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Blair Genealogy


DNA 101: Y-DNA

DNA 102: Interpreting Results

DNA 103: Grouping Participants

Project Update

Test Results

Blair DNA Fund

Project Application

Pedigree Chart

Info Release Form


Oldest Ancestors


Blair DNA Mailing List


Release of Liability

Blair Society Lines




The BLAIR surname, unlike many others, has a fairly well established origin. Although there is some question as to who was the "First Blair", it is generally accepted that he was an heir of Jean Francois, a Norman, granted Barony of Blare by King William, between 1165 and 1200.

There were two principal Blair families in Scotland; the Blairs of Blair in Ayrshire and the Blairs of Balthyock in Fife and Perthshire. The ancestor of the Blairs of Blair in Ayrshire was William de Blair, who was mentioned in a contract dated 1205. William is believed to be the son or grandson of Jean Francois. The ancestor of the Blairs of Balthyock was Alexander de Blair, who received a charter of lands about 1214. There are some who believe that Alexander is a direct descendant of Jean Francois, either a brother or nephew of William de Blair (Blairs of Blair in Ayrshire). Others believe that these families were not related.

These may have been the "Original" Blairs but the Blair name was adopted by many others with no blood connection throughout history. Every Blair that adopted the name started a new line.

In order to get a feel for how many Blair lines exist I did a study of the Blair Society for Genealogical Research. Since the resurrection of the BSGR almost 20 years ago, over 1,000 members have researched almost 430 Blair lines. A third of this membership connect to 18 of these lines. On the other end of the scale almost a third of the membership were "orphans", unable to connect their Blair line with any other member.

Approximately 9% of the membership has traced their ancestors back to Scotland. Almost 20% have traced them back to Ireland. Approximately 2% of the ancestors came from Canada and England. The remaining members of the BSGR cannot trace their ancestors outside the United States.

I assume a study of the Clan Blair Society might show similar results.

What we have is a very large puzzle with a lot of pieces missing.

Although more documentary evidence remains to be found, traditional genealogical research may never find all the connections between the various Blair family groups. In addition, there are undoubtedly links that have been made that are not correct. The availability of Y chromosome analysis now provides a new way to determine direct male to male lineage, and this is the basis of this project.

This study may help answer these questions:

  • How many different common male ancestors are associated with the BLAIR surname?

  • How are your BLAIR ancestors related to other families with the BLAIR surname?

  • How are the different BLAIR family lines related?

  • Are all BLAIRs from an ancestral country related, or are there many different families with the name BLAIR?

  • Can a connection between the BLAIRs from Ireland and the BLAIRs from Scotland be made?

  • Which BLAIR researchers should be collaborating because they share a common ancestor?

An analysis of the mutations in the Y-chromosome can also be used to estimate the "Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)" in terms of number of generations since the separation occurred. 

If your BLAIR research has hit a "stone wall", DNA analysis could be the break through you have been looking for, to push your BLAIR genealogy research back generations, by finding connections to other BLAIR family Lines.


There are two types of DNA tests now available for genealogical testing: the Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) test and the mitochondrial (mtDNA) test. A direct female line can be traced by testing mitochondrial DNA. However, since we are presently interested in tracing surnames, which are usually passed from father to son, the testing of the Y-chromosome DNA is what we are interested in. For more information on DNA and Y-chromosome testing see DNA 101.


The Blair DNA Project will perform the Y-DNA Test on men with the Blair surname (including all variant spellings). I have selected Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), one of the most prominent research firms in this field, for our "Y" chromosome DNA project. FTDNA is a Houston, TX based company founded strictly for performing genealogical DNA testing and analysis. They work closely with Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona. Dr. Hammer is another highly respected geneticist who is actively pursuing DNA surname research.   Currently FTDNA offers the following three as initial Y-DNA tests.

Y-DNA 37 marker test: $119 + p/h (recommended)
Y-DNA 111 marker test: $249 + p/h
Big Y-700 test: $449 + p/h

Click on
FTDNA Price List
for other tests.

NEW - Blair DNA Fund

You may choose either the 37-Marker, 111-Marker test, or the Big Y-700 test as an initial Y-DNA test.  The 67-Marker test is only available as an upgrade from the 37 marker test, although the 111 Marker test is the preferred upgrade.  If you want to upgrade from the 37-marker test to a 67-Marker test or 111-Marker test you can do this at a later date without having to resubmit your DNA, since it is stored by FTDNA and is available for additional tests. For more information on the 37-Marker and 67-Marker tests see tests see DNA 101.

The Family Coordinator for the Blair DNA Project is:

John A. Blair
Blair DNA Project Coordinator
63 Northlands Avenue
Haywards Heath, West Sussex
RH13 6RT

Test results will be returned to the Family Coordinator as they are received by FTDNA. Each participant will also receive a certificate and report containing their personal test results. The staff of FTDNA or its testing lab at the University of Arizona will help you interpret the meaning of your test results or you can view DNA 101 for a layman's tutorial.


All BLAIRs are encouraged to participate in the Blair DNA Project. Male BLAIRs may participate directly. Because females do not have the Y-chromosome they can only participate through a male BLAIR relative (father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin). Each male participant will provide a mouth swab sample to be analyzed by Family Tree DNA. This sampling technique is painless and only involves the use of a swab to collect a small amount of cells from the inside of a person's cheek. The participant administers the test in the privacy of his own home. 

Each participant must send an Application and a Pedigree Chart to the Family Coordinator. Both can be filled in and submitted from this site. The Pedigree Chart should go back as far as possible on your male surname as has been documented, and include as many birth and death dates and maiden names for the spouses as possible. It is not necessary to include dates for the living persons, only for the deceased.

The Family Coordinator will submit the application to Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA will mail a "DNA test kit" directly to each participant. The Family Tree DNA test kit consists of two cheek scrapers and two collection tubes---designed for a single persons use. The kit also includes instructions for collecting your DNA sample and release form allowing for sharing of your group data results with other who exactly match. This release form is optional. For more information of FTDNA policy on confidentiality and releasing information see: Legal Issues and Release Form.

Each participant will collect his sample and return the kit to Family Tree DNA, along with the payment, to Family Tree DNA. FTDNA will provide the necessary instructions with the kit. Payment can be made by check or credit card.


Only the person providing a DNA sample and the Family Coordinator will know what his results are (unless they decide they would like to share that information - see Sharing Results below). All samples and identifying information will be received by the Family Coordinator (John A. Blair) and will be assigned an identifying number. This ID number will be the only identifying information anyone else sees, so no one other than the coordinator will know who participates in the study or which result is from which person. The portion of the DNA tested gives a distinctive "signature" for a lineage rather than for an individual, so there is no risk of this data being of any use to anyone for personal identity.


The basic test results help answer the question:

  • How many different common male ancestors are associated with the BLAIR surname?

With the addition of the oldest known ancestor, where they came from and when, we may also be able to answer the questions:

  • Are all BLAIRs from an ancestral country related, or are there many different families with the name BLAIR?

  • Can a connection between the BLAIRs from Ireland and the BLAIRs from Scotland be made?

  • How are the different BLAIR family lines related?

  • How are your BLAIR ancestors related to other families with the BLAIR surname?

Unfortunately these results as presented DO NOT answer the question:

  • Which BLAIR researchers should be collaborating because they share a common ancestor?

To answer this question you need to know who the participants are so you can collaborate with them. All participants are encouraged, but not required, to provide contact information so they and others can share information. After the information above is posted and participants have the opportunity to review their results compared to others, they will be asked to release contact information. They may agree to do so or decline. No contact information will be provided without a WRITTEN RELEASE FORM from the participant.


There is always a possibility that you could get disappointing test results. Samples that vary by three or more markers from the main group may do so for a number of reasons. One possibility is that they represent distinct lines either older or younger than the currently observed most frequent line. Another is that there has been a "non-paternal event" at an unknown past time. There are several possible types of non-paternal event in addition to a pregnancy gained outside of a marriage. For example, a child may be adopted and given the BLAIR name; a man may take the BLAIR name when he marries a BLAIR daughter; a BLAIR man may marry a pregnant woman whose husband has died; a couple where the wife is the BLAIR may choose to give their children the BLAIR name for various reasons; clerical error in recording administrative data may assign a BLAIR name to the wrong person, and so on.

It should be stressed that adoptions were quite common in every age (i.e.. parents died by disease or war and a relative took in the children and raised them with their name; or young daughters had a child out of wedlock and the parents raised it as their own).

Some may not want to see a result indicating a "non-paternal event" but we are all legal BLAIRs and a small sample size could be misleading. One may get a DNA sequence which suggests a "non-paternal event" but they could be of the original blood BLAIR line. Let me explain. Twenty people are tested and 19 are very similar but the last is clearly different. It could turn out that the 19 descend from the same person 300 years ago and this person was an adopted BLAIR while the other is of the original blood line going back 800 years.

The BLAIR DNA Project is an independent
project undertaken by
The BLAIR DNA Project is endorsed by
the Blair Society for Genealogical Research
and the Clan Blair Society.
Member of the
International Society
of Genetic Genealogy

This WebPage was last updated 03/21/2020

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