Thornton Surname DNA Project - Results

The R1 Haplogroup is the most common Haplogroup in Europe today and is thought to have originated approximately 27,000 years ago in the Asian Steppe. The R1 Haplogroup was well established in the British Isles long before the cultural practice of adopting surnames began. The R1 group of THORNTONs is extremely heterogeneous; this distribution is what would be expected if genetically unrelated people adopted surnames based on geographical location. There are two general groups of R1 individuals in our project, the vast majority being R1b1a2 (95%). The remaining individuals are R1a1 (5%). The R1b1a2 Y-chromosome lineage is the single most common European Haplogroup, while the R1a Haplogroup is associated with northern and eastern Europe.
When using the criteria of not more than a Genetic Distance of 1 within the first 12-markers, and not more than a Genetic Distance of 2 within the first 25 markers, approximately 10 subgroups of R1-THORNTONs can be identified at this time. This still leaves approximately one-third of the individuals unmatched! Some of the groups that have been formed at this point are actually fairly distantly separated; however, they almost certainly have a common ancestor in genealogical time. In the absence of more markers from the individuals that have enrolled, or more participants within each group, it will be difficult to build models for each group.
There are probably two types of R1-THORNTON lineages to reconcile. The first will be those THORNTON lines associated with historically significant figures; for example, THORNTONs that have a Coat of Arms (COA) and a geographical location associated with them. These will be the minority of the lineages. The second type will be genetically unrelated people that adopted the THORNTON surname based on their geographical location. There may be over a hundred lineages associated with the 24 different locations named Thornton when the Domesday Book was recorded. While this may seem a daunting task, Y-chromosome DNA testing readily enables this goal to become a reality. We look forward to more participants toward this end.

It was originally suggested that the I1 Haplogroup was approximately 15,000 years old and that it originated on the Iberian Peninsula. More recent evidence shows that the I1 Haplogroup is only 4,000 – 6,000 years old and that it originated in Scandinavia. Regardless, the I1 Subclade is the dominant Haplogroup in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark today. It is thought that the I1 Haplogroup maintained a strong presence on the coasts of France, Britain, Ireland, and Scotland as the result of Viking exploration & settlement. The primary group of I1-THORNTONs in our project is of the “Norse” variety; Sweden has the highest concentration of this subclade today. Several members of this group have had their Y-chromosome further characterized and have been shown to be “I1d1;" the progenitor of this subclade is thought to have originated approximately 2,700 years ago in the Oslo fiord between present day Sweden and Norway.
In the mid-to-late 1600s founders of the current Thornton “Virginia-A Group” can be found in the local records in colonial Virginia. Documents indicate that some of their names were William, Henry, Thomas, and Luke. These were the sons of Roger, Henry, Thomas and others and may have come from places like Cheshire, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northamptonshire, and Middlesex, England. The Virginia-A Group is so closely related genetically that there is still confusion on the exact relationships of the participants that have been tested. These original colonists are written up in Historical Southern Families by Mrs. John Bennett Boddie (a tome describing the ancestry of the earliest Americans). They may or may not have known each other, but the DNA testing to date proves that these Virginia-A THORNTONs were all descended from the same genetic line.
“The Gloucester Immigrant” William THORNTON first appears in the records of York County, Virginia on October 18, 1641 when he was listed as a Headright on a Land patent application by William Prior. William is seen again on May 11, 1646 when he obliged himself on paper to care for the cattle of John Liptrot. “The Immigrant” Henry Thornton is thought to be the brother of this William, although no documented proof exists; he died in Richmond County, VA c1695. Lukes first appearance in the records is in Westmoreland Co. on March 21, 1671/2 when he was assigned to inventory the estate of Thomas Foster, and on Sept 26, 1677 when he records an ear mark for livestock. Dr. Thomas Thornton was a physician in Lancaster County, VA and was born c1685.
Today, the descendants of these men are numerous and widespread in the United States. Records suggest that Immigrant William was baptized in Chorley Parish in 1622, the son of Roger THORNTON of Ryvington, Lancashire. Luke is thought by some to be the son of Immigrant William by a first marriage, although much doubt exists on a first marriage for William and no proof exists of this Luke-William relationship. Some believe that Luke was the grandson of Henry THORNTON and Martha FLOUD of Middlesex, possibly a descendant John THORNTON of Cheshire. Other participants have traced their lineage back to the southwestern corner of Northamptonshire, in the area surrounding Newnham, home of the infamous barrister Thomas THORNTON, the grandson of John THORNTON of Newnham. What makes this intriguing is that the Coat of Arms for some THORNTONs of Cheshire, Northamptonshire, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Yorkshire, Ulster (Ireland), and Cavan (Ireland) are identical:
“Argent on a bend gules, three escarbuncles Or.”
In The History of the County Palatine and City of Chester by George Ormerod the THORNTONs of Thornton-le-Moors are reported to originate from Peter, the Secretary of Randle Blundeville, Earl of Chester. Whether the Y-chromosome common to the Virginia-A Group represents that originating from Peter Le Clerc de Thorneton is completely unknown, but it certainly would go a very long way to explaining the wide distribution and homogeneity of this group.
Detailed Discussion of the Current Findings on the Virginia-A Group
The Virginia-A Groups (Group A) have been assembled according to their most distant ancestor as reported by the participant. This information was correlated with the DNA test results to form the various groups. In the event that the DNA test was in opposition to the participant’s submitted pedigree, the participant was placed in a separate group associated with the most distant ancestor reported by the participant. The only time this occurred was when there were two or more people with a mutation within the first 12-markers that was NOT found in the other members of the assigned group. There were several individuals that had a result at an STR-marker that was a hallmark of a particular ancestry; however, they reported belonging to a group that was inconsistent with this result. Again, the participant’s research received deference. The variety of haplotypes in the Virginia-A Group is primarily the result of variation at markers DYS-570 and DYS-CDYb; these are two of the four most volatile markers observed in STR-typing. Evaluation of this group based only on the first 25 markers (which removes these volatile markers) shows that only one-quarter of the participants had a single mutation - the other 75% of the participants were identical over these 25 markers (i.e., they have a Genetic Distance of zero). This is an extremely closely related group of individuals.

Groups A-1 & A-2: We have several participants that have documented lineages back to both William and Henry. Participants in these two groups share the same modal haplotype (i.e., the founding haplotypes are a perfect 67/67 marker match). The only consistent mutation distinguishing individuals in this line appears to be based on the DYS-570/24 mutation. This mutation appears to have originated in Francis’ grandson Peter [b. 1734], the son of Anthony [b. 1695].

Group A-3: There are two mutations that are characteristic of the Northamptonshire group: DYS-570/22 and DYS-446/14. It is unknown when these mutations arose but it appears that it was prior to the mid/late-1600s as the MRCA of the participants in this group is in this timeframe or earlier. Because the DYS-570/22 mutation also appears in the Luke-A group, and is generally the more volatile STR-marker, the DYS-446/14 mutation may be the hallmark of descendants within the Northamptonshire line.

Group A-4a: This is by far the largest group within Virginia-A (15 participants at this point). The modal haplotype of the Luke Sr./Jr. line has a Genetic Distance of one (1) from the William/Henry Founders and is so closely related genetically to William/Henry’s descendants that descendants of Peter [b. 1734] (above) are identical to descendants of Luke Sr. (i.e., the mutation that occurred in Peter makes them indistinguishable from descendants of Luke Sr./Jr.).

Mark1: All descendants of Mark1 [b. 1686] (Luke’s son) are characterized by the hallmark DYS-CDYb/35 mutation. This includes descendants of the infamous “Rev. Dozier THORNTON” of Van’s Creek Baptist Church in Elbert Co., GA. Only one person within the Virginia-A group with the DYS-CDYb/35 mutation believes they are not a descendant of Mark1; interestingly, this participant traces their ancestry back into the same era/area of Georgia where the Rev. Dozier was located.
Benjamin: Benjamin [b. 1776] was a great-grandson of Mark1 [b. 1686]. The DYS-442/13 mutation may be a hallmark of descendants in Benjamin’s line.
John1: John1 [b. c1716] of Lunenburg Co., VA, who married Jemima LONGWORTH [b. c1724] was a son of Mark1 [b. 1686], a grandson of Luke Sr.  By 1790 John1 moved his family into Spartanburg, SC. One of John1’s grandsons was John2 [b. 1765] who married Elizabeth CROW. Three of John2’s descendants are characterized by the rare mutation DYS-19/16; this mutation may have arisen in John2, or his father (Luke [b. 1745]), but it is clearly a hallmark of this line. This was originally denoted as Group A-4b but it has since been merged into the main Luke group (Group A-4a).

Group A-4c: This may be an independent group. These three participants share the DYS-391/10 mutation, another very stable marker. This group could possibly be related to Luke due to the fact that the participants possess the CDYb/35 mutation (a hallmark mutation of descendants of Mark1 [b. 1686]). One descendant of this group traces their line to Sanford THORNTON [b. 1798/GA].  In 1832 Sanford was a Justice of the Peace in Troup Co. Ga.  Sanford and his brother Jonathan were on the census as born in GA; they married sisters who were living in Abbeville SC.  We will need more participants to begin to deconstruct this line; however, if UK-based THORNTONs begin to participate and are found to possess the DYS-391/10 mutation, we will have to rethink the origin of this line. Regardless, the DYS-391/10 mutation will be another hallmark within the Virginia-A group.

The degree of homology among the William-Henry-Luke-Northamptonshire THORNTONs raises the question as to the origin of some of the sub-groups that may be more distantly related (e.g., those participants with mutations at the extremely stable markers DYS-19 and DYS-391).

Deep Clade Analysis
Deep clade analysis of several I1d1-THORNTONs shows that the Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) are:

P19+ / M170+ / P38+ / M258+ / M253+ / M307+ / P30+ / L22+ / P109+

P37.2- / P259- / M72- / M26- / M227- / M223- / M21- / M161-

Given these markers, and the THORNTON-STR signature, the I1d1-THORNTON branch is most consistent with the L22-N modal Haplogroup of Nordtvedt (i.e., the L22 SNP defines our MRCA with the other branches of the I1 subclades). The state of DYS-391 in the L22-N Haplogroup equals 10 (i.e., DYS-391/10). The Luke-C participants in our group are also DYS-391/10; this may suggest that the Luke-C participants represent a more distant common ancestor with the main group of I1-THORNTONs (but at the moment, as discussed above, they are believed to be descendants of Luke Sr.) The state of DYS-19 in the L22-N Haplogroup equals 14 (DYS-19/14), whereas the main group of I1-THORNTONs are DYS-19/15. While the participants that are DYS-19/16 clearly have a common ancestor, the mutation from 15 to 16 is probably a more recent event.

Results with no background color

The results with no background color do not currently have a match with any other participant or fall into a probably/possibly related genetic distance. Until such time as additional markers are tested and the Genetic Distances fall into the 'Related' range, these participants must be considered unique lineages.
The three other Haplogroups represented in the THORNTON Surname DNA Project include E, G, and J