The name Sankey appears to originate uniquely from the north shore of the Mersey River in England, where a township of that name predates the Norman conquest. Early documents mostly use the form Sonky; the variant Sainty arose more recently in East Anglia, Sinkey in Pennsylvania ca.1800.
Before about 1500, surnames such as those of European culture use today did not exist in England. Anyone living in the area could have used the form "de Sankey" to denote where they lived. So, holders of the name are not necessarily related. Given the history of the area, people with this surname should be of either male Norse, Saxon or Norman provenance, with a chance of earlier Briton. The male ancestry of Normans 1000 years ago was often Norse, but it appears that this route can be separated from the main Viking settlements of England in the 8-900's by marker JN15.
However, as a search on Facebook will quickly show, it appears that a slave owner named Sankey in the southern USA gave all his black slaves his name; these people will not of course be related to the English line, or probably to each other. And besides affairs, there are unmarried moms who marry later, and adoptions. There's a local case where two infants were left with a foster parent temporarily and got switched. (They both kept their transferred names.) There's a case in our federal cabinet where an ancestor changed his name to get a bequest. So I well accept the fragility of relying on surname for common ancestry. But, this project uses it for a start.
The first aim of the project will be to determine to what extent holders of the name possess haplotypes classifiable as one of the above possible provenances. Some DNA features change rapidly, some more slowly. The haplotype groups those features which change the most slowly of all.
If you are a male Sankey who can trace his male line ancestry back to England, or if you already live there, please join us!
You will need a Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA in order to do this - the Genographic project is no longer compatible with us.
If you are new to DNA testing, visit the FTDNA site above.
Contact the SANKEY project administrator.