Mitochondrial DNA in Britain – Mitochondrial DNA is passed down through females only (1 exception)

Scottish lecturer found to be ‘grandfather of everyone in Britain’

A retired lecturer who took a DNA test to find out where his ancestors
came from has been found to be directly descended from the first woman
on earth, who lived 190,000 years ago.

Mr Kinnaird, of Halkirk, Caithness, said he was interested in history
but had no particular expectations when he paid £200 for the test.

Ian Kinnaird, 72, has a genetic marker inherited from his mother that
traces his ancestry to an African lineage that has not been found
before in Western Europe.

Researchers from Britain’s DNA, who carried out the tests, said the
result meant that in genetic terms he was a “thoroughbred”, and could
be described as the “grandson of Eve, or the grandfather of everyone
in Britain”.

They were so surprised by the results that they phoned Mr Kinnaird, a
widower who lives in the far north of Scotland, to break the news to

They told him his mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), passed through the female
line, was 30,000 years old and only two genetic mutations removed from
the first woman, while most men have a genome with around 200
mutations since the earliest humans.

Alistair Moffat, the historian and rector of St Andrews University,
who was involved in setting up the DNA project, said: “It is an
astonishing result and means he could have been in the ‘Garden of

“It is further proof that even white Anglo-Saxon Protestants are
descended from a black Eve.”

The project has now tested 2,000 people across the United Kingdom and
most have markers that trace their ancestry back up to 3,500 years,

These defined them as descendants of various groups including the
earliest Britons, the Ancient Irish, Vikings, hunter gatherers and
cave painters.

The project aims to map Britain’s “family tree” and previously found
that the actor Tom Conti shared an ancestor with Napoleon Bonaparte.

Mr Kinnaird, of Halkirk, Caithness, who taught at the North Highland
College in Thurso, and was a tutor for the Open University, said he
was interested in history but had no particular expectations when he
paid £200 for the test.

It also showed his “fatherline” is Scandinavian and he carries a YDNA
marker which is found in a quarter of Norwegian men.

He said: “I have led an unremarkable life until now but my computer
has been red hot since I was told. This is a real gobsmacker. I seem
to carry a gene from west Africa that arrived through the slave trade.

“I have been researching the links between the slave trade and
Liverpool, the area where the female side of my family came from.
Africa was part of my geography degree at Hull University in 1959, but
I couldn’t have imagined anything like this.”

Mr Kinnaird’s L1B1 genetic marker will also be carried by his sister
Jean, 65, a retired teacher who taught in Wigan, and the daughter she
had at the age of 17 who was given up for adoption.

Mr Moffat, who set up Britain’s DNA with James Wilson, a geneticist

from Edinburgh University, said the unassuming lecturer was a
“remarkable” individual.

He added: “This lineage appears in Africa, in Senegal, but has never
been seen in north-west Europe. It is likely to have reached Britain
through the arrival of slaves in Liverpool.

“A woman who might be called Eve and a man who might be called Adam
really existed.

“Eve, the mother of all of us, lived around 190,000 years ago just as
homo sapiens were evolving. Other women lived at the same time but
only Eve’s mtDNA survived.

“Adam also lived in central Africa, perhaps only 140,000 years ago.
Only his YDNA survived to father all of the male lineages on earth.

“Mr Kinnaird cannot pass on his mtDNA, but his sister could and she
had a daughter who will carry the lineage.”

The tests by Britain’s DNA suggest 32 per cent of British men are
descended from the Pretani, or original Britons, more than 12 per cent

Germanic ancestry, 11 per cent are hunter gatherers and more than
seven per cent are Ancient Irish.

By Auslan Cramb
29 June 2012