Monday, 28 August 2017

DNA results are in!

Since I was 14 I have been working on my family tree. I even became so knowledgeable I have done genealogy work professionally and given over 100 classes.

About 3 or 4 years ago I decided to do one of those DNA tests. This was with ’23 and Me’, primarily for health results as one of the things they looked at were genetic markers for breast cancer (my late sister died of breast cancer). It turned out that they only looked at three of the most common markers for breast cancer and I had none – but they were quick to point out in all the health and wellbeing reports that you could, of course, get illnesses through environmental factors as well. They had a whole range of ‘traits’ and I was intrigued to know I had a low resistance to alcohol which explains why I am a cheap date!

I was less interested in the ancestral composition of my genes then, particularly as none of the people listed as potential cousins were people I recognised nor any of their surnames they listed, so I didn’t get in touch with anybody.

Recently, I decided to do the DNA test (it was on offer, but I also thought there would be more chance of getting in touch with cousins – already I have noticed two relatives I know).

Comparing the two reports has been fascinating – although a little difficult as they list their information differently. Ancestry is terrific at providing historical background to the regions they cover – afterall, historical records is their forte. ’23 and Me’ has the great health records (although I did notice they have archived many of the original ones which were so intriguing – I get the feeling they are moving more into the genealogy side).

What I did notice when I recently went on to the ‘23’ site, was a new feature not previously there giving a timeline of when the ancestor with those genes came into my family tree. Very helpful. For instance, I presumed the 4% Scandinavian genes would have come from the Vikings but no, that ancestor(s) came into my tree between 1750-1870.

So, the rest of the genes in summary:

·         About two thirds of my ancestors are British (Ancestry’s genetic communities section of their report indicates I have no Scottish or Welsh ancestors only English which fits with my own research). The figures for Ancestry versus 23 and Me vary enormously because 23 lists 30% of my ancestors as ‘broadly northwest European' – which doesn’t help narrow them down! So taking both sets of DNA reports I have roughly put it at 2/3!

·         6% are Irish (I have an Irish 2 x great grandmother, Elizabeth O’Brien, who left during the potato famine and ended up in the Channel Islands). So that totally fits with her as I would have 6% of genes from her, (if you get 50% genes from each parent, which is diluted to 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great-grandparent, 6.25% from each 2 x great grandparent). So by that reckoning if Elizabeth was 100% Irish I don't have any other Irish ancestors.

    However, I had an inkling the unknown man who fathered her children was also Irish – now, quite possibly not!! (Image below from Lonely Planet of the Channel Islands)

·         Ancestry says I have 8% Europe West ancestors (which seems to cover Britain but also northern Europe – France, Holland, Germany, Switzerland etc). 23 says I have 6.4% French and German. I imagine these ancestors could well be from the ancestors from the Channel Islands or their ancestors. As I said above, no idea who Elizabeth got to father her children BUT there is another Channel Islands link, also on my Dad’s side, something like my 4 x great grandfather (Richard Ruse) went to the Channel Islands and married a girl there. The 23 report says for the French/German ancestor they came into my tree in the period 1750-1870 which fits with Richard going to the Channel Islands and marrying there but would also fit in with the unknown 2 x grandfather who fathered Elizabeth's children.

·         Both websites say I have between 0.6-2% Italian and Sardinian ancestry, which is astonishing and I have no idea how they come into the tree at all! Particularly as the timeline in 23’s report says the Italian came into the tree between 1690-1840 and the Sardinian 1690-1810 which makes it sound like two people. These could well be distant ancestors of the French/German one above, maybe.

·         What is more intriguing is that Ancestry says I have 2% Spanish/Portuguese which is not included in the report from 23, although the latter says I have 0.8% broadly southern European so that may be covered under that. No idea who this Spanish/ Portuguese ancestor is!!

·         Additionally, I have 6% from Europe East from the Ancestry report (not specified in the 23 report). The range for Europe East is Poland, Russia down through Germany to Bulgaria. Again, no idea when or how they came into the tree and 6% is quite a lot of genes.

·         The one that is VERY intriguing is the 0-1% European Jewish/Ashkenazi Jewish listed in both reports. When I first read this in the 23 and me report I ignored it, thinking they had got that wrong as I expected all my ancestors to be Christian. But now it is confirmed by Ancestry this is all quite exciting!

·         Finally, the Ancestry report lists 0-0.1% an ancestor from the Caucasus – which is Italy through Turkey to Iraq and the near east. That is not highlighted on the 23 report and could just be the Italian ancestor previously reported, although an near Eastern ancestor would be exotic.

·         Oh, one more finally – the 23 report also lists Neanderthal ancestry of which I have 4% (which is slightly above average for Europeans I believe! Don't say a word!!)

   In conclusion, I can say I an truly European! (I did vote to REMAIN in the EU!)