The Pettypool Family: a One-Name Study

The Family in England and the USA

©Estate of Carolyn Hartsough

Carolyn Hartsough, the primary researcher for this website, passed away October 12, 2018. She also originated the Pettypool One-Name study at the Guild of One-Name Studies and the Pettypool Y DNA Project at Family Tree DNA. A copy of her obituary as it appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle is here. Carolyn's contributions to this site, including her introduction below, will be retained, and the Pettypool family research that she started will continue.

About the study

I began to study the surname Pettypool and its variants in 1980 when I first discovered that my mother's surname (Pool) derived from it. Since that time, I have collected and documented any instance of the surname and any variant when I encounter it.

Variant names

Pettypoole, Pettipool(e), P'Pool(e), P.Pool(e), Ppool(e), Pool(e)

Name origin

The origin of the Pettypool surname is locative. It arose from the name of a farmstead in the parish of Roxwell in Essex. In a recent article in the Journal of One Name Studies, I discuss the origin of the surname and the process by which I made this discovery.

Distribution of the name

The surname Pettypool arose from a single Medieval family living in Essex, England. The name appears to have 'daughtered out' in England by the early 17th century. Apparently, a single Pettypool male, William, was the last to receive the name, and he immigrated from the London area to Virginia, USA in the mid 1650's. His son, also William, fathered two documented sons and from them all the known Pettypools in the world today appear to have sprung. In America from the late 17th century through the late 18th century, most lines of the family continued to be known either by Pettypool or Pettipool (the most common variant). Sometimes in written documents from this era, deviant spellings of these two names appeared (e.g. Petteypool, Pettiepool, Petepoole, etc.), but I would call them deviants and not true variants as it is not clear that the families themselves would have recognized them as valid and they appear mostly as singular instances.

After the Revolutionary War and the opening of the American western and southern frontiers in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, many branches of the family, particularly those that left Virginia for points west and south, started to use or at least be identified by an abbreviated form of the name, i.e. P.Pool. One branch of the family adopted the form P'Pool. It is not clear how or why this change arose. Perhaps the widespread use of abbreviated forms by legal clerks was adopted by the families themselves. Finally, in the mid to latter part of the 19th century, many branches only inconsistently used the P.Pool and P'Pool forms and the name became assimilated in some branches to the more common surname, Pool or Poole.


In 2003 The Virginia Genealogist, edited by John Frederick Dorman, published an account I have written called The William Pettypool Family of Southside Virginia: Lineage Reconstruction Based on Current Review of Evidence. This article summarizes 25 years of research and presents a history of the earliest members of the Pettypool family that not only recounts the American pedigree but also sets the story of their activities and accomplishments in social and historical context.

While some of the reported information has appeared earlier in printed form, the article represents an effort to collate, analyze and interpret systematically available early records pertaining to the immigrant and his earliest colonial descendants. It also contains, to my knowledge, some heretofore unpublished records referring the various members of the family, reevaluates portions of the seminal Pettypool history written in the mid-20th century by David Bruce P'Pool, and attempts to document accurately the relationships within the earliest generations of this old Virginia family .

Pettypool DNA Project

The Pettypool DNA project is located at Family Tree DNA. The Y DNA test tells you about your direct male line, which would be your father, his father, and back in time. You must be male to take this test, and you should have one of the surnames discussed in Variant Names, above. However, if you believe there is a Pettypool or variant in your direct male line although you have a different surname, you are also welcome to participate. If you are female, please find a male to participate. We encourage males who order a Y DNA test to order 37 markers minumum, if possible. If you order fewer markers, you can upgrade later, though this costs a little more.

Both males and females may also be interested in learning about their direct female line, which would be their mother, their mother's mother, and back in time. You would order a mtDNA test. For matches in a genealogical time frame, order the mtDNA Plus test.

In addition to the Y DNA and mtDNA tests, a Family Finder (atDNA) test is available that may allow one to find cousins within the past two to five generations and verify genetic relationships. Individuals who take the test and believe that they have a confirmed Pettypool family ancestor in their pedigrees are especially welcome to join the project. However, it may not be possible to establish the exact lineage in all such cases due to current constraints on our ability to fully extend all Pettypool branches.

More information about how to participate in the Pettypool DNA Project can be found at the Family Tree DNA web site: Pettypool DNA Project- Background.

The Guild of One-Name Studies

This family study is registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies, Box G, 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London EC1M 7BA U.K. Contact the Guild by telephone at: UK 0800 011 2182, US & Canada 1-800-647-4100, Australia 1800 305 184. The Guild may be contacted by E-mail at

Rev 3/28/2020