This is a Y-DNA Project for
the Leffew surname and its spelling variants, the principal ones being Lephew, Lefew and Lefue. Other spelling variants are also welcome. Y-DNA testing is
particularly useful for genealogy purposes because Y-DNA is passed from father to son down the direct paternal line with very
few changes, particularly during the last 800 years or so that surnames have been in common use. Thus, the odds are overwhelming that living males, who share the same surname, or a spelling variant,
and whose Y-DNA signatures (“haplotypes”) match, share a common ancestor.
It is expected that most Leffews
in the United States are descended from Stephen Lefew/Lephew of Rockingham County, North Carolina, who died in 1800, and whose
wife and children were enumerated as free persons of color in the census that year, after having been enumerated as white
in the 1790 census when Stephen was still living. However, they could also be
descended from the Mary Lefew of the 1790 and 1800 censuses, who may have been a widowed sister-in-law of Stephen. If Mary was a sister-in-law, the direct male descendants of her sons will match the Y-DNA of Stephen’s
direct male descendants and thus a participant’s exact lineage will have to be determined by traditional genealogical
research. If Mary’s descendants do not match up with Stephen’s descendants,
that would suggest Mary was an unmarried sister of Stephen.
Probably the most important
question that should be answered by DNA testing is the racial makeup of our early Leffew family. Were they part Native American as is the oral history of all the branches of the family of which your Administrator
is aware, or are they part free African-American as theorized by Paul Heinegg, the author of Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware (viewable online)? Y-DNA testing will reveal the direct paternal ancestry of Stephen Leffew and mtDNA
testing will reveal the direct maternal ancestry of his wife.
It’s also possible that
Y-DNA testing will reveal other Leffew lineages of which we are not now aware. It
may also be the case that we find new variants of the name which are genetic matches and which might help us identify our
immigrant ancestor (assuming it was not Stephen). For example, it is often claimed
that our immigrant ancestor was Isaac Leffeure, a Huguenot of 1700 Manakin Town. Your
Administrator does not believe the available evidence supports this claim, but a match with a surname similar to that would
reopen the question.
Y-DNA testing may help in other
ways. For example, some Leffews may be descended from a stepchild who took on
the Leffew surname as his own, or some Leffews may be descended from female Leffews who did not marry but gave the Leffew
name to their children rather than the name of their father. For such individuals,
Y-DNA testing may yield matches with surnames of neighbors where their Leffew ancestor lived, which in turn may lead to the
identification of the male who fathered such children. Similarly, there may be
some males with a completely different surname who may only match up with the Leffews, suggesting there is a misattributed
paternity somewhere in that person’s lineage.
Participants in the project
will also learn about their deep or prehistoric ancestry (“haplogroup”).
Although such predates the adoption of surnames by thousands of years and thus is of little use from the standpoint
of traditional genealogy, your haplogroup will give you a different perspective of your roots.
Those interested in joining
our project should review the Order Page, which has more detailed information about the available tests.
If you have any questions,
please contact your Project Administrator.