It's time for an update on the DNA project announced a few months ago. We now have results for most of the major families, including (with numbers in each):
Descendants of Richard Merrill/Merrell of Staten Island, William Merrill of Hopewell NJ, and Capt. Benjamin Merrell of NC(7) ""Nathaniel Merrill of Newbury MA(14) ""William Merrill of Maryland(3) ""Marriner Wood Merrill, the Utah pioneer (3) So far not assignable to one of the above (7)
Each of these families has a fairly distinctive DNA "signature".If you are still working on your line, this allows you to focus your search on the right family. If you know you are not a descendant of Nathaniel Merrill, it can save you considerable time and effort in further research on that family.For example, DNA evidence proves that Marriner Wood Merrill was not a descendant of Nathaniel.
DNA may also confirm a pedigree based only on documentary evidence, which can be scanty or inconclusive. Each new result helps to clarify the total picture.As time goes on, as more and more individuals are tested, it may be possible to identify specific lines within each of these families.
The one major family in the US and Canada for which we still have no representative is that of Thomas Merrill of Saybrook CT, supposed to be the Thomas born in Hartford CT in 1646.Many Merrills in western Massachusetts, upstate New York, and Michigan belong to this family.Tradition says Thomas was a cousin of Nathaniel Merrill of Newbury MA, but DNA will show conclusively whether this is true or not. If you have a good "paper trail" from Thomas, we would like to hear from you. There is a possibility of some assistance with the cost.
Remember that to be a candidate for testing you must be a direct descendant in the male line, since the test is based on Y-chromosome DNA, which is inherited only by men from their fathers. Merrill/Merrell women can still participate if they have a living Merrill relative (brother, father, cousin) in the male line.
If you have any questions about your particular situation, please contact me for further information.
(Note: This update is also being sent to several lists and message boards, so my apologies if you receive a duplicate of this message.)