My great(5)-grandfather Daniel Cooper arrived in the US around 1695 (maybe he was born here, maybe born at sea), and while his descendants are relatively well documented, nothing is known for sure about his parentage, and there is only one sibling that is even guessed at.

I've done a Y-chromosome DNA test, as has my father and one of our second cousins, and our Y-DNA matches (as expected). There are no other Coopers who have matching Y-DNA - but a whole flock of Coryells. Turns out the Coopers and the Coryells were neighbors back in Piscataway, New Jersey in the early 1700s.

I had been assuming that this was a simple case of a "non-paternity event" - Mr. Coryell getting rather neighborly with Mrs. Cooper - but recently I was given an alternate possibility.

What if the Coryells, while escaping the Spanish Inquisition, moved to Holland and took the assumed name Cooper to hide from the Spanish authorities? Then, when they emigrated to the US, some stuck with the assumed name, and others returned to their ancestral family name.

So I have two theories and they both seem to fit the (scanty) available data.

Is there any way to determine which theory "wins"? Right now, the only possibilities I can think of are:

  • if Daniel had any brothers, and if I could find any descendants, then I could do a Y-DNA test on them
  • if any Coopers stayed in Holland, and had descendants, and any of them happen to do a Y-DNA test

Any other ideas on how to illuminate this time in my family's history?

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