Michael Cooley's Genetic Genealogy Blog GEN • GEN
31 March 2019

Big Y-700 Test Results for Cooley Group CF10

Results have been received for a Big Y test for Cooley Group CF10, a descendant of William Cooley (-1817) and Elizabeth Firmin (-1837). FTDNA has found a host of upstream SNPs that William shared with his (distantly-related) Scully cousins. These twenty-six SNPs, now known collectively as haplogroup S984, cover a period on order of about three thousand years. At this reckoning, there are nine SNPs in the new CF10 Cooley haplogroup. They emerged over the last 1300 years possibly originating in a man born in about 700 AD, well before surnames came into fashion.

Of the thirteen new SNPs reported by FTDNA for the Cooleys, three are located in the centromere of the Y chromosome. (I've listed them below.) This is an unstable area not particularly suited to SNP hunting — the idea being that we're looking for SNPs that have been present since their inception and are not apt to go away in future generations. (A home shouldn't be built on a foundation on sand and a study not determined on fickle data.) I submitted two of the SNPs to yseq.net for further analysis and naming. They found another SNP that resides in a region that is near identical to a section on chromosome 1. That's not desirable for Sanger sequencing and analysis. The SNPs, which are single-point mutations, are listed in the manner of position, ancestral value, and derived value, that is, the value to which that base of DNA mutated.

10850826 A>G Centromere
10668521 A>C Centromere
10105884 C>T Centromere
11804081 T>C (A24204)Looks too much like chr 1

With some imagination, the genealogy, below, can be overlain with the SNP tree, which follows. These facts only need to be understood: Only men have a Y chromosome and, unlike the rest of the nuclear DNA, each man receives a clone of his father's Y. (The Y carries the male sex gene.) It's passed on like that over many generations before any significant mutations accumulate, but even small differences can delineate collateral branches on a tree. It's also helpful to understand that each SNP mutation happens with the birth of an individual male. In this, SNPs are analogous with the man and, in theory, can be given the name of the original bearer. Of course, even in the best instances, recorded lineages are no more than a couple of dozen generations long. It's rare that the match can be made. But I can say with confidence that Francis Strother was born in Virginia in about the year 1700 along with the very first occurrence of SNP A20343, which propagated throughout every cell of his body and down through the paternal line to the present day. (I mentioned this is an earlier article but I like it well enough to repeat here: In 50,000 years that mutation might lead to a genus called Homo franciscus strothericus. Who's to say it won't?)

The Genealogy

The SNPs

Additionally, I found these four low count but high quality SNPs. They should be kept "in reserve," so to speak, in case we need to search in more detail.


The STR genetic distance for the two testers is 11 out of 541 fully sequenced markers. Just as we can't determine a direct and specific timetable based on SNP frequency, nor can the STR genetic distance (GD) be wholly reliable. However, STRs generally mutate a lot more quickly than SNPs and are more dependable in respect to GD. After all, in the above example, the Cooley tester had nine new SNPs come into the lineage over the same period that zero new markers emerged in the Scullys. The following shows where the STR markers vary between the two testers.

DYS710 3534
DYS549 1112
DYS437 1615
DYS481 2324
DYS712 2021
DYS516 1413
FTY269 1112
DYS485 1415
CDYb 4241
DYS551 1413
Y-GATA-H4 1110

With these tests, CF10 has come a long way from a haplogroup that was three thousand or more years old to one maybe 700 years old. There's still a large number of SNPs to parse through, but even one more well-placed test will bring us a lot closer. Two essential, related goals are in play: to determine the Y-DNA signature for the CF10 Cooley's More Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) — a forebear of some number of degrees to William (married Elizabeth Firmin) and John Cooley (married Abigail Lippincott — and to assess an approximate degree of cousinship between the two men through the use of GD and SNP count difference.

William Cooley's children were born in Maryland. The whole family picked up and moved to Fayette County, Pennsylvania at the turn of the nineteenth century. We have two leads for William's origins. The Biographical and Portrait Cyclopedia of Fayette County, Pennsylvania (1889) says that he "was of Irish extraction and at the time of the Revolutionary War was a resident of Maryland, and followed wagoning. He was married to Elizabeth Firmin. Their children were: John Cooley, Jonathan Cooley, Matthew Cooley, Isaac Cooley, and Frederick Cooley." There's thought he could be the same man referenced in Mortimer Cooley's The Cooley Genealogy on page 951: "WILLIAM Coole, b. 1753, Founder, from Dublin, sailed in the ship Rebecca to Maryland from Port of London, Aug. 28-Sept. 4, 1774. N.E.H. & G.R."

John Cooley (1749-1813), William's contemporary and genetic match, is found on page 910 of The Cooley Genealogy. He's said to have been born in 1749 and is presumed to have been a son of James and Mary Cooley, the only Cooleys found in the area (Hunterdon County, New Jersey) at the time that were of sufficient age.1 Genetics can't tell us the exact degree of relationship between William and John, but that they were related is proved genetically by virtue of their matching STRs.

Although John's story, as presently understood, doesn't take us prior to his life in New Jersey, William's does. Although a 1889 biographical sketch doesn't prove Irish origins, the 1774 passenger list makes it that much more plausible. But the match to the Scully family tells us more. Tim Scully wrote in a January 2019 email,

Martin Scully b 1783, Portlaoise, County Laois, Ireland, according to one source, another source claims he was born at Garrymaddock which is in Stradbally, County Laois (formerly called Queens County), d July 16, 1855. I believe his father may have been Peter Scully and his mother Catherine O'Toole; I have no other details for either of them. Garrymaddock is where Martin Scully's children were born; his wife's name was Judith Kenna and she born about 1790 at Fossy, Timahoe, Ireland, died December 5, 1845.

The Scullys and Cooleys might be removed by several hundred years, but DNA does more than define individuals. It can place them in specific locations. For example, I found my YP4254 SNP (Cooley group CF01) in Derbyshire, England. And it now seems likely that YP4252, upstream a couple of degrees, has medieval Scottish origins. Moving further up the SNP tree we find L448, popularly known as the "Young Scandinavian." It probably first emerged in a man born in Norway about three thousand years ago, possibly in the region of present-day Bergen. CF10's ancient heritage can be examined in the same way.

I'm not familiar with the CF10 SNP tree, but this branch appears to be Scots-Irish. Top-most of the tree illustrated above is L21, a SNP aged about four thousand years and shared with the Stewart kings. I would highly recommend that all CF10 members join the R DF21 and Subclades project at FTDNA. Co-admins include the well-known Alex Williamson of Ytree and Peter Biggins. A 2015 article, Ancient Irish Research is Underway in the R-DF21 Haplogroup Project: L1403 Update by Jennifer Zinck includes a nicely hand-drawn SNP tree for DF5, two degrees upstream of the nearly discovered S984. I would look to those resources for information about the deep history of the lineage. My interest lay in determining at what position on the SNP tree the lineage became specifically Cooley and in identifying a specific Y-DNA print for the CF10 MRCA. To that end, I'll continue to advocate for more testing.

If FTDNA doesn't provide names for the A24205 SNPs by the end of the week, I'll submit them to Yseq for naming and additional analysis. In the meantime, my door is always open for questions.

1. This passage from an online article might interest Cooley/Lippincott descendants: "For many years we possessed a deed, signed by my husband's ancestor John Cooley. It was also witnessed by one Abigail Lippincott. One day it occurred to me to wonder who Abigail was and why she was on the deed. Some investigation proved that she was his fiance! They were later married, and now we have the deed framed as valuable genealogical evidence." G.G. Vandagriff, "Diamonds Among the Dust," Meridian Magazine, https://ldsmag.com/2000/07/.