The Hollow DNA Project

The Hollow DNA Project has been running since 2013. The bulk of the information below is the introduction to the project. If you are only interested in viewing the progress of the project the links immediately below will take you to the results as reported through the project.

DNA project Results.

Fifth results May 2019 Thirteen test results point to what we need now.

Fourth results June 2017 Another test result helps solve a Zennor mystery.

 Third results March 2017 Nine test results, seven in one haplogroup.

Second results December 2013 Six test results, still three haplogroups.

First results June 2013  Four testers, three haplogroups wow! 


Introduction to The Hollow DNA Project


DNA model A DNA study seems to be the next step in investigating the Hollow surname. There is a wealth of information available through parish registers, censuses and birth, death and marriage records etc. Discovering new information from these sources is looking less likely, yet there are still families that come from the same areas remaining unconnected. A DNA study may tell us whether connections actually exist.

The Hollow DNA study will include the surnames Hallo, Hallow, Holla and Hollah as well as Hollow. There are connections between these surnames in the records that we have. The surnames Hallo and Hallow are included because families with these surnames seem to have originated from Hollow or Holla origins. The names Holla and Hollah were often found in the records of the 1600s and 1700s but eventually became Hollow. There are still Hollahs however, one of the earliest contacts I made was Ansgar Hollah in Germany.

What is involved in a DNA study?

Participants take a sample of their DNA by a simple painless swab of their inner cheek cells and send it off to a DNA testing lab. The lab conducts tests that identify markers on part of the Y chromosome. Only males have Y chromosomes so a this sort of study is only possible with males. The Y chromosome is passed from fathers to sons. There is a DNA test females can take but it tests only the female line so is little value in a surname study.

The tests used in DNA studies of this sort are called Y-DNA tests, they are different to the DNA tests used by doctors and lawyers to prove parentage or that the police use in criminal investigations. The Y-DNA testing relies on the fact that the Y chromosome, found only in males, is passed from father to son, usually unchanged. Amongst the DNA of this chromosome are found several places (called markers) where the DNA sequence repeats between about 8-22 times and this number is characteristic of all your male descendants. By testing this section of 'Junk DNA' as it is called, you can determine if two men are related. The result is a string of 37 numbers, and contains no personal information. The number merely shows the number of DNA repeats at each of the 37 markers.

In this study the aim is to test for these 37 markers. There are tests available for more or less markers but most DNA studies now focus on 37 markers. The string of 37 numbers of one individual can be compared with that of others. If the individuals share a common ancestor, that is they are related, the sequence should be identical or almost so.

The number of repeats does mutate, or change, slowly over long periods of time, so that over the entire period of human history, different families have different marker patterns, but these patterns are mainly stable over the relative short period of time when we have used surnames. So within a family the changes will be quite small in number.

A Y-DNA test does not uniquely identify you, since your father, brothers and uncles will in all probability have identical results (so it's not worth testing very close relations, except in very specific situations), but it will show what other families share the same ancestry.

For that reason, we need to establish the DNA 'marker patterns' of the main Hollow lines and I am therefore seeking male Hollow/Hallo/Hallow/Holla/Hollah who are willing to take the test. If you are female Hollow/Hallo/Hallow/Holla/Hollah, can you find a male relative who holds the name who could volunteer?

What do we hope to find out in the Hollow DNA study?

I am hoping to sort out the following questions:

  • Are the two biggest family trees, the family commencing with the John Holla and Chesen Thomas marriage in Zennor in 1695 and the family commencing with the William Holla and Uslea Cock marriage also in Zennor in 1685, related?
  • Do the various other Hollow trees that at the moment have no connection to these trees connect or are there more origins to be found?
  • Do the Hallo and Hallow families connect to these Holla or Hollow origins?
  • Do the U.S. Hollows all have a connection to the Holla/Hollows in Cornwall?
  • Do the Hollow families who seem to have origins in countries other than Cornwall actually go back to Cornwall.

What family groups of Hollow are there?


In putting together families and family trees a number of groups of hollows have become apparent. The earliest Hollow records in church registers are from Madron. Madron is a parish very near the town of Penzance. Penzance was originally within the Parish of Madron boundaries. The first known and readable registers for Madron are Christenings 1592, Marriages 1577 and burials 1577. There may have been Hollows or Hollas elsewhere at this time but there are no registers surviving that show this

.William Holla's burial entry, Madron 1577 The first Hollow record found is the burial of William Holla on 18th Nov 1577. The first Holla marriage found was Jane Holla and Peeter Polteere in 1578, Jane was a widow and was possibly the widow of the afore mentioned William. The first Holla baptism found was in 1592, William Holla, son of John Holla. Although there are quite a few records it has proved impossible to connect many of these records to make a credible family tree across many generations. The original Madron registers are now available for viewing on the Familysearch website. The earliest records, which are on velum, are quite damaged, often faint and hard to decipher. When they are clear they are written in an old English script which in itself is hard to read. Further to that mostly there is little detail given. Usually just the name or names of the people involved, in the baptisms the father's name only is given in the earliest records. It seems likely that the Hollas now Hollows originated from Madron.

To start to build family trees the church registers of all the churches have to be looked at. In the case of the Hollows we are lucky because they very much confined themselves to the pointy of Cornwall which is called Penwith. Some years ago my friend, the late Keith Hollow, and I began constructing Hollow family trees beginning with our own families. Keith found he belonged to the earliest family tree that goes across many generations to the present. It begins in with the marriage in Zennor in 1685 of William Holla and Uslea Cock. I found I belonged to another tree that begins with another marriage in Zennor, this one between John Holla and Chesen Thomas ten years later in 1695. Try as we might we could not find a link between the two. We also built other trees that we could not link. Hopefully the DNA project can tell us whether those trees are connected.

The Penwith region of Cornwall

The main trees that have been found that still have descendants alive today.

William Hollow - Uslea Cock line

William Hollow and Uslea Cock married Zennor 16th April 1685. On the Hollow database there are 857 descendants that have been found of this marriage. Although the marriage took place at the Zennor church William Holla was recorded as being from Madron and subsequently the couple appeared to live there. In Hollow Logs this tree is sometimes referred to as the Penzance Hollows.

John Holla - Chesen Thomas line

John Holla married Chesen Thomas Zennor 26th March1695, the Hollow database has 2780 descendants for this marriage, by far the largest of any of the trees. It includes a group often referred to as the Redruth Hollows but other branches are to be found in Zennor, Towednack, St Ives and surrounding parishes.

John Holla - Jane Holla Line

John Holla married Jane Holla 23rd February1716, Madron, This line has 569 descendants and is probably the next generation to the first two Lines. The marriage took place at the Madron church but Jane Holla is recorded as being from Gulval, a neighbouring parish.

John Holla m Elizabeth Bennetts Line.

John Holla married Elizabeth Bennetts 14 Oct 1732 Madron - This line has 218 Descendants. One branch migrated to Utah, USA last known male of the line is John Frank Hollow died Los Angeles, CA 1946. Another branch took on the name Hallo, some came to South Australia then to Western Australia. Others migrated to Victoria. There are still Hallo families in these places but none are on the Hollow mailing list.

Ishmael Holla - Sarah Stephens line

Ishmael Holla married Sarah Stephens Madron 7th October 1755.This line has 296 Descendants. This is the next generation again. Ishmael Holla was baptized in 1723, in his baptism record in the Zennor church records he is the base child of Jane Holla. That is Jane Holla was unmarried. If the father was not a Holla then any descendants that are tested should not have the same DNA profile as the other Holla families.

William Holla b c1770 line St Ives

William Holla married Ann Curnow in St Ives in 1793, this line has 175 descendants in the Hollow database. There are descendants of this line in Australia and descendants still in England.

William Hollow b c1781 line St Ives

William Hollow b ~1790 possibly in St Ives, 250 descendants. This William had a son John Hollow born 1806 in St Ives. John had two marriages his first to Catherine Sandow in 1828, Descendants of this marriage came to South Australia. His second marriage was to Ann Sanders in 1845, descendants of this marriage went to Michigan USA and then to California.

William Hollow Christian Mitchell Trewren Ludgvan line

William Hollow married Christian Mitchel Trewren in Ludgvan in 1807, the line has 219 descendants in the Hollow database.

Thomas Hollah Elizabeth Leacher Ludgvan line

Thomas Hollah married Elizabeth Leacher at Nan Cladre in 1828, the line has 162 descendants. The second line from Ludgvan but no linkages between the two at this stage. Another instance where the DNA study may help. There are several smaller lines with children born in the 1900s that I still have not been to link to older trees. Hopefully with a combination of written records and the DNA project it will be possible to solve these puzzles.

Not sure which line you belong to?

To discover which line, find your closest deceased Hollow relative in the Hollow database then trace back on the male line until you reach the final male Hollow. Now look for that name in the Hollow lines I have described here. If your relative is not there, it could be I have not linked you to a family or linked your line to one of the big families. To resolve this please contact me as I obviously have a bit more work to do.

How can you be involved?

The main way to be involved is to be part of the testing program. For a male this is taking a Y-DNA test, for a female encouraging a male relative with the name to take the test. As explained, there is usually no good reason for close relatives to all take the test. As the test has a cost, at the moment $149 U.S., relatives could contribute to the one test by a person in the close family, brother, father, uncle, grandfather. Studies usually try to involve the oldest living relative.

The Hollow DNA Study has been registered with the DNA testing company Family Tree DNA. This a DNA testing firm based in Houston, Texas, U.S.A. This firm hosts the most DNA projects of this type of any of the DNA testing companies and provide plenty of support and advice for participants. Being part of a registered project means the test cost is discounted, usually from $169 to $149 for members of a project. Through my membership of the Guild of One Name Studies, Family Tree DNA testing kits are available at an even cheaper rate through them. To buy a kit via this method, click on the Join button below.

Getting Involved

The first thing would be to contact me, Colin Hollow. I will be able to tell you whether a close relative has already been tested. As this is the launch of the study there will not be much competition so it will be a quick move to the second step. This will involve organising a payment by credit card. I hope many of you join the project.

DNA project FAQs FAQs

To join the Hollow DNA project. Join

If you have any trouble in this process email me for help.

Last Modified : 24 November 2019