Milley Males Y-DNA Project

Discovering Connections
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About us

According to the House of Names website, the name Milley is Gaelic in origin and comes from O Maolmhuaidh based on the word “muadh” which means "noble" and "big and soft.". The surname likely originated in County Offaly, Ireland and from there it appears to have spread around the world as part of the Irish diaspora.

According to the genealogy site Geneanet, there are now Milley families recorded in the following countries:

·      France

·      United States

·      United Kingdom

·      Australia

·      Canada

·      Ireland

·      New Zealand

·      Sweden

·      Portugal

·      Netherlands

·      Belgium

·      Germany

·      Algeria

·      Morocco

·      Indonesia

·      Denmark

·      Egypt


One of these Milley diaspora families ended up as early settlers, called “planters” on the shores of Conception Bay,Newfoundland in the mid 18th century. Here they worked to make a living in the new world as part of the Newfoundland in-shore cod fishery. The term “planter” was to distinguish them from the seasonal fisherman who returned to their homes in England and Ireland during the harsh winter months.   

In 1804, in an effort to regulate disputes among the fisherman staying year-round on the shores of Newfoundland, regarding possession and rights of fishing rooms, beaches, flakes and land, Newfoundland’s Governor, Erasmus Gower, ordered an inventory to be taken of all fishing related property within 200 yards from the high-water mark. The claims of every merchant,planter, and boat keeper to the land he occupied were to be clearly defined. This official register, called the “Plantations Book” would then be used as evidence in any disputes that would arise.

The earliest entries recorded in the Plantations Book include these references to some of the first Milley settlers in Newfoundland:

Growing up in the 1970’s in rural Newfoundland, Canada I was surrounded by many Milley cousins but I would hear countless stories of other uncles, aunts and cousins who had left Newfoundland in pursuit of work and better opportunities in mainland Canada or eastern United States.

For the past 20 years I have been diligently researching and documenting the Milleys who trace their roots back to Newfoundland in order to better understand my families place in this larger community of Milley families. I have scoured the historical records, read the obituarys, studied the family trees, talked to older family members and compiled a database with thousands of Milley names.     

More recently, in 2018, I had my first DNA test and the results of that test and one additional test since shows that most Milleys in Newfoundlnd, mainland Canada and eastern United States can all trace their roots back to the same very small geographic area in Conception Bay, Newfoundland with place names like Western Bay, Burnt Point, Blackhead and Northern Bay. Where they came from before settling in Newfoundland is still very much a mystery. Family legend has it that the Milleys came from Jersey or Guernsey in the English Channel. Maybe so as we know many of the early settlers were from those places. Or did they come directly from Ireland as the Y-DNA suggests we are ethnically Irish? Or did we arrive in Newfoundland via another country after leaving Ireland at some point. Its interesting to note that according to the genealogy site, Geneanet, the country with largest number of indexed individuals with the Milley surname is France.

The historical records in Conception Bay, Newfoundland pre-1816 are virtually non-existent and so the question of Milley origins will likely only be answered through Y-DNA testing and the sharing of knowledge.