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Y DNA and the McCulloch Lines

What we know and don’t know today

As of the spring of 2022, there are about ten R1a McCulloch descendants who have done a Y DNA test through FamilyTreeDNA at the Y111 to Big Y levels. Even with such limited information, we can tell a lot about the various McCulloch lines and how they are related to each other.

In Walter Jameson McCulloch’s essential manuscript “A History of the Galloway Families of McCullochs,” he describes the twelve Galloway branches, but also indicates that McCulloch of Cadbolle (Highland Ross-shire) is also related.

McCulloch of Myretoun. Myretoun was the seat of McCulloch power, with other lines being feudal cadets of McCulloch of Myretoun. In 1504, James IV raised Myretoun to a Burgh of Barony while Alexander “Cutlar” McCulloch was the Laird of Myretoun.

Clan McCulloch is an armigerous clan without a chief since the death of Sir Gilbert McCulloch, son of Sir Godfrey McCulloch (Baron of Nova Scotia) at Flanders in 1704. There are not any known existing records indicating the line of Clan McCulloch chiefs. Charters and other documents do not designate any of the McCullochs as “of that ilk” to identify a chief. However, it is inferred that the laird of Myretoun, as the clan seat, was also chief.

Myretoun and other McCulloch estates changed hand from time to time, particularly due to marriage to McCulloch cousins. Thus reference to McCulloch of Myretoun is not strictly speaking a genetic line. Rather, the title pertains to ownership of a particular estate, and the feudal power, rank, rights and obligations associated with it. For instance, when Henry McCulloch of Killasser, the younger, married Margaret McCulloch of Myretoun, his descendants included both “of Myretoun” and “of Killasser” in their family designations, respectively.

The earliest documented laird of Myretoun is Sir Thomas McCulloch of Myretoun, born around 1363. However, both Walter Jameson McCulloch and Andrew McCulloch indicate Sir Patrick McCulloch (born about 1300) was previously laird of Myretoun.

We can infer that McCulloch of Myretoun is Haplogroup R1a and R-BY32010. McCulloch of Ardwell – which has several descendants in the Family Tree DNA McCollough Project – is a direct branch off of McCulloch of Myretoun. Further, SNP R-BY32010 is upstream of current Family Tree DNA McCollough Project members from the Killasser lines. (Discussed below).

McCulloch of Ardwell (later also of Myretoun). The McCulloch of Ardwell descends from Archibald McCulloch, brother of Sir Norman McCulloch, Laird of Myretoun (who granted Ardwell to Archibald). When Laird Alexander migrated to County Antrim, the descendants of John McCulloch of Ardwell and his wife Elizabeth McCulloch of Myretoun took the designation “of Myretoun” but also continued the use of “of Ardwell.” The chiefly line continued until the death of Sir Gilbert McCulloch in 1704. Many of the descendants of Sir Godfrey McCulloch and his brother John McCulloch emigrated to Maryland and New Jersey. American descendants of McCulloch of Ardwell are haplogroups R-BY32021 or the closely related R-FTB84667. This is the line of the McCollochs of Short Creek West Virginia.

McCulloch of Killasser (later also Myretoun). The earliest known McCullochs of Killasser include Henry McCulloch of Killasser, the elder, who was born around 1400 and Finlay McCulloch of Killasser. Based on the genealogies of members of the McCollough Project, we can infer that McCulloch of Killasser was R-BY169112 or closely related.

When Henry McCulloch of Killasser, the younger, married Margaret McCulloch of Myretoun, their descendants continued the designations “of Myretoun” and “of Killasser.” At the beginning of the 17th century, Alexander McCulloch of Myretoun left his Scottish estates in the care of his sister when he moved to County Antrim, Ireland. His genetic line continued in County Antrim, then the McCullohs of North Carolina. Famous descendants include Confederate Generals Henry Eustace and Benjamin McCulloch.

Also, Finlay McCulloch of Torhhouse, the progenitor of the Torhouse of McCulloch line, may have descended from McCulloch of Killasser. (See below).

McCulloch of Torhouse. The McCulloch of Torhouse began with Finlay McCulloch of Torhouse, who – given the rather unusual name “Finlay McCulloch” – may have been close kin to Finlay McCulloch of Killasser.

McCulloch of Drummorrell. The first recorded McCulloch of Drummorrell was Robert McCulloch, a burgess merchant in Kirkcudbright. He was close kin of Gothray McCulloch of Ardwell, and a potential heir. However, it would seem that the connection to McCulloch of Ardwell was through Robert’s mother (likely Gothray’s sister). Based on the genealogy of one member of the McCollough Project, we can infer that McCulloch of Drummorrell was R-BY169408, which though related to McCulloch of Ardwell, should not have a common male ancestor until another 200 years or so prior to this time.

This politically connected line of merchants scattered from Whithorn to Ayr, Stirling, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and America.

McCulloch of Inshanks and Mule. These related lines are known to descend from McCulloch of Torhouse.

McCulloch of Torhousekie. This line is a direct branch of McCulloch of Torhouse.

McCulloch of Kirkclaugh. Walter Jameson McCulloch indicates this branch may descend from Cardiness and/or Barholm because the estate was previously part of the Cardiness lands. However, it is noteworthy that the McCullochs of Kirkclaugh shared similar forenames and professions as burgess merchants in Kirkcudbright with the McCullochs of Drummorrell.

McCulloch of Auchengool. This line is a branch of McCulloch of Kircklaugh.

McCulloch of Cardiness. The origins of McCulloch of Cardiness are not known. The first of this name was Gilbert McCulloch of Cardiness in the 15th century. (We might speculate that the forename Gilbert comes from Gilbert McCulloch, a valet of King Edward III and one of the earliest recorded McCullochs). At this time we do not have any Y DNA data about this line or its branches. If a known descendant of McCulloch of Cardiness were to take a Big Y DNA test we would learn more about the how closely related this branch is related to other lines.

Cardoness Castle is a scheduled monument and the is the most in-tact McCulloch castle.

McCulloch of Barholm. This family descends from McCulloch of Cardoness. Barholm Castle has been restored and is a family home. Unlike other McCulloch families, this line has remained in Galloway.

McCulloch of Ardwall (Nether Ardwall). According to Walter Jameson McCulloch , this line descends from Cardiness. This was the line of geologist John MacCulloch. Walter Jameson McCulloch descended from this family through a maternal line. This line remains in Galloway.

McCulloch of Cadboll (Ross-Shire). The origins of McCulloch of Cadboll are not known. The first of known McCulloch in Ross-shire was Alexander McCulloch in the 14th century. He was granted lands in Ross-Shire by Alexander, Lord of the Isles. This line later become known as of Plaiddis or Pilton. This family was septs of Clan Ross, then Clan Munro. When constructing his memorial at Greyfriars, Sir John McCulloch of Pilton included the McCulloch of Ardwell coat of arms by matriculation.

At this time we do not have any Y DNA data about this line or its branches. If a known descendant of McCulloch of Cadboll were to take a Big Y DNA test we would learn more about the how closely related this branch is related to other lines.

McCullochs in Scotland. We know that some descendants of McCulloch of Ardwell emigrated to America, and Laird Alexander McCulloch of Myretoun emigrated to County Antrim. We also know McCulloch of Drummorrell scattered across Scotland to Stirling, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Ayr, while McCulloch of Ardwall continues to have representation in Galloway. Future Y DNA testing by McCullochs throughout Scotland would help identify which branches have continued beyond Galloway.

McCullochs and McCulloughs in America. The current Y DNA data can help genealogists break through family trees. Plus, the more Y DNA data that is collected, the more the McCollough Project will be able to identify each brand of the McCulloch tree.

Credit: John Macculloch (1773–1835), Geologist, Surgeon and Civil Engineer by Benjamin Rawlinson Faulkner (1787–1849)

Note: Clan McCulloch Society is not affiliated with FamilyTreeDNA and does not speak on behalf of it or its administrators.