Hickson Genealogy

DNA Project

Due to the technology of DNA it is now possible to establish whether one person is related to another through patrilineal descent. There are several kinds of DNA testing. Only Y-DNA tracks the paternal line (father's father's father etc.). (This is not the same as paternity testing.) Thus if two people have the same Y-DNA then they should be descendants of the same person.

The common ancestor might be farther back than expected. Two men might get DNA tests because they suspect that their paternal ancestors were brothers. A match means that they are related in the paternal line. But it does not prove that their ancestors were brothers; they may have been distant cousins.

It may be that you have met someone, possibly but not necessarily, with the same surname and you wonder if you are related. A swab sample taken from inside the mouth (and a fee), is all that is needed to conduct the test.

If you are searching for your ancestors in order to build a family tree, you need to know the parents of each generation. However you may have got to the stage where you have two separate lines, one is your own and the other you think should link in to it. Is it worth continuing to search for the links? DNA samples from one person in each line would resolve this.

What Does DNA Testing Involve?

To test a man's paternal line (father's father's ... father etc.) the lab extracts the Y chromosome (what makes him male) and analyzes parts of the Y-DNA that have no known function. (Parts that have a function can be selected by environmental factors and are less useful for genealogical purposes.)

This test can be done only on men because women do not have a Y chromosome. A woman who is interested in Y-DNA testing will need to recruit a male relative to provide the sample. The testing company needs a contact person to receive the results, but does not need to know who the testee is.

The sample is obtained by rubbing a swab inside the testee's cheek. If no suitable testee is alive, DNA can sometimes be obtained from an ancestor's hair, an envelope he licked, etc.

How Does Genealogical Y-DNA Testing Compare with Other DNA Testing?

Y-DNA analysis for genealogical purposes is intended to identify a paternal line, not an individual. Rarely there is a small difference (a mutation) between a father's Y-DNA and his son's. Usually a man's Y-DNA is exactly the same as his father's, his paternal grandfather's, his brother's, and his son's.

Other DNA tests for genealogical purposes are less frequently used. Either a woman or a man can test mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) which tells about the testee's maternal line (mother's mother's ... mother etc.). Another test, called DNAPrint, estimates the testee's ancestry as percentages of African, East Asian, European, etc., but percentages less than about 10% are not precise.

By contrast, DNA testing done for forensic purposes (by police etc.) analyzes different parts of a person's DNA and the results are completely different. Paternity testing is also quite different from genealogical testing. Both of these are intended to identify an individual, which genealogical testing is not.

What Do Y-DNA Test Results Look Like?

The lab tests markers, bits of DNA that are repeated a certain number of times. The results are a chart showing the name of each marker (a number, e.g. 393) and the number of times it repeats (e.g. 13). These results are called the man's haplotype. A person ordering a Y-DNA test chooses how many markers to test, such as 12, 25, 37, or 67. The more markers are tested, the more thoroughly his results can be compared with other men's.

The results may include the man's haplogroup. A haplogroup is a large group of related haplotypes. Haplogroups are designated by letters, with numbers and letters for subgroups. All of the Hickson/Hixson/Hixon tested so far are in haplogroup R1b1, which is the most numerous European haplogroup. A man in haplogroup R1b1 is more closely related (in the paternal line) to other R1b1 men than to men who are R1a, E, G, etc.

What Could I Learn?

The results of Y-DNA testing can be compared against other men's results. The more similar they are, the more closely related the men are (in their paternal lines). Although Y-DNA cannot identify an individual, it can answer questions about families.

Some examples:

Y-DNA testing is not a substitute for traditional research, but can be a valuable supplement. If a man learns from Y-DNA testing that he is related to a particular branch of the family, he can concentrate his research in the area where that branch lived.

Personally I would like to find the parents of all of them even if they are not related, since my personal aim is to attempt to link all Hicksons. My own family also comes from the area (Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire) as one of the four two people mentioned above, in 1625/1650 ...

Are you interested?

Frequently asked questions | Privacy | What should I do?

The Hickson/Hixson/Hixon DNA project

The first comparison results are in! Select Y Results. Under New England you'll see the results for descendants of three sons of Richard1 Hixson and Margaret Watkins (m. 1686). The first two are an exact match. The third is slightly different but is close enough to confirm that they are closely related. If we could test their common ancestor Richard1, his results would almost certainly be very similar to these. We are hoping to test more markers for the first two testees and find another descendant of the third son to test.

Under Other USA are the results for two other testees. These are different enough from each other and from the New England results that their common ancestor was probably earlier than the 1600s. We are trying to find documented descendants of William Hixson who settled in New Jersey in the 1600s.

When we can test Hickson/Hixson/Hixon men who live in Britain, we should be able to get a better idea of where the American immigrants originated and how Hickson/Hixson/Hixon men all over the world are related.