Project Goals

Our Project's Goals

  1. Help researchers from common or related branches of Phillips families work together to find their shared heritage.
  2. Identify how the participants' families are connected, both genetically and through paper trails.
  3. Identify and confirm genetic lineages of ancestral families and find our ancestral roots in Europe, or wherever they may be.
  4. Ultimately catalog pedigrees and genetic connections of all known Phillips branches.


The website BEHIND THE NAME states that Phillips is the 43rd most common surname in England and Wales and the 45th most common surname in the United States.  Many Americans erroneously believe that Phillips is strictly a Welsh surname.  The Dictionary of American Family Names published by the Oxford University Press says the surname Phillips can be English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Dutch, North German and even Jewish (western Ashkenazic).  In the melting pot that is North America, this surname has also absorbed similar names from other European countries, such as the Italian surname Filippi and the Polish surname Filipowicz.

The surname Phillips is believed to be a patronymic surname, which means it is derived from the male first name Philip or Phillip.  Adding an "s" to the end of Philip or Phillip causes it to mean "son of Philip" or "son of Phillip".  The website BEHIND THE NAME states that the first name Philip or Phillip is from the Greek, and it means "friend of horses" or "lover of horses".  One of the twelve apostles was Saint Philip.  Philip was also the name of an early figure in the Christian church, spoken of in the New Testament.  The name was bestowed on six kings of France, five kings of Spain, and five kings of Macedonia, including Philip II, the father of Alexander the Great.  Philip or Phillip was an extremely popular first name in medieval times.  DNA indicates a great many unrelated men who had fathers named Philip or Phillip adopted the surname Philips or Phillips (meaning son of Philip or Phillip) as permanent surnames gradually came into general use in Europe from 1000 AD to 1800 AD.  Variations include Philipps, Phillipps, Philips, Philps, Phelps, Phalps, Philippe, Philippy, Phelips, Phalips, Filips, Filups and numerous other diminutive, patronymic and cognitive forms. 

It is important to remember that spelling in the English language did not become standardized until the 19th century.  Webster's Dictionary was not published until 1806.  Before the 19th century, there was no guide to the spelling of words or names, and those who wrote and recorded documents, such as clerks and clergymen, attempted to reproduce phonetically the sounds they heard.  Up until the 19th century, the great majority of the population in Europe and North America was illiterate and had no notion that any one spelling of their name was more 'correct' than any other.  Benjamin Franklin, who was a very literate man for his times, once said that he could never respect a man who could only spell a word one way!

Since so many unrelated men adopted the surname Phillips or Philips or one of its many variations, how can we ever sort out all the different lines of Phillips/Philips etc and be certain we have identified the correct line as our own particular branch?  Surname DNA testing is the newest tool available to genealogists.  These tests help family researchers verify their paternal ancestry (father's father's father’s father etc back in time) in a quick and easy way. It saves time, prevents mistakes, and provides invaluable data that can be obtained in no other way.  If you are a male Phillips or one of the many variations of the name Phillips, please consider joining our project. 

Phillips DNA Blog