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Fitz Randolph Genetic Adventures

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Surnames/tags: Fitz Randolph FitzRandolph Fitz-Randolph
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Fitz Randolph One Name Study

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Fitz Randolph Genetic Adventures

Wider use of DNA tests and analytical tools have opened up a whole new approach to exploring and learning more about how we fit in the Fitz Randolph family tree. The purpose of this page is to share ideas and information about what we have learned so far and how we might take advantage of these advances to deepen our collective knowledge of Fitz Randolph genealogy.

DNA offers us two main opportunities:

  1. Using autosomal DNA to confirm our family lines and relationships within the past 400 years or so. We share our autosomal DNA with thousands and hundreds of thousands of others, including the bits of DNA passed down us from our Fitz Randolph ancestors. By analyzing the patterns of those matches and the location of shared DNA on our chromosomes, we can get clues about which ancestors may have passed it to us -- which is critical to confirming our documented family lineages.
  2. Using yDNA to look back along the Fitz Randolph surname line from Fitz Randolph son to Fitz Randolph father to his Fitz Randolph father and so on. It can provide very convincing evidence for a family group that isn't sure whether they are Fitz Randolphs who link back to Edward Fitz Randolph. It is also being used to explore our deep history and can potentially be used to confirm our close relationship to the Normans who came to England beginning in 1066 AD.

Let's consider each of these in turn and explore what questions we might be able to answer using these tools.

Autosomal DNA

Two main questions can be tackled with autosomal DNA:

  1. For Fitz Randolph descendants who know their family tree going back to Edward Fitz Randolph, are we sure that our documented lineage is correct? Are there links along those lines that we think might be weak or questionable? Or could there have been a 'non-paternal event' where the official father was not the real father?
  2. For those who suspect they might be Fitz Randolph descendants but have not been able to document their links back to Edward or confirm their relationship to the Fitz Randolphs, can DNA be used to break down brick walls and point to the Fitz Randolph family branch or person we descend from, or disprove our suspicion? The power of this approach may be limited, however, if the family branch in question spun off from the Fitz Randolphs early on the 1600s or 1700s.

Please suggest other questions you think we could address.

If there is sufficient interest, we could collaborate more effectively to share our DNA information, target more tests if needed, and help make sense of what our collective DNA is telling us. Several amongst us have developed some experience with DNA analysis and can help coordinate our work. Within this effort, we can give priority to aiming our analysis on our (suspected) relatives who have a Fitz Randolph brick wall.

Please leave a comment here if you would be interested in participating in such an effort.

UPDATE:' A Fitz Randolph surname project was established at the FTDNA website in 2021. The project includes both yDNA test results from FTDNA (as the unique service providing such tests) and autosomal DNA that can be uploaded into the project from any DNA testing service. Anyone who suspects a link to the Fitz Randolph line is invited to participate. Please see: https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/fitzrandolph/about


We can use yDNA to again answer two main questions:

1. Can yDNA be used to break down brick walls and point to the Fitz Randolph family branch or person from whom we descend, or disprove our suspicion?

For those who suspect they might be Fitz Randolph descendants but have not been able to document their links back to Edward or confirm their relationship to the Fitz Randolphs, using yDNA provides even stronger evidence that a given family group descends from the Fitz Randolph line. As of mid-2021, twelve men who likely have direct-male line descent from Edward Fitz Randolph have completed yDNA testing, providing a clear genetic profile of the Fitz Randolph descendants. Five of these twelve men completed advanced yDNA testing, which has identified a specific mutation to the Fitz Randolph line (R-FGC41936). As a result, we have convincing evidence that at least one Randall family and Randolphs from Buncombe County, North Carolina are directly tied to Fitz Randolphs on their surname line.

As the costs of testing continue to come down, the addition of more testing across the various Fitz Randolph branches will give greater confidence in identifying how specific family groups trace back to Edward or beyond. It would also allow us to quickly identify how a male descendant who doesn't know if or how they relate to the Fitz Randolphs links to our tree. Fortunately, we aren't starting from scratch: there has already been a long effort to understand the full range of Randolphs in America through a yDNA project at FTDNA. With several Fitz Randolph-related participants involved, it has already confirmed that the Fitz Randolphs are a line very distinct from the other Randolphs. It has just recently spun off to establish its own specific Fitz Randolph yDNA project at FTDNA, but has only eight members; it provides a platform that we can immediately build from and expand.

2. Do we really trace back to the Lords of Middleham, the Normans and Charlemagne?

Using yDNA, we can begin to tackle some of these questions. In fact, there is some ongoing work along these lines, as y-DNA test results provide a glimpse of families related to the Fitz Randolph line prior to Edward's arrival in the 1600s. We will be inviting the person leading that work to share what has been learned to date and next steps.

Please suggest other questions you think we could address.

And please leave a comment here if you would be interested in participating in the yDNA efforts.

Another suggestion from Tom Randolph:

3. Confirming Edward Fitz Randolph and providing a benchmark for evaluating our brickwall dna work

As of now, we have a single, clearly documented descendant of Edward who has tested for ydna (Tom Randolph, who descends from Edward's son Thomas). There are several other descendants who have tested to provide evidence of their links to the Fitz Randolph line because the paper trail is not complete and has holes in it (Myron Randall, a descendant of Edward's son Nathaniel, also has a documented line, but will need to confirm whether it is sufficiently strong for this purpose). Could we propose undertaking a targeted campaign to test at least one male descendant from each of Edward's five sons who does have a well established paper trail? This would allow us to (1) conclusively prove the role of Edward as progenitor of these lines; and (2) give us a better understanding of the signature mutations specific to each branch -- which could be extremely useful in confirming that a brickwall ydna result belongs in the hypothesized Fitz Randolph branch or not. (To confirm, but it might also help (i) sharpen our understanding of how our ydna evolved before Edward; and (ii) identify whether any of our brickwalls may be due to another Fitz Randolph coming to America after Edward.) We can begin by identifying any living male descendants recorded here in wikitree since they or the wikitree member who created their profile have already demonstrated an interest in our family history by doing so! Would this be a worthwhile first step for our testing efforts? Any thoughts?

4. Does our yDNA point to Rome?

The Fitz Randolph narrative has traditionally cited its introduction to England from Normandy with William the Conqueror, and before Normandy, the line originating in Norway. An interesting alternative is presented in a recent exchange in the Eupedia forum: https://www.eupedia.com/forum/threads/39896-Identifying-the-Y-DNA-haplogroups-of-ancient-Roman-families-through-their-descendants/page4. It notes that: Eudons' children, the Eudonids, claimed descent from the Roman families Rutilius Rufus and Aurelius Cotta, specifically Rutilia, mother of Aurelia, mother of the dictator Gaius Julius Caesar. Eudon refers to Eudes (Bretagne) de Penthièvre. To be evaluated!

R-FGC41936 Haplogroup

Testing of yDNA to date indicates that the Fitz Randolph line identifies with the R-FGC41936 Haplogroup, with a subgroup FGC41938 for a Randall line. FTDNA has begun (2022) providing the following report for this haplogroup:

Haplogroup R-FGC41936 represents a man who is estimated to have been born around 350 years ago, plus or minus 150 years. That corresponds to about 1700 CE with a 95% probability he was born between 1531 and 1813 CE. R-FGC41936's paternal lineage branched off from R-A8380 and the rest of mankind about 600 years ago, plus or minus 200 years. He is the most recent common ancestor of at least 4 lineages known as R-FGC41938 and R-FGC41936*. There are 6 DNA test-confirmed descendants, and they have specified that their direct paternal origins are from England and United States with 2 from unknown countries. As more people test, the history of this genetic lineage might be further refined.

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