Monday, February 2, 2015

Before They Sailed: Mayflower DNA

Please share the details about this first of its kind book that will identify the DNA and trace the genetic ancestry of twenty families that sailed aboard the Mayflower. 

The story behind the story….

Who were the Mayflower passengers before they were pilgrims? Where did they come from? England has a long history of migrations and invasions. Were the Pilgrim’s ancestors Anglo-Saxons, Normans or Vikings? This book will use traditional genealogy and DNA to answer those questions and more.

The DNA of the Mayflower descendants will lead us on a path of discovery that will first allow us to confirm the genetic identity of each Pilgrim and then open a door to the past, before they sailed.

Following the DNA

The DNA falls into three Mayflower categories: descendants, genetic cousins and genetic ancestors. These categories will be defined in more detail in the book. The descendant's DNA gives us the ability to confirm the genetic identity of each Pilgrim and gives us deep ethnicity. The identity allows us to find genetic cousins in England, giving us the location of each Pilgrim's ancestral city and village. When we expand the search for cousins beyond England, we get a view of genetic ancestors, tribes and migrations across Europe.

Mayflower Surnames

The book will identify the DNA and trace the genetic ancestry of the following Mayflower families: Alden, Billington, Bradford, Brewster, Chilton, Cooke, Doty, Eaton, Fuller, Hopkins, Howland, Mullins, Rogers, Samson, Soule, Standish, Tilley, Warren, White and Winslow.

Looking for Descendants

For this project to be a success, I'm looking for both direct paternal line and maternal line descendants of the Pilgrims. If you have a solid genealogy back to the Mayflower, I would like to include your story. It would be great if you already have your y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA tested.


In addition to Mayflower ancestry, the book will illustrate the basics of genetic genealogy. How can we tell if two people are related? Where does the ethnicity come from? How do we know where someone's ancestors lived 500, 1,000 or 2,000 years ago? Why do the Anglo-Saxons, Celts, Normans and Vikings matter in a discussion about Pilgrims?


There will be a tremendous amount of data and information that gets generated during the research phase of this book. All of the info is valuable, but not all of it will make it into the book. The "members-only" Fieldnotes section of the companion website will contain all of the background and detail the progress for those who want to follow along. Even after the book is published, new information will be added as more is learned about the Mayflower Pilgrims and their DNA.

What will be produced?

This full-color book will be produced in a digital format, a paperback edition and a limited hardcover edition. There will be a companion website with behind the scenes details exclusive to members. A presentation for genealogy and history conferences is also planned.