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DNA Research: James McDaniel Sr (abt. 1708 - aft. 1774)

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Subject: James McDaniel Sr Wiki ID McDaniel-576 DNA explanation and conflicts of genealogical research



Our McDaniel ancestry is actually not that of the Lords of Clan Donald, who have Norse genetic markers. Y-DNA testing of male descendants of James McDaniel, Sr. of Maryland, show we have the Gaelic genetic marker R-M222, which is estimated to be the primary paternal lineage for 8% of Irish and Scots-Irish males. This differs from Lt. Brian’s descendants that are connected to “Clan Colla,” with a different Gaelic genetic marker. The results show our lineage is connected to the McDonagh cadet branch of the O’Flaherty chiefs of West Connacht, Ireland.

The O’Flaherty chiefs, who were the ruling family of the Muintir Murchadha dynasty from ~900 A.D. onward (the McDonagh offshoot likely occurred around 1000 A.D.), originated from the Irish Uí Briúin Seóla sept of the Uí Briúin dynasty. The Uí Briúin is named after Brión, son of Irish High King Eochaid Mugmedón. The progeny of Brión and his full brothers collectively are referred to as the “Connachta,” being descendants of High King Conn Cétchathach. Brión was also the older paternal half-brother of the Irish High King Niall Noígíallach, founder of the Uí Néill dynasty and the “O’Neal” surname. The R-M222 marker was nicknamed after Niall, however the genetic marker occurred centuries before he was born. All known Connachta and Uí Néill descendants, including our McDaniel family, have the R-M222 and a more recent R-DF105 marker. Testing also shows an even more recent R-BY18145 marker is likely the signature of the O’Flaherty chiefs; which is found in O’Flaherty, McDonagh, and other offshoots. A few testers with the surname McDonough have records linking their family back to Galway, Ireland; which corroborates the genetic data.

How are we connected with Clan Donald? While the name McDonagh is similar to MacDonald there is no direct paternal link. There could be an association with Clan Donald some time in history, or possibly not. History has recorded a connection of Connacht men to Scotland. A 17th century poem by Niall MacMhuirich titled “Domhnall mac Raghnaill, Rosg Mall” actually refers to Irish men serving Domhnall (Donald). Specifically the poem indicates he received help from “do chloinn Bhriain is Cholla is Chuinn,” meaning “of the progeny of Brian and Colla and Conn” (referring to Conn Cétchathach). It is possible that O’Flaherty and McDonagh men resided in Scotland at some point after military aid, and became “Scottish-ized.” This could explain why McDonagh was corrupted to MacDaniel/McDaniel. This theory is supported by evidence of the O’Flaherty surname being corrupted to the Scottish McLardy and then to Clarida/Clardy; as other Clarida men share the same O’Flaherty R-BY18145 marker.

Following this theory, there is some evidence that the immediate generations prior to James Sr. had lived in Scotland. Specific to James Sr., he named two of his properties “Golloway” and “Isle of Aaron,” which could refer to two known Scottish locations, Galloway and Isle of Arran. Alternatively, he could have meant Galway and the Aran Islands, which are known landmarks in Connacht.

There are records of other McDaniel individuals in Maryland prior to James Sr., who could be relatives. One promising record is of a “Redman MackDannel” that was “transported” into County Dorchester in 1681 with a few other Irishmen. Redman has been a very common name for James Sr.’s descendants, often believed to be the maiden name of James’ wife, Rebecca. However there has been no proof to confirm her maiden name, and it is possible the name has been passed down by McDaniel men to their descendants. James’ estate records also list Francis McDaniel as being a kinsman, however little is known about this Francis.


James McDaniel/MacDonald Sr was likely born around 1708 in America, but possibly in Scotland or Ireland. His parents are unknown, but are not Bryan McDonald Jr. and Pricilla Robinson, as often claimed. DNA testing shows that there is no relation given James Sr.’s male descendants have the R-M222 genetic marker. James married Rebecca (surname often assumed to be Redman/Redmond) (unknown-1784), possibly around 1726 in Maryland. They had 8 children (possibly out of order): William (~1728- 6/8/1781, killed by indians in Bedford, PA); Mary Sparks (~b. 1731); Rebecca Wright; Elizabeth Becraft; James Jr.; John; Joseph (1748-1802); and Redman. James was involved in numerous land transactions in Prince George’s County (now Frederick County), Maryland. In 1747 he purchased a warrant for 100 acres from John Howard, and a second warrant for 75 acres from Capt. John Dorsey. He patented the 175 total acres into what he called “Golloway Patent.” In 1748 he purchased another warrant for 150 acres. Of which, 50 acres was patented and named “Isle of Aaron.” In 1749 he patented the remaining 100 acres, which he called “MackDonald’s Chance.” That same hear he purchased a warrant and patented 144 acres, which he called “Bite the Biter.” In 1750 he mortgaged “Bite the Biter,” and in 1752 he mortgaged “McDaniel’s Chance,” both to Edward Dorsey. Also in 1752, James and John Howard purchased all the corn and tobacco grown by Philip Howard, along with 2 cows. In 1753, by virtue of a special warrant for adjoining vacancies to “Golloway,” James was able to acquire an additional 140 acres, which was named “Resurvey on Golloway.” In May of 1760 he is noted as picking up “a stray,” meaning he likely took in a stray livestock. By 1763 he paid off the mortgage on “Bite the Bitter.” In 1764 James purchased another 50 acres called “Preston’s Lott.” Finally in 1770 he acquired an additional 230 acres through a special warrant for vacant land adjoining “MackDonald’s Chance,” which he named “Resurvey on MacDaniel’s Chance.” James made his Will on 4/28/1774. James’ Will divided the land among his children William, Redman, John, James, Joseph, and his grandsons through William- James and Joseph. On 11/20/1774 he donated 7 shillings to the families in Boston that were suffering from the Act of British Parliament (J. McDaniel Sr.). His son James Jr. donated, as well as a Francis McDaniel. James died sometime after November, 1774. His estate documents reference Francis McDaniel being a relative (brother, cousin, or nephew). Rebecca is said to have died on 12/20/1784, also in Frederick County.


Date of birth: Est. 1708

There is no source for his date of birth. Estimation is based upon circumstantial evidence regarding his son and grandchildren. James' Will bequeaths land to his son William and 2 of his grandsons (children of William). Land could not be bequeathed to minors, therefore after adding the estimated birth dates, it is probable that he was born around or before 1708.

Jame's place of birth is unknown. There are other McDaniel individuals in Frederick County, Maryland, including a kinsman Francis McDaniel.



James' parents and family are unknown, other than a kinsman "Francis McDaniel" is noted in his estate. It is likely that either James' father or grandfather were living in Scotland or Ireland. This is based upon a lack of McDaniel men being noted in Maryland much prior to his estimated date of birth. Additionally James named 2 of his property's "Galloway" and "Isle of Aaron," both being known Scottish landmarkers. Alternatively, he could have been referencing Galway, Ireland and the "Isles of Aran," both being known Connacht, Ireland landmarkers. Given DNA testing results showing his heritage is Gaelic and deeply rooted in Connacht, Ireland, this theory is very plausible as well.

DNA Confirmed Resources

Paternal relationship is confirmed through Y-chromosome DNA testing. FTDNA kit #868351, great-grandson of Arthur McDaniel and, FTDNA kit #182787, son of Robert McDaniel match at a Genetic Distance of 2 on 67 markers thereby confirming their direct paternal lines back to their MRCA James McDaniel. FTDNA indicates that the probability the two share a common ancestor within the last 10 generations is 89.48%.


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