CLARE DNA research


This is the letter sent to anyone surnamed CLARE, from the end of 2001 to the start of 2003, inviting them to take part in a free survey to help establish how the many, widespread families of CLARE relate to each other. The survey is now closed, as of 8 January 2003.

Logo of Leicester University

Department of Genetics
University of Leicester,
Leicester LE1 7RH, UK

November 2001

Dear Mr Clare,

I am writing to ask if you would be willing to help us with our study of surnames and the history of the people of Britain and, in particular, your own surname. Taking part in this study will enable you to find out more about the history of your surname, is free, and will take only about 10 minutes of your time.

Our surnames study is being carried out here at the University of Leicester, home of genetic fingerprinting, where we are aiming to look at the history of over 100 surnames using new DNA techniques. Simply brushing the inside of your cheek provides us with the sample we need. The results of this study will be very useful for people researching their own family trees as well as for understanding the history of Britain.

I am writing to you as one of the surnames we are particularly interested in is CLARE. From the extensive genealogical work of Roland CLARE in Bristol, we know that there are many branches of CLAREs. Of about 6,500 adult CLAREs currently living in the UK, nearly a quarter are in Lancashire and Merseyside, but historically there have been CLARE 'nodes' in the Buckinghamshire area and in the West Country too. We hope that our work will tell us more about the origin and spread of the CLAREs and identify groups who share a common male ancestry. For example, do all the various geographical groups represent branches of the same CLARE tree, and are these branches therefore all related? A number of minor spelling variations exist today, such as 'CLEARE' in the Home Counties, 'CLEAR' in the South of England, and the Scots 'CLEER': do all these various spellings represent branches of the CLARE tree, and are all these branches therefore all related? To what extent are all bearers of these names descended from a single male ancestor? Our research may be able to answer such questions.

As you may have heard recently in the news, looking at the link between genetics and genealogy (surname) is becoming very popular. Several commercial companies offer such a service, but typically charge 150 per sample. We are carrying out this work as a research project and thus it is absolutely free for anyone to take part in the study.

In return for taking part, we will provide you with a copy of the deduced genetic relationships of the various branches, and spelling variants, of your surname showing each person who has taken part in the form of initials and current place of residence. In addition to this you will receive a copy of your Y chromosome genetic fingerprint and an explanation sheet designed for the layperson.

Often the genealogy of a surname is not able to be completed due to the lack of paper records. By carrying out this genetic research, we hope to identify previously unsuspected links in the various branches of the surname and provide exciting new information on the history of the surname. Our work may provide fresh impetus to traditional genealogical investigations of particular issues.

At this point, we should mention that one possible outcome of this research is that we find evidence of possible illegitimacy or undocumented adoptions. These events are comparatively rare, averaging about 1-2% per generation and since we intend to avoid sampling anyone closer than second cousin, would only be detected as having occurred more than three generations ago. However, if you feel uncomfortable with the possibility that one of these events may be found in your branch of the family, we would suggest that you do not take part in the study.

We only require men to take part so if you are female, I must apologise for sending this to you in error. If there is a male with your surname in the house, or if you have a male relative who shares your surname, I would be very grateful if you would pass this on to them.

Please find enclosed everything you need to take part. Please do not hesitate to contact me at the address or phone number above, should you require any further information.

We very much look forward to receiving your sample.

Yours sincerely,
Ms. Turi King


If you would like to take part, please mail me first.

There is now a mailing list specifically for people participating in the project described above : to join it, please send a message to including the word  subscribe  in the body of the message.

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Web-page created 25 October 2001