Identifying the Y-DNA haplogroups of ancient Roman families through their descendants

I'm Z56>S47>Z44 which is close to Livesey (possibly gens Livia? As you suggested) but I have private variants which don't yet register unlike Livesey, so our ancestors may be separated by some 2000 years or more, but perhaps irrelevant.

Surname Lindeman, which seems to have arisen in the Lower Rhineland in Germany. The name is almost certainly non-Italic in origin but may be tied to a number of different families who resided in the Township of Linde (which may have been various different towns) who simply adopted the name thusly.

Other surnames under Z44 thus far come from Italy, Spain, or Northwest England (Livesey, etc...)
I'm R-U152> Z193> FT8517
I think my Y-Dna is related to the Romans who went to Portugal.
Are there any genetic studies on the Romans in Portugal? Thanks !!


I just got my results back from FamilyTreeDNA and they say there are 2 other people with this Haplogroup. Have you had any luck in tracing your lineage? Would love to collaborate.
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I just got my results back from FamilyTreeDNA and they say there are 2 other people with this Haplogroup. Have you had any luck in tracing your lineage? Would love to collaborate.
Are you referring to me or someone else? I'm Z44 (R1b-U152>Z56>Z46>Z44>CTS8949)
An early dweller of Plymouth colony in the 1600s named Samuel Sabin probably belonged to R1b-Z2103 based on the testing of descdendents.

The combination of the Y-dna with the English surname "Sabin" is a bit curious. Rooted in the name Sabinus but also adopted as a personal name. Could be coincedence.
Samuel sabin.JPG

from this page
I have embarked on an ambitious project: attempting to determine the haplogroups of ancient Roman gentes based on the modern European surnames that belong to ancient Latin haplogroups. It may seem like an impossible quest because there is no guarantee that any ancient Roman surname survives to this day. Yet, last year I investigated many Italian surnames that match ancient Roman nonima and found out that most of them are distributed principally in and around the Latium even today. This indicates a continuity in surnames since the Antiquity.

Roman citizens typically had three names: the praenomen, nomen, and cognomen (known as the tria nomina). Old and illustrious families were often divided in branches distinguished by one, two even three additional cognomina. For example, the Cornelii had branches like the Cornelii Scipiones Nasicae, or the Cornelii Scipiones Salvidieni Orfiti. Many people were known by their cognomen (e.g. Caesar for Gaius Julius Caesar) or one of their cognomina. After the fall of the Western Roman Empire, Roman naming conventions would have progressively fallen into disuse and people would have kept only one surname - probably the most used and therefore in most cases the (last) cognomen.

Obviously many names might have been corrupted over time, especially outside Italy where the adoption of new languages or new pronunciation of Latin (like in French) would have inevitably altered names over time. Sometimes a lot of imagination is required to assess the evolution of Latin names into French, German or English. Fortunately I have quite a bit of experience in the matter as a historian, toponymist and genealogist dealing with French, Dutch and German names and seeing the progressive corruptions over many centuries.

Here are the ancient Latin samples tested to date and their Y-haplogroups.

R1016Castel di Decima (Rome)900-700 BCER1b-Z2103
R435Palestrina Colombella (Praeneste)600-200 BCER1b-CTS6389 (Z145)
R1021Boville Ernica (Bovillae - Frosinone)700-600 BCER1b-Z2118 (L51)
R437Palestrina Selicata (Praeneste)400-200 BCER1b-PR3565 (L2>ZZ56)
R850Ardea800-500 BCET1a-L208
R851Ardea800-500 BCER1b-FGC29470 (L2>DF90)

I have scrutinised the surnames for each of these haplogroups in the FTDNA projects. I could not find matches to ancient Roman names for all, but here is what I found.


  • Carbotti (surname found especially in Apulia, but also in Latium and northern Italy) => possibly from the cognomen Carbo found among the patrician gens Papiria.
  • Cominetti (rare surname found mostly in and around Lombardy) => from the gens Cominia?
  • Lorio (mostly from Piemonte, but the Lori variant is from Lazio) => from Loreius?


  • Cecchinelli (surname found in Latium, Tuscany, Liguria and Lombardy) => possibly from Caecinus, an Etruscan gens. The Latin 'Cae' invariably becomes 'Ce' in Italian. The Latin 'ci' becomes 'chi' in Italian to keep the hard k sound. That gives the root 'Caecin' => 'Cecchin' + the '-elli' ending.


  • Camp (England) => from Campatius?


  • Rebel (France) => from Caninius Rebilus?


  • Antes (Poland) => from Antius?
  • Sweeting (England) => corruption of Suetonius (Sweton => Sweeten => Sweeting)


  • Martin (France) => from Martinius?
  • (De) Surville (France) => could be from gens Servilia (patrician gens of Alban origin)


  • Pluis (Netherlands) => corruption of Plinius?


  • Livesey (England) => corruption of Livius?


  • Barbato (found in all Italy, with peaks in Campania, Veneto and Lazio) => from Barbatus, a cognomen found among the gens Cornelia, Horatia and Valeria (all patricians).
  • Curtis => from Curtius, another patrician gens.
  • Fulfisk (Sweden) => possible corruption of Fulvius, Fufius or Fuficius.
  • Lacopo (rare surname found essentially in Lazio and Calabria) => maybe from Laco, a cognomen found in the gens Cornelia.
  • Neese (Germany) => maybe a German dialect translation of Nasica, a cognomen of the gens Cornelia.

Here we have three names that could potentially fit within the great gens Cornelia.

I have also investigated the R1b-Z193 branch, which is most common in Italy. This one gave the most impressive matches so far.


  • Cloudt (Netherlands) => Dutch corruption of Claudius to Claud, which is spelt Cloud(t) in Dutch. So gens Claudia.
  • Cowings (England), Cowan (Ireland) => a possible corruption of the cognomen Corvinus, a cognomen of the gens Valeria (patrician gens of Sabine ancestry). With the Latin v pronounced as w, and the r and w sounding similar in English, Corvinus would have become Cowinus, then Cowins as the Latin -us ending were dropped. The -ing ending was adopted in English, while the Irish Celticised it to Cowan. In fact many intermediary variants exist: Corbyn, Corbin, Corvin, Corwin, Cowin, Cowins...
  • Mark (UK) => from Marcius, gens Marcia (patrician gens of Sabine ancestry)
  • Ortensi (rare Italian surname found mostly in Lazio and Emilia-Romagna) => from Hortensius (an old plebeian gens)
  • Philipps (UK) => from Philippus, the cognomen of a branch of the gens Marcia maternally descended from Philip of Macedon.
  • Pinard (France) => from Pinarius (patrician gens of Sabine ancestry)
  • Probst (Germany, Switzerland) => possibly from Probus, an cognomen found in the gentes Pomponia (patrician gens of Sabine ancestry), Valeria (ditto) and Anicia.
  • Rane (UK) => Anglicisation of Ranius, another gens of Sabine ancestry.
  • White (UK) => translation of Albus or Albinus, an cognomen of the gens Postumia (patrician).

See a trend here? Many of these could be related to patrician families, mostly of Sabine ancestry, including those descended from Numa Pompilius, second king of Rome (ancestor of the gentes Pinaria, Pomponia and Marcia).

Even better, the surnames Cloudt (Claudius), Philipps (Marcius) and Ortensi (Hortensius) share a very close haplotype despite modern samples being from 3 different countries! This shows a common root in historical times.

Other candidates :

  • Ballard (France) => possibly from Aelius Balla.
  • Cleman (UK), Clemmentsso (Sweden) => related to the cognomen Clemens, found notably among the gens Pinaria and Cornelia (both patrician).
  • Host (Rhineland, Germany) => from Hostius?
  • Lambie (UK) => perhaps a corruption from Aelius Lamia (to Lamie then Lambie)
  • Kohlmann (Germany), Cole (UK) => possibly a translation from Carbo, an cognomen of the gens Papiria (patrician).
  • Pate => Anglicisation of Paetus, a cognomen of the gens Aelia.
  • Verras (Greece) => possibly from Verres, Verus (gens Annia) or Varus (found in gentes Atia, Plancia, Vibia and Quinctillia).
  • Weir (Scotland, Ireland) => English rendering of Verus (gens Annia) with the -us ending dropped.

In this series we have 3 candidates for the gens Aelia, all from different branches (Balla, Lamaia, Paetus).


The Z36 branch of R1b-Z36 is considered more Celtic than Italic. Nevertheless a few people have names that might betray a Latin origin. However, considering how few matches I found within Z36 and how generic the names are, I would rather believe that these are Celtic people who adopted Latin-sounding names.


  • Anthoine (rare French version with an h, found near Italy and in Alsace), Antonini (peaks in Lazio, then central and northern Italy) => from the gens Antonia?
  • Alby (unknown origin, but most common in Mediterranean France and also found in Italy and Rhineland), Albrich (found mostly in South Germany and Rhineland) => from Albius?
  • Keller => from the cognomen Celer
  • Venter => from the cognomen Venter

The single Etruscan sample whose Y-DNA is known belongs to J2b-CTS6190, a branch that is today found in Italy, Switzerland, Portugal, England and the Netherlands, with an expansion in the last 2000 years. Interestingly there is a Jewish cluster within that branch. I couldn't find any potential Roman name within CTS6190, but I found some within its sister branch Z38241 (both descending from Z38240), which has a wide 'Roman-like' distribution from England to Syria and from Portugal to Germany.


  • Allis (rare surname found in England)=> corruption from Aelius or Alienus? The latter may be of Etruscan origin.
  • Mattis (Germany), Mathes (Switzerland) => perhaps from the minor gens Matia or Matiena?


  • Ellis (found especially around Chester, a major Roman fort) => corruption from Aelius or Alienus?

Note that J2b2-Z38240 and J2b2b-Z631 also have Jewish subclades. As this haplogroup is not originally Jewish, it is likely that these rare Jewish J2b2 clades represent either ancient Romans/Italians converted to Judaism, or non-paternity events. The same can be seen with several R1b-U152 subclades (L2>BY3508 ; L2>ZZ56>L408 ; Z56>Z43>S1523 ; Z56>Z43>Z145>PF6582 and Z36>S8024>A7983, which all have Italian, Jewish and European distributions).
J2b L283 are from Messapians who were Illyrian tribes
J2b L283 are from Messapians who were Illyrian tribes
I doubt that all J-L283 in Italy is from Messapians or Daunians, though they certainly had a lot of it.
Rough circumstantial evidence for Plinius but just recently an ancient sample under that haplogroup was found near Verona dating back to between the 3rd and 1st centuries BCE. Gens Plinia are tradationally known to come from Cisalpine Gaul in Como, but they not need be directly related to show that they may have descended from similar people carrying this lineage. Cisalpine Gauls of a similar/adjacent tribe.
R1b-U152>Z56>Z43>S47>S4634 Pluis

Z46>Z48>CTS12976>S4634>Y225624>FT83928 was the specific result of the ancient sample.
Pliny was the son of an equestrian Gaius Plinius Celer and his wife, Marcella. Neither the younger nor the elder Pliny mention the names. Their ultimate source is a fragmentary inscription (CIL V 1 3442) found in a field in Verona and recorded by the 16th-century Augustinian friar Onofrio Panvinio. The form is an elegy. The most commonly accepted reconstruction is

Plinius Secundus augur ordered this to be made as a testament to his father [Ce]ler and his mother [Grania] Marcella
The actual words are fragmentary. The reading of the inscription depends on the reconstruction,[5] but in all cases the names come through. Whether he was an augur and whether she was named Grania Marcella are less certain.[6] Jean Hardouin presents a statement from an unknown source that he claims was ancient, that Pliny was from Verona and that his parents were Celer and Marcella.[7] Hardouin also cites the conterraneity (see below) of Catullus. [5]
How the inscription got to Verona is unknown, but it could have arrived by dispersal of property from Pliny the Younger's estate at Colle Plinio, north of Città di Castello, identified with certainty by his initials in the roof tiles. He kept statues of his ancestors there. Pliny the Elder was born at Como, not at Verona: it is only as a native of old Gallia Transpadana that he calls Catullus of Verona his conterraneus, or fellow-countryman, not his municeps, or fellow-townsman.[8][9] A statue of Pliny on the façade of the Como Cathedral celebrates him as a native son. He had a sister, Plinia, who married into the Caecilii and was the mother of his nephew, Pliny the Younger, whose letters describe his work and study regimen in detail.

In one of his letters to Tacitus (avunculus meus), Pliny the Younger details how his uncle's breakfasts would be light and simple (levis et facilis) following the customs of our forefathers (veterum more interdiu). Pliny the Younger wanted to convey that Pliny the Elder was a "good Roman", which means that he maintained the customs of the great Roman forefathers. This statement would have pleased Tacitus.

Two inscriptions identifying the hometown of Pliny the Younger as Como take precedence over the Verona theory. One (CIL V 5262) commemorates the younger's career as the imperial magistrate and details his considerable charitable and municipal expenses on behalf of the people of Como. Another (CIL V 5667) identifies his father Lucius' village as present-day Fecchio (tribe Oufentina), a hamlet of Cantù, near Como. Therefore, Plinia likely was a local girl and Pliny the Elder, her brother, was from Como.[10]

Gaius was a member of the Plinia gens: the Insubric root Plina still persists, with rhotacism, in the local surname "Prina". He did not take his father's cognomen, Celer, but assumed his own, Secundus. As his adopted son took the same cognomen, Pliny founded a branch, the Plinii Secundi. The family was prosperous; Pliny the Younger's combined inherited estates made him so wealthy that he could found a school and a library, endow a fund to feed the women and children of Como, and own multiple estates around Rome and Lake Como, as well as enrich some of his friends as a personal favor. No earlier instances of the Plinii are known.

In 59 BC, only about 82 years before Pliny's birth, Julius Caesar founded Novum Comum (reverting to Comum) as a colonia to secure the region against the Alpine tribes, whom he had been unable to defeat. He imported a population of 4,500 from other provinces to be placed in Comasco and 500 aristocratic Greeks to found Novum Comum itself.[11] The community was thus multi-ethnic and the Plinies could have come from anywhere. Whether any conclusions can be drawn from Pliny's preference for Greek words, or Julius Pokorny's derivation of the name from north Italic as "bald"[12] is a matter of speculative opinion. No record of any ethnic distinctions in Pliny's time is apparent—the population considered themselves to be Roman citizens.

A meaningful connection to the city of Verona may plausibly be indicative of perhaps ancestral or clan connections but could easily not be the case as well.

There is an "Hardouin" surname attached to that subclade as well, interestingly enough, this one reported to be from Charente, though likely coincedence.
Jean Hardouin was one of the proponents of the Verona theory supposedly based on an ancient source that was (and is) unknown, as stated in the quote above.
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