Our Path Through Time

Click any one of these to follow our family's complete path through time
Click to see our Early Path through time 2a Click to read our more recent era

We know we have distinct groups that don't relate until far back in history. So how do we account for the fact that all our lineages have the surname? My hypothesis is that it's due, in many cases, to them being on the land at the right time to acquire a place-name. So I'm using this "path" method to see if our lineages could indeed have been in France and Flanders, at the right time. The way to think about this 'Path" approach I'm taking is as staging grounds. If DNA can establish our ancient ancestors in geography through time, we can "stage" them for entry into other geography to understand when, how, and if they were in Normandy and Flanders..

<<  Click haplotypes at left to learn their path

Below, on this page, is the part of the DNA study where I take you all the way back to the origins of mankind, then trace our ancestors' paths forward to get as far forward in time as the wide variety of data allows. As far back in time as that is, you may think this is a useless exercise but, thanks in part to work by people like the Genographic Project, archaeologists, linguists and others, we know a great deal about wide scale migration patterns of the human species. As we work our way forward in time, more uncertainty gets introduced. But then, thanks to SNPs, certain written records by the Greeks and Romans and archaeological evidence, we can once again guess our ancestors' paths with a reasonable amount of certainty.

 This page, below, takes you back to our most ancient paths and sets the staging ground for the mutations that formed our lineages. Those haplogroup links at left take the path from about the time of the retreat of the LGM forward in time as far as possible. Then, see the "Genealogy Groupings" link, working backwards in time from the present day, to see if we can link all this up. But first, read on below, because before we became those haplotypes at left, we were all working our way out of Africa.



As the chart above shows, the Sinclair’s path through time is far more complex than R.W. Saint-Clair’s history can account for. We have at least eight and possibly as many as ten haplogroups (what I call Lineages). Some of these developed a mutation that defines them as being in a different geography at a relatively recent date. Others mutated away from one another far earlier. There is a great deal of research that scientists and researchers have put into understanding our migration paths since Africa. As you read through this section, you’ll see how DNA can be combined with many other areas of research to better understand our geographical wanderings through time.

Overview Points -

• Our R1b members’ most ancient ancestors were Haplogroup N in Africa. The very ancient ancestors of our DNA participants came out of Africa in the second wave to leave that continent as Haplogroup B about 60,000 years ago. This B Haplogroup eventually became the R Haplogroup that eventually became R1b and R1a. The St. Clairs are almost all R1b and, as we now know, R1b1c.

• Our ancestors and our species nearly didn’t make it. Severe drought threatened the human race’s very survival 70,000 years ago and also resulted in a genetic diversity that’s much tighter than it would have been otherwise.

• Our R1b1c Deep Clade results helps us pinpoint where we were just before the last ice age, about 23,000 years ago - Kazakhstan 

• The Ice Age forced our ancestors south to find arable land and game. One theory I posit is that it also led at least some of us apart. Some going due south, others south and west into the Middle-East. The Heyer Study of 1997 seems to verify this theory.

• After the ice retreated, most of our participants ancestors moved back north and eventually west to become the ‘Barbarians’ written about by the Greeks and Romans.

• One of our R1b lineages may have ended up in and around Israel, later traveling with and perhaps actually being Israelite. The Heyer Study shows that a particular pattern of DNA on the DYS390 marker appears to have traveled with the Jewish Diaspora of 70 AD. An R1b study of those of Jewish ancestry proves that about 10% are in the R1b Haplogroup.

• There is good reason to believe that some of our cousins may have ended up with the Gothic tribes.

• Those R1bs who stayed in what is now Northern Europe became part of the ‘tribal stew’ that formed the fluid social structure of the barbaric tribes.

• The movements of these Barbarians (or Germanics, as the Romans called them) have also been somewhat well described using archaeology, and place names. 

• There is also a chance that our AMH ancestors were among those Barbarians who, living on the fringes of the Roman Empire’s outer kingdoms, merged into their society either as soldiers for hire or as tradesmen. There was not so much a Barbaric invasion of Rome as a slow, inevitable merging of cultures.

• One group of these groups of Barbarians eventually moved into the west in the areas of northern France and Flanders. They became the Salian Franks and, much later, the Merovingians. Our Name Matching project has shown that some of our members share ancestors with descendants of the Merovingians.

• Another group of our family, a large group in fact, were almost certainly among the Visigoth (Anglo-Saxon) “Invasion” of England between 400 and 1,000 AD.

• The Merovingians were deposed by the Carolingians.

• Our DNA supports my belief that sometime during our time as ‘barbarians,’ our family had several splits that led us into different areas. This could have been the result of the mixing of barbaric tribes. Malcolm Todd (27) wrote about this mixing in several points of his book. It could also have been the result of some of our family attaining Roman lands and some not. As a result, some of our family members show Salian Frankish/Merovingian/Flemish connections. Others show connections with the Visigoths. Others with the Norse.

In brief, many events unfolded over so many millennia which changed the course (literally) of our history.
• Multiple ice ages, one of which allowed our ancestors to travel past the Red Sea, on one side of it or the other, up and out of Africa
• Mutations of our ancestors’ DNA that allow us to trace their course since that exit from Africa
• Another ice age that forced a slow dispersal amongst the human race about 23,000 years ago, mixing some of us up among other ‘races’
• Human migrations, wars and trade that led to further mixing among haplogroups.
• The Romans, the Celts, the Goths, Franks and others who moved about on the relatively limited landscape of Western Europe
• What appears to be the purposeful intermarriage between our family and the royal houses of Europe, the Templars, the Merovingians and others
• The ambitions of William the Conqueror
• The history of Great Britain

 DNA can absolutely solve some of these questions and slight point the way towards answers for the others.

Because we know we were in one area at a specific time, we could begin to account for the genetic mutations that have separated our family since then.

I feel compelled to tell you that you’ll find many pages on the internet from as recently as 2001 that are still live on the web reaching conclusions that likely now have been proven to be incomplete. The reason is simple – As the available database of those tested grows, we learn more and more. Here is one such page.

Some of this information is still very accurate based on what genetics researchers have discovered. However, some of it has since been disproved. For instance –

“… all Northern Europeans could be descended from between just 50-1,000 Stone Age hunter-gatherers who survived the last Ice Age. One theory is that the population expanded from a small enclave of foragers who retreated south around 20,000 years ago to an area in the Balkans or Spain to escape the spread of the glaciers. Such genetic data fits in surprisingly well with archaeological clues. The findings suggest northern Europeans diverged from their African roots as recently as 27,000-53,000 years ago and were then subjected to a genetic bottleneck caused by the climate changes wreaked by the last Ice Age. The study measured the amount of shuffling of human DNA that has occurred over time by comparing Northern European DNA with the Nigerian population. While similar in many places, the European samples show large clumps of unshuffled genetic material, suggesting a recent breeding bottleneck. (The study is reported in the 10th May 2001 issue of the journal Nature.)”

Haplogroup journey to Europe

A Broad Overview

As our grandfathers traveled up and out of Africa, they developed mutations over time which we characterize using letter designations. The recent ones are far more easily understood as they add letters and numbers after the old one to help keep it all clear. Thus, R1b and R1a are all descended from the R1 Haplogroup. It keeps it nice and tidy.

Keep in mind as you look through this study that DNA for genealogy is still quite new and the experts are still hotly debating the paths and origins of some of these mutations.

From Africa through about 700 AD

In this section of our report, I’ll discuss our known pathway through the eons, what we know and don’t know. By the time we’re done writing this, and you reading it, you’ll probably read several times that DNA is merely a string of numbers; useful for certain parts of our quest but not others. The part it’s very useful for is the ancient part of the Sinclair St. Clairs’ path through time. You’ll see below that we can safely make broad sweeping statements about our Haplogroup, our path out of Africa and our time spent in parts of the world like Kazakhstan. After that, time and circumstance begin to mix complexity into our research. Luckily, we have some things to help us along the way -

1. We are a very old family that has been documented far back into recorded history, to about 900 AD. Many families don’t have this kind of data to mix into their DNA research.

2. We have undertaken DNA testing worldwide with fairly good participation. Most families of European origin have not.

3. We have unique research tools at our disposal via this project that help us to better understand our more recent history (since the birth of Jesus of Nazareth – yes, in the scheme of things, that’s recent).

The fact that you’re here, reading this, means that you share a common ancestor with me. We have the same grandfather. He may well have lived 35,000 years ago in Kazakhstan or further back to our origins in Africa, but none the less, we share him.


With regards to where the human species originated, there are two theories, the winner between these two theories, as far as I’ve read, is pretty much decided. One theory is that we all come from African ancestors. The other, that there were multiple points of origination of the human species, a theory known as multiregionalism. It seems that the Out of Africa theory is winning the debate.

Once out of Africa, we can trace our path from being in the R1 Haplogroup into the quagmire of being of the R1b1c Haplogroup. This was the most populous, successful group of breeders in history. Most of the men of Western Europe belong to the R1b Haplogroup. (3 – R1b Haplogroup explanation off home page) 

A theory called multiregionalism posits that archaic humans such as Neandertals contributed to the modern human gene pool. Thus modern Southeast Asian populations, for example, should retain some ancient lineages inherited from the archaic populations that once inhabited that region, an argument that the multiregionalists have bolstered with fossil evidence. (see 53)

The Out of Africa theory holds that Homo sapiens burst onto the scene as a new species around 150,000 to 200,000 years ago in Africa and subsequently replaced archaic humans such as the Neandertals. The other model, known as multiregional evolution or regional continuity, posits far more ancient, diverse roots for our kind. Proponents of this view believe that Homo sapiens arose in Africa some two million years ago and evolved as a single species spread across the Old World, with populations in different regions linked through genetic and cultural exchange.

And now you’re seeing the nature of such work, continued uncertainty. John H. Relethford of the State University of New York at says, the absence of Neandertal mtDNA in living humans does not rule out the possibility that they contributed to our gene pool. Other researchers are reserving judgment until the results are replicated in an independent lab, citing the possibility of contamination.

A terrific quote from "Laying the Bones of Humanity,” a review of the book “African Exodus: The Origins of Modern Humanity,´by Chris Stringer and Robin McKie,  (53)

Multiregionalists have fervently denigrated the genetic evidence. “The fossil record is the real evidence for human evolution," declared Milford Wolpoff and Alan Thorns, the multiregional model's most vociferous proponents. Yet their proposal relies heavily on genetic evidence. The multiregionalists argue that the different ancestral populations of the world have been independently moving towards "sapienshood" for 2 million years, propelled by some common "evolutionary drive". This meant they retained regional anatomical characteristics. But to maintain the genetic integrity of the species, these populations must have had enough contact with each other for worldwide gene flow. "To connect humanity throughout the Old World, genes would have had to flow ('fly' might be a better word) back and forth up the entire African continent, across Arabia, over India, and down through Malaysia," Stringer and McKie state with incredulity. Given the sparse human populations and the many geographical barriers separating them, this seems unlikely. The authors cite Luigi Cavalli-Sforza, a Stanford University geneticist: "Proponents of the multiregional model simply do not understand population genetics. They use a model that requires continuous exchange of genes, but it requires enormous amounts of time to reach equilibrium. There has been insufficient time in human history to reach that equilibrium."

A recent study by Spencer Wells and his colleagues, led by Li Jin of Fudan University in Shanghai ‘put the nail in the coffin of multiregionalism.’ This study tested the samples for a set of three markers associated with a mutation of the Y-chromosome known to have originated in Africa an estimated 44,000 years ago. If they had found anyone without any of the markers, it would have indicated that the individual might not have been descended from Africans. But they did not, lending tremendous weight to the "Out of Africa" theory. (29)

Near extinction

In a fascinating report published in the American Journal of Human Genetics, researchers believe that our early human population in Africa was reduced to a small, isolated group due to severe drought.

The report notes that a separate study by researchers at Stanford University estimated the number of early humans may have shrunk as low as 2,000 before numbers began to expand again in the early Stone Age.

"This study illustrates the extraordinary power of genetics to reveal insights into some of the key events in our species' history," Spencer Wells, National Geographic Society explorer in residence, said in a statement. "Tiny bands of early humans, forced apart by harsh environmental conditions, coming back from the brink to reunite and populate the world. Truly an epic drama, written in our DNA." (56)

I have read many other mtDNA studies that traced modern humans to a single "mitochondrial Eve," who lived in Africa about 200,000 years ago. But this new study has clear and important implications for both mtDNA and YDNA (the women weren’t the only ones threatened with extinction at this time). Our current “tight” genetic diversity is the direct result of such “population bottlenecks” throughout time.

“Eastern Africa experienced a series of severe droughts between 135,000 and 90,000 years ago and the researchers said this climatological shift may have contributed to the population changes, dividing into small, isolated groups which developed independently.”

Tiny bands of early humans developed in isolation from each other for as much as half of our entire history as a species, explained the study's chief authors. "It was only around 40,000 years ago that they became part of a single pan-African population, reunited after as much as 100,000 years apart," said Behar. (56)

When we think of the path of humans out of Africa, we often assume that the diversity of our species began in and around Olduvai Gorge, 2.5 million years ago. The current estimate for human population worldwide is 6.6 billion people. The wide racial diversity we see around us is comfortably explained when we think of it taking place over such a vast amount of time. However when you think that 6.6 billion people, divided into so many clearly different races, got this way in just the last 70,000 years, you begin to understand how closely related all our races are.

North Out of Africa

Some scientists believe mankind was able
to migrate out of Africa thanks to a lowering
of the sea level that allowed our ancestors
to easily get around the Red Sea.

In a fascinating paper Paul Mellars, states “studies of both the mtDNA mismatch patterns in modern African populations and related mtDNA lineage-analysis patterns point to a major demographic expansion centered broadly within the time range from 80,000 to 60,000 years ago, probably deriving from a small geographical region of Africa…[pointing] strongly to the conclusion that there was only a single (successful) dispersal event out of Africa, represented exclusively by members of the L3 lineage and probably carried by a relatively small number of at most a few hundred colonists. This lineage rapidly diversified into the derivative M, N, and R lineages. (7) Another theory is that there was another ice age that absorbed as much as 35% of the Earth’s water into ice sheets in the north, thus opening up land routes around the Red Sea, both to its north and it’s south. Or R1b ancestors would have gone across the southern route and up through Turkey.

As you’ll read in other sections of this report, our family is almost entirely R1b. We have a few members who are not R1b. Haplogroups can be tied to geography, but only (in the case of R1b) in very ancient times. R1b is a mutation that first occurred 35,000-40,000 years ago amongst a member of the Aurignacian culture (3) likely somewhere near Turkey. All the others around this one gentleman were of the R1 Haplogroup and he had a mutation that would be handed down forever to his descendants. We are his grandchildren.


The exact route our grandfathers (M269+ R1b1c marker) took is not known. But it has been theorized to originate in Central Asia/South Central Siberia. Archeological evidence supports the view of the arrival of Aurignacian culture to Anatolia from Europe during the Upper Paleolithic rather than from the Iranian plateau.(50). It could have entered prehistoric Europe from the area of Ukraine/Belarus or Central Asia (Kazakhstan) via the coasts of the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea. It is considered widespread in Europe throughout the Paleolithic already before the last Ice Age.

Like many other issues in DNA, the origins of peoples in Kazakhstan are debated. Ken Nordtvedt is someone whose postings I have followed for years. He’s quite an expert on DNA and the ancient origins on peoples. He distrusts Kazakhstan as a source for R1b1c-

“The "origins" of modern day haplotypes in Kazakhstan are problematic. I
have a sister in law as Volga German as you can be in genetic origins who
was born in Kazakhstan thanks to Stalin. And there are many Russians
settled there as well, though some have left recently. Given this odd name
"namewithheld in Russian", who knows the ancient homeland even if it is
an authentic contemporary haplotype from Kazakhstan? And I would
expect a bias toward those whose ancestors had been moved there from
other places to be most interested in genetic genealogy. For instance,
the SMGF haplotypes from Russia have an unusual percentage of German
and Jewish surnames.” (48)

The Last Glacial Maxim (LGM) and Refugias

During the LGM, as the ice moved south, the inhabitable land preceded the ice by many hundreds of miles as tundra. Naturally, genetic diversity narrowed through founder effects and population bottlenecks, as the arable land was limited to a few coastal refugia in Southern Europe and Asia Minor, namely Iberia, Italy and the Mediterranean regions.

The tundra, south of the ice, was inarable, so mankind was forced further south into 3 basic refugia At it's peak, the LGM forced our family into refugia for many thousands of years where we continued to mutate. Some in the R1b group developed the S21 mutation. Others may have developed the DYS390=25 mutation before the ice began its slow retreat. 

The present-day R1b population is believed to be descended from a refuge in the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal), where the R1b1c haplogroup may have achieved genetic homogeneity. As conditions of the ice age eased in about 12,000 before the present, descendants of this group slowly migrated back North and East and eventually re-colonized all of Western Europe, leading to the dominant position of R1b in variant degrees from Iberia to Scandinavia, so evident in haplogroup maps. Caution here, however, as some experts believe that R1b represents the Western or centum-speaking branch of the Proto-Indo-Europeans, although this too remains uncertain.

David Faux , in a report “A Genetic Signal of Central European Celt Ancestry: Preliminary Research Concerning the Y-Chromosome Marker S28,” (whew!) refers to the Franco Cantabrian Refugium Hypothesis and Post-Glacial Expansion. The basic idea is that our (M269+) R1b1c Haplogroup “over wintered” in the Franco-Cantabrian Refugium. North of them was a mile-high wall  of ice. East of there, to this day, we see diminishing numbers of R1b1c haplotypes, down below 10% of the population. Faux suggests that many of these (M269+) R1b1c Haplogroup members stayed in the areas of Southwestern Europe longer while the S21+ (R1b1c9) group, who became known as the Reindeer Hunters, moved north to follow the retreat of the ice.

A population bottleneck (or genetic bottleneck) is an evolutionary event in which a significant percentage of a population or species is killed or otherwise prevented from reproducing, and the population is reduced by 50% or more, often by several orders of magnitude.

Population bottlenecks increase genetic drift, as the rate of drift is inversely proportional to the population size. They also increase inbreeding due to the reduced pool of possible mates (see small population size). This would lead to a decreased difference in the genetic markers we see from that geography, much like the R1b Haplogroup being often reclassified as the Atlantic Modal Haplogroup.

A slightly different sort of genetic bottleneck can occur if a small group becomes reproductively separated from the main population. This is called a founder effect and may have occurred in the Iberian Peninsula during the LGM. (47) (45) (39)

The timing of becoming the R1b1c haplotype seems to be just before the last ice age, about 23,000 years ago. Just after that, our ancestors went through a major climactic event that may have caused our slow dispersal – The LGM. As luck would have it, we have a lineage that seems to have taken a different, provable path into Europe from other lineages in our project. You’ll read more about the Heyer Study of 1997. This, plus our S21 study, may be the proof we need to state that we dispersed during the slow LGM ‘Diaspora’ of 23,000 years ago.

18,000 BC – 200 BC

There is a vast gap between 18,000 years ago, the end of the LGM, and the first recorded history by the Greeks and Romans of our ‘barbarian’ ancestors about 750 BC. Luckily, researchers have archaeological digs, linguistics, and non-R1b1c Deep-Clade results to guide them in understanding (in broad terms) how the ‘barbarian’ (M269+) R1b1c Haplogroup migrated into and around Western Europe. Here, we go into as much detail on this as possible given the relatively scant evidence.

As the last ice-age began, it became necessary to move down to below the tree-line to hunt game. At its peak, the ice shelf within Europe extended down as far as southern Ireland, the middle of England and across northern Germany. Scandinavia was entirely covered. The sea-ice pack extended as far as northern Spain and tundra covered much of continental Europe. The tree-line at the height of the ice-age was as far south as Southern France, Northern Italy, north of the Balkans and across the Black Sea.

Tracing the paths of humans during this time period is very difficult. Luckily, during the end of this period the Greeks and Romans occasionally wrote about other peoples on their borders, but not until about 750 BC (the archaic period) to 146 BC (the Roman conquest). (26)  The Greeks were certainly aware of ‘Barbarians.’ The ancient Greek word ‚¿Ú‚·ÚÔ˜ (bárbaros) is a good indicator that they knew of others outside their borders. Depending on sources, the Roman era starts somewhere in the 2nd or 1st century BC and, as far as Western history is concerned, ended as early as 330 AD, and as late as the 6th century. (25)  So we can get a good, if very biased, view of what our ancestors were doing for about 1,000 years beginning in 750 BC. There are also other sources – archaeological digs, linguistics, and non-R1b1c Deep-Clade results.

In very ancient times, peoples and property were not clearly delineated as they appear to be today. For instance, it’s easy for us to assume that the Celts stayed in their sandbox and the Goths stayed in theirs. But that’s not the case. There is extensive evidence of the mixing of peoples of the most ancient times. And this is important for the Sinclair St. Clair DNA project for many reasons. Our goal in this section is to determine when and how we came to be in Europe. As you’ll read here, I believe we’ll eventually find that the answer is not entirely easy or simple. For instance, there is extensive evidence of the influence of the Celtic world on the culture of the early Germanic peoples in styles and techniques of their metalwork and pottery as far east as the area between the Oder and Vistula and to the south-east as far as the edge of the Ukraine. (27 – page 20) One of the most active areas of contact between the Germans and Celts was Bohemia and Moravia. Here, archaeologists have found evidence of Celtic settlement amidst the Germanic peoples since the middle of the first millennium BC. In 279, a large force of Celts worked their way deep into Greece through Thrace and Macedonia, plundering the treasury at Delphi. (27 – page 22)

The Neolithic, or "New" Stone Age,
was a period in the development
of human technology beginning about 10,000 B.C.

In the sixth century BC, under the reign of Tarquino Prisco, the part of Gaul between the Garonne, the Mediterranean, the Alps and the ocean was referred to as ‘the Celtic’ by Aristotle, Herodotus, and Hiparchus. It was inhabited by immigrant Celts and native Iberian tribes. Their lands had their capital at Tolosa (Toulouse). Narbonne was its principle port city. Ptolemy of Alexandria made a reference to the Bebrices who belonged to the Volcae Tectosages. (24 - p. 61)

I initiated the Deep Clade test for our DNA project in the hopes that it would shed light on specifically which path we took out of Africa and/or into Europe. With a lack of surnames, written records and an unclear DNA result (R1b), we knew only that we were from Europe. Our approach was to test each of our lineages and certain other key individuals based on their backgrounds, known geography of their ancestors or other reasons. For instance, Martin Carriere was tested due to his Native North American background. We tested one participant who believes he’s from Argyle. We’re testing more with better documents research from Argyle.

The Result – most of our tested participants are R1b1c.

This gets you to the point at which our lineages began to divide. E1b1 split from the rest of us on our way out of Africa. The rest of us began the major split just before the LGM. Then, we began to split more frequently. Click the links at the left (or below) on each individual haplogroup to see where they went.

R1b  |  E1b1  |  I1  |  R1a  

Home  |  Contact  |  Join Google Discussion Group