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Saturday, 10 June 2017

DNA - 12 months down the track

So it’s 12 months since we received our Ancestry DNA results. How are we dealing with the Ancestry DNA matches?

What was I expecting? 

I wanted to check my tree and confirm a few issues of ethnicity.  I suspect I have Huguenot relatives so I should have Western Europe.    

Also my Scots/ Irish relatives were suspected to be originating from the Ulster Plantation i.e. English origin so the 34% Irish shouldn’t be as high as it is. I have more Irish than my husband with less long termers from Ireland. If my Irish ‘plantation’ people in my history are not as believed and if I count them as Irish instead then the Irish percentage makes sense.    This then agrees with the English 58 %. My husband as you can see from my previous blog  as you can see from the blog is devastated.

I’m no closer to solving these dilemmas.

  What were the surprises?

I alone have around 10,000 matches all up and increasing daily. As the match confidence diminishes after 275 I’m exploring “confident level” results. My best results are Extremely High match=1, Very High = 1 and High = 6.

Keep an eye on the updates on your home DNA page

My DNA circles have appeared and disappeared and I have some random people who bear no resemblance in a section at the bottom of my page. My husband got some leaf hints which were quite helpful.

Here are a few hints to get you through the early days.

1. DNA terminology takes a bit of getting used to, the numbers are mind boggling. Google and YouTube are a good fall back.

2. I recommend joining Facebook genealogy and DNA groups such as:

DNA help for Genealogists

Strictly Scottish Genealogy  

DNA help for Genealogists UK

Using DNA for Genealogy in Australia and NZ

Genealogy –My Ancestors Came to Australia

Hint: before you request membership change your profile to show an interest in genealogy and family history. Join a few groups to show you are a genuine user.  Obey their rules and be courteous especially to newbies. You will be blown away by the generosity and assistance of the members. I guarantee you will get answers to any questions.

These groups are particularly helpful when you come across disappointments such as lack of response to your messages on Ancestry message service, matches with no trees and big fat locks on trees that are there. Remember its early days for DNA, people are testing with different goals in mind to you and we’re all entitled to determine our own privacy levels.

3. Don’t rely on the matching surnames on the trees that are there. Notice most people only have a handful of surnames but potentially there are many more.  

4.Don’t be disheartened.  Work through your own research systematically. Familiarize yourself with your 32 great great grandparents, their origins, paternal and maternal lines.

Sample Kinship Report

Printout or generate a kinship report from your family tree software.  This identifies cousins, great uncles, great grandparents etc

5. Expand your tree especially where relatives might have migrated.  E.g. who might have gone to work in cotton mills in USA or who might have been interested in migrating after navy or army service. I lucked upon two lots of relatives going to East Coast of Canada to the expansion of the railway and canals plus development. Three million are supposed to have gone there between 1900 and 1920. Canada and America have great online Birth, Deaths and Marriages (with detailed parentage) records plus great census records. Some are available on Family Search or else try World Wide ancestry at the library.

6. Make your tree public and add as many generations as you can.

7. Compose a suitable message with a few surname and location suggestions. Include an invitation to collaborate and don’t forget your email address.

So …… the successes….
I’ve confirmed I’m a Kerr back to my 3x great grand aunt –sister of my 2x great grandfather. Take heart- this related cousin had a tree with 5 people, three surnames and a couple of privates. I recognized them and emailed her within 24 hours of her result.  She was blown away. After emails were exchanged I remembered I had her long lost cousin’s email and a reunion across the waters with 4 cousins resulted.  – And she managed to get me photos!!    

My Kerr DNA match with  Elizabeth Ross provided this photo of my great grandfather's cousin  Maggie Revington Tinman with husband William Burbidge

In addition I’m a confirmed Kelf back through to my 3x great grandparents. This was from some helpful information from a relative, Bill- took a few days and a false start.

My husband has sound matches through his Fords and Barters.

With his maternal great grandmother match (the two sisters marrying two brothers) Ancestry actually threw up a relationship chart in hints- a no brainer
Helpful tree hints can be displayed
Our big success story since the weekend has had me crying, smiling and emailing all week. A fellow wrote to my husband  about his match mentioning his mother’s and grandfather’s name – had a tree with one surname and a private- We had only just discovered this Ford great uncle had not died and sea but in fact had 5 daughters –some of who had married American soldiers. The stars were aligning with this guy – now everyone is eager to share info with me so I can get my family story straight- photos –stories you name it. There have been tears- some cousins had never even met each other!  It’s a combination of Ancestry trees, my blog and the DNA results. I love my obsession hobby.

 “Thank you Robyn for your dedication to pulling together the family history so beautifully! I can't imagine the number of hours you put into the task. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.” Mark

Another tip…..

Upload you results to GEDmatch- it’s a free site where serious DNAers who have tested over a variety of companies are using the data base provided. (More on this in a future blog)

This enables you to do a quick comparison with other users especially if they haven’t used Ancestry.

What was my biggest learning curve?

There is a big brick wall between English and American. Americans dominate the DNA bandwagon. They usually have big trees often stretching back to settlement but with no hint of origin from England. Therefore even if their surnames match ours we are none the wiser.

How often do I check the DNA results?

Weekly is all I’ll admit to (remember I'm obsessed) . I keep tabs on the numbers of 4th cousin matches I have and I check GEDmatch maybe weekly/fortnightly)

I'm trying some new strategies to speed up the results which I'll report on later Until next time...Happy Sleuthing.


  1. Thanks for sharing your DNA journey Robyn. There ae sure to be more exciting discoveries for us as more people share their spit and scrapings.

  2. thanks, yes I agree its early days and people are doing DNA for all sorts of reasons too. I, for one, can't cope with too many discoveries at once.