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Flemish Connection

Much is being made of the role DNA analysis is playing in helping individuals around the world identify their roots and common ancestors. yDNA is passed down from father to son, from generation to generation and remains virtually unchanged over very many generations. mDNA is passed down from mother to daughter and in February 2013 it was mDNA which experts used in their analysis of the bones found in Leicester which proved to be those of Richard III, the last Yorkist king of England.


The founder of the Sutherland family has long been said to be Freskin or Freskyn, a Flemish knight who came to Scotland either with Malcolm III Canmore or his son David I and who was granted substantial lands around Scotland but particularly in Moray at Duffus where he built his motte-and-bailey castle, the remains of which can still be visited today.


There are a great many DNA tests available run by numerous companies both in Europe and North America. Some tests are far more detailed than others. The Scotsman newspaper in Scotland has been running a project to identify the genetic make-up of the modern Scottish population. It has been promoting Scotlands DNA http://www.scotlandsdna.com/ . We at the Clan Sutherland Society in Scotland do not sponsor or support any particular test or company conducting tests. Scotlands DNA just happens to be the catalyst which led to the writer's interest in the matter.


Two members of Clan Sutherland, Patrick J Visser-Sutherland and Robert J Sutherland have run a Clan Sutherland DNA project and the website is http://www.sutherlanddnaproject.com/ . Patrick and Robert are keen to hear from any clansfolk who have either taken a DNA test or are thinking about taking one.


As my mother is the Sutherland, my yDNA could not be tested but a male cousin of my mother participated in the Scotlands DNA project. It produced 21 DNA markers and they were as follows: -
M89+ M213+ M9+ P128+ M526+ M74+
M173+ S1+ M269+ S3+ S141+ S349+
S127+ S128+ S116+ S28- S145- S182-
S68- M153- SRY2627-


The Scotlands' DNA people indicated that they didn't analyse many of these markers because they are so rare among the existing Scottish population. They confirmed that these results conclude my first Sutherland male ancestor was not an indigenous Scot, Irish or Viking, the 3 most common groups found among the modern Scottish population. He was Flemish. The obvious assumption is that my first Sutherland male ancestor was Freskyn himself although he could be a hitherto unknown and un-named family member or retainer of Freskyn who accompanied him to Scotland. For that reason I have called this "Flemish Connection" rather than "Heirs of Freskyn". In the coming months I hope to add the names of those who share my DNA markers and are therefore distant cousins sharing descent from the same Sutherland male ancestor.


I am indebted to the support of James B Sutherland, Biggar, Scotland and to Patrick J Visser-Sutherland and Robert J Sutherland for their work on the Sutherland DNA project.


Thus far we have identified men named Sutherland in Scotland, Canada, New Zealand and the USA who share my Sutherland DNA and descent from the same Flemish man. As 2 of these American Sutherlands are descended from 2 of the sons of William Sutherland and Hannah Avery, the "Adam and Eve" of American Sutherlands, we know that ALL Sutherlands descended from this famous couple, (about whom I have written articles over many years) are descendants of the same Flemish man.


Assuming that the Flemish man is indeed Freskyn, it means that we all descend from the 4th Earl of Sutherland, father of the founder of the Duffus line and grandfather of the founder of the Forse line.


Daniel J.J. Sutherland, Emeritus Historian and Genealogist of Clan Sutherland spent some 30 years compiling a single family tree of the Earls, Dukes, Chieftains and Lairds of Clan Sutherland. This document is some 5m x 2m in size and shows numerous cadet and other lines springing from the Forse and Duffus chieftains, all of which would see present day male line descendants sharing the same yDNA. In addition DNA does not differentiate between sons born inside and outwith wedlock!


If you have a male family member who has taken a DNA test, Patrick and Robert would like to hear from you and if the same Flemish markers are present I would both like to hear from you and receive a copy of the fullest known family tree you have. I would also appreciate your consent to being named on this page as a descendant of the Flemish man.


Known descendants sharing the Flemish DNA:
Mark Sutherland-Fisher (North Cadboll, Ross-shire, Scotland)
James B Sutherland (Biggar, Lanarkshire, Scotland)

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