Frazer Big Y Results: Archibald Line and James Line

I have previously written Blogs on my cousin Paul’s Big Y results here and here. Paul is my 2nd cousin once removed. He is from the Archibald Line. Archibald and James are believed to be two Frazer brothers living in North Roscommon in the early 1700’s. Just yesterday, Jonathan’s Big Y results came in. Jonathan is from the James line.

Paul is two steps below Hubert on the left and Jonathan is one step below Walter on the right hand side.

What is a Big Y?

The Big Y is an expensive YDNA test that looks at SNPs. SNPs are stable locations where mutation occur on the male Y Chromosome. These mutation happen around every 150 years. The could happen more quickly or more slowly, but 150 years would be an average. Like a laser beam, these SNP mutations make a map straight down the Frazer male line heading toward the distant past. The special feature of the Big Y is that it discovers new SNPs that have not been previously discovered. These newly discovered SNPs are helpful in verifying genealogical trees – especially when taken in tandem like we did with Paul and Jonathan.

In my previous Blog, I had looked at these SNPs for my cousin Paul and came up with a tree that looked like this:

FTDNA that does the Big Y testing has Paul as R-YP432. They don’t yet have listed YP5515 which YFull has. YFull is a service that looks a Big Y and similar results for a fee. Using that information, they create YDNA trees, date the connections, and do other things. Just yesterday I sent Paul’s Big Y results to YFull for analysis.

All the numbers in the green boxes above are SNPs. The numbers with no letters are SNP positions that haven’t been named yet. The bottom green box is for Paul. He has more unique SNPs that I didn’t include in the bottom box. I would expect that out of these SNPs, Paul will share some with Jonathan and that Jonathan and Paul would have their own unique SNPs that happened since the two branches split in the early 1700’s.

Let’s Compare Paul and Jonathan’s SNPs

According to FTDNA Paul and Jonathan share 36 Novel Variants. However, many of those shared between Paul and Jonathan are not uniquely shared. In other words they would be shared with Patton or especially Hayes above the Frazers. First, I’ll add in the SNPs that were only Paul’s before Jonathan’s results came in:

I compressed the tree above to save space. There is still a Patton block of SNPs and under that a Hayes block of SNPs. The orange SNPs under Hayes were Paul’s unique SNPs before Jonathan had his Big Y results. When I compare the 36 SNPs that Paul and Jonathan share, only six of those are in the orange block above. When I separate out Paul’s newly unique SNPs, I get the Archibald Line:

The brown box labelled Archibald Line is Paul’s version of the Archibald Line. If others were to do this test in the Archibald line, there would be some shared and some unique SNPs again. Those SNPs would represent the different branches in the Archibald Line. The orange box shows all the SNPs that are shared by the Frazers in the DNA Project. These SNPs represent the father of the Archibald and James Lines who was probably another Archibald. Note that Paul has 5 mutations since the lines split. That would be more than expected. If we use the average of 150 years, that would put the common Frazer ancestor at 750 years ago. As we believe that the common ancestor lived about 300 years ago, then there must have been a mutation in Paul’s line about every 52 years or every other generation. I am guessing that there will be fewer mutation on Jonathan’s James Line side.

Jonathan’s SNPs

I’m curious to see how these come out. Jonathan has 28 Novel Variants (the same number that Paul now has). From what I can tell, FTDNA calls the unnamed SNPs Novel Variants. Here is my spreadsheet showing the overlaps and unique SNPs between Jonathan and Paul:

Paul’s 5 unique SNPs are shown in blue. Jonathan’s 5 unique SNPs from Paul are shown in yellow. However, I have a note. The note is that Hayes shares 9510807 with Jonathan. Hayes is upstream from the Frazers SNPs. That means that Paul should have also had 9510807. That means that Jonathan has 4 unique SNPs compared to Paul.

Now For the Complete Frazer Y SNP Tree

I put the SNP that Jonathan had in common with Hayes up in the Hayes Block with an asterisk. That is the SNP that Paul should have had but didn’t test positive for.

A Problem With Dating the Frazer Common Ancestor

Let’s assume that the common Frazer Ancestor, the parent of Archibald and James was born in 1690. Let’s further assume that Paul and Jonathan were born in 1950. That leaves 260 years. I will double that for the two lines and divide by the total number of unique SNP which is 9. That gives me roughly 58 years per mutation. That seems to push down the rough estimate of 150 years per mutation quite a bit.

I do get a little consolation in the fact that if our genealogy is right, Paul is 8 generations from the Frazer common ancestor and Jonathan is 7 generations away. That means that Paul’s line had one more generation to form an extra SNP compared to Jonathan – which he apparently did.

Let’s assume that 150 years per mutation is correct. That would mean that the common Frazer ancestor would be 6-700 years ago. To me, this seems unlikely. We have two male Frazers living in North Roscommon in the early 1700’s. We also have a documented Frazer widow, believed to be the mother. Family tradition has the father of Archibald and James as an Archibald born around 1690. Also we have autosomal DNA matches between the Archibald and James Lines. These have not been proven to be linked to the Frazer common ancestor, but seem likely.

It figures that this Big Y test created additional questions! We will have to await more analysis from YFull and the R1a YDNA Project Administrators. Here is one more try at adding dates using the 58 years per mutation versus the 150 years per mutation:

Oddly enough, this makes me feel better. The reason is, that even with 150 years per SNP, I am getting up to 4200 years ago up at the YP432 Level. This is more than the 2800 years what YFull currently has for a most likely time to a common ancestor at YP432.


  • The Big Y test for Paul and Jonathan resulted in more unique Variants than expected for both Paul and Jonathan
  • Using average years per SNP mutation, this would push back the common ancestor for the James and Archibald lines quite a way into the past.
  • Future analysis may resolve this issue. YFull will be one company analyzing the Frazer Big Y test. I will also ask for advice from others.
  • There is one other Frazer from Canada who is expecting YDNA STR results. These results may also help
  • Once the James Line and Archibald Line SNPs are named and tests developed for those SNPs, male line Frazer descendants will be able to determine their Line by testing the new SNPs. Certain SNPs could also define sub-branches below the Archibald and James Lines.


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