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Expanding Your Forbes Genealogy through DNA Testing

Are you considering getting a DNA Test? Perhaps you’ve seen the TV commercials. Possibly you’ve hit a brick wall in researching your genealogy. Or maybe you’re just curious. For whatever reason, a DNA test is a good way to learn more about yourself and your heritage.

What is DNA Testing? 


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the main constituent of chromosomes and carries all genetic information. According, to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, genetic genealogy is the use of DNA testing in combination with traditional genealogical and historical records. Genetic genealogy involves the use of genealogical DNA testing together with documentary evidence to infer the relationship between individuals. The oldest company still in operation to offer commercially-available DNA testing is Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) which was founded in 2000.

Why DNA Testing?


Commercial DNA testing companies compare your DNA to reference DNA meant to represent populations from different geographical regions. The accuracy of the results depends on the breadth and depth of those reference populations. Note that these tests cannot prove exactly where your ancestors actually lived since they can’t directly compare your data to DNA from people who lived hundreds of years ago. However, they can compare your DNA to other customers and compute the likelihood of being related. 

 FTDNA MyOrigins Test Result


 FTDNA Forbes Y-DNA Ancestors



FTDNA Family Finder Matches



FTDNA Scottish Y-DNA Project

What Are the Types and Benefits of Testing?

The Wiki of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy offers these definitions for the types of DNA testing:


Y-chromosome DNA tests involve Short Tandem Repeat (STR) and, sometimes, Single-Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) testing of the Y-chromosome. The Y-chromosome is present only in males and reveals information on the patrilineal line. These tests can provide insight into the recent (via STRs) and ancient (via SNPs) genetic ancestry. A Y-chromosome STR test will reveal a haplotype, which should be similar among all male descendants of a male ancestor. SNP tests are used to assign people to a patrilineal haplogroup, which defines a much larger genetic population. A Y-DNA test is typically used in surname research and results are collated within surname DNA projects.


Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA testing involves sequencing or testing the HVR-1 region, HVR-2 region or both. An mtDNA test may also include the additional SNPs needed to assign people to a matrilineal haplogroup. Family Tree DNA offers a full mitochondrial sequence (FMS) test which sequences the entire mitochondrial genome. Mitochondrial DNA testing can be useful for genealogy because it preserves information about female ancestors that may be lost from the historical record because of the way surnames are often passed down. Learn more here.

Autosomal DNA tests, according to the National Institute for Health (NIH), can be done in both men and women with the same results. The main use of autosomal DNA testing is to determine how closely related you are to someone else. This can be very useful if you know very little about your parents or grandparents and are having a hard time locating living relatives. Many times, relatives located by the test are researching the same family lines as you, and you can share research with them. Autosomal DNA can also provide an estimate of your ethnicity, or the regions of the world where your ancestors lived within the past few hundred years, or even a thousand or more, since people used to move a lot less often.

How does this help my genealogical research?

A Y-chromosome test will identify your haplogroup and confirm your genetic regional origins, Then the testing service will compare your haplogroup to other customers with the same haplogroup to determine who may be related to you. Most services allow you to contact these men, with their approval. 


Once your DNA results have been analyzed, you can enter your current genealogy into your account. This is most easily accomplished by uploading your genealogy in the form of your Genealogical Data Communication (GEDCOM) files. You can download this from your online genealogy service – or you’ll need to enter it manually.

Once your DNA analysis is completed, the service will compare the results to other customers with similar DNA. Some services will even tell you the closeness of the relationship (second cousin, third cousin, etc.) and the names of the similar ancestors. You may be able to contact these relatives, if they have included their e-mail addresses or account names.

Which testing services are right for me?  

Here are some of the DNA testing services for specific features and benefits: 

  • AncestryDNA: ​best for cousin matching, most geographic regions for ethnicity

  • FamilyTree DNA: ​best for serious genealogy, YDNA and mtDNA tests

  • MyHeritage: ​best autosomal test on a budget

  • 23andMe: ​best for genetic health screening, not genealogy

  • Living DNA: ​best for roots in British Isles

Not only is FamilyTree DNA the ​best for serious genealogy but it has also supported the Scottish-American community by sponsoring speakers at such events as National Tartan Day in Washington, D.C., and the Annual General Meeting of the Council of Scottish Clans and Associations (COSCA.)

Forbes Surname Y-DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) also hosts "projects" around specific genetics origins and even family surnames. For example, FTDNA hosts a robust Scottish Y-DNA Project with over 11,000 members and six Administers and Co-Administrators.


FTDNA also hosts a robust Forbes Y-DNA Project with over 250 members. This is administered by Philip Stead who is currently a postgraduate student at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, in the MSc Genealogical, Palaeographic and Heraldic Studies Programme. See: New Forbes DNA Research Project Announced.

Mr. Stead has written his thesis on the Y-DNA origins of the clan chief, an analysis of the DNA test results of the Forbes surname group, the likely ancient origins of the different Y-DNA genetic groups within the project, and the autosomal DNA (atDNA)  connections between project members determine ancestral links. The report will be available in September 2022.

If you have tested with another DNA service, you can transfer your results to FTDNA for free and then join the Forbes group. FTDNA accepts these companies and file types:

  • 23andMe© V3

  • 23andMe© V4

  • 23andMe© V5

  • AncestryDNA™ V1

  • AncestryDNA™ V2

  • MyHeritage™

You can start your transfer here: DNA Data Upload Page. This will first prompt you to enter some information such as name and e-mail address. Once you have uploaded your test results, you will be provided a FTDNA kit number and you can sign in to your account.



Then you simply join the Forbes Y-DNA Project. On the top of your home page dashboard, click "Group Projects" and then "Join a Project."


On the "Projects - Join" page, you'll be asked to "Search by Surname." Type in "Forbes," click on "FORBES." once you join, you'll have access to the shared DNA Results, list of the various Surnames, the Activity Feed with the latest posts, and photos from the members. 

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