Please note that as of 2021 much of this is out-of-date and needs revising.
The Candidate Family Names
Any male bearing a surname matching the "P-L-N" phonological pattern is a suitable candiate for this project, as long there is a known or suspected European heritage. Not all names will be linked to other names but by keeping a very broad scope this will hopefully reveal hitherto unsuspected links and variations between many of the different family names.
The following list shows typical candidate surnames but it is not exhaustive.
Belling, McPoland, Pailing, Palan, Palang, Palding, Palen, Palén, Palenius, Palent, Palin, Paling, Pallant, Pallein, Pallen, Pallin, Palling, Pallinge, Pallon, Paulding, Paulin, Pauline, Pauling, Paulyn, Pawley, Pawling, Payling, Pealing, Pealon, Peelen, Peeling, Pelan, Pelán, Pélan, Pelander, Pelin, Pellam, Pellan, Pelland, Pellant, Pellin, Pelling, Pellington, Pelon, Pentland, Pillan, Pilling, Pillion, Pilon, Plain, Plaine, Poland, Poley, Polin, Pollen, Pollin, Pollington, Pollyn, Powley, Powling, Pullan, Pullen, Pulleyn, Pullin.
The Numbers Game
For this project to be successful, we need to have representative samples from all the different "biological" variations of people with pertinent surnames. The problem is that as this is unknown, there is no choice other than to start testing as many people as possible - with the obvious proviso that testing people from the same extended family is not necessary. Sometimes results of known distant cousins can be useful to help establish estimates when common ancestors lived.
So the upshot is that I need to persuade men with the associated surnames to get their DNA tested. It isn't easy to persuade people as it costs money to be tested and many are sceptical of the whole business of genetic testing, often for reasons of privacy - genuine or misplaced. However, other surname projects are managing to do it (like the Whalen/Whelan project) so it is worth attempting. Genetic genealogy offers very solid evidence for anyone interested in the origins of their family name and/or those seeking connections with unknown cousins in distant lands or in the next village!
My role ?
Please note that I am not interested in taking anyone's money or their DNA ! The money and DNA goes directly to the testing laboratory. In fact I am prepared to subsidise the tests of a few individuals who meet certain criteria provided they are pre-approved by me before testing.
My role is purely one of facilitator - I attempt to identify people that would be good candiates for testing (typically by tracing family trees and other documentary research) and then I analyse the results. It is up to the prospective candidate to make an informed choice about testing.
I will do my utmost to protect confidence and privacy although accidental disclosure could never be ruled out. You do not need to make your results public although you will need to share them anonymously if comparisons are to be made. Very few people think it necessary to keep their results secret - the public databases are full of volunteer data and, save for a few rare cases, Y-DNA data does not disclose anything of a medical nature.
I am recommending FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) - they will do a 12-marker test for just US $99 (at time of writing) and allow for further extensive testing (STR & SNP) if the candidate is interested. Discounts and sales are available from time-to-time. However, if you have the funds then a 37-marker test is preferable because there is usually insufficient resolution at 12 markers to differentiate people in a genealogically meaningful way.
Please note that the DNA samples are collected via a painless mouth swab. No blood is involved. You do the swabbing yourself, at a time and place of your own choosing - although not too soon after eating - and you post the samples back to the lab. No one comes to your home.
There is always a real risk that you may discover that you are not a good match to your family name but to another one instead. This can arise through adoption or infidelity at any point in your lineage but you must be prepared for this as a possible outcome.
You can also donate pseudo-anonymously so that only I will know who you are - indeed I can avoid making a written record so long as I can associate it with your oldest ancestor on a tree. You can do this by giving me or one of your friends or relatives permission to submit your DNA for testing. What is important is that you give informed consent and you do so freely. In the UK, where I am based, it is illegal to test someone's DNA without their permission.
The following information is provided by FTDNA:
If you are interested please have a look at the various links for more details and then e-mail me - dna 'at' pelan.org - or just sign-up at the main P-L-N Surname project site.