IF YOU'RE a Miss Lanchbury, a Mr Tidmarsh, a Ms Dumbleton or even a Master Gotobed, this one is for you.

A new project combining DNA testing with 500 years of parish records is aiming to create a master-map of every single 'Oxfordshire surname'.

Volunteers at Oxfordshire Family History Society are hoping to use genetics to find out how local families moved around the county over the past five centuries.

This week, to boost their numbers, they are running a competition giving away six free DNA testing kits to people with 'Oxfordshire surnames'.

The term is a fairly loose one, but the volunteers are looking for people who can trace their family history back in the county beyond the 1880s.

That's because there was huge migration of people in and out of the county at the end of the 19th century, and anyone whose family were here before then may well have had ancestors living locally for hundreds of years.

The project, which will look at some 20,000 surnames, is so massive that the group are not even sure exactly what their finished product will look like yet.

Society editor Sue Honoré said it will likely take the form of a printed book on the county's most common family names, accompanied by a comprehensive database online.

She said: "The project we're attempting, to map all the surnames in Oxfordshire, is something that hasn't really been done a lot in the UK.

"We're talking about 1,500 'variant groups' which include variations like Smith and Smyth, so that's somewhere between 12,000 and 20,000 names."

The society launched its DNA analysis project three years ago, and 196 people have already had tests done.

But the society is only now launching the essential second part of the project – an exhaustive (and exhausting) analysis of all parish records for Oxfordshire dating back to 1538 – the year that it became law to record all baptisms and burials in the country.

Mrs Honoré explained: "We've been gathering DNA samples for three years, but we realised that if you're trying to trace DNA for one surname you get loads of different branches, so we decided we needed to pull in paper records.

"We'll put all those surnames and events into a massive database then analyse all of it, looking at where names were at what time in different parts of Oxfordshire."

It gets all the more confusing because before surnames were passed from fathers to their children as they are today, people were simply named after where they were from, so John from Witney might move to Abingdon and then be called 'John of Witney'.

Despite the huge challenges, the society hopes the project will take two years to complete.

To enter the DNA testing competition by June 15, send your contact details, name of interest, and place(s) in Oxfordshire where you have records of the name's occurrence, to Mrs Honoré at surname-project@ofhs.org.uk