lived, we can verify that the same family's name was spelled at least three different ways in "official" records until about 1900.

In the case of our McDonnells, Canadian censuses flipped back and forth between McDonell, McDonnell and McDonald over the 19th century.  By the 20th century, one brother had apparently passed along the name as McDonald and started giving their origin as Scotland, while my great-great-grandfather, John, kept the family name as McDonnell.  One other difference: Richard McD continued to live in a 19th century Ontario, Canada that had a strong anti-Irish bias, and John McD moved to Chicago which was very Irish at the time.
by Joanna Gariepy G2G6 (7.2k points)
That's good to know Joanna. Thanks very much for sharing.
+2 votes

If the results you manage are on FTDNA you should join the Sons of Aodh project.  They are working on the YDNA side of those to descend from the high kings of ireland.  One of the main researchers, David, can give you more information after you join.  You may also benefit from submitting your data to the The Big Tree if your tester had the SNP testing completed.
by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 4 (40.7k points)
To add a bit more, I looked and I don't see a relation to my McDaniel line.  My line goes McDaniel- McDonough- O'Flaherty- Ui Briuin.  You may not actually descend from Naill, as David explained to me that that marker is only named after him but actually was created long before Naill was alive.
Eric, I've heard the same about the "Niall" marker. All the same, to generate so many descendants, it clearly belonged to a man of some power in northwest Ireland.

I'll pass on the Sons of Aodh project because my "Niall" match is not among the men in my Linn/Lynn project but is a close McDaniel cousin of mine. I appreciate the thought though.
0 votes
I too, have McDaniel ancestors and I just got my Ancestry dna test results but don't know where to go or what to do with them. Or do I have to retest to find my haplogroups? My McDaniel line goes back through Sumner Co, TN c 1800

And before that, Allen McDaniel of Rowan County, NC. Can someone please tell me if the basic ancestry test results are good for surname studies, or whatever your McDaniel DNA page is about? And if you know anything about this Allen McDaniel of Rowan Co, NC...that would be AMAZING!!!!!
by Cindi Bonney G2G5 (5.2k points)
Cindi, for a surname study, you need a male relative who is a McDaniel to have a Y-DNA test, at FamilyTreeDNA for example, not an AncestryDNA test.  Y-DNA is the male chromosome and therefore is helpful for paternal lineage / surname studies.  The Ancestry test, which is chiefly autosomal DNA, cannot identify your McDaniel lineage.  I'm sorry my McDaniels have no connection to the Rowan County McDaniels.
Loretta, thank you so much for making that clear! Is there a chart/page that I can look at that will show the different Y DNA testers of McDaniel lines, possibly Rowan Co, NC for those early dates? I would like to browse them.....where would I find that?
There's one at FamilyTreeDNA, but unfortunately no one can see the chart who hasn't had a Y-DNA test or manages the account of someone with a Y-DNA test.  There's another that is publicly available, at least to some extent, but it doesn't include geographical locations or even full names but initials and last name only.  BTW, McDaniel is a corruption of McDonald, so there are Y-DNA matches between the two.  Go here and click the link for Participant's Test Results on the Menu.  You can only search for Participants if you have a member code.

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