DNA is such a personal journey for many and it is up to the individual if they want to take that leap into the world of DNA. Many decide it’s not for them and to be honest a few years ago that was me. However, I realised that my DNA could possibly be the way forward in knocking down brick walls in my research or finding relatives who I’m yet to discover. I started to research more about it and alongside I have been doing genealogy since 2004 so more than anything I wanted to branch out and find living relatives of the lines in my family which I have been researching.
Two years ago I took that leap and did a DNA test through Ancestry.co.uk which I chose because this is the most popular site to do it and would potentially give me the most link to living relatives. There are other companies where you can take a DNA test, for example Myheritage.com or 23&me.com. However, again personal choice. After taking a test it can take up to twelve weeks to come back but mine took about six. It comes with a simple guide on how to do it and register it on the computer.
I was so intrigued with my results it revealed I was mostly English as expected and then it went down in percentages of Scottish, Norway, Germanic and small percentage of Wales. The Scottish made sense to me as my second great grandmother was Scottish the rest I am not really sure in connection to my research as I have done more research on my mothers lines going further back. These results gradually change over time as how DNA works is your DNA will never change but the science side of things is continuing to update and narrow things down to certain areas and places so your results will slightly change as it’s refining things all the time.
The thing with genealogy is you delve into the past bringing up the dead and you irritate the living to get to understand your roots. The matches are really interesting and sometimes can bring up unexpected things which can be like opening a can of worms. My results confirmed my parents which I already know and it turns out I share slightly more CM’s with my father more than my mother. CM’s are otherwise known as Centimorgans and when experts are comparing DNA they measure over a length of segments of DNA you share and then they are divided into CM’s the more CM’s you have with a person the closer you are related. The segments are more about comparing genetic traits with others.
How I like to describe DNA is like a bag of marbles that comes down to you. So you will get most marbles from your parents but you might get some more from one than the other. Then you will get a smaller percentage from your four grandparents which might not be shared equally so for example you might get more from your dad’s mum than your mum’s mum. Going back another generation over eight people a smaller percentage comes from that generation but again not equally shared and this pattern continues as you go back. Identical twins may not share the same amounts of CM’s with each other and from the same parent and the same with siblings. I always say get the eldest people in the family to take a DNA test and if you are lucky to have both parents living, get them to do one and siblings. The reason being is that a sibling may contain DNA from a relative that you don’t have and this may help give you answers in your family research. There is so much to DNA but it’s really interesting once you get your head around it.
The fun part about it that I have found is that using the matches on Ancestry I have been able to work out a few descendents colour code them to a surname I am researching and what lines they have come down from. Taking a DNA test has definitely opened so many doors with my research and there is so much to learn.
By Cheryl Davis