Friday, March 02, 2007

DNA Update

Today I received two emails from Family Tree DNA advising me that there had been two more people tested whose DNA was an exact match for mine. Talk about a really small world. I visited the Family Tree website and did some research on my new "cousins".

Since I had my DNA tested, there have been a total of 37 matches made. There are three principal ways that one has their DNA tested. First, National Geographic has a huge project going on to capture the unique DNA of all indigenous people of the world. As these tribes are assimilated to the bigger societies around them, their identity is being lost. National Geographic wants to capture the scientific aspect of their uniqueness.

Two other companies will test your DNA for a fee. They are Oxford Ancestors in the UK and Family Tree DNA in the USA. Both offer a variety of tests, some with more detail than others. I have had two DNA tests run on my father's side, or what is known as y-DNA. And I have had one test run on my mother's side, or mt-DNA. All tests were run by Family Tree.

There were approximately 60,000 people living in Europe at the end of the last Ice Age, from whom, pretty much all the rest of us are descended. The tests that are run provide a likelihood of a match back to 50 generations, or about 1000 years.

On my father's side, we have some very interesting matches. By country, we have matches with people who can trace their oldest known ancestors to Germany, England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Ireland, France, Sweden, Nigeria, Puerto Rico and the USA. Also, we have six matches who do not know what country their ancestors came from. We have a total of 37 exact or partial matches.

The next thing to look at is genetic distance. This is best understood as the likelihood of matching people over 1000 years ago. While our DNA matches, more in depth testing would be needed to understand some of these relationships. In short, they are further away from us. There are 24 people who match us exactly.

The genetic distance comparison indicates our trail of migration. The folks with the most genetic distance from us are located in Germany, Northern Ireland, and Scotland, in that order. This indicates that our ancestors migrated from Germany, to Northern Ireland and Scotland, before England and Ireland. I am sure a history buff can figure out which wars caused that to happen.

Of all the matches that have been found, one is very intriguing. We have a direct match with a man named Douglas who is a descendant of the royal Douglas clan from Scotland. This is an extremely well documented family with a website just for their family. Why? Well, the last great King of Scotland was Robert The Bruce, who is in this family tree.
This match is most interesting to me in that I have corresponded with Mr. Douglas and they have no records of Ireland or Foley's. One of the DNA tests I had done was because we are in a rare subspecies, or Haplogroup. Mr. Douglas, of all of the matches found, is the only one to match our DNA and Haplogroup. Further study of the Douglas family tree also shows a name very familiar to County Waterford Ireland. The Sir John Ponsonby, Earl of Bessborough, also hails from the Douglas family. He and his heirs, accumulated 35,000 acres of land in Ireland by the second half of the 19th century. Sir John had come to Ireland with Oliver Cromwell in 1650 and was rewarded for his military efforts. The family went on to establish itself politically and held many offices in Ireland. Their ancestral home is near the city of Waterford in County Kilkenny.
The surnames and countries of oldest known ancestor, with whom we have exact DNA matches are as follows:
England: Little, Roper, Bayliss, Merewether
Germany: List, Goebel, Harper, Kerchner, Creager
Ireland: Quinn, Herrick, Conboy, Matthews
Scotland: Dunbar, Hamilton, Hamilton, Douglas
France: Poittier
Northern Ireland: Boyle, Boyle, Kincaid
Sweden: Strom
Nigeria: Bates
Puerto Rico: Ralat
USA: Powers, Fitz, Stinnett, Smith, Rowan, Nelson
Unknown ancestor origins: Yarbrough, Romodal, Townsend, McCollin, Ingram, Hunt.