Using DNA to untangle the Matthew - Robert relationship link

Many descendants of Matthew of Saybrook, Connecticut, show him as the first child of Robert Ransom of Plymouth, Massachusetts.  Matthew first appears in 1682 in Saybrook in a marriage document.  Robert, estimated to be born about 1636, and first appears in 1654 in Plymouth in a court record complaining about treatment by his master. 

The source of this parentage link is a book by Wyllys C Ransom, Historical Outline of the Ransom Family of America, and genealogical record of the Colchester, Connecticut Branch, 1903. 

In the book he labeled Matthew as the first son of Robert Ransom of Plymouth, MA.  Also in the book, Wyllys Ransom admits that the connection between Matthew and Robert is an assumption. His augment, in 1903, was that while there is no evidence that Matthew is a son of Robert, there is no evidence to prove he was not the son of Robert.  As a result of this “assumption”, many descendants of Matthew’s line believe they have found a number of cousins in descendants of the other children of Robert of Plymouth.

No evidence that this is correct has been found.  On the contrary there is much evidence that this is not true:  1) Matthew is not listed in Robert's probate,  2) It was common at that time to name children, either their first or middle names, for grandparents or uncles and great uncles. The names of these people of one line do not appear in the other line, while the naming is carried out within each line.  Mr. Oscar Friscke has conducted extensive search of the early Ransom lines since 1979 and has published his findings in the NEHGS Nexus, Vol. 5, No 3, and in the Ransom Researcher (Nr 2, page 47). He has found no evidence to support Willys C. Ransom's claim that Matthew was a son of Robert.

Now we can confirm that Matthew Ransom of Saybrook, Connecticut is not the son of Robert Ransom of Plymouth MA

As a direct male descendant of Matthew Ransom of Saybrook CT  (Matthew1, Joseph2, Matthew3, Richard4, Elisha5, Timothy6, Newman7, Harrison8, and my father John9), I submitted a DNA sample to FamilyTreeDNA ( ) in January of 2010

There were 20 other Ransom males in the Ransom Project ( this web site is part of the FamilyTreeDNA group).  Five of the twenty were direct descendants of Robert of Plymouth and all have almost identical DNA samples and all are also in the same haplogroup I1 (that is upper case i and the numeral 1).  The other fifteen members were either in three lineage groups or unassigned to a lineage.  All of these fifteen were in haplogroup R1b.  None of the first fifteen were directly off of the Matthew of Saybrook line.  [Haplogroup is a classification, based on genes, of the distant origin of a unique population.]

I was the first of the Matthew line to have my DNA tested.  The results came back in late March 2010.  I was also in the haplogroup R1b1b2a.  Just the fact that the haplogroup does not match the Robert of Plymouth lineage means that Matthew and Robert are not related. 

But more telling, of 67 markers tested from my DNA, only 22 matched the 67 markers from the Robert lineage.  To be valid distant match of thirty generations ago, at least 61 of the 67 markers much match.  To be valid match for the ten generations of Ransoms back in CT or MA would require at least a 64 to 67 match.

The conclusion is that Matthew of Saybrook, CT in 1682 is not the first son, or any relation, to Robert of Plymouth MA of 1654.  And the Wyllys C Ransom book is wrong.

Even more interesting, my test results do not match any of the other fifteen R1b Ransoms in the project.

Preliminary matches with thousands of other males in various DNA databases have not turned up significant matches with other Ransoms.  But some early preliminary matches indicate 1) there may be a connection to one of the early Ransoms in Virginia, or 2) there may be a connection to the Fanary / Flanary line from Ireland at least twenty generations ago.

I encourage all Ransom line males to be DNA tested, especially those of the Matthew line.

Kirk Ransom 24 May 2010