The Hodgson Clan Website
  Home     Hodgson Origins     DNA Project     Notable Hodgsons     Variants     Coat of Arms     Hodgson Tourism     Links     Site Map   


The Hodgson DNA Project


DNA analysis is beginning to provide a detailed picture of the locational origins and history of our Hodgson ancestors. 

It confirms the thesis of Irish-Norse origins.


For background information on genealogy and DNA - and other relevant links - click HERE




The Hodgson DNA Project was launched in 2001. The analysis below is based on the first 88 to volunteer a sample of their DNA for analysis. They are all males descended down their paternal line from ancestors with the surname Hodgson (78), Hodson (4), Hodgens (2) or Hodgins (4) (all described as 'Hodgsons' below).


Future volunteers are advised to use a reputable company such as Family Tree DNA* as they offer tests over a larger number of DNA markers. You can obtain a substantial discount off the full cost by enrolling as part of the Hodgens surname project, which includes the name Hodgson.

Please send your results to where a confidential database of Hodgson DNA records is kept. It is possible that your DNA will match with an existing Hodgson group. If you are a male Hodgson, Hodson, or other Hodgson variant, then your DNA results will be analysed free of charge.

* Please note that the organiser if this website - Geoffrey M. Hodgson - has no commercial interest in this company and receives no commission from it.


The relevant test is known as a Y-line test: it analyses DNA in the Y-chromosome. All males, but no females, have a Y-chromosome. Y-chromosome DNA is handed from father to son down the paternal line. Surnames are also typically conveyed from father to son. Hence the Y-chromosome DNA tracks the transmission of conventional surnames.


Norse Origins


The analysis of data from the Hodgson DNA Project confirms the Irish-Norse origins of the Hodgson surname and sheds more light on the history of the Irish-Norse ancestors of the Hodgsons in Ireland.


However, the sample population of 88 Hodgsons is quite small and any generalisations have to be made with caution. By using haplogroup and haplotype analysis, 80 Hodgsons were placed in thirteen groups, each with a likely common ancestor.


The most striking outcome is the diversity of DNA results among this sample of Hodgsons. Such a degree of diversity must be exceptional among surnames. In most surname studies, a large proportion of the subjects have identical or very similar Y-line test results. This is not the case with the Hodgson sample. Although the use of DNA in surname studies is very new, no surname study has yet been encountered with such a diversity as that found among the Hodgsons. This remarkable feature requires an explanation. We find the answer in the history of the Irish-Norse in Ireland and England.


Although there are mixed DNA types, the Hodgson DNA evidence in our sample provides a good measure of Norse paternity. There are several methods of assessing ethnic origins, all of which are vulnerable to particular assumptions employed. There is no exact method.


Using several methods (outlined in the second edition of Hodgson Saga) Hodgson DNA is roughly one-third Norse and 5-10 per cent Danish, most of the remainder being similar to the indigenous British. The proportion of Norse blood among Hodgsons is much higher than in the British population as a whole. Stephen Oppenheimer (2006, p. 462) estimates that about 6 per cent of Y-DNA in the British Isles is of Norwegian Origin.


DNA data show that the proportion of inhabitants with Norse paternal ancestry from Shetland and Orkney are 42 and 37 per cent respectively, by the highest known estimates (Sykes 2006, p. 194). These islands are known to be areas of dense Norse settlement. The proportion of Hodgsons with Norse paternal ancestry is within reach of that found on Shetland and Orkney.


Two further remarkable comparisons are with Atkinson and Armstrong DNA. Other pages on this site show that Hodgson Y-DNA is much more Norse than either Atkinson or Armstrong Y-DNA, even though both Hodgsons and Atkinsons originate from Cumbria, and Armstrongs originate from Cumbria and Northumberland.


An Irish Problem?


But there seems to be a problem. There is strong evidence that the Hodgson surname is Norse, but more than half of male Hodgson Y-chromosome DNA is not of Norse origin. Instead, the distribution of types of DNA in our Hodgson sample can be best explained by a mixture of (in decreasing order of importance) Norse, Irish and Danish paternal ancestry.


This seems strange. If the Hodgson surname is truly of Norse origin then how do we explain that the majority are not of Norse paternal descent? Could this be explained by illegitimacy or adultery? Although some illegitimacy or adultery would have occurred, such non-paternity events are unlikely to explain such a substantial proportion of non-Norse blood in the Hodgson paternal lineages.


History helps us here. The significant Irish component in Hodgson DNA concurs with the historical evidence in the ancient Annals of Ireland (O’Donovan 1860) of adoption and interbreeding between the Irish and Norse in Ireland in the ninth century. Further historical evidence attests that the Vikings who invaded Cumberland and Lancashire in the tenth century were groups of mixed Norse, Irish and Danish ethnicity. In this mixture, Norse names and customs were dominant. It is also possible that the Irish-Norse settlers in Cumberland and Lancashire intermarried with the indigenous British-Celtic population, who were of similar genetic stock to the Irish.


We can thus explain why a large proportion of Hodgsons have DNA that is not of Norse paternal origin. Nevertheless, the relatively high proportion of Norse blood among the Hodgsons confirms the Norse etymological origins of the Hodgson surname.


Hodgson Groups


Analysis of the DNA sample makes it possible to cluster Hodgsons together in groups with similar DNA, as in the following table. DNA tests can thus indicate possible relatives and ancestral locations in the North of England. If you are male, then you are invited to add your Y-line data to the Hodgson Clan database. If your data match any existing Hodgson groups then you will be informed free of charge.


The date of the most recent common paternal ancestor for each Hodgson Group was estimated using a computer program that focuses on the diversity of genetic mutations in the sample. But estimates were not possible for some groups because of insufficiency of DNA data.




Core Haplotype**:

DYS 393, 390, 19, 391, 426, 388, 439, 389i, 392, 389ii

Most Likely Ethnicities

Number of Hodgsons in sample

Known Early Ancestral Locations

Estimated date of most recent common paternal ancestor

Estimated minimum number of group ancestors in AD902

Hodgson Group 1


"13 23141011 1411 13 11 28"



Penrith, Lonsdale



Hodgson Group 2


"13 24 15 10 11  13 11 13 11 28"






Hodgson Group 3

I1c / I2b

"15 23 16 1011 1311 13 12 28"

Irish, Danes or Norse


Carlisle, Durham, Airedale



Hodgson Group 4


"13 23 14 10 12 12 11 14 11 30"






Hodgson Group 5


"13 25 161112 12 1113 11 28"



Workington, Westmorland, Airedale



Hodgson Group 6.1


"13 24 14 11 12 12 12 13 13 29"




Carlisle, Durham



Hodgson Group 6.2


"13 24 14 11 12

12 12 13 13 29"


Irish or Scots


Workington, Penrith, Lonsdale



Hodgson Group 6.3


"13 24 14 11 12

12 12 13 14 30"


Irish, Scots or Norse





Hodgson Group 6.4


"13 23 14 10 12

12 12 13 13 29"







Hodgson Group 6.5


"13 25 14 11 12 12 12 13 14 29"







Hodgson Group 6.6


"13 24 15 11 12 12 12 13 13 29"







Hodgson Group 6.7


"13 23 14 11 12 12 12 14 13 30"


Irish, Scots, Danes, Norse


Penrith, Durham, Yorkshire



Hodgson Group 6.8


"12 22 14 11 12 12 12 13 13 29"








Hodgson Groups and Haplotypes

* After Campbell (2007). OGAP means Oxford Genetic Atlas Project.

** A haplotype is sub-classification within a haplogroup. Oxford Ancestors (OA) and Family Tree DNA (FT) calculate markers DYS389i and DYSii differently. The FT notation is used here. From FT DYS398i subtract 3 to get the OA DYS398i value. Subtract FT DYS389i from FT 389ii to obtain the OA 389ii value.



Hodgson Groups 1, 2, 4 and 5 are most likely to be Norse. Hodgson Groups 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6, 6.7 and 6.8 are descended from the Atlantic Modal Haplotype. This haplotype and close variants represents over 70 per cent of the male population in "Celtic" areas of the British Isles (Sykes 2006). It is also found in between 22 and 26 per cent of the male population of modern Norway (Helgason et al. 2000, Capelli et al. 2003, p. 981). Hence it is possible that some members of Hodgson Groups 6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5, 6.6 and 6.7 are of Norse descent.


Hodgson Group 3 could in part be Danish or Irish. We know that there were Danish adventurers among the Irish-Norse invaders of England in 902.


One member of Hodgson Group 5 has a rare haplotype (13 25 16 11 12 11) that ‘is present at frequencies around 5% in Shetland and Orkney, while it is completely absent’ elsewhere (Capelli et al. 2003, p. 984). The paternal ancestors of Hodgsons with this haplotype are likely to be closely related to Norse who settled in Shetland or Orkney.


Consider Hodgson Group 6.3. The geneticist Kevin Campbell (2007, p. 9) remarks that ‘OGAP6 is prominent in Argyll and the Hebrides’. This is consistent with the thesis that Hodgson Group 6.3 is decended from Norse with R1b DNA that colonised the Hebrides and elsewhere and arrived in Lonsdale in AD 902. For discussion of an example in this group click HERE.


Overall, the above table shows that a minimum number of 26 ancestors are required to account for the amount of genetic and geographic diversity found in all Hodgson Groups. For a discussion of the numbers of Viking invaders and Hodgson ancesters click HERE.


The DNA indicates that the Hodgsons are drawn foremost from a mixture of Norse and Irish ethnic sources. This is consistent with Viking, Irish-Norse origins and with the evidence on the early locational distribution of the Hodgson surname. But other surnames in the areas most populated by Hodgsons, notably Atkinson and Armstrong, have a different DNA profile.




Campbell, Kevin D. (2007) ‘Geographic Patterns of Haplogroup R1b in the British Isles’, Journal of Genetic Genealogy, 3:1-13,

Capelli, Cristian, Redhead, Nicola, Abernathy, Julia K., Gratrix, Fiona, Wilson, James F., Moen, Torolf, Hervig, Tor, Richards, Martin, Stumpf, Michael P. H., Underhill, Peter A., Bradshaw, Paul, Shaha, Alom, Thomas, Mark G., Bradman, Neal and Goldstein, David B. (2003) ‘A Y Chromosome Census of the British Isles’, Current Biology, 13, pp. 979-84.

Hodgson, Geoffrey M. (2008) Hodgson Saga, second edition (Standon: Martlet Books).

O’Donovan, John (ed.) (1860) Annals of Ireland: Three Fragments (Dublin: Irish Archaeological and Celtic Society).

Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006) Origins of the British (London: Robinson).

Sykes, Bryan (2006) Blood of the Isles (London: Bantam).