Results From YDNA-Based Analysis
© 2012 by James Michael Gossett and Jeffrey Lynn Gossett
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Y-chromosomal DNA (YDNA) is passed from father to son, from son to grandson, from grandson to great-grandson, etc. -- usually unchanged in sequence. However, occasionally a random mutation occurs in the replication process when a son is conceived, introducing a change in the YDNA sequence of nucleic-acid bases that this son will, in turn, pass along to his son. Tracking such changes in specific regions ("markers") of the YDNA is the basis of YDNA genealogical analysis. Only males possess the Y-chromosome; therefore, YDNA-based genealogical analysis is uniquely suited for surname studies, since sons generally inherit their fathers' surnames, along with their Y-chromosomes.
YDNA-marker analysis has the potential to address our two major objectives: (1) to determine the European origins of the Gossett families in America; and (2) to determine the interrelationships among them. Additionally, YDNA-marker analysis can assist individuals in getting past "roadblocks" in their genealogical research. Most of us have a genealogical "paper trail" we've established using traditional methods of genealogical research, and have run into some dead-end in that trail – a point in the past beyond which we haven't been able to go. Through comparative analysis of YDNA-marker changes, we might find participants of the same or closely related lines with whom we can compare notes. Perhaps our new-found "cousin" will have a dead-end much further back in time than our own. If not, we might at least develop useful leads for further research.
To date, we have 46 participants, most of whom have been tested to at least the 37-marker level. Many have been tested to the 67-marker level; and a very few have been tested to the 111-marker level. Results are shown in the following Table.
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Notes: In this Table, some multiple-copy markers have been renamed and reassigned, versus how FTDNA reports them. For example, the two locations of the double-copy marker CDY have been renamed CDY1 and CDY2, and given a Y-chromosome, location-specific meaning that subtly differs from the CDYa, CDYb terminology used by FTDNA. The same was done for the multiple-copy 464 marker (i.e., 464a,b,c,d have been renamed 464-1,2,3,4 and given location-specific meaning). This results in some re-assignment of data for a few participants. The issue is a complicated one -- interpreting results from multi-copy markers. For detailed explanation (not for the faint of heart!), click here. Also, we have redefined the 389-2 marker to be the difference between 389-2 and 389-1, and renamed it "389-2-1." The reason for this? Marker 389-1 is a marker whose sequence is wholly contained within 389-2. For example, suppose individual A has values of 14 and 30 for 389-1 and 389-2, respectively; and individual B has values of 13 and 29 for these same two markers. At first glance, it would appear these two individuals have a genetic difference of 2; however, this is misleading. The –1 change in 389-2 resulted from the –1 change in 389-1 -- it's not a separate mutation. It is easier to assess differences accurately if the second marker is redefined to include only the sequence of 389-2 that is not already included in 389-1. The convention we are using -- 389-2-1 in place of 389-2 -- while not used by FTDNA, is used by National Geographic's Genographic Project. Finally, we should note that one of our participants -- Timothy Joseph -- had his YDNA markers tested by ancestry.com, which uses some different markers than used by FTDNA (which explains the missing markers for him in the Table). In addition, ancestry.com computes values differently for some of the same markers used by FTDNA, necessitating a conversion of their values to FTDNA format. These conversions are reflected in the tabulated values above.
Note that the markers shown in red (385a,b; 439; 458; 449; 464-1,2,3,4; 456; 576; 570; and CDY1,2) are known to undergo mutation at a considerably higher frequency than do markers in black font. Where blanks appear in the Table, it indicates that results are not available.
Data analysis -- presented in detail below -- shows that our project participants fall into four groups:
Group I -- relatively closely related individuals who share a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) born ca. 1640 (± 70 years). No member of this Group appears to be descended from Jean the Huguenot of Jersey Isle. It is noteworthy that one of our participants, of Gassett surname, is classified as a Group-I Gossett on the basis of YDNA markers, supporting a long-held hypothesis that Gossett and Gassett surnames share relatively recent, common ancestry.
Group II -- relatively closely related individuals who share a MRCA less than 300 years ago. However, members of Group II are not closely related to Group I (there's only a 5% chance that Groups I and II share a MRCA within the past 600 years). No member of Group II appears to be descended from Jean the Huguenot of Jersey Isle. Group II's YDNA difference from Group I, considered along with conventional genealogical research, suggests one of the following explanations: (i) Group II descends from a different Gossett immigrant than Group I; or (ii) Group II's YDNA pattern results from an unknown or uncertain paternity event (UPE) that occurred long ago (before 1740) in the lineage of Group I.
Group III -- individuals not closely related to Groups I or II (nor, generally, to one another -- with a few exceptions), but who at least share the R1b1a2 haplogroup with Groups I and II. Since these individuals have the Gosset(t) surname (or phonetically similar surnames, such as Gossick) and R1b1a2 haplogroup, they are undoubtedly related to one another and to Groups I and II, but the MRCA is quite distant in time (at least 500-1200 years). Let's put it this way: Group III individuals are generally as far from one another as they are from anyone in Groups I or II. Group III contains our two participants -- Christopher L. and Guillermo Gosset -- who have paper-trail lineages showing descent from Jean the Huguenot of Jersey Isle through a prominent great-great-grandson who lived in England in the first half of the 1800s. Unfortunately, YDNA results show the two are not closely related -- they cannot both be descended from Jean. Moreover, neither is within about 500 years of being related to any other member of any other Group. If either Christopher or Guillermo is descended from Jean, then none of the rest of us can be.
Group IV -- individuals very distant from Groups I, II, or III, and who do not even share the R1b1a2 haplogroup. No two individuals in Group IV are closely related to each other, nor to any individuals in the other groups. The time to MRCA (between individuals within the Group or to individuals in any other Group) is measured in the thousands of years.
The groupings can be qualitatively visualized by noting the relative numbers of colored squares in the Table within the four Groups -- a color is used whenever a marker differs from the most common or "modal" value (which is presumed to be the value of the "patriarch"). There are far fewer colored squares in Group I than in the other two Groups.
We can present results more quantitatively by invoking a statistical analysis, along with assumed average rates of marker changes, and an assumed number of years per generation (e.g., 30 years, as an average). We used the program, Y-Utility to compute how long ago was the MRCA of any two participants. [And note that we had to convert 389-2-1 marker values back to 389-2 values, to use the utility correctly.] Be aware that the results are heavily influenced by assumptions of marker-change rates. We used the FTDNA model for mutation rates (with infinite-allele assumption) to compute two Tables -- 50% and 5% probability estimates. Click on the selection boxes below to open each in a new window.
50% probability that MRCA of a pair was less than number of years ago indicated in Table.
5% probability that MRCA of a pair was less than number of years ago indicated in Table.
Bear in mind that the uncertainties in such calculations are large. The 50% probability Table provides a useful, rough idea of the time-frames to the MRCA between two individuals. From the color-codings you can easily discern the relative closeness of Group-I members, in comparison to those of the other two Groups. With a few scattered exceptions, pairs of Group-I members generally share MRCAs 100 to 400 years ago. However the MRCAs of pairings between Group-I and Group-II members are typically 900 to 1,300 years ago; between Group-I and Group-III members, 1,000 to 1,900 years ago; and between Group-I and Group-IV members, 3,000 to 6,000 years ago. Pairings within Group II show MRCAs of 60 to 300 years ago. Pairings within Group III show MRCAs of 1,200 to 2,000 years ago -- meaning that Group III members are no closer to one another than any of them is to a Group-I or Group-II member. [The exception is the pair: Steven Alan & Thomas Garland. We know from their paper-trails that Steven Alan & Thomas Garland share a recent ancestor and hence represent the same line.]
We recommend the 5% probability Table for use as a reality check on what begins to be unreasonable. If an event has less than a 5% chance of being true, we generally reject its possible occurrence. We used the 5% probability Table to generate the time-to-most-recent-common-ancestor (TMRCA) conclusions in the Summary Analysis above. For example, if we are interested in TMRCA between James Michael and Christopher L., there is a 50% probability that their MRCA lived more recently than 1,050 years ago. Given the probabilistic nature of mutation, is it possible that these two individuals might share a MRCA much more recent than this? Yes, but a look at the 5% Table shows that there is only a 5% chance that their MRCA was within the last 600 years. We would thus conclude that their MRCA lived "almost certaintly more than 600 years ago." This means that any hypothesis that they share, as ancestor, Jean the Huguenot of Jersey Isle (b 1642 in Normandy -- roughly 300 years before the births of James Michael and Christopher) is very unlikely to be true.
Assessing the Claim of American Gossetts' Descent from Jean of Jersey
There is a long-held and oft-repeated myth that the Gossetts in America descend from Jean Gosset (b 1642), a Huguenot Norman noble who fled France for Jersey Isle in 1685 at the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. [The source of the story and its evidence are critically examined elsewhere on this site.] The Gossetts in America are claimed to descend from this Jean through two Gosset brothers -- Jean and Pierre, grandsons of Jean -- who are claimed to have emigrated from Jersey Isle to America in ca. 1730 and 1760. The first few generations of lineage from Jean (b 1642) are depicted here. What can the YDNA evidence tell us about the truth of this myth?
We located two living Gossets who -- on paper at least -- appear to descend from Jean of Jersey through descendants of Jean who remained in England for generations after the two brothers (Jean and Pierre) supposedly immigrated to America: (1) Christopher L. Gosset of the UK and (2) Guillermo Gosset-Lagarda of Mexico. [Christopher's lineage can be viewed here, and Guillermo's, here.] Both lineages pass through Jean's grandson Isaac (1713-1799), a prominent wax-modeler who had moved from Jersey Isle to London; and through Isaac's grandson Isaac Gosset (1782-1855), Vicar of Datchett and a Royal Chaplain. Isaac (b 1782), a great-great-grandson of Jean the Huguenot, is the claimed MRCA of Christopher and Guillermo; Christopher is four generations from Isaac and wife, Dorothea Sophia Banks Lind; Guillermo is five generations from them. Of the two modern descendants, Christopher L. appears to have the stronger, paper-trail evidence of descent from Jean the Huguenot -- stronger, mostly, because Christopher's ancestors remained in England where evidence is relatively easily obtained. [Go here for more information about the two lineages.]
Christopher and Guillermo were tested at the 37-marker level. While both are in haplogroup R1b1a2, results show that neither is closely related to anyone in our study. In fact, the two are not closely related to each other! According to the paper-trails, their MRCA is a mere 4.5 generations ago. However, their genetic distance is 14. With such genetic distance, there is less than a 0.1% chance that their MRCA is within 16 generations. Clearly, both cannot be descended from Jean of Jersey (b 1642). Is either? We cannot say, though Christopher's paper-lineage, in particular, is quite compelling.
Neither Christopher nor Guillermo is closely related to any project participant. The closest relationship is Guillermo to Sean Brian or Walker in Group II, but there is only a 5% chance that a MRCA is within the most recent 450 years. Jean of Jersey (b 1642) is typically 8 or 9 generations (and 300-350 years) from the birth of any present-day Gossett. The closest Group-I member is a genetic distance of 12 from Christopher and a genetic distance of 13 from Guillermo -- i.e., these two are as far from the rest of us as they are from each other. With the sorts of genetic differences we see between Group-I members and either Christopher or Guillermo, the chance of our MRCA being within the past 9 generations is much less than 0.1% -- well outside the realm of reasonable possibility.
If either Christopher or Guillermo is descended from Jean of Jersey (b 1642), then it is highly improbable that any of the American Gossetts (thus tested) is descended from him.
Estimating the Year of Birth of the Group-I Patriarch
For Group-I individuals, who share a relatively recent MRCA, we can use the aggregate data in the Tables to refine an estimate of TMRCA for the patriarch of Group I. Superficially, it would seem all we need do is to average the number of years to the MRCA between each participant and the "modal" or patriarchal person. First, it needs to be recognized that these values would have to be multiplied by 2. [Click here for explanation.] If we do this, we get an average distance (± 95% confidence interval) of 324 ± 70 years to the patriarch of Group I [i.e., d.o.b of 1636 ( ± 70 years), if we use 1960 as an average d.o.b. for our participants]. Secondly, however, we need to recognize a fundamental flaw in this calculation: Namely, there is a correlation structure to the data -- i.e., many participants share a MRCA more recent than the patriarch and therefore their computed times to the patriarch are correlated to some extent. The clearcut example is James Michael and Lawrence Victor -- brothers who represent exactly the same lineage between patriarch and the present. Ideally, we would like to include in our calculation a representative sampling of the various lines descending from the patriarch, with not too much skew towards any one son of the patriarch, versus another.
Therefore, we chose nine members of Group I who do not appear highly correlated internally. For example, we included James Michael, but not Lawrence Victor or Ira Lee. Additionally, we selected members who represent a balance among the lines of descent: James Michael, John Peter, Peter Jerome, Delmo Earl, Robert Francis, Jeffery Paul, Jeffrey Lynn, Charles Warren, and James Rankin. Using these provides an estimated patriarchal d.o.b. of 1662 ± 114 years (i.e., between 1548 and 1776). [Click here for details.] This is not much different from the estimate given in the preceding paragraph by a different method, although the preceding estimate comes with less variance due to the greater sample size employed.
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