Mayflower DNA Project Information

In 1620, a group of 104 English Separatists arrived in New England aboard the Mayflower. After a harsh winter, only 52 of the original Pilgrims survived and founded Plymouth Colony. Their progeny today makes up some of the oldest families in the United States, and through a cooperative project with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) and the General Society of Mayflower Descendants (GSMD), an effort is now underway to match genetic descendants back to these Mayflower families. 

The GSMD maintains a project through FTDNA that incorporates Y Chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA), mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), and autosomal (nuclear) DNA. The Y-DNA test results from proven male-line descendants will be matched with Y-DNA tests from other proposed male descendants of the Mayflower passengers, and may even include pre-Mayflower descendants from the UK.  Presently, we believe that our 67-marker YDNA test provides sufficient coverage of the Y-chromosomal genetic markers needed to indicate a strong potential connection to a Mayflower male line.  Please contact the Administrator Mike Terry of the GSMD Mayflower DNA Project to discuss additional Y-DNA testing and genealogical record reviews that could be performed to confirm your potential Mayflower lineage. mterry3158@sbcglobal.net

The mtDNA test results focus on any all-female lineages down to a daughter or son of one of the proven female Mayflower descendants.  This project hopes to identify the mtDNA genetic signatures of these descendants.  This may help to establish parentage and place the origin in some lineages of women in these lines who have no paper record connecting their Mayflower family lines.  These haplogroups are currently being identified, and GSMD policies on the mtDNA requirements are being proposed.  Once in place, potential descendants will be contacted for additional DNA or family genealogy information.

Family Finder tests, or autosomal tests, are also being collected within the Mayflower FTDNA Project. If enough family members of GSMD members do autosomal tests within the project, it will help better identify sections of autosomal DNA that a given family shares in common, which in turn will help with eventual genetic triangulation efforts. For the data in this project to be relevant, it will require a significant amount of testing from current Mayflower Society members to be able to connect and verify lines to the Mayflower Pilgrims. Using these Family Finder DNA tests at Family Tree DNA, an effort is underway to test as many known Mayflower Society descendants as possible.

A common concern people have is what will be done with their DNA or genetic data at FTDNA? Will it be sold to the government? To a medical or insurance firm? To employers? The answer is no. At FTDNA, the test taker owns the data, not FTDNA, or even the purchaser. If at any time they want their data removed and/or their sample destroyed, FTDNA is more than willing to comply with this request. If they are not willing to have their name and email shown to matches, that is an option they can choose. They can keep this information private while still participating in the project or in the research we are doing.

FTDNA Tests that are Accepted in the Mayflower DNA Project

The Mayflower Project at FTDNA will accept only 67-marker or higher YDNA tests. This will greatly help FTDNA as they work to define with better accuracy the DNA of the Pilgrim ancestors. We need to collect DNA information from as many of our male members as possible. This is a groundbreaking project that will allow us to remain the gold standard in lineage research.

Only men can take the YDNA tests, but we also want to collect our female members' test kits as we identify the haplogroups of women who sailed on the Mayflower. For that, women will need to do the full mtDNA sequence tests. 

The Family Finder test is a third test that both men and women can take that tells you if you have close relatives. We would like to put these results in our project as well. If you take any of these tests at Ancestry.com or 23andMe.com, you can upload the tests to our FTDNA Mayflower Project at no cost. When purchasing tests from our Mayflower Project at FTDNA, you will get a discount. Here are the tests that we recommend:


Y-DNA 67 marker
MtDNA full sequence
Family Finder (If you are looking for relatives)


MtDNA full sequence
Family Finder (If you are looking for relatives)

If you order your tests from FTDNA through the Mayflower DNA Project, when the test results are completed they will be included in the project with your permission. No private information is shared. For GSMD members who have taken tests in the past through FTDNA, you can join the Mayflower DNA project by doing a join request. From this point on males must complete a Y-67 test and for Women a full mtDNA sequence test.  If you completed a DNA test at Ancestry.com or 23AndMe you can download your results and upload them to FTDNA for free and join the Mayflower DNA project.  

To join the project, go to FTDNA.com. On the tab near the top, click on Projects. In the search box type Mayflower. Open the Mayflower Project title. Tests bought from the Mayflower DNA Project are discounted for members.

Questions: Mayflower Project DNA Administrator Mike Terry can be emailed at mterry3158@sbcglobal.net

Click here to read the GSMD and FTDNA Partnership Press Release >>

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