View Full Version : Are your 23andme "Top Relative Surnames" interesting?

06-24-2013, 10:50 AM
Hi there. Just curious if anyone had anything to say about the "Top Relative Surnames List" that appears on "My Ancestry Overview" at 23andme. You can get an expanded list by clicking on it.

Obviously this list reflects names that are significant to your family tree, but also common among people you are related to but having nothing to do with your family tree, as well as also names that are simply generally common. The names have some sort of weighting applied to them relative to their commonness, although I'm not sure of the methodology behind the weighting.

My first two listings are dead on.

Caudill is number 1, but heavily "enriched." Definitely confirmed in my tree via a couple of different lineages, it logically shows up because though a rare surname spelling overall, it is very thickly distributed in certain places (Wilkes and surrounding counties in North Carolina, much of Eastern Kentucky where it is hard to read a newspaper without finding distant relatives both on the crime watchlist and the academic honors list). It also points out one of the problems with the list, which is that it doesn't have a soundex equivalency or something of the like incorporated in it (it would be nice to have the Caudills and Caldwells linked, for example, or for that matter something as simple as another one of my instances, Daniel and Daniels).

My second listed surname is White, which makes since because I have two separate and presumably unrelated White lineages and in addition probably a number of people with the relatively common name in their list aren't related at all but simply coincidental.

The next three surnames, Howard, Carnes, and Kilgore, seem to have nothing to do with my family tree (and with at least Kilgore it seems that it is a result of regional or sub-regional commonness of the name rather than relation, because I have more likely surname connections with most who list that name).

Then with 6-9, Prater, Summers, Witt, and Cox, we are dead on the money again. From there it trails off with occasional "hits" here and there.

What are your experiences?

Scarlet Ibis
06-27-2013, 04:01 AM
Hmmm....interesting. I haven't looked at this feature in a long time, and it seems to have changed since then.

My top 5:

1) Foote -- This one shouldn't be #1 on the list. It's there because 7 people have it, but 5 of them are from the same immediate family.
2) Phillips -- ?
3) Howell -- Exists in my known family tree
4) Thompson -- Exists in my known family tree
5) Morrow -- ?

06-27-2013, 11:13 AM
If I were adopted, I'd have a good clue as to my heritage, all of the top 108 surnames are Finnish and then the Anglicized versions start showing up for the last 17.

J Man
06-27-2013, 06:41 PM
Finnish names are at the top on my list. Strange how ''Maternal Surnames'' shows up at number 5. :P

1.) Laitinen
2.) Seppala
3.) Koskela
4.) Saari
5.) Maternal Surnames

06-29-2014, 04:19 AM
I have only one frequently occurring surname. A common name among Assyrians (Yonan = Jonah (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonah)):


06-29-2014, 05:26 AM
Mine aren't -- I've posted why here (http://www.anthrogenica.com/showthread.php?2590-Debunking-Relative-Finder-for-Ashkenazi-ancestry). For my mother's kit, two of them are:

Harvey - name of 7th great-grandmother
Baxter - common near Glasgow, perhaps distantly related
Walsh - probably just shows Irish ancestry
Gilliam - ?
Calvert - surname tightly linked to ancestry near Teesdale

Scarlet Ibis
06-29-2014, 06:06 AM
It seems mine have drastically changed again. They seem to be a mixture of almost all British Isles, but some Dutch surnames. No Korean ones yet.

Top 5:

1) Turner
2) Thompson
3) Foster
4) Gill
5) Hoover

06-29-2014, 12:30 PM
My top ten surnames (using the default list, rather than by count, as I'm not sure which one people are using). Most of the surnames are of British Isles origin with some German surnames, although I have quite a few American cousins with some German ancestry, so that's probably the source of those -

1. Armistead (I did have an Armistead in my direct matrilineal line who married a Berry, which is number three in the list, but that line is incorrect)
2. Chapman (There's only one Chapman in my family tree, a 9th great grandmother)
3. Berry (I do have Berry cousins, but they're related to me on my dad's side, rather than being related to the Berrys I've already mentioned)
4. Billington (There's only one Billington in my tree, a 5th great grandmother)
5. Savage (A wife of a third cousin three times removed has this as one of her middle names, but apart from her, there are no Savages in my tree)
6. West (I have cousins with the surname East, but no Wests)
7. Russell (The only Russells in my tree are a 5th great grandfather and his children)
8. Davies (No Davies in my tree)
9. Hatcher (No Hatchers in my tree)
10. Sutton (There are two Suttons in my tree, an 8th great grandfather and his daughter, my 7th great grandmother)

If I go by count, my top ten looks like a list of common English surnames.

My brother's default top ten -

1. Eccles (I have no Eccles ancestors, but there are a couple of Eccles families who are related via marriages to fairly close relatives)
2. Coffey (No Coffeys in my tree)
3. Constable (No Constables in my tree)
4. Sutton (There are two Suttons in my tree, an 8th great grandfather and his daughter, my 7th great grandmother)
5. Blanton (No Blantons in my tree)
6. Gibson (I have some living Gibson cousins via a close cousin)
7. Sumner (Along with a 7th great grandfather and 6th great grandmother, another Sumner married a cousin from the same area as the other Sumners, so they might be connected)
8. Hatcher (No Hatchers in my tree)
9. Storey (surname of my earliest known direct matrilineal ancestor)
10. Nichols (No Nichols in my tree)

If I go by count, my brother's top ten is also basically a list of some of the most common English surnames including our own surname.

10-15-2019, 09:23 PM
I'm Bulgarian of English descent . My great-great grandfather was from England and all of my surnames are British.

10-16-2019, 11:40 PM
All the names on my list are common names in the north of Ireland, Scotland, and England, yet only Campbell is of Gaelic origin. My Dad was adopted/fostered in Belfast and my Mom's Dad was also from Belfast. Only one name on my list (Martin) is as close as 2X Great grandparent. My Y-DNA line is Doherty, but they also used the name Steele. Neither name is on the list.

Also, I'm 25% Quebecoise , yet no French names appear on the list. "Martin", my 2X Great grandmother was from County Antrim not Quebec.

Smith (44)
Brown (32)
Davis (31)
Johnson (26)
Anderson (25)

10-17-2019, 12:40 AM
Not really, they're all common American Anglo-Saxon surnames, if you're talking about the family names list in the filter tab.
Top 5:

Surnames of my closest dna matches in order before a non-Yugo surname appears:


I do have Karic in my family from my maternal grandfather's maternal side, so this person might really be a distant cousin. The rest of them who knows, but I'm not aware of any relatives that I know of with those surnames.

10-17-2019, 01:23 AM
Not really. More than a few carry the same name as my maternal grandfather though.

10-17-2019, 01:48 AM
No, not at all. In order, mine are Smith, Davis, Brown, Miller, Jones, Williams, and Johnson.

A ranking of the most common surnames in the US are: Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, and Davis.

So I guess I'm super average.

For the ones in my family tree, my dad's surname is Jones, but we don't have many connections on that line. However, on his Welsh side we have a whole bunch of other Joneses, not sure if any are related on 23andMe.

Davis was the maiden name of my paternal grandfather's mother, and I have a disproportionate number of matches on that line on all sites. It seems to have been prolific, or at least prolific DNA testers. I also have another farther back Davis line on my mom's side.

I have a couple of different Smith lines that I know about.

I have a Miller line I know about (German, I think).

No known Brown, Williams, or Johnson in my family tree.

Sad to say that with the exception of the Joneses and my dad's Davises, I pretty much abandon ancestors when I hit such common names because it's usually more fun researching the ones with less common names.

To compare, my mom's most common on FTDNA are Smith, Johnson, and Jones, and my dad's are Smith, Johnson, and Brown.

10-17-2019, 02:08 AM
Johnson (28)
Smith (26)
Miller (25)
Brown (19)
Anderson (17)
Jones (17)
Clark (16)
Martin (15)
Campbell (14)
Davis (14)
Moore (13)
Hall (12)
Taylor (12)
Thompson (12)
Ross (11)
Wright (11)
Pelletier (10)
Robinson (10)
Adams (9)
Fisher (9)

Pretty standard English language list of surnames, but I was surprised to see one French name on the list.

10-17-2019, 03:07 AM
In spite of a significant dollop of German ancestry, here is my boring list of British Isles surnames:

Smith (40)
Brown (34)
Johnson (31)
Jones (23)
Taylor (23)
Miller (20)
Moore (20)
Williams (20)
Thompson (19)
Wilson (19)
Clark (18)
Davis (18)
Thomas (18)
Hall (16)
Allen (15)
Anderson (15)
Martin (15)
Baker (14)
White (14)
Wood (13)

My wife, whose mother has roots in Nuevo Leon in Northern Mexico, has a list that reads like a who's who of the Twelve Founding Families of Monterrey:

Garza (59)
Rodriguez (46)
Gonzalez (43)
Garcia (41)
Smith (31)
Martinez (29)
Flores (28)
Villarreal (26)
Adams (24)
Hernandez (24)
Cantu (23)
Trevino (23)
Jones (21)
Sanchez (20)
Gutierrez (19)
Hall (19)
Brown (18)
Johnson (18)
Ramirez (18)
Lopez (17)

10-17-2019, 03:09 PM
My top three are Cohen, Schwartz and Goldberg, most of the rest appear to be Jewish also. It's the result of endogamy, one of my great grandfathers was Jewish.

10-17-2019, 03:16 PM

Pereira (25)
Rodriguez (21)
Silva (20)
Martinez (17)
Oliveira (17)
Santos (17)
Garcia (16)
Perez (15)
Costa (14)
Hernandez (14)
Rodrigues (14)
Ferreira (11)
Carvalho (10)
Freitas (10)
Gomes (10)
Lopes (10)
Souza (10)
Vieira (10)
Brown (9)
Cruz (9)


Rodriguez (27)
Silva (24)
Garcia (22)
Gonzalez (17)
Martinez (17)
Smith (17)
Fernandez (14)
Pereira (14)
Hernandez (13)
Perez (13)
Torres (13)
Oliveira (12)
Sousa (11)
Cabral (10)
Diaz (10)
Johnson (10)
Santos (10)
Amaral (9)
Ramos (9)
Ribeiro (9)

10-17-2019, 03:35 PM
Rodriguez (34)
Silva (27)
Santos (21)
Perez (20)
Ferreira (19)
Martinez (19)
Rivera (19)
Gonzalez (18)
Garcia (17)
Lopez (15)
Smith (15)
Pereira (14)
Costa (12)
Ortiz (12)
Rodrigues (12)
Oliveira (11)
Dias (10)
Flores (10)
Gomes (10)
Hernandez (10)

10-17-2019, 04:05 PM
Smith (12)
Jones (8)
Anderson (6)
Brown (6)
Davis (6)
Haddad (6)
Ibrahim (5)
Rodriguez (5)
Bazzi (4)
Bell (4)
Berry (4)
Green (4)
H (4)
Hammoud (4)
Mansour (4)
Martin (4)
Martinez (4)
Miller (4)
Thomas (4)
Williams (4)

Smith and Jones popularity even reached my tree... unsure how. Lebanese surnames in bold.

10-18-2019, 05:07 PM
Mom’s top names

Dad’s top names


On the maternal top names I only know of a Davis line on her dads side and a great grandfathers sister that married a Schwartz and on my dads top names I know we have Davis, Shaw, Carter and Terry lines.

10-18-2019, 09:55 PM

Smith (52)
Johnson (26)
Brown (25)
Jones (25)
White (20)
Davis (19)
Taylor (19)
Miller (18)
Moore (17)
Wilson (16)
Martin (15)
Roberts (15)
Campbell (14)
Williams (14)
Anderson (13)
Baker (12)
Lewis (12)
Mitchell (12)
Phillips (12)
Adams (11)


Smith (54)
Jones (34)
Williams (32)
Johnson (28)
White (27)
Brown (25)
Miller (24)
Davis (23)
Taylor (23)
Thomas (23)
Moore (21)
Clark (19)
Wilson (18)
Allen (17)
King (16)
Mitchell (16)
Phillips (16)
Baker (15)
Hall (15)
Hill (15)

11-14-2019, 10:27 PM
My list:

Doucette (57)
LeBlanc (52)
Muise (40)
Surette (24)
Landry (19)
Boudreau (18)
Bourque (18)
Smith (17)
Brown (16)
Melanson (16)
White (16)
Meuse (15)
Amirault (14)
Comeau (13)
Muse (13)
Saulnier (13)
Deveau (12)
Johnson (12)
Leblanc (12)
Cormier (11)

11-19-2019, 09:52 PM
My top three are Cohen, Schwartz and Goldberg, most of the rest appear to be Jewish also. It's the result of endogamy, one of my great grandfathers was Jewish.

How much AJ % do you score? Thanks

11-20-2019, 12:35 AM
How much AJ % do you score? Thanks

23andme gives me 12.5% AJ, that percentage is pretty consistent across the various services.

11-20-2019, 01:11 PM
Thanks for the response! And it matches your great gparent estimated %. How much give you MH y FTDNA? This services sometimes have a weird way to estimate ancestry (such as splitting the % in minor ethnicities..)

11-20-2019, 02:28 PM
Link please. I can't find that.

11-20-2019, 02:36 PM
Link please. I can't find that.

It's just the Family Names drop-down tab on the DNA Relatives section of the site.

11-20-2019, 02:45 PM

Smith (58)
Taylor (30)
Williams (27)
Miller (25)
Johnson (22)
Brown (21)
Davis (20)
Harris (20)
Jones (20)
Moore (20)
Allen (19)
Clark (18)
Stewart (18)
Anderson (17)
Wilson (17)
Young (17)
Walker (16)
Campbell (15)
Thomas (14)
Wood (14)

Nothing especially interesting with mine .

11-20-2019, 03:22 PM
Mine are

Ryan (31)
Smith (29)
Kelly (28)
Johnson (20)
Walsh (19)
Murphy (18)
Williams (17)
Davis (16)
Jones (16)
Moore (16)
Murray (16)
White (16)
Burke (15)
Miller (15)
Lynch (14)
Carroll (13)
Hughes (13)
Martin (13)
Wilson (13)
Anderson (12)


Ryan (62)
Kelly (30)
Smith (30)
Murphy (24)
O'Brien (19)
Johnson (18)
Walsh (18)
Carroll (17)
Kennedy (15)
McNamara (15)
Williams (14)
Anderson (13)
Collins (13)
Davis (13)
Byrne (12)
Flynn (12)
Green (12)
Jones (12)
Brown (11)
Burke (11)


Smith (31)
Murphy (26)
Ryan (23)
Walsh (19)
Kelly (18)
Williams (18)
Johnson (17)
White (17)
McCarthy (16)
O'Brien (16)
Moore (15)
Murray (15)
Sullivan (15)
Wilson (15)
Jones (14)
Collins (13)
Kennedy (13)
Brown (12)
Campbell (12)
Carroll (12)

They are all fairly standard names from Ireland and Britain so nothing surprising at all.

11-20-2019, 04:13 PM
Mine are

Kennedy (15)

They are all fairly standard names from Ireland and Britain so nothing surprising at all.

Hey that's not fair, I want some.

11-20-2019, 04:29 PM
Thanks for the response! And it matches your great gparent estimated %. How much give you MH y FTDNA? This services sometimes have a weird way to estimate ancestry (such as splitting the % in minor ethnicities..)

Ancestry is 13%, FTDNA is 12%. MH is the outlier--they give 9.5%. MH gives a chunk of Eastern European that the other services don't, I suspect some of the Eastern Europe is actually AJ.

11-24-2019, 09:19 PM
Some of these names are likely in nearly everyone's list!

Smith (73)
Sizemore (52)
Jones (37)
Miller (37)
Brown (36)
Davis (36)
Anderson (34)
White (33)
Wilson (33)
Johnson (29)
Walker (29)
Roberts (28)
Bowling (27)
Morgan (27)
Taylor (27)
Williams (27)
Allen (26)
Howard (25)
Moore (24)

Despite the fact that over a third of my ancestry is German, none of the surnames is. But German surnames are underrepresented in the U.S. for one simple reason: (1) they've changed, often to similar-sounding (or -meaning) English surnames; and (2) there lots of variations of German names to begin with.

For example, for different German variants of the name "Smith" are all among the top 50 surnames in Germany: Schmidt, Schmitt, Schmid, and Schmitz. There are also multiple variants of "Miller" (Möller, Müller) and several other names all found among that "top 50".

In fact, from the Wikipedia article on the Miller surname (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller_(surname)):

In 2007, about 1 in every 25 Americans were named Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller or Davis. Miller was the seventh most common surname.

All of these names are in my list, how amazing. :rolleyes:

11-24-2019, 11:58 PM
Smith (46)
Johnson (24)
Williams (24)
Brown (22)
Davis (18)

Only one name on the list is a name of my grandparents, the maiden name of my maternal grandmother, Lois (Robinson) Whitman.

11-25-2019, 03:14 AM
Smith (46)
Johnson (24)
Williams (24)
Brown (22)
Davis (18)

Only one name on the list is a name of my grandparents, the maiden name of my maternal grandmother, Lois (Robinson) Whitman.

None of my grandparents' surnames is on the list, even if I allow for the fact that my mother's birth surname doesn't reflect her father's biological father's surname. I can't say for certain at this point whether that's because the man who helped raise her wasn't her biological father, or because that man was not the biological child of the couple who raised him. I think it's the latter, but can't prove it either way.

So I actually have more certainty about my eight great grandparents' surnames than about my four grandparents' surnames. These names are Bookhammer, Mogle, Fry, Yingling, Babcock, Muncy, Pons, and Cannette (originally Canet).

The first four are all German, though "Bookhammer" is an Americanization of "Buchhammer" (not that much of a change, really). Babcock and Muncy are British, and Pons and Canet are both Catalan surnames. But I have to go all the way back to 2nd great grandparents to find a name on the list -- Sizemore. That was the birth surname of my maternal grandfather's maternal grandmother.

Not all of the surnames seem to reflect ancestors at all, but simply collateral relatives.

11-25-2019, 04:02 PM
I think most people with extensive matches in the US and lines with a long history here are going to get names that just reflect common names in the US, for the most part, and not actual family names.

As I said above, my top 7 are exactly the most common 7 surnames in the US.

11-27-2019, 06:20 PM
Here are mine:

1. Smith (49)
2. Brown (25)
3. Davis (23)
4. Johnson (22)
5. Williams (22)
6. Moore (20)
7. Wilson (20)
8. Clark (18)
9. Jones (18)
10. Taylor (18)
11. Anderson (16)
12. Miller (16)
13. Martin (15)
14. Thompson (13)
15. Hall (12)
16. Morris (12)
17. Young (12)
18. Harris (11)
19. Lee (11)
20. Parker (11)

Pretty common set of names, meaning no insult to their bearers.

11-30-2019, 08:17 PM
Nope. Most(if not all) are common English names rooted from colonial American south. The most interesting one in my top 10 is the name "Moore" which may be of English, Irish, Welsh, or Scottish origin. It's one of the top 20 most common surnames in Ireland specifically, and it may have also originally derived from the word "Moor", which was the name referring to the Muslim population of medieval Iberia. My #1 is the maiden name of a maternal great-grandmother who I knew personally, and, before doing any DNA testing I thought her lineage had died with her. I have found three or four 4th/potentially 3rd cousin descendants of her older siblings or uncles/aunts on Ancestry.

Jones (38)
Smith (35)
Brown (29)
Williams (28)
Johnson (27)
Davis (25)
Jackson (17)
Robinson (17)
Harris (16)
Moore (15)
Taylor (15)
Thomas (15)
Turner (15)
Anderson (14)
Hill (14)
Wilson (14)
Green (13)
Walker (13)
Allen (12)
Carter (12)

12-06-2019, 06:24 AM
Family names
Garcia (39)
Martinez (29)
Hernandez (27)
Gonzalez (22)
Lopez (22)
Smith (21)
Rodriguez (19)
Sanchez (17)
Perez (15)
Flores (13)
Miller (13)
Fernandez (12)
Ramos (12)
Rivera (12)
Ruiz (11)
Davis (10)
Diaz (10)
Gonzales (10)
Anderson (9)
Cruz (9)

Bold font: I don't have any known ancestors with these surnames

12-07-2019, 04:40 AM
My kits get different names in the app version vs signing into the website.

My mom on the website. The only name I am certain of in my family from this list is Miller.

Brown (35)
Smith (34)
Jones (24)
Davis (23)
Miller (23)
Williams (21)
Johnson (18)
Taylor (18)
Wilson (16)
Clark (13)
Hill (13)
Thompson (13)
Jackson (12)
Martin (12)
Cox (11)
Hughes (11)
King (11)
Morgan (11)
Thomas (11)
Lewis (10)

On the app she gets Basta and Gibson as the stand outs. We have them in our family too.
Smith (21)
Brown (19)
Jones (18)
Miller (17)
Davis (15)
Williams (12)
Johnson (11)
Taylor (10)
Hill (9)
King (9)
Thompson (9)
Anderson (8)
Morgan (8)
Thomas (8)
Wilson (8)
Hughes (7)
Jackson (7)
Baker (6)
Basta (6)
Gibson (6)

I bolded known names. Wonder why the app version is different?

12-07-2019, 03:55 PM
Not particularly useful for me. A small segment of my ancestry takes everything over with very run-off-the-mill surnames. I've put the ones that are in my known family tree in bold.
Cohen (30)
Schwartz (18)
Miller (15)
Katz (14)
Goldberg (13)
Friedman (12)
Levy (12)
Hoffman (10)
Rosenberg (10)
Stern (10)
Greenberg (9)
Lewis (9)
Goldstein (8)
Klein (8)
Shapiro (8)
Davis (7)
Feldman (7)
Goldman (7)
Gordon (7)
Jacobs (7)