Michael Cooley's Genetic Genealogy Blog GEN • GEN
10 June 2018

The Wright Stuff

One of the great benefits of genetic genealogy, particularly when it comes to the Y chromosome, lay its power to bust myths. The idea is simple: men inherit the male sex gene, which sits on the Y chromosome, from their fathers. It goes without saying, of course, that women participate in the making of men, but they contribute nothing to the Y chromosome. It's monolithically male and passes from father to son unchanged. Men having different Y chromosomes from one another cannot be related through the father-line. Remarkably, thanks to cultural convention, the surname is passed in much the same way. That means that the descendants of the following three men, despite having the same last name, are not related partilineally — their Wright origins were entirely different.

No matter how hard someone tries to force the connection, Philbert's son, Richard Wright Sr (c1730-1784) of Rowan County, North Carolina, cannot have been of the Kelvedon Hatch Wrights, which includes the Wright Brothers and immigrant ancestor Deacon Samuel Wright, hence the interest in trying to tie in with that family. And I've learned lately that some enthusiasts are attempting to do the same by making Eli Wright of Harrison County, Indiana a nephew of the same Richard. Two wrongs, as we know, do not make a Wright.

Genetic Distance

The chart above displays the first twelve Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) found among the respective ancestor's descendants. Each position represents the number of times a specific series of genetic letters repeats. The fifth listed marker, known as DYS385, is the number of times the genetic sequence of GAAA repeats at that location: 16, 11, and 13, going down the list. Two testers having a genetic distance of greater than 1 over these twelve markers, are not related through their fathers. We can readily see from the chart on the right that the genetic distance between the groups far exceeds that.

Genetic details for these and other Wright families can be found at the Wright DNA Project.