Group 03 – Matthew Grant – December 27, 2012

The following was submitted by Kit# 115576, who has been researching the Matthew Grant line and comparing notes with the other members of Group 03.  They believe their collaboration has resulted in some strong evidence that their facts are accurate.  As the posting co-administrator, I can neither support nor reject their work, as it is not my place to challenge any work submitted by any project participant.  So, read on…

“In the commentary I have linked up several sources and suggested further readings for the readers.  The McGee Tool is imperative for DNA research like this.  The Stewart DNA Project Admins also use it a lot as well as the U106 group and many others.  It was first referred to me a couple of years ago when I began to dive deeper into my research.  But I wanted an endorsement of sorts, which I got from several reputable DNA Project admins. It really takes into account the mutation rates.  For example, lets say hypothetically you and I were at a distance of 3 out of 37 markers.  This would make us relatively close.  But then further research shows that 2 of the markers we differ on are very slow mutating markers.  Then the distance between us becomes much greater.  Were the DNA to mutate at a relative speed at all markers our jobs would be SO MUCH EASIER.  It would be apples to apples in comparison of genetic distances rather than the apples to oranges we have now.  Hence the color variations at the top of my graph.  White suggests an average mutation rate.  Pink is fast and red is very fast, while light blue is slow and darker blue is very slow.  Take markers 426, 455 & 454 and look at the large Grant DNA Project spreadsheet as supplied by FTDNA.  Notice the very few differences at these mutations??  Then compare to CDYa & CDYb which are all over the place.  It’s all mutation speed.

Grant DNA spreadsheet image12-2012

Dancing with Ghosts – Unlocking Matthew Grant’s DNA.

Everyone in the Grant DNA Project has their own reason for joining.  Some are looking for answers to personal questions, some want to know if they are related to the Clan Laird (I think this was an initial thought of ours) while others may have just been bored and/or curious.  When my family first started this DNA adventure, we only dipped our toes with a 12 marker test rather than dive in.  Then I started reading up on DNA.  Soon after this we upgraded our DNA to 37 markers and did a “deep clad” test to really find out who we were.  Then our DNA was chosen by the U106 Project ( for an upgrade to 111 markers and additional SNP testing using their available funds.  Luckily for us, they have a mystery going on over there that our DNA signature plays an important role in.  More on that in another blog.  The results on our SNP testing revealed we were downstream of R-U106 (see the locations of the common U106 occurrences and a great thread on them here: with a R-L47 signature, and then further downstream to R-Z159.  This is also written as R1b1a2a1a1a4a for those of you who like the long form.  As the years progress, chances are we will get even further downstream to yet un-named SNP signatures.  I hope somebody else pays for that too!

For more clarification on SNPs, see

L47 is considered a “Frisian” signature.  This confused me at first, but then it was explained to me as “meaning the Frisian Coast of Northern Germany” instead of the actual secret DNA signature of the ancient Frisian people like I initially thought.  This Northern Germanic signature would suggest either Anglo-Saxon or Danish origins.  This link shows the family origins of many L47 signatures:  There is a large number of them in central-eastern England (Americans & Brits are by far the largest DNA testers, hence the larger numbers in these locations). Based on the German migration habits of the Middle Ages, a large portion of R-L47 probably landed in England during the 5th and 6th century invasions while others came with the Great Heathen Army of the Danes.  Later, more could have arrived via the Norman Invasion.  As you can see, R-L47 is not very common in Scotland, and very uncommon in the Highlands, suggesting that our Grants are likely not of a Scottish extraction.  We are definitely not a product of the post Andrew Stewart Clan Lairds (see for more info on this history) as their DNA is clearly R-P312.  This didn’t surprise me, as the Clan family trees and our own family trees just didn’t seem to match up anywhere.  There’s always the chance we are a product of the pre-Andrew Stewart Lairds, but there’s really no way to confirm that as we will likely never know what that signature is without digging up Sheriff Lawrence le Grant of Inverness and testing his 1,000 year old bones (don’t hold your breath).  If I were forced to choose the most likely source for Matthew Grant’s ancestors, I would say Angles from Northern Germany who formed the East Anglican Kingdom in England that was later scattered by the Danelaw.  I believe we took our surname from the Anglo-Saxon name of Cambridge, Grantabrigga, meaning “Bridge of the Grant River” as the Cam was then called.  I’ve seen this theory pop up several times in surname histories.  We likely stayed in that area until the 16th century and then moved into SW England before Matthew & Priscilla boarded the Mary & John and headed to New England.  More than 50% of the Puritan families that headed to New England originated in this same area.  Or maybe we moved west even earlier, ending up in Snitterfield where Walter le Graunt first shows up in the histories during the mid 1400’s (and from whom John Grant the Gunplotter descends).  Matthew Grant’s descendants appear to be a distinctively Old English variety of Grants with Anglo-Saxon or Danish roots.

The Matthew Grant Group

Looking at the Grant DNA Project, I did a bit of re-organizing of the Matthew Grant Group.  Luckily, everyone who had family trees that traced themselves back to Matthew were obvious DNA matches.  I was very happy to avoid the potential scandal this could have presented.  Using these kits (115576, 54763, 75185, 163661) as well as another that was done through a different company but made available to me via email (GW02), I was able to determine Matthew’s signature at 37 markers.  Looking at the others in the Matthew Grant group, I determined genetic distances using the McGee DNA utility tool ( and was able to eliminate some other kits as being outside the margin of error.  The McGee Tool estimates the distance in years to a shared ancestor between two DNA signatures.  Based upon the kit backgrounds, we knew that kits 163661 & GW02 came down from Matthew’s oldest son Samuel, kit 75185 comes down from Tahan (oh I wish this person tested more than 12 markers as this is the only Tahan descendant I know of who tested their DNA!), and kits 115576, 54763 & 42347 come from Matthew’s youngest son John (42347 doesn’t know this yet).  Running any of these kits through the McGee Tool in comparison with kit 115576 results in a distance between 240-450 years.  This leaves a 100 year margin of error, as we know the separation is a max of 390 years while the distance between 115576 & 42347 is closer to 300 years.

Kits 115576 & 42347 are separated by only 2 markers out of 37, suggesting a close match.  Kit 42347 could only trace their ancestry back to 1750, the birth year of their EKA (earliest known ancestor), a John Grant who ended up fighting on the British side during the Revolutionary War.  This stumped me for over a year until I opened my mind to the possibility of the Arthur Hastings Grant being wrong when he wrote that there were no Loyalists in the Grant family descending from Matthew.  He lists a John Grant born in 1750 who was a cousin to Ambrose Grant (Ambrose did fight on the American side and is in kit 115576’s family tree).  The mutations differentiating the two kits were 456 & CDYa, which are markers that have a history of mutating more rapidly than others (in fact, CDYa is a very fast mutater).  This evidence is very strongly in favor of EKA John Grant being the son of Yale graduate John Grant (5/17/1715-9/16/1753) who was a great-grandson of Matthew through his youngest son John and grandson Josiah.  This Josiah was the shared ancestor between the two kits.  The Grant DNA Project solves a mystery!  And that’s why we joined the project, isn’t it?

Kit# 163661 also claimed a Loyalist in their family tree and descent from Matthew Grant.  At 25 markers they differed from kit 115576 by 2 markers, the faster moving 449 and the slower moving 439.  Not as strong of evidence as kit# 42347.  But further research shows that they descended through Matthew’s eldest son Samuel while kit# 115576 descended through the youngest son John.  This is a split almost 400 years old, suggesting a mutation rate of one every 200 years at the 25 marker level for the Matthew Grant descendants.

Kits 54763 and 75185 have family trees that go back to Matthew and are exact matches to kits 115576 and 42347 while one marker off kit 163661 at the 12 marker level (that distinctive 439 marker).  This suggests they don’t come down Matthew’s eldest son Samuel’s line, and their trees agree.

Kit 35345 has only tested at the 12 marker level and differs from all other Matthew Grant descendants with a mutation of 10 at very slow-moving marker 391.  I would argue that this mutation puts kit 35345 into the unknown group until further testing helps them link up with other kits.  While I wouldn’t write them off as possible members of the Matthew Grant Group, I wouldn’t bet on it either.  12 markers really isn’t enough to make any decision on this kit which supplied no background info.


The other kits in the current Group are 25705, 165817, 45078, 215067, and 58591.  None of them claim descent from Matthew, and the DNA suggests they are not close matches at all.  The closest match via the McGee Tool to 115576 is kit 45078, which is at a distance of 1110 years.  The farthest is kit 215067 at 1830 years. Because of this, I would argue that these kits have a closer relationship with each other than they do the Matthew Grant Group and should have a separate group of their own.  It would help had one of them had done some SNP testing which would confirm whether or not the kits even share the same origins as the Matthew descendants. This does not rule them out as possible relatives, but suggests a non-paternal event such as an adoption (or sin) has interrupted the genetic connection.   More on Matthew’s possible ancestry later.  I first want to discuss a group with a very different DNA signature than the Matthew Grant group, yet with a strong claim as members of the family, which I will call the Beriah Grant Subgroup.

The Beriah Grant Mystery

Kit 173923 and I have talked several times about his family tree, which does go back to Matthew Grant through Matthew’s eldest son Samuel, his son Noah and Noah’s son Beriah.  However, there’s a theory that Beriah wasn’t Noah’s son.  Bingo, the DNA doesn’t match.  A difference of 31 markers at the 37 marker level, many of which are drastic differences.  However, this kit is a close match to the kits in what I was calling the “Sumter County Grants Group.”  This group has 2 members who trace their lineage back to a Thomas Jefferson Grant who in the very early 1800’s lived in Sumter County, GA, one to a Joseph Grant in the late 1700’s in the Tom’s River area, one suggesting Christopher Grant who settled Watertown, MA, in the 1630’s (but not sounding convinced), and 3 members who didn’t bother submitting a history (kits 93418, N8873 & 86785 – please send some info in to the Administrators as not only can you help yourselves but possibly help others trying to find their own answers).  All of these kits are probably descended from the same Beriah as kit 173923 except for kit 23170.  Unfortunately, this kit claims Thomas Jefferson Grant of Sumter County GA but there’s a non-paternal event in there as the DNA doesn’t match. (Note – I am ignoring the 2 kits who only tested 12 markers as while it appears they belong in this grouping there is insufficient data for analysis.)

This DNA Project isn’t going to be able to help with Beriah’s father (although I have made it a priority to look into this on my own).  But we can find the relationship between the members of this group.  Throwing out kit 23170, all members are matches at 12 markers.  Kits 86785, 36728 & 38400 are exact matches at the 12 marker level and 38400 is one marker off the others at the 37 marker level.  Because 36728 & 86785 are exact matches at 37 markers, we know they are very closely related (I would guess sharing a gr-grandfather at worse) and will use their DNA as the lead signatures in the group to compare the others to using the McGee tool again.  38400 is a closer match to these two kits then the others.  The next 3 kits, 231783, 173923 & 93418 differ from the first 3 because they all share a 29 at marker DYS449 while the first 3 have a 30 at that same marker.  This suggests a genetic relationship showing 2 distinctive groups that are still very closely related.

Breakdown using the McGee (years are approximate): Subgroup #1 36728 is the standard 86785 matches 36728 exactly 38400 is 240 years separated from 36728 & 360 years from 231783 Subgroup #2 231783 is 240 years separated from 36728 173923 is 360 years separated from 36728 & 240 from 231783 93418 is 480 years separated from 36728 & 360 from 231783

Based on known family tree info, we can guess connections based upon the estimated years of separation between shared ancestors (ala the McGee Tool).  First of all, we know that Matthew (born 1601) had a son Samuel (1631) who had a son Noah (1661) who adopted Beriah sometime circa 1700 and Beriah’s mother was Mercy Billings (1674).  Beriah is mentioned as Mercy’s son in the will of Mercy’s father William Billings.  The DNA doesn’t match the other Matthew Grant group.  The adopted Beriah is the earliest known genetic ancestor so we will start with him.

Beriah had 3 sons that we know of: Beriah Jr. (1724), Joshua (1725) & Eleazer (circa 1735).  So far, there is no available information on Beriah Jr. other than that he was born in Stonington, CT.  Since we can’t explain where he went, nor can we explain how subgroup #1 got to Sumter County, GA, and because of the genetic difference that suggests a separation of between 240-480 years between the subgroups, Beriah Jr. is the most-likely source for subgroup #1.  In time perhaps we will be able to find the 2 missing generations between Beriah Jr. and a Thomas Jefferson Grant who lived in Sumter County, GA from the early 1800’s (many of the residents of this county got their land via a land lottery in 1827 and the county was formed in 1837).

Kits 231783 & 173923 have known lineages that connect them to Beriah through his second son Joshua and Joshua’s second son Beriah (circa 1760 and the earliest shared ancestor between the two kits).  Because kit 93418 is the most distant from subgroup 1 and is separated from kit 231783 in subgroup 2, I have estimated his line to descend from Beriah’s 3rd son Eleazer who had a son Isiah who was from Colchester, CT, and fought in the Revolutionary War.  At this time I do not have any further info on this line nor has kit 93418 shared any family tree info with me

The hunt continues for Beriah’s biological father.

Finding Matthew’s Parents

The biggest question I have encountered since I’ve started this DNA journey is who are Matthew Grant’s parents?  Like ghosts, they dwell in a perpetual uncertainty.  Ulysses S. Grant makes no mention of them in his autobiography, not do any of the biographers that have since published books on the former President and General.  Arthur Hastings Grant also makes no mention of them in his definitive book on Matthew Grant’s descendants written in 1898 nor his journals published afterwards.  Somewhere between the 1630’s and 1900, these two people were forgotten.  Since then, a few claims have been made and disproven.  The most common names I’ve seen listed are John Grant and Alice Tuberville in Woolbridge, Dorset (by way of Roxby, Yorkshire).  Whether or not these two people even married is up for debate as I was unable to find it listed amongst the family history of the well-known Tuberville Family of Dorset.  The theory first popped up during a Grant Family Reunion in New York City in the very early 1900’s.  Since then several sources had disputed this including George E. McCracken in the American Genealogy Journal in 1975.  The DNA solves this argument as kit 118388 claims descent from this Roxby Family (and matches others with similar claims) and does not match kit 115576.  Funny, in kit 118388’s background description they mention Mormon Church President Heber Grant doing research on this source and stopping (in anger) after he found an illegitimate child.  That illegitimate child was probably the before mentioned Beriah Grant, Heber’s gr-gr-great grandfather.  Kit 118388 doesn’t match the Beriah Group either, so this rules out a connection between them and Heber Grant as well.  Kit 123602 also mentions this Roxby family as a possible source, but he more closely matches the Beriah Group then he does kit 118388.

Another possible source is another Grant family with Yorkshire ties.  A Thomas Grant (1601-1643) also made his way to New England from Hassle, Yorkshire, in the mid 1600’s and settled in Rowley, Massachusetts.  Kit 44288 claims descent from this person.  Kit 115576 does not match 44288 and rules this Hassle family out as well.

A second Thomas Grant (1630-1690) came over to New England, this time with Scottish roots, settling in Rehoboth, Massachusetts.  Kit 154584 claims descent and is a non-match to kit 115576.

Kit 123602 was mentioned as a member of the Beriah Grant Group, although they have only tested 12 markers so far.  They also listed Christopher Grant of Watertown, MA, as a potential source.  Because they match the Beriah Group at 12 markers, they can throw out the Christopher Grant theory as we know their Grants were adopted into Matthew’s family (and thus could not descend from Christopher Grant).  The chances of Beriah being a product of this MA Grant family and then adopted into another different Grant family in CT is not very likely.  But were you to believe that was the case, it would then confirm that there was no relation between Matthew & Christopher as their DNAs are not matching (McGee says a minimum of 2000 years of separation).

Peter Grant “the Exile” was involuntarily immigrated to New England and settled in Maine.  An interesting story which I don’t have time for in this piece (but would like to explore in a future offering).  He has numerous living descendants, 6 of which are in the Grant DNA Project, and his DNA signature has been established as R-L21.  He also doesn’t match kit 115576.

While we have exhausted every early Grant immigrant to New England as possible kin to Matthew Grant, we haven’t gotten one step closer to identifying his parents.  Also, Matthew Grant’s descendants match no other known Grant family (our closest non-Grant matches are to a Cloud family that originates in 16th century Wiltshire and does not match the known MacLeod DNA signatures (see  I had heard that every U.S. President has his genealogy done upon election to office for historical purposes, so I emailed the Library of Congress for assistance in my research.  The kind reference librarians there confirmed what we have already seen – Matthew Grant’s parents are unknown.  It is now that I have accepted that, barring something completely unexpected, I will probably never know who his parents are.  I can accept that.  And I have ruled out nothing entirely.  While we aren’t related to the current Clan Laird, there’s always the chance that we descend from the original Lairds and that Olav Hemmingsson’s DNA is that of my own.  English or Scottish, a Grant is a Grant and they wear the name proudly.

Links: Grant DNA Blog site: Grant DNA Project: Arthur Hastings Grant’s book: Matthew Grant’s wikitree page: (this is a work in progress but hopefully the final destination for Matthew’s descendants). DNA & SNP FAQ’s:

Without help from the U106 Project (a group to whom I am eternally grateful, especially Charles Moore) and from Steven “Allen” Grant here at the Grant DNA Project I may never have gotten access to many of the resources I needed to get this far.  Thanks for your help!!  And may Arthur Hastings Grant’s soul rest forever in peace as he is the one who did the hard work in piecing Matthew Grant’s family together.

Sources: Richardson, Albert Deene. (1868) A Personal History of Ulysses S. Grant. ( Roach, J.P.C., ed. (1959). “The city of Cambridge: Medieval history”. A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely: Volume 3: The City and University of Cambridge. Institute of Historical Research. Retrieved 18 July 2011. Nugent Lawrence Brooke, Christopher; Riehl Leader, Damien (1988). A history of the University of Cambridge. 1. Cambridge University Press. p. 10. ISBN 0-521-32882-9. Chance, F. (13 November 1869). “Cambridge.”. Notes and Queries: A Medium of Inter-Communication for Literary Men, General Readers, etc. (London: Bell & Daldy) 4: 401–404. OCLC 644126889. Retrieved 25 February 2012. Grant, Arthur Hastings. (1898) A Genealogical History of the Descendants of Matthew Grant, A. V. Haight, Poughkeepsie, NY. The Genealogical Magazine Vol. 3 (1915-1916) New England Historical Society Record, 102:153

I am working on a separate piece regarding Matthew’s origins.  The whole project is called Dancing With Ghosts and I hope to publish it before the end of next year.  It will include DNA research as well as an explanation of what we’ve learned since the very early 1900’s when the Grant Family Association stopped their meetings in NYC.  I’ve learned a lot about where we get our family traditions from.  We actually voted as a family in 1898 to adopt the “Stand Fast” motto, which is one of the old links between us and the Scottish Clan.  The other comes from a U.S. Grant biography that was distributed along with the completion of Grant’s Tomb in NYC and the 75th anniversary of his birth in 1897.  It was a big to-do, and thousands of the biography were handed out which included a reference to this Grant family coming directly from Inverness.  Apparently more attention was paid to the parade route than the material within the hand-outs.  At the same time, Roland Dwight Grant completed his family research and suggested Anglo-Saxon roots and Cambridgeshire as a likely pre-New England source of the family.  His research was over-looked in the fanfare of the anniversary celebration (which included a dedication and speech from the Vice President) but I have a copy of it (it’s available online).  120 years ago he suggests Anglo-Saxon roots, and here we are today with an R-L47 signature to play with.  I was impressed with Roland’s accuracy considering the times.”

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