The Stonehewer to Stanier DNA Project
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The Stanier DNA Project

  1. The Stanier surname
  2. Background of genetic genealogy
  3. The project
  4. How to participate
  5. Confidentiality
  6. Sharing results
  7. A word of caution

The Stanier surname

The Stonehewer surname has appeared in several forms, eg Stonehewer, Stonhewer, Stonier, Stonyer, Stanier, Staniar, Stanyer, and Stanway. Throughout these pages I use the Stanier form, this being my own. But it refers to the name in all its variant forms.

The surname Stanier comes from the Middle English stanhewer, one who cut and dressed stone. Early uses of the name include Thomas Stanhewaa of Oxfordshire, mentioned in the Doomsday Book, but this probably refers to his occupation rather than his family. The earliest use as a family name was perhaps in 14th century Cheshire: a Thomas Stonehewer is recorded as renting a quarry in Congleton in 1372-3, and a Roger Stonehewer the same quarry in 1423. If these men are related, this could be the time at which the occupational name became the surname.

The earliest Stanier whose descendents are known is John Stonhewer, who lived in Biddulph STS in 1560. His line of male descent may be followed to his 12-times-greatgrandson, Alexander James Sinnott Stanier, born 1970. It is believed that all current Staniers descend from John Stonhewer: the first aim of the Stonehewer to Stanier DNA Project is to test this belief.

Although more documentary evidence remains to be found, traditional genealogical research may never find all the connections between the various Stanier family groups. In addition, there are undoubtedly links that have been made that are not correct. The availability of Y chromosome analysis now provides a new way to determine direct male to male lineage, and this is the basis of this project.

This study may help answer these questions:

  • How many different common male ancestors are associated with the Stanier surname?

  • How are your Stanier ancestors related to other families with the Stanier surname?

  • How are the different Stanier family lines related?

  • Are all Staniers from an ancestral country related, or are there many different families with the name Stanier?

  • Which Stanier researchers should be collaborating because they share a common ancestor?

  • Is the Stanway family connected with the Staniers?

An analysis of the mutations in the Y-chromosome can also be used to estimate the "Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA)" in terms of number of generations since the separation occurred.

If your Stanier research has hit a "brick wall", DNA analysis could be the breakthrough you have been looking for, to push your Stanier genealogy research back generations, by finding connections to other Stanier family Lines.

Background of genetic genealogy

There are two types of DNA tests now available for genealogical testing: the Y-chromosome (Y-DNA) test and the mitochondrial (mtDNA) test. A direct female line can be traced by testing mitochondrial DNA. However, since we are presently interested in tracing surnames, which are usually passed from father to son, the testing of the Y-chromosome DNA is what we are interested in. For more information on DNA and Y-chromosome testing see DNA 101.

The project

The Stanier DNA Project will perform the Y-DNA Test on men with the Stanier surname (including all variant spellings). Participants need not necessarily be members of the Stonehewer to Stanier Society, although I would strongly encourage participants to join.

I have selected Family Tree DNA, one of the most prominent research firms in this field, for our Y chromosome DNA project. Family Tree DNA is a US-based company founded strictly for performing genealogical DNA testing and analysis. Their test allows us to have a 67-marker test for $269. We use 43 of these markers to compare participants. If two related Staniers took this test, we would expect at least 40 markers to match.

The Project Administrator for the Stanier DNA Project is:

Alan Michael Stanier
24 Chaplin Drive

Test results will be returned to the Project Administrator as they are received by Family Tree DNA. Each participant will also receive a certificate, a report containing their personal test results, and help interpreting the meaning of your test results.

To participate

All Staniers are encouraged to participate in the Stanier DNA Project. Male Staniers may participate directly. Because females do not have the Y-chromosome they can only participate through a male Stanier relative (father, grandfather, brother, uncle, cousin). Each male participant will provide a mouth swab sample to be analyzed by Family Tree DNA. This sampling technique is painless and only involves the use of a swab to collect a small amount of cells from the inside of a person's cheek. The participant administers the test in the privacy of his own home.

Each participant must send an Application and a Pedigree Chart to the Project Administrator. Both can be filled in and submitted from this site. The Pedigree Chart should go back as far as possible on your male surname as has been documented, and include as many birth and death dates and maiden names for the spouses as possible. It is not necessary to include dates for the living persons, only for the deceased.

The Project Administrator will submit the application to Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA will mail a "DNA test kit" directly to each participant. The test kit consists of

  • Three sterile sample swabs
  • Full instructions on how to take a good sample
  • A Consent form, allowing Family Tree DNA to test your DNA
  • A swab envelope
  • Two return-addressed envelopes, one for Family Tree DNA's Head Office in Weymouth, one for their testing lab in the USA.

Each participant will collect his sample and return the kit to Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA will provide the necessary instructions with the kit.

Family Tree DNA will invoice participants directly.


Only the person providing a DNA sample and the Project Administrator will know what his results are (unless they decide they would like to share that information - see Sharing results). Participants will be assigned an identifying number. This ID number will be the only identifying information anyone else sees, so no one other than the Administrator will know who participates in the study or which result is from which person. The portion of the DNA tested gives a distinctive "signature" for a lineage rather than for an individual, so there is no risk of this data being of any use to anyone for personal identity.

Sharing results

The basic test results help answer the question:

  • How many different common male ancestors are associated with the Stanier surname?

With the addition of the oldest known ancestor, where they came from and when, we may also be able to answer the questions:

  • Are all Staniers from an ancestral country related, or are there many different families with the name Stanier?
  • How are the different Stanier family lines related?
  • How are your Stanier ancestors related to other families with the Stanier surname?

Unfortunately these results as presented DO NOT answer the question:

  • Which Stanier researchers should be collaborating because they share a common ancestor?

To answer this question you need to know who the participants are so you can collaborate with them. All participants are encouraged, but not required, to provide contact information so they and others can share information. After the information above is posted and participants have the opportunity to review their results compared to others, they will be asked to release contact information. They may agree to do so or decline. No contact information will be provided without a WRITTEN RELEASE FORM from the participant.

A word of caution

There is always a possibility that you could get disappointing test results. Samples that vary by three or more markers from the main group may do so for a number of reasons. One possibility is that they represent distinct lines either older or younger than the currently observed most frequent line. Another is that there has been a non-paternal event at an unknown past time. There are several possible types of non-paternal event in addition to a pregnancy gained outside of a marriage. For example, a child may be adopted and given the Stanier name; a man may take the Stanier name when he marries a Stanier daughter; a Stanier man may marry a pregnant woman whose husband has died; a couple where the wife is the Stanier may choose to give their children the Stanier name for various reasons; clerical error in recording administrative data may assign a Stanier name to the wrong person, and so on.

It should be stressed that adoptions were quite common in every age (ie parents died by disease or war and a relative took in the children and raised them with their name; or young daughters had a child out of wedlock and the parents raised it as their own).

Further, a result indicating a non-paternal event does not necessarily indicate that descent is not from the Stanier line. If, for example, twenty people are tested, and 19 are very similar but the last is clearly different, it could turn out that the 19 descend from the same MRCA 300 years ago, and he was an adopted Stanier; while the other is of the original blood line going back 600 years.

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Much of this website has been adapted from that of the Blair DNA Project by the kind permission of the Project Co-ordinator, John A Blair.

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