The study began by testing a descendant of the younger James Astles, a discharged British soldier, who landed with a group of United Empire Loyalists at New Carlisle, Quebec in 1784 and settled there.
Although the study was established with a specific objective in mind, it is open to any male with the surname Asles, Assels, Assles, Astel, Astell, Astill, Astle, or Astles who wishes to get involved.
Details of how to participate, costs and FAQ’s can be found on the Family Tree DNA site which hosts the ASTLE Project.
The Astle Y DNA project finally has some results and they are exciting. We have tested only two people so far but they match on 36 of 37 markers. This means they are closely related - the probability that they shared a common ancestor within the last 8 generations is 88% and within 10 generations it is 94%.
One of the men tested is a 4th great grandson of James Astles (1755?-1823) and Sarah Flowers. The other man is a 4th great grandson of James Astle(s) (b. c.1740-1745, d.1815) and Elizabeth MacLean. The birth years of the two James Astles are based on various assumptions with different researchers drawing different conclusions.
We now know that the two James Astles who landed on the Gaspe in 1784 were closely related. From our Y DNA participants back to their earliest known Astle(s) ancestor is 6 generations in each case. If the two Jameses were not father and son, which they still could be if the birth year assumptions err in the right directions, there is a greater than 88% probability that they were within 2 generations of sharing a common ancestor, i.e., first cousins. They could also have been uncle and nephew or even half brothers with the same father and different mothers. Presumably they could also have been 2nd cousins, etc.
The next steps are to get more Astles, preferably those with a good genealogical paper trail, to participate in the Y DNA testing and to continue exploring the usual genealogical sources. Since one hypothesis is that my James, soldier and husband of Sarah Flowers, came from London, we specifically want a male Astle with a documented London heritage to test.
The Y DNA results with our two participants confirm what many of us believed to be the case and give us a solid basis for further research to link these two Canadian Astle(s) families and to tie all of us back to the UK.
[The following paragraphs added 25/09/2011]
Possible ancient geographic origins
“The Y chromosome contains two types of ancestral markers. Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) trace recent ancestry. The second type of ancestral marker, SNPs, document ancient ancestry. SNPs are small ‘mistakes’ that occur in DNA and are passed on to future generations. SNP mutations ://www.familytreedna.com/snps-r-us.aspx are rare. They happen at a rate of approximately one mutation every few hundred generations.” www.familytreedna.com/snps-r-us.aspx
Population geneticists have created a phylogenetic tree to represent ancient human migrations. Haplogroups can be understood as major branches on the family tree of Homo Sapiens and are usually associated with a geographic region.
Both Astle participants were identified as belonging to Y-DNA haplogroup I, specifically subgroup I1-M253.
I is a European haplogroup, accounting for almost 20% of the population. As it is almost non-existent outside of Europe, it can be inferred that haplogroup I1arose in Europe, likely before the last Glacial Maximum. There are two main subgroups of I1. Our two participants belong to the subgroup I1-M253 which “has highest frequency in Scandinavia, Iceland, and northwest Europe. In Britain, haplogroup I1-M253 et al is often used as a marker for ‘invaders,’ Viking or Anglo-Saxon.” http://www.isogg.org/tree/ISOGG_HapgrpI09.html
The field of population genetics is growing rapidly with frequent new discoveries and theories making it an area to watch for greater understanding of the ancient movements of our ancestors.