Advancing both your Perry surname match results and your deep roots with SNPs

Admit it – most of us are “stuck” in our Perry surname research.  Some brick wall, somewhere around 1850 when the US census records began showing names of family members.  We ordered 12 and 25 marker YDNA kits, then upgraded to 37 when it became the minimum. We had some Perry matches, some close, some distant, so we upgraded to 67 and 111 markers.  Maybe even we did the Big-Y.  Still, we don’t have a good understanding of our 3 or 4th great grandfather’s connection to his origins.

We’ve heard about the SNPs, and even on our kit page it says “order M223 SNP kit” for $99 – but what is that all talking about, and why do it???

“Y-chromosome DNA SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) are not always from anthropological or even historic times. Some Y-chromosome DNA SNPs are restricted to a single family that is related in genealogical times (one to 15 generations). These are family SNPs or private SNPs. Other SNPs are slightly older. They represent paternal lineage groups that predate the adoption of a family surname. These are semi-private SNPs.” .. (from one of the FAQs).

Most SNPs are from very very long ago up the human evolution tree, and completely irrelevant to our surname times research.

So if most SNPs are very long ago, and a few are related to a single family that is related in say the last 15 generations, should I try to resolve those?  Well, the answer is maybe.  If you are a member of one of the larger sub-groups in Perry project, like group 15, we already know our surnames times Perry SNP, luckily, so let me tell you how we did it, and then maybe it may relate to others in our group.

First, let me point you to the really great tools at The Family Tree DNA Learning Center BETA site at  for the FAQs.  Please stop reading here and jump over there for an hour or so, then come back to this post.  Since we are all amateur genealogists (not even your project admins like me get paid for what we do – we have day jobs or are retired, and this is just a hobby), we must all embrace trying our best to understand the basics of DNA since we’re spending quite a sum of money on this hobby.  The DNA testing might be the largest expenditure, so we want to be wise with our money.

Perry Group 15 started with just a few matches like mentioned above – and our terminal haplogroup was listed as M-223.  In your dashboard area of your FTDNA page, it always lists your haplogroup if you have Y-DNA tested, and it also gives you hints or ideas for SNPs to test for.  But no help on whether that might be useful or a total waste of your money.  The first step we took was joining our haplogroup project in our case, I-M223 – and the project admins embraced us, and offered suggestions for SNPs to order that were not shown in our dashboard.  They have more advanced scientists types as project admins since they deal exclusively with SNPs and here in the surname projects, we’re almost exclusively STR or marker people.  We have now branched into splitting our female and male research lines (another topic later) and family finders – but for the most part, we are just testing markers and looking at how close the markers are.  (By joining our haplogroups, we are also helping advance the science of understanding the deep roots of our ancestry – where we come from, so you ARE doing something for science by doing that)

Next, we ordered I’d say about 4 SNP tests for one or more of our group 15 Perry men, and in most cases came back negative or ancestral.   The result we want is positive or derived as they say.  That means we belong to that SNP group.  The next thing is to AGE that SNP.  In other words, back to the beginning of the article – is it a SNP that is very very long ago, or within 15 generations and our Perry surname times   We LIKE those that are more current.

A word on aging SNPs.  This is a very evolving science – mostly driven by Big-Y and other deep SNP testings where they test thousands of SNPs and then match the SNPs, then they have a magic formula they apply to compare the distance of the matches regardless of surname – in other words, finding where it fits on the human evolution tree.

So, 4 of our group tested Big Y – three Perry men, and one adoptee.  They all of course matched in Big Y exactly since we had good paper trails that they were related in surname times, and all 4 had tested to 111 markers and matched to less than -4 to at least one other Perry male in our sub group.  In other words, they were positively related in surname times to begin with.  So the search for a common SNP was on.

A word about discovering new SNPs.  ISOGG administers the science of what we do, and they have standards.  A SNP is placed on the Y-Full experimental tree at only after results have been obtained, and a match is proven (usually by uploading your results to their team).  So we all had to upload our results to get that SNP identified.  We had literally thousands of SNPS identified in our Big Y tests, and they narrowed down the results with some SNP candidates.  After our 2nd or 3rd surname times Perry male got their results, a SNP was common to two or more of us and they aged it about 200-400 years.  In fact, as we are researching now, perhaps even close enough to allow us to begin our very own BRANCHING research on that SNP.  Not all of us in Group 15 related in the same branch of Perry to 200-400 years – so the SNP: Y-7641 will be used by us to check the single SNP (or the M223 SNP kit which – thanks to us – IS offered in that kit) – and we may find that only certain branches will test derived for that SNP.  Then we can test that person in the remote branch for a SNP unique to that branch – but as you may be already surmising, we’ll need a 2nd person from that branch to test so we can confirm a SNP to that branch.  We suspect two migration events to the Americas in our line – the 1500s and the he 1600s – one in New England and one in Virginia.  Our New England match is very distant to our Virginia and Canadian branchline, so that’s why we want to expand the branching – we want to understand how two Perrry men separated by 15-20 generations came to America in separate events.

Our line is beginning to connect to two other surnames in Wales it seems, so our research is heading in interesting directions.  We don’t know if the surname split occurred before or after adopted surnames – which in some countries varies.  In Wales, it was a more recent thing, in England they needed them much longer ago to differentiate – so that is our thing now – plowing into branching and the mystery of the surname split with Watkins and Wilson – both matches in Big Y but just beyond surname times.  In other words, we know what surnames to look for next to our Perry in Wales.  Field trip anyone??!!!

Let me close here by also rewarding those of you who have read this far and finding this interesting, and are a confirmed male Perry in the FTDNA Perry project, please reach out to me and I will assist you with SNP analysis/review.  I am not a scientist, and am just a hobbyist like you, but with a bit of my experiences to date, and your haplogroup administrator, we’ll guide you correctly with either a SNP to test, or a SNP kit, or Big Y if appropriate – tailored to your genealogy needs – what you hope to accomplish.  Maybe you don’t care about the deep roots, so we might focus on finding a surnames SNP for your group.  If you are not grouped, the job is tougher, but still, looking at SNPs might help you group yourself with a surname that has some relevance.   We’re glad to help you with this additional free service.  Please know that during certain times of the year, depending on workload, there may be delays in helping you – I am a tax CPA in the US, and most of what I can do to help you has to occur later in year.  For now, you can begin by doing your homework at the FAQs, join your haplogroups and reaching out to them for recommendations, then contact me.

Yours in genealogy:

Doug Klein



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