Cleary, John


Cleary, John

Speaker, writer and trainer

  • Education, Genetic, Research, Speaking, Writing
  • Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Updated 7 months ago


Speaker, lecturer, writer on using DNA in ancestral research. Can offer consultation on genetic genealogy projects. Special interest in using ancient DNA within an ancestral project.

Contributing author to Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA: A Guide for Family Historians, ed. Graham Holton (Pen & Sword Books, 2019)

Recent articles:

Here is my two-part study of the genealogy and origins of the Gordon Cumming family of Altyre, Moray, published in the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland (PSAS) in 2022-2023. These are only available to subscribers for 2 years before going on open access, so until then the accepted versions (minus typesetting and copyright illustrations) can also be found here

  • The Cummings of Altyre and the search for an ancient genealogy: ‘It hath been the unvaried tradition of the country’. PSAS 151: 235-56.
  • The Cummings of Altyre and the search for an ancient genealogy, part 2: ‘Truth has here lain in the bottom of a well’. PSAS 152: 217-39


Selection of recent talks:

  • Family papers of the Cummings of Altyre: curating the family and family history. Family Archives and their Afterlives, 1400-present, University of Birmingham, 27th-28th June 2023.
  • From ‘overmighty subjects’ to chiefs of the clan: revisiting the Comyn revival in Moray after 1360. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy Conference, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, 2nd-3rd September 2022.
  • Y DNA for investigating surnames. Guild for One Name Studies DNA Seminar, Oadby, Leicestershire, 14th May 2022.
  • Tools for Y DNA and surname projects (talk) and participant in the Panel Discussion on Ethics in DNA Testing at RootsTech London, 24th-25th Oct 2019.
  • The Isaac Cummings Y DNA Project. Invited seminar to the Isaac Cummings Family Association, Salem, Mass. 13th July 2019.
  • The Red Comyn’s bones? Ancient DNA & identifying the remains of historical people.  Invited talk to the Medieval Bruce Heritage Trust, Dumfries, 23rd Nov 2018.
  • Hidden in plain sight: An Irish informer in 19th century London. Talk at ‘Secret Lives’ conference, Hinckley, Leics, 1st Sept 2018.
  • The Kemp Story: reconstructing the history of an Ulster family. Presentation at Back to Our Past, Belfast, 16th Feb 2018.
  • What became of the Dunbar Prisoners? Using DNA to investigate the early modern genealogical origins of living people.  Talk at Origins and Evolution, the 32nd International Congress of Genealogical and Heraldic Sciences.  Trades Hall, Glasgow, 10th Aug 2016.


  • Interpreting DNA evidence (Y and autosomal)
  • Irish and Scottish family history
  • Pre-1700 research


  • 2017
    MSc with Distinction in Genealogical & Palaeographic Studies at University of Strathclyde
  • 2013
    Postgraduate Diploma in Genealogical & Palaeographic Studies at University of Strathclyde


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