International Dubbels Surname Project

Learn About The Dubbels Family DNA

the church at Heeslingen
Church of St. Viti at Heeslingen with its original steeple, as it appears in the seal of Heeslingen

In 1961, the German village of Heeslingen celebrated one thousand years of existence with an exhibit of antique furniture, tools, documents and photos and a parade in which people dressed in attire worn centuries before. In Wilhelm Dubbels, a native of heeslingen, the celebration reawakened a long-dormant desire to find out more about his family roots. Wilhelm had begun his genealogical research in the years between 1934 and 1936, but the beginning of the Second World War and the chaos that ensued afterwards had brought his research to a standstill. But Germany was no longer in disarray and Wilhelm decided to resolve his many questions about the Dubbels family.

Fired by his new resolution, Wilhelm sought out places where the town's old records were kept, such as Heeslingen's city hall and its old church register. Digging through yellowing papers covered with fading ink, he discovered old tax documents. In one, he learned that four members of the Dubbels family — including his direct ancestor: Johann Dubbels — had paid agricultural taxes to the authorities in the year 1529. Moving forward in time, he was able to find other relatives and reconstruct the relationships between them, which he depicted in a great, branching family tree. Ultimately, Wilhelm published the results of his research with the tree in a monumental work of genealogy called Wir Dubbels Aus Heeslingen.

The Dubbels surname project continues the work of Wilhelm Dubbels by examining the DNA of the Dubbels line. By testing the DNA of men who believe they are directly descended from Johann through the Y-DNA line we hope to:

  • Confirm each individual's descent from Johann or a close relative
  • Understand the differences in DNA patterns between the different Dubbels lines: the Sassenholzers, the Hamburgers and the Heeslingen lines, as well as the American sub-group of the Hamburg group
  • Better understand the ultimate origins of the Dubbels family before it came to Heeslingen
  • Determine whether a relationship exists with individuals not known to be related to Johann Dubbels, such as golden age Dutch maritime painter Hendrick Dubbels.
  • Eventually isolate the y-dna pattern of Johann Dubbels himself

The Dubbels surname project is a y-dna project. This means that we track relationships among participants by looking at markers on the y-chromosome. Unfortunately, since only males have the y-chromosome, the main test used in our project can only be taken by men. Furthermore, since the y-chromosome markers are passed down generation to generation with the surname, only males named Dubbels are eligible for testingfor the y-dna part of the study. Because we are also interested in determining whether a relationship exists between individuals named Dubbels and those with similar surnames, we may also admit individuals with similar surnames -- particularly if their ancestors might come from the area of Northeast Germany, Denmark or the Netherlands.

Although women cannot take the y-chromosome themselves, they can gain the benefits of project participation if they can get a male relative named Dubbels to take the test. Additionally, we have recently started allowing women and men who take the Family Finder test and believe they are related to the Dubbelses through any line to join the project, although we do not currently report on their results on this website. test to join the project. Individuals who take only the maternal DNA test are unlikely to gain anything from joining this project.

Participation in the study is free, but requires a y-DNA test, which is not. If you have not already tested, Family Tree DNA is the preferred testing company for this project, and only those who test through FTDNA will have their results show on the separate FTDNA website. However, y-dna results from other companies are also allowed.

DNA information obtained in this study is used for genealogical and historical purposes only and appears on the website by kit number and perhaps earliest known relative only.

How to Participate

Participation in the y-dna part of the project is open to anyone who can submit a y-dna test from a male surnamed Dubbels or is believed to be related to a male named Dubbels through the paternal line. Since only males have y-chromosomes, only males can actually take the test. However, if a woman can get a male relative to take the test, she is free to get the results and administer the account.

We are also accepting individuals who take either the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test or the 23andme Relative Finder test and believe they are related through any line, although it will be up to you to check on your own results through your personal page, as the project administrators do not report on them.

We do not usually admit individuals who take only an MTDNA test, as the project is unlikely to be of any use to them or us.

Participation in the surname project itself is free. However, Y-DNA testing is a prerequisite, and there is a cost for this. The testing company for this project is Family Tree DNA. If you sign up for testing through the Dubbels surname group, the company normally provides a discount.

To sign up for DNA testing,

  1. Go to the Family Tree DNA website.
  2. On the right side of the page, locate the two text boxes below the word "search." The one on the left should say "equals" and the one on the right should be empty.
  3. Type the word "Dubbels" into the box on the right.
  4. Hit submit.
  5. You will be brought to a page containing all of the surname and geographic projects that contain individuals named "Dubbels."
  6. Click on the Dubbels surname project.
  7. At the bottom of the page, click on the "Order Now" button for the type of test you want to take. (A y-dna test of 67 markers or more is recommended).
  8. The site will then lead you through some forms that will allow you to put in information, such as your address and credit card number.
  9. After you complete the order, DNA testing kit will be sent to your home, containing instructions for use.
  10. Complete your test and mail back to Family Tree DNA.
  11. Family Tree DNA will contact you when your test results are ready in a few weeks.

The Dubbels Surname

A German Surname?

The Dubbels surname has been a source of confusion for many years. Although the Dubbels family has resided in Heeslingen, Germany since at least 1529, their surname is clearly not a standard German name. It doesn't mean anything in either the national standard High German dialect or any known variety of the Low German dialect traditionally spoken around Heeslingen. So where does it come from?

A few possibilities

One possibility sometimes raised is that the name might be Dutch or even Belgian. Dubbel, after all, means "double" in the language of the Netherlands, and is also a type of Belgian trappist ale, and neither Belgium nor the Netherlands is terribly far from Heeslingen. Neither of these seems terribly likely however. Double does not appear follow the usual conventions of surnames, which are usually based on an ancestor's name, occupation, personal characteristic or place of origin and the dubbel style of ale was not invented until 1856.


A more probable origin

Thomas Rueffer, an expert on German names and the author of Introduction to German Names, provided a more plausible derivation. He believes the name is Frisian and means "ancestor of Dubbel." Although unable to find a mention of the name Dubbels in any of his reference works, he did find numerous close references, including: Dubbern, Dubbert, Dubber, Dubbe and Dubben. All of these, he wrote, are variations of the Low German name Dibbern, which equates to the old high German name of Dietburn. Dietburn, in turn, is a combination of "diet", which means "people" or "nation" and "bern", which means "bear."

Rueffer pointed out that Heeslingen is an area where both Low German and Frisian were spoken and concluded that Dubbels was just another Frisian variation on Dibbern.

In addition to Rueffer's linguistic evidence, there are also other pieces of evidence that the Dubbels name might be Frisian, for example:

  • Proximity to Frisian areas and to the borders of Greater Frisia, the medieval trade and maritime empire, ultimately defeated by the Franks
  • DNA evidence, though not conclusive, so far seems to support an ultimate Frisian origin

On the other hand, Wilhelm Dubbels did not believe the Dubbels family ultimately came from Frisia. In Wir Dubbels Aus Heeslingen Wilhelm raised the possibility that the Dubbels were Frisians who had come to the area to work on the dikes. He discounted the possibility, however, on the grounds that Heeslingen was too far from the river where they would have worked. Unfortunately, Wilhelm did not have access to the resources that we have today, and this may have led him to a wrong conclusion.


The table below shows the groups identified by the Dubbels surname project so far. To see more information about a given group, you may click on its "View" link on the right side of the table. To reduce the number of groups visible, you may filter on a surname, first letter of haplogroup, or country of origin. The country of origin is the earliest known country in which the earliest known ancestor has resided. Typically, it is place of birth.

All data is reported by the study participants. Since not all participants have provided background information, there are many unknowns in the data. If you are a participant in the study and you have not provided information, please contact the administrators of the study.

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Please make use of the following resources in your genealogy or genetic genealogy research. To see the items under a given category, please click on the link.

Online Genetic Genealogy Research Resources

DNA Testing Companies

Y-DNA Databases

mtDNA Databases


Genetic Genealogy
Mapping Human History, by Steve Olson
Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland, by Bryan Sykes
The Seven Daughters of Eve, by Bryan Sykes
DNA USA, by Bryan Sykes
Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project, by Spencer Wells

Heeslingen and the Dubbels

  • Heeslingen lies in the northern German state of Niedersachsen(Lower Saxony), about halfway between the major towns of Bremen and Hamburg and the Elbe and Weser rivers.
  • In Roman times, tribes in the area included the ***. During the Anglo-Saxon invasion of England, around 450 AD, this area provided many of the invaders of England. No doubt, this is why the Dubbels' haplotype is similar to many in England.
  • Later, the area was on the fringes of Greater Frisia, a trade and maritime empire on the south coast of the North Sea, extending from Belgium to Denmark. Later, the area was conquered by Charlemagne. In ***, he slaughtered many Saxon chieftains who refused to become Christian.
  • The town of Heeslingen is first mentioned in 961 A.D., during the reign of Otto, when a nunnery was built in the area.
  • 1529 - Johann Dubbels and three other Dubbels pay agriculture taxes in Heeslingen.
  • 1864 - Johann Dubbels emigrates to Minnesota, USA.

Contact Us

  • Administrator & Webmaster: Gregory Francis
  • Greg Francis is the 12th great-grandson of the first known Johann Dubbels through his mother's line. He is a genealogist and web developer in Denver, Colorado, USA. He is also co-administrator and web master for the Francis surname project.