by Phillip G. Goff, GGFA Director of Genetic Genealogy
On the GGFA Facebook site, a poster wants to know the origins and family of her ancestor John Goff who first appears in the 1769 tithable records for Leesburg, Loudoun Co., VA. John had a son named George Emery Goff b. 1769 Loudoun Co., VA. The GGFA Facebook post is edited and rearranged for clarity:
I am a match to a Goffe male who is a member of the [Facebook] British Isles Gedmatch & Genealogy (BIGG) DNA group. Of course, it may not be his Goffe genes that I match, but what . . . he said in a posted message on that group’s site:
Reverend Stephen Goffe from Western England, whose son was William Goffe, the Regicide. His brother John came to America, and there’s John Goffe’s Mill in Bedford, New Hampshire.
He doesn’t appear to have his family tree posted anywhere.
The Loudoun Co., VA Goff family has been identified as genetically distinct, with the tag “1769 GOFF (US-VA-LOU) E-Z21286.” In June 2023, a Big Y 700 test result refined the YDNA haplogroup from E-V65, which dates to about 1600 BC, to the more recent E-Z21286.
Autosomal DNA (“atDNA”) matching largely reaches its outer limit between about five and eight generations into the past. YDNA has the power to solve this brick wall, but has been hampered by a lower level of testing in England than in America.
Tiny fragments of atDNA may survive for long stretches of time, often via children of older fathers, lengthening the average number of years per generation. When a very distant atDNA match is discovered with a male Goff/Goffe/Gough, such as mentioned in the Facebook post, it can be qualified or disqualified as being from the same Gough/Goff family. A GGFA blog post from 2021 titled Instant Family Tree Connects a Descendant to His Goff Family describes how there are hidden YDNA markers in atDNA tests. Check the markers – if they match the known YDNA signature path of your Goff/Gough family, then the atDNA match is a contender for being via the Gough/Goff lineage. If the YDNA signature path does not match, this match is not through the Gough/Goff lineage.
Phillip Goff is the co-author, along with Roy L. Lockhart, of The Four Goff Brothers of Western Virginia. Since 2004, he has run the Goff/Gough Surname DNA Study, which today has about 500 participants.