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DISCUSSION
Our test results continue to grow but please consider to recommend others to participate. The more who participate, the more we learn!
The combination of DNA test results received to date and known genealogies have established several different lineages of the Gay family in America. For classification purposes, these lineage groups have been numbered and unique DNA characteristics are highlighted, below. There is also a brief discussion of what we know (or don’t) about these lineages. This is just for discussion purposes only and should not be taken as gospel truth.
Here is what we think we know of our lineages from the DNA results and genealogical records:
LINEAGE GROUP #1: Members of this group appear to share DNA with descendants of Henry Gay of Isle of Wight County, in the Tidewater region of Virginia. It is believed this family came to Virginia from England in the late 1600s and this makes them one of the earliest Gay lines in America.
Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 12; 447 marker = 24; 464d marker = 18.
LINEAGE GROUP #2:At least one of this group's members traces its origins back to John Gay of Dedham, Mass., who also arrived in the 1600s. These first two groups, based on genealogical records, appear to be the earliest in America . It is believed that this family came to Massachusetts from England.
Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 14; 458 marker = 17; 459a marker = 8.
LINEAGE GROUP #3:This group, unlike Group #1 and Group#2 who suspect their roots go back to England, appears to trace its roots back to Ireland or Scotland. This group also has more unique DNA characteristics in comparison to Groups #1 and 2. In fact, one of its markers appears only rarely in the haplotype and typically only in people who trace their ancestry to northern Ireland or Scotland. This marker is the YCA IIb. In people of Group #3, this marker is 19, which is considered rare by geneticists. Most R1b's have a 23 in this marker, including all the members of Group #1 and Group #2. So this is a very distinguishing characteristic for Group #3. The members of this group are also genetically matching very closely to people with different surnames like McCain, Henry, Duncan, and MacLea - all of whom traced their deep ancestry (pre-1400AD) to Ireland or Scotland. It's suspected that these families may have at one time, before surnames were established, been part of a single Irish or Scottish clan. Check out the Ulster DNA Project at: http://www.familytreedna.com/(kmeyta55v25ndlrhry0fuw45)/public/ulster/index.aspx?fixed_columns=on
Unique DNA characteristics: 459b marker = 9; 437 marker = 15; 448 marker =19; YCA IIb marker = 19.
LINEAGE GROUP #4:This lineage group and the ones that follow only have one person in so far, but they have enough markers tested (25 or more) and enough unique markers from the other lineages, to classify as a separate lineage group, even though there is only one participant. For this lineage, there is solid genealogical evidence to trace this line back to Devonshire in England. This is the ancestral home of the family of the famous English poet, John Gay, and the DNA Study would like to encourage more British participation in this study.
Unique DNA characteristics: 390 marker = 25; 385a marker = 12; 447 marker =26.
LINEAGE GROUP #5:This is another single participant line that traces it’s earliest known ancestor back to Edgecombe Co., NC. Some genealogists have suspected a link between the Edgecombe County Gays and the Isle of Wight County, VA Gays, but so far that does not appear to be the case. It would be helpful if other Edgecombe Co. Gay descendants were to test to better confirm this lineage.
Unique DNA characteristics: 385a marker = 14; GATAH4 marker = 12; YCAIIb marker = 24; 607 marker = 16.
LINEAGE GROUP #6: This single participant line traces it’s earliest known ancestor back to Dr. Samuel Gay of Rockingham Co. VA. Once again, it  would be helpful if other possbile  Gay descendants of this line were to test to better confirm this lineage.
Unique DNA characteristics: 385b marker = 13; 448 marker = 20; YCAIIb marker = 21.
LINEAGE GROUP #7: This single participant line traces it’s earliest known ancestor back to Dr. Wiliam Gay of Henrico and Chesterfield Co. VA.. He was the husband of Elizabeth Bolling, who was a direct descendant of Pocahontas. So far, the DNA Study has only located one person of the surname Gay who had a verifiable ancestry back to Dr. William Gay, so this is another line that would benefit from additional participants. Note: This line does not have a Haplotype of Native American because that genetic material was passed in the mtDNA which is passed from mother to daughter and so male descendants won’t show Native American markers. There are indications that Dr. William Gay was from Scotland, but these have not been verified.
Unique DNA characteristics: 391 marker = 9; 389-2 marker = 28; 464a marker = 14.
LINEAGE GROUP #8: This single participant line traces it’s earliest known ancestor back to Eaton Gay of Wake Co. NC. Based on genealogy, there may be issues of orphanage or adoption associated with this line that need to be resolved. Wake Co. is next to Franklin Co. where there were known descendants of Group #1 living in the late 1700s. However, this participant does not match to Group #1. The name Eaton Gay is present in records of Edgecombe Co. NC; however, this participant does not match to the one participant who traces their genealogy back to Edgecombe Co.NC. So there are some unanswered questions.
Unique DNA characteristics: 385b marker = 9; 389-2 marker = 28; 464a marker = 14.
NOTE:We are also interested in additional members of the current branches being tested so we can understand these branches better, particularly the ones with only single participants. So we encourage those who have not been tested, to please do so. If you have any question about who is appropriate to get tested, please contact Lee Gay, the Project Coordinator, at leegay@comcast.net.
  • REMINDER: If you have already tested and have your results, be sure to upload them to ySearch. This can be done from the results page at FamilyTree DNA.
  • Feel free to discuss this project on theGay Family Forum
  • Clickhereto place an order for a DNA test at Family Tree DNA
Participating in a Surname DNA Project provides:
  • A report on the participant's genetic DNA, which is very close (and sometimes identical) to the earliest known ancestor
  • A classification of the participant's "deep" ancestry, which gives insight into the prehistoric origins of your surname ancestors
  • A sense of camaraderie with all who participate in the Gay Family DNA Project, which is particularly strong for those who share a genetic ancestry
  • Stimulation to family research and sharing of information
  • A wider sense of identity and relationship, as we begin to realize how much we are a world family.
  • A chance to compare your genetic ancestry with those of the Gay surname and the variant spellings
  • Locates the genetic matches that do not share your common surname

The test results received so far on the Gay Family DNA Study appear to document possibly three different branches of the Gay family in America. For classification purposes, these groups have been numbered and unique DNA characteristic are highlighted, as follows:

GROUP #1: Members of this group appear to share DNA with descendants of Henry Gay of Isle of Wight County, in the Tidewater region of Virginia. It is believed this family came to Virginia from England.

Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 12; 447 marker = 24; 464d marker = 18.

GROUP #2: At least one of this group's members traces its origins back to John Gay of Dedham, Mass. It is believed that this family came to Massachusetts from England.

Unique DNA characteristics: 393 marker = 14; 458 marker = 17; 459a marker = 8.

GROUP #3: This group, unlike Group #1 and Group#2 who suspect their roots go back to England, appears to trace its roots back to Ireland or Scotland. This group has also has more unique DNA characteristics in comparison to Groups #1 and 2. In fact, two of its markers appear in people who trace their ancestry to northern Ireland or Scotland. These markers are the YCA IIa and YCA IIb. In people of Group #3, these markers are 19-19, which is considered very rare by geneticists. Most R1b's have a 19-23 in these markers, including the members of Group #1 and Group #2. So this is a very distinguishing characteristic for Group #3. The members of this group are also genetically matching very closely to people with different surnames like McCain, Henry, Duncan, and MacLea - all of whom traced their deep ancestry (pre-1400AD) to Ireland or Scotland. It's suspected that these families may have at one time, before surnames were established, been part of a single Irish or Scottish clan. Check out the Ulster DNA Project at: http://www.familytreedna.com/(kmeyta55v25ndlrhry0fuw45)/public/ulster/index.aspx?fixed_columns=on

Unique DNA characteristics: 459b marker = 9; 437 marker = 15; 448 marker =19; YCA IIb marker = 19.

NOTE: We are also interested in additional members of the current branches to test their DNA so we can understand these branches better. So we encourage those who have not been tested, to please do so. If you have any question about who is appropriate to get tested, please contact Lee Gay, the Project Coordinator, at leegay@comcast.net.

In addition to the branches mentioned above, the Gay Family DNA Study is actively searching for the following:

- Descendants of William Gay and Elizabeth Bolling of Henrico and Chesterfield Co. VA. are searching for descendants of William Gay and Elizabeth Bolling to have their DNA tested. This line traces its lineage to Pocahontas.This branch of the Gay family may be related to one of the branches already tested or may be a separate line. DNA testing will help us determine that.

- Descendants of the Gays of Woodford County, KY. This was an early line in Kentucky and it may be related to Group #3, many of whom passed through Augusta County, VA. DNA testing will help establish if there is a link between the Woodford County Gays and the other Group #3 Gays.

  • REMINDER: If you have already tested and have your results, be sure to upload them to ySearch. This can be done from the results page at FamilyTree DNA.
  • Feel free to discuss this project on the Gay Family Forum
  • Click here to place an order for a DNA test at Family Tree DNA

Participating in a Surname DNA Project provides:

  • A report on the participant's genetic DNA, which is very close (and sometimes identical) to the earliest known ancestor
  • A classification of the participant's "deep" ancestry, which gives insight into the prehistoric origins of your surname ancestors
  • A sense of camaraderie with all who participate in the Gay Family DNA Project, which is particularly strong for those who share a genetic ancestry
  • Stimulation to family research and sharing of information
  • A wider sense of identity and relationship, as we begin to realize how much we are a world family.
  • A chance to compare your genetic ancestry with those of the Gay surname and the variant spellings
  • Locates the genetic matches that do not share your common surname


Group admins

Project Administrators