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Templeton Irish DNA

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Irish DNA as it Applies to Templetons

There are two basic Y-DNA sequences associated with the Templeton surname. One is “Scottish” in nature and one is “Irish” in nature. As to the Irish DNA, it might be better to say it is Gael or Gaelic and it is not just associated with those born in Ireland but also those born in Scotland/England. We normally refer to some Templetons as Scots-Irish because of the movement of Scots to Ireland, but it might be the other way around and should be Irish-Scots, as explained below.

We start with Roman rule in Britannia from AD 50 to about AD 410. The southern part of Britain was known as Britannia and the northern (now northern Scotland) was called Caledonia. Britannia extended up to the Antonine Wall which was north of Hadrian’s Wall. In 297 there was the first Roman reference to attacks by the Picts of the north and later records identified Irish invaders as Scotti or Scoti. The Romans never invaded or established any rule in Hibernia, which is modern day Ireland.[1]

The name Scotti (Scoti) appears to have been first mentioned in Nomina Provinciarum Omnium which translates as Names of All the Provinces. It was written about AD 312. Included in the list of names is Scoti. In Saint Prosper’s AD 431 chronicle he mentions Pope Celestine sending Saint Palladius to Ireland to preach the gospel. Specifically, he states “ad Scotti in Christum” which is translated “to the Irish who believed in Christ.”[2] (Saint Palladius preceded Saint Patrick to Ireland.)

The Celtic Gaels inhabited Hibernia which was divided into five general areas. The northern most was called Ulad in what is now Ulster, and includes County Antrim on the northeast coast. The “Scotti” began migrations (invading?) from Ulad to Caledonia (Scotland) in the 4th – 5th centuries. In doing so, they brought their Gaelic (Irish) DNA to Scotland. These raids by the Scotti are mentioned by 4th and 5th century writers. At least four separate Latin writers, who have been identified by name up to AD 452, as mentioning the name Scotti. Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis, mentioned the name in his Greek work in the 370s AD. One of the Gaelic raiders who has been mentioned by name is Nail of the Nine Hostages who was a tribal ruler from 379 to 405.[3]

Further to this we have what is known as the Dal Riata. “Dál Riata (also Dalriada or Dalriata) was a Gaelic overkingdom that included parts of western Scotland and northeastern Ulster in Ireland, across the North Channel. In the late 6th–early 7th century it encompassed roughly what is now Argyll and Lochaber in Scotland and also County Antrim in Ulster.”[4] A more detailed description of the Dal Riata can be found at the end to this article.

Irish DNA Haplogroups

Some of the Gailic (Irish) DNA haplogroups have been identified with Irish clans, of which two haplogroups would have been introduced into Scotland:

R-S971 (Clan Colla, a sub clan under Connachta)
R-M222 (Connachta and Ui Neill) Note: Ui Neill refers to clan of Niall of the Nine Hostages
R-L21 (Dai Fiatach) Note: Dai Fiatach and Dal Riata, mentioned above, are clans under Erainn
R-L226 (Dal gCais)
R-CTS4466 (Egoganachta)
R-L159.2 (Laigin)[5]

The writer has tested positive for R-M222 and R-L21, indicating his Templeton DNA is Irish.

Dal Riata

In the late 5th century AD, Fergus Mor mac Eirc (son of Eirc) of the Irish Dal Riata clan and apparently of royal blood, left Hibernia (Ireland) with other members of the clan. At some point they became large enough to create a dual clan with the one in Ireland. Being what the Romans called Scotti, they settled initially on the west coast of Scotland with headquarters located in Kintyre. The North Channel separates Kintyre and County Antrim in Ireland by about 12 miles. This movement by Fergus eventually led to the establishment of the Dal Riata “empire” with two seats of government, one in Ireland and the other in “Scotland.” Over time the “Scottish” Dal Riata overcame the indigenous Picts in the eastern area, leaving the “Scotti” in control.

This brings us to Saint Columba to tie it all together.

Saint Columba, an Irish abbot whose Irish name was Colm Cille, followed the Scotti (Dal Riata) into Kintyre and spread Christianity into what is now Scotland. His abbey was on Iona. Not only is he the Patron Saint of Derry, but he is one of the Twelve Apostles of Ireland and one of the three early Irish saints. On his father's side, it is said he was great-great-grandson of Niall of the Nine Hostages, an Irish high king who raided Scotland in the late 4th century and reportedly died there in 405. Saint Columba was also a politician who helped resolve differences between the Irish Dal Riata and the Scotti Dal Riata at the Convention of Druim Cett, which it is believed was arranged by Columba.

Per the 575AD Annals of Ulster report, the “great convention of Druim Cett" was held near Limavady in County Londonderry, Ireland. Aed mac Ainmuirech, high king of Ui Neill in Ireland, Aedan mac Gabrain, king of the Scottish branch of Dal Riata, and Columba were in attendance. Columba is reported to have been a distant cousin of Aed. Part of the discussion concerned the status of Aedan's kingdom. An agreement was reached that the fleet of Dal Riata would serve the Uí Néill and warriors were to be provided by the Dal Riata in Ireland. The basic result was the “Scottish” part to the Dal Riata dynasty was confirmed in its existing form. Aedán could raise taxes, but the right to raise an army went to Aed, king of the Dal Riata in Ireland.

Around 637 AD it appears the Dal Riata “empire” broke up and the two branches separated, with the Scottish branch relinquishing all rights to land in Ireland.

With Niall’s and the Dal Riata’s invasions, it would appear at least two Irish haplogroups, R-M222 and R-L21, were introduced into Scotland/England.

Most of the above is from three resources cited by others on the Dal Riata and Columba: [6] [7] [8]

- Ron Templeton

Ron is a South Carolina Native, a West Point Graduate, BS, MS. He is a retired Air Force Lt. Col. and Aerospace Engineer. He has been a Genealogist for over 20 years. In regards to his Templeton line he has been collaborating with DNA project managers researching Templetons in NC. Three different Templeton "clans" have been identified. Two are in Iredell County and the third just south of Iredell County. He has also researched Templetons in Laurens County and York County, SC. Per DNA, there is a connection with his NC line and the Laurens County Templetons. As to York County, SC, he is looking for descendants of a James Templeton who was born there about 1755 and later moved to Pike County, Missouri.


  1. Britain and Ireland: A Traveler’s Guide to Great Britain and Ireland, National Geographic Society (includes history or British isles from 3000BC to 1800AD.
  2. Wikipedia Page for Scoti
  3. includes info from 1 and 2
  4. Dal Riata, with reference to Oxford Companion to Scottish History, p 161/162, Oxford University Press
  5. Wikipedia Page On Scoti
  6. Gratton-Flood, W.H. (1913), The Twelve Apostles of Erin, Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company.
  7. Adomnán (1995), Sharpe, Richard, ed., Life of St Columba, London: Penguin
  8. Anderson, Alan Orr (1990), Early Sources of Scottish History A.D 500–1286 I (2nd ed.), Stamford: Paul Watkins

See Also:



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Categories: Templeton Name Study