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False paternal event, false paternity, non-paternal event, non-paternity event:
  False paternal event, false paternity, non-paternal event, non-paternity event: all these terms refer to a break in the Y chromosome line due to a formal or informal adoption, name change, "extramarital event" (infidelity), child known by other surname (mother's maiden name, stepfather's name), etc. The rate at which this occurs is estimated to be 2%-5%. Thus, out of a group of approximately 20 participants, we might expect that at least one would not match at all.

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 "false paternal event" at an unknown time in the past. This means the male tested may be carrying the surname but his Y chromosome does not appear to be associated with that surname.

Types of false paternal events include but are not limited to:

  • Pregnancy outside of a marriage
  • Pregnant female married man who was not father of child
  • Adoption (formal or informal)
  • Man married pregnant widow
  • Children known by stepfather's name
  • Man took wife's name and/or children given the wife's surname
  • Man changed name - various reasons
  • Aliases
  • Illegitimacy - child given mother's surname
  • Clerical error in recording administrative data such as assigning a name to the wrong person

It should be stressed that adoptions were quite common in every age: parents died by disease or war and a relative took in the children and raised them with their name, daughters had children out of wedlock and the grandparents (or other relatives) raised the children as their own. A teen-age girl who gets pregnant by one boy and marries another - for whatever reason - might be a more frequent occurrence than maternal infidelity in earlier generations. Taking into consideration the strong pressure against "unwed mothers" until the last generation or so, one might expect such cases to account for some of the paternal irregularity indicated by Y-chromosome testing. Very young mothers of first-child sons in the line could be indicators for a higher probability of this phenomenon.

A result indicating a "false paternal event" would certainly be a disappointment to most participants. But your name is legally your name and a small sample size could be misleading. A DNA sequence suggesting a "false paternal event" could be that of the original bloodline - e.g., 20 people are tested, 19 are very similar and yours is clearly different. It could be that the 19 descend from the same person 300 years ago who was adopted while your line links to the original blood line going back 800 years. [G.K. Bopp]

Faulty Research:
  Faulty research can result in a non-match or a match to a different line than expected. For example, suppose a researcher traces an ancestor named John R. Kinney to an 1850 census in MO. The census indicates he was born about 1819 in MA. The researcher finds a publication about an MA Kinney line and looks up all the Johns in the index. He finds a John Robert Kinney, Jr., born in 1819, listed as a son of John Robert Kinney, Sr., who was born in MA. There is no additional information about JRK, Jr. The publication traces the family back to 1635 in England. The inexperienced researcher thinks this must be his John and links the line to the family in the publication. Later, a DNA test of the researcher does not match two other participants from the 1635 line. This could be due to a false paternal event but it also could be due to faulty research. If the DNA project has many participants, our researcher may learn that he links to a different Kinney line (error was due to faulty research). If it is a large project and he has no matches, he will have to consider the possibility of a false paternal event. [G.K. Bopp]  



Page created: 07 October 2004 / updated: 21 Jun 06
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