Cotton/Cotten DNA Project


The purpose of the Cotton DNA project is to create a database which will enable us to identify the various families bearing the Cotton or Cotten surname. The results may make it possible to tell which families are connected in the male line, and as the database grows, to differentiate between branches within each family. While not a substitute for traditional paper genealogy, genetic testing can often lead the way in getting past "brick walls" by suggesting a direction for the paper research to take. Though DNA results alone cannot prove the paper trail, they can help to back up that research, and a negative result can certainly disprove many incorrect assumptions.


The chromosomes in the nucleus of a human cell are grouped in 23 pairs. In a female, the 23rd pair is composed of two X chromosomes, and in a male of one X chromosome and one Y chromosome. When sperm or egg cells are produced, the chromosome pairs separate and each egg or sperm cell receive only one half of the pair. So for about half of all sperm cells, the final chromosome is a Y. At the time of fertilization, the individual chromosomes from the sperm and egg pair up again. However, because of the differences between the X and the Y chromosomes, they are able to swap almost no DNA with each other. So any sons that a man fathers will inherit a nearly identical Y chromosome. Because of this fortunate coincidence of biology (the passing of the Y chromosome from father to son) and cultural tradition (the passing of surnames in the same manner), these DNA tests can have significant value in genealogical research.

The Y chromosome tests that are used examine sequences of DNA known as STR's (Short Tandem Repeats). These STR's are composed of about two to five base pairs which are repeated numerous times. Because of occasional mutations, the number of repeats can sometimes change. These mutations, known as polymorphisms, are passed along from father to son. By comparing the number of repeats in each of the markers tested, it is possible to tell if the men being tested come from the same recent male line.


Any males with the Cotton or Cotten surname or who believe that they are direct male line descendants of a Cotton male are welcome to participate. We also welcome any other possible spelling variations (Coton, Cottin, Cottone, Cotham, Cottam, etc.). Women are obviously not able to participate directly, but they can play an important part in the research by recruiting or sponsoring a brother, father, uncle, etc. There are currently over 140 men who have been tested or are in the process of testing. If you are interested in joining the project, you may do so by contacting Ross Cotton or Michael Cotten. The test is easy and painless, simply rub a swab over the inside of the cheek and mail the kit back to the testing company in a preaddressed envelope.

       List of participants -

       FAMILY 1

       Carl Arthur Cotton

       Peter Daniel Cotton

       FAMILY 1A

       Walter Bradley Cotton

       FAMILY 2

       Darrell Gerald Richmond Cotton

       Ian Sidney Cotton

       Reginald Harry Cotton

       Richard Graham Hay Cotton

       FAMILY 3

       Meredith Leonard Cotton

       Ross Gilbert Hamilton Cotton

       Thomas Robert Wellington Stapleton-Cotton

       William Raymond Cotton


       FAMILY 4        

       Allan Douglas Cotton

       Brian Cotton

       David Lee Cotton

       Douglas Lloyd Cotton

       Doyle Mark Cotton

       Hikaru Kitabayashi

       John Buford Cotton

       Mark Allen Cotton

       Martyn John Cotton

       Maurice Arthur Cotton

       Michael John Cotton (1)

       Michael John Cotton (2)

       Michael Scott Cotton

       Robert Gordon Cotton

       Robert Murry Cotton

       Ronald Kenneth Cotton

       Roy James Cotton

       Terrence Richard Cotton

       William Jennings Cotten

       William Melvin Cotton

       FAMILY 4A

       Steve Lawrence Cotton

       FAMILY 4B

       David Harold Cotton

       Donald Stephen Cotton

       FAMILY 5

       James Sutherland Cotton

       FAMILY 6

       Barry Percy Carrington Cotton

       Christopher John Cotton

       David Anthony Cotton

       Donald Maurice Cotton

       Frederick Peter Cotton

       John Hilton Cotton

       John Michael Cotton

       Leslie Stanley George Cotton

       Michael Raymond Cotton

       Paul Geoffrey Cotton

       Roderick Alastair Cotton

       Stanley George Cotton

       William Frank Cotton

       FAMILY 7

       David Marshall Cotton

       David Michael Cotten

       Gregory Perry Cotten

       Harlan Eugene Cotten

       Jack Russell Cotton

       James Murray Cotten

       Jerry Wayne Cotton

       Joel Brian Cotton

       John Louis Cotton

       Ralph Alton Cotton

       Richard Polhemus Cotton

       Robert Gene Cotton

       Ryan K.

       Steven Alan Cotten

       Thomas Wayne Cotton

       Whitworth Willson Cotten Jr.

       (Anonymous) Cotten

       FAMILY 7A

       Robert Randolph Cotten III

       FAMILY 7B

       James Braxton Cotton

       Jerry Dean Cotton

       FAMILY 8

       Bruce Conway Cotton

       (Anonymous) Cotton

       FAMILY 9

       Billy Jeff Cotten

       Cale L. Cotten

       Roy Rufus Cotton

       Steven Mark Cotton

       Steven Ray Cotton

       Wayne Cotten

       William Bryan Cotton

       FAMILY 9A

       Gordon Huffman Cotton

       FAMILY 9B

       Bryan McKinley Cotten

       (Anonymous) Cotten

       FAMILY 10

       Daniel Luzern Cotton

       Frankie LaVern Cotten Jr.

       George Rainey Cotton

       John David Cotton

       Robert James Cotton

       Roger James Cotton

       Simon FitzSimon Cotton

       Thomas Richard Cotton

       (Anonymous) Cotton

       FAMILY 11

       Allen Worgan Cotton

       Andre Omer Cotton

       Barry Arthur Cotton

       Charles Edgar Cotton III

       James Stephen Cotham

       James Zina Cotton

       Lee Hubert Cotton

       Rex Eugene Cotten

       Sheldon Eugene Cotton

       Thomas Earl Cotton

       (Anonymous) Cottam

       FAMILY 12

       Joseph Bruce Cotton

       Tom William Cotton

       Verne Alban Cotton

       Wayne Leroy Cotton

       William Tucker Cotton

       FAMILY 12A

       Jason Lee Cotton

       FAMILY 12B

       Bruce Nicholas Cotton

       FAMILY 13

       Marion Sherman Cotton

       Michael Dale Cotton

       Richard Roy Cotton

       FAMILY 14

       Kenneth Wayne Cotton

       Michael John Cotton (3)

       William Fenwick Cotton

       FAMILY 15

       Eric Cotton

       Robert David John Cotton

       FAMILY 16

       Loine Clyde Cotton

       Oren Lee Cotton

       FAMILY 17

       Frank Albert Cotton

       Raymond Critchley

       FAMILY 18

       Michael Leigh Cotton

       (Anonymous) Cotton

       FAMILY 19

       Claud Cecil Cotton

       FAMILY 20

       John James Cotton

       Lynwood Irvin Cotton

       FAMILY 21

       William Gene Cotton

       FAMILY 22

       Richard E. Cotton

       FAMILY 23

       Anthony Roger Cotton

       Barry John Howard Cotton

       FAMILY 24

       Ronald William Cotton

       FAMILY 25

       Lee Cotton

       FAMILY 26

       Jacques Edward James Cotton

       Joseph Albert Cotton

       Joseph Neree Leonard Cotton

       FAMILY 27

       John Henry Cotton

       FAMILY 28

       Antony David William Vine Cotton

       Gordon Kingsley Cotton

       FAMILY 29

       Edward Bernard Cotton

       FAMILY 30

       David Frank Cotton

       FAMILY 31

       David James Thompson Cotton

       FAMILY 32

       Stanley Norman Cotton

       FAMILY 33

       Christopher John Nicholas Cotton

       FAMILY 34

       Trevor Francis Frederick Cotton

       FAMILY 35

       Houston Leroy Cotton

       FAMILY 36

       Peter Cotton

       FAMILY 37

       Anthony Ross Cotton

       FAMILY 38

       David Lawrence Cotton

       FAMILY 39

       John William Cotton

       FAMILY 40

       Barry John Cotton

       FAMILY 41

       Lonnie Michael Cotton

       FAMILY 42

       (Anonymous) Cotton

       FAMILY 43

       Frederick William Cotton


The participants are grouped together in family units determined by the test results. Values in the pink cells are the reconstructed ancestral haplotype for the family as far as can be determined at present. The values for individuals are in blue (when matching the ancestral haplotype), yellow (when not matching, probably representing a mutation), and green (when no ancestral haplotype has been determined). Cells are left gray for those markers which have not been tested for the individual. This is because participants have been tested by several different companies which do not test all of the same markers and also because there are several different tests available from each company.

Notes on a few markers -

*DYS 389II - This marker is actually an extension of marker 389I. Because of this, a mutation in the first marker will affect the value for the second, making it appear that there has been more than one mutation. To avoid confusion, the values given in the chart for 389II are actually the value for 389II minus 389I.

*DYS 394 - Also known as DYS19

*DYS 442 - Because of different methods of measuring this marker, the value as reported by Ancestry DNA is always 5 greater than that reported by Family Tree DNA. To facilitate comparison, the Ancestry DNA values have been adjusted to match the standards of FTDNA.

*GATA-H4 - This marker is designated as TAGA-H4 by Ancestry DNA and is reported with a value 1 higher than FTDNA. The values in our chart have been adjusted to fit the FTDNA conventions.


Anthropologists have categorized human Y-DNA into a number of distinct major divisions called haplogroups which they have designated with the letters A through T. Each of these groups has a number of identified subclades and together form a sort of family tree of the human race. As the field of population genetics continues to grow and more men are tested, these results should be able to determine the origin of various haplogroups. Individuals might then identify the nation, tribe or clan that their direct male line came from, e.g. someone of British origin could know if their ancestor was Briton, Anglo-Saxon, Viking, Norman, Scot, etc.

Though haplogroups can only be proven with an SNP test, it is possible to make a general prediction about a group by comparing STR results. At this point, only families 4, 7 and 11 have been SNP tested. The project haplogroup page attempts to categorize our participant families based on the information we have at present.