Sutherland y-DNA Project

The Y-chromosome is passed down from father to son. Genealogists can trace direct paternal ancestry back hundreds of years by identifying unique attributes in male Y-chromosome. The Sutherland DNA Project at FamilyTreeDNA is dedicated to comparing Y-DNA markers of male descendants of Sutherland, Sutherlin, Southerland (and related Clans/Septs) for genealogical and genetic purposes.

Human DNA is composed of 23 pairs of chromosomes. Chromosomes 1 – 22 are autosomes. These chromosomes are not differentiated by sex. Half of your DNA is inherited from your father and half from your mother. The autosomal DNA which comes from your father has the same number of genes as the DNA half which is inherited from your mother. This diagram does not distinguish between paternal-maternal pairs in chromosomes 1-22 because they contain same types of genetic markers.


Credit: National Human Genome Research Institute

Sex chromosomes reside in position 23. Genetic males have X-Y pair. Females have X-X.

Notice how the X chromosome is much longer in the diagram? The X-chromosome contains approx 900 genes while the Y-chromosome only contains 55. There is much more information encoded in the X-chromosome. Some genetic diseases such as hemophilia are passed via the X-chromosome.

This simple diagram illustrates how the Y-chromosome is passed from father to son. Only one of these X-Y pairs will be inherited by male offspring.

Although other types of DNA profiles yield more information related to haplogroups (ancestral groups associated with specific geographic area), y-DNA is extremely useful for tracing paternal ancestry. The Sutherland family line is well documented – the first family genealogy dates back to 1651. Although not all Sutherland males named in published histories share a Y-chromosome, these records offer a rare opportunity to trace ancient roots.

My Sutherland brothers and male cousins may possess the same Y-chromosome that originated with Freskin, the first Earl of Sutherland. That’s pretty cool!

y-DNA analysis will also place the SWLA Sutherlands within family groups that are branches of  the main Dunrobin Clan. My blog post on Sutherland castles describes sub clans (or septs) in various areas of Scotland. Not all of these groups can claim direct male descent from Freskin. The Dunrobin Sutherlands are descended from the Gordon family.

I hope that you will consider participating in the Sutherland DNA Project. The next blog post gives step-by-step instructions for submitting your profile to the group.

How to Participate in the Sutherland DNA Project | Sutherlands of Southwest Louisiana (

Do you have questions about getting started with DNA analysis? DNA Testing FAQ