A Burnett-Crowder-Crump-Saunders Project for Closely-Related Males

I have received the Big-Y test results from ftdna.com and they have designated my haplogroup as Z59, based on my being positive for that SNP (and the SNPs that preceded it in time designated as I1 M253, DF29 and Z58, but negative for Z60 and the later SNPs. Additionally, one of my vikingsandvirginians.com contributors, Justin Sanders, who also took the Big-Y test has also been designated as Z59.

I have corresponded with an expert on Big-Y, who will be analyzing my results more closely.

While awaiting the test results and analysis,  I discovered a way to use accumulated y-dna “relationship” data available from the ftdna y-dna surname projects to create a list of approximately five dozen people who y-dna testing has demonstrated are closely related to me.

This is a “connect the dots” exercise. To do it, I joined four ftdna surname projects – for the surnames Burnett, Crowder, Crump and Saunders. Once part of those surname projects, I was able to use the ftdna results to determine which records were closely related to me and which ones were much more distantly related.

The question might be raised as to why I chose those surnames, when my own surname is “Burnett”. The answer is, that in each case a major y-dna testing firm gave me a giant clue as to where to look.

My first clue came from the Sorensen Molecular Research Foundation, which I understand  no longer exists as an independent entity. I had submitted my y-dna test results to them and they replied that I belonged with the “Saunders” surname group.

This was very instructive, because longstanding family lore (at that time controversial within the family) that my great-great-great grandfather, who was born in 1807, was a Saunders, even though his surname was Burnett.

The story had some verisimilitude, because my supposed GGGG grandfather Williamson Burnett had repudiated the patrimony of three of sons of his estranged wife, Priscilla, in his will. The three disinherited sons (or would-be stepsons)  when they came of age were apprenticed to Julius Saunders. As a result of the Sorensen MRF pronouncement, cousins descended from each of the three dishinherited brothers took y-dna tests and it was confirmed we are all closely related. It is no longer a controversy within the family.

The second big clue came from ancestry.com, from whom I took a 67-STR marker y-dna test (when they were still in that business). Ancestry.com reported back to me that I was closely related to persons named Kerley and Crump. I was able to get into contact with Anthony Crump. Over the years he has worked with me and contributed to the vikingsandvirginians.com research. Anthony and I have taken y-dna SNP tests  and have increasing evidence that our hypothesis that our ancestors’ relationship dates at least to 12th century England has a high probability of being true. The fact that our ancestors arrived in Tidewater Virginia in the 17th century reinforces the idea that there existed concerted activity between those ancestors, likely a common (or even a family) interest in seafaring and mercantile activities.

The third clue was provided by ftdna.com, with whom I had taken a 111-STR marker test, as had Anthony Crump and a man surnamed Crowder. As expected, they confirmed that Anthony and I had a Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) within historic/genealogical time. What was unexpected, ftdna.com reported that Mr Crowder and myself had an MRCA even closer in time. In searching various genealogical records, I discovered that the Crowder surname appears in marriages between the Crowder and Saunders families in Virginia. Both families (and others in my maternal ancestral lines surnamed Johnson, Moorman, etc.) were involved in Quaker monthly meetings in Bedford County, Lynchburg and other centers of Quaker activity in Virginia.

I had corresponded with one of Williamson Burnett’s descendants (a letter that I will post in the future) as to whether any of Williamson’s male descendents whose paternity by Williamson is undisputed have taken a y-dna test. While that line of inquiry is being researched, it occurred to me to look at the Burnett surname project comparative y-dna data.

Examining the Y-DNA Classic Chart for the Burnett surname was revelatory. There was a cluster of 11 persons (other than myself) that were in my haplogroup I1-M253. In examining the STR value at DYS455, every one of us in 1-M253 group had STR455=8. Every other person had STR455=11 or 12. I corresponded with a ftdna group administrator  (expert) who, said, that because STR455 changes very slowly, that I was on relatively safe ground assuming that the males surnamed Burnett identified as I-1 253 haplogroup with DYS=8 were closely related, while those in other haplogroups whose DYS455 values were 11 or above were not closely related to us.

Several of these Burnett-surnamed males listed as their oldest known male ancestor Burnett ancestors who were born in the mid-18th century or earlier. Their research may well have correctly identified the descendancy of their surname, but not their y-dna ancestry. I believe that every Burnett-surnamed male in the ftdna Burnett surname project with DYS455=8 is descended from Priscilla Burnett, wife of Williamson Burnett of Bedford County, but is not descended from Williamson.

It then occurred to me to look for related persons in the Saunders, Crowder and Crump surname projects. There, indeed, were lots of Crumps and Saunders with DYS455=8 who were haplogroup I-M253 or its descendants (I was previously listed as Z58+, because I was positive for that SNP test – I had been tested for Z59+ as well, but that is with a different company and was not included in the ftdna charts before my ftdna Big-Y results became available.)

However, there were also lots of Crumps and Saunders who were not closely related. I believe this helps the research as well, and has the potential to reinforce our hypothesis that the DYS455=8 group within these two families were associated with each other for a period that may have lasted for centuries.

But what about the Crowders? There were two of that group that met my DYS455=8 and I1-M253 haplogroup criteria. This suggests to me that in the past two or three hundred years that a boy who was sired by a Saunders was adopted by a Crowder and was given that surname. Because of the close association with Virginia Quakers, it is not impossible to identify exactly what happened when and where. However, there are now two males in the Crowder surame project (besides myself who joined the project to discover  y-dna matches) who would benefit from joining me, Anthony Crump and others on some collaborative research on the y-dna line.

I will alert the surname project administrators of this initiative. If you’ve come across this post and wish to correspond with me on the subject, write me at ffvsearch@yahoo.com.



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