How Many Men Discover or Confirm Their Surname with Y DNA Testing?

About 15 years in the past, Bennett Greenspan, founding father of FamilyTreeDNA, at one of many early conferences stated that about 30% of males who take a Y DNA check discover a robust surname match. That quantity has elevated now to just about 100%, or “nearly everybody.”


In fact, there are exceptions that fall into various classes:

  • Jewish households from areas the place surnames weren’t adopted till within the 1800s.
  • Jewish households whose direct paternal line suffered dramatic losses in the course of the Holocaust.
  • Dutch households who didn’t undertake surnames till Napoleon’s edict in 1811.
  • Cultures who’ve or lately had patronymic surnames that change each era.
  • Males whose DNA is both extraordinarily uncommon (and no family members have examined) or are from under-sampled areas of the world.
  • Males whose paternal line could also be latest immigrants and other people within the homeland don’t take part in family tree or don’t DNA check.

I began writing Y DNA experiences for shoppers in 2004 (though I now not settle for non-public shoppers) and at the moment, usually noticed males with no matches. In the present day, a person with no matches is extraordinarily uncommon, and most have robust surname matches. As extra males check, everybody can have extra matches, in fact, and the extra we are able to find out about our ancestors.

What do matches reveal?

Matches Reveal

In essence, matches to different males with widespread surnames do considered one of two issues:

  1. Affirm the surname lineage, at the very least to the widespread ancestor.
  2. Establish the surname the place the tester is more likely to discover his ancestral roots.
  3. Present perspective additional again in time answering the query, “The place did I come from?”

In fact, this second level is essential for males looking for the id of their paternal traces.

Whereas time has moved on, the variety of testers within the database has dramatically elevated, and nearly everybody has related matches now – I nonetheless see the 30% metric oft-repeated. Let’s put this to the check and see what we discover.

Setting Up the Experiment

I chosen 20 males who’ve taken the Huge Y check whose kits I handle or who have been randomly chosen from initiatives that I handle and who’ve given permission for his or her outcomes to be printed on public undertaking pages.

I recorded outcomes for the tester’s personal or very related surnames. Barely completely different however recognizable spellings are counted as the identical identify.

I included matches at 12 markers, 111 markers, and the Huge Y outcomes. Males who buy or improve to the Huge Y-700 check can have all 111 STR panel markers included. Clearly, particular person testers ought to verify their outcomes at each stage.

Huge Y testers really obtain 700+ STR markers, however can solely simply filter for matches at 111 (or under), in order that’s the quantity I used. Plus, males can purchase  37 and 111 panels without taking the Big Y test, so this comparative data will likely be legitimate for all Y DNA testers.

Click on to enlarge picture.

Moreover, I used the Superior Matches characteristic to verify for individuals who match somebody on BOTH the Y DNA and their Household Finder autosomal check. In fact, this doesn’t assure that the rationale they match on each checks is due to their widespread surname line – but it surely’s a touch and could also be very helpful, particularly with nearer Household Finder matches.

I deliberately included some males with latest European heritage who’re unlikely to have matches just because their households have been in colonial America for the reason that 1600s or 1700s and their ancestor had a dozen sons who every had a dozen sons.

Why Did I Embrace 12 Marker Outcomes?

It’s possible you’ll surprise why I included 12 marker matches since that check is now not offered individually and is the least granular. In truth, it’s too usually deemed ineffective and ignored.

Hear me out on this one😊

Lots of the males who initially took the 12 and 25 marker checks, earlier than the upper panels (37, 67, 111, and Huge Y) have been obtainable are deceased now. Twenty years is a era, and FamilyTreeDNA started testing the Y chromosome within the yr 2000.

Whereas these low marker checks alone should not conclusive, with extra data, corresponding to timber, widespread ancestors, and different testers who match, they type items of proof that may be invaluable. Some have additionally taken an autosomal check which might be particularly necessary, provided that they’re one other era or two (or three) additional again in time than the folks testing at the moment.

You received’t see these males as matches at 37, 67 or 111 markers, as a result of they’re deceased and may’t improve, however they could present the nugget of knowledge you want by matching at 12 or 25 markers. You’ll want to guage that match in gentle of different data. I’ll evaluation that within the subsequent two sections.

20 Males

In case you’re a person or can discover a male to check for every of your family tree traces, the Y DNA is the quickest, most dependable method to establish an ancestral surname – not simply in your father’s era, however transferring again in time.

Of the 20 males chosen, all males had matches to their surname. Nevertheless, one Smith man, #18, had a novel scenario that is perhaps very genealogically related.

I’ll talk about every match briefly with some commentary under the chart.

Surname Match Title 12 Marker 111 Marker Huge Y Superior – 12 + FF Each
1 Howery Howery 9 of 20 2 of two 0 (none examined) 1
2 Graves Graves 8 of 51 2 of 8 1 Graves + others 1 – completely different surname
3 Perkins Perkins/McDonald 16 of 1762 1 of 63, many McDonalds 0 Perkins (no testers) however a number of McD names 8 – 2 McDonald
4 Napier Napier 19 of 19,217 2 of 13 2 Napier + others 1 + many others
5 Rice Rice 45 of 58 14 of 19 7 of 10 1
6 Rader Rader  13 of 18,576 7 of seven 7 3
7 Estes Estes 69 of 502 21 of 24 9 of 10 2 + 4 completely different surname
8 Campbell Campbell 178 of 369 61 of 103 7 of 10 4 of 5
9 Lentz Lentz 1 of 1 0 of 1 1 completely different identify, no different Lentz Huge Y testers 0
10 Bonnevie Bonnevie 1 of 1 (examined to 37) 0 0 no check
11 Vannoy Vannoy 7 of 49 2 of 4 0 of 1 0
12 Lore/Lord Lore/Lord 3 of seven 1 of three 1 of 1 0
13 Clarkson/Claxton Clarkson/Claxton 19 of 540 1 of 1 0 of 9 (No Huge Y testers) 0 of three
14 Muncey Muncy/Muncey 9 of 155 7 of 16 1 of 4 1
15 Miller Miller 5 of 6 2 at 67, no 111 testers 0 – no Miller match testers 1 of two
16 Converse(s) Converse(s) 9 of 9 21 of 51 4 of 17 0
17 Smith Smith/Jennings 2 of 16, 9 Jennings 0 of two (Jennings) 1 Jennings of three 1 Jennings
18 Bolton Bolton 8 of 1750 2 of two 0 of 28 0 of 12
19 Crumley Crumley 10 of 79 7 of 93 3 of 127 0 of two
20 Harrell Harrell 81 of 17,638 3 of seven 2 of two 0 of 119

Messages Revealed within the Outcomes

Let’s briefly evaluation the knowledge we’ve found and extrapolate from every of those 20 matches. Evaluation is the important thing to success.

  1. The Howery surname is fairly uncommon. This man had solely two 111 marker matches and each have been to males of the identical surname. Half of his 12 marker matches are the identical surname. None of his matches had taken the Huge Y check, so he has no same-surname or different surname matches there. He did match considered one of his Y DNA matches on the Household Finder check although. That is high-quality affirmation that Howery is certainly the organic ancestral surname and our tester can set about discovering and confirming his widespread ancestors together with his matches.
  2. The Graves male had a number of 12-marker matches, however many 12-marker matches haven’t examined on the 111 marker stage. He matches one Graves male on the Huge Y plus some males with different surnames. The Huge Y reaches again additional in time, so these matches could replicate widespread ancestors earlier than the appearance of surnames.
  3. Our Perkins male has very fascinating matches. He does have each 12 and 111 Perkins matches, however he additionally had a LOT of McDonald matches. Extra McDonald matches than Perkins matches. This means that certainly, his ancestors have been Perkins, at the very least again to the earliest identified ancestor (EKA), however earlier than that, he could be a member of the McDonald Y DNA clan. There have been no Perkins Huge Y testers, but when I have been him, I’d ask my Perkins matches to improve.
  4. I can inform by wanting on the big variety of 12 marker matches for our Napier man that he’s haplogroup R, the commonest in Europe, with an EXTREMELY widespread 12 marker haplotype. Notice how dramatically the variety of 111 marker matches drops – from 19,000+ to 13 – an ideal instance of why we recommend males improve to at the very least 111 markers to refine their matches. Each of his 111 marker Napier matches have upgraded to the Huge Y, and he matches them there as properly. He does match one Napier on each the 12 marker check and Household Finder Superior Matching – however he additionally matches MANY different males. That is due to the extraordinarily excessive variety of 12 marker matches. In his case, I might solely use Y DNA marker panels larger than 12 markers within the Superior Matching.
  5. Plenty of Rice testers from this line affirm a standard ancestor. I ponder if there’s a Rice male from someplace abroad who has examined. In that case, this is perhaps that “leap the pond” occasion that genealogists who’ve European ancestors who’re present in colonial America search.
  6. Our Rader tester additionally has many 12 marker matches, however his solely matches at 111 and on the Huge Y are his Rader kinsmen. Little question about that surname by any means.
  7. My Estes line has a number of 12 marker matches, however that will get slimmed proper down at 111 markers. Utilizing the Huge Y check, we additional divided these branches of Estes males. I actually couldn’t have sorted out who was descended from whom with out the Huge Y check outcomes. Means too many Johns, Williams, and Elishas in burned counties in Virginia.
  8. Our Campbell tester is certainly confirmed to be descended from the Clan Campbell line from Inverary, Scotland. Nevertheless, the problem on this household is which Campbell male they descend from in Virginia. The Huge Y-700 check has narrowed the chances considerably, and the tester is at present within the means of trying to persuade his three closest Y STR 111 matches to take the Huge Y check. Sure, he has provided to pay as properly. Hey, in family tree, you do what you have to do. Y DNA is probably going the one means this puzzle from the 1700s will ever be unraveled.
  9. The Lentz line is German with uncommon DNA, however they do have a confirming match to a different Lentz male.
  10. Bonnievie spelled varied methods is French and has one 12 marker match who solely examined to 37 markers. He has no matches above that. Not solely is his Y DNA fairly uncommon, DNA testing is unlawful in France which makes extra testers few and much between. Sadly, his one match has not taken a Household Finder check both.
  11. A number of males from the Vannoy line have examined and a Huge Y check match to a different man confirmed that the ancestral line is Dutch – not French as was speculated for many years. The STR checks have revealed Vannoy traces, by related spellings, from traces we didn’t know existed.
  12. Lore or Lord is a uncommon Acadian household surname. Our tester does have matches to different Lore/Lord males, which confirms the road to the ancestor who arrived in Acadia within the early 1600s, however future testers will likely be wanted earlier than we are able to affirm his origins to both France or as one of many English troopers who served on the fort.
  13. The Clarkson/Claxton testers affirm two traces, one spelled every means, from Tennessee and North Carolina line to a standard ancestor in both Virginia or North Carolina within the 1770s. Nevertheless, the household continues to be working to additional assemble that puzzle. Discovering a Clarkson/Claxton match on STR markers or the Huge Y who descends from a male not from the 2 identified traces would assist immensely. Our hope is {that a} Clarkson/Claxton from an earlier line or from the British Isles will check and supply that push over the brick wall. Any Clarkson/Clarkson males on the market who haven’t taken the Y DNA check but?
  14. The Muncy/Munsey line is confirmed to a standard ancestor born in England in and died on Lengthy Island in 1674. Primarily based on each STR and SNP outcomes from the Huge Y, we are able to slender the lineages of Muncy males who check and aren’t aware of their Muncy family tree. In fact, the Muncy line ultimately migrated by way of Virginia and seemingly named each man in each era both John, Samuel or Francis – however DNA testing helps immensely to type this out.
  15. Whereas Miller is a quite common occupation surname, DNA testing has put to relaxation many incorrect myths about this explicit Swiss Miller line. Males with the identical surname in the identical location, even in the identical church, doesn’t equate to the identical genetic household line. Any male with a standard surname completely must do Y DNA testing and on the highest stage. There’s nothing worse than spending numerous hours barking up the fallacious tree – particularly when Y DNA testing will prevent.
  16. Our Speaks man matched one other Converse male who knew the place his ancestors have been from in Lancashire. Testing extra males residing in Lancashire on the 111 marker and Huge Y ranges allowed the Converse line to be divided into particular lineages starting within the 1500s, piecing collectively the sooner ancestors right into a descendant tree. Just lately, an “orphan” line within the US has been linked to his ancestors, because of each STR values AND Huge Y testing.
  17. Smith is kind of fascinating as a result of we uncover that one thing doesn’t add up. Our Smith man matches two Smith males who’ve the identical ancestor born in 1810 however that son, John, doesn’t match the descendants of his brothers. There appears to be an undocumented adoption of some type at that time limit. John Smith’s Y DNA will not be the identical as his brothers whose descendants match one another. Provided that our Smith tester, and his two matches, don’t match the opposite descendants of the ancestor they’re speculated to descend from, we are able to pinpoint the era by which the adoption occasion occurred. Nevertheless, we have now an additional clue, as a result of these Smith males match the Jennings line closely- together with one superior match the place the Smith man additionally matches autosomally along with the Y DNA. That is clearly a case of “you don’t know what you don’t know” and would by no means have identified with out Y DNA testing.
  18. Our Bolton tester matches a number of different Bolton males who descend from a standard immigrant ancestor. If the Bolton matches improve to the Huge Y-700 check, they could have the ability to decide separate genetic traces branching by way of the varied sons of the immigrant ancestor. Evaluating the surnames that the tester matches on the Huge Y stage could help with evaluating deeper ancestry in England and figuring out the place the Bolton ancestors originated earlier than the 1600s in London.
  19. Crumley is a tough household to analysis, partially as a result of a number of folks with the identical surname are present in shut proximity, however Y DNA testing has proven that these males should not associated. Huge Y testing has disproved that the Crumley progenitor originated in Germany, though a distinct Crumley household did. The Huge Y matches embrace many Mc… surnames together with Ferguson and Gillespie. The Huge Y Block Tree reveals the closest matches with ancestors born in Scotland, Eire, and Northern Eire – which may be very doubtless the place the Crumley progenitor originated too.
  20. Harrell is one other tough surname, spelled quite a few methods with a number of Harrell/Herrell/Harrold/Herrald households transferring westward within the 1600s and 1700s from the 13 unique colonies. This Harrell line has not been in a position to hook up with a single progenitor within the colonies, but, however Y DNA testing and the block tree affirm that this Harrell line originated within the British Isles, very doubtless England.

What Did These 20 Males Study?

Each single considered one of these males benefitted from Y DNA testing, though precisely how relies upon to some extent on their testing purpose. Different males additionally benefitted by matching.

One man, our Smith, #17, wants to take a look at the Jennings household previous to 1810. Is there a Jennings man residing in shut proximity, or do courtroom data exist that is perhaps illuminating?

If considered one of these 20 males had been an adoptee or in any other case looking for an unknown paternal line, they’d have been in a position to establish a surname connection and maybe a progenitor ancestor. I encourage everybody to both order a Family Finder autosomal test or transfer a DNA file (at no cost) from one other vendor if they’ve taken an autosomal check elsewhere. Step-by-step switch directions are found here. Make sure that the Y DNA and autosomal checks are on the identical equipment/account at FamilyTreeDNA so that you could use the superior matching device.

With the Big Y-700 test, these males can discern or affirm traces descending from their direct paternal ancestors – generally inside a era or two of the tester. This check is so delicate and granular and has such deep protection (tens of millions of bases) now that usually we discover small mutations between fathers and sons or brothers.

Whereas STR markers, 12-111 are genealogically necessary, they do are inclined to mutate quickly and generally back-mutate. SNPs, examined within the Big Y-700 test, don’t do this, and the ability of STRs and SNPs collectively have the potential to interrupt down brick partitions and proper timber. The truth is, it occurs each single day.


In case you’d like to look at a video about Y DNA, Y DNA-related genetic phrases, and the advantages of Big Y-700 testing, you’ll be able to watch an awesome instructional video by Janine Cloud here. Make sure to observe the half the place she talks about why individuals who have beforehand taken the Huge Y-500 may need to improve to the Huge Y-700.

Additionally, try my Y DNA Resource page, here.

What Don’t You Know?

Y DNA tests, together with the Big Y-700 which incorporates all STR panels, and the autosomal Family Finder test are on sale at FamilyTreeDNA proper now for Father’s Day.

There’s no higher time to seek out lacking items and uncover data that you would be able to’t discover another means.

Click here to order Y DNA tests, the Family Finder, or upgrade an existing test.



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