To Define and Verify Family
Lines and Connections
This project is organized, administered, and paid for by family
for the purpose of linking ourselves to the past.
We have no commercial interest in any
However we recommend testing at Family Tree
What is Genetic
The purpose of this
project is to analyze Y chromosome DNA of males with the surnames
Darsey, Darcy, Dawsey, Dossey, and D'Arcy to learn more about the
interconnections between and within families of those
surnames. In our culture, surnames are handed from father to son.
Happily, a father also passes a copy of his Y chromosome, virtually intact, to all
of his sons.
This makes the Y chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) a kind of biochemical signature
for the surname. In the last ten years or so, (relatively inexpensive)
procedures have been developed to characterize specific segments of the
Y chromosome DNA. Now there is a growing movement within the
genealogy community to utilize this procedure to compare the
characteristics of the Y-DNA segments to identify and define patrilineal
the surname is beholden to the vagaries of spelling skills, accents,
"non-paternal events", and invented genealogies, its partner in
inheritance, the Y chromosome stays relatively consistent and is a much
more reliable gauge for grouping individuals and families into their
males carry the Y chromosome, our study will, by necessity, be limited to
(or anyone who suspects he is). Figure 1 illustrates the way the Y chromosome is passed down
through four generations.
Male sharing Y chromosome via an
link with a common ancestor
Male with Y chromosome from outside the paternal line
1 The Path of Y Chromosome DNA Through Four Generations
other 45 chromosomes do not share this exclusive trait and are mixed and
shuffled at each generation so that any information about the source of
ancestral DNA is lost. In answer to a frequently asked question,
the Y chromosome of a woman's son will not carry any information about
her paternal line as he will have the Y chromosome of his father.
For more information about the science of DNA testing for genealogy,
Molecular Genealogy. From there you will find links to more
detailed explanations in case you want to fill in any gaps in your
knowledge about DNA. Another
excellent site for learning about the use of DNA testing for genealogy is
John Blair's DNA 101
It is a curiosity of
the Dorsey surname that it is found primarily in the United States and
Canada (ranking 604th with a frequency of about .02 in the general
English families use the name Darcy or D'Arcy almost exclusively as do
some US families (ranking 13816 together in the US).
Also found in
the United States are the less common Dossey
(ranking 20939th) and Dawsey
Other spellings and misspellings include
Dorcey, Dorcy, Dorcie, Darsey, Darsy, Darsie, Darcy, Darcey, Darcie,
D'Arcy, Dossey, Dossie, Dosy. . . The
misinterpretation of the early American way of writing the letter "s"
has even led to the name being indexed as Dawfey for three 1790 census
In many cases, these spellings are reflective of the phonics skills
of census takers and other clerical workers of the 18th and 19th
centuries and multiple spellings can be found sprinkled through
legal documents of one individual or one family line or even the same
Consequently, anyone who is researching one of these surnames must,
by necessity, study them all. And, for this reason,
this DNA project must take the cumbersome title: The
Dorsey/Darsey/Darcy/Dawsey/Dossey/D'Arcy DNA Project.
It is with heartfelt apologies to those of the other five surnames that
we often shorten the name to The Dorsey DNA Project for convenience.
It is your project as well and we welcome and encourage participants
from all variant surnames.
Information about the
Dorseys in the public record has been extensively mined
and reported, but, for many, their connections remain a tangled mystery.
The 1880 census enumerates 3530 white males with the surname
Dorsey. Of those, 457 were
born in Ireland, 33 in Canada, 20 in England, 18 in France, and a
smattering from eight other countries. The remainder were US born
and of those many had wandered far by 1880 and little documentation exists to connect them to their origins. Add to this
number, 716 white males by the name Darsey, 74 by the name
Dawsey, and 54 with the
name Dossey. The same
1880 census reports 2445 black males with the surname
Dorsey, 105 named
Dawsey, 88 named
Darsey and 44 with variants
of the surname Dossey. Presumably some of these men were descendants of the
large group of Dorseys from colonial Maryland, some descended from
other immigrant Dorsey
lines, while others took the name
Dorsey (or some variant) after the Civil War.
Some questions about the Dorsey and other variant surnames
that we hope to answer with this project are:
How many different common male
ancestors are associated with the Dorsey/Dawsey/Dossey/D'Arcy
How are the different
(and other variant spellings) family lines related (or not related)?
Are all Dorseys from an
ancestral country related, or are there an assortment of different
Dorsey et al families within each country?
Can a connection be made between
the descendants of the American Immigrant Edward Darcy-Dorsey and any specific English or
Can a connection between the
Dorseys from Ireland and the Dorseys from England be made?
Which Dorsey researchers should be
collaborating because they share a common ancestor?
Though a bit vague and heavily reliant on
statistics, an analysis of the mutations in the Y-chromosome can also be
used to estimate the "Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)" in terms of
number of generations since the separation occurred.
The Dorsey DNA Project invites
all men with the
(including all variant spellings)
to participate. This
project is being coordinated by Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). FTDNA is a Houston, TX
based company founded strictly for performing genealogical DNA testing and
analysis. All work is done in the lab of Dr. Michael Hammer of the
University of Arizona. Dr. Hammer is a highly respected geneticist
who is actively pursuing DNA surname research and other areas of
population genetics. As part of the Family
Tree DNA Family Reconstruction Project Program we have obtained the
following prices for our project:
Y-DNA 12-marker test $99
Y-DNA 25-marker test $124
Y-DNA 37-marker test $149
Y-DNA 67-marker test $239
We strongly advise
the 37 marker test. The 67 marker test is better yet
and may be
necessary for defining various lines from a common ancestor.
However, if cost is an issue, even the 12 marker test may be sufficient
for excluding connections for some lines. The DNA connected with some of our
Dorsey lines happens to have several unusual marker values among those
included in the 12 marker test.
Matches of unusual markers are exciting because they greatly reduce the
chances that a match between two or more individuals is the result of a
random coincidence thus adding credence to a hypothesis of a recent common
ancestor. Other Dorsey
lines lack a significant number of unique markers making the 37 or even 67 marker
test necessary to verify that matches are not the result of random
directed, Family Tree DNA retains all DNA samples in storage so that
additional markers can be measured after the initial testing (with
no need for another DNA collection). Prices for upgrades at this
time (August 2009) are:
Y-DNA-Refine (upgrade 12-marker test to 25-markers) $49
Y-DNA-Refine (upgrade 12 marker test to 37 markers) $99
Y-DNA-Refine (upgrade 12 marker test o 67 markers) $189
Y-DNA-Refine (upgrade 25-marker test to a 37 marker test) $49
Y-DNA-Refine (upgrade 25 marker test to 67 markers) $148
Y-DNA-Refine upgrade 37 marker test to 67 markers) $99
Coordinator is Family Tree DNA's direct link to the project. The
Project Coordinator for
the Dorsey DNA Project is a Lineage III descendent of Andrew Dorsey (MD >
Results will be returned
to the Project Coordinator and the participant as they are received by FTDNA. Each
participant will also receive a certificate and report containing his
personal test results. In addition, information on test analysis
relative to other participants and groups will be
published on this website. I will be happy to discuss individual
results as they relate to other results from the group.
males (and those with other variant surnames) are invited to participate in the Dorsey
DNA Project. Females do not have
a Y-chromosome. However, they can participate by recruiting a
direct male line Dorsey/Dawsey/Dossey/Darcy/D'Arcy relative (father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin)
as their proxy. The Family Tree DNA test kit consists of three cheek
scrapers and three
collection tubes (all to be used by the same person). The kit also includes
instructions for collecting three DNA samples at at least eight
hour time intervals and a release form allowing
for sharing information with others with matching results. (This release
form is optional.) The
sampling technique is painless and only involves the use of a swab to
collect a small sample of cells from the inside of the cheek. This
collection can be done in your own home. One of our very enthusiastic participants, Bob Dorsey, has provided an
informative and entertaining "photo journal" of his DNA Collection for our
project. Don't miss Bob's
DNA Collection Report .
Each participant will collect his sample and return the kit, along with
payment by check or credit card, to Family Tree DNA.
Remember the DNA for
your test must be from a male with the surname Dorsey or a known or
suspected variant spelling or from a male who suspects his (or an
ancestor's) name has been changed FROM Dorsey to another name.
If you are a Dorsey
male (or a male with one of the many variant forms of this name) who has
tested with another DNA Testing company, in most cases, we will be happy
to include your results in this project.
Please contact the
project administrator for more details. We also welcome transfers
from the National Genographic Project which can be made through Family
Only the person providing a DNA sample and the Family Coordinator will
know what his results are (unless the participant decides he would like to
share that information - see Sharing Results below). An ID number and
password will be assigned to each sample by Family Tree DNA.
Only the test sample and the ID number are forwarded to the testing lab. No one other than the coordinator
and a clerical person at FTDNA will know who participates in the study or
which result is from which person.
An incredible amount
of human DNA serves no known function. If you were to think of the all the
human DNA together as a book of instructions for making a human (written
in English for the sake of this discussion:), a large part of the writing
would be gibberish--random letters in random order. Sometimes the letters
would form little patterns and repeat themselves (seemingly)
meaninglessly. Buried in the gibberish, you would find words that, with
careful study, you could dissect out and arrange into a meaningful
message. Over 95% of human DNA is not functional. Some geneticists
even refer to these areas of the DNA as "junk DNA." (Others suggest the
"gibberish" is functional and we just haven't figured out what the
The DNA tests
that are done for genealogical purposes examine parts of the DNA molecule
that do not code for any trait--the "junk DNA". There will be NO
information about physical characteristics or other inherited traits in
When test results are
posted on this website, no names of living people will be included.
Each test result is posted under the name of the earliest known
ancestor. Of course, participants must help by supplying enough
information to determine the name and hopefully dates and geographical
location of at least his most recent non-living ancestor.
leads to the topic of:
As pointed out above,
DNA analysis can help answer the question :
Which Dorsey researchers should be collaborating because they share a
However, to collaborate effectively, the participants
will need to know each others identities. All participants are encouraged, but not
required, to provide contact information to the other project members so they
can share information. In many cases, the contact person may not
be the person providing the DNA sample but rather someone who is
researching the provider's line. After the DNA analysis results are posted and participants have
the opportunity to review their results compared to others, we hope
participants (or their representatives) will release contact information
for further collaboration.
A Final Word of Caution
There is always a
possibility that your DNA will not match the expected line--perhaps
nullifying years of traditional genealogical research. Samples that vary significantly from the group they are
expected to match
may do so for a number of reasons.
The advent of the
Internet has brought powerful search engines and a growing collection of
online records--some scans of original records, some transcripts made by
generous individuals, some databases provided by commercial companies.
Almost all of us have found a record (or more!) that is inconsistent
with some highly lauded genealogy prepared by an early twentieth century
researcher who worked without the luxuries of the digital age.
And, sadly, there has been a proliferation of poorly researched online
trees that have propagated many mistaken conclusions. DNA has
brought to light a number of these mistakes and help researchers refocus
their efforts in the right direction.
Even a well
researched genealogy may not reflect the reality of
a “nonpaternal event” at an unknown past time. There are several
possible types of nonpaternal events besides a maternal indiscretion.
For example, a child may have been adopted at an early age and given the Dorsey name
though the adoption was never officially recorded.
Adoptions have been common in every age, i.e.. parents died by disease
or war and a relative took in the children and raised them with their
name; or young daughters had a child out of wedlock and the parents
raised it as their own. A man may have taken the
Dorsey name when he married a Dorsey daughter. A Dorsey man may have
married a pregnant widow and the child given the name Dorsey. A couple
whose wife's maiden name was Dorsey may choose to give their children the Dorsey
name for various reasons. Particularly in early America, new
identities were often taken for a variety of reasons and family ties
severed. Clerical error in public documents may assign a
to the wrong person, and so on.
The number of surname DNA projects are
growing rapidly. Family Tree DNA provides an optional matching
service for people to look for matches among other surnames. In
addition, there is a growing public database at
www.ysearch.org in which you can enter
your result to try to match up with other people who share your Y
chromosome signature. However, at the present time, those databases
are far too small to produce magical matches to people whose DNA may have
strayed from its original surname. In time, however, it even may be
possible for those individuals to search a database and discover their Y
chromosome DNA's original surname. In fact, a few fortuitous matches
have already been made that, particularly in the case of unusual DNA
signatures and supporting documents in the public record, have
identified or confirmed past name changes.
While these discoveries
may be disappointing at first, most researchers eventually dig
right in and, in many cases, using clues from their DNA matches, create
new and accurate genealogies for their lines.
frequencies from: US Census Bureau, “Frequently
Occurring First Names and Surnames From the 1990 Census”, datasbase
online, http://www.census.gov/genealogy/www/freqnames.html searched,
February 25, 2006