DNA Project

PLEASE NOTE: Ancestry.com has discontinued our Y-chromosome surname project. I am looking for a volunteer (just like me!) who can assist me in transitioning our DNA project elsewhere. Please let me know if you want to help. Experience with DNA surname projects a plus!

In the meantime, the information below is outdated.

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Our W(R)en(n) DNA Surname Project with DNA Ancestry

You need a free or a paid membership at Ancestry in order to compare your DNA results with our participants. Membership in the project is FREE. (Sadly, while participation is free, the DNA tests themselves are not.)

You may purchase a Y-chromosome DNA test kit here. Note that this is a Paternal Lineage DNA (Y-Chromosome) project, not a Maternal Lineage DNA (mtDNA) project. Only males carrying the following surnames should be tested:

  • Wren
  • Wrenn
  • Ren
  • Renn
  • Renne
  • Wrenne
  • Rennes
  • Wrens
  • Wrynne

… and so on. If you are male and your birth surname sounds like “Ren”, we’re the DNA project for you.

If you are female with that surname, you may still participate, but a male relative with that surname must take the test, as you do not carry the Y-chromosome we’re looking for (neither will any sons you may have). Ask your father, brother, cousin, uncle, etc. to take the test in your place.

If you’ve already taken a Y-chromosome test with another DNA testing company, you may join the project and enter the results here:

When your test results are entered into DNA.Ancestry, you can join our Wren Family Association DNA surname project here. (After you’ve joined, go back to the Group’s page and click on “Compare Results”)

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Our Wren Family Association DNA Surname Project Goals

We have two main goals for the W(R)en(n) Family Association DNA Surname Project:

  1. To understand and connect the relationships of Wren/Wrenn/Ren/Renn surnames in the U.S. and possibly tie them to Old World families.
  2. To prove or disprove the connection so very many Wren genealogies state as fact: that the Wrens of early Virginia were related to Sir Christopher Wren.

…Her mother’s grandfather, Vincent Wren, was in the Wars of the Revolution and 1812. He was a direct descendant of Sir Christopher Wren, architect of St. Paul’s, London.
—”Edward S. Dickson,” Portrait and Biographical Records of Jasper, Marshall and Grundy Counties, Iowa. Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1894.

Old Vincent Wren wasn’t the only great-grandfather believed to have been a direct descendant of Christopher Wren! All of us W(R)en(n) researchers have heard this refrain at least once: “We are descended from Sir Christopher Wren!” or perhaps, “We are related to Sir Christopher Wren—Gramps said so!”

While Sir Christopher Wren has no documented living descendants, there are descendants of his ancestors who carry on the Wren surname. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could compare DNA? Let’s use science to settle this question once and for all.

And while we’re putting one of our oldest traditions under the microscope, we’ll be collecting valuable information on W(R)en(n) family lines that will help all of us in our genealogical research. If you’re not quite sure what DNA testing can do, read some of these reports from a few family associations who’ve used DNA testing to solve long-standing genealogical mysteries:

Dodge Family Association DNA Project
Winslow Family Association DNA Project
Bassett Family Association DNA Project
Whiteside DNA Project

Other family associations have had some wonderful success with their DNA testing, and now it’s our turn!

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How the Test Works

Here is a set of DNA FAQs you might find helpful.

A DNA test is not a blood test. It’s quick, easy, painless and private, and consists of taking a prepared cotton swab and rubbing it against the inside of your cheek. Then you mail the swab with your DNA test kit back to the laboratory.

The laboratory never receives your name or personal information. Instead, they keep track of your DNA sample with a bar-code. Your personal information is kept in the database, separate from the lab.

Read more about DNA Ancestry’s DNA privacy policy here.

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How Much Does DNA Testing Cost?

The cost depends on which test you take. There are two sets of Y-Chromosome tests: the 33-marker test and the 46-marker test.

We recommend the 46-marker test. The 33-marker test is less expensive, but most likely you’ll end up upgrading at a higher cost later in order to get more information about any markers that match other participants.

It’s pricey, but remember that only one male representative of your family needs to be tested. In other family associations, some family researchers have gotten together and pooled their money in order to test one representative individual in their line.

How to Convert Your Current DNA Sample with Another Company to DNA Ancestry

But what if you’ve already been tested by another DNA testing company?

DNA Ancestry currently supports the entry of results from the following services: Family Tree DNA or the National Geographic Genographic project. More companies will be added soon!

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Who Should Be Tested?

This is a Y-Chromosome surname project, which means only males carrying the following surnames should be tested:


… and so on. If it sounds like “Ren”, we’re the DNA project for you!

You don’t need to test every male in your family. One test is sufficient, preferably from the oldest male with that surname, but that’s not necessary, either. The important thing is to take the test!

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Reasons Why You Might Not Be a Good Candidate for a DNA Surname Project

1. You’d rather not share your hard-won genealogical research. DNA samples submitted to our project are useless unless they’re accompanied with your documented pedigree. Some people just don’t want to share, and we understand that. But this attitude won’t work in our surname project.

2. You believe your DNA might be used for nefarious purposes! It won’t, and you can read why not here. However, you might still be suspicious. That’s all right—if you’re not comfortable with it, our surname project is definitely not for you.

3. You would be devastated if your test results showed a non-paternal event. A non-paternal event means the father-to-son lineage was broken somewhere, even though the son carried the father’s surname. It might’ve been the result of an adoption, the assumption of an alias, an illegitimacy, etc., and it could have happened five, ten, or even more generations ago; and yet some participants take it very hard and very personally. Our surname participants must be open to all possibilities when searching for the truth.

4. You expect your DNA sample will generate your entire pedigree, from Sir Christopher Wren on down to you. It doesn’t work that way! Read some of the successes that other family associations have had using DNA testing (listed above), and you’ll better understand how it will help us with our W(R)en(n) mysteries.

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