Status report, updated to Mar. 2020

 Highland Lobbans           Lowland Lobbans        The diaspora       Single nucleotide tests         What’s next?        Contributors     Contact form

This report has been updated to incorporate the March 2020 Y-DNA results.

Summary of findings to date

This collaborative project has been underway for nearly two years with the goals of tracing the origins and diaspora of the Scottish family name Lobban/Loban.  We have collected and analyzed spreadsheets of data from old parish records and censuses and a set of family trees based on those data, and we have obtained Y-DNA samples from 12 individuals, nine of those analyzed at the Y-700 level .   The links in the text below lead to detailed information. The first phase of the Y-DNA project serves as a “proof of concept” that we can use “Big Y” DNA data to find connections between the branches that do not quite connect in the paper records. We can now present an outline of the Lowland Loban/Lobban families in Scotland and the major lines of descent overseas.

As had been hypothesized in the past, there are two geographically and genetically separate “tribes” with the same name. Variant spellings Lobban and Loban were used in both in the early days and various lines eventually settled on one or the other. In addition, in at least one line in each tribe the name changed to Logan. During parish record times (ca. 1600–1855), one tribe (Highland Lobans) was located in Black Isle / Inverness area; this genetic group (haplogroup), for which we have only a single Y-DNA donor, has origins in a so-called “Celtic” line (shown on the Deep Tree diagram). The other, larger tribe, the Lowland Lobbans, occupied a cluster of parishes across Moray/Elgin, Banff and Aberdeen counties. Four major family groups have been located geographically, but not all are represented in the DNA samples to date. Its haplogroup is within a so-called “Germanic” line, and we hypothesize that this tribe descended from a Flemish immigrant (evidence here).



The Highland Lobans

This tribe appears to be the one associated with Drumderfit. Whether the story of the origin of the Loban name there is true, it is well documented that a family of Lobans lived there so long that there is an expression, “as old as the Lobans of Drumderfit.” According to Malcolm Lobban (book pdf, pp. 10, 17-18), the name of the tenants at Drumderfit went back and forth between Loban and Logan. Alexander MacKenzie in History of the Frasers of Lovat (1896; cited by Cynthia Sweet 2011) speaks of the “modernization” of the name Loban to Logan!

We have so far results from only one Y-DNA donor with Black Isle origins (a second sample is in process). This sample is from a Logan family whose ancestry goes back to John Loban (b. 1754). The spelling of the surname of their children reveals the gradual change to the use of Logan. This is a relatively late origin, so that migration from elsewhere cannot be excluded, but we can be sure that he is not in the NE Scotland Lobbans haplogroup. The single sample is not enough to give a precise haplogroup but it is clear that he belongs to a completely different branch of European people from the Lowland Lobbans (details here). The number of trees rooted in the Inverness area is small, and many of them are fragments and/or do not come close to the present, but we have now trace two descendants and can begin to make progress on this branch.


The Lowland Lobbans

Here I summarize the geographic distribution, our mapping of branches in family trees, and finally the DNA analysis.

Distribution map of main Lowland Lobban family branches. Base map from ANESFHS. Data overlay by C.S. Lobban. The numbers are percentages and totals of Lobban births (baptisms) in the parish from parish records, i.e., through 1854. Click to enlarge.

An initial map of the distribution of Lobbans in NE Scotland from baptisms + marriages showed strong concentrations in Rothiemay and Cullen.  Syd Lobban assembled the parish records and census data into 26 family trees but there are only a few large ones and we have shown with DNA (see below) that several of these are connected in a group we call the Rothiemay Area Lobbans.  The geographic distribution of the families (map reproduced above) shows that between ca. 1600–1854 one of five branches dominated in most parishes, with only Huntly and Forgue not having a majority in one branch. In the second half of the 19th Century there was more mixing. Some branches of the family do not show on the map because their earliest ancestors were born outside the region or moved away before starting families; more below.

Trying to visualize the branches within large trees is impractical with the usual genealogy software or the online services, but I was able to identify groupings by presenting family trees in a horizontal orientation using Charting Companion (chart below).  For instance, within Rothiemay Area Lobbans, which combines four family trees, nine branches  reached the 20th Century; we have DNA samples for only three of them.  We used the Loanend-Boginspro connection to test the reliability of the DNA analysis, and we are satisfied that there is nothing to be gained in testing samples from the other six, which are defined already by the parish records data. Where DNA was useful was in connecting the Boginspro and Knabbygates lines and helping to build this composite tree.

Map of Rothiemay Area Lobbans combined trees, source tree names in large italics on right-hand side. Further explanation in text. Graphic by C.S. Lobban based on Syd Lobban’s trees. MRCA = most recent common ancestors of known DNA groupings. Click to enlarge.

The “big picture” accounts, listed below, are still subject to revision as we learn more about the extent of the haplogroups (details on Genealogies main page).

Connecting the NE Scotland branches with Y-DNA

Of the thirteen Y-DNA samples from men with earliest ancestors in NE Scotland, all but one are in a single genetic group (haplogroup) dubbed JFS0275 and form four lines of descent from a most recent common ancestor born about 1450 (diagram below). The one exception may represent a separate Norse lineage or a more recent name change (shown on the Deep Tree diagram). We now have the following picture of the Lowland Lobbans (the rest of the tree has not changed from what it was at the Sep. 2019 Y-DNA update).

Structure of Lowland Lobban tree based on DNA results through March 2020. Blue lines of descent are documented by written records, black lines show connections supported by Y-DNA data.

The most recent common ancestor  (MRCA) remains JFS0275, who based on  Y-DNA results was born about 1450. Whether this was the hypothetical Flemish founder is still unknown; he might have been a few generations earlier. There are four branches arising from this common ancestor, over the next 50–100 years, or 2–3 generations. On average there is one new SNP every 3 generations, so that these four branches must have arisen in different lines — a son here, a grandson from a different son, and so on.  The four lines are now called Banffshire Lobbans (BY227100), Glass Area Lobbans (FT61976), Dutch Laban line (BY173284), and Moray Lobbans (FT75068). It is difficult to speculate on the relative ages of these branches, but the facts that the Banffshire Lobbans were most widespread and numerous, and that their MRCA has now been pushed back to about 1500, suggests that this may have been the first. However, the geographic distribution is skewed because the other three haplogroups all had early emigration events so that large parts of the descendant population do not appear on the map (in the case of the Dutch Laban line, the entire tree is in Holland).

Structure within the Banffshire Lobbans (BY227100)

We originally thought that BY227100 represented the Rothiemay Area Lobbans, but the recent finding that the Marnoch Area Lobbans are ancestral to them has led to renaming BY227100 as Banffshire Lobbans and defining the Rothiemay Area Lobbans by the new haplogroup FT14993. The Marnoch Lobban tester lacks the FT14993 marker that the four Rothiemay area Lobban testers have. The Marnoch Lobban group needs another tester before its haplogroup marker can be determined.

Within the Rothiemay Area Lobbans we have identified nine groups by mapping the family trees that are supported by written records — this accounts for 8 groups — and from Y-DNA evidence that linked the Loanend Kinnoir–Boginspro branch (FT120187) with the Knabbygates branch (BY98993), now each with two testers  (details here and here).

Structure within the Moray Lobbans (FT75068)

With the connection of the Virginia Lobbans, we also now see two levels of structure within the Moray Lobbans. The first branch, probably about 1525, split off the U.S. Logan line from Urquhart Lobbans (BY212835). The Logan line was already in Aberdeen and the name changing from Loban to Logan when they first appear in the records in the early 1600s. One of the grandchildren emigrated to South Carolina and founded an extensive tree. Within the Urquhart Lobbans this split also leads to a major tree in the US, the Virginia Lobbans.

Glass Area Lobbans

The Glass Area Lobbans appear on the map to be a small group, dominant only in Glass Parish, Aberdeenshire, but the family tree includes two major emigrant branches, one group going to Australia and the other (the US Loban line) going to Illinois, with the third branch mostly staying in Scotland. The connections between all these branches are known from written records.

Dutch Laban Line

The origin of this branch from William Lobban is well established, though his ancestry is still a mystery, beyond being established as within JFS0275.  He settled in Tholen, Zeeland, Holland, where many of his descendants still live (details).



The diaspora

Using the information in Syd Lobban’s collection of trees, I made notes of emigrants to England and overseas. These are sketchy and probably incomplete, and I would welcome feedback from anyone to improve those pages. The main places overseas where we find Lobbans are USA, Canada and Australia; these countries each have several branches of the family. I would like ultimately to understand this pattern in the context of the bigger picture of Scottish emigration, but that is another project for another time.


Single nucleotide tests

There are now several markers that can be used to quickly and cheaply ($18 per marker) determine where your family fits into this framework, if you are a male and Lobban/Loban or suspect that your ancestors were. These include ones for the three separate genetic groups including Inverness and NE Scotland Lobbans, plus some of the subgroups (e.g., Moray Lobbans).  This brings me to the use and future needs of the project, indicated in What’s Next?

What’s next?

If you have not yet traced your Lobban family tree, your grandparents are probably in Syd’s collection of trees, and I am willing to help anyone find which branch your ancestors are in. If you have traced your tree and dispute what you find in Syd’s trees, we are interested to hear from you, but we are treating Syd’s collection as a static resource and not trying to compile an active, comprehensive tree.

Making further progress, especially with the Inverness/Black Isle Lobbans, will require additional Y-700 samples, from family trees that are not already represented. (Y-700 is the only test that examines SNPs — single nucleotide polymorphisms — that are critical to our analysis.)  So, we would like to recruit new Big Y-700 DNA donors as well as people willing to sponsor the test.  As noted above, we do not need people in the Rothiemay Area Lobbans to take this test, but if you are interested in supporting the project and would be willing to pay for a test for a suitable donor who cannot afford the Big Y, please be in touch.

We would like to connect the Turriff tree to the framework.

Ultimately, we would like to understand how all the living Lobban families are connected to these two (or more) origins. Y-DNA can do it, with appropriate donors, but please do not just rush in and order the test for yourself without contacting us to find out how/if your sample would be useful.

We also hope to get more evidence on the Flemish connection, but this can only happen by chance as new matches turn up in the branches above and to the sides of JFS0275 (top part of the DNA tree shown above).

If you can help with any of this, please contact me on the form below, so we can work out what tests would be useful. The form can also be used to pass along any comments, questions, or corrections.



My work here depends heavily on the set of trees developed by Sydney A. Lobban and the ongoing DNA analysis by John Sloan. It is also underpinned by the works that Stephanie Logan Falls, Malcolm Lobban, Gordon Lobban, and the late Alan Rudge have contributed to this site. More info on us.


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Page created by Christopher S Lobban, posted  14 Sep. 2019, last edited 15 July 2020