TOWNSENDS from around the world (with any spelling of the surname) are welcomed in this Y chromosome DNA testing project launched by the Townsend Society of America in 2002 when DNA testing became a cost effective new tool to use in genealogical research.
The objectives of the Townsend Surname DNA Project are to:
- Identify Townsends by family group and sub-group
- Prove or disprove theories regarding ancestry
- Resolve brick walls in Townsend research
- Validate existing research
- Determine areas for further research
- Link Townsends in the U.S., England, Australia, South Africa and other countries
- Identify males who might be of genetic line other than that of their surname
The Townsend group includes participants from around the world. Although many are among the Society’s 500 plus members, others are not – and although encouraged, membership in the Society is not required to participate.
Townsends from the U.S., England, Canada, Australia, South Africa, and Chile are already participating in the project and additional persons from the British Isles as well as persons from New Zealand and other locations are actively sought.
Family groups have emerged based on DNA testing and traditional research. Some can link back to England while others discover their earliest known ancestors in various parts of the U.S.
The Y chromosome is passed from father to son unchanged, except for mutations that occur randomly. Testing the Y chromosome will provide participants with a genetic "fingerprint" of up to 111 markers. By comparing this "fingerprint" to others with Townsend and other surnames, one can determine if they are related. For recommended testing levels, see below.
As the database of results continues to grow (currently over 400) the findings are yielding further understanding of the Y chromosome makeup of a number of Townsend family groups, allowing the project to draw conclusions about common ancestors and descendancy lines.
Steps are taken to protect the privacy and anonymity of persons tested, if you wish. But, as the purpose is to make family connections, having an accessible database and facilitating contacts is of prime importance. The Y chromosome test data shown in the results section of this website shows an identifier and information on the earliest known ancestor (when provided).
yDNA tests are currently available from FamilyTreeDNA.com and 23andme.com (Ancestry.com no longer offers this test). We work with and recommend FamilyTreeDNA.com.
To join the project and receive our group discount go directly to www.FamilyTreeDNA.com and type in Townsend on the home page to learn more, then join the project and order a test kit. The rates are not shown here as they have been dropping and from time to time there is special sale pricing.
Y-DNA37 - 37 Marker Test: Results are placed in FTDNA's Y-DNA database and when 2 people show identical or near identical results, FTDNA will email both parties (if they have signed the FTDNA Release Form). A perfect match of 37 markers means that the two individuals shared a common ancestor perhaps 350 hundred years ago. Your personal my FTDNA page or dashboard will link you with matches, haplogroup origins, maps, FAQ, and other interesting items.
Y-DNA67 - 67 Marker Test: This is the same as above but a higher resolution Y-DNA test. A perfect match of 67 markers means a very tight connection: a common ancestor in more recent times.
Y-DNA111 - 111 Marker Test: This highest resolution test is useful for identifying the closest relatives. Men who were first cousins or even brothers two hundred years ago will have descendants who match very tightly at this level.
It is always possible to upgrade to have more markers tested after an initial test. And there are a growing number of advanced tests, like the Big Y-700, available to help understand deep ancestry.
MtDNA tests that track the female line from your mother to her mother and on back are available for those that might also wish to order these tests at group rates. This test is very useful for identifying the haplogroup of your maternal line.
FTDNA offers an autosomal DNA test called Family Finder which can help identify cousins up to five generations back for both male and female ancestors. This very popular test is the same as that offered by Ancestry and if you have already tested there or with 23 and Me, FTDNA offers a free transfer into their database.
A variety of other special tests are also available from FTDNA and they will suggest additional testing on your myFTDNA page. Sale prices are often available.
Here are some questions and answers. See the bottom of the page for a link to more information.
- How is the DNA sample obtained? By swabbing the inside of the cheek with a sterile cotton swab that is part of the test kit mailed to you by FTDNA.
- Why do we analyze the Y chromosome? The Y chromosome is the only chromosome passed unchanged from father to son, and therefore indicates the paternal line of descent. All males in a patriarchal line have the same Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is not present in females.
- What is analyzed? We look at specific parts of the Y chromosome to obtain a “signature.” Two or more males whose Y chromosome signatures match come from the same paternal line of descent. Those whose signatures do not match are from different lines.
- Exactly what does a Y chromosome match demonstrate? A Y chromosome match shows that two males have a common male ancestor. This ancestor could be their father
, or it could be a male from a thousand years ago.
- Can we analyze female descent? Yes, but not in the same way. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from the mother but, unlike the Y chromosome, it is passed to both male and female children. Mitochondrial DNA from either sex can be analyzed to see if two people have a common female ancestor. This Townsend project is offering Mitochondrial DNA testing and the mtDNA results are posted in this website.
- If no Y chromosome match is found, what does that show? It demonstrates
to a very high degree of probability that the two males analyzed do not share a male ancestor.
- Does a Y chromosome match prove this relationship? Although no evidence is ever absolutely certain, the confidence level for such a match is very high. Typically, there is less than one chance in a million or more that the demonstrated relationship is in error.
- Couldn’t it be embarrassing if an individual’s Y chromosome does not match when it is expected to? If you are uncomfortable about receiving a negative result, you may not want to participate in the YDNA test. A release form is included with each test kit authorizing the inclusion of test results in the data base
s along with an email address for the participant. These are accessible to the project administrators and participants who log in.
- Do Y chromosome analyses sometimes match, but not at every point? Yes. Over a period of many years, a small number of mutations can be counted on to appear, so there may be one or more points where the Y chromosome analysis does not match exactly. Some are less significant than others.
Where can I learn more about DNA testing and about family groups? Go to
Feel free to contact the Townsend Surname Project administrator at President@TownsendSociety.org
See TOWNSEND FAMILY GROUPS for descriptions of the different YDNA families.
Last update: July 2021