DNA testing is one of the most powerful tools available to genealogists. DNA can break down brick walls when nothing else can--even when the documentary evidence conflicts or the paper trail comes to an end. DNA test results help genealogists verify their paternal ancestry (father's father), and the Thompson DNA project continues to make previously-unknown connections.
The Thompson DNA project is growing rapidly, and every participant is adding important information to our knowledge about Thompson heritage.
DNA testing is making connections between families with Thompson surname variants used in different areas of the world including Thomson, Thomsen, Thomason, Thomazin, Taweson, MacThomas, MacTavish, MacCavish, Macomish, Macomb, McComas, McComb, MacCombie, and reasonable spelling variations. See The Thompson Surname section below for a list of known variations and their origins.
The Thompson DNA Project continues to
1. Collect, document, and extend Thompson pedigrees to find common ancestors. See the Patriarchs page.
2. Help researchers find related families so they can work together to trace their shared heritage. See the DNA Results page and the Patriarchs page.
3. Identify the DNA of the ancestor families and compile the families and their lost branches into distinct genetic lineages through DNA matches. See the DNA Results page.
4. Provide research guidance for tracing Thompson ancestry. See our "What's Next?" page
5. Assist participants get the most from their DNA results. See our "What's Next?" page.
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THE THOMPSON SURNAME
Thompson means "son of Thomas." There are endless variations as shown below.
From MacLysaght, The Surnames of Ireland:
Thom(p)son Though of comparatively recent introduction this is the second most numerous purely non-Irish name in Ireland. It is mainly found in Ulster. Without the intrusive P, Thompson is Scottish. See Holmes and MacCavish.
Holmes The English name Holmes is not common in Ireland. The Scottish Holmes, which is found in considerable number in all the provinces, especially Ulster, can, like Thomson, be equated with several combinations of Mac and the Christian name Thomas, e.g. Mac Thomais . . . which is also anglicized MacCombe and MacComish. In north Connacht Holmes has been used synonymously with Cavish.
(Mac) Cavish Mac Thomhais. A rare name found in Co. Cavan, akin to the Scottish MacTavish. Both Mac Cavish and MacTavish have sometimes been changed to Thomson or Thompson in Co. Cavan. See Holmes.
Mac Comb(e), -Come Mac Thom. The name of a Scottish family now fairly numerous in north-east Ulster. MacComish and MacCombs (Mac Thomais) are variants in Co. Down; MacCome is an old name in Co. Armagh. . . . See Holmes.
Mac Combie A sept of the Scottish clan Mackintosh.
From Black, The Surnames of Scotland:
MAC (wrongly contracted M', Mc) is a Gaelic prefix occurring in Scottish names of Gaelic origin, as Macdonald, Maclean, . . . meaning 'son.' The word corresponds to son in names of Teutonic origin as Anderson, Johnson, Watson, to the Fitz (Lat. filius) in Norman-French names, as Fitzgerald, Fitzpatrick; and to Welsh map (etymologically akin to Mac), shortened to 'ap or 'p as in Ap Richard, whence Prichard, . . . It corresponds partly to Irish O, though this rightly means descendant.
THOM. A diminutive of THOMAS, q.v. . . . Thom is also used as an Anglicized form of MACTHOM, q.v.
THOMAS. A common Anglo-Norman personal name. . . . In Gaelic it assumes the forms Tomas, Tamhus, hence the Gaelic patronymics MACTAVISH, MACCOMBIE, and MACOMIE, q.v. As a surname in Scotland it is of late introduction from England.
THOMASON, THOMASSON, 'son of Thomas,' q.v. Both forms are current in Shetland. . . . Tamesone . . . Thomessone.
THOMLING. From THOM, q.v., + diminutive suffix -ling.
THOMPSON, 'son of THOM," q.v. with intrusive p. This spelling is more commonly found in England.
THOMS. 'Son of THOMAS,' from the diminutive THOM. It is also an Anglicizing of MACTHOMAS, q.v. "Adam M'Intosh, son of William, the seventh chief of the Clan M'Intosh, was the founder of that branch of the clan which afterwards came to be known by the surname of M'Thomas, son of Thomas, which in time became corrupted to M'Thomie, M'Homie, M'Omie, M'Comie, and latterly M'Combie and Thoms. (Memoirs of the families of M'Combie and Thoms, p. 5)
THOMSON, 'son of THOM," q.v. A fairly numerous surname in Scotland. . . . Many individuals of this name in Perthshire and Argyllshire are really Mactavishes. The surname in these districts is an Anglicized form of Gaelic Mac Thomais, 'son of Thomas,' or of Mac Thomaidh, 'son of Tommie.' The name is usually spelled MaKcome (3 syllables) in the early records, and was formerly common in Upper Deeside. . . . In some instances it is also an Englishing of MACCOMIE, q.v. See also THOMASON.
MACAVISH, MACCAUSE, MACCAVISH, MACAWIS, MACCAWS. In G. MacThamhais, 'son of Tammas,' the Scottish form of Thomas. . . . McAwis, M'Awishe, M'Cavss, M'Cauish, M'Cavish, Makcawis, McKawes, VcKavis, M'Avish, M'Cavis, Makcaws.
MACCOMB, MACCOMBE. From G. Mac Thom, 'son of Tom,' now often Englished THOM. The b is accretionary. . . . In the Parish Lists of Wigtownshire and Minigaff, 1684, the name also appears as McColm, McComb, McCome, and McKComb.
COMBE. Most probably shortened from (MAC)COMB, q.v.
MACCOMBICH, MACCHOMBICH. G. Mac-Thomaidh, 'son of Tommie' (diminutive of Thomas). A common name in Breadalbane two hundred years ago. . . . and still found in Argyllshire.
MACCOMBIE, MACCOMBE, MACCOMIE, MACOMIE. G. MacComaidh. a contracted form of MacThomaidh, 'son of Tommie or Tommy." In Perthshire frequently Englished Thomson. The b was introduced into the name about the end of the eighteenth century. MacComy was a common surname in Breadalbane 250 years and more years ago. . . . MacKomie and M'Komy 1696, M'Colmy 1644, McColme 1585, M'Come 1644, McChomay, M'Homie.
MACOMISH, MACCOMISH. G. Mac Thomais, 'son of Thomas.'
MACTAVISH. From G. Mac Tamhais, a form of MacThamhais, 'son of Tammas,' the Lowland Scots form of Thomas. Mactavishes are numerous in Argyllshire. The Mactavishes of Stratherrick are considered a sept of the Frasers.
TAWESON, TAWESSON. An Englishing of MacTavish, q.v.
TAWS, TAWSE. A phonetic spelling of Gaelic Tamhas, 'Thomas.' . . . The surname Taise, found in Mar in the seventeenth century, is probably another form of the name. See MACTAVISH.
MACCASH, MACASH, MACCAISH. Perthshire surnames, probably contracted forms of MacTavish, q.v.
MACTHOM. G. Mac Thom, 'son of Tom,' a diminutive of Thomas. . . . See also MACCOMB.
MACTHOMAS. G. Mac Tomais, 'son of Thomas." The branch of the Clan Mackintosh which came afterwards to be known by the surname Macthomas was descended from Adam M'William of Garvarmore, in Badenoch, a natural son of William, the seventh chief of the clan Mackintosh. . . . The aspirated form, Mac Thomais, gives Macomish, Mac Homas . . . .
From Bardsley, A Dictionary of English and Welsh Surnames With Special American Instances:
[Diminutive suffixes from pages 24-25: Diminutives in ot and et . . . All the diminutives in ot and et were added to the nick of the name, which was always one syllable [e.g. Thomset]. Diminutives in on or in. . . . Huggins or Hutchins represents a once familiar term for Hugh, Perrin for Peter, Robin or Dobbin for Robert [and Thomasin for Thomas]. Diminutives in kin. Kin came to mean a 'young one,' a child. . . . I may mention Hawkins (Henry), Tompkins (Thomas), Simkin (Simon), Jenkins (John) . . .]
Thom, Thoms, Thomes.-- Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,; from the nick. Thome or Tom. Thome being the earlier form; v. Thomson.
Thomas, Thomason, Thomasson, Thomassin, Thomeson.--(I) Bapt. 'the son of Thomas.' Thomas or Thome (whence Tom) was a universal favourite. The 13th and 14th century registers teem with it; v. Tomlin, Tomilinson, Thomson, Thompson, Tomkins, Tomkinson, Tombs, &c. (a) Bapt. 'the son of Thomasin' (q.v.). the two have become mixed.
Thomasin.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the dim. Thomasin. A feminine Thomasina or Thomasine arose about the year 1350, and was popular as a font-name over the whole country till the 18th century. It is found in every register in every conceivable form, including Tamzen and Tomson. No doubt Thomasin, as a surname, has long been lost in Thomason or Thomson. . . . For other instances, v. Thomas.
Thomasset, Tompsett, Thomsett, Tomsett.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the dim. Thomas-et. The p in Tompsett is intrusive, as in Thompson. Although there cannot be the shadow of a doubt about the origin of this surname, I have not come upon any early instances.
Thomerson--Bapt. A corruption of Thomasson (v.Thomas).
Thomlinson, Thomlin.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Thom, and the dim. Thom-lin; v. Tomlin for early instances.
Thoms.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Thom (later on Tom), and genitive Thoms. Hence Thomson. v.Thom.
Thomson, Thompson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thome,' i.e. Thomas (v.Thom). The p in Thompson is, of course, intrusive.
Tamblyn, Tamlin, Tamlyn.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom (commonly Tam) and dim. Tomlin (commonly Tamlin). The b in Tamblin is the usual excrescence; cf. Hamblin for Hamlin, and v. Tomblin, Tamplin, and Tomlin. It is interesting to notice how determinately the o in Tom became a. Even Tomlinson is found as Taminson.
Tamlin, -lyn; v. Tamblyn.
Tamplin.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas.' The order is Thomas, nick. Tom, dim. Thomelin or Tomlin, North or South-West English Tamlin, then with intrusive but inevitable p, Tamplin; cf. Thompson and Thomson from same root. v. Tomlin, Tamblyn, and Taplin.
Tamson, Tams.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom (commonly Tam) and patronymic Tams or Tamson; v. Tamblyn, Tamplin, &c.
Taplin, Tapling.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from nick. Tom, and dim. Tamlin, which became Tamplin (q.v), corrupted to Taplin. Thus the p is intrusive as in Tompson, and the g excrescent as in Robling or Hewlings; cf. Tapson for Tampson.
Tappin, Tapping.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' a corruption of Tamplin, q.v.
Tapson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' a corruption of Tampson (v. Tamplin and Tamblyn), just as Taplin is a corruption of Tamplin (i.e.Tamlin, or Tomlin).
Tolmin, Tolming, Toulmin.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' a curious inversion of Tomlin. I have no absolute proof of this, but I cannot doubt it. If I am wrong, then these names are variants of Toleman, q.v. In Furness and the neighbouring district, where Tomlin and Tomlinson (now often Townson, q.v.) were very familiar, we find Tolming settled for generations.
Tolson, Toulson, Towlson, Towlsion.--(I) Bapt. 'the son of Thomas.' Odd as it may seem, these are but corruptions of Tomlinson, and in the Lake District and other parts of North England they have gone through the stages of Towlinson and Towlason to Towlson. Townson (q.v.) is the popular modern form.
Tom.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom; v. Toms.
Tomalin.--bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' a corruption of Tomblinson; v. Tomblin.
Tomblin, Tomblinson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom, dim. Tom-lin, with usual excrescent b after m; cf. Timbs and Tombs, and v. Tomlin.
Tombs, Toombs.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom, patr. Toms, with intrusive b after m; cf. Tomblin.
Tomes; v. Toms, of which it is a variant. Cf. Times, a variant of Tims or Timms; v. Timm.
Tomkin, Tomkins, Tomkinson, Tomkies.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Thom, by and by reduced to Tom, dim. Tom-kin (v. kin, Introd. p. 25). Tomkies, of course, is a corruption of Tomkins, as Perkiss or Parkies is of Perkins.
Thomlin, Tomlins, Tomlinson, Tomlyn.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom, and dim. Tom-lin; v. Thomlinson.
Tompkin, Tompkins.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom and dim. Tom-kin. The p is intrusive, as in Thompson; cf. Wilkin, Watkin, Simpkin, &c. v. Tomkin.
Tompsett; v. Thomasset.
Tompson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom. The p is intrusive as in Tompkins, Simpkins, &c.; v. Thomson.
Toms, Tomes, Tomson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' from the nick. Tom' v. Thom and Tombs.
Tomsett; v. Thomasset.
Towerson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' one of endless corruptions of Tomlinson (v. Tolson and Townson). the stages of corruption were first Towleson, then Towenson, then Towerson ; cf. Catterson for Catlinson, or Patterson for Pattinson.
Townson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas.' However odd this may seem to be, it is unmistakably true. Townson is a North Lancashire corruption of the great Furness surname Tomlinson through the stage Towenson. Of this there cannot be the shadow of a doubt. Even now Townson is pronounced Tone-son in the district.
[**Note by Linda Thompson Jonas: The surname Townson is not the same as the surname Townsend which means 'at the town-end,' but Townson may have been misinterpreted as Townsend after emigration to other areas. Do not dismiss DNA matches to the surname Townsend or Townshend.]
Towson.--Bapt. 'the son of Thomas,' an abbreviated form of Townson, q.v. This corruption is early found in North Lancashire, where Townson and Towson, &c. arose. Towson is thus but a modification of Towenson as that is of Tomlinson.
The top ten surnames in Scotland in recent years (1999-2001) are:
1. Smith 2. Brown 3. Wilson 4. Campbell 5. Stewart 6. Thomson 7. Robertson 8. Anderson 9. MacDonald 10. Scott
Thompson was among the top twenty surnames in the United States, 1990:
1. Smith 2. Johnson 3. Williams 4. Jones 5. Brown 6. Davis 7. Miller 8. Wilson 9. Moore 10. Taylor 11. Anderson 12. Thomas 13. Jackson 14. White 15. Harris 16. Martin 17. Thompson 18. Garcia 19. Martinez 20. Robinson
For more information, contact Linda Thompson Jonas or Katherine Borges
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