The Y chromosome is passed in the male line with little change over many generations and so are surnames in most present day Western cultures. This means that possible family relationships can be explored by asking men with the same or similar surnames to provide a DNA sample.
A Y-DNA test can indicate if two males share a common ancestor and give an indication of how many generations ago that ancestor may have lived. It cannot tell exactly how the people taking the test are related. This means the Y-DNA test cannot replace the usual genealogical research methods but can serve as additional source of information.
A Y-DNA project has been established at Family Tree DNA for the surname Brinston. http://www.familytreedna.com/group-join.aspx?Group=Brinston Several similar surnames have been listed as possible variations in the Brinston project – Brinsden, Brinsdon, Brinson, and Brinstone. Particularly since Brinston is a rare surname, it may be a variation of some other name, such as Brinsdon or Brinson, both included in other one name studies. http://one-name.org/
So far the Brinston Y-DNA project has 3 participants. One is a Brinston who is the 4th great grandson of William Brinston (1787 – 1868) who lived on Sound Island, Placentia Bay, Newfoundland. The other man is a Brinsden whose earliest known ancestor in the Brinsden line was born in London, England in 1912. The 3rd participant has a completely different surname but received a match in another DNA study (there have been a number of companies offering DNA testing for genealogical purposes) with someone named Brinson. The 3 participants in the Brinston project have different Y-DNA results suggesting they are not related to each other.
We need many more participants of the various similar names and variations to be able to look for relationships.
Some of the questions we hope to answer with the project:
Are Brinstons from Canada, the USA, Australia and other locations related to each other?
Are Brinstons from Sound Island related to other Brinstons in Newfoundland and Labrador?
Are Brinstons from Newfoundland and Labrador related to Brinstons who can trace their ancestry back to a specific part of England?
Are Brinstons related to people with similar sounding surnames?
Are Brinsdons and Brinsdens related to each other?
For more information about the Brinston Y-DNA project see: http://www.familytreedna.com/group-join.aspx?Group=Brinston