The concept of a genetics study for Clan MacLeod was first proposed to the Associated Clan MacLeod Societies (ACMS) in 1974 as a chromosomal analysis, definitive DNA analysis not being readily available at that time. Concerns that it might be considered an invasion of privacy eventually precluded this initiative moving forward. In the meantime, Science moved on.

Around thirty years later, ACMS sponsored a world-wide genetics study in conjunction with researchers at University College London (UCL). The study was designed to answer two questions: Firstly, could individuals within the surname MacLeod be traced to a common ancestor who lived about the time of Leod? Secondly, was the tradition of a Viking origin of Clan MacLeod correct? Over 550 MacLeods throughout the world participated in the study which resulted in 367 usable Y-DNA samples ahead of the study closing in January 2003. The results of this study were published by Julia Abernethy in 2004.

The UCL study included only the surname MacLeod, with its variant spellings, so was limited in scope. It is also true that in 2003 genealogical DNA testing was in its infancy and that the study was carried out and analysed at a basic 12 marker level. Today the (male) Y-DNA Chromosome can be tested and analysed over more than 500 markers and the science has grown out of all recognition since those days.

Following the University College London study, a new genetics study was started through Family Tree DNA, a commercial genetic testing company based in Houston, Texas. This was eventually split into two projects: the Clan MacLeod Surname Project for male MacLeods (however spelled) and the MacLeod Septs Project for males with any of the Sept surnames, other family names recognised as being associated with MacLeods. Both of these studies are ongoing, and new participants are encouraged and welcomed!

MacLeod women can also test their maternal lineage through FTDNA with a mitochondrial DNA test (MtDNA) and can access the MacLeod Y-DNA Surname project through testing done by a close male relative.

In addition to information about these projects, both sites display current DNA test results to the level allowed by individual participants and have links that will allow you to join the study and order tests at discounted rates.

Contact our Project Administrators and find out more through these sites:

We’d be delighted to hear from you!