Will ancestry DNA tests tell me my family origins?

I have taken several DNA tests for ancestry, including those provided by the FT-DNA, 23andMe, and Living DNA companies.  Unusual for a tester, I am actually of a single population, very local, well documented ancestry here in East Anglia, South-East England.  I'm not someone in the Americas or Australia, that might have very little clue what parts of the world that their ancestors lived in, previous to immigration.  I know my roots, I'm lucky.  I live them.  You might ask, why did I feel the need to test DNA for ancestry?  The answer is, curiosity, to test the documented evidence, fill the gaps, look for surprises, and in particular, to understand the longer term, to reach further back into my ancestry.

I have though, become a bit of a skeptic, even a critic, of autosomal DNA (auDNA) tests for ancestry.  They are the tests presented by the businesses in results called something like Ancestry, Family Ancestry, Origins, Family, Composition, etc.  Instead of testing the haplogroups on either the direct paternal (Y-DNA), or direct maternal (mtDNA), these tests scan the autosomal and X chromosomes.  That's good, because that is where all of the real business is, what makes you an individual.  However, it is subject to a phenomena that we call genetic recombination (the X chromosome is a little more complicated).  This means that every generation circa 50% of both parents DNA is randomly inherited from each parent.  I said randomly.  Each generation, that randomness chops up the inherited segments smaller, and moves them around.  After about seven or eight generations, the chances of inheriting any DNA from any particular ancestral line quickly diminishes.  It becomes washed out by genetic recombination.

Therefore, not only are the autosomes subject to a randomness, and genetic recombination - they are only useful for assessing family admixture only over the past three hundred years or so.  There is arguably, DNA that has been shared between populations much further back, that we call background population admixture.  It survived, because it entered many lines, for many families, following for example, a major ancient migration event.  If this phenomena is accepted - it can only cause more problems and confusion, because it can fool results into suggesting more recent family admixture - e.g. that a great grandparent in an American family must have been Scandinavian, when in fact many Scandinavians may have settled another part of Europe, and admixed with that ancestral population, more than one thousand years ago.

DNA businesses compare segments of auDNA, against those in a number of modern day reference populations or data sets from around the world.  They look for what segments are similar to these World populations, and then try to project, what percentages of your DNA is shared or similar to these other populations.  Therefore:

  1. Your results will depend on the quality and choice of geographic boundary, allocated to any reference population data set.  A number of distinct populations of different ancestry and ethnicity may exist with in them, and cross the boundaries into other data sets.  How well are the samples chosen? Do they include urban people (that tend to have more admixture and mobility than many rural people).  Do they include descendants of migrants that merely claim a certain ancestry previous to migration?What was the criteria for sample selection?
  2. Your results might be confused by background population admixture.
  3. You are testing against modern day populations, not those of your ancestors 300 - 500 years ago.  People may well have moved around since then.  In some parts of the World, they certainly have!

It is far truer to say that your auDNA test results reflect shared DNA with modern population data sets, rather than to claim descent from them.  For example, 10% Finnish simply means that you appear to share similar DNA with a number of people that were hopefully sampled in Finland (and hopefully not just claim Finnish ancestry) - not that 10% of your ancestors came from Finland.  That is, for the above reasons, presumptuous.  It might indeed suggest some Finnish ancestry, but this is where many people go wrong, it does not prove ancestry from anywhere.

Truth

This is my main quibble.  So many testers take their autosomal (for Family/Ancestry) DNA test results to be infallible truths.  They are NOT.  White papers do not make a test and analysis system perfect and proven as accurate.  Regarding something as Science does not make it unquestionable - quite the opposite.  The fact of the matter is, if you test with different companies, different siblings, add phasing, you receive different ancestry results.  Therefore which result is true and unquestionable?

A Tool for further investigation

So what use is DNA testing for ancestry?  Actually, I would say, lots of use.  If you take the results with a pinch of salt, test with different companies, then it can help point you in a direction.  Never however take autosomal results as infallible.  Critical is to test with companies with well thought out, high quality reference data sets.  Also to test with companies that intend to progress and improve their analysis and your results.

For DNA relative matching, then sure, the companies with the best matching system, the largest match (contactable customer) databases, and with custom in the regions of the world that you hope to match with. There is also, GEDmatch.  Personally, I find it thrilling when I match through DNA, but in truth, I had more genealogical success back in the days when genealogists posted their surname interests in printed magazines and directories. 

The results of each ancestry test should be taken as a clue.  Look at the results of testers with more proven documented and known genealogies.  Learn to recognise what might be population background, as opposed to recent admixture in a family.  Investigate haplogroup DNA - it has a relative truth, although over a much longer time, and wider area.  Just be aware that your haplogroup/s represent only one or two lines of descent - your ancestry over the past few thousand years may not be well represented by a haplogroup.  Investigate everything.  Enjoy the journey.  Explore World History.

Breaking through? My Brooker line - the Hagbourne records

Hagbourne St Andrews, Berkshire.  By Andrew Mathewson [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.

I have recently become aware, that there were Brooker families, including John Brookers born circa 1722 in the parish of Hagbourne, only 5 km / 3 miles by road, from Long Wittenham, where my ancestor john Brooker, married to a Mary, fathered several children between 1749 and 1760.  I'm here collating evidence and data.  The problem is that there are TWO candidates for my direct ancestor in the same parish.  One baptised 1721 (the son of widower, Elizabeth Brooker (nee Fox), and the late John Brooker), the other 1722 (son of John and Ursula Brooker (nee Deadman).  I have to somehow decide which one it is, if either.  Both families may descend from a Thomas and Anne Brooker, that were in the village, married before 1662.

Hagbourne Parish Register Transcript CD-ROM OXF-WAL02

Marriages

  • 1679 15 Jun BROOKER Thomas to HIDE Lettice
  • 1694 6 Oct BRUCKER John to HEWS Martha
  • 1698 12 Nov BRUCKER Lawrance to WOODLEY Anne
  • 1700 5 Jun HOLDER John Aston Upthorpe to BRUCKER Mary widow
  • 1714 20 Jun JONES Edward to BROOKER Mary
  • 1716 24 Feb BROOKER John to DEADMAN Ursula
  • 1720 27 Nov BROOKER John to FOX Elizabeth
  • 1721 3 Sep CHILD Luke to BROOKER Anne
  • 1728 23 Feb BROOKER John to ACRES Sarah

Baptisms

  • 1662 Apr 1 BROOKER John s. Thomas & Anne
  • 1667 Sep 3 BROOKER Anne d. Thomas & Anne
  • 1673 11 BROOKER William s. Thomas & Anne
  • 1679 Apr 5 BROOKER Marie d. Thomas & Anne
  • 1680 Aug 8 BROOKER Marie d. Thomas & Lettice

Gap

  • 1696 May 21 BRUCKER Anne d. Thomas & Lettice

Gap

  • 1712 18 BRUCKER John (no parents!)
  • 1714 18 BRUCKER Anne d. William & Elizabeth
  • 1714 24 BRUCKER Martha (no parents)
  • 1718 May 4 BROOKER Mary d. John & Ursula
  • 1719 Jan 3 BROOKER Elizabeth d. John & Ursula
  • 1721 Oct 21 BROOKER John s. Elizabeth widow
  • 1722 Dec 2 BROOKER John s. John & Ursula
  • 1725 Oct 24 BROOKER William s. John & Ursula
  • 1730 Dec 13 BROOKER William s. John & Ursula

BURIALS (FindMyPast Berkshire Burial Index)

  • 30 Mar 1721 John Brooker St Andrews, Hagbourne (appears to be late husband of Elizabeth Fox?)
  • 12 May 1745 John Brooker St Andrew, Hagbourne
  • 4 jun 1783 John Brooker St Andrew Hagbourne

MARRIAGES (FindMyPast England Marriages 1538-1973)

23 Feb 1728  John Brooker to Sarah Acres, Hagbourne.

MARRIAGES (FindMyPast Sarum Marriage Licence)

02 Oct 1745 John Brooker to Ann Dearlough at Blewbury.  grooms parish Hagbourne.

So, 

Likely founder is Thomas Brooker & Anne married before 1662, OR Thomas Brooker that married Lettice Hide 1679, OR John Brucker and Martha Hews that married Oct 1694.

Both John Seniors (circa 1695) could have been grandchildren of Thomas & Anne Brooker.  One, son of Thomas & Lettice.  The other of John & Martha.

John Senior 1 married Elizabeth Fox in Nov 1720.  He died Mar 1721!  She gave birth to son John Junior 1 in Oct 1721.

John Senior 2 married Ursula Deadman in Feb 1716.  They had children between 1718 and 1730 - Mary, Elizabeth, William (x2), and son John junior 2 in Dec 1722.  He may have died May 1745.

Surviving in village was a John Brooker that married Ann Dearlough Oct 1745.  Junior 1 or 2?

My John Brooker had children at Long Wittenham 1749 - 1760 with his wife mary (married circa 1748?)  Included a Martha, Anne, John, Sarah, and Mary.  Junior 1 or 2?

  • Gen 11: Thomas & Anne (mar. before 1662) Did the same Thomas later marry Lettice? 
  • Gen 10: John (b. 1662.  Mar. 1694 to Martha)  John (mar Ursula 1716), John (mar Elizabeth 1720), William (b. 1673.)
  • Gen 9: John 1 (b 1721 John & Elizabeth) John 2 (b 1722 John & Ursula) William (John & Ursula 1725)

Resolution.

I need to see marriages of all John seniors (1694, 1716, 1720).  Two could have been same guy (2nd as widower).  I do think there were two John Seniors, because John & Ursula had kids contemporary to John & Elizabeth.  Martha could have died, replaced by Elizabeth?

Update.

A member of the Facebook Berks and Bucks Ancestors and Genealogy Group, dug up the burial of Junior 1.  Widow Elizabeth's young son tragically died, and was buried at Hagbourne 12th January 1723.

Now can I tie Junior 2 (son of John Brooker and Ursula (nee Deadman) to my ancestor, John Brooker, married to Mary, at Long Wittenham?

Counting the SNPs - 23andMe V FT-DNA

Comparing 23andMe V4 kit raw file to FT-DNA raw file.

Both tests were taken by myself this year (2016).  I am here comparing the quality of two separate atDNA tests from the same person, by two different DNA for Ancestry companies.  As will be seen, the quality varies considerably, at least in terms of the number of SNPs that are tokenized once forwarded to GEDmatch.com.  This is NOT a test of how well both companies ascertain our DNA ancestry from these files.  Both use their own reference populations and analysis programs.  I've reviewed that elsewhere.  This test simply weighs how many SNPs are registered from the autosomes and X chromosome of one person.

Using the GEDmatch DNA file diagnostic utility, I received the following SNP counts:

Kit M551698 (23andMe V4)

Token File data:
Chr Token SNP Count
1 40974
2 42110
3 34199
4 31020
5 30421
6 36383
7 26352
8 27900
9 23644
10 27888
11 25363
12 25395
13 19880
14 15957
15 15529
16 16551
17 13745
18 16775
19 9006
20 13530
21 7324
22 7386
X 15359

Processed in batch 5355
Number of SNPs utilized by GEDmatch template = 523997
Number of regular SNPs = 517780
Heterozygosity index = 0.302721 (fraction of total SNPs that are heterozygous)
No-calls = 4911 = 0.93956084952678 percent.
Kit M551698 has approximately 19959 total matches with other kits. Of these matches there are 4982 >= 7cM and 14977 < 7cM.


Kit T444495 (FT-DNA file):

Chr Token SNP Count
1 57931
2 59602
3 47094
4 41772
5 39314
6 47546
7 36567
8 36753
9 30643
10 36889
11 35941
12 35850
13 26763
14 22650
15 20899
16 21935
17 18379
18 22586
19 12773
20 19587
21 10001
22 9750
X 19176

Processed in batch 5914
Number of SNPs utilized by GEDmatch template = 709242
Number of regular SNPs = 694324
Heterozygosity index = 0.281384 (fraction of total SNPs that are heterozygous)

No-calls = 16077 = 2.263088030563 percent.

Kit T444495 has approximately 48755 total matches with other kits. Of these matches there are 9351 >= 7cM and 39404 < 7cM.

Conclusion

If the quality of a raw atDNA file is merely down to the number of SNPs that are tested, then FT-DNA clearly wins hands down, when compared with the 23andMe file, following tokenization for GEDmatch use.  The FT-DNA file utilises 709,209 SNPs compared with 23andMe's 523,997 SNPs

I thought that it might be interesting to compare how these files, of the same person, might compare on the same GEDmatch heritage admixture program.

On Eurogenes K13 Oracle, my 23andMe kit gets as top ten closest GD's:

1 South_Dutch 3.89
2 Southeast_English 4.35
3 West_German 5.22
4 Southwest_English 6.24
5 Orcadian 6.97
6 French 7.63
7 North_Dutch 7.76
8 Danish 7.95
9 North_German 8.17
10 Irish 8.22

On the same, using my FT-DNA kit (with many more SNPs tested as demonstrated above:

1 Southeast_English 3.75
2 South_Dutch 4.03
3 West_German 5.42
4 Southwest_English 5.68
5 Orcadian 6.33
6 North_Dutch 7.15
7 Danish 7.36
8 Irish 7.59
9 West_Scottish 7.62
10 North_German 7.7

Based on the numbers of SNPs tokenized, I will in future regard the FT-DNA (Family Tree DNA) file as superior in quality, over the 23andMe file, despite my disappointment in the FT-DNA My Origins ancestry analysis.

FTDNA (Family Tree DNA) My Origins Autosome Test for Ancestry

I know I should have smiled!  Me, myself sitting outside of the archaeology museum earlier this year, at Sofia, Bulgaria.South-West Europe.

FT-DNA Family Finder My Origins

I haven't posted much coherent lately, because, well, my Life changed, and consequently I've been pretty busy, in a very good way.  However, my exploration into genetic genealogy hasn't ceased at all.  Indeed, I took advantage of the Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) Summer sale, and bought the USD $79 Family Finder test.

No need to send a fresh sample, this was the third test from the sample that I sent to FT-DNA's US lab earlier this year.  FTDNA Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test only, without haplogroup results - but I've tested my Y-DNA to death already, and I know my mtDNA haplotype.  The services supplied include relationship matching, raw file download, and an Ancestry analysis named My Origins.  Hey, for that price, in GBP £, that is el cheapo good value.  And it's a good test, with about 690,000 SNPs tested, against 23andMe's current 577,382.  Smoking.

My prime interests was in 1) comparing the raw data with 23andMe on GEDmatch, and 2) seeing what FTDNA My Origins has to say about my autosomal DNA for ancestry.

So what did I find.

The former, comparing raw data files, I've done.  But briefly, the calculators DO vary for the two files, but not by very much - except maybe, that on Eurogenes K13, the nearest GD on my FT-DNA file is closer to correct - putting SE English closer this time than South Dutch.

The latter?

Family Tree DNA reported My Origins as:

100% European.

Broken into:

36% British Isles
32% Southern Europe
26% Scandinavia
6% Eastern Europe

This is a pretty bizarre result.  36% almost hits dead on my 23andMe Ancestry Composition (spec) result for British Isles (32% before phasing, 37% after phasing with one parent).  Perhaps they are using a similarly biased reference?  I'll blog on that soon as well.

26% Scandinavian is massive.  23andMe AC spec reported 7% before phasing, and 2% after phasing with one parent.

That's pretty much my first report for Eastern European, except for DNA.land's claim of some Balkans (hence my excuse for the above photograph).

but .... 32% Southern Europe, really?  Let's go there next, off to Southern Europe now:



Family Tree DNA Family Finder data V 23andMe raw data on GEDMATCH

Background

I'm South-east English in known paper ancestry, ethnicity, and heritage - mainly Norfolk East Anglian, where I still live, close to many known ancestors. I have 207 recorded ancestors on my tree, over the past 380 years. The majority lived in Norfolk, but some were Oxfordshire, Lincolnshire, Suffolk, and Berkshire. All appear to be English, with English surnames, English religions and denominations, overwhelmingly East Anglian:

Generation 1 has 1 individual. (100.00%)

Generation 2 has 2 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 3 has 4 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 4 has 8 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 5 has 16 individuals. (100.00%)

Generation 6 has 29 individuals. (90.62%)

Generation 7 has 51 individuals. (79.69%)

Generation 8 has 47 individuals. (36.72%)

Generation 9 has 36 individuals. (14.84%)

Generation 10 has 10 individuals. (2.34%)

Generation 11 has 4 individuals. (0.39%)

Total ancestors in generations 2 to 11 is 207

I have previously tested 23andMe, FTDNA Y111, and FTDNA Big Y. My Y line is unusual, because it does originate in Western Asia, within the past few thousand years (L1b2c). However, there is no evidence of anything but European in any autosomal tests so far, so other than the Y, it appears to be washed out.

My 23andMe AC in spec mode (after phasing with one parent) is:

100% European

96% NW European

2% South European

2% broadly European


37% British & Irish

22% French & German

1% Scandinavian

36% broadly NW European

2% broadly South European


FTDNA Family Finder - My Origins


36% British Isles

32% Southern European

26% Scandinavian

6% Eastern European

I thought that it would be interesting to compare how a few important GEDMATCH calculators, see my raw data from Family Tree DNA, in comparison to the raw data from 23andMe:

GEDMATCH

23andMe raw data V ftDNA raw data

Eugenes K13 Oracle

23andMe data

Admix Results (sorted):

# Population Percent

1 North_Atlantic 47.58

2 Baltic 22.36

3 West_Med 15.65

4 East_Med 8.03

5 West_Asian 3.05

6 Red_Sea 1.42

7 Amerindian 0.74

8 South_Asian 0.71

9 Oceanian 0.46


Single population Sharing:


# Population (source) Distance

1 South_Dutch 3.89

2 Southeast_English 4.35

3 West_German 5.22

4 Southwest_English 6.24

5 Orcadian 6.97

6 French 7.63

7 North_Dutch 7.76

8 Danish 7.95

9 North_German 8.17

10 Irish 8.22


Family Tree DNA data

Admix Results (sorted):

# Population Percent

1 North_Atlantic 47.89

2 Baltic 22.68

3 West_Med 15.45

4 East_Med 7.41

5 West_Asian 3.11

6 Red_Sea 1.38

7 South_Asian 0.84

8 Amerindian 0.72

9 Oceanian 0.52


Single Population Sharing:


# Population (source) Distance

1 Southeast_English 3.75

2 South_Dutch 4.03

3 West_German 5.42

4 Southwest_English 5.68

5 Orcadian 6.33

6 North_Dutch 7.15

7 Danish 7.36

8 Irish 7.59

9 West_Scottish 7.62

10 North_German 7.7


Euogenes EUtest V2 K15

23andMe data

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent

1 North_Sea 33.42

2 Atlantic 27.98

3 West_Med 12.24

4 Baltic 10.42

5 Eastern_Euro 7.04

6 West_Asian 3.52

7 East_Med 3.14

8 Red_Sea 1.48

9 Amerindian 0.39

10 Oceanian 0.19

11 South_Asian 0.18


Single Population Sharing:


# Population (source) Distance

1 Southwest_English 2.7

2 South_Dutch 3.98

3 Southeast_English 4.33

4 Irish 6.23

5 West_German 6.25

6 North_Dutch 6.79

7 West_Scottish 6.84

8 French 6.85

9 North_German 6.89

10 Danish 7.26


Family Tree DNA data

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent

1 North_Sea 33.81

2 Atlantic 28.23

3 West_Med 12.04

4 Baltic 10.59

5 Eastern_Euro 6.84

6 West_Asian 3.66

7 East_Med 2.47

8 Red_Sea 1.46

9 Amerindian 0.35

10 South_Asian 0.31

11 Oceanian 0.25


Single Population Sharing:


# Population (source) Distance

1 Southwest_English 2.29

2 Southeast_English 4.02

3 South_Dutch 4.48

4 Irish 5.78

5 West_Scottish 6.41

6 North_Dutch 6.43

7 West_German 6.63

8 North_German 6.73

9 Danish 7.01

10 Orcadian 7.19


Gedrosia Eurasia K6 Oracle

23andMe data

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent

1 West_European_Hunter_Gartherer 39.18

2 Natufian 38.8

3 Ancestral_North_Eurasian 20.85

4 Ancestral_South_Eurasian 0.82

5 East_Asian 0.35


Family Tree DNA data

Admix Results (sorted):


# Population Percent

1 West_European_Hunter_Gartherer 39.57

2 Natufian 38.66

3 Ancestral_North_Eurasian 20.75

4 East_Asian 0.86

5 Ancestral_South_Eurasian 0.16

Building bridges and walls through ancestry

Copied from openstreetmap.org and modified under the Open Data Commons Open Database License.  

Bridges and Walls, Snakes and Ladders

I've noticed two perspectives within the broad scope of genealogy where it ties to population genetics.

  • Some people, those with nationalistic, right wing political views, frequently look for what divides their ancestry from others.  What defines and ties them to a historical population, or even to a land.  They may well want to prove connection to a romanticised historical group within their part of the world.
  • Others - those of a more international, liberal persuasion, instead tend to look for what unites them with other peoples alive today - what connects them within the community of humanity.

I have to confess to being more of the latter.

On Paper

I started out with a pretty well researched paper genealogical record.  A family tree.  A family history.  Researched through oral history, interviews, parish records, state records, and then on to digitalised records in more recent years.  A genealogical database of 1,570 individuals for my kids, and 207 direct ancestors recorded for myself - going back to the 1680s.  My recorded ancestry was 100% English - dominated by the County of Norfolk.  The majority of present day English perhaps have some non-English ancestry, perhaps Irish or Scottish, or something a little further afield.  I didn't find any.  All English surnames, and English denominations.  Some of those surnames however, did echo rather more ancient immigration from across the North Sea.

Autosomal DNA Testing

Autosomal DNA testing for ancestry provided a bit of a surprise.  I took a 23andMe DNA test, along with my mother, who's results I phased with to provide more accuracy.  The 23andMe Ancestry Composition analysis in standard mode didn't simply see me as English, or even as British.  It did see me pretty much as 100% European.  Not a hint of Africa nor Asia within the past several hundred years.  It saw 86% of my autosomal DNA as definitively North-West European.  However, it could only see a mere 17% as distinctly belonging to British & Irish.  So, the ancestry test of my autosomal DNA certainly agreed that I was European, NW European even, but couldn't be sure on how English or even British that I was.

23andMe Ancestry Composition in the very unreliable speculative mode rated my British/Irishness at only 37%.  The highest percentage of focus - but it saw 22% of my autosomal DNA ancestry as French / German, 1% as Scandinavian, and 2% as South European.  So considering my 100% English ancestry on paper, autosomal DNA testing couldn't really be very sure about my ancestry.  Even in speculative mode, it had 34% of my DNA as "Broadly NW European", meaning that it couldn't be sure, but somewhere in that corner of that continent.

Fair enough I suppose.  I've lost a certain amount of faith in any autosome DNA tests for ancestry to be able to pinpoint the English.  You see, even ignoring recent waves of immigration of Irish, Scottish, French, Germans, West Indians, South Asians, etc, etc.  The truth is that the English were already a very admixed population even 1,500 years before present.  Already a mixture of prehistoric populations, immigrants from across the Roman Empire, then from across the North Sea, from the Low Countries, Northern Germany, Denmark, Scandinavia, etc.  23andMe claim that their product reflects your ancestry 500 years ago.  No it does not.  It uses modern reference populations.  Genes have been circulating around the World for a long time.  Autosomal DNA tests for ancestry have really improved.  They are pretty good now for recognising a Continent - sometimes even a corner of a continent, as the source of some ancestry.  But they cannot pinpoint many populations with accuracy, and they cannot pinpoint the English.

So, my paper record said English.  My 23andMe autosome DNA test said North-West European, but couldn't even pinpoint British.  It suggested admixture.  It did however - this is important - only see me as European.  Okay, in Standard Mode, it did have a tiny 0.3% that it failed to assign to Europe, nor anywhere.  It did not see Asian.

Haplogroup DNA Testing

Haplogroups follow two narrow lines of ancestry.  The Y follows the direct paternal line, the MT follows the direct maternal.  They do not represent the bulk of your ancestry.  However, they can tell a more accurate, and longer term story.  Ancestry can be lost in Autosomal DNA within a few centuries.  In addition, it gets messed up through recombination.  Not so with the two haplogroups.  So where did mine come from?

My MT-DNA

There is an awful lot that we will know in future about our haplogroups, that we don't yet know - especially in the case of mt-DNA. However, we do know that my haplogroup, H6a1, did not originate in Europe.

H is common in Europe, and it most likely originated either there, or in South West Asia, during the Upper Palaeolithic. H6 did not originate in Europe.  It may be West or Central Asian in origin.  H6a1 has not been recovered in any ancient DNA within Western Europe.  However, it has been recovered in the DNA of the Yamnaya on the Eurasian Steppes.  For this reason, it is generally thought - based on evidence so far, to have been brought into Western Europe during the Early Bronze Age, by the expansion from the Eurasian Steppes at that time.

It isn't too fanciful - based on this evidence, to imagine that my distant grandmothers belonged to tribes of Early Bronze Age pastoralists, living on the Steppes of what is now the Ukraine.

My Y-DNA

This one has been a cracker for me.  Anyone that has followed my blog, might be getting bored with this.  I've thoroughly tested my Y-DNA.  It's not an exaggeration to suggest that it is quite likely Ancient Persian.  Based on current evidence, I believe that my Y-DNA arrived into England within the last millennia - probably between 350 and 800 years ago.  I'm still working on it's most likely route here.  I do believe that it was most likely still located in the region of Iran circa 1,000 to 2,000 years ago.  My nearest 111 STR match is to a guy in Australia who's paternal line lived in Birjand, Eastern Iran.  We shared a common ancestor around 2,000 years ago.  My terminal SNP is shared on record with only one other man so far - in the world.  He was a Balochi speaker that lives in Makran, SW Pakistan - close to the border with Iran.  The Balochi are believed to have migrated from North Iran between the 5th and 14th centuries AD.

Nomad camp, at the Zagros Mountains, Iran.  By C Whitely on Flickr under Creative Commons License.

A bit more distant, I have a Y cousin in the USA that maybe I shared a common ancestor with 3,000 years ago.  He is of Azores Portuguese descent on his Y line, but he carries a distinct STR marker that has been associated with the Parsi, who migrated to India and Pakistan, but originated in Iran.

And going further back, the Y haplogroup L most likely originated within the area of Iran and Iraq, during the Ice Age.  It would have been carried by Upper Paleolithic hunter-gatherers in that region.  13,000 years, I shared grandfathers with two Pontic Greek Y cousins, who's ancestors lived in Trazbon, Eastern Anatolia.  Maybe one Y ancestral son headed to the Black Sea, the other settled at the Caspian Sea?  The Ice Age was drawing to a close, but with a ferocity and climate instability that drove bands of people apart and into refuges at that time.

The Parsi connection keeps hinting.  They descend from Persians that worshiped the ancient religion of Zoroastrianism.  I've just seen a Y haplogroup study of men in Pakistan.  The background level of Y haplogroup L-M317 sat at 1.1%.  However, in the sample of Parsi men there - it spikes up to 13.3%.  That might not be the route however, of my Y line.  The SK1414 SNP turned up in that same study, but that was found on the Makrani Boluch man that was tested L-M317, not in the 12 Parsi men that also tested positive for L-M317.

Conclusion

I prefer bridges to walls, and that is what I got.  My paper ancestry said 100% English - much of it East Anglian.  I'm quite proud of that, but I'm equally proud of my more distant ancestors that emigrated here.  I've found North Sea admixture, from places such as the Netherlands and southern Scandinavia.  I've found a grandmother in a Bronze Age tribe of pastoralists in the Ukraine.  I've found ancient Persians, descending from hunters of Ibex in the Iran / Iraq region.  I've found distant cousins in the USA, Iran, Pakistan, Australia, and Turkey.

One species, one family.

The Other SK1414. My Cousin in Baluchistan

By Baluchistan on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence. No, this young man is not the SK1414 tester, but the mandolinist in me found this photo kind of cool.  A young man from Makran.  The other SK1414 tester was also a male Makrani Baloch.

I'm hot on the trail of my Y or paternal line, following my FTDNA Y111 STR, then Big Y tests.  These tests analysed the DNA on my Y chromosome.  It is passed down strictly from father to biological sons.  the mutations (SNP and STR) that can be identified in the Y-DNA, can be used to assess relationship, and in some cases, to date the time of most recent common ancestry.  So, with the assistance of Gareth Henson, administrator of the FT-DNA Y haplogroup L Project, and with help from my new distant cousins, what have I learned over the past few weeks?

The Smoking Gun of Y-DNA

Between 45,000 and 13,000 years ago, my paternal ancestors most likely were hunter-gatherers, that lived in the region of what is now Iran and Iraq, during the last Ice Age.  Some sharp changes in glaciation, and cold extremes towards the end of that period, may have generated a number of adaptations, and subsequently, split new sub clades of my Y haplogroup L.

13,000 years ago (based on the Big Y test), I share a common paternal great x grandfather with a number of distant cousins, that descend from Pontic Greek families from the Trabzon region in Turkey.

Between 3,000 and 1,000 years ago (based on the less accurate STR evidence at 111 marker), I share common paternal great x grandfather with another cousin, who's paternal line Habibi, can be traced back to the 1850's in the town of Birjand, Southern Khorasan, Eastern Iran, close to the modern Afghanistan border.  This closer cousin now lives in Australia.

Human male karyotpe high resolution - Y chromosome

My Big Y test produced no less than 90 previously unrecorded or known SNP (pronounced "snip") mutations.  That might be because my Y-DNA is rare, or / and, that it is mainly found in parts of the World where very few people test at this level.  The last SNP on the roll that had been seen before, has been called SK1414.  Because now two of us have tested for this SNP, it is my terminal SNP, so at the moment (although it still has to be submitted to the YFull Tree), I can declare my Y haplogroup sub clade designation to be L-SK1414.  Only one of two so far recorded in the World.

So, who is this Y cousin that shares my SK1414 mutation?

My Baluchistan Cousin

By Baluchistan on Flickr under a Creative Commons Licence.  Another photo from Makran, Balochistan.

The other SK1414 turned up during an early survey, back in the early 2000s by the Human Genome Diversity Project.  It turned up in a sample of the Baluchi in Makran, South-west Pakistan.  Could this cousin be closer than the Habibi tester?  Could my Habibi cousin, from an eastern Iranian family also carry SK1414?

The Baluch, are an Iranic people, that speak Baluchi, an Iranian language that belongs, as do most European languages, to the Indo-European linguistic family.  According to the Iran Chamber Society website, they moved to Makran during the 12th Century AD.  Traditionally the Baluch claim that they originated in Syria, but a linguistic study has instead suggested that they actully originated from the south east of the Caspian region, and that they moved westwards between the 6th and 12th centuries AD in a series of waves.  No other Y sub clade L1b (L-M317) have been found in Southern Asia outside of two samples of this survey, so perhaps the tester did have ancestry from Western Asia.

Iran regions map fr

It would seem likely that I do have a number of Y cousins, most likely in the region of Eastern Iran and South-Western Pakistan.  That doesn't necessarily follow though, that our most recent common Y ancestors lived there.  As I said above, the Baluch of Makrani, Pakistan are said to have migrated from further north-west, from the Caspian Sea region.

There is a tentative suggestion of a link to the Parsi. A Portuguese STR tester with a genetic distance (based on 67 markers) of 22, has (thanks again Gareth) "a distinctive value of 10 at DYS393. In the Qamar paper this value is found in the Parsi population".  So there is just the possibility also, of the Parsi ethnicity carrying L1b from Western Asia into Southern Asia.  Perhaps this marker was picked up by a Portuguese seafarer link to Southern Asia.  It could even be the link to my English line, via the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance.  A lot of speculation.  I don't think that M317 has been found yet in India.

Into England

I have found STR links with four people that carry the surname Chandler.  They live in England, Australia, and the USA.  These cousins appear to descend from a Thomas Chandler, that lived in Basingstoke during the 1740s.  That is 32 miles away from my own contemporary surname ancestor, John Brooker, who lived at the same time at the village of Long Wittenham in the Thames Valley.

Unfortunately three of the Chandlers have only 12 markers tested, and the fourth at 37 markers.  Therefore time of most recent ancestor is not accurate, but it looks as the Chandler and Brooker Y hg L testers of Southern England, most likely shared a common paternal great x grandfather sometime between 800 and 350 years ago.

That only these two lines have turned up, and that they are geographically and genetically so close, might suggest that our Y-DNA lineage arrived in Southern England around the late medieval, perhaps from between the 13th and 17th centuries AD.  It could just be through a Portuguese navigator link, or it could be through thousands of other routes.  More L-M20 testers could turn up in England in the future, that could push the arrival to an earlier date.

Today

I could have any number of cousins from south England.  The Brookers and Chandlers may well have other paternal line descendants living in the Thames Valley, Hampshire, London, or elsewhere.  I'd love to prove a Brooker from the Berkshire / Oxfordshire area, as sharing ancestry.  I believe for example, that the journalist Charlie Brooker descends from one of the Thames Valley families, although not necessarily from mine.  Do they carry the Y hg L?

My great great grandfather Henry Brooker, did not appear to have any more sons, other than my great grandfather John Henry Brooker - who in turn, only had one son, my grandfather Reginald John Brooker.

I have one Y haplogroup first cousin.  He has I believe, a son, and a grandson.