Introduction to Y-DNA testing and the Wishart DNA Project

FTDNA-LogoThe Wishart DNA Project was set up in October 2010 to facilitate knowledge and understanding of how Wishart lineages relate by combining Y-Chromosome DNA data and traditional documentary evidence. DNA can be a powerful tool, corroborating and confirming which Wishart lines are connected genealogically and consequently helping genetic cousins confirm their relatedness. It has the potential to bridge the gap where the paper trail is ambiguous, documents are lost or you simply have run out of records to search.

Who can participate?

Only men have a Y-chromosome, which descends purely down the paternal line: it carries information about the male-line of descent which typically coincides with the descent of a surname. For the purposes of the Project therefore, we are using the Y-DNA test, which will tell you about your direct male line, that is, your father, your father’s father, your father’s father’s father, and so forth back in time.

To participate in the test you should therefore be a male bearing the Wishart surname or one of its known variant spellings. If you are female, you will need to ask your brother, father, uncle, cousin or other male relative to take a test on your behalf.

Which test should you take?

We use Family Tree DNA as our testing company as it has the largest database of results for surname research. It hosts projects for the majority of surnames, clans and families along with national projects including those for Scotland, Ireland, Wales and the British Isles. It also hosts projects investigating deep ancestry beneficial to surname research and the period when surnames were becoming fixed.

We are using the 37-marker test which is usually sufficient to confirm matches within a genealogical timeframe. These 37 positions on the Y-Chromosome have been identified as being genealogically informative. You may upgrade at any time to 67 markers which will help to confirm the time frame when you shared a common ancestor with your closest matches. The extra markers will also help if you are interested in exploring your deep ancestry.

How are matches calculated?

When cells reproduce they make copies of each of the chromosomes present in the cell nucleus. Every so often a copy error occurs in this process. These copy errors or differences are commonly known in genetic genealogy as mutations. Individuals who are genealogically related to another individual will have very few of these differences. For example a Wishart man who matches another participant on 35 markers out of 37 would be reasonably closely connected genealogically. Meanwhile two Wishart men who only match each other on 26 markers out of 37 would not have shared a common ancestor for several thousands of years.

The Project currently has thirteen distinct lineages represented. As the Project continues to grow we can expect to be able to make firmer pronouncements on the Wishart surname, its multiple-ancestor origins and the geographical predominance of each lineage. We cannot guarantee that a participant will necessarily match other Wishart men as the project is in its early stages of development. Another factor which may influence an individual matching other participants is that their particular line is not represented in the database, simply because over the centuries it has produced few male lineages which have survived until the present day.

As is the nature of Y-DNA research, adoption, an unknown paternity event and other change of surname may be revealed. Having said all that, genealogy is about researching our real ancestors and their origins. Y-DNA can thus shed insight where previously there was none and open up new avenues of research.

How is the sample taken?

The sample is taken with a simple mouth swab from the cheek inside the mouth. This is sent to the laboratory in Houston, USA and results are returned approximately 4-6 weeks later. Your test results are compared to the Family Tree DNA database and you will be informed of any genetic matches by email and also on your own personal Family Tree DNA user page. Your results will automatically be added to the Wishart DNA Project.

Members of this Project are interested in working together to find their common heritage through Y-DNA testing and the sharing of information. Those with any of the listed eligible surnames are welcome to join the Project to determine if their surname is genetically linked to others in the Project.

How to take part

If you live in the British Isles (including elsewhere in the world apart from North America) kits can be supplied by Alasdair Macdonald, Scottish representative for Family Tree DNA who is one of the administrators for the Wishart DNA Project. Please email: and he will provide further details.
If you live in the US or Canada kits can be purchased through the Project website via this link: Wishart DNA Project  Click Join Request and choose Option B (if you haven’t already signed up with the site.