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About us

The Burness DNA Project is intended to complement the more traditional records-based research on the Burness family found at www.burness.ca. Since surnames such as Burness generally follow the male line of descent, and Y-DNA is inherited only through the male line, Y-DNA tests can be used to determine if different branches of the Burness family are descended from a common ancestor in the direct male line. The project is open to any male with surname Burness,or evidence of direct paternal descent from a male with surname Burness.

Based on research in available records, it appears that most people with the surname Burness around the world can trace their paternal ancestry back to the former county of Kincardineshire in Scotland. However, for a variety of reasons old Scottish records are not sufficient to prove whether or not various branches of the Burness family are related:

  1. Not all parish records have survived. For example, Walter Burness who died in 1670 lived in the parish of Glenbervie, but existing records for Glenbervie only start in the 1720’s, so there are no records for any of his children or grandchildren born in Glenbervie.

  2. Many baptisms were never recorded, often due to avoidance of fees payable to register a baptism, or lax record keeping.

  3. Marriage records almost never gave parent’s names.

  4. Early baptism records sometimes omitted the mother’s name.

  5. There were a limited number of first names used and no middle names, so there could often be several men with the same name in a parish having children around the same time.

As a result, research based on Scottish records leaves several dozen branches that originated in Scotland, with no proven connection between them. In addition, there are branches of the Burness family in England or America, some of which may be related to Scottish branches.

By having at least one male from each branch of the Burness family take a Y-DNA test, it will be possible to prove which branches of the Burness family are connected in the male line. Please see the Results tab for an analysis of results to date.