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Sykes Family-name: Single Origin Or Multiple Origins?
During the past thirty-five years a view has existed that all Sykes males are descended from a single Sykes male, unless his direct male line has a non paternal event such as adoption, illegitimate birth and took his mother's name, or voluntarily changed his name. [4, 8, 9, 11, 14] Current developments in genetics challenge this traditional view of a Single Origin for the Sykes Family-name. [3, 15]
This posting summarizes the question of "Single Origin" versus "Multiple Origins", and encourages Sykes family members to help resolve these opposing views through genetic tests.
The Yorkshire Poll Tax of 1379 enumerates twenty families with the family-name "Sykes" or its variants.  These families lived within seven clusters in Yorkshire:
Cluster 1, located near Staincliffe de Sykes, Syse, and Syke
Cluster 2, located near Bradford del Syke, del Syke, del Syke, del Syke, del Syke, and Syknner
Cluster 3, located near Rochdale del Sykes, and del Sykes, possibly brothers
Cluster 4, located near Emley del Syke
Cluster 5, located near Wakefield Hardsikeman
Cluster 6, located near Sheffield Sikbule, de Wilsyke, Sykman, and de Sikeeston
Cluster 7, located near Doncaster de Wilsyk, de Syke, and atte Syk
Cluster 8, located near Slaithwaite (none listed) *
* The 1379 poll tax returns for "de Slaythwayt" (Slaithwaite) do not include any household returns with the family-name "Syke" or any of its variants.  Also, no 1379 Yorkshire poll tax returns are listed for Marsden, although this adjacent settlement existed in 1274.  Since many "sike" streams and "Syke" families were located in this area in the years soon after 1379, this area is added as Cluster 8. 
Based upon the observed frequency of the prefix "del" and its variants, the year 1379 was before universal adoption in Yorkshire of family-names based purely on paternal lineage.  Before about 1379 if a father had two sons and one son continued to live near a sike (marshy stream) and the other son relocated elsewhere, only the son near the sike would be known as "del Sike" and the other son would be known by a newly acquired family-name. In contrast, in the County of Yorkshire after about 1379, both Syke brothers would continue to be known by their shared paternal family-name or its variants wherever they resided.
It has been stated that there is only a low probability that all these twenty families (and the later Sykes families of Slaithwaite and Marsden) descended from one original Sykes male. 
If the Y-chromosome DNA test results of one Sykes participant nearly match the results of another Sykes participant, or group of Sykes participants, the men most likely share a common male ancestor after the year 1379. If the Y-chromosome test results nearly match but their family-names do not nearly match then they may possibly share a common ancestor prior to 1379.  In either case there is no inference of adoption or other non paternal event since almost all family names were not based on paternal lineage.
We next consider the circumstances under which our random sample of Sykes is drawn. There is a background population of men who may belong to either Y-DNA gene group "R1a", "R1b" or "I1".  Representatives of other gene groups may be present in our background population but no other gene group has yet been observed among our Sykes test participants. [3, 6, 7]
Each of these three gene groups represents a specific group of men who flourished in a defined European region. [3, 15] Research indicates that the ancestors of men with a gene group "R1a" signature arrived in Europe about 35,000 years ago, or perhaps even 50,000 years ago. [3, 15] These men and their families took refuge during the ice age, of the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) between 22,000 and 17,000 years ago, in caves near Kiev in the Ukraine. As the ice retreated they migrated north and west to become the Frisians, North Germans, and Scandinavian Vikings. [3, 5, 15] They arrived in the British Isles about 8,000 years ago. [3, 5]
Men with a gene group "R1b" signature also arrived in Europe about 35,000 years ago. [3, 15] These men and their families took refuge during the LGM between 22,000 and 17,000 years ago in the caves of southwestern France and in the neighboring caves of the northern Iberian Peninsular. [3, 15] As the ice retreated they migrated north into the British Isles and eastward into France and southern Germany.
Men with a gene group "I1" signature migrated from the Balkans to northern Germany and to the then dry North Sea Plain. [3, 15] These men and their families subsequently migrated into the British Isles about 9,000 years ago as the North Sea reclaimed the North Sea Plain.
Thirty-eight Sykes Y-DNA results are currently displayed on the Sikes/Sykes Families DNA Project Results website.  This count is based upon "earliest known (Sykes) ancestor" and does not include a count of their descendants. Seventeen of these selective results match gene group "R1a", seventeen match gene group "R1b", and four match gene group "I1". Since multiple gene groups are observed in this sample of Sykes Y-DNA results, Multiple Origins of the Sykes Family-name are claimed to have been demonstrated.
A pilot testing program in 2007 resulted in a sampling of ten volunteers. The results of this program are included in the above thirty-eight results. All of the Sykes ancestors of these volunteers lived west of the town of Almondbury, many of their ancestors lived in Slaithwaite, and all tested positive for gene group R1b. This result closely matches prior test results.  It is anticipated that by expanding the scope of this project the location of additional Sykes family lines will be established.
You are cordially invited to volunteer a sample of your Y-chromosome DNA. This invitation applies to men with the family-name "Sykes" or one of its variants who are able to trace their ancestry back to the 1851 census. All shared information will be held in strict confidence identified only by an assigned "kit number". The cost has been contributed by interested participants.
David Allen Sykes