A Little Bit of History

Maybe That’s Why I Like Falafels

I have had an interesting development for looking at my family tree that gives a new slant on my ancestry. Before I elaborate, I will just say that I’m a common or garden person with a common or garden family tree; containing a few modestly ambitious people and a couple of jailbirds. So what’s the new development (drum roll)… I’ve had a DNA test. It’s something that I’ve been wanting to do for some time and itching just recently to get on with.

I bought a kit from Ancestry and sent my spit sample back. Seriously, you have to spit about a 1/4 of a teaspoon of spit into a tube. It sounds simple but it wasn’t as easy as you think. It’s amazing how dry my mouth felt when I was doing this. Trying to fill up to the line of the tube took quite a bit of effort and I did wonder how long it would take me as you don’t include the bubbles. (I know that sounds a bit yuck.) Then you take off the attached and very small funnel and screw the lid on very tightly, which releases a blue liquid that stabilises the DNA on the trip to the laboratory. I bought the kit on the 8th August, received it on the 11th, sent it back the same day and got the results on the 17th September. They let you know when they receive the sample and when they start processing it. They give the estimate of 6-8 weeks but it really depends on how busy they are. The waiting is the difficult part. I pretty much knew what they would find – I’m of Welsh, Cornish and Romany descent – but it’s the wondering about what else they would find.

The DNA Test

Here’s a very layman explanation of the DNA test. The test is on the autosomal chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (XX for females and XY for males.) In lots of ancestral DNA tests they only concentrate on the sex chromosomes. The mitochondrial chromosome (mtDNA or X chromosome) follows the mother-line ancestry, that which only comes down via the mother. The Y chromosome (Y-DNA) follows the direct father line. Ancestry concentrate on the autosomal chromosomes which gives the full range of what you’ve inherited from both parents. The only downside is that they are unable to differentiate between them, so you won’t know what is from you mother or your father, unless you have a good general idea from you family tree.

The DNA Results

So here’s a screen cap of my results.

Click on the image if you need a closer view

So the top two aren’t very surprising. Great Britain 59% and Scandinavia 15%. I was surprised at the amount of Scandinavian there is as the only trace I can find of it is via the surname Osgood from a marriage of my 5x great grandparents in 1778. Osgood is Nordic – Os meaning tribe, and Good being the tribal name. Interestingly it’s supposedly the same tribe that the legendary Beowulf came from. How cool is that! So, Ireland 10%. This was surprising as I have no known Irish ancestry – and believe me, I’ve looked. But I am of Welsh and Cornish descent, so that’s a Celtic connection somewhere. Apparently, genetic research has shown that the Welsh, like the Irish, have a genetic link to the Basque region of Northern Spain and South Western France, so maybe that’s why Ireland is there. But I still wonder if there’s Irish blood somewhere. In 2003 I visited Ireland with my Mum. Whilst there I did get asked if I was Irish. I have pale skin, grey/blue eyes and very dark hair.

“What’s you surname?” “Clark.” “Well then, you’re Irish.”

Well, if they’re convinced, I am.

The Romany side of my family is quite interesting. They originally came from the northern region of the Indian subcontinent about 1,500 years ago, arrived in Europe about 1000 years ago and then in the UK round about the 1500s. So I was expecting a little more diversity in my DNA results to account for all the countries they travelled through over such a long period of time. It may account for the Europe West 9%. My gypsy roots go back to a great, great grandmother whose maiden name was Frankum. This comes from the French franc homme – free man – quite a good name for a traveller. So it seems safe to say that there seems to be some French blood there.

The migration of the Romanies through the Middle East and Northern Africa to Europe
The migration of the Romanies through the Middle East and Northern Africa to Europe

The trace regions in the results are a little more dubious. Anything with a percentage of 3 or less may or may not be accurate. Imagine tuning a radio but still getting some fuzzy background noise. You can hear what is being said, but may not quite catch one or two words. It the same with these trace regions. They maybe accurate or they maybe just noise, or incorrectly identified. I can’t account for the 1% European Jewish. Maybe I do have Jewish blood somewhere. Maybe that’s why I like falafels.

Have you had a DNA test for your ancestry? How did you feel about your results?

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