Question of the Week: Has Y-chromosome DNA testing helped you with surname research?

+52 votes

Note that if you're researching a surname using Y-DNA, there are a couple of features here at WikiTree that can be very valuable:

If using DNA for genealogy is new to you, check out the Getting Started with DNA on WikiTree tutorial.

in The Tree House by Julie Ricketts G2G6 Pilot (405k points)
retagged by Abby Glann
Stone Family Association has a dna project on the internet, recording a large group of Kit numbers dys color coded with individual tested y dna markers, easily found in a google search.  The recorded finds are playing havoc with my well documented, proven ancestors.  For example: William Stone 1608-1683, yellow coded, kit numbers 60829, N80630, haplo group R-M269 has a y-dna profile, also in the same dys color coded, R-M269 is listed a profile on Capt. Simon Stone 2 Jun 1770-23 Dec 1818, kit # 246815 with matching dys markers, his wife Charlotte Hall 1771-1818, dau. of Asa Hall 1752-1825.  This Simon Stone 1770-1818 is a descendant of immigrants Simon 1585 and Gregory Stone 1592, children of David Stone (married twice 1. Elizabeth, 2. Ursula).  These are two different Stone families, un proven to be related.  Now this William Stone 1608-1683 has a brother John 1610-1687, signers of "The 1639 Covenant, New Haven Colony", and William's markers are the same as Eusebius Stone wiki Stone-1692.  Go Figure ???-May I Trust Results?

Hi Joan, I'm confused by what you've written. My son-in-law is a descendant of Eusebius Stone-1692. His DNA test information is displayed on the Stone-1692 profile. As far as I know, Eusebius Stone-1692 is not a descendant of William Stone-70 and Verlinda Graves-36. WikiTree doesn't show that they're related.

I assume the 'Stone Family Association' your refer to is the Family Tree DNA Stone surname project at

On that project's page, kit #s 60829 and N80630 show they are descended from William Stone-1398 and are in R-M269 group B.  Kit #246815 is alone in group R-M269 group ZE, descended from Simon Stone (1769-1818) who doesn't appear to have a WikiTree profile. Two of the descendants of Eusebius Stone-1692, kits #142048 and #838135, have profiles on WikiTree. Kit #142048 is in group R-M269 group H and I'm working with the Stone project to see that Kit #838135 is added to that group. These men are in different groups because they don't share common Stone ancestors (in a genealogical time frame).

You asked if you can "Trust Results". Yes, you can. yDNA is an excellent way to sort out different families with common last names like Stone. (My mother's maiden name is Smith, and I've had great success sorting out Smith men who could have been confused with one another.) I can see that your maiden name is Stone, but your 'private' privacy level doesn't allow me to see how you're related to any of these Stone families. I'd be happy to work with you to help you sort out how to use yDNA for your Stone family. Please reply either here, or send me a private message. 

Hi Graham, I’m sorry for your experience. I can say that I know how you feel though. We found out (with my brother’s y-DNA results) that our paternal family name isn’t Wylie. I was stunned and had a terrible time with that information at first. That was a few months ago, and I’ve come to terms with it for the most part. But now I have this massive brick wall mystery surrounding our ‘true’ genetic surname. I’ll always identify as a Wylie, just can’t help but be curious about the other name though. I know this sort of thing is common, but I haven’t bumped into others who had the same experience yet. Feel free to message me if you’d like. It’d be nice to talk with others who can relate on the unexpected surname surprise after testing DNA.
Joan I've got these Stone ancestors  in my direct line. Can you provide a web address for their study? Thanks so much.   Leigh Anne
Thank you for the Stone study web address. I need to upload my deceased brother's son (my nephew) YDNA as we're from William atte Stone.  My bro. died unexpectedly with the DNA kit on his to do list. :-(
Y-DNA testing definitely helped in my case, confirming my pedigree as a Blankenship, and putting me closer to determining the father of my 3rd great grandfather, and thus taking it all the way back to emigration. I think I've got him, but it will take a little more testing by a few more people to be certain. Anyway, I'm close, and closer than I have ever been previously. An entry in the DNA project for our most distant ancestor, well, 12 through 67 markers, and we're an exact match. I upgrade to 111 markers, and we're a match at a genetic distance of 1. We're still the closest match of all the others in this group in the project. Like I was saying.
Having recently upgraded to BigY, now 700 markers, you enter a whole new and exciting ball game. Well worth the cost if you can afford it. Our group has 22 Y37 matches and we are encouraging them all to join the DF27 project. Only 3 700 testers so far, with several in the pipeline, and already SNPs are giving indicative dates of when the different surnames split - before patronymic names were introduced. Insufficient testers yet to split my surname group over the last say 5-15 generations, but working on it.
Lately, we've been using autosomal DNA to isolate other families that might have YDNA test subjects.
Our surname family of Bailey through the FamilyTreeDNA Y-700 testing has now confirmed our Ternimal SNP matched to two other Bailey/ Bailie’s. Our Baileys immigrated in the early to mid 1700’s to South Carolina. My 6th great-Grandfather’s  last name is listed on the land Grant as Bayley as is his brother’s. He was “known to be from Scotland. Several spellings of our surname are found. We are now told that we are confirmed with this Ternimal SNP, we are all three “Bailie” until we test the line of the immigrated “Baillie” or the perfect person willing to test.

I have had this same situation.  Been researching my Webb family line & been at a brick wall for years.  Took the Y37 test at FamilyTreeDNA, and it shows that I match 37 of 37 markers to descendants of a one William Adkins, b. 1689 VA.  Had a rough time with it too.  Will share more if U wanna email me:

151 Answers

+4 votes
YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!
by Lester Frank Martin G2G2 (2.2k points)
My direct paternal Ward line comes down from Sgt. John Ward, one of the founders of Newark, New Jersey. He was also known as John Ward, Sr to distinguish him from John “dishturner” Ward, another Newark founder, also called John Ward, Jr. They were not known to be related and Y DNA testing confirms that they are from different haplogroups. I matched a Ward surname project participant who is a known descendant of Sgt. John Ward, so I am confident that he is my direct paternal line ancestor. Even though my Ward ancestors came from Newark, I have never been able to connect to the direct paternal line paper trail. A cousin on my Monroe side was recently tested and had Y DNA results that confirmed his descent from John Monroe, the Scottish prisoner who was transported to Boston in 1652 and settled in Bristol, Rhode Island. This paper trail is very well documented. Another direct paternal line Monroe was tested and had closely matching Y DNA results, but he cannot prove the paper trail. There are a great many Ward families in America that are not closely related through the direct male line. The American Munro Clan long claimed that they descended from the Munro barons of Foulis Castle. Y DNA testing has proved that only a handful of American Monroes descend from the Barons Foulis line, but the great majority do not and neither does my Monroe line.
+3 votes
Yes, very much so. Our name has a French/Spanish spelling, however family stories have all been about our Irish/Scots heritage.  Trying to trace the family backwards only got us to my great Greatgrandfather.   After having my full DNA tests done with 23andMe I have proven the connection as far back as 400CE to Liall of Ireland. Without the DNA trace we would still be at a road block due to the name changes, spelling changes from old Celtic Galic to English and due to religious persecution in Ireland/England as well as in the U.S. due to discrimination of the Irish.

Thanks to DNA testing I've not only proven 67.8% Irish/Scots connection but found my family were given rule to protect a portion of Ireland by King Liall and did so for many generations.
+5 votes
Y-DNA has helped us sort out my husband's Taylor line and find ancestors beyond his grandfather. He did a Y-67

We could only afford a Y-12 on my brother for the Smith line, so it hasn't revealed anything, so far. I am hoping that it will eliminate the Smiths that aren't ours in the Ontario, Canada area they resided for a few generations.
by Eloise Smith G2G6 Mach 1 (11.1k points)
+4 votes
Not yet but I am ever hopeful.
by Jack McCauley G2G Crew (600 points)
+5 votes
We have no info on my husband's father other than his name, and a few family stories which so far remain unproven. By researching six of our closest yDNA matches - and by close I mean circa 16-1700s - I have managed to find a single Marshall family which is common to all of them. Still haven't found the father-in-law, but at least I have a general idea where to look now!
+3 votes
No, Haven't tried it out yet!
+3 votes
Yes, three persons who are in my family tree, two males, and one female. There are also numerous males and females, with a family tree of 1 in parts of the globe my DNA apparently does not cover. But things may get better. I am only new at this.
by Harry Beukers G2G Crew (770 points)
+6 votes
I went to Borg, Perl, Germany with a DNA Kit and got suspected cousin Rudi to swab.  And Rudi and I match 66 of 67 markers ..... after over 300 years!  Rudi has been the Burgermeister (Mayor) of Borg for over 40 years .... where our common ancestor was born in 1710.
by Anonymous Biever G2G Crew (380 points)
Now that's getting it done!
+4 votes
I have found some great surprises but not because of the surname. I have an unfortunate situation whereby my grandfather was adopted.

He was born in 1889 in Chicago, IL. He was the adopted by Hugo F. Traupmann (Trauptmann) and Martha Traupmann (Heinze) sometime after their marriage in 1894. Martha may have been the mother. Apparently in IL when someone was adopted the birth certificates were hidden (rumor I heard).

The story from my father was that my grandfather father was scottish and the Y-DNA has supported that.
by Greg Traupmann G2G Crew (440 points)
+6 votes
Yes! Matched a 5th cousin from England who helped identify a common ancestor a full generation before my family's historical records - then his efforts pushed us back another 100 years to an earlier common ancestor born in 1650. Overall, the combination of paper trail plus our Y DNA testing has not only validated our relationship but broken down walls I could never have done on my own. We matched at 111 STRs then both did BigY SNP testing to validate our match. No one should expect results any less than 67 STRs, 111 STRs is better but SNP testing validates any question.
by Leake Little G2G6 Mach 1 (11.4k points)
+5 votes
Yes, there is a SHELDON DNA project at FTDNA, and I had mine tested in 2007 with results received early 2008.  Some questions by one organization studying Sheldon surname families basically stem from whether colonial progenitors were related.  Of the five studied, 2 fall into one group and 3 into another.  Others who have tried to connect their paper genealogy to this one organization's records could not, but DNA has linked them with specific lines.

Additionally, while on paper genealogy I descend from a John Sheldon from South Kingstown, Rhode Island, d. 1706, (who had only one son), another descendant from this son (also named John) and I are a 100% match at the 37 allele level.  We have essentially ID'd the Y-DNA marker of John (the son) Sheldon.  Further studies by an Admin of the project have shown that, since the other colonial progenitor (named Isaac) shares a common ancestor with John (father - colonial progenitor) we have essentially ID'd this John (Sr.'s if you will) Y-DNA marker.

Other surnames have been linked to our Y-DNA marker.  One is a Cotton surname, and what is interesting is that this person's father came to the Americas from the U.K., and we know that John Sheldon's origins were from England but have not proven parental lineage.  The interesting thing here, though, is that we now have a recent DNA link to the UK that did not occur consecutively with ours, and this Cotton genealogy helps us focus in the area of origination.  It is likely that we share a common male ancestor with the Cottons, or one or the other raised a male child with the other family and adopted a name.

SNP's have identified that our Sheldon line has shared a common ancestor with one of the Gladiators that were discovered in York.

Lastly for this summary here, there is a Land connection to my Y-DNA.  I have researched this origin to the generation of a Casper Land where one researcher tells me a woman had children and she lived with her father and they may have take the father's surname instead.  It is plausible reasoning.

I want to give credit to the Admin of the SHELDON project at FTDNA.  She is a blessing to have as a cousin, researcher, and friend.  Thanks!
by Jack Sheldon G2G1 (1.9k points)
+6 votes
Yes.  Many times over.

I trace my Roberts ancestry to the Bahamas.  it is one of the most common surnames there.  Most Roberts direct paternal lines can't connect on paper.  The early records have not been found or don't exist.  Almost 20 Roberts descendants with Bahamian ancestry who did not know how they were related have been Y-DNA tested.  All so far belong to one of two Roberts families.  One is Y haplogroup I-Z59 and the other is R-L20.  I descend from both families on different branches of my ancestry.  These two Roberts families have not yet matched with another Roberts family who "stayed" in Europe.

Much has been revealed through Y-DNA testng of other Bahamian surnames such as Lowe, Knowles, Albury, Bethel, Carroll, Kemp, Pyfrom, Pinder, Sweeting, Sands, Malone, Key, Weatherford, Major, Thompson, Adams, Cates, and Russell.
by Peter Roberts G2G6 Pilot (574k points)
+5 votes

Yes. Several ways.

Most of the Kingmans in America descend from my 8th great grandfather Henry Kingman-4, who arrived in Massachusetts in 1634/35 during the PGM. Unfortunately we have not been able to find records of his birth. Family legend says he was from Somerset, England. 

Y-DNA enabled a match to be found between my Y-DNA and that of Gerald Kingman-606 born in England who took a Y-DNA test. His line traces back to Somerset, England, so we probably have a common ancestor in Somerset.

Another way Y-DNA helped was to confirm my relationship to my 6th cousin Peter Kingman-485 and our lines up through our MRCA, Henry Kingman-275, born in 1701.

A third way Y-DNA helped was a different story. While researching the Kingman One Name Study, we found a line that traced back to John Kingman-395, born in New Hampshire about 1695. We thought there must be a connection with Henry Kingman-4, but could not find one. I was able to find a living relative of John Kingman-395 who agreed to take a Y-DNA test and was surprised to find that he had a completely different haplogroup.


by John Kingman G2G6 Mach 3 (32.9k points)
edited by John Kingman
Always possible that someone in the Kingman-395 line wasn't at home every Friday night.
True, but I don't see how that helps. :-)
+5 votes
Well the four Y testers that have kept their information secret haven't helped anyone. Makes you wonder have they just got their toe in the water to see if any of the affairs they had in the past have born fruit?

Or just nosey and want to see if any other relative has had a sprog they didn't know about.
by Heather Douglas G2G6 Mach 1 (12.1k points)

Surely though, there is nothing more insane than a DNA test and family tree that is published and then locked so that no one can see it.

It would be like going to an art exhibit and every painting had a cover over it.
Now thats a brilliant idea thank you I must tell my artist relative its a sure fire way to get the punters in.

Curiosity killed the cat and information brought it back.
+3 votes
No it has been quite disappointing. Only one close relative that I already knew of and five others who are so far removed we cannot find a link. I think it's a bit over rated.
+4 votes
My DNA results tied my great great grandfather to the Pages of CT in the 1660s.
+3 votes
Y-DNA testing has not advanced my search at all.... unfortunately.  I have tested at FTDNA, including the Y-37, Y-111, and the Big Y test.  I still have not found away to climb over the brick wall that is my grandfather's family in Scotland.  James Mather Gardiner, born 1868 to John Gardiner and Alison Mather.  That's as far as I've gotten in the five years I have been searching for the Gardiner family in Edinburgh, Scotland.
by John Gardiner G2G Crew (590 points)
+3 votes
Not yet, but I'm hopeful.  I have recently lost a hard drive and am in 'recovery'mode.  I was ready to try and upload my dna and gedcom when this happened.  I lost my tree etal and had to basically start over.  Did find a partial tree I had started on FamilySearch and uploaded that for a start.

Thanks for asking.
by Jo Acuff G2G Crew (710 points)
+4 votes
The father of my 4th great grandfather (Alexander Vestal) was not documented. However, family lore had that his father was a Swaim. As a Vestal male descendant, I joined a Swaim Y-DNA project. My DNA matched the Swaim DNA, giving the family story credence. Another Vestal male descendant also tested. His DNA matched the Swaim DNA.
by Marty Vestal G2G Crew (660 points)
Is there a reason you haven't added your yDNA test information to your WikiTree profile?
How do I add it? I can find the results on the Swaim Y-DNA Project at Familytree DNA, but I don't know how to retrieve it. It has been 12 years since I tested, and I doubt that I can find my login information. I would appreciate any help in uploading my Y-DNA to WikiTree.
You don't actually upload your DNA results to WikiTree. You just add information about the test you took. From the 'Add' drop-down list at the top right of your profile, select 'DNA Test Information'. Scroll down to the 'Add New Test' section to add the information about your yDNA test. Enter your kit # and the number of markers you tested.
+4 votes
Using my brother's YDNA we have confirmed that we are NO relation with the famous "Virginia Lees"    The problem is that there are so many false genealogies of people trying to tie themselves to the Virginia Lees, that we still struggle to find our ancient ancestors.
by Robin Lee G2G6 Pilot (720k points)

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