Blouin/Belouin/Bellware Surname DNA Project

The idea for testing our DNA goes back to 1999 when I spoke to Fred Bellware of British Columbia about it. The reason for the test was that Louis Napoleon Bellware never documented who his parents were. His military records, marriage records and death records never mentioned his parents. His only son, John Shirley Bellware, eventually contacted Fred's father in Quebec looking for his family. John Shirley ended up corresponding with Fred's sister-in-law Carol for a number of years. But, he was unable to make a definitive connection with them because he didn't know who his grandparents were. I did extensive genealogical research on the Bellware/Blouin family based on John Henry Bellware's family and was able to prove that John Henry had a brother named Louis. But, we couldn't be certain that my Louis Napoleon was the brother of John Henry. If I wanted to prove that they were brothers, DNA was the only way to do it.

At the 2000 family reunion at Chateau Montebello the statement was made that we didn't need test to confirm our relationship and the subject was dropped. Over time, more and more genealogists were getting involved in the practice and the price started coming down. I found two people with the surname BLOUIN who had their DNA test results posted on the Internet. At the same time I came across the website for the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project ( that was concerned with mapping human migration patterns with DNA. I decided to participate in the project and compare my DNA test results from the project to those already posted by other Blouins.

I received the results of my 12-marker Y-chromosome test from the Genographic Project in January 2006. I was shocked to find that my results were so different from the other Blouins. I matched only 5 out of 12 markers with one man and 7 out of 12 with another. Was I a Blouin after all? Was I related to my supposed Canadian cousins? I contacted my cousin Claude Bellware in Quebec and he immediately agreed to submit to the same test. After a couple of months, his results came back. Only 11 of our 12 markers matched. It was much better than the results with the Blouins but, I thought we would be a perfect match. Our relationship, according to Family Tree DNA ( could only be described as "possibly related." As third cousins once removed, we were well within the established 200-year mutation time frame. Our common ancestor, Francois Xavier Blouin was born in 1824. Our relationship should have been more solid.

Claude and I agreed to refine to our results by upgrading to 37 markers. It seemed to take forever to get our results back. But, it was worth it. We matched 36 out of 37 markers. This is interpreted as "tightly related." We could now say for certain that we were cousins. With our results in hand we were prepared to expand our horizons to the entire Blouin/Belouin/Bellware population. The surname project was born.

Below is a chart of the probabilies of that our "Most Recent Common Ancestor" (MRCA) was no more than the stated number of generations removed from us, according to Family Tree DNA. Our first test of 12 markers yielded only 11 matching markers. This meant that there was only a 50% probability that our MRCA (Francois Xavier Blouin) was no more than 17 generations removed from us and a 95% probability that he was no more than 47 generations distant. He is actually only 5 generations from me and 4 generations from Claude. You can see by the chart below that we made a substantial improvement in the probabilities by increasing the number of markers tested to 37. However, an increase to 67 markers would only improve the number of generations by one at the 95% probability and none at the 50% and 90% probabilities. There would be very little benefit to taking our markers to the next level.

Number of markers

Probability of MRCA within this many generations

that match




11 of 12




24 of 25




36 of 37




66 of 67





Claude has been invaluable not only for donating his DNA sample but also for his language skills. The two Blouin populations we are most interested in testing are in France and Ile d'Orleans in Quebec. Naturally, French is the main language in both places. Claude's translation skills have been indispensable on the website, in emails and on the telephone. Watch this space and the official Blouin/Belouin/Bellware Surname DNA Project website ( for more information.


Two "tightly related" cousins, Dan and Claude, at the 2006 Bellware Family Reunion

UPDATE: We received results from a Belouin from Massachuesetts in December 2006 and a Blouin resident of Ile D'Orleans, Quebec in January 2007 and both prove to be closely related to Claude and therefore related to me as well. We were less successful with two Blouins living in France. They do not appear to be related to us or to each other. They may be related to some of the other Blouin families here in America. We will find out as more Blouins join our project.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Our first Louisiana Blouin participant received his results in June 2007. Daniel Blouin arrived in Illinois from France before 1760 when he married in Kaskaskia, Illinois. He was a merchant who is known to have provided supplies to the Lewis & Clark Expedition. His son, also named Daniel migrated to Louisiana and started a branch of the family there. The results show that the descendents of Daniel Blouin, the forbearer of the Illinois and Louisiana Blouins are not related to descendents of Emery Blouin of Quebec.


This page is maintained by Daniel A. Bellware.

This page was last updated on June 22, 2008