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DNA Research

With rare exceptions, every human being has exactly 46 chromosomes, which are made of DNA. These chromosomes determine a person's inherited traits. Eye color, height, the shape of your hairline - it's all there somewhere.

In all but two of these chromosomes, the DNA from both parents is blended together thoroughly to form something completely new. But one pair of chromosomes works differently. That pair's sole function is to determine the sex of the individual. The chromosome the mother contributes to that pair always has the value of X. The father, though, can contribute either another X chromosome or a Y chromosome. If it's an X, the child will be female; If it's a Y, the child will be male. Therefore, the Y chromosome's route is very easy to follow: it goes from father to son to son to son and so on.

This "yDNA" is passed from father to son over hundreds of years (and even thousands of years) with little or no change. Because surnames in Western cultures are inherited from father to son and follow the direct male line, yDNA "traces" the surname in a fashion that is ideal for genealogy. Tracing the slight changes allow researchers to determine the "genetic distance" between two individuals.

To examine and explore these changes and similarities, yDNA tests generally look at pairings on a number of sites on the DNA. If the men in question have yDNA sequences that are identical or very close, one can estimate the probabilities that their common ancestor lived within a given number of generations. For example, if two identically surnamed men should match perfectly on 23 or more markers from a 25-marker DNA test, then one could have a high degree of confidence that their common male ancestor lived within the last few hundred years. FTDNA offers 12, 25, 37 or 67 marker tests. The greater the number of markers tested, the greater the accuracy of estimating genetic distance.

The Claiborne / Clyburn / Claybourn / Clayborn Surname Y-chromosome DNA Study is a volunteer genealogical activity, whose main aim is to encourage and support DNA analysis for tracing the applicable families and for discovering relationships among these families, including families whose names are variants of them. The project is organized and coordinated by Dr. Alex Waldrop III of The National Society of the Claiborne Family Descendants using Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) of Houston, Texas.

The DNA study now looks at fourteen different families to determine which, if any, of these families share a direct male line ancestor. The fourteen families are:

  1. The descendants of William Claiborne of Virginia, son of Thomas Cleyborne of King's Lynn, County Norfolk, England.
  2. The descendants of the Westmorland family of Cliburn Hall in England.
  3. The descendants of John Cliborn / Clyborn of Old Henrico (sometimes referred to as John of Dale Parish).
  4. The descendants of John Clibborn born in Durham, England who went to Moate, Ireland around 1640; John Clibborn later became a Quaker.
  5. The descendants of the Clayburns of Yorkshire that apparently originated in the Howden area of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England.
  6. A control family without a Claiborne-like surname.
  7. The descendants of Richard Claiborne (1755-1819).
  8. The descendants of Alfred Charles Cliburn who was born in 1873 in Brighton, Sussex, England.
  9. The descendants of William Cliburn (1750 to after 1820), Joshua Clyburn (c. 1738 - c. 1799) and James Clyburn (1822 - 1881). Many of these Clyburns settled in South Carolina.
  10. The descendants of Nathaniel Britton Claborn / Cliborn (1803-1902) born in South Carolina and later moved to Alabama.
  11. The descendants of John Clayburn (1820-?) of Manchester, England.
  12. The descendants of another Alabama Claborn.
  13. The descendants of Alfred Clayborn of Weakley County, Tennessee.
  14. 14. The descendants of Joseph Kocher (1865 - 1929)
These fourteen families were then grouped based on similarities and differences into six subgroups, listed below. The number of donors is based on Dr. Waldrop's 2013 report.

Subgroup Family Numbers Number of Donors
Durham 4 2
Norfolk 1, 7, and 14 12
Westmorland 1 2, 3 and 11 11
Westmorland 2 9 8
Westmorland 3 13 2
Not Grouped All other families 11

It is clear that all of the families in the three Westmorland subgroups share a common ancestor originating from the Cliburn Hall area at Westmorland County in northern England (Westmorland is now part of Cumbria). As of 2013 there was a total of twenty-one donors from the Westmorland subgroups, and among them there are few mismatches. Those that do occur have been used to distinguish the three subgroups. Joshua Clyburn (c. 1758 - c. 1799), the ancestor of families affiliated with the Claybourn Genealogical Society, falls within the "Westmorland 2" subgroup.

In addition to confirming Joshua's ancestral origins in Westmorland, the tests indicate that John Cliborn of Dale Parish, Chesterfield Co., Virginia (known as John of Dale Parish), who lived from about 1712 - 1766, also originated from the same family in Westmorland and likely shared a common ancestor with Joshua Clyburn. Based on the genetic yDNA differences, Alex Waldrop estimates that Joshua and John's shared ancestor likely lived in the 1500's or 1600's, and thus the two families branched out around that time. The study also revealed that William Claiborne, the famous Secretary of Virginia who lived from about 1600 to about 1677, is not related to Joshua Clyburn and thus did not originate out of Westmorland, as was once assumed.

The actual allele values for 37 locations on the Y chromosome of one Joshua Clyburn descendant donor are listed below. These results are compared to other individuals to see how closely or distantly they may have shared a common ancestor. The rate of mutational change varies for each one of the markers. Click here for an explanation of the 37 markers below (pdf).

PANEL 1 (1-12)

Locus

1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12

DYS#

393
390
19*
391
385a
385b
426
388
439
389-1
392
389-2

Alleles

13
23
14
11
10
14
12
12
12
13
13
29
PANEL 2 (13-25)

Locus

13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25

DYS#

458
459a
459b
455
454
447
437
448
449
464a
464b
464c
464d

Alleles

17
9
9
11
11
24
15
19
30
15
16
18
19
PANEL 3 (26-37)

Locus

26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37

DYS#

460
GATA H4
YCA II a
YCA II b
456
607
576
570
CDYa
CDYb
442
438

Alleles

12
10
20
21
17
15
17
17
34
38
13
12

* Also known as DYS 394

If you are interested in participating in the DNA Study, please contact us and we will forward your name and contact information on to Dr. Waldrop.



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