DNA search to identify descendants of Declaration of Arbroath nobles – The Scotsman


DNA testing will be used to trace the descendants of the signatories of the Declaration of Arbroath almost 700 years since the document asserted Scotland’s sovereignty. PIC: TSPL.

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A major DNA project has been launched to trace the descendants of the signatories to the Declaration of Arbroath.

Nearly 700 years on from the signing of the historic document that asserted Scotland’s sovereignty, the University of Strathclyde is working to identify the relatives of the signatories through DNA testing.

Potential descendants from the male line are being invited to take part in DNA tests that could confirm their links to the Scottish nobles whose supported the declaration.

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Documentary evidence discovered by the research team will also play a key role in uncovering those related.

Around 50 men signed the document, including Walter Stewart, the 6th high steward of Scotland and father of King Robert II of Scotland.

Additionally, while the names of several more noblemen do not appear in the document’s text, their seals are present.

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The findings of the study will eventually form part of an exhibition celebrating the Declaration, which was signed in 1320 and sent to Pope John XXII.

Graham Holton, lead tutor in Strathclude’s Genealogy staff team, said: “The Declaration of Arbroath continues to influence our perspective on historical events and is still relevant today.

“It has a particular relevance to people who have a personal connection to it and we are aiming to establish the continuity of descent from several of the Declaration’s signatories.

“We can confirm direct ancestry by evaluating the Y chromosomes of male-line descendants, even if there is a lack of documentary evidence.

“The Y chromosome passes more or less unchanged from father to son. This is particularly useful in genealogy as it can be difficult, or even impossible, to find details such as births, marriages and deaths from the medieval period.”

Several descendants have already agreed to take part in the project, the research team said.

A previous study conducted by the university identified the descendants and lineage of those who fought at the battle of Bannockburn in 1314.