Sunday, 15 September 2019

David Pike - Speaker Profile

David Pike
Talk Title: Did the Irish bring rare mitochondrial DNA to Newfoundland?

Brief Biography

For over 30 years I have been a member of the Family History Society of Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2009 I was elected to the society’s Board of Directors, and I was President from 2013 to 2016. I continue to serve as webmaster and as a Board member. Some other societies to which I belong include:
  • Newfoundland and Labrador Historical Society
  • Wessex Society of Newfoundland
  • Somerset & Dorset FHS
  • Dorset FHS
  • Isle of Wight FHS
  • Guild of One-Name Studies
  • International Society of Genetic Genealogy

What do you do as a Day Job?

I’m a professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland where I teach classes, train postgraduate students and conduct research in the field of combinatorial mathematics.

What do you do as a Night Job?

My day job often spills over into evenings and weekends. However, an ongoing quest of mine is to try to trace the family of Thomas Pike who resided at Poole in Dorset in the late 1600s. One suggestion found in a document from the early 1900s is that the family traces back to Ireland. Curiously we have not yet been able to match the family’s Y-DNA with that of Pikes from anywhere other than Newfoundland (and moreover, we are in a rare subgroup of haplogroup R1b).

How did you get into genealogy?

My initial genealogical endeavours go back to grade school when I had to complete a small pedigree chart as a homework assignment. Since then it has become a much more significant and complicated pursuit that has expanded to include tracing various ancestral and collateral lines, visiting archives, travelling to ancestral homelands, etc. Some of the most rewarding outcomes have been those which were serendipitous, as well as those which led to unexpected twist and turns. Genetic genealogy has led to some of these new discoveries, and it has also enabled questions to be asked that would not have been otherwise conceived of.

PS: if anybody is “missing” a Maurice Merrigan from Ireland, possibly he might be the one who got married in Newfoundland in 1809 and became a 4x-great grandfather of mine.

Tell us about your involvement with genetic genealogy 

I have been engaged with genetic genealogy since 2004 when I founded the Y-DNA project for the PIKE surname and its variants. This project now has over 250 participants, including several with Irish lineages. Overall we have now found evidence of more than twenty distinct genetic clusters for the Pike surname, the largest of which accounts for about 25% of all Pikes who have tested their Y-DNA (and who have been found to share a profile within haplogroup R1a).

I have also been involved with genealogical applications of mitochondrial DNA and autosomal DNA, for which I am a coordinator for corresponding projects for the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

What will you be talking about?

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has the distinct feature of being strictly maternally inherited, making it an indispensable tool for genealogical research of matrilineal ancestors. Within the mtDNA Project for Newfoundland and Labrador one particular mtDNA profile (belonging to haplogroup H5a5) has been found to occur at an unusually high frequency, especially in comparison with how rarely it appears to occur elsewhere. Given the substantial number of Irish who settled in Newfoundland, it is natural to ask whether Ireland is the source of this mtDNA lineage (as well as other mtDNA profiles in Newfoundland). This lecture will highlight what is known of the H5a5 profile in Newfoundland and where it may have originated.

Where can people get more information about you and the work you do?

My personal website is at

The Newfoundland and Labrador mtDNA Project’s website is at

The Pike Y-DNA Project’s website it at

These lectures are sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA and organised by volunteers from ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy).

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