The Lawson DNA Project

Welcome To The Lawson Surname DNA Project

Gayle (Ellison) Merz, who has a Lawson ancestress, initiated the project in May of 2003. Carl L. Lawson volunteered as co-administrator in 2006. Carl is now the administrator and maintains our website, with Gayle as our co-administrator. The project includes the various spelling of the surname Lawson, such as Lausen and Losson. We do have other surname members who believe they have some connection with the Lawson surname and are trying to make the connection.


At one time or another most of us have had a desire to know about our origins and where our Lawsons came from.  Many of us join the quest early in life and others may have put it off until our later years, but sooner or later it gets to all of us.  We collect data from parents and grandparents, bibles, birth certificates, courthouses, libraries and now we use the Internet.  However, it seems many of us always come to what has been referred to as our “brick wall”.

Now we have a new tool, DNA testing, that may help in connecting to other Lawsons and maybe help push back the “brick wall” one or two generations.  We still need to do the above detective work to capture as much information on our families and build our pedigree or ancestral charts before moving on to the DNA testing.  As you work at collecting the data, you may find that the records that would otherwise connect your ancestors may be lost, destroyed or otherwise absent.  This is when DNA becomes invaluable in re-connecting individuals, surnames and families.  Hopefully this is when you will decide to join our Lawson DNA Project to find a way around this “brick wall”.

Statistical information about the Lawson population from the Lawson International Registry, done in 1996, estimated a total population of Lawsons to be 113,650 in the United States, with Tennessee having the largest population of Lawsons.

Great Britain was next with a population of 42,830, then Australia with 9,541 and Canada with 7,691, to name the top countries.  The Registry showed Lawsons in 15 countries and they may not have found them all and only used the spelling of Lawson.

Goal Of The Project

Our objective is a standard surname project, where we hope to connection those of us with the surname of Lawson or it’s various spelling.  We believe that there are a number of clusters of Lawsons that share a common ancestor.  By grouping the various lines of Lawsons in a database by their Y-chromosome DNA signature and then comparing their submitted pedigrees, we hope to be able to make additional connections for our families and push back the “brick walls”.

Gayle had this in mind when she picked her goal for our project: –
“The main goal of this project is to sort out all of the Lawsons, Lausens and Lossons all over the world.”

This is a great undertaking and since the largest numbers of Lawsons are in the United States, this is where we started.  We have added members from Great Britain and Australia and we hope to add more.

The Plan

For our Project the Y-chromosome DNA testing needs to be done by a male with the surname of Lawson or one of the other spellings.  The Y-chromosome is only carried by males and is passed down from father to son and follows the paternal line.  If you are a female researcher of a Lawson line, then you will need to get a brother, father, uncle or cousin with the surname of Lawson to take the test for you.

Since the start of our Project we have had a number of members with a surname other than Lawson make a request to join our Project.  These members may have had a non-paternity event, a situation where through adoption, a name change, an illegitimacy, or any combination of these, their ancestors did not have the genetic profile that they expect in their surname project and through the public data bases or through FamilyTreeDNA they found that they may be a close match to one of our Lawson lines.  We have no problems including them in our Project and they should contact .

We have chosen FamilyTreeDNA as our testing company and they provide us with a Public site called My FamilyTreeDNA Lawson DNA Project, where you can find information about our project, Project Goals and links to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about DNA testing. If you click on Y-DNA Results you will see the Y-DNA Test Results (Alleles) for all the Project Members. However, Carl’s website for 67 Alleles has a better presentation of the results. The 67 Alleles Chart has a Short Pedigree on the right hand side of the chart for each member that has submitted one to the Project. Also, the chart has links to each member’s Full Pedigree and a link to their email address if you want to contact the member.

As a registered surname project with FamilyTreeDNA, they are willing to give us a discount for any new members.  You should go to “Join the Lawson Surname Project” where you will find some of the same information that is on the Public site, but it also gives the cost of the many tests that FamilyTreeDNA is now doing. You will need to choose the type of test that you want to order, then click on “Order Now”, and then follow the instructions. For most project participants, we recommend starting with the 37-marker test. The less expensive 12-marker test can rule out a relationship with the Lawsons we have tested, but to establish a relationship or to get interesting sub-branch information, you will need at least 37-marker data.  You can upgrade a Y-DNA12, to a Y-DNA25, Y-DNA37 or Y-DNA67, but it will cost more if you go this route.

After you have completed and submitted your test request, a test kit will be sent to you. You will receive a email from FamilyTreeDNA, which is copied to the Group Administrators. We will send you a welcome email and a request for you to complete a pedigree chart that you will send to .  You can go to this link to see an example of the pedigree chart that we would like to receive.  To protect your privacy, we usually do not include the names and dates of the living members of the family, unless the submitter requests it.

If you have joined our project, then the test results will be sent to you and also the co-administrators.  We will then post them on our Chart for 67 Alleles with a copy of the pedigree chart.  Hopefully you will match one of the other members who you will be able to contact.

The Test Kit

A test kit will be mailed to you directly from FamilyTreeDNA. You will collect DNA by rubbing a swab against the inside of your cheek. (To see an amusing demonstration of how that is done, go to Dave Dorsey’s web site.) There is a picture and information on the Test Kit located on FamilyTreeDNA.  The genetic test kit consists of a cheek scraper and a collection tube.  In about five minutes, you will be able to read the instructions and perform a painless cheek scraping.  You will need to do a backup sample, so you will have to do the cheek scraping twice.

How Long Does It Take To Get The Results?

FamilyTreeDNA states that from the time you return the two specimens to them, it will take approximately seven weeks to test the DNA sample, analyze the specimens and compare the results to data in the existing genetic library.

Tutorial Links On DNA Testing And It’s Results

To get a better understanding of Genetic Genealogy, here are a number of links to websites for DNA and Y-Chromosome Testing: –

FamilyTreeDNA Basic Tutorial
DNA 101: Y-Chromosome Testing
DNA 102: Interpreting Results
Genetics 101 – Intro Report
DNA Heritage – Y-DNA

Lawson Message Board

There is a Lawson forum located on Roots where anyone can post messages, questions or data about the Lawsons.  All messages posted at this site will also appear in the mailing list.  This list is a discussion area for anyone who has an interest in genealogy related to the Lawson Family or any other possible spelling of the surname Lawson. It is possible to review all the messages from January 1980 by going to LAWSON-L Archives.  Since there are many messages you may want to use the Archives Search Engine for the archive messages in the Lawson mailing list.  Once there, and as an example put in the keywords field “Jonas Lawson” (make sure you use the quotation marks in front and back of the names). It will bring up a long list of archives messages about Jonas Lawson.

If you want to subscribe to the list in mail mode, then go to and type in one word – subscribe in the Subject area and in the body.

Timelines, Maps And Other Lawson Data

Carl has compiled Lawson data for various counties in Virginia and North Carolina and put them in Timelines that you can find at the Genealogy site. This information can be of help if your Lawsons were located in one of these counties that he worked on. There are maps of Virginia and North Carolina counties showing how they were formed and from which counties and the dates when they were created as the population moved west.

There are links to Timelines of William Lawson of Falling River and two of his sons.

For those that are related to William Lawson the Scottish Rebel, there is a link to his family site and you can also download a pdf file of the Lawson Family Heritage Program Newsletters.