Monday, January 06, 2014

R1b1b2a1a2f*: the Seels and Niall of the Nine Hostages

23andMe sequenced both my (paternally inherited) Y-chromosome and my (maternally-inherited) mitochondrial DNA - but I have largely ignored this information up to now. Big mistake!

My paternal haplogroup is R1b1b2a1a2f* and I have a related post linking this with the SNP Haplogroup Tree Mutation Map (in 23andMe/Ancestry Tools).

The dedicated Facebook entry has this to say about it (text also on 23andMe/Ancestry Tools).
Haplogroup R1b1b2a1a2f2

R1b1b2a1a2f2 reaches its peak in Ireland, where the vast majority of men carry Y-chromosomes belonging to the haplogroup. Researchers have recently discovered that a large subset of men assigned to the haplogroup may be direct male descendants of an Irish king who ruled during the 4th and early 5th centuries. According to Irish history, a king named Niall of the Nine Hostages established the Ui Neill dynasty that ruled the island country for the next millennium.

Northwestern Ireland is said to have been the core of Niall's kingdom; and that is exactly where men bearing the genetic signature associated with him are most common. About 17% of men in northwestern Ireland have Y-chromosomes that are exact matches to the signature, and another few percent vary from it only slightly. In New York City, a magnet for Irish immigrants during the 19th and early 20th century, 2% of men have Y-chromosomes matching the Ui Neill signature. Genetic analysis suggests that all these men share a common ancestor who lived about 1,700 years ago. Among men living in northwestern Ireland today that date is closer to 1,000 years ago. Those dates neatly bracket the era when Niall is supposed to have reigned.

Outside Ireland, R1b1b2a1a2f2 is relatively common only along the west coast of Britain.
If you want to dig deeper, Delaney Henretty (from the comments below) suggested this site:

Take a look at 'subclades'.


We know the Seels in Bristol migrated (on the male line) from Oldham back in the nineteenth century. It now appears that at some earlier time a male ancestor came across from Ireland. At an even earlier time, there was a male ancestor who shared descent with the High King of Ireland, Niall of the Nine Hostages (maybe!).

Niall of the Nine Hostages

I mentioned this to my mother on my visit yesterday and she enquired as to whether I would be using the title HRH in future.

On the maternal side, my mitochondrial haplotype is H which is pretty common in Europe. The Wikipedia article states that "haplogroup H probably evolved in West Asia c. 25,000 years ago. It was carried to Europe by migrations c. 20-25,000 years ago, and spread with population of the southwest of the continent. Its arrival was roughly contemporary with the rise of the Gravettian culture."

Obviously not so coincidentally, we had a family outing to the new Greek taverna in Wells on Saturday and enjoyed an excellent Greek meal. Although strictly speaking, only I can definitively put this down to deep genetics ...


  1. Delaney Henretty sent me this observation:

    "Your post is two years old, but you may not have figured out yet that f* means you have not been tested for the M222 defining mutation. You are confirmed R1b-L21 and L21 has several downstream haplogroups, m222 is just one of them, there are many others."

    Thanks for that. As you can see, comments are now on here.

  2. Formerly my nephew's Y-DNA was defined as R1b1b2a1a2f*. Now that 23andme has changed their haplogroup designations he is labeled
    R-M529. How does that fit with what is written above?

  3. I have just today had my test results as R1b1b2a1a2f*

    I know that some of my line come from Carmarthen, Wales. To be honest I am struggling to work out what this classification actually means.

    1. My gggrandfather was from wales and i am also R1b1b2a1a2f* if it helps at all
      Do you have any updates on this haplogroup?Im still trying to figure out its classification also

    2. Hi I have the same paternal line, I'm from Llanelli in Wales, about 8 miles from Carmarthen.. It seems the R1b1b2a1a2f* haplogroup is mainly from North Western Northern Ireland.. But seeing your welsh connections, my nephew found this on
      It shows the irish settlements in Wales after the end of roman rule. also Niall had St Patrick as a slave who escaped and in wales in Banwen St Patricks alleged birth town Maybe we are related to him!

  4. Share this Haplogroup rm-222 but my ancestors where from Cheshire they left Baguley next to Wythenshawe settled in Macclesfield b4 coming to VA but oral tradition says they came over with Vikings from Ireland...

  5. Share this Haplogroup rm-222 but my ancestors where from Cheshire they left Baguley next to Wythenshawe settled in Macclesfield b4 coming to VA but oral tradition says they came over with Vikings from Ireland...

  6. I Am R1b1b2a1a2f* with J1c2c the bloodline of KING RICHARD III BLOODLINE


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