Y-DNA: Real Life Application


Twissle Times, June 2023

This article is a continuation of the March 2023 Twissle Times article My DNA Entwisle Family by Stephen J Entwisle, member 120.

Research to Identify Our 16th Century Prescott-Entwisle NPE Ancestors

My FTDNA1 Y-37 (Y-DNA) test revealed (figure 1) a total of 9 matches, none of whom had the surname ‘Entwisle’, or variant of, but several had the surname ‘Prescott’, or variant of, and all within a genetic distance (GD) of 4, or less, the GD regarded as the maximum usable distance at Y-37 i.e., the furthest back in time that records are likely to exist for all but royalty and aristocracy.

Other than one EFHA member already known to me, the next closest match was a Paul Gleitsmann. Paul’s FTDNA account is managed by his mother, Julie. On contacting Julie, now an EFHA member, it emerged that there had been a name change in the 19th Century, from ‘Entwisle’.

The Y-37 match results provided an indicative timescale for the Prescott/Entwisle NPE – between the earliest Entwistle match and the nearest non-Entwistle match. On upgrading to FTDNA’s Big-Y 700, FTDNA’s algorithm predicts that that the event occurred some 17 generations back i.e., in the early to mid-1500’s. At least 6 or 7 current EFHA members are now known to be members of this branch of the Entwistle family. Other EFHA members that haven’t yet traced their lineage sufficiently to be able to make a connection to us or had their Y-DNA tested to establish a match, may also be in this branch. Fortunately, the Prescott family that we are descended from has been quite well researched, and traced back to the 11th Century, if not further, not least because they were part of English aristocracy.

Figure 1 – An Edited Version of my Y-37 Results Page

 Whilst autosomal DNA tests are regarded as only being of value to 6 generations back, and I don’t have any matches in Ancestry with the family name, Prescott, I am matched to some 40+ individuals who have the name Prescott in their tree, and a quarter of these claim to trace their tree back to the same Prescott family.

FTDNA Y-DNA Prescott Project members have been subdivided into several groups, based on their Y-STR profiles and geographic location of traced ancestors. At least two of the groups are known to be related and to have origins in Lancashire and include Prescotts that Paul and I have been matched to. Unsurprisingly, on applying to join the Y-DNA Prescott Project, both Paul and I have been grouped by FTDNA into the Lancashire Prescott group, although displayed currently in the ‘Ungrouped’ category, as we haven’t yet established a direct genealogical connection with any of the Prescotts. The groups that we are matched to include those labelled, ‘James of Massachusetts’, ‘John of New Hampshire’ and ‘Polynesian Prescotts’!

Figure 2 – A partial illustration of the Y-DNA Prescott Project, where project members are divided into groups, primarily based on their lineage and location. Lancashire Prescotts have been sub-divided into 3 groups – ‘John of Massachusetts’, ‘James of New Hampshire’ and ‘Polynesian Prescotts’.

Entwis(t)le Genealogical Research

Using standard genealogical research methods, I and other cousins in my lineage have taken our tree back (figure 3) to early 1700’s, but confidence in the accuracy of the tree probably currently peaks with Thomas (born about 1762) and Hannah Hoker.

Paul’s lineage (figure 4) has been traced back to Isaac Entwisle and Mary Bayley, both born in 1792. A non-EFHA member, ‘NormaBSB’ with a public Ancestry family tree, has traced this lineage back to Richard Entwisle, born circa 1660, and identified Isaac and Mary as the branch point for her and Paul. In figure 5 the descendants of Isaac and Mary are detailed, along with the point at which the family name changes to Gleitsmann – upon divorcing Carroll Entwisle, Louise reverted to her maiden name of Gleitsmann for herself and her young son Carl (Paul’s grandfather).

Figure 3 – Thomas Entwisle and Hannah Hoker descendants and their potential ancestors

Figure 4 – Isaac Entwisle and Mary Bayley branch point

Figure 5 – Isaac Entwisle and Mary Bayley descendants and the point at which the family name changed

Identifying the Prescott NPE Candidates

There is much information available on the Prescotts, but it is predicted that those EFHA members in this lineage are descended from a Prescott born in early to mid- 1500’s, so it seems sensible here to limit the discussion to the most likely candidates. It should be noted, however, that perhaps because the lineage is so well documented it appears that there may have been some transcriptional errors, for example a Lady Alice Molineaux has been widely described as having married Sir William Prescott, but also Sir James Prescott, his grandson. But, since there also appears to have been several marriages between the same noble families across generations, it may just be due to repetition of names from one generation to the next. One of the next steps will be to clarify such points.

Figure 6 – Prescott NPE candidates 1, 2 and 3

 Candidate 1 is Sir James Prescott, born 1509 in Standish, and described as a gentleman of Lancashire, was ordered by Queen Elizabeth I in August 1564 to keep horsemen and armor in readiness! James married Alice Elizabeth Standish.

Candidate 2 is Roger, the first son of Sir James and Alice. Roger first married Elizabeth ‘X’ but she died at the birth, or soon after, of their second son. He then married Ellen Shaw and resided in Shevington in the parish of Standish. Roger’s grandson, John Prescott, is also widely known as ‘John of Massachusetts’.

Candidate 3 is Sir James Jnr, the second son of Sir James Snr and Alice Standish. He married Alice Molineaux. For his bravery and military prowess, he was created lord of the manor of Dryby in Lincolnshire, had new arms granted to him and was knighted. Sir James Jnr’s great-grandson, James, is also widely known as ‘James of New Hampshire’.

Figure 7 – Prescott NPE candidates 3 and great-grandson, ‘James of New Hampshire’ 

Candidate 4 is Roger Prescott’s second son, Ralph. Ralph has been selected as a candidate because even though he wasn’t born until 1571 i.e., later than FTDNA predicts a common ancestor, Paul and I appear a closer match to the group identified as that of the descendants of ‘John of Massachusetts’, than to the group identified as descendants of ‘James of New Hampshire’, i.e., we are possibly descended from Roger Prescott (Candidate 2), rather than Roger’s brother, Sir James (Candidate 3).

Figure 8 – Prescott NPE candidate 4 and son, ‘John of Massachusetts’

Ralph married Ellen and they resided in Shevington in the parish of Standish.

Ralph and Ellen’s son, John, married Mary Platts Gawkroger of Wigan, Lancashire. They moved from Standish to Sowerby in Yorkshire – it said that Ralph much loved Yorkshire, more than his birthplace Lancashire. To avoid religious persecution, Ralph, and wife Ellen, then emigrated to America, first landing in Barbados in 1638, where he became a landowner. In 1640, they moved to New England, landing at Boston, and settling in Watertown. There he purchased large areas of land, and in 1643, he went into partnership to purchase Sholan, the Indian Sachem of the Nashaway tribe of Indians, a tract of land for a township. John is widely known as ‘John of Massachusetts’.

Lancashire Prescott Genetic Genealogy

Using the anonymised STR (small tandem repeat) data from the Lancashire Prescott sub-groups within the FTDNA Prescott Y-DNA Project I have created a cladogram (figure 9), as discussed in an earlier article.

Figure 9 – Cladogram for Lancashire Prescotts including descendants of Entwisle NPE

The cladogram has then been used to create a genetic tree structure (figure 10) for the Lancashire Prescotts. By doing so it allows a clearer view of where our Entwisle branch aligns most closely and, therefore, who is the most likely candidate for the Entwisle NPE. The FTDNA Y-DNA Prescott Project has a substantial number of members already in it, and as more and more Prescotts and Entwis(t)les test, the more refined the picture becomes, ultimately confirming which Prescott male the Entwisle branch is descended from, and the corresponding Entwisle female that we are descended from.

The more Entwis(t)le males that test their Y-DNA the greater will be our understanding of the Entwis(t)le pedigree. As detailed in a previous article, terminal SNP testing as conducted in the Big-Y 700 test will help to answer the question of where Entwis(t)les are from, but initially we just need members to test at Y-37 to help us map the Entwis(t)le pedigree, genetically, thereby gaining a picture of how we’re all related, past those ‘brick walls’ we all have.

Figure 10 – Potential genetic family tree for Lancashire Prescotts – X and Y are Paul and me!

Next Steps:

  • check validity of published Entwisle trees in this Prescott lineage,
  • continue genealogical research to fill the gap between current earliest known Entwisle ancestor and most recent common (Prescott) ancestor candidates,
  • confirm Prescott-Entwisle lineage back towards 11th Century,
  • create and update cladogram for Entwis(t)les as members undertake Y-DNA testing, and
  • create and update genetic family tree for Entwis(t)les as members undertake Y-DNA testing.

Help requested from EFHA members

  • inform me if you have Prescott matches in your autosomal trees,
  • members having Prescott matches:
  • provide me with latest family tree details e.g., location of tree on Ancestry,
  • provide me with details of earliest known ancestors.
  • male Entwis(t)le members test their Y-DNA at Y-37, if not Y-111 or even Big-Y 700,
  • male Entwis(t)le members testing Y-DNA then apply to join Entwis(t)le Y-DNA Project.


FTDNA Prescott Y-DNA Project



My Ancestry Tree


NormaBSB’s Ancestry Tree


[Stephen J Entwisle, member 120]