Plant is the 617th most common surname in England and Wales, where it represents 0.022% of the total population, and it is the 5729th most common name in the USA, where the figure is 0.002%. In North America, there may be some confusion of spelling with the French-Canadian name Plante, but this also is being tested in this study.
The Y-DNA evidence is already quite persuasive that Plant is an `effectively single origin' surname, despite being populous. However, by extending the number of Plants tested to around 50, we can expect to be able to make firmer pronouncements on whether Plant has single-ancestor (modal) origins, or is a multiple-origins surname as was previously held. A sufficient number of results is now avaiable at the 37-marker level to begin to piece together closest matches between the different Plant branches for which the documentary evidence does not provide genealogical links. A 37-marker test will help to reveal, eventually if not immediately, the closest Plant matches to your own ancestral Plant line.
If you are not suitable to be tested yourself, you can recruit suitable relatives for the Plant project.
You may be a female who is interested in a Plant line of descent. If you are familiar with genealogy, you will already be accustomed to the idea that you often need to look for collateral relatives (brothers, cousins, etc.) in order to make progress with tracing back your family lines. Only men have a Y-chromosome, which descends purely down the paternal line (i.e. from his father's father's father's etc. father): this carries information about this male-line of descent (which usually coincides with the descent of a surname).
Click here to see how to sign up yourself, or someone else, for the test.
The person whose address is entered in the on-line form will receive a testing kit with very simple instructions (for him painlessly to take a swab from inside his cheek). You may, for example, select the 12-marker Y-DNA12 test and, if necessary, upgrade to more markers later. Taking the 37 marker Y-DNA37 test, however, will more probably identify your own particular branch of the family more uniquely. Payment (e.g. by invoice) goes direct to the testing laboratory: I take no payment myself. I am available to offer advice, however, and to help with analysing the results - click here for further advice for participants, such as about how to contact me.
Some preliminary results are becoming available for various surnames, including Plant. Given a few characteristic Y-line DNA signatures for Plant, Plantt, and Plante, the study may be extended to other `Plant like' names such as Planty, Plenty, Planta, Plantard, Planterose, and names such as Somerset which are believed to have descended from Plantagenet.
Starting in 2001, volunteers were sought for studies on Plant-like names (any spelling). It was initially unclear what to expect. The earliest study for the name Sykes had shown it to be essentially a single-ancestor name despite the fact that it had been held to be a multiple-ancestor topographical name. Some have since questioned the reliability of this early Sykes study however.
An early focus for a DNA study of the Plant name related to:-
- investigating ancestral connections in particular branches of the name, with a view to connecting together various family tree "twigs" with more certainty; and,
- seeking evidence for Plant(e) Y-chromosome types migrating around England and France and to the rest of the world.
In Britain, the R clade (Celtic regions) is found mostly down the western side, with Scandinavian clades (Anglo-Saxon and Viking regions) found more to Britain's east. The `offspring' or `children' meaning of Plant can be associated in particular with the nearby Welsh language, though similar meaning is found in early English. The ancestors of the main Plant family have been found to belong to the R-P312+ sub-clade (all currently know sub-clades beneath it testing negative), which is rare in England but more common in Spain and Portugal. This sugests that, in past millennia, the ancestors of the Plants might have migrated from Spain through France to England.
Y-DNA testing does far more than just identify the clade, or haplogroup, of the person being tested. It identifies a unique signature for the particular branch of his surname, and so helps with the genealogy of the different branches of a surname.
As well as adult male Plant volunteers from further branches, additional adult male Plant volunteers from the same branches are sought in order to check the branch genealogy. The study was also opened to Warren/Waring-like names, though these have now gone their own ways with their own separate projects. Volunteers called Somerset are welcome as these may add further insights to the possibilities of Plantagenet descents.
Branch/spelling Code for Earliest known ancestor of branch Testing company, volunteer kit number Main matching Plant family Sheffield, England. Plant P1a Thomas Plant of Clowne, ?b 1745 Sutton-cum-Duckmanton in NE Derbyshire son of William Plant of Duckmanton. Descent apparently through William (bap 1772), William (b 1803) OA + FT 11830 Humberside, England. Plant P1b ?ditto - i.e. ?Thomas Plant of Clowne, as above, but descent apparently through Benjamin (bap 1782) and John (Bark) Plant (b 1812) FT 18329 Sheffield, England. Plant P1c ?ditto with descent from John Bark Plant through George Plant FT 141186 London, England. Plant P2a William Plant of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, c1720 (born 1716 Tur Langton). OA + FT 277384 ditto P2b ditto OA Northants, England. Plant P3a Joseph Plant, b c1794 Ashton Under Lyne, Lancashire, subsequently of Duckinfield (1815) and Denton (1821-35). OA South Cheshire, England. Plant P5a Edward Plant of Siddington, c1565; with a line possibly from 15th century Rainow in east Cheshire. OA + FT 11858 Livingston, NJ, USA. Plant P7a John Plant, b c1646 England, d 1691 Branford, Ct, USA (married Betty Roundkettle). FT 7818 Austria. Plant P7b ditto FT 105871 Houma, LA, USA. Plant P12a James Plant, b c1839 Ireland, moved to New York City. FT 22839 Vancouver, Canada. Plant P14a Richard Plant bap 27.4.1740 Brewood, son of Richard Plant of Chillington, Brewood, Staffs. FT 43911 Davis, California. Plant P19a Edward Plant b 1787, Birmingham, England FT 96105 York, England. Plant P20a John Plant, b 1700, Old Swinford near Stourbridge, Worcestershire FT 119000 Hampshire, England. Plant P23a Alec P Plant; b 1914 Sheffield, England FT 144948 Waterford, Ireland. Plant P25a John Plant b c1808 Donoughmore Parish, Co Wicklow, Ireland (likely related to earlier Plants in parish register dating back to 1720) FT N83079 Dudley, England. Plant P26a Edward Plant, b 1779, Brewood, Staffordshire FT 182593 Texas, USA. Plant P27a A Queensland, Australia. Plant P28a Samuel Plant b 1768 m Mary Dignan b 1776 County Cavan, Ireland. Descent through James, Samuel, Sidney. FT 230023 Queensland, Australia. Plant P28b Samuel Plant b 1768 m Mary Dignan b 1776 County Cavan, Ireland. Descent through Samuel (ca.1800-81), Samuel (1836-1917). FT 248032 Narellan, NSW, Australia. Plant P29a James Plant b Buglawton/Macclesfield circa 1830 Cheshire, m Mary Ann Colyer and moved to London FT 232765 Gosford, NSW, Australia. Plant P30a Benjamin Plant (Master Potter) 1754-1823 at Lane End, Longton, Staffs, m Ann Clewlow 1762-1828 on 9 Jul 1781 at St Giles church in Newcastle, Staffs - had seven sons at Lane End; descent through 4th son John Plant b.1796, another John 1833-99, James Bradley Plant b 1858, John Thomas Plant 1885-1959. FT 273914 New York state, USA. Plant P31a FT 280105 Florida, USA. Plant P32a Williamson Plant b 1763 m Frances Watts b 1760, a grandson of John Plant of county Caroline, Virginia who was possibly a son of William Plant resident of the "Pamunkey Neck" territory of Virginia prior to 29/1/1677. FT 280384 USA. Plant(t) PT1a William Plant(t), b c1655, lived in VA. OA + FT 18227 Florida, USA. Plantt PT2a FT 60092 Ontario, Canada. Plantt PT3a Thomas Plant, b circa 1811 County Longford, Ireland and son Robert; Thomas and his family emigrated to Orillic area of Ontario in 1855 FT 235642 Matching south-Lincolnshire Plant Brough, Yorks. Plant P9a William Plant b 27.5.1832 Leake East Fen Allotment (south Lincs, England) to John and Eliz (b 1791) FT 17015 NSW, Australia. Plant P18a Robert Plant m Isaat Warner 1.7.1650 at Winthorpe, Lincolnshire, England; descent through Thomas Plant, bap 25.3.1666 Winthorpe, will 2.10.1734 Sibsey, Lincolnshire; ...down to James Plant b 5.6.1792 Sibsey, son of Richard Plant and Sarah Waltham; James's sons emigrated to Australia FT 86357 Other Plant (P4a, P10a and P15a are non-Plants who thought they might be descended from Plants) London, England. Not Plant. P4a ?James Plant b 1806 Cheadle, Staffordshire. OA Ohio, USA. Plant P6a George Plant, b 1819, Stafford England, son of Richard. Living in Finney Green, Keele, Staffordshire in 1840 when he married Dinah Grocott. Migrated to USA in 1882. FT 6948 Manchester, England. Plant P8a Jonathan James Plant born of Martha Plant (spinster) at Leek on 25.10.1852; descent via Mark Ernest Plant b 1.May.1877 d 1.May.1951 Manchester (i.e. probably not a Plant by genetic male-line descent but by descent from Martha) FT 16102 Bedford, England. Brown P10a ?John Plant b c1813 Laxfield, Suffolk (hitherto uncertain whether a Plant by genetic descent) FT 19112 Norwich, England. Plant P11a Joseph Plant father of Alfred Plant b 1839 Lichfield, Staffs. FT 22831 London, England. Plant P13a Edmund Plant, b Yorkshire c1900 FT 32239 Anglesey, Wales. Booth P15a ?Henry Plant b 1814 Bidulph son of John Plant - descent through his son Daniel Plant b 1860 Astbury, Cheshire who married Mary Ellen Booth (nee Harding). FT Newport, Wales. Plant P16a Charles Plant, b 1916 Birmingham, England. FT 59162 Stamford, Lincs. Plant P17a George Plant b 1670 Wrangle, Lincs m Ann Skelton, descent through: Thomas b 1695 Wrangle; Thomas b 1720 Greetham, Rutland; John Plant b 1741 Gretham m Sarah Barsby at Morcott Church Rutland 31 March 1761. FT 67159 Portland, Oregon. Plant P21a Uriah Edward Plant; b 1849 Cork, Ireland; d 7.9.1911 York, Canada; possibly a son of Uriah Plant b 1821 Cheshire who was a merchant involved in a lawsuit in Clare in 1849, possibly coal merchant Uriah Plant b 1821, d 1868 Poplar London, son of Uriah Plant b 1768, lived in Leicester, 5th son of Samuel Plant of Lach Dennis near Northwish Cheshire, moved to Wicham, son of William Plant of Winsford, Cheshire FT 124512 Melbourne, Australia. Plant P22a John Plant (labourer) emigrated unmarried, aged 17, to Australia in 1868 from County Cork, Ireland; son of John Plant (labourer) and Johanna Keiley FT 133135 Cheadle, Staffordshire, England. Plant P24a Thomas Plant, b c1699 Leek who settled with his wife Margaret (nee Walker) in Cheadle c1722. Descent through John (1726-98), Thomas (1750-??), William (1783-1862), James (1806-59), James (1831-89). FT 165936 No new volunteers currently awaiting results from lab Matching Quebec Plante family Quebec, Canada. Plante PE1b Jean Plante, sailed to Canada in 1647 from La Rochelle-Laleu, France, landed at Quebec City, settled at Chateau Richer just to its east. (Descent through Francois b 1668 C.R. and Jos- Ambroise b 1697 C.R) FT 5420 Idaho, USA. Plante PE1c ditto (Descent from Jean through his son Jean, then Louis, Joseph Marcel, Antoine, Jean Baptiste, Thomas, etc.) FT 13484 NJ, USA. Plante PE1e from Quebec FT 101225 New York, USA. Plante PE1f Jean Plante, sailed to Canada in 1647 from La Rochelle-Laleu, France, landed at Quebec City, settled at Chateau Richer just to its east FT 232920 Richmond, Virginia, USA. Plante PE2a Ernest Plante (1918-91) Burlington, Vermont FT 76595 Illinois, USA. Plante PE3a Joseph Plante father of George Plante b 1871 Kanakee, Illinois FT 116202 Ames, Iowa, USA. Plante PE4a ?France FT 62516 Other Plante Ontario, Canada. Plante PE1a Jean Plante, sailed to Canada in 1647 from La Rochelle-Laleu, France, landed at Quebec City, settled at Chateau Richer just to its east. (Descent through Francois b 1668 C.R. and Pierre b 1702) FT 5469 Michigan, USA. Plante PE1d Adolphe Ovide David Plante of Quebec (3.5.1841-1907, son of Louis Plante and Marie Anne Gingras); descent through David's 10th child Wilfrid Nazaire Leopold Plante (24.2.1880-1924) FT 92735 Indiana, USA. Plante PE5a ?from Quebec FT 168281 Other Plant-like names Zaragoza, Spain. Planter PR1a Ramón Planter (Goser) b 17 Dec 1844 Zaragoza (Descent through Antonio Planter (Sangorrin) b Jun 1905 Zaragoza) FT N11991 West Virginia, USA. Plants PS1a Christian Plants, b 21 Apr 1747 Bavaria, Germany; descent through Jacob Plants, b c1807 Washington County, Pensylvania, USA. FT 71599 Warren/Waring-like names Illinois, USA. Waring WG1a John Waring, father of Emanuel Waring, bap 4.Oct.1807 Dewsbury, W.Yorkshire, UK. FT NSW, Australia. Waring WG2a William Waring, b Lancashire, England; d Kilkenny, Ireland, will 1709 proved 1713. FT Jacksonville, Arkansas, USA. Waring WG3a Sampson Waring 1617-68, born in Shropshire, England, died in Maryland, USA. FT Memphis, Tennesse, USA. Waring WG4a Thomas Waring, Essex County, Virginia, USA, early 1700s. FT Cornwall, England. Wearing WEG1a Henry James Wearing, b Whitechapel, Middlesex, England 1828, d Nova Scotia 1909, son of James Wearing m Sarah Bignold 1824 St Mary, Whitechapel. FT Columbia. Wareing WREG1a Harry Wareing, b Gainsborough, Lincolnshire 1899 FT Suffolk, UK. Warren W1a James Warren, b 28.12.1716 Marnhull, Dorset FT Warren (VNFSM, 66386) W2a George Warren, England FT Warren (70059) W3a FT
Each volunteer has been given a code (e.g. P1a, P2a, etc.) and the above table relates each code to an "earliest known ancestor" based on documentary evidence. Results for those marked with the Testing Company "OA" (Oxford Ancestors) in the above table are summarised under Initial Results. Some of the results for those with the Testing Company "FT" (FTDNA) appear under Futher Results where there is also included one tested with the company "A" (Ancestry). A kit number is given in the above table for each FTDNA testee and fuller and more complete FTDNA Y-DNA results (Y-SNP and Y-STR) for each kit number appear here.
Early volunteers (OA) had only 10 markers measured and the following Network diagram includes only Plant volunteers who have had at least as many as 12 markers measured. It shows differences in the measured values of these 12 markers. The labels correspond to the different volunteers and are identified in the table above, though where more than one volunteer matches exactly (larger circles) only one label is shown.
The largest red circle above shows that many of the Plant volunteers have exactly matching DNA signatures, at the 12 marker level, with other smaller red circles almost matching it. The yellow and green circles do not even nearly match, probably because of false paternity events, also called non paternity events (NPEs), though the two green circles almost match one another and the yellow circle labelled P16a corresponds to both P16a and P21a.
NPEs arise when the DNA signature has not been inherited from a Plant ancestor but from a different father, perhaps because of a wifely infidelity, or adoption, or any other mechanism by which the Plant surname is passed on in a different way from that of the y-chromosome signature of the true father. Though there is only about a 2% chance of a NPE at each generation, this can accumulate to around a 40% chance when all the generations of descent are taken into account throughout Plant surname history and this can explain the significant number of yellow and green circles.
When 37 markers are compared (see diagram below), the large red circle is differentiated into closely matching smaller red circles though those who have had only 25 or less markers measured do not appear in this diagram. The red circles are matching or nearly matching - imprecise matching to the ancestral Y-DNA signature can be expected because of occasional harmless mutations to the marker values down the generations. The yellow and green circles are more distant from the red and are almost certainly due to NPEs. The green circle corresponds to one of the pair of volunteers with (as well as a close genetic match at the 25 marker level) geographically close ancestry in south Lincolnshire.
In order to zoom in to see the indentity label of each circle, the above 37-loci diagram is split below into its matching core and its non-matching periphery. P19a and P29a are relatively distant from the core of the cluster but they have been confirmed to belong to the main English Plant family by both Deep Clade and 111-marker Y-DNA testing. The red circle labelled P28a corresponds to a pair of volunteers P28a and P28b who were already known from documentary evidence to be closely related.
In these 37-marker Network digrams, the genetic differences between pairs of volunteers are represented by the lengths of the lines joining them. I shall refer to these lines as the genetic network. In the following map, lengths of lines aside, the same genetic network is shown superimposed on a map of Ireland and England, apart from the omission of some of the volunteers whose earliest known male-line ancestors were in the USA. Solid lines are used for the links between genetic network neighbours for the main Plant family (red circles) whereas brolen lines are used for the less-meaningful links bewteen the "NPE" yellow and green circles.
The above map shows, for example, that the DNA-tested Plants whose earliest-known male-line ancestors were near Sheffield (P23a, P1a, P1c) are not only geographical neighbours on the map but also they are genetically linked by the network. This suggests that a particular branch of the Plant family found its way to that region as was already suspected for the genealogically-linked P1a and P1c but not necessarily for P23a. On the other hand, the genetic network is spread across the Irish sea and indicates that PT3a links back to England through a different branch of the Plant family from that of P25a, P28a and P29a, despite the geographical proximity of PT3a to P28a and P28b in Ireland.
Some caution is needed, however, in interpreting all of the details of the network on the map. The solid lines do not necessarily imply direct migration paths, especially when the genetic distance between linked neighbours in the network is large. The solid lines can also be misleading when the Y-DNA signature of a volunteer approximates that of the medieval ancestors of the main Plant family, such that there is nothing to tie it to any particular time since the fourteenth century. In particular, P20a evidently seems to have no mutation from the Plants' ancestral signature at this 37-marker level and it just happens that his earliest-known male-line ancestor was near Birmingham, in 1700. This is why several of the solid lines link to P20a near Brimingham though the ancestral Plant signature was probably earlier in the Plants' main homeland near the Cheshire-Staffordshire border (between P29a and P24a on the map). It is reasonable to suppose that the geographic focus of the lines joining to P20a on the map might better be placed near the Cheshire-Staffordshire border, though of course we only have sketchy details of the early genealogy of the main Plant family.
One way in which the genetic results can be arranged into a genealogical tree is shown below. At this 37-marker level, the number of harmless mutations is shown against each descending line in the tree. We can expect a better definition of this ancestral tree as more Plant volunteers come forward to be DNA tested and as more makers become available.
The genetic network for those who have had at least 67 markers measured is shown below. The red circles have diverged from this ancestral signature in their various ways, by occasional mutations down the generations, and the yellow circle has probably arisen from this same ancestral family, but through a female link (NPE) rather than down an intact male line.
More Plant volunteers will determine the network with more certainty. However, a few Plants have had 111 markers measured and the corresponding network diagram is shown below.
Some of the Plant volunteers have traced their paternal origins back only as far as ancestors overseas, such as in Ireland or the USA. However, for those who have traced their ancestry back to around the main Plant homeland in Staffordshire, England, the following map shows the location and date of their earliest known male-line ancestor. The colours of the circles have the same significance as in the above Network diagrams. The darker the brown of the background colour, the higher the proportion of Plants to the general population for each county, as derived from 1881 Census data, with the highest proportion being in the county of Staffordshire. The DNA data shows that a single Plant family (red circles) extends beyond the county boundaries of Staffordshire by the eighteenth century.
Y-DNA test results are often clear cut; but, in some cases, it is appropriate to consider their statistical basis:
A characteristic Y-line DNA signature has been found for 25 of the 37 Plant volunteers tested so far and different results have been obtained for 1 volunteer called Plants and for 10 volunteers called Plante (though 7 of the 10 called Plante match one another). Largely consistent results with at least half of the volunteers matching, such as has been found so far for Plant (and separately for Plante), can be considered to be expectable provided that one supposes each name, Plant and Plante, descended mostly from its own single family. The Canadian Plante family is of different male-line stock from the main English Plant family. Either might be fantastically imagined to have descended from the fictionally-supposed 7th century Plantard family in France; or, fiction aside, from Eimeric de la Planta (alias de Plant') in Anjou in 1202. Alternatively, the main Plant family could be just an English family from around 1200-1400; other evidence, taken with these Y-DNA findings, suggests that the name of the main English Plant family may have originated as that of perhaps polygynous children in the Welsh Marches in the 13th or 14th centuries and have the Welsh meaning `[many] children'; more certainly, this single family has grown to an unusual extent.
A further preliminary comment is that the characteristic signature for Plant (so far) has been found to agree with one for Plantt. Plantt appears in early records in England and it is sometimes written Plantt. This might be fancifully imagined to point to a possibility that Plant was an abbreviation of a French surname such as Plantinet (rare) or even Plantagenet (see also further details about Plantt). The Plantagenets can also be associated with Warren/Waring-like names (see also evidence for a Plant-Warenne affinity) but, so far, only one of the Warrens/Warings tested matches with the Plantt/Plant family. Indeed, further Warren results appear in the Y-search database; and, so far, few named Warren or Waring have matched any other Warren or Waring, such that it is beginning to look as though, unlike Plant(t), Warren and Waring are multiple-ancestor surnames, perhaps mostly descended from various individuals with the common Norman personal name Warin. There has been a close match of one Warren (W2a), at the twelve-marker level, to the main English Plant family; but, further evidence would be needed before it could be claimed that the Y-DNA signatures of this Warren and most Plants descend from the yet-unknown Y-DNA signature of the Plantagenets.
Grossly inconsistent results, unlike those found so far for Plant(t), could have been expected if there had been many false paternity events down the centuries or if there had originally been several different Plant families. The DNA results so far tend not to confirm such suppositions as ones that there were several different Plant families who happened to be called Plant simply because they were (a) all `gardeners' or (b) all influenced into calling themselves Plant out of respect for the Plantagenet name. It is possible of course that they all descend largely from one family that was so influenced, with other Plant lines having died out. An alternative possibility that can not yet be discounted is that the English Plant name was sanitised from Plente (meaning abundant or fertile) - no DNA result is yet available for the surname Plenty which may have derived from Plente.
Further Y-line testing of Plant-like names, such as for the Plante family of Gascony (SW France), or the Plantard family of Brittany (NW France), or the noble Planta/Von Planta family of Switzerland, might shed further light.
The Plant project was begun in late 2001 and initial accounts of its implications for the Plant and Plantagenet names have been published as:
- John S Plant (2005) Modern methods and a controversial surname: Plant, Nomina, Vol. 28, pp. 115-33;
- John S Plant (2007) The tardy adoption of the Plantagenet surname, Nomina, Vol. 30, pp. 57-84;
- John S Plant (2009) Surname studies with genetics: a brief review including an outline of the Meates and Plant studies, DNA Section, Guild of One Name Studies;
- John S. Plant (July 2010), Understanding the Royal name Plantagenet -- how DNA helps, DNA Section, Guild of One-Name Studies (23 pages); and, (Oct 2010), illustrated summary version, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 10, Issue 8, pp. 14-15;
- John S. Plant and Richard E. Plant (April 2012) The Plant Controversy, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp. 8-9; in response to Surnames, DNA & Family History, book review (Jan 2012), Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 11, Issue 1, p. 34;
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (May 2012) Getting The Most from a Surname Study: semantics, DNA and Computer Modelling, DNA Section, Guild of On-Name Studies (40 pages).
The test involves the volunteer simply taking a swab of cells from the inside of his mouth. A summary of the results may be published here, with the personal names of each testee being kept anonymous.
The Plant Family History Group has offer prices with the FamilyTree-DNA (FT-DNA) Testing Laboratory. The standard FT-DNA test measures 12 markers for 49 US dollars, though 25 markers can be measured instead for 124 US dollars or 37 markers for 149 US dollars or 67 markers for 239 US dollars. You can take the 12-marker test and then subsequently upgrade to more markers if appropriate though measuring (or upgrading to), for example, 37 markers can be beneficial in the long run.
If you are interested in participating in the Plant DNA Testing programme, you can either:
It would be helpful to the project if you could supply me with the earliest known male-to-male Plant ancestor of the intended testee and that ancestor's historical location.
- proceed straight to ordering a testing kit, by completing the on-line form obtained by clicking here; or,
- contact me, the project coordinator, Dr John S Plant.
You may send your message with questions and/or comments to me by whatever method you prefer..(email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by postal address: Dr J.S.Plant, 7 Ontario Close, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST4 8TG, England).
Plant Name Distribution Page