Genealogy of the French in North America

DNA and Genealogy

DNA in short

This text is a summary about DNA. For more details, see the other more complete page. Also, there are many web sites explaining DNA in English.

Basics - Y-DNA

The Y chromosome is given by the father to his sons with sometimes a small change or mutation. The DNA signature is a summary of these changes and help to identify families even with no document, providing there are already other signatures to be compared with. This database has many reference DNA signatures. If the relevant Y-DNA signature is available, you are a man and you perform a Y-DNA test, then you can compare your signature with that of your male ancestor.

There are 2 sets of values : SNP and STR. The SNPs are the mutation themselves, identified by a group (or haplogroup) and the most recent known mutation. Since there are thousands of possible mutations, the test can be very expensive to identify a family. This is why, in a first step, a test is made with STR and different precisions. If the STR test is less accurate, then you have more matches (and false positives). The Y-DNA test is used to find a varying number of STR values (12, 25, 37, 67 or 111 at FTDNA) and to define more accurately the DNA family. Then, FTDNA will propose a likely SNP by comparing your results with other similar STR values.

The values available in this database have 2 formats:

  • If there is a triangulation (proving the Y-DNA is good if the results are coherent), then we see the list of STR values depending on the tet of the client. There is also the SNP computed or proposed according to the tests.
  • Without triangulation (there is a possibility of adoption around 5%), only the computed or predicted SNP is displayed.

If your test was not made with FTDNA, yjrn your results are probably a more or less recent SNP. With Geno2 or 23andme, the SNP should be displayed, With AncestryDNA, you have to use an external site to compute the SNP.

The results are presented like that:

yDNA Signature computed (by male descendance only) :
Haplogroup from SNP : R1b-M269→Y41710 (R-M269→L151→P312→DF27→ZZ12_1→Y7363→Y41710)
DYS393=14; DYS390=24; DYS19=14; DYS391=11; DYS385=11-15; DYS426=12; DYS388=12; DYS439=13; DYS389i=13; DYS392=13; DYS389ii=30;
  • yDNA Signature computed and green background : the father in this family is along a verified line (triangulated)

  • yDNA predicted and yellow background : the signature is triangulated but the father of the family is not in the verified line

  • yDNA presumed by only one line and blue background : this line was verified. You must find another descendant of this family to make another yDNA test with coherent results to have a valid signature.

  • yDNA presumed by convergence and gray background : one or more persons were tested but the genealogical line was not supplied or verified.

  • yDNA possible and gray background : there is possibly an adoption between the tested person and the pioneer. With men, probability is around 5% for an adoption or another not parental event (NPE) for 10 generations.


mtDNA comes from mitochondries given by the mother to her children. At the next generation, only the daughters can transmit them. The result is that anyone can be tested but the signature will follow the genealogical line of mothers.

There are 2 formats to present them:

  • If there is a triangulation, the mtDNA signature has some mutations (HVR1 and HVR2, the part CR or Coding Region being confidential), and an haplogroup to summarize these mutations.
  • Without a triangulation, only the haplogroup is shown.

If your test was not made by FTDNA, you may see nonetheless your haplogroup. With Geno2 and 23andme, the haplogroup should be displayed. With AncestryDNA, it is not measured.

mtDNA signatures are presented with the same convention. However, experience shown that there is almost no NPE in the female lines. If the signature is not coherent, there is almost always an error in the paper trail or a marriage where the bride has no parents (or no mother) and the mother is presumed fromwitnesses in other records. It seems that the modern concept of adoption where the name of the biological parents is replaced by that of legal parents was not common in New France even if about 2% of birth are out of wedlock.

Autosomal DNA

This concept is not used in this database. It is mentioned so that you can understand what it is if you want to test your DNA. The purpose of autosomal DNA or auDNA is to find cousins (up to about 10-12 generations away, i.e. going up and down 6 generations). At FTDNA, this test is called Family Finder. It is also the main test at Ancestry and 23andme.

Example of signatures


  • R1b-M269→Y41710 (R-M269→L151→P312→DF27→ZZ12_1→Y7363→Y41710)
    • R1b-M269→Y41710 : this is the haplogroup as shown bby Eupedia (R1b), the typical mutation (M269) and the most recent mutation (terminal or apical SNP).
    • R-M269→L151→P312→DF27→ZZ12_1→Y7363→Y41710 : they are the SNPs found by various tests and that could be found in a research. M269 is the older and covers about 80% of West of France (Gaulish or Celtic DNA). L151 is more recent but still ancient. Y41710 waas found, in 2018, in only 4men  (one Jarret-Beauregard, one Page and 2 Armenians) and would be dated year 200.
  • C-M216 : the customer made no deeper test. In this case (some Acadian Cyr), it is an Asian mutation that traveled eastward through France. In the other direction (American Native), it was followed by SNP P39 (or C2-M216→P39). But some Cyr verified and found negative to P39, so they are not a Native line. On the other hand, Germain Doucet Jr is in that line C2-M216→P39.


  • H, H1, H86, H1a, H1cf, H1a1 : the typical format has an uppercase letter optionally followed by a number (having 1 or 2 digits), 1 or 2 letters, and one more number. Each series of character is derived of the preceding haplogroup (H1 and H86 are based on H).
  • H5a1-T16093C : in some cases, a huge number of results has 1 mutation different from another one. Here, H5a1-T16093C is similar to haplogroup H5a1 with mutation T16093C, while H1-T152C! is the haplogroup H1 minus mutation T152C.
  • If the signature has only one letter, it can be the result of a partial test. By paying less, the results are less accurate and the haplogroupe is also less accurate. But, it is also possible that the full test gives only a letter. Thus, H can be either a full test or a partial test.


The web site shows the hypothetical route by the men and women who had the main mutations and their concentration. Thus, R1b is very common (80%) on the West coast of France, in Wales and Ireland, while R1a is more frequent in Slave countries like Russia, Poland or Ukraine.

Triangulation or convergence

If the signature is obtained by triangulation, it comes from 2 tested persons with a common ancestor (line was tested and completely male or female except the tested person if mtDNA). In some cases, the common ancestor is unknown but the lineas share the same family name and the same area of origin. The risk for an error is almost zero (the pioneer could have adopted 2 children having the same father for example).

If the signature is obtained by convergence, it comes from 1 or more tested persons for which the line wasn't validated to the pioneer. There is always a risk of error, particularly if the descendant made an error during the research or if there was an adoption or not-parental event (NPE).

ually not possible to know what happened). However, Étienne is the biological ancestor of Ernest (providing another descendant of Étienne was tested), while Abraham is the biological ancestor of Albert, Basile, Charles and Daniel. DNA won't tell who is Henri, if he is in line A or B or another line.

Source and credit for signatures

Most signatures come from the catalogue of the French Heritage DNA project that cumulates DNA signatures for the last 10 years to achieve triangulations to validate signatures included in the database of the Genealogy of French in North America (GFNA). Other are from the projects ADNy Québec and ADNmt Québec associated to the FAFQ, the Mothers of Acadia project, and from other projects. The author would appreciate to get access to other projects about the French in America so as to help to solve dead ends and to improve the quality of data in the GFNA database. In some cases, data are not from a project, but from matches to someone in a project, when the participant has no forwarded his/her male or female line. When validating your ancestry in the light of the predictions made about your DNA based on GFAN data, consider sending me a copy of your line at !

© Copyright 2013-2018 Denis Beauregard