The Gorman DNA Project

  • 130 members

About us

The Gorman DNA Project is made up of several very distinct subgroups of Gormans, who are not all related to each other.  This diversity within the surname is a result of at least two possibilities (and probably both):

(1) The surname has multiple independent origins.

(2) Many of the people who are now named Gorman obtained that name due to a "non-paternal event" (as it is known in the genealogical lingo) that caused somebody's name to change from their family's original name.  Some examples of events that can lead to such a change are adoption, infidelity, war (with captives or conquered peoples adopting the surname of their conqueror), divorce or death of a father (followed by the mother renaming her children to her maiden name), remarriage (followed by the children taking on the surname of the new father), a father voluntarily changing his surname (e.g., after emigrating, or to change his surname to his wife's), or several other causes.  These events are far more frequent than most people realize, and it is likely that many of us in the Gorman project originally came from families with a different surname, perhaps many centuries ago.  Today though, we are all Gormans, so be proud to bear the name, wherever it originated in your family!

I highly recommend that anybody who has only tested at the 12- marker level (FTDNA's YDNA12 test) should upgrade to a minimum of 37 markers.  67 or 111 markers is far better, and most serious family researchers will eventually upgrade to one of the latter two levels.  You can save a lot of time and expense by starting with this upgrade, rather than upgrading in steps.  There are several reasons for this recommendation:

(1) It is possible to be a perfect 12/12 match with somebody, yet not be closely related to them (or even distantly related).  It is a common occurrence for people who were previously 12/12 matches to "lose the match" when they test more markers, because they only happened to match on the first 12 markers by random chance (or genetic "convergence").  A close match with 37, 67, and especially 111 markers is far less likely to happen by chance, and an upgrade is the best way to confirm a tentative 12-marker match.

(2) The converse is also possible, that a mismatch on a 12-marker test (causing somebody to fail to appear at all in your list of matches) can turn into a match when more markers are tested.  This has personally happened to me with at least one of the Gorman project participants. There is another project member right now, who does not appear at all in my results list at FTDNA, due to his disparate 12-marker test results, who I have confirmed to be a distant relative of mine after examining his pedigree.  Using an extreme example, if somebody is only a 9/12 match on a 12-marker test (75% of the markers match), they will not show up at all on the list of matches on your FTDNA personal page.  If that person then upgrades to a 67-marker test, and the remaining markers are a perfect match, they now become a 64/67 match (96% of the markers match), which is highly significant and indicates a near-certain relation.  Though an example this extreme is not especially likely to happen with numbers like these, it does serve to illustrate a possible outcome.  Had I stopped testing at 12 markers, I would have never discovered any DNA matches, and I would now be wondering why nobody in the world seems to be my kin!

(3) The more markers you test, the more accurately you can narrow down the confidence level for the time to your most recent common ancestor (TMRCA).  While testing more markers will not increase your relatedness to somebody per se, it will help you say with a greater confidence level, that, for example, you shared a common ancestor with him in the last 5 generations.  For example, instead of the chance of a common ancestor within that timeframe being only 50%, you might be able to increase those odds to, say, 90%, if the markers continue to match as more markers are tested.  Please be aware, however, that estimates of TMRCA's are only statistical tools, and no degree of testing will allow you to identify the year when your common ancestor lived.  That's where supplementing your DNA data with conventional paper trails come into play.

Family Tree DNA changed some of the privacy settings on kits, and your setting may have been downgraded. That’s easy to change. Please check to see if your Project Preferences are set to at least “Limited,” and if not, please change them.  This article by blogger and long-time group  project administrator Roberta Estes details the changes and provides step-by-step instructions on how to view and change your settings:

Without at least Limited access, assisting you with your results and correlating your information with that of the rest of the project is nearly impossible. 

Please also be sure that you’ve opted in to project sharing so that your Y-DNA and mtDNA results can be shown in the public-facing portion of the project. (There is currently no public interface for Family Finder tests.) No contact information is displayed: just your kit number and your Earliest Known Ancestor. 

Genetic genealogy is about collaboration and sharing, and projects function as “cousin bait,” encouraging people to test. More testers mean more potential matches. Instructions for opting in to public sharing are in the same article. 

If you have already set the privacy levels to “Limited” or “Advanced” for the administrators of the groups in which you are enrolled, and you have opted to share your DNA results then no need to respond to this email. Please take a few minutes to log on and confirm the settings are correct and if you need assistance, let your us know or contact the Group Projects team at FamilyTreeDNA by choosing the "Group" option on the Contact Form. 

It is very important to help get as many new members into the project as possible, to help tease apart the relationships between the various lineages shown in the results page.  If you discover a DNA match to you, please encourage him to join the project!  Furthermore, if your paper trail research has identified any distant cousins and you are able to make contact with them (I can help suggest ways to discover and make contact with such people), please encourage them to join.  This will help you confirm that they are indeed kin (paper trails can be very misleading at times!), and will also help determine where mutations in your lineage may have occurred.  For the latter purpose, the more distant the cousin, the better. 

This Project's website is now hosted at  The website formerly hosted at has been migrated to Family Tree DNA.