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My name is Nancy Kiser and I am the volunteer administrator of this Phillips DNA project, along with two volunteer co-administrators, Tom Hutchison and Virginia Phillips-Smith.  My maternal grandmother was a Phillips and I have been researching Phillips genealogy since 1998.  In 2004 I became interested in using yDNA testing in conjunction with traditional genealogical research methods.  If you are also a Phillips researcher, please consider joining us in this new and exciting frontier!




1. Recruit a male Phillips member of your Phillips family to submit his cheek cells for a DNA test.  This is a painless procedure that only involves swabbing the inside of your cheek in the privacy of your own home.  Click on the words Order Test in the black bar above to read about costs and how to place an order for the kit.


2. Submit your known Phillips family tree to the Administrator of this project to be posted on our Patriarchs Page.  You can submit your Phillips family tree without finding a male Phillips family member who will take the DNA test, although we highly recommend DNA testing to confirm your Phillips family tree.  Click on the word Patriarchs in the black bar above to view Phillips pedigrees of our current members.


3. The participant will receive DNA results indicating whether or not he matches one of our existing Phillips family groups or another unmatched member in the project.  Even if the participant does not initially match anyone in the project, he will receive notification of matches as other members join our project.




1. Help researchers on common or related families work together to find their common heritage.  Click on the word Patriarchs in the black bar above to see Phillips pedigrees of our current members.  We seek Line Leaders to add Family History information and help bring focus to this Project.


2. Identify the DNA of the ancestor families and compile them and their lost branches into distinct genetic lineages through DNA matches.  Click on the word y-Results in the black bar above to see the DNA results of our current members.  This page may take a minute or so to open depending on the speed of your internet connection.


3. Recruit more participants from the British Isles, Ireland and mainland Europe in an attempt to identify the deep roots of all Phillips families.  If you are a male Phillips (or any variation of the name Phillips) and you live in the British Isles, Ireland or Europe, we may be willing to pay for your basic 12 marker DNA test if you are willing to supply a Phillips pedigree that goes back at least 5 generations.




Our New and Improved Phillips DNA Project Website

Phillips DNA Project at FTDNA


Phillips Message Board at Rootsweb

Phillips Message Board at Genforum

Click here to order a DNA test now

Click here to contribute to the Phillips DNA General Fund









DNA testing for genealogical purposes has become very popular in the last ten years and over two dozen companies have sprung up offering DNA testing at relatively affordable prices to the general public. The main emphasis has been on surname projects.  In Europe, permanent surnames gradually came into general use between 1000 AD and 1700 AD.  By 1400, many but not all families used permanent last names.  In a surname DNA study, men who share the same last name or some variation of it are recruited to take a DNA test, and then results are compared to discover which of them are related within a genealogical time frame, which generally means within the past 600 years.  By joining a surname DNA project, people interested in family history with matching DNA can compare notes and make connections, perhaps enabling them to trace back several generations further than they could without DNA comparisons.  Also, DNA analysis can reveal the general region where the ancestor of the participant originated; i.e., Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Central Europe, Western Europe, the Mediterranean, the British Isles, etc.

Using yDNA analysis, over 60 Phillips families have been identified that do not appear to be related to each other within a genealogically significant time frame.  This means these Phillips families probably are not related to each other within the last 1,000 years or since the advent of permanent surnames.  In addition, there are over 100 men named Phillips or some variation of the name Phillips in the Family Tree DNA database and other databases who do not match anyone else named Phillips.

What do all the mismatches mean?  In the most simple terms, this means not everyone named Phillips (or some variation of Phillips) is related in a genealogically significant time frame.  In other words, there is no such thing as a composite Phillips DNA profile and we do not all descend from a single Phillips family.  This also most likely means more than 100 unrelated men adopted the last name Phillips from 1000 AD to 1700 AD.  When all is said and done, we will probably discover there were several hundred (perhaps thousand) unrelated men who adopted the last name Phillips (or some variation of Phillips) from 1000 AD through 1800 AD and who have descendants living worldwide today.  A certain percentage of the mismatches may also be due to adoption, illegitimacy, adultery or some other form of name change, known as a non-paternal event.

There are several different types of DNA tests currently available at the various commercial labs: yDNA tests, mtDNA tests and autosomal DNA tests. Only men can take yDNA tests, because yDNA is located on the Y chromosome, and only men have a Y chromosome.  Women have two X chromosomes that determine their sex.  Men have one X and one Y chromosome that determine their sex.  The yDNA test for men is the only truly effective DNA test for genealogical purposes at the current time for the following reasons.

Y-DNA is passed down from father to son over the generations with only a few changes or mutations.  Since men usually pass down their surnames to their sons from generation to generation, this means yDNA is passed down hand in hand with the surname.  The Y chromosome follows a well-defined path down the straight paternal line, which conveniently also tracks the surname in many cultures.  It is this happy coincidence that explains the usefulness and popularity of these new surname DNA studies.

Both men and women have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is DNA that is inherited from the mother.  Just as yDNA tracks the straight paternal line, mtDNA tracks the straight maternal line.  However, mtDNA is much less useful genealogically than yDNA for several reasons.  First, in western cultures, women do not traditionally retain the same surname from generation to generation, which means mtDNA cannot be tied to one specific surname.  Second, mtDNA is far more stable than yDNA.  Your mtDNA is pretty much exactly the same as the mtDNA found in your straight line maternal ancestor who existed 10,000 years ago.   Therefore, about the only thing you can learn from your mtDNA is which clan your straight line maternal ancestor belonged to 10,000 years ago!  While this might be an interesting thing to know, it is not very useful from a genealogical standpoint.

There is another concept that is important to understand.  Your yDNA and mtDNA are only a very small part of your total DNA.  If you imagine a standard fan-shaped pedigree chart for a man lying on its side, your yDNA tracks the top line on that standard fan-shaped pedigree chart, and your mtDNA tracks the bottom line on that standard fan-shaped pedigree chart.  If you trace back five generations, you will discover that you have sixteen great-great-grandparents.  Barring the marriage of cousins (which was actually a very common practice in the past), this means the yDNA that comes from your great-great paternal grandfather only represents 1/16th of your total DNA and the mtDNA that comes from your great-great maternal grandmother only represents another 1/16th of your total DNA.  The further back you go, the smaller the percentages become.  DNA analysis is still in its infancy, and scientists have not yet figured out how to isolate and identify your other lines.  They can only isolate and identify your straight paternal line and your straight maternal line, which together probably represent less than 1% of your total DNA.

There is a third type of DNA test that attempts to test your entire DNA.  This third type of DNA test is called an autosomal test and it works by taking a random sample of your entire DNA.  It is still very new and rudimentary and somewhat controversial, because many scientists say there isn't enough data collected yet to get accurate comparisons.  However, many scientists believe this is where the next great leap forward is going to occur in DNA testing.  At the current time, autosomal testing only purports to tell you what percentage you are of the following "races":  White, Black, Oriental and Native American.  If you are less than 1/8th of any of those races, the autosomal test may not detect it, because the test is a random sample of your entire DNA.  Furthermore, although the autosomal test may be able to detect that you are 3/4th White and 1/4th Native American, it cannot tell you which one of your lines is the Native American line and it cannot identify your Native American tribe.

One question frequently asked is, in the absence of a paper trail, how do we determine which participants probably belong to the same family?  Kinship is determined primarily by counting how many DNA markers match.  Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) publishes the following rules on their website: in order to be considered related within a genealogically relevant time frame, two men who share the same last name or some variant of it must not mismatch by more than 1 marker out of the first 12 markers, or 2 markers out of the first 25 markers, or 4 markers out of the first 37 markers, or 7 markers out of the first 67 markers.

When there is a mismatching marker, it is also important to consider the magnitude of the mismatch.  If the mismatch is a two step mismatch (for example, one person has a value of 12 and the other person has a value of 14 for the same marker), this usually counts as 2 mismatches.  However, some markers mutate or change more frequently than others, and some markers may be susceptible to mutating by more than one step in a single generation.  Occasionally a particular marker may mutate by two or more steps when it is passed from the father to the son.  If this happens, it is only counted as one mismatch.  There are also instances of markers that seem to mutate in step or in unison, so when they mutate it only counts as one mismatch.  In other words, the markers do not all carry the same weight or importance in determining kinship.  Some mismatches are less important than other mismatches.

Another criterion to take into consideration in determining kinship is something called haplogroup.  Haplogroup is roughly equivalent to nationality and it is an indication of one's deep ancestry.  It has been discovered that certain haplogroups are more commonly found in certain areas than others.  If your markers match or come close to matching someone who does not belong to the same haplogroup as you, then you are not related within a genealogically significant time frame.  In fact, you are not related within many thousands of years.

Thus far, scientists have identified 20 main haplogroups for men.  These haplogroups are identified by the following letters: A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S and T.  These main haplogroups are further subdivided into one or more levels called sub-haplogroups, which are labeled by alternating numbers and letters.  For example, Haplogroup J is further broken down into J1, J2 and J*.  An asterisk is used to denote those who do not fit into a defined branch. There are many sub-haplogroups, and undoubtedly not all of them have been identified yet.  After all, DNA analysis is still in its infancy.

Feel free to ask questions and discuss this project on the Phillips Family Forum