Congratulations on the 10th anniversary of the Hadley Surname DNA project. As you know you were one of the first surname projects at Family Tree DNA and a lot has happened in the use of DNA for family history research in that time, not the least of which is the number of people who have joined your project. Since you started, there have been significant improvements in technology, many new types of tests, and lower costs of testing.

We thank you for your participation and look forward to many more years of working together to advance our knowledge of all of our family histories.

Best regards,
Bennett Greenspan
President, Family Tree DNA

Project History

On February 28, 2003, Judy Hawman, a long-time Hadley researcher, emailed me about a new tool for family history that has been growing in popularity, DNA testing. I had heard about it, especially how it was used to test the family believed to be descended from Thomas Jefferson and one of his slaves. Judy passed along some research she had done and some links to websites for families who had already started formal projects. I emailed distant cousin, Jim Hadley to get his thoughts. He did some research, including talking with the genetics folk at the university where he was teaching.

Looking back at the emails highlights how much things have changed. DNA testing was new and there were several different companies promoting it. One major concern was which was best, and even the question of whether any of them were legitimate. Were there going to be hidden fees, longer term consequences, security of the data? There was also the question of whether people would pay the amount needed for the test. At that time, the minimum was $99 for the 12-marker test. (While we recommend the 37-marker test, the 12-marker test does give you meaningful results and you can upgrade later from the 12-marker test).

Important: Privacy As I was writing the section on understanding your test results, I realized that our project privacy policy is getting in the way of understanding our results and connecting with other project members. I plan to send out a separate broadcast message to all project members with a proposal for changing our policies, within the guidelines of FamilyTreeDNA and with an acceptable level of privacy protection. In that message, I'll be asking for your agreement for this proposal. Please take the time to read the article Privacy Policy Adjustment for an explanation and to see the proposal I will be making.

After some research to compare the testing companies and looking at what other families have done, we chose FamilyTreeDNA. I wrote to the President of the company with some questions, and a concern about what happens if we don't get the required six participants for a "Surname Project", which gives you a lower price for the tests. Would they make us pay the difference if we only got three Hadleys to sign up?

I got a prompt response from Bennett Greenspan, President of FamilyTreeDNA. He answered all of my questions and told me that if we didn't get six participants that would not be a problem. He also commented that he was confident we'd get many more participants than that.

With assurances that we wouldn't be arrested if we didn't get enough Hadleys to sign up, we launched a fairly basic project website and started spreading the word, starting with posts on the Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com Hadley discussion boards. We also exchanged emails with officers in the Hadley Society (the Simon Hadley folk), and we emailed every Hadley researcher we knew about.

Jim Hadley and I ordered our “test kits” in March 2003. Judy Hawman, who got a cousin to represent her, and Sam Hadley, ordered their kits shortly afterward. In May, two more joined, so by the end of May six kits were at the testing lab. We wouldn't go to Surname Project jail for not having enough participants!

Then the waiting began. Every now and then, the dark side of my brain would ask, “What if you and Jim don't match? Your years of research says you should, but what if the DNA tests say we messed up?” Oh no!

Jim and I received our results on May 2, 2003. On the 25-marker test, we had one marker difference. The terminology has changed a bit since then, but in today's terms (as reflected at my FamilyTreeDNA page) we have a two-step difference. The notes on how to interpret results, now called a TiP, says that there is a better than 91% chance that we share a common ancestor within 12 generations and a 72% chance that the common ancestor was within 8 generations. Our traditional research says that we are 7th cousins. The DNA test results support our findings.

The next wave came in a few weeks later. Sam Hadley did not match any other results. Judy Hawman's male cousin who she arranged to have tested didn't match Jim and I as we expected. The first representative of the Simon Hadley line, Ray Hadley, got his results, which didn't match any of the other results we had so far. Did this mean that the Simon and George Hadley lines don't connect, or was something else going on? This was getting much more interesting!

New participants continued to join, adding more data that we could compare to. By our first anniversary, we had 11 participants. By our fifth anniversary, we had 35. So far this year, we've had one new join per month. Today we have 71 official participants.

We have other articles that talk about the results, but to wrap up the stories started here:

  • With many more results to confirm what we learned from Jim and me, we have a well-defined DNA pattern for descendants of George Hadley of Ipswich (16xx-1686).
  • Many more descendants of Simon Hadley (of Ireland) joined Ray Hadley in defining the Simon Hadley DNA pattern. Ray has since signed up for several more DNA tests, extending his initial results and was one of the first to order the mtDNA test.
  • Judy Hawman recruited two more male cousins, one who matched the first and one who doesn't. She continued her conventional research to sort out the disconnect and is confident that she has identified the break in the lineage to an adoption many generations back.
  • Sam Hadley's results still don't match anybody else's. His results are in the “Ungrouped” section of our results chart, but we are still hoping for another match to help move the conventional research along.