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 tests in this study indicate that the different spellings largely correspond to two entirely different genetic families.
The Y-DNA evidence was soon quite persuasive that Plant is an `effectively single origin' surname, despite being populous. It had previously been held to be multi-origin (i.e. that it descended from many genetically distinct ancestors who adopted the Plant surname independently). It now seems that it is probably plural-origin with a few, rather than many, origins and with around 75% of the living popluation of Plants descended from a single male ancestor in fourteenth-century SE Cheshire.
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, within the main Plant family for which there appear to be four major branches that formed in the centuries before when adequate documentary evidence is available. Using just documentary evidence, most Plants do well if they manage to trace back their male-line ancestors as far as 250 years ago. Useful Census data is available back as far as around 160 years ago and, before then, ambiguities between such names as several possible William Plants or John Plants can quite often become a problem. Geographical proximities can sometimes help but the Y-DNA evidence shows that these are not always a reliable guide to building the Plant descent tree. For a male Plant, a 37-marker test will help to reveal the closest Plant matches to your own ancestral Plant line. With the help of Y-DNA evidence, some main features of the Plant descent tree are beginning to emerge.
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 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. Characteristic Y-line DNA signatures have been measured for Plant, Plantt, Plants, Plenty and Plante, and the study is yet to be extended to other `Plant like' names such as Planty, Planta, Plantard, Planterose, etc.
This project started early in this century in Y-DNA investigations of names (such as Warren, Cornwall and Somerset) associated with possible male-line descents from the Plantagenets (since Plantagenet is another "Plant-like" name). However, only many mismatching Y-DNA signatures were found amongst these claimed Plantagenet descendants. (This same situation has been found again in more recent and more widely publicised investigations in connection with the skeleton of the Plantagenet king Richard III). These mismatches suggest that there were false claims of royal or noble descent in earlier centuries or that there were, for example, wifely infidelities introducing non-Plantagenet Y-chromosomes into these lines. (The more sensational newspapers have pointed in particular to the long-debated possibility that there were infidelities in the supposed male-line of the successive Plantagenet kings themselves). More clarity might eventually emerge with more testing.
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. It now seems that Sykes is plural-origin albeit with perhaps a dominant family in the geographical region around West Yorkshire.
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 R1b clade is widespread but found particularly down the western side (i.e. in so-called "Celtic regions" though its ancestral origins in Britain are now believed mostly to have predated the so-called "Celtic era"). Scandinavian clades (often too simplistically called Anglo-Saxon or Viking) are found more often to Britain's east. The ancestral line of the main Plant family was found to belong to the R1b-P312+ sub-clade, which is rarer in England than in Spain and Portugal. More recently, the sub-clade of the ancestral line has been identified more precisely as R1b->P312->DF27->L617->FGC14951+ which apparently migrated from SW Europe to England around 3,500 to 700 years ago. Rapid advances are currently being made with this so-called "deep ancestry" testing.
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 descent branches and twigs of a surname.
For the abnormally large main Plant family, the challenges are greater than for a rare surname. However, valuable progress is now being made with dividing up the branches of this large descent family, as well as with the earlier distinctions that were more readily made between the main Plant family and some smaller descent families (such as an apparently separate-origin Lincolnshire Plant family and the North American Plante family). The progress now being made with the abnormally-large main Plant family is in some ways more valuable as it divides the large Plant population into more personal chunks.
As well as adult male Plant volunteers from further sub-branches, additional adult male Plant volunteers from the same sub-branch are sought in order to check the branching genealogies. Volunteers with other similar names are also welcome.
Location/spelling Code for Earliest known ancestor of sub-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 + YSEQ 410 + YF4268 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 + YSEQ 5426 London, England. Plant P2a William Plant of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, c1720 (born 1716 Tur Langton). OA + FT 277384 + YSEQ 2849 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 + YF4270 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 + YF4839 Texas, USA. Plant P27a AN 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. Earlier descent possibly from William Plant (son of William) bap 2.3.1777 Knutsford, Cheshire. 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 Davidson, NSW, Australia. Plant P33a William M Thomas Plant b 1871 Sheffield, Yorkshire, possibly son of William b 1841 Sheffield who was possibly son of Benjamin b 1817 Clowne Derbyshire d 1861 as in Figures 9.1, 9.3 and 9.4 of Chapter 9 (cf. P1a). FT 295512 + YSEQ 4554 Canada. Plant P36a Joseph Plant (1840-1919). Descent through his son Harry Campbell Plant, who emigrated to Canada with his brother Joseph Eugene Plant in 1910. (Supplied ancestry suggests origins in Leicestershire circa 1720 with a possible link back to Staffordshire circa 1550). FT 372698 Aukland, New Zealand. Plant P39a William Plant, b 1770 in Norton le Moors, Staffordshire, d 1830; son Daniel, b 1788 Norton le Moors m Phebe. Their son William Plant (potter and chemist, worked for Plant bros) b 1838 in Tunstall, Staffordshire moved to New Zealand. FT B68907 Toronto, Canada. Plant P40a John Plant, b ca. 1667 Swynnerton, Staffordshire, grandfather of William Plant b 1716 Tur Langton, Leicestershire, England (cf. P2a and P36a). FT 436455 Port Augusta, Australia. Plant P43a Francis I Plant (1849-1921) Barossa Valley, Australia with probable ancestry back to John Plant, b ca.1778, Manchester, m 31.7.1797 Ellen Diggles Manchester Cathedral, England (see details here). FT 453216 USA. Plant(t) PT1a William Plantt, b c1655, lived in Virginia, USA. Descent through John, William (fought with brother Williamson in the 1775-83 Revolutionary War and then moved to South Carolina), Lewis Henry, Wesley Henry, James Henry, Joseph Enoch, Robert Henry OA + FT 18227 Ontario, Canada. Carr PT1b Now believed to be a lost son of the late PT1a above FT 40279 Florida, USA. Plantt PT2a FT 60092 Ontario, Canada. Plantt PT3a Robert Plant, b circa 1780 County Longford, Ireland and son Thomas; Thomas and his family emigrated to Orillic area of Ontario in 1855 FT 235642 + YF4841 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 Reading, England. Plant P34a Evidently, Thomas Plant, b c1585 Bucks, descent through: John b 1632 Wooton Underwood, Bucks; William b 1677; Charles b 1704 Marsh Gibbon, Bucks; William b 1727; Edward b 1771 Charndon, Bucks; James b 1816; John b 1849; Thomas James (or James Thomas) b 1879 Appleton Whisk, Yorks; James Herbert b 1913 Manchester FT 299895 Aukland, New Zealand. Plant P35a George William Plant, b 1875 Madeley, Shropshire, England; descent through George Geoffrey Plant, b 31.5.1910 Aukland, NZ. Earlier descent evidently from Francis Plante, b Jul 1626 Sheriff Hales, Shrops; via John Plant (1659); John (1695); William (1725) Stanton upon Hine Heath, Shrops; William (1758); Joseph (1794); James (1843) Wrockwardin Wood, Shrops. FT 332860 Utah, USA. Plant P37a (AN) FT B12091 California, USA. Plant P38a Louis Jefferson Plant, b Mussel Shoals, Alabama 1832 or 1835. Descent through Forrest Plant, attorney, Sacramento. FT 402360 co. Durham, England. Plant P41a John Plant bc 1775 descent through John bc 1815 Burslem,Staffs d 1867 St Marlebone, London; John Robert (1838-82) Marlebone; Harry b 1876 St Pancras d 1922 Goole (m E. Alice J. Simonette b 1884 Coundon, Co.Durham) professional musicians FT 444923 Hebden Bridge, England. Plant P42a FT 446600 Leek, Staffordshire, England. Plant P44a Geirge Plant, b 1816 Appleby (in the Asby-de-la-Zouch district of Leicestershire), descent in Black Country through Joseph then Mark. Possible ancestry of George back through 3 generations called William to 1726. FT 470746 Salt Lake City, USA. Plant P45a FT 366463 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 Somerset, UK. Plenty PEY1a Theophulis Plenty, Walton, Somerset. Descent through his son John Francis Plenty. FT 399575 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
New volunteers awaiting results from lab
Location/spelling Code for Earliest known ancestor of sub-branch Testing company, volunteer kit number Congleton, Cheshire, England. Plant P2b William Plant of Market Harborough, Leicestershire, c1720 (born 1716 Tur Langton). Descent through Thomas Plant (b 1753 Little Bowden, Northamptonshire), then John Plant (b 1785 Ringstead, Northamptonshire) OA + FT 475951 + YSEQ 12062 Baltimore, Maryland, USA. Plant P46a FT 487651 Western Australia. Plant P47a William Plant, b 1844 Stone, Staffordshire, England (see further details) FT 497822
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 and also, where appropriate, to a FT kit number of the testing company FTDNA.
The very first results for those marked with the Testing Company "OA" (Oxford Ancestors) in the above table of volunteers are summarised under Initial Results. Some further results (though not the most recent ones) for those tested with the Testing Company "FT" (FTDNA) appear under Futher Results where there is also included one tested with the company "AN" (Ancestry). Most results, including the most recent ones, are given as follows.
Standard Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) presentation of most of the Results
A kit number is given in the above table of volunteers for each FTDNA testee (i.e. for most of those who have been tested). Hence, almost complete Y-DNA results (Y-SNP and Y-STR) for each FTDNA kit number appear here.
Y-DNA matching to the Main English Plant family
The quality of the matches to the main English Plant family is tabulated in terms of genetic distance and discussed here.
YSEQ extra measured markers
P1a, #11830, #410, FGC22149+, DYS552=23, DYS650=18, DYS710=33.2 (a rare 2 base micro-allele at 19436836-7)
P1c, #141186, #5426, FGC22149-, DYS652=23, DYS650=19, DYS710=33.2
P33a, #295512, #4554, FGC22149-, DYS552=23, DYS650=18, DYS710=33.2
P2a, #277384, #2849, A10650+, DYS504=16, DYS513=13, DYS532=13, DYS552=24, DYS561=15, DYS593=15, DYS650=18, DYS712=22, DYS715=22
P19a, #96105, #4019, F3085+
YFull extra measured markers
P1a, #11830, #YF04268; SNPs (FGC22149+, [not confirmed by YSEQ: A10165, CTS11688], [awaiting YSEQ result: PF374+]); 422 reliable Y-STRs including DYS710=33.2
P19a, #96105, #YF04270; SNPs (F3085+, YFS529117+, YFSS529118+, YFS529119+, 13211302-C-T+, 13239222-T-A+); 419 reliable Y-STRs
P26a, #182593, #YF04839; SNPs (YFS1211490=8084397-C-A+, YFS1211919+); 454 reliable Y-STRs
PT3a, #235642, #YF04841; SNPs (YFS1212991=15237869-G-T+, YFS1213002=18024409-C-T+, ?YFS1212707=8805116-T-A+); 445 reliable Y-STRs
BigY and Big Tree extra measured markers
P40a, #436455; SNPs (A10964+, A10965+, A10650+)
P43a, #453216; SNPs (A10960+, A10961+, A10962+, A10963+, A10650+)
12 marker Y-STR results
Early volunteers (OA) had only 10 markers measured. The following Network diagram includes only Plant volunteers who have had at least 12 markers measured (with FTDNA). It shows differences in the measured values of these 12 markers. The labels in the diagram correspond to the same labels that are used to identify different Plant males in the table of volunteers above. However, where more than one volunteer matches exactly (larger circles in the following diagram), 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. There are other smaller red circles almost matching the large one. Red indicates that these volunteers belong to a single descent family (as judged by the DNA results).
The yellow and green circles do not even nearly match the large red one. Such mismatching can be explained by one of two possible reasons: an NPE (see next subsection); or, an entirely separate medieval origin to the Plantt surname. The two green circles almost match one another and might be from a separate south Lincolnshire origin of the name. The yellow circle labelled P16a corresponds to both P16a and P21a.
Mismatching circles arising from NPEs
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. This can explain most, if not all, of the significant number of yellow and green circles. As already indicated, the alternative explanation of grossly mismatching circles is that the descent is from an entirely separate medieval origin, as is likely for the green circles.
Migration beyond Staffordshire
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 of Staffordshire, England, the following map shows the location and date of their earliest known male-line ancestor.
The darker the brown of the background colour, the higher the proportion of Plants in the county in 1881. The darkest brown corresponds to the county of Staffordshire. The proportion of Plants to the general population of each county is derived from 1881 Census data.
Superimposed on this brown background, the DNA data show that a single Plant family (red circles) extends beyond the county boundaries of Staffordshire by the eighteenth century. The colours of the circles have the same significance as in the above Network diagram.
37 marker Y-STR results
In the diagram below, 37 DNA markers are compared. (Hence, needless to say, those who have had only 25 or less markers measured do not appear in this diagram).
At each generation, there can be an occasional mutation of a Y-DNA marker. With more markers measured, more mutations can be expected to show. There is accordingly more separation of the red circles in the above 37-marker diagram than was apparent at the 12-marker level. These separations represent accumulated mutations, down the generations, from the Y-DNA signature of a male ancestor of the main Plant descent family.
Detail of some amendments.The large red circle for the 12-marker results (shown in the 12-marker Network diagram above) is here differentiated into quite closely matching smaller red circles, nearly all of which are singletons when 37 markers are considered. However, three of the markers are fast changing and, though they are useful for studying the detail of close family "twigs" in the last few centuries, they tend to distort the overall picture for the main Plant family (red circles) which has developed over perhaps around seven hundred years. The effects of these three fast-changing markers are hence omitted from the 37-marker Network diagram above. Also, the link to P38a is in fact longer and has been shortened in this diagram.
In the above diagram, there is now only one green circle (P18a towards the right of the diagram). This corresponds to one of the pair of volunteers who, as well as having geographically close ancestry in south Lincolnshire, had a close genetic match at the 25 marker level.
An alternative presentation of the 37-marker results
The above diagram was obtained using the Flexus Engineering Network software package and the following diagram is for all of the 37-marker data using the MEGA6 software package.
The labeled volunteers in the block P38a P45a P21a P34a P24a P18a P22a in the diagram below correspond to the yellow and green circles of the Network diagram above. Their large distances to the right indicate that they are genetically distant from the main English Plant family - as already indicated, this large distance is explained by NPEs or separate origins.
Most of the Plant volunteers are well over to the left of the diagram. These smaller horizontal distances arise from mutations within the main Plant family. (The DNA evidence that these Plants descend from a single medieval man is outlined more directly elsewhere).
The scale at the bottom of the diagram below indicates a genetic distance of 5 in going from left to right. The label PMH, near the bottom left, indicates one possible estimate of the ancestral Y-DNA signature of the main English Plant family.
Because of the limited number of Plants that have been tested, it is not always clear in which order the Y-STR mutations have occurred. Put simply, the above diagram can be regarded as representing an average of the guesses at how the mutations progress in going from left to right (though, in detail, the algorithm is complex).
Because of the averaging, the horizontal lines can correspond to fractional genetic distances. For example, averaging genetic distances of 1 and 2 would give an average value of 1.5. At face value, such an average would seem to imply that one can have fractions of a mutation though, of course, that would be a false interpretation that does not make physical sense.
Measuring more Y-STR markers and their stability
Further MEGA6 analyses have been carried out at the 37-, 67- and 111- Y-STR marker levels. Also, the analyses have been repeated leaving out some of the relatively unstable markers.
Some aspects of the resulting branching, in the descent of the main Plant family, have been resilient throughout these various analyses whereas others have not. See here for the details of these MEGA6 analyses. Though not necessarily entirely reliable, this provides a start for estimating the major branches in the descent of the main Plant family.
Four or so major branches of the main Plant family
The following branching model takes account of the above MEGA6 diagrams and it also seeks to identify specific mutations which identify some particular branches in the descent of the main Plant family.
Such branching helps to break down the abnormally large main Plant family into rather more manageable sub-populations. Further genealogical connections within these sub-populations can then be investigated using a combination of documentary and DNA evidence.
The branches differ in how much Y-STR testing is initially required in order to identify an apparent membership of each branch. Initially, only those who have had the Y-DNA37 test or better have been listed here though we are now recommending a cheaper Y-DNA12 test to be followed, in general, by some more-tailored further testing. This can then form the basis of an alternative testing strategy that is likely to be more cost-effective than just measuring more and more Y-STR markers by means of the FTDNA standard tests. Towards this end, some additional Y-STR and Y-SNP information is being appended for each branch listed below, as shown in small italics.
- Branch A
- Identified by DYS570=20 in a Y-DNA37 or YSEQ test: P1a, P1c, P23a, P33a
- (Also, P1a, P1c and P33a have DYS710=33.2; P1a also has FGC22149+ unlike P1c and P33a; P23a is no longer available for such further testing.)
- Branch B
- Identified by DYS534=16 in a Y-DNA67 or YSEQ test: P20a, P25a, P26a, PT3a
- However, either DYS458 or DYS534 is a parallel mutation for PT1a making him somewhat ambiguous between Branch B and a tentative Branch E
- (Some potential SNPs from NGS which are shared by P26a+PT3a are being checked out. Already however, at the over 400 Y-STR level, P26a is only 0.044 from PT3a whereas both are 0.094 or 0.096 from Branch A [P1a] and 0.069 or 0.074 from Branch E [P19a]. After splitting in Branch B, P26a has 8084397-C-A whereas PT3a has instead 15237869-G-T, 18024409-C-T, 8805116-T-A)
- Branch C
- Identified by DYS385b=13 in a Y-DNA12 test: P28a, P28b, P30a, ?P39a
- Branch D
- Indicated by DYS456=17 (Y-DNA37 or YSEQ test) and DYS712=22 (Y-DNA111 or YSEQ test): P2a, P7b, P36a, ?P40a, ?P43a
- (P2a, P7b, P36a have both of these with P2a having had DYS712 determined by YSEQ; P43a has tested DYS456=17 [Y-DNA37]; P40a and P43a have tested A10650+)
- Suggested by DYS458=19 in a Y-DNA25 test: P19a, P29a, PT1a
- However, either DYS458 or DYS534 is a parallel mutation for PT1a making him ambiguous between Branch B and this tentative Branch E
- (Also, P19a has F3085, 13211302-C-T, 13239222-T-A, 17577432-A-C, 17577433-C-A, 17680770-C-T)
The Y-DNA tests identified above are in the first instance standard tests that are available from the testing company FTDNA. However, tests for some specific markers (such as DYS712) can be bought more cheaply at the testing company YSEQ. Those who are not yet tested are advised that they could begin with a realtively cheap Y-DNA12 test at FTDNA and then we are always available to advise on what further testing could be the most cost effective.
- The markers DYS385b, DYS570, DYS534, DYS458 and DYS712 are used as defining mutations even though there is a moderate chance of parallel mutations in the descent lines. A mutation rate for DYS712, in particular, is not well known and it might be faster than for some of the others and perhaps hence less reliable. Though DYS456 is omitted from some of the above MEGA6 diagrams, the value (17) might be adequately stable to be useful as a proxy (as well as confirmation) for DYS712=22.
- It is possible that Branch A might be quite well defined by a rather unusual (8%) value (20) for the marker DYS570.
- PT1a has both of our so-called "defining markers" DYS458 and DYS534. At least one of these must be a parallel mutation. It is hence debatable whether the marker DYS458 should be given precedence in placing PT1a in Branch B, instead of the tentative Branch E.
- At the Y-DNA111 (or explicit YSEQ) level, the marker DYS650 cuts across and disconfirms the above branching model, in so far as this marker has inconsistent results. The value DYS650=18 brings together two out of three tested in Branch D (P2a and P36a, but not P7b) with the only one tested to this level in Branch A (P1a) and with one of the two tested in Branch E (P29a, but not P19a). The value DYS650=19 accordingly brings together instead one from each of branches B (PT3a), C (P28a), D (P7b), E (P19a). Thus, it is possible that the value DYS650=19 could be used to allow P7b to be taken out of Branch D and placed together with P19a from Branch E and also with Branches B and C to form an early super-branch; alternatively, this marker might have been subject to parallel or back mutations. Further testing of this marker is underway.
- Currently, we have that Branch C (P28a, P28b, P30a) is defined by DYS385b=13 but this also brings in P39a who, as well as the Branch C defining marker DYS385b=13 has DYS456=17, which is one of the two defining markers for Branch D. Also, this individual P39a (Branch C or D) shares the value DYS449=29 with P26a (Branch B).
- P43a (who has had one marker tested positive and another untested, out of the 2 for Branch D) shares DYS570=12 with P30a (Branch C).
Current state of the Art (March 2016). The prospects for making progress with the branching of descent lines in the main Plant family are now good, as both the Plant project and the available DNA tests have advanced. As well as Y-STRs, more-reliable Y-SNPs are now being identified to confirm the major branching. With the help of some Plants upgrading to the FTDNA BigY test, which can then be augmented by some specific YSEQ testing of these Plants and others, some initial identification of also the sub-branching can be expected to emerge. Once the major features are identified, DNA testing of a new volunteer's place in the descent tree should become cheaper and more straightforward. The current state of the art is indicated in the following diagram.
So far, the following individuals have upgraded to the BigY test thereby pioneering the way to cheaper and more effective DNA testing: Branch A, P1a; Branch B, P26a and PT3a; Branch C, none as yet; Branch D, P40a and P43a; Branch E, P19a.
BigY testing forms a basis for further testing of other individuals in the same branch. For example, the following diagram shows the outcome of testing further individuals in the same branch as P1a: in this case, YSEQ testing of P33a and P1c.
Thus, for example, the mutation of marker DYS650, from the value 19 to 18, has been tied down to a single generation, that of Wm(1). This William Plant is described in more detail in a number of places, including Figure 17.6 of Chapter 17 which is available in Journal 17 on the web at the location shown in red.
Migration maps for some apparent main Plant family branches
The evident fourteenth-century homeland of the main Plant family is indicated by the grey circle labeled A on the following map. Documentary evidence for the earliest known Plant ancestor of each tested man is not adequately available until several centuries after this family's first surname bearer, by when each living descendant's ancestral line has typically migrated away, presumably from the grey circle. The earliest known ancestors of PT1a (Branch E) and P7b (Branch D) are in the USA and hence they do not appear in the following map.
The red circles in the above map show that the DNA-tested Plants whose earliest-known male-line ancestors were near Sheffield (P23a, P1a, P1c, P33a) were not only geographical neighbours but also are genetically linked in the computed Branch A of the DNA descent tree. This suggests that a particular branch of the main Plant family found its way from the ancestral homeland across the Dark Peak to NE Derbyshire and Sheffield before 1700, as was already suspected for the genealogically-linked P1a and P1c but not necessarily for P23a or P33a. The more recent addition, P33a, has since been considered to have a similar genealogical descent to that of P1a.
However, the DNA data also indicate that geographic proximity does not always correspond to a close family relationship of Plants in that region. For example, there is evident migration of the main Plant family across the Irish sea. The Irish ancestors of PT3a and P25a are evidently in Branch B whereas P28a and P28b have a shared genealogical ancestor from Branch C. The closest proximity in Ireland is evidently between Plants of two different branches: to wit, of P28a/b (Branch C) to one (PT3a) of the pair of tested Plants there from Branch B.
Though quite distant in Ireland, the earliest known ancestors of PT3a and P25a are both linked through Branch B to P20a and P26a in England. These two instances of Branch B in England are both south of the main ancestral Plant homeland. These two near Birmingham are not far, however, from the ancestry of P19a who evidently belongs to a different branch (Branch E) which, if the tentatative identification of a Branch E is correct, also has a tested Plant (P29a) whose earliest known ancestry is in the main Plant homeland.
Branch C is in the main homeland (P30a and P39a) as well as in Ireland (P28a and b). Branch D is both to the north of the main homeland (P40a and P43a) as well as having spread to Leicestershire towards the south east (P2a, P36a).
As already indicated, P18a (green circle) belongs to a genetically distinct Plant family with ancestry in south Lincolnshire to the east which, as already indicated, may have had a separate medieval origin there (if not an early NPE from the main famility).
The following diagram combines data assembled by John Marsh with 37 marker Y-STR data for the main Plant family. Though the details of Network diagrams are sensitive to the chosen markers and to who is included (see above) it shows some main family groupings for some initially tested individuals who are known to belong to the R1b-L617+ haplogroup.
In the above diagram, the label T1 corresponds to four individuals from the surnames Teague, Westmoreland, Spink and Marsh and it can be seen that this closely clusters with other individuals from the surname Marsh (labels prefixed M); the other nearby circle T2 is for Tyndal. The labels prefixed P are for Plant, R is for Rogers and O is for Oreel (which is found in northern France and Flanders). The R1bMod circle represents the R1b modal DNA signature which can be used to approximate the DNA signature of a much earlier ancestor from whom individuals in the R1b-L617+ sub-clade have descended. The Plant cluster is well separated to the left of the diagram and its ancentral line evidently diverged from those others in this diagram perhaps around three thousand years ago.
Increasingly many L617+ individuals are currently being identified beyond those in the above diagram. The following MEGA6 diagram shows some individuals who have been identified as L617+. Tight groupings, such as Marsh-Westmoreland-Teague are likely to be resilient whereas looser groupings, such as Plant-Warren-Coursey-Dunstan, are more likely to be revised as more data become available.
Living individuals in the parent clades of R1b-L617+ are found mostly in Iberia. In particular, individuals in the parent clade R1b-DF27+, perhaps originating a few hundred years before R1b-L617+, are found mostly around the Pyrennees. Though we cannot be certain, it is reasonable to suppose that these locations may be near where these clades first formed and that most of their descendants have not migrated far from their ancestral origins, near the Pyrenees.
Those so far found for L617+ might well represent a biased dataset. It might so far be noted that they are mostly for surnames further to the north. It seems that the ancestors of these individuals had migrated northwards between around 3000 to 1000 years ago.
In the above diagram, there are surnames for Poland and Lithuania (Sobolewski and Puras), ones from evidently around the Netherlands (Oreel and Strydom) and Normandy (Coursey) as well as several English surnames. There is also one for Iberia (Ortiz) though he does not have the additional Y-SNP mutation FGC14591+.
For the English surnames, there might have been an early arrival of a shared ancestral line from western Europe which then branched out in England before the formation of these English surnames. Alternatively, the ancestral lines of some of these surname descents might have arrived separately in England at different dates between the Bronze Age and late medieval times.
Similarly as was outlined above for Plant, the following is a 12-marker Network diagram for the French Canadian Plante family. So far, all those tested with this spelling live in North America. Their locations are shown in this map though, as shown in another map, untested men with the Plante name live also in SW France, with a few also elsewhere. In the Network diagram below, it is clear that the green circles do not match with the main Plante family (yellow circles). All men with the Plante name that have been tested so far are genetically distinct from all those tested with the Plant(t) name.
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 30 of the 50 Plant (and Plantt) volunteers tested so far. Different results have been obtained for 1 volunteer called Plants and for 1 called Plenty 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 or Plante, descended mostly from its own main 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'. Alternatively, the surname might have been ascribed to several related men with the topolgical meaning `living near the newly planted vaccary (of the Black Prince)' which is where the name is first found in its main homeland of Cheshire/Staffordshie in England. Yet another possibility is that the name might have been associated with the placename le Plantis in Normandy which is consistent with a Longspee-Audley hypothesis for the name's arrival in its main homeland. Leaving aside such conjecture, this single medieval family has more certainly grown to an unusual extent. Uncertainties concerning the origins of the Plant and Plante families are not helped by the fact that, for example, no Plante in France has yet been Y-DNA tested to try to investigate further the belief that the main Canadian Plante family came from France. Also, though the main Plant family is generally regarded as English, it has an ancestral clade R1b-DF27 which is found mostly in the same region as the Plante name in SW France; slow progress is being made in investigating this further.
Though research is ongoing, some major branches have been tentatively identified for the main Plant family. Since these branches evidently split early, the details are difficult to ascertain. However, geographical considerations suggest, for example, that `Branch A' might be associated with the sixteenth-century (Tudor) Christopher Plant of the Bakewell Old House Museum (Derbyshire, England). Some of the other branches include early links to America. Though medieval peasants were generally tied to their local plot of land, it seems there was mobility that could have been as early as a fifteenth-century Sir John Plant of Dublin in Ireland, who seemingly also had a link to the main Plant homeland of Cheshire in England. The possibilty of distant travel can be hightlighted further by a thought that Sir John Plant in Dublin, head of the household of the Primate of Ireland, could have had links to a faltering English rule in France. More particularly, a tentative Branch D of the main family includes a Y-DNA indication of ancestral migration to the USA in the seventeenth century.
The characteristic Y-DNA signature for the main Plant family 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 the surnames Somerset, Cornwall and Warren/Waring-like names (see also evidence for a Plant-Warenne affinity) and the Plants had early proximities to the Warren Earls in particular as well as, for example, the Lancastrians. The nineteenth-century claim that the Plants are illegimate descendants of the Plantagenets, much doubted since the twentieth century, has been disconfirmed by Y-DNA. In the course of investigating this, it emerged that, unlike Plant(t), Warren and Waring are multiple-ancestor surnames, perhaps mostly descended from various unrelated individuals with the common Norman personal name Warin. Neither has there been any Y-DNA match to the surnames Corwall, Somerset nor to the skeleton of Richard III. Any possible connection to the Plantagenet name is hence more likely cultural, perhaps relating to contemporary belief in the nutritive, augmentative and generative powers of the plant soul, which could have been important in contemporary belief at, for example, the aforementioned vaccary of the Black Prince.
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 many different Plant families that had grown to similar extents. In as much as the evidence indicates otherwise, the DNA results so far do not confirm such suppositions as ones that there were many 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 descend largely from one family that was so influenced, with most other Plant lines having died out or grown little. Our computer simulations suggest that there is probably just a handful of surviving Plant families, with in particular one dominant one that has grown abnormally, in keeping with the Y-DNA results. Another possibility that can not yet be entirely ruled out is that the English Plant name was sanitised from Plente (meaning abundant or fertile). There is only a single Y-DNA result so far for the surname Plenty, which may have derived from the early spelling Plente, and this does not match any similar name tested so far.
Further Y-line testing of Plant-like names, such as for the Plante name in Gascony (SW France), or the Plantard name in Brittany (NW France), or the noble Planta/Von Planta family of Switzerland, as well as many with the name Planta in the Phillipines and South America, might shed further light in due course.
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 (July 2013) Populous Single-Origin Families: DNA and other findings, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 11, Issue 7, pp. 10-11.
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (Jan 2014) Getting The Most from a Surname Study: Semantics, DNA and Computer Modelling, DNA Section, Guild of On-Name Studies (third edition) (69 pages); development of first edition (40 pages) of May 2012 and second edition (63 pages) of June 2013;
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (Jan 2014) Populous Single-Origin Families: Computer Modelling, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 11, Issue 9, pp. 10-12.
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (June 2014) English Surnames: DNA, plural origins and emigration, DNA Section, Guild of One-Name Studies (39 pages). Abridged version, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 11, Issue 12, pp. 16-18 (Oct 2014).
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (2015, Jan 15) English surnames: Plural Origins and Emigration Surname DNA Journal. http://dx.doi.org/10.14487/sdna.001652 Retrieved February 1, 2015 from http://www.surnamedna.com
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (Jun 2015) Surname Simulations, DNA, and Large-Descent Families, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 12, Issue 3, pp. 18-20.
- John S Plant and Richard E Plant (Jan 2016) Using the NETWORK Package to Display Your Family Connections, Journal of One-Name Studies, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp. 24-25. Also, long version (Oct 2015) on Guild website.
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 a project with the FamilyTree-DNA (FT-DNA) Testing Laboratory. The standard FT-DNA test measures 12 markers for 59 US dollars, though 25 markers can be measured instead for 109 US dollars or 37 markers for 149 US dollars or 67 markers for 248 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: email@example.com or by postal address: Dr J.S.Plant, 7 Ontario Close, Trentham, Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, ST4 8TG, England).
Plant Name Distribution Page