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Claiborne Y-Chromosome DNA Study, March 2003 Report
submitted by Dr. Alex A. Waldrop, III

The four families initially included in the study are:

  1. the descendants of William Claiborne of Virginia, son of Thomas Cleyborne of King's Lynn, Norfolk County, England.
  2. the descendants of the Westmorland family of Cliburn Hall in England.
  3. the descendants of John Cliborn/Clyborn of Old Henrico (John had land in an area called Bermuda Hundred located in current Chesterfield County which is south of the James River near Richmond.) NOTE: This family has often been referred to as the John of Dale Parish line.
  4. the descendants of John Clibborn of Durham, England who went to Moate, Ireland around 1640; John Clibborn later became a Quaker.

In most west European cultures surnames are inherited from father to son and thus follow the direct male line. The Y- chromosome in humans is the male-determining chromosome; only males have a Y-chromosome. Naturally, a man's Y- chromosome is inherited from his biological father and is virtually identical to his biological father's Y-chromosome. Thus surname inheritance is parallel to Y-chromosome inheritance, except when a male's surname is not the same as his biological father's surname for whatever reason. The shorthand phrase used to describe such a situation is "a non-paternity event." The original plan for this study was to identify and recruit two donors from each of the above four families. The major aim of the study was to determine which, if any, of these families shared a direct male line ancestor. With the help of members of the Society and their contacts two donors from each of the families 1,3, and 4 and one from family 2 were identified and volunteered to donate a sample. Subsequently, other donors with the same or similar surnames have volunteered or have been recruited by members or others researching these families. One member who is not a direct male descendant of any of the 4 families donated to provide a control. Family Tree DNA is the company that is doing the tests for us. They offer two levels of tests, a 12-marker test and a 25-marker test. The 12-marker test is usually the first test done and can be used to identify which donors are potentially related and which cannot be related because there are too many mismatches. The 12-marker test results are reported as a set of 12 numbers with each number being associated with a specific site on the Y-chromosome. This pattern of 12 numbers can be referred to as a "motif" or in more scientific terms a "haplotype". A motif can refer to a pattern of any number of markers, so there can be a 6-marker motif or a 25-marker motif, etc. It turns out that there are some motifs that are more common than others. What this means for surname studies is that if the motif for your surname is one of the more common motifs or close to one, a close match with 12 markers may not be an indication of close biological relatedness, but may have occurred by chance. So if this is the case, it is important to extend the test to more markers. The most common 6-marker motif for west Europeans is called the Atlantic Modal Haplotype.

Table of Results for 12-Marker Test

A table (design courtesy of John and Sue Forbes) of the 12-marker results so far is given below. To protect the privacy of the donors the actual numbers have been converted to letters. Sites where there is a match with family 2 (Cliburn Hall) have been put in bold and sites with a match to family I (William Claiborne) have been italicized except for site 6, which matches family 2. Where there is a close match with one of the other families, the site of a mismatch has been underlined.

Site Number123456789101112
Initial Families:
1. Claiborne of Norfolk, Eng. D C B A C E D A F D A C
2. Cleborne of Cliburn, Westmorland A B A C D E A D D A B A
3. Cliborn of Old Henrico Co., Virginia A B A C D E A D D A B A
4. Clibborn of Durham, Eng. and Moate Ire. A G A C A E A D F A B C
Other donors/families:
5. Clayburn of Yorkshire, Eng. D E E A E H D A D D A D
6. Control A C A A B E D C D D A D
7. Richard Claiborne descendant D C C A C E D A F D A C
8. Cliburn of Sussex, Eng. A E A C A E A A D A B C
9. Clyburn of South Carolina A B A C D E A D D A B A
10. Claborn of Alabama A C A A B G D C D D A A
11. Clayburn of Manchester, Eng. A B A C D E A C D A B A

Families 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 11 are close to the Atlantic Modal Haplotype. To determine if the 12-marker match between families 2 and 3 was indicative of relatedness or was a chance match, permission from two donors in family 3, from the family 2 donor and from one donor in family 4 was obtained and their tests were expanded to 25 markers. All 3 of these donors in families 2 and 3 matched at all 25 markers. As shown in the table, the family 4 donors differ from the family 2 motif at 4 sites in the 12-marker test; for the donor with the expanded test six additional mismatches were found for a total of 10 mismatches out of the 25 markers included in the tests.

Number of Donors in Each Family and Brief Background and Genealogy.

1. and 7. William Claiborne Descendants
We currently have 3 donors participating in the study with a well-documented genealogy to William Claiborne who immigrated to Virginia in 1621. All three of these donors are descendants of Thomas Claiborne (1681-1732) of Sweet Hall, (grandson of William) and his wife Ann(e) Fox. The first two donors are descendants of his son, Augustine (1721-1787). The third donor is a descendant of his son, Nathaniel (c.1716-1756). All three of these donors match at all 12 markers. The donor listed as being in family 7 in the table is a known descendant of Richard Claiborne (1755-18 19) and his first wife, Ann Cole. Before this study Richard was thought to be a descendant of William Claiborne, but his ancestry has not yet been established by regular genealogy because of the loss of records in many Virginia counties. This donor matches the 3 proved descendants of William at 11 of 12 markers. The William Claiborne motif is a very rare motif. Therefore it is not likely that this close match is a coincidence. In other words, there is now strong evidence that Richard Claiborne and his descendants are descendants of William Claiborne.

2. Cliburn Hall Descendants
We have one donor with a proved genealogy connecting to the manor at Cliburn Hall near Penrith in Cumbria, England. He is a descendant of Dr. Christopher James Cleborne, Rear Admiral, USN (1838-1909). Dr. Cleborne's ggggggrandfather was Thomas Cleborne (1580-1640) of Cliburn Hall. Thomas's wife was Frances Lowther. The DNA results show that Family 3 is related to this family by direct male descent.

3. John Cliborn/Clyborn Descendants
We have four donors with a proved genealogy to John Cliborn (c. 1712-1766) whose wife was Jane/Jean (not Robertson); this John Cliborn is often referred to as John of Dale Parish or John of Old Henrico. One donor is a descendant of John's elder son, Jonas (c. 1733- c. 1795) whose wife was Edith Folkes. Three of the donors are descendants of this John's son John (1735-1782) who married Elizabeth Robertson.

4. John Clibborn of Durham Descendants
We have 2 donors who can be traced to John Clibborn (1623-1705) who was born in Durham County, England but later settled in Moate, Ireland. He became a Quaker and was one of the most prominent Quakers in that part of Ireland. One is a descendant of John Barclay Clibborn (1770-1850) and the other is a descendant of William Clibborn. Their father, Barclay Clibborn, born in 1739, was the great-grandson of John Clibborn of Durham.

5. Clayburns of Yorkshire
We have one donor from this family, which apparently originated in the Howden area of the East Riding of Yorkshire. More information on this family will be given in a later issue.

6. Control
This donor is a descendant of William Claiborne, but NOT by direct male line descent. His surname is not related to Claiborne.

8. Descendant of Alfred Cliburn
This donor is a known descendant of Alfred Charles Cliburn who was born in 1873 in Brighton, Sussex, England.

9. Descendants of John Claiborne/Clyburn
The two donors from this family believe they descend from John Claiborne/Clyburn (c. 1677-after 1739); his stepfather was Joshua Stapp. Many of these Clyburns settled in South Carolina. The results from these donors match family 2 at all 12 sites tested.

10. Descendant of Nathaniel Claborn
We have one donor from this family. He is a known descendant of Nathaniel Britton Claborn/Cliborn (1803-1902) born in South Carolina. Nathaniel moved to Alabama.

11. Descendant of John Clayburn of Manchester This is one of our newest donors. He is a known descendant of John Clayburn (1820-?) of Manchester, England.