FamilyTreeDNA’s New Origins Estimates

So I checked my familytreeDNA origins results again last night after hearing they’d upgraded their population sample databases and there were some big changes!
Here’s my two to compare, one from last year and now.

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Scandinavian has really shot up. Since this seems to be centred around Norway, I would expect a bit from my 2x GGF from the Viking-raided, Outer Hebrides in Scotland, but not this much, especially since I only inherited 19% of his granddaughters DNA! If it includes Danish Vikings then I could have a bit more from the Norfolk area, but still, it seems like a lot!

Annoyed that my Eastern European has dropped off, since that’s my direct maternal line to SW Poland, though it’s possible they had Germanic origins.

British seems quite low. Except for 2x GGP’s from Austro/Italy and Prussia, all my other lines are UK, though I suspect the Western European infiltrated through my Kent and Cornish lines.
South-east Euro has jumped, on other sites I was between 2-7% Mediterranean which seemed about right for my Austro-Italian 2x GGF.

Comparing between the different companies at AncestryDNA and 23andMe shows massive differences so we’re obviously still a fair way off the technology being accurate % wise.

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My paper trail estimates are 53.12% English, 34.38% Scottish, 6.25% SW Polish & 6.25% Austro-Italian, so at least the locations are reflected in all the results!

The Basics of DNA Genealogy Explained

This post doesn’t encapsulate everything about DNA Genealogy but serves to cover some of the basics for people interested in taking a test.

So this is my attempt at explaining DNA Genealogy. These days it all makes sense to me but I remember it was a massive learning curve as I got my head around Haplogroups, Segments, Centimorgans, Genomes etc. I’m still learning new things about it even now and there are definitely a lot more people out there who really delve deep into it, but I will try and explain the basics to help you understand how it works and what you can expect.

There are currently 3 main DNA testing companies out there at the moment, that deal with the genealogy aspect of it. There are more but these 3 are the most well known. Ancestry.com (autosomal test only) 23andme.com (autosomal test only) and FamilytreeDNA.com (autosomal, yDNA (direct paternal) & mtDNA (direct maternal)).
There is a 4th company MyHeritage who have just started  DNA testing, but at this point in time I wouldn’t recommend them until they iron out some kinks and get a larger database.
All have their pro’s, con’s and various price differences.

A lot of people also upload their results from these 3 companies to Gedmatch.com which is a free site that allows people to compare tests against others from different companies and also has some pretty good tools to use.

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Just How Much of Me is Scottish/English etc?

It’s one thing to wonder where you got your nose or eyes from and it’s pretty amazing seeing them in 100 year old photos of ancestors, but have you ever wondered where all these body parts originated?
Is my dark hair from the Italian side or is it Black Scotch?
I’ve always wondered where my dark hair and light olive skin came from. At first I thought it was the Italian in me, but my mother has the same colouring’s and from what we knew there was no Mediterranean blood on her side.

With the recent discoveries I can confirm this and have come to the conclusion that it must be Black Scotch, but it made me wonder just how much of me is English, Scottish, Italian etc, so I applied a little bit of maths to figure this out in percentages.

Of course with DNA testing, you can only figure out the exact percentage of DNA inherited by testing each generation, but you can still make a good go of it.
You could also take the sex chromosome route which means males are 50% whatever their direct paternal line is and 50% whatever the direct maternal line is. For females, who only inherit their chromosomes from their mothers, you would be 100% whatever your direct maternal line is. So in that case I’m 100% Polish but my brother is 50% Polish and 50% English (Cornish). Continue reading

Adoption Mystery Solved after 94 Years!

If you’ve been following my previous blog posts, then you’ll know all about my search for my Great Grandfather, so as you may have gathered from the title, I found him!

But for others I’ll recap.
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My Grandfather George was born at the end of World War 1 in 1919, being the result of a short lived romance between an English WAAC nurse, named Eva-Rose,  and an Australian soldier.
His mother desperately wanted to keep him but her family soon after, forced her into signing the adoption papers.

George’s new family immigrated to Australia where they eventually settled in Perth. He went on to marry a local girl and have four children of his own.

Having always known he was adopted, it wasn’t until he was in his 60’s that he decided to try and look for his birth mother.

Fortunately his mother’s name and address at the time of his birth were on his birth certificate and so they wrote to a local newspaper in the town, asking if anyone knew her to contact them.

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Eva-Rose saw the paper and wrote a letter to him and eventually they were reunited the following year when George and his wife flew to England. It was a very happy occasion and George always seemed to have a spring in his step from that moment on.

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George with his Mum and half-sister, 1986

But what of his father? Eva-Rose could only give us a name, ‘Jack Scott’ and said that he was in the Australian Army and came from Melbourne.
*Actually, when the story was relayed to me I was only told that he was from somewhere on the East Coast,  let this be a lesson not to trust the memories of older people! (Seriously, this small piece could have saved me 100’s of hours of research!)

Fast forward years and years of trawling army records and collating information in spreadsheets, when I decided to do a DNA test with 23andme.com as they provided a Relative Finder search. I figured this would be my only hope. Continue reading

One Giant Leap Closer…

Following on from my last post, just a quick update to mention how close I am to finding my Grandfather’s biological father.

I recently checked the relative finder feature on 23andme.com to find I had a new match… not just any new match, the closest one in the entire list of related matches! I think I actually stopped breathing in the moment when I saw it!

A potential 3rd to 4th cousin, he shares 0.59% DNA with my Grandfather on 3 segments. My previous closest match was 0.37% on 2 segments. 0.59% doesn’t sound like much but to put it into perspective, you lose roughly 50% of DNA for each generation you go back, while starting off with the 50% you receive from each parent. So it quickly diminishes. When looking at other relatives you then have to halve it again. It’s confusing but this table from FamilyTreeDNA shows how it works.

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The X Files

I don’t have ancestors from Roswell, New Mexico, nor am I related to Fox Moulder, but I do have an X-File in my tree. I’m talking about those frustratingly unsolvable mysteries that gnaw at your brain until your eye starts twitching.

Actually, I have two of those, one is the mystery of where my GGGGreat Grandfather was born, but it’s only the fact that it’s on my surname line that this really gets to me. I mean, if you could get all lines back to the 1700’s you’re doing well.

The other one is more current and involves my Grandfather who was adopted. Following on from a previous post on one half of his adoption story, this post focus’ on trying to find his birth father. I’ll ruin the story now and say that as yet the mystery is still unsolved, so don’t assume a happy ending just yet!  This one’s a work in progress.

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