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  1. Summary

This study will do a detailed study of where, why and how actual genetic families (DNA lines) differ from clan structures and family tree models. A preliminary study has shown that individuals can have a sense of belonging in a family or clan that they do not belong to genetically.
The study will go beyond non-paternal events to examine all the causes for the introduction of new DNA into a family. One of the aims of this study is to shed greater light on cuckoldry rates by separating and quantifying all causes of new haplotypes being introduced to families.
Another hypothesis in the study is that the introduction of new haplotypes is not primarily a matter of aberrations in sexual behaviour, but a matter of aberrations in the nuclear family model.

2. Background and rationale

The study will examine the reliability of family tree diagrams as a reflection of DNA lines in reality. Family trees are a model that set out the structure of extended families and clans. Preliminary investigation shows that most family tree models are not a reliable reflection of reality because the underlying DNA structure of the family differs from the family tree. Hitherto these differences have been ascribed to non-paternal events (NPEs), but NPEs are only a small part of the discrepancy. The reason for this is that a paternal genetic line over ten or twelve generations is compared to a family tree, and any unexplained divergence is deemed to be due to extrapair paternity, meaning cuckoldry. (Simmons et al 2004: 300) Adoption rates, for example, are not factored in. (Sykes and Irven 2000:1417)

Non-paternity is usually synonymous with cuckoldry and infidelity in genetic jargon . King and Jobling (2009) recognize non-paternity, child adoption, and matrilineal surname transmissions as joint causes for the introduction of exogenous haplotypes into a clan, and describe the three jointly as non-patrilineal transmissions (NPTs), but they do not quantify the individual components of NPTs. Their study of “Founders, Drift and Infidelity” is restricted to “the Relationship between Y Chromosome Diversity and Patrilineal Surnames”. These criteria, “Y Chromosome” and “Patrilineal Surnames”, exclude many examples of how females introduce new DNA into a family tree.

The problem is that both NPEs and NPTs are based on traditional patriarchal models of genealogy and heraldry, in which male lines feature as ‘winner takes all’ and female lines don’t count. Women have been ignored partly because of the assumption that it is impossible to mistake the mother of a child at birth. A logical fallacy asserts that a mother always knows the child born to her and, since the mother-child relationship is manifest, it follows that the child knows who its mother is. The mother-child fallacy takes no cognisance of adopters who conceal the truth from their children or women whose babies were swapped in infancy (eg. separated in concentration camps and reunited with a mismatch after the war). The events that cause new DNA to be introduced to a family undoubtedly extend beyond the non-patrilineal of King and Jobling. DNA divergence undoubtedly occurs in both male and female lines. This study will examine the fidelity of Y chromosome lines and mitochondrial lines.

This study attempts to determine and prove the exact cause of new DNA being introduced into a family tree. If a DNA line from a living person, all the way up to a Primogenitor (immigrant ancestor, Stammvater or Stammutter, family founder, etc) and all the way down to a different living person shows an unexpected break, then the exact place and cause of the break will be sought and investigated (See Annexure One).

This study is a logical extension of a DNA study, Clan, Tribe and Household: Y-DNA and One-name Studies, which was completed in 2010. That Y-DNA study showed that one name studies (family trees of all people who share a surname) cover a clan in name only. In reality all clans consist of many different [MtDNA and] Y-DNA branches because DNA lines are constantly broken by variations of “non-paternal events”. A non-paternal event is simply an occasion when the father, on paper records, is not the same as the genetic father, implying infidelity by the mother. The hypothesis in this study is that this perception of broken DNA lines is inaccurate. The hypothesis is that DNA lines are broken by children – orphans and half-orphans – who move across to the neighbour’s house and stay there far more often than an unfaithful wife goes across to the neighbour’s house and returns pregnant.

The rate at which non-paternal events occur is referred to as the non-paternal rate , the cuckoldry rate or the infidelity rate. This meaning of “non-paternal rate” has crept into genealogy and Family History with the effect that a great deal of sexual infidelity is deduced where virtually none exists. Family History research shows that young mothers remarry and their children adopt their stepfather’s surname (Greeff, F et al. 2010). Official adoption records are not a common source of Family History information because they are kept secret. Infidelity is far too commonly assumed, and scientific research should not be based on assumptions.

Tracing one’s genetic ancestors is becoming increasingly important because of genetic illnesses and an increasing frequency of stem cell transplants.

3. Research Question

The hypothesis in the study is that new DNA is more commonly introduced into human family lines by variations on the nuclear family model than by cuckoldry or infidelity.

The strict nuclear family model is “one husband, one wife, and their genetic children”. This ideal is sometimes deliberately pretended in families that conceal variations in the family structure. Among humans it is more often the adopted or half adopted child who is deceived about who its true parents are, rather than the father. Variations in family structures mean that children move from one clan to another as people form new alliances (e. g. after the death of a spouse), and not because of the infidelity of wives.

Family is a word that has many nuances. The terminology alone is mind blowing: nuclear families, isolated nuclear families, broken nuclear families, conjugal families, extended families, vertically extended families, horizontally extended families, modified extended families, local extended families, dispersed extended families, attenuated extended families, single parent families, reconstituted families, step families, homosexual families and surrogate-birth families are just some of the ways in which family is defined. All these family structures have underlying DNA structures that are as diverse as the families themselves. This study will determine the point at which genetic lines are broken, and then examine the domestic circumstances surrounding the break in DNA and identify a cause for the break.

4. Methodology, its rationale, and data collection

Cuckoldry and infidelity rates in human populations are probably much lower than is currently believed in genealogical and family history studies globally. The earliest cuckoldry rates were taken from genetic analysis at laboratories that ran such analyses, regardless of why they did the analyses. This was the equivalent of going into a public bar to do a survey on abstinence because the samples being tested came from, predominantly, people who were already contesting paternity. No non-contestants were in the sample. Laboratory results gave non-paternity rates ranging from 14 to 55% (Khan 2010) and these were erroneously extrapolated to represent whole nations. Where paternity confidence is high non-paternity rates are very much lower, ranging from 0.4% to about 4% (Khan 2010). Sykes (2000) states outright that “There are no reliable figures for non-paternity rates in the modern population” in England. Plant (2009: 13) states that “appropriate, unbiased estimates are elusive” and says “The value p=0.30 corresponds to a 30% chance that every child is not the biological offspring of its nominal father; and, as the table below shows, this accumulates to there being only a 17% chance of intact, male line descent after n=5 generations and 0% chance after n=15 or more generations At the other extreme of false paternity rates, p=0.0 leads on to 100% chance that the Y-signatures will match amongst the descendants of a single founder, for all values of n. The following table shows the probabilities of matching Y-signatures, for various other fixed values of p and n.

n= \ p=

p = 0.01





n = 5
























The study will construct similar tables to differentiate between the actual incidence of cuckoldry and new DNA introduced by non-nuclear families. Breaks in female lines will be included.

South Africa offers a globally unique and small sample pool of about 5 or 6 million well isolated European immigrants. Their records were meticulously recorded over 350 years, and exceptionally well preserved throughout. The reasons for linking the proposed study to a population of South African descendants of immigrants is because:

  1. A MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) is almost always identifiable as being the Immigrant Ancestor of the clan.
  2. Algorithms and methodologies developed in small groups can be developed for use in big populations like Britain and America.

Evidence to be examined to compile family histories will include archival documents, church records, Government records of birth and marriage and death, oral histories, photographs, gravestones, title deeds, war records, school reports, newspaper reports, medical records and family heirlooms. This evidence will be pieced together to create an image of families and their histories because they are the pieces from which the jig-saw picture of family history is built.

Military sociology is an important aspect of the proposed study. If orphans are the main carriers of new DNA into family lines, then the Anglo Boer War will have had a noticeable effect on the DNA lines of families who lost a mother in the concentration camps. Many snide remarks have been made about where babies came from if the men were on commando, and DNA can clear up these remarks, even a century later. The proposed study will demonstrate that DNA technology is an extremely useful tool for sociological research.

Data will be collected by photographs; by visits to archives, graveyards, museums; and in collaboration with genealogists on the internet. There are likely to be about 15 people from each surname group, and these will be recruited via the genealogy networks and societies on the internet. This means that there are already genealogists who are researching these clans in one name studies. Genealogists are like termites that build a nest, each performs his task by himself, but also in concert with all the others so that one big project emerges. Data for the proposed study will be accessed through the global network of family history researchers.

The global network of online family history researchers is a powerful research tool. It is a concatenation of people who stand on the shoulders of giants, in this that they all build on the work of the others. Secondly, they have a networks of giving forward so that complete strangers will pay a physical visit to an archive, photograph documents, and email the photos to a researcher on a different continent; to a person they have never seen. The network means that researchers no longer need to travel physically, but can ask a total stranger to go out and photograph a gravestone on a farm in the heart of darkest Africa, beyond the great wall of China, and on Roosevelt Island in New York.

5. Bibliography

CNN. 1998. DNA tests suggest Jefferson fathered child with slave. CNN (Reuters) at Accessed on 12 Oct 2011.

Greeff, Francois Andre; Greeff, Prof Andre Servaas; Harris, Yolanda; Rinken, Lucas; Welgemoed, Prof Dawid. 2010. Clan Tribe and Household: Y-DNA & One Name Studies. Journal of Genetic Genealogy, Fall 2010, Vol 6, Number 1. Accessed on 12 October 2011.

Kahn, Razib. June 20, 2010. The paternity myth: the rarity of cuckoldry. Discover Magazine at accessed on 12 October 2011.

King, Turi E. and Jobling, Mark A. 2009. Founders, Drift, and Infidelity: The Relationship between Y Chromosome Diversity and Patrilineal Surnames. Molecular Biology and Evolution. 2009 May; 26(5): 1093–1102. Accessed on 12 October 2011.

Plant, Dr John S. 2009. Surname Studies with Genetics. DNA Section, Guild of One Name Studies. Accessed at on 23 October 2011 (

Simmons, L. W.; Firman, R. E. C.; Rhodes, G.; Peters, M. (2004). Human sperm competition: testis size, sperm production and rates of extrapair copulations. Animal Behaviour, 2004, 68, 297-302.

Sykes, Bryan and Irven, Catherine. 2000. Surnames and the Y Chromosome. American Journal of Human Genetics. 2000 April; 66 (4): 1417–1419. Accessed on 12 October 2011.


Annexure One

Figure One: An actual family tree that demonstrates where Y-DNA mutations occur. The squares represent the BMD family record based on paper records. Colour codes indicate unexpected mutations in Y-DNA. The standard expectation in Fig One is that all squares should be green.

A similar family tree can be constructed so that, by following the dots, one can see where new DNA is introduced. The proposed study will map the points at which new DNA is introduced, and then the exact cause of the introduction will be sought.
If one assumes Figure One to demonstrate the introduction of new DNA it would indicate close examination of household circumstances immediately above the introduction of a new colour code, in the households of:
Willem Hendrk G (Pink)
Jacobus Willem Adolph G (Turquoise)
Hendrik Adriaan G (Grey)
Hendrik Jacobus G (Yellow)
Andre Servaas G (Purple)
Desmond G (Brown)
Gabriel G (Blue).

Sufficient investigation of these households may show a variation in the nuclear family model that introduces a child with new DNA, or infidelity. “Sufficient investigation” is not always possible when it comes to proving infidelity as the cause of a non-nuclear family, but it certainly is possible to demonstrate a non-nuclear family, together with a clear explanation for the introduction of new DNA.

Cuckoldry rates in genetics refer to pregnancies by cuckoldry that result in a child being born into the nuclear family – four criteria. There is not always a distinction between the rate of cuckoldry and the rate of pregnancy by cuckoldry. Abortions are not always considered, and often babies given up for adoption are lost from sight. Cuckoldry and pregnancy by cuckoldry are occasionally confused because some surveys ask people whether they have extrapair copulations, and other studies ask about extrapair conceptions, and others examine extrapair births or children. These questions are used to determine ‘cuckoldry rates’ and ‘fidelity rates’ that are erroneously compared to each other. The common assumptions behind non-paternity events are sometimes staggeringly illogical.

Cuckoldry rates in genetics refer to (1) pregnancies (2) by cuckoldry (3) that result in a child (4) being born into the nuclear family – four criteria. There is no distinction between the rate of cuckoldry and the rate of pregnancy by cuckoldry. Abortions are not considered, and often babies given up for adoption are lost from sight. Cuckoldry and pregnancy by cuckoldry are often confused because some surveys ask people whether they have cheated on a partner, and other studies ask if your child is your husband’s child. Both questions are used to determine ‘cuckoldry rates’ and ‘fidelity rates’. The common scientific assumptions behind non-paternity events and rates have been staggeringly illogical.
The first non-paternity rates were wildly inaccurate because they were based on laboratory outputs where only people who contested paternity came for clarification. Non-paternity was proved in 10 to 35% of cases, and these rates were accepted as the non-paternity rates for the nation. Scientists, judges and courts upheld the idea that at least one child in ten (or one in three), across the nation, was not the biological child of its putative father. The method is similar to taking a sample for pregnancy rates from maternity cliic that tests for pregnancy and applying the rate of pregnancy to all people. The surprising fact is that these rates were so low, since fewer than one third (or one tenth) of women accused of pregnancy by cheating had actually conceived extramaritally.



DNA Project: Greeff Family, Worldwide
This project was started on 26 September 2007.

The Y-chromosome is what makes babies male. It has a second peculiarity too. It is passed, intact, from father to son for about 500 generations. This means that I have exactly the same Y-chromosome as my father and his father and his father, for about 500 generations. I also have exactly the same y-chromosome as Matthias Greeff. Every male Greeff decendant of Matthias has, therefore, the same y-chromosome as Matthias Greeff, and thus the same y-chromosome as me. We can use this y-chromosome to prove that we are related.

This is very important to the Greeff family world wide because we can be fairly sure that Matthias Greeff came to Cape Town from Germany in 1680 and we can track the genealogical paper records of the Greeff clan in America back to Germany too. What we have not yet been able to do is to prove a family link between our South African German roots and the American German roots. If the American Greeff men have the same y-chromosome as we do, then we will know that somewhere Matthias' great great grandfather was their ancestor too. In the same way we can then prove kinship to any Greeff man currently living in Germany.

It is, however, not quite as simple as that. We need to be able to show that each of my ancestors, say, up to Matthias, was actually his mother's husband's son. About 2 to 5 % of children in each generation are not actually their father's child. This means that you and I, being tenth generation descendants of Matthias, have an 18 to 40% chance of not being related to him. The y-chromosome will show whether each of us had any 'adopted' children in our ancestry.

In the ordinary course of events my father and I, or my first cousin and I, will have virtually identical y-chromosome test results, and it does not make much sense for two close relatives to be tested. In order to be able to accurately cross reference the accuracy of my link to Matthias with someone else's link to him, several DNA tests need to be done. They need to be done on Greeff relatives who are as distantly related to each other as possible. In the Greeff family we need one or two distant cousins from the Lichtenburg branch of the family, One or two people from the Eastern Cape (Jansenville and Oudtshoorn branch, where I come from), and one or two people from the Piketberg branch, one or two people from Zimbabwe, a couple from America and a couple from modern Germany. DNA testing the y-chromosome for each of these people will very quickly show how far back the common y-chromosome runs, and whether there are any descendants of adoptees.

If you want to take part in this very important project you will find genetic proof of your descent from Matthias Greeff and you will be able to prove your personal relationship to the various Greeff branches around the world. You will leave one of the pioneer genetic records for your descendants, and for researchers of future centuries. The tests are done in a Laboratory in Utah, America and will cost you 189 US Dollars. For wider information click on the link:  or go to

To join the Greeff family project and to have a test that is compared to all the Greeffs who are tested, please write to the project administrator, Francois Greeff, at


Footnote to the maths of the probability:
The probability of A and B both occurring is the product of the probability of A and the probability of B.

Given a 2% chance that any child is not the true child of his father, there is a 98% chance that he is. Therefore, to have an unbroken line of ten generations of true descendants, the probability is .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 x .98 (or 98% to the power 10) = 82%. Thus the chance that the line was broken is 18%.

Given a 5% chance (from a 2 to 5% chance) that any child is not the genetic child of his father, there is a 95% chance that he is. Therefore, to have an unbroken line of ten generations of true descendants, the probability is 95% to the power 10 = 60%. Thus the chance that the line was broken is 40%.

Results of the DNA Project as at 31 August 2008

Various results of profiles from all over the world are starting to come in, and some comparisons can be made. So far, the comparisons look very good. Here are the comparitive graphs that illustrate the similarities between the profiles.

All Participants over 16 Markers

All 43 Marker Profiles:

All 43 Marker Profiles

Over 43 markers Francois and Desmond are virtually identical, with minor mutations over only two markers.

Francois & Desmond over 43 markers.





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