Project Conclusions-2

William Burgess of Virginia


This is a huge family, currently the largest in the Project. The first linked group is that of William Burgess of Richmond (later King George) Co., Virginia, for which we have test results from all five branches.


Their numbers also exactly match those of the male descendants of another major Burgess group, the line of William Burgess of Bedford Co., Virginia, for which we have test results from all four branches. Together, these two family groups have a common Burgess ancestor, name unknown, who predates the known research in both lines, putting the Most Common Recent Ancestor back at least to 1650. Curiously, the genome of the Bedford family seems much more stable than that of the King George line.


We also have a third connected family descending from William Burgess of Albemarle Co., Virginia. He cannot be any of the William Burgesses who are grandsons of William Burgess of Bedford Co., but he may be descended from one of several undelineated families in the King George Co. line.


We also have a connection with the line of Joseph A. Davidson, whose direct-male descendant matches 36 out of 37 markers with one of the individuals in the Bedford Co. family. Davidson married a Burgess granddaughter out of the Bedford Co. line in the 1820s, but since Y-chromosome markers can’t be inherited through a female line, the only possible conclusion is that Davidson was himself a natural son of one of the male Burgesses of this family, and that he married a first cousin.


We have a good genetic flag in the three combined family groups: the markers 11, 13 at Loci 385a-385b, together with the value of 14 or 15 at Locus 392, is a scarce combination occurring in only 3.04% of all of the families in the Family Tree DNA database.


This is also the hallmark of the descendants of the Irish Chief Niall of the Nine Hostages (d. about 450 A.D.), and these families are very likely offshoots of Niall’s immense line, which accounts for 21.5% of all present-day males in Northern Ireland.


Thomas Burgess of Massachusetts


The Thomas Burgess line of Sandwich, Barnstable Co., Massachusetts is the oldest and perhaps the largest of the Burgess families in North America, and the second largest in the Burgess DNA Project, having been established here in the early 1600s. It utterly dominates the Burgess lines of New England and northeastern Canada. We have numerous test results from three of the four branches of this family and its possible affiliates, and they show that Thomas is the common ancestor.  These include descendants of Albert Burgess Sr. of Tolland Co., Connecticut, Benjamin Burgess of Saint John Co., New Brunswick, Canada, Josiah Burgess of Monroe Co., New York, and Thomas Burgess of York Co., Ontario, Canada.


The Thomas line may also be distantly connected to the family of John Burgess of Cheshire Co., England, but the numbers are inconclusive, and the relationship, if it exists, dates back more than 500-600 years.


This family has a relatively uncommon repetition of the markers 14, 13, 30 at Loci 389/1, 392, and 389/2, a scarce combination that occurs in only 14% of the families in the Family Tree DNA database. This can be used as a DNA “flag” for these lines. This also make a relationship between the John Burgess line and the Thomas Burgess family somewhat more likely than not.


Edward and William Burgess


The third largest line in the Project consists of the combined families of Edward Burgess of Prince George’s Co., Maryland and Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, and William Burgess of Montgomery Co., Maryland, who may well be brothers. These lines were long thought to be connected—both to each other and to the line of Col. William Burgess of Anne Arundel Co., Maryland. One of William of Montgomery’s sons married one of Edward’s daughters, and both families are associated with other up through the mid-1800s, suggesting that the two men were brothers. Multiple test results received from both lines have indeed matched each other, confirming that they have a common Burgess ancestor, name unknown—but they fail to match any descendant of Col. William’s line.


This family also has numerous affiliated lines that have not yet been attached either to Edward or William, all of which seem ultimately to derive from Maryland. The most interesting of these, the family of Edward Burgess of Fayette Co., Pennsylvania, cannot chronologically be fitted under either of the above families, and so has to be parallel to it. It also displays the most genetic diversity of any of these connected families. The other connected families include descendants of Austin “Auzy” Burgess of Laclede Co., Missouri, James Burgess of Jackson Co., Tennessee, and Samuel H. Burgess of Calhoun Co., Florida.


Again, we have a reliable genetic flag to use for these folks: the repetition of the markers 11, 16 at Loci 385a- 385b, together with the value of 10 at Locus 391, is a rare combination, occurring in just .7% of all of the families in the Family Tree DNA database.


Thomas Burgess of  Pittsylvania Co., Virginia


Thomas Burgess Sr. of Orange Co., Virginia, and Pittsylvania Co., Virginia, was the founder of the fourth largest family in the Burgess DNA Project, with a very large and well-established Burgess line. His family structure has been heavily reworked in this update. However, there remains one unattached but affiliated line—the family of John Burgess of Union Co., South Carolina. They have a common Burgess ancestor, name uncertain.


The branches of the Thomas line share a very common 12-marker genetic signature called the Western Atlantic Modal Haplotype (WAMH), although the 37-marker results are relatively scarce. They’re probably descended from a pre-Christian era Celtic chieftain.


Ralph Burgess of Cheshire Co., England


Ralph Burges of Cheshire Co., England, who was born about 1555, is the progenitor of the fifth largest family in the Project. His descendant has a close match with a descendant of John Burgess (I) of Cheshire Co., England. This very large Burgess line, which is probably one of the major British Burgess families, also matches with several descendants of William Burgess of Middlesex Co., Massachusetts. The American branch of this family is more distantly related to its parent, judging by the increased variability in its Y-chromosome numbers.


William Burgess of Anne Arundel Co., Maryland


Col. William Burgess of Anne Arundel Co., Maryland, was the most prominent individual named Burgess in colonial America, and by far the wealthiest. It’s not surprising, therefore, that many genealogists want to tie their own Burgess families into his line. This hasn’t happened, alas. We have several test results out of this family, deriving from both Col. William’s eldest son, Capt. Edward Burgess, and also from his youngest son, Dr. Charles Burgess, and they all match each other—but no one else.


Here again we have a useful genetic flag: the repetition of the markers 20 and 24 at Loci 458 and 447 are scarce values for these locations.


Two Burgar Families of Northern Scotland


An example of how a name can evolve to become “Burgess” is shown by the Burgess line of the Shetland Islands north of Scotland. The common progenitor here was surnamed “Burgar,” and there are still branches of this family retaining that name. But a number of the lines deriving from this group are now called “Burgess.” Test results from several individuals in this line all match each other—but no other Burgess family.


A second quartet of Burgars and Burgesses from the Orkney Islands, a neighboring archipelago, match either other but not the first group. The difference is that the first group demonstrates a Celtic heritage (Haplogroup R1b1), while the Orkney families have a possible Viking background (Haplogroup I).


Joel Burgess of Laurens Co., South Carolina


The importance of finding participants with known descents from the major early Burgess lines was demonstrated when a proven offshoot of the Joel Burgess family of Laurens Co., South Carolina, joined the Project. His numbers immediately matched those of three other individuals, descendants of Thomas Burgess Sr. of Scott Co., Kentucky, John R. Burgess of Clay Co., Alabama, and Alphonso Davis of Wayne Co., Illinois. Since the Joel Burgess family can be traced several generations further back in time, this is likely the paramount line. These individuals likely have a common Burgess ancestor whose name is unknown. The numbers suggest that the John R. Burgess family is an offshoot of the Joel Burgess line, while the Thomas Burgess and Alphonso Davis lines seem more closely paired to one another than to Joel.


Once again, we have a useful genetic signature for these families with the value of “14” at Locus 388, a rare number at that location for members of Haplogroup R1b1.


James Burgess of Sussex Co., England


Several descendants of James Burgess of Sussex Co., England, John Burgess of New Haven Co., Connecticut, and Joseph Burgess of Bergen Co., New Jersey, have matched; they have a common male ancestor, name unknown. The numbers indicate that the two American lines are more closely related to each other than they are to their British cousins.


Adam and Joseph Drury Burgess


Several descendants of Adam Burgess of Dumfriesshire Co., Scotland, and Joseph Burgess (also called Drury Burgess) of Sumter Co., South Carolina (originally from County Antrim, Ireland) have matched, indicating that they have a male common ancestor, name unknown. The Scottish line, which has deeper roots, is more likely to be the paramount family of this group.


Francis and Richard Burgess


Several descendants of Francis Burgess of Berkshire Co., England, and Richard Burgess of Hertfordshire Co., England, have matched, indicating that they have a common male ancestor, name unknown. This was the first random match in the Project between two British Burgess families.


John and David Burgess


John Burgess of Rutherford Co., North Carolina and David Burgess of Hardeman Co., Tennessee lived at about the same time in the early 1800s, but had no known connection to each other beyond geographic proximity, residing in counties on either side of the border between North and South Carolina. Test results from these families indicate that these two men have a common male ancestor, name unknown.


The genetic flag here is the marker 15 at Locus 393, a very scarce value for this location, occurring in only 2.54% of the families in the Family Tree DNA database.


Peter Burgess of Cheshire Co., England


Peter Burgess of Cheshire Co., England, has known male descendants in both England and Canada. Test results have confirmed a relationship between two branches of this line, but have failed to match any other Burgess line. Recent information suggests that the progenitor of this family was a Hughes.


Again, we have a useful genetic flag here with the repetition the markers 11, 15 at Loci 385a-385b, together with the value of 10 at Locus 391, which is a very scarce combination occurring in only 2.72% of the families in the Family Tree DNA database.


Emanuel B. Burgess of South Carolina


Test results received from two individuals descended from Emanuel B. Burgess of Union and Spartanburg Cos., South Carolina, have matched each other, proving the connection between two half-brothers in this line. However, they have yet to connect to any other Burgess family.


Keziah Burgess of Virginia & the Hale Family


Keziah Burgess of Bedford Co., Virginia, has long been a puzzle for researchers. DNA testing has now established that all three of her sons had different fathers. However, the numbers from the descendant of her first son, Armstead Lewis Burgess Sr., match those of numerous descendants of George Hale of Northumberland Co., Virginia, known to be ancestor of the Bedford Co. Hale family, providing a likely progenitor for this line. In addition, we have matching records for a Haas family and a Chilcote family, indicating that these lines are probably also related to the Hales. The overall number set is very scarce, suggesting that the proposed connection is real.


Achilles Burgess of North Carolina


Test results from several descendants of Achilles Burgess of Wake Co., North Carolina match each other; one of these lines, that of Thomas Burgess of Elbert Co., Georgia, was previously unattributed to this family.  This is a very rare Haplogroup, with only about twenty examples in the entire FT DNA database.


John Burgess of Henry Co., Virginia


John Burgess of Henry Co., Virginia represents an old Southern family dating back almost three hundred years. His numbers have matched with descendants of John W. Jamerson, previously known to be an offshoot of this line. The numbers have also matched the markers of a descendant of Green Burgess of Williamson Co., Tennessee, who was born in North Carolina. Green Burgess and two Johns share a common Burgess ancestor, name unknown.


John Burgess of Humphreys Co., Tennessee


The John Burgess Sr. line of Humphreys Co., Tennessee has matches from the descendants of two of his sons, Alexander Burgess and John Burgess Jr., thus confirming the genetic signature of this family. However, the Auzy Burgess line of nearby Dickson Co. has now been linked to the Edward and William Burgess group listed above.


William Burgess of Franklin Co., Alabama


William Burgess of Franklin Co., Alabama, fathered six or seven sons, including one, Joshua Burgess, whose mother’s name is unknown, but who is mentioned in the accounting of William’s estate. Two branches of this family, including that of Joshua, have now matched, thus establishing a genetic link between these lines (some researchers had thought that they were unconnected).


William Burgess of Lancashire Co., England


Two descendants of William Burgess of Lancashire Co., England, have matched each other, thereby confirming the numbers in this family.


James Burgess of Fayette Co., West Virginia


James Burgess of Fayette Co., (West) Virginia originated in Bedford Co., Virginia, and was long thought to belong to William Burgess of Bedford family. If he does, however, the connection can only be through a female line. We now have numbers from descendants of two branches of this family, and both match each other—but no one else.


Jonathan Burgess of Jackson Co., Alabama


Jonathan Burgess of Jackson Co., Alabama moved there successively from South Carolina and Georgia. Two of the descendants of his son, Starling G. Burgess, have matched, thereby validating the numbers in his line.


William Burgess of Marion Co., Tennessee


Descendants from two grandsons of William Burgess of Marion Co., Tennessee have now matched, providing the genetic evidence to link these lines. This family has a relatively scarce set of numbers deriving from Haplotype J2b.


William Burgess of Wayne Co., Indiana


Several descendants of William Burgess of Wayne Co., Indiana, have now matched, thereby affirming the base DNA numbers for this family.


Jacques Bourgeois of Canada


A number of descendants of Jacques Bourgeois of France and Nova Scotia, Canada have matched, thereby affirming the numbers for this family.


Burgess-Gilbert Connection


Two test results from the family of Timothy B. Gilbert of Norfolk Co., Virginia, one of whose sons changed his name to Burgess, have failed to match each other, and we don’t know as yet which sample represents the true genetic heritage of this family. The descendant of John Timothy Burgess has a very rare value (10) at Locus 19, occurring in only one out of 20,000 samples.


Burgess-Mellard Connection


The numbers of John Burgess of Hart Co., Georgia have matched those of a descendant of William Mellard of Dorchester Co., South Carolina. Since the genetic signature of these families is very unusual, these two seemingly unrelated lines probably have a common male ancestor, name unknown. Both lines likely derive from Colonial South Carolina.


Burgess-McGee Connection


Descendants from Richard Edward Burgess of Marshall Co., Alabama, and William McGee of Los Angeles Co., California, have matched at 66 out of 67 markers; they have a common male ancestor, name unknown. The numbers also suggest an affiliation with a much larger Hancock family (see the Hancock DNA Project at the website for Family Tree DNA).


Burgess-McManus Connection


A Burgess whose name and ancestry are unknown (but who may be descended from Jason Burgess of Fayette Co., Kentucky) has exactly matched at 37 markers with a descendant of the huge McManus clan of Ireland, strongly suggesting that the McManus line is the parent family of this Burgess group.


Unattached Burgess Lines


Roughly one-quarter of the samples in the Burgess Surname DNA Project display unique haplotypes, without a corresponding second sample from another cousin which might validate their base numbers or connect to other families. An “unknown __ line” means that the present-day descendant of this family, the individual whose DNA was tested, is not a member of the Burgess DNA Project and his ancestry is unknown:


Thomas Barger of Berks Co., Pennsylvania

Eberhard Berges of Westphalen, Germany

Unknown Bergess line

Unknown Bergis line

Johann Adam Borges of Hessen-Cassel, Germany

Unknown Borges line of the Açores, Portugal

Unknown Borges line

Ramón Bórquez of Sonora, México

William Burge of Somerset Co., England

Benjamin Burgess of Monroe Co., Michigan

Benjamin Burgess of Rock Co., Wisconsin

Charley Burgess of Screven Co., Georgia

Ephraim Burgess of Halifax Co., North Carolina

George Burgess of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania

George Burgess of Cheshire Co., England

George Burgess of Northampton Co., North Carolina

George Burgess of Worcestershire Co., England (results pending)

Isaac Burgess of Cheshire Co., England

James Burgess of Gloucestershire Co., England

John Burgess of Aberdeenshire Co., Scotland

John Burgess (II) of Cheshire Co., England

John Burgess of Delaware Co., Indiana

John Burgess of Hertfordshire Co., England

John Burgess of Middlesex Co., England

Joseph William Burgess Sr. of London, England

Josiah Burgess of Telfair Co., Georgia

Richard Burgess of Tasmania, Australia

Sebray Burgess of Rockingham Co., Virginia

Trinity Burgess of Union Co., South Carolina

William Burgess of Columbiana Co., Ohio

William Burgess (I) of Cornwall Co., England                 

William Burgess (II) of Cornwall Co., England

William Moses Burgess of Adair Co., Kentucky

Adolfo Burgos of Barros, Puerto Rico

John Conrad Burgy of Lucas Co., Ohio, of Swiss origin

Unknown Burquez line of México

John Burris of Highland Co., Ohio

Andrew Kapel of Spokane Co., Washington

Simão Mendes Borges of Açores, Portugal


Some of these lines will eventually find genetic partners as more results are added to the Burgess Surname DNA Project.




The following individuals contributed their DNA to the Project, but have since passed. We thank them for their willingness to share, and honor their memories:


Daniel Keith Burgess (1956-2008)

(and his website,

Donald Leroy Burgess (1927-2007)

Eugene Carl Burgess (1912-2005)

Frank Joseph Kapel (1913-2006)

James Alan Burgess (1930-2005)

James Harold Burgess (1932-2006)

Lorene Elizabeth Burgess (1937-2011)

Orville Eugene Burgess (1922-2006)

Samuel Maurice Burgess (1925-2005)

William Lee Burgess (1933-2008)

John Nathan Mellard (1918-2010) 



The following individuals have contributed either their time or money or expertise to the Burgess Surname DNA Project, far above and beyond their original participation. Thanks to all of these good folks:


Sherrie Boone; Bill Burgar; Anthony & Lori Burgess; Charles O. Burgess; Clinton Burgess; Coy V. Burgess (thrice); Daniel K. Burgess (twice); David A. Burgess; Dean Burgess; Debbie Burgess; Eric S. Burgess in honor of the Cheshire Group (thrice); G. Ralph Burgess; Dr. J. Hugh Burgess (twice); James E. Burgess; Jim A. Burgess; John C. Burgess; Joseph L. Burgess; Keith E. Burgess; the late Lorene E. Burgess; Milo W. Burgess Jr. in memory of Milo W. Burgess, Sr.; G. Ralph Burgess; Dr. Richard R. Burgess; Dr. Russell E. Burgess; Dr. Scott A. Burgess; Seth T. Burgess; William L. Burgess; Venita Burgess Colley; Dr. David Faux; Richard Gardner; Shelia Gibson; Bennett Greenspan and the other good folks at Family Tree DNA; the late Mildred Burgess Guernsey (thrice); Elsie Burgess McVey; Susan Mortensen; Marion Nichols; Nancy Ozolins; Carolyn & Mark Shilts; Eleanor Gray White.




To contribute funds to the Burgess DNA Project, please go to www.familytree.con/contribution.html, and follow the instructions. Be sure to put the name of our project in the appropriate slot. Every dime contributed to the fund is used to support testing and test enhancements for those who otherwise would be unable to participate.



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