Tullis Trees


A Family History Newsletter

Volume 4, Number 4

4th Quarter 2005


An Update: Tullis Surname DNA Project

Thomas S. Tullis (TomTullis @ aol.com)

As of this writing, a total of ten males have participated in the Tullis Surname DNA Project. The basic goal of this project is to learn what we can about our Tullis/Tullos ancestry by studying the DNA of living individuals. Specifically, the test looks at the “Y” chromosome of males. That chromosome is inherited essentially unchanged from father to son. That’s why it’s particularly useful for a surname study like ours. By comparing the “Y” chromosomes of two males, you can see if they share a common male ancestor at some point in the past, even many generations back. For more background information about the project, see http://www.tullistrees.org/SurnameProject/ as well as the updates in previous issues of this newsletter (Vol. 3, No’s 1, 2, and 3). The following are some of the key findings of the project so far.

Six of us have yielded an exact match with each other. This includes the following: (A) Two in the U.S. (including me) who trace their lines back to Moses Tullis (b. 1720’s) and his presumed father, Robert Tullis (b. abt. 1680); (B) Two in the U.S. who trace their line back to David Tullis who was born in 1790 in Scotland and then immigrated to the U.S. in the 1800’s; (C) One in England who traces his line back to a Robert Tullis who was born in Scotland in 1744; and (D) One in the U.S. who traces his line through Canada and back to a William Tullis who was born in Scotland in the late 1600’s or early 1700’s. The fact that all of us matched with each other means that we all share a common male ancestor at some point in the past. And all the indications point to Scotland for that common ancestor. See the chart below for an attempt at illustrating how all of us might be related to each other.

Three who trace their line back to Claudius/Cloud Tullos in Virginia in the 1600’s have also participated in the project. Two of them have exactly matched with each other and one was only one marker “off”. The basic test looks at 12 markers on the Y chromosome, each of which can have various values. If all 12 markers exactly match for two individuals, it is virtually certain that they share a common male ancestor. If 11 of the 12 markers match, it is still very likely that they share a common male ancestor, but he was probably many generations earlier. If 10 of the 12 markers match, it is still possible that they share a common male ancestor, but it is uncertain. The two Cloud Tullos descendants who exactly matched each other matched 10 of the 12 markers for the six others who exactly matched each other. The Cloud Tullos descendant who was one marker off from the others matched only 9 of the 12 markers for the other six. The conclusions to be drawn from this are unclear. Obviously the two Cloud Tullos descendants who exactly matched each other share a common ancestor, and the third Cloud descendant probably also shares their common ancestor since he was just one marker off. But whether Cloud Tullos and Moses Tullis were related to each other still can’t be answered. The fact that their descendants share 10 of the 12 markers means they might be related. To help clarify this situation, I have upgraded my test results to look at 25 markers instead of just 12. Once a Cloud Tullos descendant also completes a 25-marker test, we should be able to shed more light on the question. If 23 of 25 markers exactly match, that will be much more indicative of a common male ancestor.

Chart showing possible connections between six Tullis lines
How the six participants in the Tullis Surname DNA project who exactly matched each other might be related. (Full-sized version)


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