I have just received my DNA results from Ancestry that have some surprising results. My ethnicity estimate is 72% Ireland, 19% Europe West and 9% Trace Regions. Each of these results has an accuracy range with the main ones being: 57% to 84% Ireland and 3% to 36% for Europe West. The Trace Regions are: Iberian Peninsula 3%, Italy/Greece 3%, Scandinavia 2% and, most surprisingly of all, Great Britain 1%. The ranges for these Trace Regions are somewhere between 0% and 10%.
Each of the Ancestry regions has a core area, a middle area and an outer area. Ireland, for instance, has a core centred on the island, as you would expect, but because of migration, the middle area includes Celtic areas, such as Cornwall, Wales and Western Scotland, with the outer area covering all of Great Britain. Europe West has a core area of France, Germany, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland, with the middle area covering East Anglia and the South East of England. The outer area extends to cover the whole of England and Wales. The Trace regions of Iberian Peninsula and Scandinavia have outer areas that cover parts of the UK. However, the Greece/Italy outer area doesn’t stretch that far. The Great Britain area has a core that covers all of England, southern Scotland, eastern Wales and almost all of Cornwall. The middle area covers most of Scotland, apart from the north, eastern Northern Ireland, northern France and the whole of Belgium and Holland. The outer area extends to cover most of Great Britain and Ireland then further south and east into Europe, more or less matching the core area of Europe West.
The migration to the British Isles has been extensively researched and these patterns are a broad fit with this research. The Roman invasion happened, hence the Italy/Greece, connection and they brought with them people from many ethnic backgrounds. There was extensive movement of people between Ireland and Great Britain and from Northern Europe and Scandinavia into these islands. So how does this fare with the knowledge I have of my own ethnic make up?
Going back to my great-grandparents, I am definitely half Irish from a long list of Finns, with the ethnic make up that brings, which puts me in the lower end of the range quoted. The other 50% seems to be mostly of English origin, once again going back to my great grandparents. The Chatfield surname, long established in the south of the UK covers 12.5% of this and then 12.5% for Backler, long established in East Anglia, then 12.5% from the Smith connections in the Midlands and the remaining 12.5% being the Elliot surname. I have no further information on the Smith and Elliot connections. I have speculated elsewhere in this blog that the Backler name came with wool and cloth immigrants from Northern Europe and the Ancestry result seems to support this, although the result is higher than 12.5%, which would suggest there was further immigration from Northern Europe amongst my Chatfield, Smith and Elliot origins. Looking back many generations, the percentages from the ethnic split of my great grandparents would be modified considerably by the earlier waves of immigration, going back to Roman times at least.
All I can say, is that the results were higher for Ireland and much lower for Great Britain than I expected, whilst the results for Europe West and the remaining Trace Regions were where I expected them to be. Fascinating!
The results identified others who have taken DNA tests, who were related to my profile. Top of the list was John Blease, who is the grandson of my great aunt Isabel from Warrington, who was identified as my 2nd cousin. Isabel was my grandfather Frederick Backler’s sister. I had some contact with John through Genes Reunited a few years ago and I will attempt to contact him again through Ancestry, to see if there is anything he can add from his DNA test. Identified as a third cousin was someone with the Ancestry pseudonym sretsam150, who has the same 2 x great grandparents, Richard Chatfield and Mary Ann Coomber, whom I will also contact. There were 91 other DNA matches ranging from fourth to eighth cousins for me to explore. Much to do!
This exercise makes me want to encourage others who are interested in family tree research to get their DNA tested.
UPDATE: Since I wrote about this above, Ancestry have had a huge increase in the number of DNA tests in their database and they have invested heavily in analysis software. Last week they emailed to recommend upgrading my results and I was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. I am now 52% in the Ireland and Scotland major group, centring in Connacht as a sub group and 48% England, Wales and Northern Europe, centring on the Southern England and Wales and West Midlands sub groups. This appears to me to be much more accurate than the previous results. With both of my Mum’s parents coming from Eastern County Mayo in Connacht and my Dad’s mother coming from East Sussex and his father coming from Walsall in the West Midlands, these results fit with my known heritage.
There are some other software developments by Ancestry and I like the new ThruLines feature that traces links between DNA tests back through family trees posted on the site and suggests relationships linked through (Thru) those trees. Previously, the identities of those with DNA links were listed with suggestions of the relationships, but it was left to the subscriber to work out how, by examining both trees.
Another development is that relationships are now marked with the number of centimorgans (cm) and the number of segments (seg) from the DNA test links, with the higher the numbers showing the closeness of the relationship. From those where I already new the relationship (cm/seg), I have 2nd cousins showing 546/21 and 305/14, a 3rd cousin with 137/7, a 4th cousin with 62/5 and a distant cousin with 19/2. The 2nd cousins are through different routes. One is a descendant of the sister of my paternal grandfather and the other is a descendant of my father’s brother that shows the higher result. The distant cousin is an experienced researcher with a high degree of accuracy in his work and a huge number of connections, so it shows that even a low cm/seg score can lead to identifying relatives.
Ancestry does appear to be in the forefront, with the largest DNA database and in investing to develop their software to make significantly better use of the results. As stated in my original post, I encourage those who are interested in family tree research to get their DNA tested and I am an even bigger fan.
UPDATE 1st June 2019: In May 2019 Ancestry announced that they now have15 million results in their database.