Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Joseph Smith and Niall of the Nine Hostages

Mormon prophet Joseph Smith may have been descended from Niall of the Nine Hostages, an Irish chieftain of the fifth century, according to Ugo Perego, a senior DNA researcher at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. Recent DNA tests show that an Irish connection is likely for the founder of Mormonism and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The Short Tandem Repeat (STR) profile is a key element in DNA matching a person's Y chromosome. The closer two people's STR values align the more likely they are connected. "We know exactly what the Joseph Smith and Smith family Y chromosome STR profile looks like," Perego said. "As accurate as if I had Joseph Smith next to me and I would get a swab from him. It's not guesswork." The 24 values of the Smith family STR profile matched best with the STR profile of Niall of the Nine Hostages a major figure in Irish genealogy who had fourteen sons. Perego compared 43 STR values between Joseph Smith and Niall of the Nine Hostages and the Irish connection directly matched. "So why is Joseph Smith more Irish?" Perego said. "We have more STR data available for Joseph Smith. We have more STR data available for Niall of the Nine Hostages. And the number of STR values matching has also increased. . . . A stronger connection. A more sure family relation." Y chromosome research follows the line back from son to father to grandfather and so on. It doesn't tell the whole DNA story. It is just one branch of the family tree — but Y chromosome analysis does follow the surname, usually making it easy to match up with genealogical records. Michael Kennedy is a direct descendant and president of the Joseph Smith Jr. Family Organization, said the Irish family connection is just beginning to be known among family members and that it has caused considerable excitement.

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