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About us

The test results received so far on the Gay Family DNA Study appear to document at least three different branches of the Gay family in America. For classification purposes, these groups have been numbered and unique DNA characteristic are highlighted, as follows:

GROUP #1: Members of this group appear to share DNA with descendants of Henry Gay of Isle of Wight County, in the Tidewater region of Virginia. It is believed this family came to Virginia from England.

Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 12; 447 marker = 24.

GROUP #2: At least one of this group's members traces its origins back to John Gay of Dedham, Mass. It is believed that this family came to Massachusetts from England.

Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 14; 459a marker = 8.

GROUP #3: This group, unlike Group #1 and Group#2 who suspect their roots go back to England, appears to trace its roots back to Ireland or Scotland. This group has also has more unique DNA characteristics in comparison to Groups #1 and 2. In fact, two of its markers commonly appear in people who trace their ancestry to northern Ireland or Scotland. These markers are the YCA IIa and YCA IIb. In people of Group #3, these markers are 19-19, which is considered very rare by geneticists. Most R1b's have a 19-23 in these markers, including the members of Group #1 and Group #2. So this is a very distinguishing characteristic for Group #3. The members of this group are also genetically matching very closely to people with different surnames like McCain, Henry, Duncan, and MacLea - all of whom traced their deep ancestry (pre-1400AD) to Ireland or Scotland. It's suspected that these families may have at one time, before surnames were established, been part of a single Irish or Scottish clan.

Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 13; 459b marker = 9; 437 marker = 15; 448 marker =19; YCA IIb marker = 19.

NOTE: We are also interested in additional members of the current branches to test their DNA so we can understand these branches better. So we encourage those who have not been tested, to please do so. If you have any question about who is appropriate to get tested, please contact Lee Gay, the Project Coordinator, at

In addition to the branches mentioned above, the Gay Family DNA Study is actively searching for the following:

- Descendants of John Gay of Dedham, Massachusetts.

- Descendants of William Gay and Elizabeth Bolling. Elizabeth Bolling was a direct descendant of Pocahontas and this family lived in the Henrico/Chesterfield Co. area of Virginia

REMINDER: If you have already tested and have your results, be sure to upload them to ySearch. This can be done from the results page at FamilyTree DNA.
Feel free to discuss this project on the Gay Family Forum
Click here to place an order for a DNA test at Family Tree DNA
Participating in a Surname DNA Project provides:

- A report on the participant's genetic DNA, which is very close (and sometimes identical) to the earliest known ancestor
- A classification of the participant's "deep" ancestry, which gives insight into the prehistoric origins of your surname ancestors
- A sense of camaraderie with all who participate in the Gay Family DNA Project, which is particularly strong for those who share a genetic ancestry
- Stimulation to family research and sharing of information
- A wider sense of identity and relationship, as we begin to realize how much we are a world family.
- A chance to compare your genetic ancestry with those of the Gay surname and the variant spellings
- Locates the genetic matches that do not share your common surname