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Tuesday, 26 June 2018

23andme Ancestry DNA: My Thoughts Before The Results

I've always had an interest in ancestry, looking at old photographs and being able to go back through records to trace the path of the people before you. TV shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and Long Lost Family are among favourites of mine and it started me on my own journey.

In my opinion the way we view family history has changed significantly in the past 20-25 years. With social media, online archives and services offering Ancestry DNA tests you can break down the composition of yourself and your family better than before.
When I was growing up people would say they were "half this and half that" or "I'm 1/3 this, 1/3 that"...etc but now you can pinpoint your percentages better and actually learn a lot about when different nationalities came into play. For example if you have a percentage of French & German ancestry it could say it was more likely to come from a grandparent, great grandparent or great great grandparent between this year to this year.

For a lot of people family history is passed down by parents who have had it passed from their parents and so on, but that only gives you a generalised idea and with these Ancestry DNA kits it's been interesting watching people react to the percentages of what they are and have conflicting emotions by still wanting to identify with who they are from what their parents have told them.

Over the past two years I've started to do my family history and hit a bit of a wall. I have wanted to do 23andme over that time and I went with this service as opposed to others because it has a better following and from comparison videos it seems to have more data banks to break down the ancestry better than others. With Fathers Day coming round and it also being my dads birthday, 23andme had an offer on the kits so I ordered one for myself and my mum bought one for my dad as he was interested to do it too. 

The kit came, I followed the instructions, spit in the tube and sent it off. I didn't take any pictures of that as it was a little gross and to be honest I was counting down the 30 minutes where you couldn't eat or drink before doing it that I didn't take any photos of the kit itself but here is one I found on the website.

The results can take up to 6-8 weeks to come back so here I am eagerly awaiting but I wanted to write up this post beforehand and go through what I've been told growing up and what I would be expecting from these results.

As I mentioned I hit a wall with my family history and it was mainly with my mother's side of the family. I believe the majority of my mother's ancestry will be British & Irish but my granddad was a private man and didn't speak about his family much. Unfortunatly he passed away before I was born but my grandmother would always say there was talk about his family coming from a travellers background.
I don't know if that was an Irish Traveller background or a Roma Gypsy background but it was speculated to be a Roma Gypsy background and from what I know, Roma Gypsies originated from the pan-Indian continent and migrated into Europe over 1000 years ago. If this is true and it was passed down to me then I'd say I am more likely to have Southern or Eastern European DNA in my ancestry composite from her side as well.

My dad's side of the family is a whole other story as my dad identifies as Welsh having been born there but his father was born in England and there is talk that when going back through his family there is Scandinavian ancestry, so I'd expect to see more than British & Irish in the Northern European composite if it's true. With my dad's side of the family it again re-installs the notion that growing up we could identify as being "half this and half that" but we could also identify our background because of where we were born. When I was in my primary school years I would always say I was Half English and Half Welsh but classmates would say that I was English because I was born in England which again goes to show just how far we have come on this subject.

When going through all of this and looking at the migration of people and our world's history there would be some ancestry I wouldn't be surprised I had if I have it but it would be a conflict of emotions. I say this because there are many moments in history that as a society, we are not proud of. With the example of the slave trade between the 15th and 19th century, we've seen people who expect to be 100% European have small percentages of Sub Saharan African ancestry that became present during that time period. Historically my family could of partook in that in some way but it's something you wouldn't want your family to have done and that's why I would be conflicted. 

From the pictures above you can see that I grew up with very dark brown eyes and my hair got darker as I got older too, this leads me to suspect the rumours on my mothers side more than the rumours on my dads side. At the end of the day I expect to be near if not 100% European and I say that because some markers can be "unassigned" which is when they cannot pinpoint any area/region and I've seen many people have between 0.1% - 0.4% unassigned before. If I was to give percentages and go with what my family have said I would lay it out that I was around 80% British and Irish, around 10% Broadly Northwestern European and then the last 10% would be Eastern and/or Southern European. 

Have you done 23andme or any other Ancestry DNA test? If not, would it be something you'd like to do? Comment below I'd love to know.

As always, thanks for reading...

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