HHA Surname Project

HHA CoA

The Herriott Surname Project began in 2006 with the objective of using Y-DNA testing to assist our genealogy research. Both historical documentation and DNA testing are used to establish relationships both within family lines and among family lines using variant spellings of the surname. The DNA testing aids the classical documentation by indicating how closely one set of families is related to another set. For example if the DNA testing indicates a close relationship, then more work through classical documentation is warranted. Conversely if the DNA results indicate a very distant or no likely relationship, then no more classical documentation research is warranted, saving much time, effort and money. The HHA has found the y-DNA testing to be a very valuable tool in our Surname Project.

One example of the benefit of the Herriott Surname Project (Y-DNA tsting) has been in helping solve the mystery of Isarel Harriot b. 1748. We believed he was part of the New Jersey family but we could not get him placed. DNA testing of one of his descendants showed he was closely related to the George line of the NJ Harriots. This allowed our historian, Ray Harriott, to narrrow his investigation to finding documentatin that placed Israel in the George line. Consequently Ray was able to conclude Israel was a son of George, head of the George line. The details of this investigation are published in the Herriott Herald Newsletters available on our Herriott Heritage Association 2015 DVD.

The Herriott Surname Project from 2006 through 2014 has been summarized. Additional details are available on our Herriott Heritage Association 2015 DVD.

The Surname Project recently broke new ground by convincing the DAR to accept a person for membership using DNA evidence along with supporting documentation, the first time the DAR accepted DNA results as part of the supporting evidence. A black Herriott had an exact Y-DNA match with white Heriots indicating the black Herriott family had a white Heriot ancestor, a plantation owner-slave relationship. Ray Harriot has documented the history of these families in the HHA book Perspectives: the Heriot and Herriott Families of South Carolina. Consequently, a member of the Herriott family was able to prove her eligibility for DAR membership by tracing her lineage to Colonel Robert L Heriot, CSA, who had an established lineage to a Patriot Heriot.

Scott Herriott has developed a 1,500-year tree for our carriers of the Western Atlantic (Scots) DNA. The tree does not include those with Northern European (Scandinavian) DNA or Trinidad DNA. His results indicate that the major lines diverged around 800 AD, before surnames were taken in Scotland at around 1100 AD. Thus the Herriott surname and variant spellings for the major lines were taken independently of a common ancestor. That is, the New Jersey Herriotts and the South Carolina Heriots (Longniddry) common ancestor of around 800 AD had no surname. (The article published by Scott in the December 2016 Herriott Herald Newsletter) Again the HHA is in the forefront of using Y-DNA tests as Scott's genealogy tree is the first using Y-DNA with this technique. The Surname DNA Journal has asked Scott to publish his results with them. Scott will certainly be making adjustments to this tree as more data becomes available.

Our DNA work has been very exciting and fruitful. DNA science in genealogy has moved at a very fast pace and it will be interesting to see how it evolves.