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The Collins DNA project is open to men with the Collins surname or a relevant variant. Enrollment requires a Y-DNA STR (short tandem repeat marker) sample by a male tester with a project surname. Large-scale SNP tests such Geno 2.0 and The Big Y do not qualify by themselves without STR testing. (Some terminal SNP testing could later prove useful to distinguish lineages once sufficient STR testing is in place.)

Alternative surnames and spellings include: Colin, Collin, Collen(s), Callen(s), Caullens, Collings, Collis, Caullings, Caullins, Cullen.

The primary aim of the project is to promote Y-DNA testing as an enhancement to genealogical and family history research. Y testers are given highest priority for project recruitment and fund raising - and genealogical research assistance, when possible. Broader categorizations by haplogroup, and deep SNPs, are of secondary interest. The project does not analyze mitochondrial DNA or autosomal DNA, though researchers are encouraged to take those tests if they think it will enhance their Collins research.

Because the Collins name is ubiquitous, having your Family Tree in place in your Family Tree DNA account is a requirement. Names, dates (even approximate ones), locations, and spouses are details that will help distinguish your Collins line from another.

This project website is hosted on For further details about this project website, the mechanics of navigating it, and further tips on getting the most out of this project, view the bottom of this page. Further tips can be found on the Join Project page.

There are several companies that do genealogy DNA testing. This project is administered through Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). To join the project, purchase a Y test at FTDNA. If you want to transfer results from another lab, purchase a transfer product with upgrade.  The low-end transfer product will not get you matches, and if you decide later you want them you will end up having to purchase the full-blown product.

COLLINS in Great Britain

See the Great Britain Surnames Public Profiler and click on Start a surname search at the top. Enter Collins, click 1881, then Find.

The areas showing the greatest Collins name density (dark blue) are: Truro (Cornwall), Worcester, Salisbury, Guildford, Hempstead, Rochester, and Southall and Tonbridge (parts of Greater London). At the top of the map page, click on Map of 1998 to see a more recent distribution.

Collings is concentrated in Plymouth and Torquay.

Collen is concentrated in Cambridge (East Anglia). Collens is concentrated in Bromley (part of Greater London).

Some sources on English surnames suggest that Collins is a double diminutive of Nicholas. The progression modifying the surname is roughly: Nicholas, Nichol, Nicholls, Nicholson, Nickson, Nixon, Cole, Colet, Colson, Collins*, Collison, Glascock, Glasson. 1

The French name Colline "a hill" may also be a source of the name in Great Britain. 2

Other sources cite St. Nicholas as the source of the surname but also suggest that 'Colin' came to us through the Normans, with '-on' or '-in' being the diminutive suffix. From that we get Collins, Collinson, Coleson. 3

It may be a stretch, but Collen "a hazelgrove" in Welsh could be another source of the surname.

The source of the Collins surname in Scotland is not yet clear, but could be from Ulster in Northern Ireland (below).

Collins has been well represented in the midlands and southwest. Collings is seen more in the southwest, and has been linked to Collins. 4

COLLINS in Ireland

There aren't many Irish surnames with such an emotional connection to them as Collins, which stirs up memories of Cork-born Michael Collins, the I.R.A. leader and finance minister of the new Irish government in the second and third decades of the 20th century.

University College of Cork (UCC) publishes a map showing the distribution of the Collins surname by civil parish throughout Ireland. The data was extracted from Griffith's Valuation, a mid-19th century Ireland land survey. West Cork and Limerick in Munster contain the greatest densities of Collinses (dark red), along with another high density area near Galway - hypothetically a different sept to the Munster groups.

Biographies suggest that his line came from the Ó Coileáin, who were among the people driven from Limerick down into Cork due to pressures exerted by the Normans. This migration of Limerick people occurred around 1200 A.D. The people from Limerick constitute the majority of the Collinses of County Cork. the Collins surname in Cork could in part be accounted for by the Ó Cuileán (often anglicized as Cullen), a family in the tuath of Ui Aenghusa (O'Hennessy) of the ancient Corca Laidhe tribe. 5 The Ui Aenghusa were situated approximately around Drinagh and Kilmacabea civil parishes in west Cork. Such surname absorption would not be unusual, and has also been proposed for other Cork surnames such as Donovan and (Mc)Carthy. In each case, a group migrated into Cork and mingled with the existing Corca Laidhe people. Y-DNA testing is an extremely powerful tool that could distinguish these different groups and lend support to (or refute) these theories.

Edward MacLysaght notes Collis as a diminutive of Nicholas present in Ireland first attested in 1638. It is associated with Co. Kerry. 6

Mac Coileáin was a sept in Ulster. Northern Ireland septs could account for the presence of the name in Scotland.

COLLINS in the British Isles Diaspora

Collins immigrants from the British Isles obviously made their way to North America. The majority of project members trace their lineage within the United States or Canada but have not made the leap across the water back to the British Isles.

A group of people known as Melungeons (the label often having been used pejoratively), living in or bordering Hancock and Hawkins counties in Tennessee and in neighboring Virginia, were so named because of their darker complexions. Collins is one of the surnames acquired by this group. There is a DNA project devoted to the Melungeons, and an excellent paper by the project administrators can be found here.

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This entire page will undergo revisions as new historical references are discovered and new information comes to light.


1. Lower, Mark Antony. English Surnames. An Essay on Family Nomenclature, Historical, Etymological, and Humorous, with several illustrative appendices. Third Edition, Enlarged. In Two Volumes. Vol. I. p. 169

2. Ibid.

3. Bardsley, Charles Wareing Endell. English Surnames: Their Sources and Significations. Seventh Edition, 1901. p. 96

4. Lynch, Sheila and Seary, E. Family Names of the Island of Newfoundland. p. 104

5. O' Murchadha, Diarmuid. Family Names of County Cork. 2000. p. 82-83.

6. MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland. 1991. p. 51

About World Families

This SURNAME DNA PROJECT WEBSITE is provided by (About us)

  • A surname DNA Project is a group of genealogy researchers who share a surname, or a genetic link to the surname, and who join together to use yDNA testing, paper trails, and research to identify those with whom they share a common ancestor.
  • The aim for many participants is to identify a participant who "matches" their test results, and who can help them find the paper trail that leads further back up the family tree. When the DNA information is combined with family pedigrees and other relevant information, the full power of Genetic Genealogy is utilized. In addition, yDNA tests cost less when you order them through a surname project at Family Tree DNA.
  • Click on the links in the black bar at the top of this page to view every page of the project's website.
  • Of most interest to you initially are the project's PATRIARCH and y-RESULTS pages.
  • You do NOT need to be registered or logged in to view any page of the project’s website, but you will need to log in to post on the forums and to use the "Make this a Favorite Project" link in the left column to create a link to the project's website each time you log in.
  • Click here to order a DNA test in Collins DNA Project and become a member of this project.
  • Already tested at FTDNA? Join the Project.
  • Were you yDNA-tested at another company? Transfer your results to FTDNA to join this project. Learn how:

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