Forbes Surname Y-DNA Group Rebooted at Family Tree DNA

Society Member Kenneth L. Forbes first proposed a Forbes surname Y-DNA group at FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) in the Autumn 2004 newsletter of the Old Clan Forbes Society (see Society Archives.) He noted that his reason was “to solidify my ancestral connection to James Forbes (c.1635-1692) of Hartford, Connecticut and Scotland by matching DNA to other descendants.” He added that he’d “like to extend it to other FORBES descendants” and “find genetic connections for James FORBES in Scotland to map his ancestry to these other FORBES descendants. The Spring 2005 newsletter reported that “the Forbes DNA Project has made steady progress.” The last mention of the Project was in the Summer 2010 newsletter which announced that Ken had moved. Unfortunately, Ken passed away in 2014 and the project has been effectively rudderless ever since. Society president Bart Forbes has stepped in as project administrator as of this month, September 2019.

Bart has refreshed the public website of the FTDNA Forbes Group by including a background photo of Castle Forbes, editing the content, and updating broken web links. He has also run new reports and prepared a number of analyses that may be of interest.


Of the Forbes group participants (170 as of September 2019), a majority (66.7%) show a genetic connection to the Western Europe Haplogroup R1b1a1a2 or R-M269. This is now the most common Y-DNA lineage in European males and is carried by an estimated 110 million males in Europe. Far smaller percentages of FORBES group participants indicate Haplogroups I-M253 (6.67%) and I-M223 (4.76%.)

Not surprisingly, the largest percentage of members (38%) who indicate a country of origin (119), are from Scotland. The next largest percentages mention the United States (12%), Ireland (10%), United Kingdom (8%), and England (7%.)


For those members that indicate a Paternal Ancestor Name, the most recurring names and Halpogroups include:


  • John Forbes/Fobes (1610-1661) Bridgewater MA: I-M253 (3), J-M172 (1), R-M269 (1)

  • James Forbes (c.1635-1692) Hartford, CT: R-M269 (3)

  • James Forbes (1657-1726) Riddle, NC: R-M269 (2)

Of course, these results depend on the number and diversity of the males who take the Y-DNA test, join the FORBES group, and enter the most complete information. Please help refine and update these results by encouraging more men to submit their results and joining the group. Even if they have taken their Y-DNA tests from other companies, they can transfer their results to FamilyTreeDNA. Thanks for your assistance!

If you would like more information about DNA testing, check out the FamilyTreeDNA Learning Center or the Clan Forbes Society Genealogy Section.

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