Fry was a common surname in the New World and, as such, is the source of much confusion.

DNA has finally arrived to help us sort out our lines.


Because only males carry the Y chromosome and, therefore, yDNA, it is the perfect tool to help us trace surname lines.

Many Fry males have already had their yDNA tested & Family Tree DNA has been nice enough to publish the results for all to see.

The results are divided into lineages based on how closely each male is matched to the others.

Each lineage is a separate family line, not related to the other lineages. At least not on their paternal lines or in a time frame recent enough to be meaningful to genealogical research. Meaning the Fry males that belong to one lineage do not share the same male Fry ancestor as the Fry males of another lineage.

Basically, descendants of each lineage should be focusing their research on connecting to other Fry lines within their lineage, but not to Fry lines of other lineages.

These are the lineages that have been determined so far:

Haplogroup E – Lineage I

According to the pedigrees posted, these Fry males all inherited their Y chromosome from Marti Frey b. 1495 d. 1538. Several of them descend through Gregorious Frey who was born about 1610 in Switzerland & married Verena Oberdorfer.

The Moravian Freys who first settled in Pennsylvania & then migrated to the Wachovia Tract in North Carolina before founding the town of Germanton, North Carolina, belong to this lineage.

Haplogroup R1a – Lineage I

This Y chromosome comes down through several Fry families of Virgina, Peter Fry who married Agnes Stanley and Ambrose Booten Fry who married Nancy Dunaway.

Haplogroup R1b – Lineage I

This Y chromosome comes down through Heinrich Fry who married Catherine Levering. He is often thought of as the Original Immigrant Henry Fry. He is the Heinrich Frey of the Heinrich Frey Family Association.

Haplogroup R1b – Lineage II

The first known immigrant of this lineage was Johanis Frey who came with his wife Johaneva & son Nicholas aboard the Ship Britannia in 1731.

Henry Fry Sr. who lived on the west bank of Abbotts Creek in old Rowan County, North Carolina, and his son Henry Jr. who migrated to Smith County, Tennessee, are also of this lineage.

Isaac Fry who married Hannah Cowgill and Cornelius Fry who married Catherine Shafer also carry this Y chromosome.

Haplogroup R1b – Lineage IV

This lineage includes John G. Fry b. 24 Mar 1818 in Harrity, Carbon County, Pennsylvania.

Autosomal DNA

Autosomal DNA tests like 23andme, AncestryDNA and Family Finder at Family Tree DNA look at the DNA found in chromosomes 1 through 22. Since this DNA can be inherited from any ancestor, male or female, anywhere in the tree, it takes a little more work to pin down just how you might be related to any DNA match. It’s not as cut & dry as the yDNA matches that you know come directly down the male line and all lead back to one common male ancestor.

This means that there is no simple ‘lineage’ delineation like there is with the yDNA.

Instead, we can identify ‘segments’ of DNA that descendants have in common as coming from one ancestor.

For instance, if I share 30 cMs of overlapping DNA on chromosome 10 with 5 other Fry cousins that all descend from the same Fry ancestor, then we can say that that segment on chromosome 10 is Fry DNA.

As an example, 23andme says that I share a 13.12 cM segment on chromosome 3 and a separate 10.80 cM segment also on chromosome 3 with a match who I know is descended from my 3X great grandfather John Fry.

(The segment on chromosome 4 is only 5.42 cMs, so not really large enough to take into consideration.)

23andme gives me a list of 43 matches that I have in common with this match. That means that there are 43 people that they’ve tested who have DNA that matches me & DNA that matches this match, but it’s not necessarily the same DNA.

Of those 43, only 1 has what they call ‘shared DNA’. That means that we have the same DNA in the same place. Basically, a segment of identical, matching DNA that we all 3 share.

You can see that it turns out to be the 13.12 cM segment on chromosome 3.

If we find out that this 3rd match also descends from John Fry or an ancestor of John Fry or his wife, then we can be pretty sure that the 3 of us inherited this segment on chromosome 3 from that same shared ancestor.

The more matches we find with this same segment & that same ancestor, the more sure we can be that this DNA came from that ancestor.

So, for now, I have this segment labeled as ‘potential Fry DNA’.

As more & more Fry descendants test & these ‘Fry segments’ are determined, the more we can build a Fry DNA tree & the easier it will be to identify & connect new Fry cousins as they get tested.

If you have done a 23andme, AncestryDNA or Family Tree DNA Family Finder test, please consider uploading your data to GEDmatch. This site accepts data from all 3 testing companies & will allow you to find matches that tested at any of the 3. It also provides tools that allow you to compare your matches with each other regardless of where they tested.

Once you have a GEDmatch kit number, please join our Facebook group. We would be happy to help you find out if your kit is a match to any of our other Fry kits. We’re also happy to answer any questions even if you haven’t done any genetic testing.