The Clan Gregor Society DNA Project

New members often ask about the Clan Gregor DNA project, found along with many other clan surname projects on Family Tree DNA. There are many questions, some are unique to the inquirer and some of which are fairly universal. Here are a few of the most frequently asked.

Where do I find the MacGregor results?

The main MacGregor results are at You will find that there are many separate sub-groups (Gregory, Greer, Orr, Viking, etc.) which come partly from the multiple origins of most clans, and partly from the extensive list of aliases (see back of CGS newsletter) which we have as a result of our “colorful” past under Proscription. Not everyone in a clan has the same genetic origins, often with as many “incomers” (those who join the clan for protection, territory, or because they are conquered) as there are founders descending from a single individual.  In the case of the MacGregors, the current project with over 1600 members reflects roughly 53% of the MacGregor group (Red) as descended from one ancestor.

In general, what markers are typically found in the Gregor Clan and is there a particular ancestor that most Clan Gregor members descend from?

At first glance, the Family Tree DNA project has so much information that it’s a bit confusing. The markers tested, called STR’s or single tandem repeats, are in general forensic and identify us as closely related. One of the most significant markers for the Argyllshire MacGregor DNA signature has been DYS385a& b, both at 10, whereas the most common for the whole group of R1b folk (that is, northern 'Celtic' Europeans, and in particular the Dalriadic clans on Scotland’s west side) is 10-11 or 11-11. The 10-10 markers are quite unique even among nearby clans – Buchanan, Campbell, Stewart, McIntyre and McLaren and may support the proverb that “none is older than the hills, the rivers, and the Clan Alpine” (see more on this name connection to Gregor).

We were fortunate that our Chief took part in DNA testing and we discovered that once we had a significant number of participants who had similar DNA signatures we were able to predict what the DNA signature for the common ancestor 600 years ago actually was. Because MacGregors had to use aliases for the best part of 200 years we thought this gave us a good indication of who were all descended from the person we believe was the progenitor of the clan - Ian Cam(“the one-eyed”), son of Gregor “of the Golden Bridles” of Dalmally glen, Glenorchy in Argyll.  We postulate the origins of the MacGregors for this core Argyllshire MacGregor group as going well back into the Bronze Age, and possibly of Pictish roots (see later).

With the advent of more detailed SNP testing recently, we have discovered that the SNP S690 (SNP = Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) a mutation which occurs in time and is passed down from that point on – a sort of marker in time.  S690 is a better indicator of being a MacGregor, and so is worth testing if it doesn’t come up in your first results.

How does the Clan use DNA information?

We have been doing DNA testing since 2001 and it has proved very attractive to people abroad in particular as it can bridge the gap to Scotland which they cannot do otherwise through lack of genealogical evidence, which even at best runs out at about the 15th century. We share and compare our results with other projects, and by marking your results as “public”, they can be seen by other researchers and genetic genealogists. It is becoming common now in medical research, although the decision to make those results public is up to the tester. It is estimated that genetic genealogy has spurred worldwide interest in DNA tenfold in the past few years and it is still growing. There are various DNA tests can tell us different things about ourselves.

Want to know more?

If interested, go to to post your questions and for guidance on your research. Family Tree can be reached at 713 868-1438 to order your tests (we recommend the Y-67 or Y-111 tests for starters (Males only for the Surname Projects. Sadly, female DNA -mtDNA- is more complex and is only now being organized properly). However the Family Finder test may also be useful if you are seeking genetic cousins at 2,3,4,5, even 6 generations – and from both parents! Be sure to ask about their sales for better prices.

Thanks to Richard McGregor and Keith MacGregor for help with this information.

WM Parker