Original Goal of The Allred DNA Project
John Allred
Former DNA Project Chair

When the Allred DNA project launched in conjunction with Family Tree DNA in 2002, there were several questions that remained unanswered about the Allred ancestry, despite many years of hard work searching for documentary evidence. The relatively new science of DNA analysis for genealogical research seemed to offer solutions to those difficult problems encountered by researchers.

At the time there was substantial circumstantial but no direct evidence that the Allreds came from Lancashire, England. It was known that there was a Solomon Allred born in Eccles Parish, Lancashire, England in 1680. It was also known that there was a Solomon Allred listed on the Chester County, Pennsylvania tax roles in 1724 and 1730. But – was it the same man?  (The answer is YES!  In addition to DNA, several research reports have been written that detail documentation gathered that proves it was the same man and same family.)

By 2002 many Allreds had traced their ancestry back to one of a number of Allreds living in North Carolina in the mid-1700s. But – were the North Carolina Allreds related to Solomon Allred of Chester County, Pennsylvania and, perhaps, Lancashire, England?

Even the Allred name in North Carolina was not certain. Early genealogists had proposed that Allreds were actually descendants of the Aldredge family who came to North Carolina from Virginia. Did the North Carolina Allreds descend from Solomon Allred of Pennsylvania or the Aldredge family of Virginia?

While documentation showed that there was one or more men in central North Carolina named William Allred there was also a man named William Elrod. Was William Elrod and William Allred one and the same man as many supposed?

DNA analysis to the rescue!

Most of these questions have now been answered, thanks to DNA analysis and the discovery of further documentation. For example it is virtually certain that Solomon Allred, born in Lancashire, England to Ellen Pemberton Allred and John Allred, is indeed one and the same man as the Solomon Allred in Chester County, Pennsylvania in the 1720s. We know this because an abstract of a letter has been found showing that Solomon wrote to his cousin Israel Pemberton in Philadelphia from Chester County on January 19, 1720. Solomon Allred’s mother’s maiden name was Pemberton.

DNA analysis has shown conclusively that the Elrod family of North Carolina is not related to the Allred family! And neither is the Aldridge family of Virginia.

There is now enough DNA evidence from Allred men in England and America to firmly conclude that our ancestors did indeed come from England and more specifically from Lancashire. So far, all of the Allred men whose Y-chromosome DNA matches each other either live in Lancashire, England now or their ancestors did! 

How does DNA analysis reveal information about the Allred ancestry?

Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes which transmit genetic information from parents to children. One pair is called the sex chromosomes because they determine the sex and the sexual characteristics of the child. Females have two, so-called X-chromosomes, one of which came from their mother and the other came from their father. Males have one X-chromosome which came from their mother and one Y-chromosome which came from their father. During the reproductive process, a copy of the DNA in this Y-chromosome is passed from father to son with no input from the mother. Since the Allred name is also passed from father to son, all Allreds should have identical DNA in their Y-chromosome! And they would have except there are sometimes mistakes made when the DNA in the Y-chromosome is copied during the reproduction process. Such mistakes, called mutations, happen at random, unpredictable times. For this discussion, the examples will use a 25 marker Y-chromosome analysis although Family Tree DNA also gives consumers a choice of 12, 37, 67 or 111 markers.


























What the results mean

As an example of DNA transmission without error, let’s look at Don and Leron Allred, both of whom have traced their family line back to Thomas Allred of North Carolina:

DYS values:

Don Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15 15 16 18

Leron Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15 15 16 18

DYS numbers refer to a specific site on the Y-chromosome. For each of the markers (called DYS values), the results are identical. This means that there is a very high probability they have a common ancestor but it does not tell us when. The paper trail proves that they did indeed have a common ancestor within seven to eight generations.

It doesn’t always turn out that way. Consider a comparison of Don with Jimmy Dean Allred both of whom trace their ancestry to Thomas:

Don Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15 15 16 18

Jimmy Dean Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 31 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15 15 16 18

Note that there is a difference at DYS 389-2, shown in bold in Jimmy Dean’s result. Does this mean that the two are not related? The answer is no since they share the family name of Allred and there is documentation that shows Thomas as their common ancestor. The different value at DYS 389-2 is the result of a mutation, that is, a mistake, in the copying of the Y-chromosome DNA during the reproductive process at some time between Thomas and the birth of either Don or Jimmy Dean. Even without the paper trails, the shared name of Allred and the DNA result (one mutation, also called a genetic distance of 1) would have led us to the conclusion that Don and Jimmy Dean very likely had a common ancestor at some time but, again, without documentation we would not have known how many generations back.

Even two or more mutations do not mean that two people are unrelated. Compare Don with Michael S. Allred. Don remember has traced his ancestry to Thomas and Michael has traced his to Thomas’ brother, Solomon, which makes their common ancestor Solomon Allred, born in 1680 in Lancashire, England. Yet DNA analysis shows that two mutations (genetic distance = 2) happened between their birth and that of their common ancestor, which is easily within the range of probability so, yes, Don and Michael are closely related, confirming the paper trail.

Don Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15-15-16-18

Michael S. Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9   9 11 11 25 15 19 28 15-15-16-17

David Allred

13 24 14 11 11-14 12 12 12 15 13 32 19 9-10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15-15-16-18

The DNA data for David Allred are not so clear cut. He has a genetic distance of 3 out of 25 markers from Don Allred and 5 out of 25 markers from Michael which might be cause to question a family relationship. (Note that one of the mismatched markers differs by two between David and the other two but this “double slippage” is considered one mutation.) On the other hand, all three share the family name of Allred and David lives in Lancashire, England where, as far as he knows, his family has always lived. The most probable correct interpretation is that David is related to the Solomon Allred family but their common ancestor was further back in time than Solomon’s generation. That is, two Allred men who have three or more mismatches out of 25 markers are either not related to each other or, more likely, their common ancestor was probably born before 1680, the birth year of Solomon Allred. Analysis of more markers would be needed to distinguish these possibilities.

For our Allred family in America, no more than two mismatches out of twenty five markers would be expected since Solomon Allred migrated here in the early 1700s - about 300 years ago. Assuming 25 years per generation 300 years would be about 12 generations. While mutations occur at random times, on average one every ten generations can be expected for 25 markers so up to two mismatches would still mean a common ancestor since Solomon Allred. But three or more mismatches out of 25 markers suggests that a common ancestor might exist sometime before Solomon came to the Colonies or that the person is not genetically related to the Allred male line. Again analysis of more markers is necessary before any conclusion could be reached.

The mystery Allreds

There is a group of men who have the Allred name and whose DNA matches each other but have 6 or more mismatches out of 25 markers compared to Allred men who have a definitive trail to Thomas, Solomon or William. Several mismatches do not mean that two men are not related but do mean that their most recent common ancestor is further back in time, especially if they share a common surname and geographic origin. The only limitation to the “common name” argument is that surnames only became common after the Norman conquest of England in 1066 which was about 40 generations ago. Since one mutation out of 25 markers can be expected every 10 generations, no more than 4 mismatches would be expected and still have a common ancestor named Allred but W. Darrell Allred had five markers, shown in bold, that do not match. Analysis of as many as 67 markers shows that the DNA of the mystery Allreds does not match the DNA of bona fide descendants of Thomas, Solomon and William.

Don Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15 15 16 18

W. Darrell

13 23 14 11 11 14 12 12 12 14 13 30 17 9 10 11 11 24 15 19 29 15 15 17 18

The question is who are these mystery Allreds? From a variety of subtle clues over the years, Linda Allred Cooper hypothesized that, of the four North Carolina Allreds, it may have been John who carried the mismatched DNA. Consistent with that hypothesis, though not proof, was the fact that we found several Allred men who had the DNA test and who had a definitive paper trail back to Thomas, William or Solomon but none to John. Over the past several years, we attempted to find an Allred male who had a paper trail leading back to John Allred and then ask him to take the Y-chromosome DNA test. Recently such a person emerged in the form of Gary Austin Allred who readily agreed to submit to the DNA test. The result:

Don Allred

13 24 14 11 11 14 12 12 11 14 13 30 19 9 10 11 11 25 15 19 28 15 15 16 18

W. Darrell

13 23 14 11 11 14 12 12 12 14 13 30 17 9 10 11 11 24 15 19 29 15 15 17 18

Gary Austin

13 23 14 11 11 14 12 12 12 14 13 30 17 9 10 11 11 24 15 19 29 15 15 17 18

Note that the pattern for Gary Austin Allred does not match Don Allred’s DNA, representative of the DNA of descendants of Thomas, Solomon and William, but it does match that of W. Darrell Allred, who is representative of the mystery Allreds. Since we know, that Gary Austin descended from the “original” John Allred of North Carolina, this result proves that the mystery Allreds descended from John. Extending the number of markers examined to 67 confirmed this conclusion. That is, although John behaved as and was treated as a brother to Thomas, Solomon and William, he was not, in fact, a biological brother. (See Allred Family Newsletter # 104, Fall, 2015.)

So, who was John Allred if not a biological brother? The answer appears to lie in a court record from February 2, 1737 in which two men, Henry Enoch and Joseph Metcalf swore that a man named Samuel Finley in an oral will made shortly before his death which left “all he had” to a child named Johny “Aldridge” (later shown in court records to actually have the surname of Allred). Linda Allred Cooper hypothesized several years ago that this John Allred who was the recipient of Samuel Finley’s estate was the illegitimate son of an Allred woman and was one and the same John Allred who showed up in North Carolina as the apparent brother of Thomas, Solomon and William Allred. DNA analysis has now shown that the DNA of Gary Austin Allred  who has a definitive paper trail to the original John Allred of North Carolina, matches the DNA pattern of a member of the Finley family:

Gary Austin

13 23 14 11 11 14 12 12 12 14 13 30 17 9 10 11 11 24 15 19 29 15 15 17 18

Wayne Finley

13 23 14 11 11 14 12 12 12 14 13 30 17 9 10 11 11 24 15 19 29 15 15 17 18

Extending the markers to 67 confirmed this match. Given the DNA match of a current member of the Finley family with a known descendant of John Allred makes it pretty clear that John Allred was fathered by a Finley. In her recent book (From England to America Our Allred Family, Watkins Printing, Logan, Utah), Dawnell Hatton Griffin asserts that John Allred was the illegitimate son of Samuel Finley and a daughter of Solomon Allred. In the Spring, 2016 issue of the Allred Family Newsletter (#106), Linda Allred Cooper reviews the convincing evidence that John Allred was the son of Samuel Finley and an Allred woman, most likely the daughter of Solomon Allred.

Allred family Y-chromosome data are on line

You can view Y- chromosome DNA data for some members of the Allred Family DNA project by clicking here.

Usefulness of DNA analysis

DNA has proven to be a boon to genealogists but it is not a substitute for the tried and true method of documentation. DNA analysis is most effective in confirming a relationship rather than finding one, that is, combining DNA analysis with documentation substantially increases our understanding of our heritage. But DNA has its limitations. For example, an Allred man who’s DNA matches that of the majority of other Allred men is definitely a descendant of Thomas, William or Solomon but DNA does not tell you which one.

The Allred Family DNA project, by definition, involves only Y- chromosome DNA because this type of DNA is passed from father to son and so is the family name in our society. A DNA match with another male named Allred has a much higher probability of being correct than it would be if the family name was not the same.

Two other types of DNA have been used for genealogy: mitochondrial and autosomal. Both types are complicated enough to deserve a treatise on their own. Briefly, mitochondrial DNA is passed from the mother to both sons and daughters but only the daughter can pass it on so this type of DNA can follow an unbroken female line. Because of the complex nature of mitochondrial DNA including the fact that in our society the family name changes every generation since women usually take the husband’s family name, this analysis is generally useful to confirm relationships. Autosomal DNA involves analysis of segments of DNA on chromosomes other than the sex chromosomes. Since autosomal DNA comes equally from father and mother, a child in theory gets 50% of his/her DNA from each parent, 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great grandparent, DNA is diluted each generation so that within a few generations it may be too small of an amount to show a relationship even if one exists. Interpretation of autosomal DNA data is complicated to the point that documentary evidence is essential.