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About us

Have you reached that proverbial "brick wall" in your search for ancestors? Join the thousands of genealogists who are making new connections through genetics.

The Griffi(th)(n)(s)(ng) DNA Surname Project was formed to help sort out the many branches of Griffith, Griffin, Griffis families and find connections in the absence of primary documentation. Our project continues to grow, adding about three new participants each month. If your surname is Griffith or one of its variants, join us and help build the genetic map of our Celtic heritage.

While a surname itself may give us incomplete or misleading or, at best, only general information about the origin of a family, DNA-testing can give us concrete evidence for identifying and separating family lines. Y-chromosome DNA testing is especially helpful because the male Y-chromosome is handed down, father to son, unchanged through the generations, except for rare mutations which, in themselves, can be helpful indicators of branching. The accessibility and affordability of family DNA testing is doubtless the greatest technical advance in the history of genealogical research because -- at long, long last -- we have a tool to break down those brick walls!

Many Griffins and Griffith(s) trace their patrilineal heritage back to Ireland.  In the Irish language, the name is written Ó Gríobhtha or O‘Gríobhtháin (O’Griffy or O’Griffin) but its origin is unknown. The English spelling was usually left to the judgment of those priests and other officials who first tried to capture the Irish sounds in a Latin script, so “Griffin” and “Griffith” were often used interchangeably. The form “Griffiths” with terminal “s” is much less common in Ireland.

The names Griffy and O’Griffy are associated particularly with County Clare, while one large group of Griffins comes from County Kerry.  Many of these belong to the haplogroup R-L1335 (the "Scots Cluster“) and descend from a family of Scottish "Gallowglass“ warriors. The ancestors of a different  group of R-S424 Griffins (the so-called "Little Scottish Cluster“) may also have been Scottish mercenaries.

Other Griffins and Griffiths arrived in Ireland from England and Wales, some of them possibly with the Normans, who invaded Ireland in the 12th Century. 

Thousands of Irish Griffins and Griffiths left  their homeland to  seek a better life elsewhere. One of the first groups of emigrants went to Canada in the early 19th Century. The famine of the 1840’s forced many more to move to the United States, especially to Philadelphia and Boston, and – somewhat later – others followed the lure of gold to Australia and New Zealand.

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