Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Who am I and where am I from?

As regular readers of my blog will know, my wife is a genealogist and has been tracing her family tree for quite some time. I have helped her, and have also done some research into my own family history. Recently we took advantage of a special offer to have our ethnic DNA profiles done ... and the results have just arrived.

The test looks examines each individual's DNA, and using existing databases produces a profile of one's individual maternal and paternal ethnic origins. My results look like this:



According to these results I am almost 100% European (which is no great surprise), but that within that broad geographical area my ethnic origins are a mixture of Western European and Irish. (These are shown as the blue areas on the map.) What I find surprising is how low the percentage of my DNA is specifically from Great Britain, and how much my profile differs from the 'average' found in the UK. (The 'average' Briton has somewhere in the region of 60% of their DNA from Great Britain; I have less than 1%.)

Some years ago we did a DNA test to trace our paternal origins, and my results showed that I was a member of a subgroup of haplogroup I1, and that I am a descendant of someone who originally came from area of North West Germany/Northern Netherlands known as Frisia.

32 comments:

  1. Bob,

    I'm terribly sorry to hear your news, but I think it's important to note that many people who test positive for Irish go on to live normal and productive lives. It's not all alcoholism, bedgrudgery and singing sad songs about potatoes. Those are fine in their way - but many kids who test positive for Irish - go on to fine careers in Comedy, Acting, Music and the Bar, to name but a few.

    Obviously, it's going to come as a shock and I think you and Sue should take some time to think through the ramifications of this news, but it's not all bad. The treatments have come along a great deal in recent years.

    It's amazing what they can do these days.

    All the best.

    Conrad

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    1. Conrad Kinch,

      I'm afraid to say that I already knew! My mother's family came from Cork, and had the surnames Bryant and Rae.

      Of the Bryant part of the family, one went on to the an RSC and National Theatre Company actor of note, whilst the Rae members seemed to tend towards more humble pursuits ... such as gambling and fighting!

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Conrad, out are in fine form and proof positive of the Irish comedic trait!

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    3. Jonathan Freitag,

      He's even funnier in the flesh than he is in print.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. Fascinating. 1% central asia. I picture a Sarmatian or Alan cavalryman serving in the Roman army and posted to Frisia and ummh marrying shall we say? a local girl or perhaps even, posted to Britain and meeting the daughter of a soldier in a cohort of Frisian auxilliaries.

    Given the theory about the Sarmatians posted to Britain being the prototype of Arthur's knights, you could be descended from a man who once sat at the round table!

    I wonder if Highland Scots from the Scots-Irish invaders rather than those descended from Pictish or British blood show up a Irish?

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    1. Ross Mac,

      I must admit that it has thrown up a few unexpected items of interest, and your theory as to how the Asian element got into my DNA is just as valid reason as any that I can come up with.

      The Irish that the DNA identifies is Irish/Scots ancestry rather than Pictish, so part of my 'Irish' ancestry could easily be Scots.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. Bob,
    Very interesting way of looking at Origins - DNA? I'd never thought of it. My Origins are Scottish- I'm a 'Robertson' and we're from Loche Ranoch- Scotland. Last year (2015- April-May) We were fortunate enough to visit Scotland and travel through the Lands about Loche Ranoch- that was special- to see where we were from some three Generations ago... I do not claim to be 'Scottish' - I'm an Australian- though it is good to know the Family background. Best Wishes. KEV.

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    1. Kev,

      I hope that you enjoyed your time in Scotland and were not bitten too often by the midges!

      I think of myself as English ... but it would appear from my DNA that I would be more precise if I called myself Eastern/South Eastern English with a touch of Irish/Scots.

      In a world where so many people feel rootless, having some idea where you come from can be quite comforting.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Bob,
      Agreed- quite comforting to know about ancestry. I tend to believe that who we are and what we stand for and the abilities and skills we have are to do with our ancestry- just as much as the physical environment we live in and experiences we encounter. For example, to have a so called 'gift' at something can be all to do with our ancestry...as we've often hear: "Your Great Uncle was also good at..." and so on- We inherit things- traits...my Mother was a 'Stone' and she was quite good at Craft-work...I have those same abilities - it is an inheritance worth far more that gold. Cheers . KEV.

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    3. Kev,

      The 'nature vs nurture' debate echoed throughout my career in education, I am of the belief that we are born with certain inherited attributes/abilities, and that a good education could enable people to unlock and used them.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Bob,
    I think this leaves you with more questions than answers. What do the Ts&Cs define as 'your origins',is it compared to the majority of people who live in that area today? - I guess it has to be. Do they give any indication of time scale ? eg only accurate for the last 500 years or so ?
    Regards Paul.

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    1. Paul Leeson (Paul),

      From the information that came with the two DNA tests that we have had done, the results are compared with DNA databases across the world to produce a range of results. These are then honed down to be more specific to each individual.

      The time scales quoted are that they show general trends for ethnic origin going back several thousands of years, but with shorter time scales for the more specific markers that have been identified. Thus my Frisian roots date back about 1,200 to 1,500 years.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Bob,

      As this is database driven, do they allow you to recheck as the database grows?

      Jon

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    3. Jon Yuengling (Jon),

      It isn't clear if data updates will affect the overall results, although Ancestry do update the 'cousins' element of the results. ('Cousins' are people who share similar DNA markers; at present I have 26 fourth-cousins identified but no one closer.)

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. Fascinating stuff Bob, I intend to attempt to trace my family history in the near future, been meaning to do it for years! The DNA tests for ethnic origin are quite amazing.

    All the best,

    Lee.

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    1. 'Lee,

      It is certainly interesting to have the results, especially as they seem to bear out some of the genealogical research that I have done.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  6. Very interesting, Bob. But did you know that something like 80% of human DNA is the same as that of a hamster?!
    My daughter used to bring the school hamster home for the weekend and I found it a charming creature to which I am proud to be distantly related...
    Regards,
    Arthur

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    1. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

      It's the 20% that is not the same that is important ... and I suspect that you and I are more closely related than we are to your hamster, however Sweet and cuddly he might have been.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  7. I don't know if they told you when you got your haplotype results but what you are looking at is you lineage through your mother, and her mother, and her mother.... You can't do paternal line unless it was for the Y chromosome.

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    1. Chris,

      The first DNA test results were for my Y chromosome (my paternal line) whilst the more recent one included results for mitochondrial DNA as well.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  8. Hey, welcome in the family! I thought that West Europe and Irish/Scottish would have been the norm for English people. Is there such a thing as a "true" britton?

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    1. Dee V8,

      As far as I can make out, an average Briton will be about 20% Irish/Scots, 60% from Great Britain, and the rest a mixture of Scandinavian/Western European/minor traces. The proportions vary by region, with more of one type being located in a particular geographical area than in another. For example, there are far more people with Scandinavian roots in Yorkshire than in the rest of England.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Dear Bob, thanks re the varnish. That is what I have been using after some abject failures with high tech acrylic modelling varnishes. Regarding your ancestry, in the current post brexit xenophobic climate it might be wise to keep your head down or you may be invited on a one way cruise to foreign climes.

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    3. Chris Platt,

      I am pleased that you found the information helpful.

      Interestingly my Frisian roots makes me a Saxon, so I think that I probable have little to worry about ... except from descendants of the odd Jute or Angle!

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. Wow. Its look like my strongest argument against racist coming from UK is falling done :/.
      I used to said that, England having been invaded so many times, there was not such a thing as a true Briton, except in Asturias :D !

      I hope I can still say similar things about Franks :O ...

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    5. Dee V8,

      I suspect that if everyone in the UK did the ethnic DNA test the results would prove that the majority of the population had a huge variance in its origins.

      If Asturias is the only place left where one can find a true Briton, then Britons must have been short, stocky, and dark-haired. I'm six foot tall and towered over locals when I last visited Coruna.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  9. Personally I have nothing against the Irish.

    This has nothing whatsoever to do with having a mother originally called Flynn, a grandfather called McFarlane and family in Co. Tyrone.

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    1. Rob Young,

      Conrad Kinch's comment was meant to be tongue-in-cheek! He lives and works in Dublin, and as far as I know, he was born there.

      I understand that thanks to my Irish roots I qualify for an Irish passport, which might be useful in the future. I suspect that you are in the same boat.

      All the best,

      Bob

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    2. Mr Cordery,

      I am appalled that you suggest I am anything other than completely serious at all times. Good day to you Sir!

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    3. Conrad Kinch,

      If I had a second - or more preferably an hour or two - I would call you out ... and we could go and have a drink together! :^)

      All the best,

      Bob

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    4. Yep, definitely serious - actually we follow each other's blogs...

      Not sure how far back you have to go to claim Irish citizenship - my Great Grandfather McFarlane was in the British Army when he died in 1918, so considered British then, plus of course Co Tyrone is in the North, so don't know whether I have any southern ancestors.

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    5. Rob Young,

      Young Kinch has a dry wit about him ... although my predictive text wants to say that he is a twit.

      I think that you need to have a single Irish grandparent to qualify for a passport ... and that they include the six counties of modern Ulster within the qualifying area.

      All the best,

      Bob

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