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Prentice DNA Study

Do you have the new PRENTICE eBook?
Prentice DNA Study
Fall 2003 and Revised 31 Aug 2004


Scott Prentice, our Webmaster at PrenticeNet, brings to our attention an exciting new approach to the study of family trees.

The following are excerpts from an article which appears in the New England Historic Genealogical Society by Kenneth W. Rockwell entitled "Early Rockwell Settlers of Connecticut: DNA Analysis Shows a Relationship.", New England Ancestors, vol. 4, no. 2 (Spring 2003):

    Many individuals with Rockwell ancestry trace their lineages to one of four seventeenth-century settlers in Connecticut: William and John of Windsor [giving names]. There has been much speculation among Rockwell genealogists as to how these settlers may have been related, but no documentation to prove any of it, except that the two Windsor residents were evidently brothers. But the advent of DNA analysis, which allows comparison of the paternally inherited Y-chromosome DNA, has provided an opportunity to test for possible relationships between descendants of these different immigrants.

    The Rockwell Family Foundation recruited thirty-five volunteer donors for a DNA analysis. Among the participants were twelve whose pedigrees claim descent from William, five from John of Stamford, four from Josiah, and three from Robert Rockhold...The study participants also included descendants of several lines that hadn’t been traced with certainty to seventeenth-century settlers...

    [A company named] Relative Genetics performed the analysis on the samples, collected via cotton swabs brushed along the inner cheek. The results show two distinct groups of related samples, plus four samples that did not show a close relationship to either group. (These four may represent cases of adoption, independent immigration, evidence of a foremother’s adultery, or simple genealogical [research] error.)...

The NEHGR article than described how the results of the DNA study enabled the participants to identify their relationship, if any, to the early Connecticut settlers, reporting that:

    As a result of the DNA project, Rockwells now have a new tool at their disposal. If a researcher with a Rockwell patrilineal ancestor has come up against a brick wall, a DNA analysis will point the way to either Connecticut or Maryland. DNA won’t necessarily distinguish among the Connecticut lines, as some samples are identical. But if the sample displays certain mutations that have been documented by previous donors, such as with the descendants of Jonathan, then one may receive a real clue as to where in Connecticut his or her line originated.

    The more samples added to the pool of DNA knowledge, the more complete the picture will become, and the more distinct the various family lines. It is hoped that those interested in the larger picture of Rockwell genealogy might be willing to contribute further samples to the pool, even if they already know their line, or think they do...

    For more information on the Rockwell DNA project, and the detailed twenty-three-marker haplotypes, see the Rockwell Family Foundation website at www.rockwell-family.org.


Those of us with Prentis, Prentiss and Prentice surname in our family tree can do the same type of DNA study. We know there were four (4) main Prentice emigrants in colonial New England: Valentine Prentice, Thomas Prentice, Henry Prentice and Robert Prentice. There is a good chance that two or more of them share common Prentice roots, but despite exhaustive conventional genealogical research such a link has not yet been found. We also have considerable information about Prentices in the United States, England, Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere whose possible links to each other have not yet been determined. If we can get together a sufficient number of Prentice (which includes all those surnamed Prentis and Prentiss) descendants, we could gain vital information about the connections between the different Prentice lines, and hopefully also establish more information about the England, Ireland and Scotland connections.

We have identified a DNA laboratory willing to do the study for us at a cost of $195 per sample processed. Depending on how much we can raise from those of us interested in our Prentice roots, we can submit a number of samples from selected descendants of each each early emigrant and from descendants of other lines in England and elsewhere where their early roots have not yet been established.

For example, if we can find 50 descendants who are willing to donate $50 each, that gives us a pot of $2,500. With that we can submit samples from 12 selected descendants in an effort to determine which lines have a common Prentice ancestor. For example, we might use a descendant from each of the following lines:

  1. Valentine Prentice.
  2. Thomas Prentice, The Trooper
  3. Henry Prentice, The Planter.
  4. Robert Prentice of Roxbury, MA.
  5. William Prentice of Williamstown, VA.
  6. A descendant of 3 lines with roots in other Southern States.
  7. A descendant of an Australian line with roots in England.
  8. A descendant of a New Zealand line with roots in England.
  9. A descendant of a Scotland line.
  10. A descendant of an Ireland line.

Hypothetically speaking, we might find that lines 1, 4 and 7 have a common ancestor; that lines 2, 3 and 8 have a common ancestor; that lines 5 and 6 have a common ancestor; and that the remaining lines, 9 and 10, have a common ancestor.

A larger pot will allow samples from additional selected participants. A smaller pot will necessitate a narrowing of the number of the ancestral lines to be tested.

After we have received a final report from the DNA laboratory, a copy will be sent to each of the persons contributing to our research pot.


Don't send any money yet. For now, all we need is a show of hands by those who are willing to participate. After we find out how many are interested in participating, we will ask you to send your contribution to the money pool. Our goal is at least $50 per participant, or whatever you can afford, and if you can afford more it would help immeasurably in reaching our funding goal of at least $2,500. Remember, each of you can contact your own close kin for additional $50 contributions or to help you with a portion of your own $50 contribution.

You will be able to ask that your contribution be applied to a specific line. If we receive a total of $195 for that line, it will be DNA-tested; if less than $195 is received for a given line, the money will be reallocated to a line selected by our WebMaster.

Please let us know by August 15th if you would like to participate and how much you think you will be contributing. We will then ask you to send in your contribution. After all funds are received, Scott Prentice, our WebMaster, will then make a final decision, based on funds available, which Prentice lines will be DNA-tested.

If you are willing to participate please send an email to the Prentice Newsletter telling us: (a) how much you will contribute and (b) your preference as to the Prentice line to be DNA-tested. Be sure to use the above link because if you do not, your email to us may be deleted as spam by our email filter.

Scott Prentice will be setting up a web page with a thermometer-type graph showing the progress made toward our $2,500 goal. He will also set up a special PayPal address that would let people donate via credit card. Checks are always acceptable.

Remember, not only will this project benefit contributors directly, it will also benefit all Prentice, Prentiss and Prentis families for generations yet to come.

This page is maintained by Joe Dewald.
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