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Surname DNA testing is the newest tool available to genealogists!

  • Surname tests allow genealogists to verify their father's father's father's (etc.) paternal ancestry.
  • Surname DNA information can be very powerful when combined with traditional paper trails.

The following surnames are currently included in this project:

St-Martin, St. Martin, Saint Martin

The St-Martin DNA Project is open to all St-Martin families (including spelling variations) with origins in France (or in another French-speaking country).

Project Background & Objectives

This project was formed in order to explore the relationships of the various St-Martin families with origins in France. St-Martin, in some families of 18th-century Québec, is a "dit name" for the surname Martin, so DNA comparisons to Martin families with origins in France should also be considered. Since this project is based on a particular surname, it uses the y-chromosome DNA test ("y-DNA") to determine direct paternal lineage.

Accompanying this project is the St-Martin Genealogy web site (, which focuses on the family of Jean Martin dit St-Martin, a French soldier who was born around 1683. He married in 1709 in Contrecoeur, Verchères County, Québec to Marie Anne Banlier dit Laperle (a daughter of Mathurin Banlier dit Laperle and Françoise Verninne). They are the direct ancestors of many of the St-Martins in Canada and the USA.

Jean Martin dit St-Martin's family was not the only St-Martin family in early North America. There were several others. The relationship of these other St-Martin families to Jean Martin dit St-Martin has not yet been established, but this surname DNA project should help to shed some light on these questions.

There are two important metrics of y-DNA that are useful for genealogy: haplogroup and haplotype. Haplogroups show how all humanity is related from an ancient perspective, while haplotypes are useful from a more recent (historical) standpoint to establish relationships within a particular family or closely related groups of families. Haplogroups are based on a mutation known as a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or SNP, (a substitution at a base pair that occurs very infrequently) and are represented by a tree structure, while haplotypes are shown as the number of "repeats" (a numerical value known as a Short Tandem Repeat, or STR) at specific y-DNA markers (often in groups of 12, 25, 37, or 67, if using the FamilyTreeDNA testing service).

We know from y-DNA testing of his direct male descendants that Jean Martin dit St-Martin belongs to haplogroup family R1b1a2. This designation is a specific location on the y-DNA haplogroup tree, a branch off the R1b haplogroup family. R1b is the most common y-DNA haplogroup in western Europe. (Since this is a rapidly evolving field of study - pardon the pun, the haplogroup nomenclature frequently changes. For example, R1b1b2 was recently changed to R1b1a2. Keep this in mind when reading the literature.) A "Deep Clade" test will be ordered soon to further refine this haplogroup to determine exactly where in the R1b1a2 branch he resides. Knowing this to be Jean Martin dit St-Martin's haplogroup will allow us to determine how closely other families of the St-Martin/Martin surname are related to his family.

How closely related any two individuals are (with the Jean Martin dit St-Martin family) can be determined by comparing their y-DNA haplotypes. This comparison is known as the genetic distance. If two known direct male descendants of Jean Martin dit St-Martin differ at one of more of the haplotype markers (known as Short Tandem Repeats, or STRs), then each of those mutuations (insertion or deletion of a repeat) must have occurred in a specific individual (a descendant of Jean Martin dit St-Martin). All direct male descendants of that individual will carry that same mutation in that haplotype marker. If we get participation from direct male descendants of each of the sons and grandsons of Jean Martin dit St-Martin, we may eventually be able to determine a person's location on Jean's descendants tree based on the mutations within their haplotype. A minimum of 37 or 67 markers is preferred for genealogical purposes.

I've used the family of Jean Martin dit St-Martin (of Québec) as an illustration of the use of haplogroups and haplotypes. The same concepts apply to the other St-Martin families from France. It is my hope that many different North Americans and Europeans of French descent (with the St-Martin surname and its variations) will join the St-Martin DNA Project, so that we can determine (1) which families are related to each other, and (2) learn more about their origins in France.

Important Links

To view the y-DNA test results and haplogroup/haplotype comparisons for current members of the St-Martin DNA Project, select the y-Results link at the top of this page. Where known, the earliest known St-Martin ancestor of each member is shown, with common descendants grouped together. The Patriarchs page provides more details on each member's descent from the earliest ancestor, including where they fit within the tree of descendants.

To order a y-DNA test to join this project, select the Order Test link at the top of this page.

Another way to support this project (especially for those of us not fortunate enough to carry the St-Martin y-chromosome) is to contribute towards the Group General Fund to help offset the cost of tests for project members. Be sure to click on the letter "S" and specify the "St.Martin" group. You may contribute anonymously or by name, and you can specify that your contribution of funds be used for a particular family or branch.

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