Frazer DNA – Celebrity Edition!

In this Blog, I’d like to write about the other Frazer line. I’m in the Archibald line. The other line is the James line. These were 2 Frazer brothers born in Northern Roscommon, Ireland before 1750. Well, we think they were brothers. We’d like to prove that somehow. I had thought that we’d have to prove this by Y (male line only) DNA. I think we can show quite a few matches between the Archibald and James Frazer Lines with autosomal (every ancestor line) DNA.

Below I’ll mention:

  • Celebrities from the James Line
  • James Line DNA and Matches
  • Matches between the James Line DNA and my own Archibald Line

First, A Few James Line People You May Recognize

Does Mia Farrow ring a bell?


Or perhaps her mother Maureen O’Sullivan who starred in Tarzan movies? I used to watch Tarzan movies on TV when I was young. I wonder if the Jane I saw was her. I know there were different versions, but I bet I’ve seen Maureen in a Tarzan movie or two. Well, her mother was a Frazer from the James line.

Maureen O'Sullivan with Father and Frazer mother
Maureen O’Sullivan with Father and Frazer mother

I can imagine this conversation between my teenage father and his mother: “Ma, I’m going to see a Tarzan Movie”. “What, and see that woman Jane with hardly any clothes on?”. “Aw, c’mon ma.” All this with my grandmother not knowing she was related to Maureen O’Sullivan. Here are some photos of Maureen who played Jane from about 1934 to 1942.

Maureen Tarzan

You probably know about Maureen’s daughters. One was Mia Farrow. Before I knew I was related to this branch, I was traveling in the area of my ancestors and saw a sign mentioning that Mia’s family was from the area. So don’t mention Woody Allen, the sign warned. Then Mia has a younger sister named Prudence. The two Farrow sisters visited the Maharishi with the Beatles. The Beatles wrote Prudence into one of their songs, “Dear Prudence”. Here’s Prudence (lower left in the photo).


How closely am I related? If I have it right, I’m a 6th cousin twice removed to the Farrow sisters. Is that far? I’m nine generations away from a common ancestor. The Farrow sisters are only 7 generations away – that gets to how I’m twice removed. But I’m not from the James Line. [Actually I have 3 Frazer ancestors. Two are probably from the Archibald line and one may be from the James line. So I may be more closely related.] Other of my fellow testers who can show they descend from the James Line by their paper trails would be as close to the Farrow sisters as 4th cousins.

James Line DNA

Here is what a portion of the James line looks like starting with James himself from the early 1700’s at the top. I have the bottom generations cut off.

James Line Chart

On the left is the Minnie Frazer Line (#1). There are 3 DNA testers there (CJK, KK and MHB in the spreadsheet below). Next is the Edward Fitzgerald Line (#2). 3 testers here, all siblings (Joanna, Janet and Jonathan). The 3rd Line is the O’Sullivan (Famous) Line (#3). One tester (PB). On the far right is the Michael Line (#4). There is one lonely tester out there (JFS). I like these tester’s DNA for the same reason I liked Ros’ on my line. They don’t appear to have multiple Frazer ancestors like most on my line do.

We would expect that if Line #1 matches Line #2, then the most likely common ancestors would be Archibald of 1792 (or spouse). If line #1 or #2 match with Line #3, the common ancestors would be Archibald Frazer and Catherine Peyton. If Line #4 matches with any of the other lines, the common ancestors should be at the top with James Frazer (and unknown spouse). That means that the 3 boxes above representing most likely common ancestors of our James Line matches would represent 6 people (2 per box)

Now for the James Line DNA – Drum roll, please.

James Line DNA

Actually, it’s not all that exciting. The matches in pink are iffy according to Gedmatch. I color the matches above 15 cM in green, because those are pretty strong matches. Our famous O’Sullivan Line tester has one large match with CJK on the Minnie Frazer Line. Then 2 medium matches with sisters Joanna and Janet on the Edward Fitzgerald Line. They all appear to be 4th cousins which makes sense and have as a common ancestor Archibald b. about 1792 (and his wife whom we know nothing of). Notice there is no triangulation as the matches are on different chromosomes (#6 and #12).

Then of note are 2 large matches in green between brother and sister Jonathan and Janet and JFS who was out on the lonely Michael Line. The DNA has given us a bit of a backwards trick. The DNA match is high at the 5th cousin level for Jonathan and Janet. You would think it would be low there. But at the 3rd cousin level where we would expect a large match, there is only a small one. Joanna, the other sister matches 3rd cousin CJK on the Minnie Frazer Line at only 7.9 cM, not much above the Gedmatch cutoff level of 7.0 cM. However, all these families match as expected, but not at the levels expected perhaps.

I used a Gedmatch utility to look at the number of matches between the James Line testers. This is what I got.

3D James Line

The large numbers in the middle are due to mother, daughter, aunt, niece, cousin, brother and sister relationships. I ignored these when I added the segment matches on the side and bottom. This takes out the actual cM numbers which can be confusing. What this tells me is that everybody matches everyone else in the James Line which is what we would suspect and bolsters our paper trail research. Also notice that the celebrity line (PB) has one match for everybody (on the top row above). This is what the above Gedmatch chart looks like with Total Shared cM’s:

James Line Shared Segments

For this utility, Gedmatch uses a lower cM value of 5. Note that here, MHB doesn’t show any shared cM’s with the O’Sullivan Line. I’m not sure why when she shows a shared segment above. However, not to worry. She is the cousin of KK and the niece of CJK. That means that MHB should be related also.

How the James Line DNA Matches the Archibald Line DNA

When the Frazer cousins first started DNA testing, it was a bit discouraging as no one was matching at good levels as expected. However, after more people tested, I was surprised at the number and level of matches we had. There were also matches between the James Line and the Archibald line – the one I’m in. So apparently there is no need to have the Y test done on a male from each line to prove the lines are related.

Archibald James Line Matches

Here we see my family (Hartleys), Bill, and MFA from the Archibald Line matching Joanna’s family, the O’Sullivan Line and CJK from the James Line. Missing are Jane (who had large matches within the Archibald line) and Ros who didn’t have cousin marrying ancestors from the Archibald Line. Missing from the James line is mostly JFS if I take CJK to be representative of MGB and KK from the Minnie Frazer Line. However, her match is small and therefore suspect. Then my sister matches on the X Chromosome to CJK. The X matches follow interesting patterns. So that means my sister’s interesting pattern has to match CJK’s interesting pattern. My sister’s X inheritance includes a Frazer way back who married into my McMaster ancestors. This Frazer could have been in the James Line. That may eliminate my sister’s match as going back as far as Widow Mary the Cottier and joining the 2 lines. Mary is the supposed mother of the Archibald and James Lines. Here is the Census that shows all 3 Frazer families in 1749.

Elphin Census

Any Flies in the Ointment?

Sure, plenty. Let’s look at our chart again.

James Line Chart

In this chart we are focusing on Frazers. However, the DNA doesn’t know that. Can we assume that because the testers are all Frazers, then the matches must represent Frazers? No. To do this right, we would have to flesh out the ancestors for each of the DNA matchers. We have that Bill and Joanna match. From our charts, it looks like the match could be with Mary the Cottier, the mother of James. But that may not be the case. Let’s look at Archibald b. 1792 who is on Joanna’s line. He had a wife. She had 2 parents in the above generation; 4 grandparents in the James Frazer generation and 8 grandparents in Mary the Cottier’s generation. That adds up to 15 people we don’t know about. If we had started the exercise in a later generation, there would be many more ancestors. On Bill’s side there would be the same amount of unknown people. Plus, Bill appears to have 3 Frazers in his ancestry which would make for a potential 3 times the unknowns.

10 Generations of Frazer DNA: Combining the Two Lines

Here is the master chart of the Archibald and James Lines combined.  This represents 10 generations but shows 6. I took off 2 to 4 generations on the bottom. Mary is at the top. Archibald and James are her 2 likely sons. This is actually a simplified chart, showing only the lines where we have DNA testers. The goal is to make sure our genealogy is correct and to show the 2 Lines really are connected as we suppose.

Archibald James Combined Chart



  • The Frazers have some interesting relatives – especially in the James Line
  • Triangulation is the gold standard and shows common ancestors. The James Line hasn’t shown a triangulation yet. This may be because there are 4 lines and 4 testing families. However, as everyone matches everyone else by DNA that is good evidence to me that these people are in the same Frazer family.  However, there is still a chance that some of these matches may be non-Frazer matches. It would take a lot of work to figure all that out.
  • Does the DNA testing show that the very early Archibald and James Frazer were brothers? Definitely not. It may show they are related, but that is not even clear. DNA matches between the 2 lines seems more likely to show inter-relationships between the 2 lines at some later date than Mary the Cottier. There is a good chance that in my own family, I have a James line ancestor who was born probably 2 generations after James.
  • Let’s keep open the option of Y DNA testing. That is the surest way to link the Archibald and James lines.
  • I seem to be developing a knack for proving myself wrong

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