Friday, February 2, 2018

Is Big Y testing worth while? O'Reilly, Alexander and Bloomer y-dna

 Count Alejandro O'Reilly

The world of dna and genetic testing and studies are still in its infancy. Theories come and go as do dating methodologies and algorithms. Thus is it worth having one's dna tested? For those interested in their family ancestry it certainly has been when combined with other genealogical records. 

Like most families my Bloomer family had the stories passed down about their ancestry. We knew that our first Bloomer had arrived in Australia as an enrolled pensioner guard over the convicts on the "Racehorse" ship in 1865 with his wife and two young sons. We knew he had been a bombardier in British India and was born or baptised in Knockbride parish in Cavan in Ireland. He was believed by some family traditions to be descended from James Bloomer from America who settled in Cavan after the American Revolution. Others believed he had first settled in Yorkshire and then come to Ireland as there were records for a James Bloomer and Martha Greenwood from Yorkshire who settled in Meath.

Research of the records of Cavan demonstrated that there was a Bloomer family in Knockbride descended from James Bloomer who arrived there as a soldier settler after 1783. Others believed that the Bloomer family were descended from the O'Gormley family. Others that James Bloomer was descended from Robert Bloomer of Westchester New York. Others thought they descended from a Jewish family of Bloomer or Blumer. The American Bloomer family had a tradition that a James Bloomer had left America at the time of the American Revolution for England. It was believed this James Bloomer was the son of Joseph Bloomer and his wife Sarah Weygant.

My own father believed that his Bloomer ancestors were a long line of soldiers who were descended from the High Kings of Ireland and King David of Israel.  A heraldist, in the days before y-dna testing, told him that the Irish Bloomers were originally O'Gormley who were descended from Prince Moen a great grandson of High King Niall of the Nine Hostages. He was happy with that and used to some times say his real name should be Gilbert O'Gormley. If he had lived long enough he would have been pleased to see that his y-dna was R1b M222 which was said to descend from Niall of the Nine Hostages.

The advent of dna testing in the 21st century demonstrated that our Bloomer family was not descended on the direct male line from either the Bloomer family of New York (who were R1b but not M222) or the O'Gormley who descended from a different branch of M222 than did our Cavan Bloomers. So a new search of the records began and it now seemed that our James Bloomer took his name from his mother and stepfather who were both Bloomer but his actual father was known as James Alexander a relative of Lord Stirling. James died in 1756 in the Indian Wars in Tennessee. His wife Abigail Alexander (nee Bloomer) married her cousin John Bloomer. They were both grandchildren of Robert Bloomer and his wife Elizabeth Rachel Bullis of New York. 

This seemed to fit with the dna evidence as our Bloomer y-dna matched with a number of different Alexander families with the genetic distance of 0 out of 25. I joined the Alexander dna project and I was grouped in the Alexander of Campbelltown grouping. There was much confusion in the different Alexander genealogies which only started to be cleared up by the y-dna testing and the grouping together of those who shared the same y-dna haplogroups.

Further research into the genealogy demonstrated that James Alexander and his brother John were two of the sons of John Alexander and Ann Reilly but had been reared by their O'Reilly grand-uncle Thomas in Spain after the death of their parents. His cousin John Alexander O'Reilly was to become the famous Spanish Count Alejandro O'Reilly. With further deeper y-dna testing it was found that our closest matches were indeed people with the surnames of Reilly, O'Reilly and Riley. 

It seemed to be now sorted. Our Bloomer family were descended from James Alexander (O'Reilly) and Abigail Bloomer through their son James Alexander Bloomer who married Judith Cohen who were the soldier settlers in Cavan and later became soldiers in Russia before returning to Ireland and settling in Knockbride area of Rooskey after 1815. Further dna testing demonstrated we now belonged to the A260 group within M222. There were a number of Reilly or Riley men in America who also belonged to A260 who seemed to be descendants of James Alexander (O'Reilly)'s cousin the Count Alejandro O'Reilly by his first Spanish born Irish wife Margarita Byrne (or O'Byrne).

We knew from our ancestor Edward Bloomer's Indian records that his father was Edward Bloomer not his brother George Bloomer as had been thought before. Edward and George were the sons of John Bloomer who had come as a small child to Cavan with his parents James and Judith Bloomer. John later went as a soldier to Russia and with his sons served in Tartu, Estonia under General O'Rurk. John Bloomer's sister Elizabeth had also gone with her husband Edward O'Reilly to Russia where he also served with his brother-in-law in the Russian army.

Many people were suggesting I get the Big Y test done but I couldn't see how I would learn anything new as my terminal SNP was listed as A260. Finally I decided to do it even if it was just to help the overall research into dna. I then was surprised to find out that I did not branch off from my O'Reilly genetic cousins at A260 but that I actually had A883, A887 and BY21239 in common with them. I was closer related to them than I had believed.


I had been somewhat puzzled that Edward Bloomer had a Catholic wife and then after her death he had a Church of Ireland wife (one a Frankist and the other a crypto-Jewess). My Edward Bloomer was baptised Catholic so it was strange that his father was Church of Ireland. I now realised that in fact there had been two Edward Bloomers who were cousins that served as soldiers in Russia. Edward Bloomer (b.1798 Tartu) who married Elizabeth Fox in 1827 was not my ancestor but his cousin Edward O'Reilly (b.1801 Tartu) was my ancestor. This Edward took his mother's surname Bloomer and married Henrietta Maria O'Rourke and was the father of my Edward Bloomer the bombardier (he with three others rode into battle on horseback dragging a cannon which they would then load after jumping off their horses and fire and then leaping back on their horses and racing to a new position to repeat).

Thus most of the traditions or legends turned out to have some truth. We were descended from the Westchester Bloomer family but on a maternal line. We were descended from Jewish Bloomers as they were crypto-Jews and Frankists but again on a maternal line. However even on the O'Reilly paternal line we were from Jewish maternal lineages. Count O'Reilly's first wife was descended maternally from Marrano Spanish Jews of the Coronel family. His son James Byrne O'Reilly married a Frankist Jewess of the Mayer family. She and her brothers moved to Ireland from Germany and took the surname Maher. James' son Edward was a soldier in Russia where he married Sarah Rivka Rivlin who was the secret Frankist daughter of Rabbi Benjamin Rivlin. Their son Captain Edward O'Reilly (b.1780 Russia d.1810 Russia) was the husband of Elizabeth Abigail Bloomer the daughter of John Alexander Bloomer and Judith Susanna Cohen.

Tracing people only using historical records can have many pitfalls in regards to non-paternal events, name changes and adoptions. One needs to use a number of sources historical, oral and legendary as well using the dna evidence. Many genealogies or family trees may need to be adjusted to fit the new evidence but it can also give impetus to new searches in historical documents to discover non-paternal events such as happened with the House of York who turned out to have a different paternal y-dna than the rest of the Plantagenet dynasty. Its source was easy enough to find and had always been spoken about as a possibility in historical literature but went from just an unproven speculation to a most likely event due to the y-dna evidence. So the answer to the question was it worthwhile to get the Big Y test is a definite YES in my case.

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