News: Looking for females who are in the pure female lines (mother to daughter) from William and Sarah who are willing to do an mtDNA test. Such a person would be descended along an all female line from Mary DEVIN Biggers or Margaret DEVIN Reynolds. The hope is to identify the markers for Sarah SMITH Devin to help identify her parents. Contact the webmaster if interested.

Devin descendant, Stanley Wayne Devin, passed away at 1:30 a.m. on Dec. 4, 2014. He was the last living child of Ira & Oleta Devin.
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Genetic (DNA) Genealogy for the Devin Surname

DNA testing is one tool genealogy researchers of today have at their disposal. It can confirm or refute a paper trail. Either way, a simple DNA test can save thousands of hours of researching the wrong branch.

Devin Family researchers have been gathering information and compiling their genealogies diligently for years. As of the Fall of 2007, the origin of William Devin (b:c1724, d:1802) of Pittsylvania County Virginia is still a mystery. Whether he is our immigrant ancestor and, if so, when he came to the Colonies is our brick wall. We have a few clues, but no real hard evidence to support where he came from before settling in Pittslvania County. In other words, the trail has gone cold.

Recently, a sample was submitted by a descendant of the William Devin, Jr. (d:1810) line for DNA testing in the hopes to find more clues and establish possible directions for research. My results did not locate my long lost relatives in Ireland, yet (frown). However, I did get 24 matches out of 25 markers for a group of families that trace their pedigree to County Donegal, Ireland circa 1790. That does not much help those of us who trace our roots to ancestors that came to the colonies before 1750, but it does suggest that we share a common ancestor around 1650-1700. If I understand this correctly, it means we have a 90% probability of having a common ancester somewhere between 7 and 16 generations back. My haplogroup is r1b1c, which means the deep genealogy group that migrated to Europe about 16,000 years ago, and is fairly common in Ireland. It is nice to know that the results match with surnames that are all Devin name variations.

  • Diven (origin: Ireland)
  • Devine (origin: Donegal, Ireland)
  • Devine (orgin: Donegal, Ireland)
  • Dever (origin: Donegal, Ireland)

The closest match (35 out of 37 markers matched) is to a person who traces his pedigree to an Alexander Diven who settled in Cumberland County Pennsylvania about the same time William Devin, Sr. settled in Pittsylvania County Virginia. Family stories say Alexander Diven always said he missed "sweet Tyrone Valley" in Ireland. County Tyrone is adjacent to County Donegal in northern Ireland. Not only are our DNA results close matches, but so are the family stories:

  1. Alexander Diven was said to be born circa 1715 and 1720 in Ireland (William Devin was possibly born circa 1724 in Ireland).
  2. Alexander Diven married a Margeret Smith. (William Devin married a Sarah Smith).
  3. Alexander Diven possibly came to the Colonies around 1740 (William Devin possibly came to the Colonies sometime between 1740-1745).

The Downside (there had to be one)

Three groups of people who have been attributed to the Devin families out of Pittsylvania County Virginia have submitted DNA samples. The bad news is that none of the three groups match each other. They are not even close matches, which indicates they do not have a common ancestor for more than 25 generations. This mismatch is significant because present research indicates that all of the Devin families in Pittsylvania County are thought to be the off-spring of William Devin, Sr. No records have been found to indicate other Devin families in the County. That is not to say the documentation does not exist, but, so far, no one has reported it.

  • DNA results show descendants from John Devine (born prob. 1744 in Pittsylvania County VA d.1789) of Mercer County Kentucky ARE NOT RELATED to descendants of William Devin, Jr. (b.c.1752, d.1811) of Pittsylvania County VA.
  • DNA results for a line linking to Irbin Finley Devin (born prob. 1806 in Lincoln County TN d.1838 in Arkansas) ARE NOT RELATED to descendents of William Devin, Jr. (b.c.1752, d.1811) of Pittsylvania County VA. or to the descendants of John Devine (born prob. 1744 in Pittsylvania County VA d.1789) of Mercer County Kentucky.

The paper trail for all three lines is strong until just before the connection to Pittsylvania County VA, and, then, things start getting blurry. The hope was that the Pittsylvania County connection could be proved for all three lines through DNA testing and the truth was that none of the lines are connected. It does not mean the paper trails are wrong (though it is a possibility) for any of the lines. Other possibilities could be undocumented adoptions or a "non-marital" pregnancy.

I find it interesting that there are no matches out of France. Considering that family stories say the Devin family came out of France circa 1685 and the match probability for 23 generations, I would have expected at least one or two from France. However, any matches are for people who actually paid to have their DNA tested, authorized sharing their results, and are in the database, so a French Connection is still possible.

Getting Tested

I encourage males in the direct males lines for other U.S. Devin lines out of Massachusetts, Iowa, Maryland, New York, and northeast Virginia to submit a sample for a Y-DNA test. It would go a long way towards increasing our knowledge of the family relationships. If we can get other documented male lines tested, it would help focus research for all lines. Think of what we have learned about the connection between the Mercer County Devine families and the Pittsylvania County Devin families. That alone is worth several thousand hours of researching false leads. I would be interested in finding results for someone from the William Devin/Devine who served in the Maryland Line during the American Revolutionary War and settled in Mason County KY, or General Thomas Devin of the Civil War (NY 6th Cav). A large sample base can help to establish links between previously unrealized Devin family connections.

I joined the Devine DNA research project through FamilyTreeDNA ( You can look at the DNA marker chart at My markers are listed as DEV39. You can also visit where my results are labeled 3PH3A. You can search for results for thousands of surnames and do comparisons.


The privacy of each participant is an important part of DNA Genealogy research. Only the person providing the sample, the testing lab and the Project Administrator will know the test results. To meet the project goals requires comparing test results between all participants. To maintain the privacy of each individual participant, each test is assigned a participant code number and the Project Administrator associates the test results only with that code number and the participantís lineage number. No one other than the Project Administrator and the testing lab knows who participates in the study or which result is from which person. It is also important to remember the portion of the DNA tested gives a distinctive "signature" for a lineage rather than for an individual, there is no risk of this data being of use to anyone for personal identity.

How many Markers should I test?

I tested out to 37-markers (yDNA37 test). According to Diana Gale Matthiesen [] that is parallel to knowing someone's middle name to help separate him from other people with the same surname and given name. She states, "I guess we could think of markers 1-12 as the surname, 13-25 as the first name, and 26-37 as the middle name, and 38-67 as the birthdate and place."

However, DNA results are only useful when compared with other results. The 67-marker test is much more expensive, and the 37-marker test should be accurate enough to show common ancestors within genealogical history. You can always order the upgrade to 67-markers if you need a more accurate comparison.


My documented Devin line has been in the United States for eight generations: Me->Carl G.->Ira H.->Nataniel M.->Joseph B.->Clayton->William, Jr.->William, Sr. I ask that any male with a direct male lineage to any of these individuals, please contact me at if you are willing to submit (or have submitted)a DNA sample. Comparing our markers should show a close match and show the genetic lineage to our common ancestor. If we can get samples for each generation branch, it would show where the mismatches branched for our lines. It would also help support the paper trail. Simply stated the overall goal of gather DNA test results is to discover common paternal ancestors and establish the genetic connections among the various families through Y-chromosome DNA tests.

It has been a very interesting project for me with learning about how DNA testing works with genealogy research. The yDNA results (male line) has helped me to focus the direction of research for where William Devin, Sr. originated, and I feel confident some hard evidence can be found with all of the new clues this test has provided. It has also given me a goal to really concentrate on my mtDNA (direct female) line to find my immigrant ancestor.

Owner/SourceDavid D.

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