The results were uploaded to my 23andMe profile today. I posted/registered the sample from the UK, nine weeks ago. The sample traveled to the USA lab via a NL holding depot. It took six weeks to process the sample and results, from the time of being marked as arriving at the USA lab. I feel very fortunate, as many 23andMe customers are reporting a seasonal log-jam that is delaying the process. My results though were comfortably within the proposed time frame.
There were a number of pleasant surprises. The results were far from boring.
Genetic Risk Factors
An amusing little trait, that IS identified by the DNA analysis, is on Asparagus Metabolite Detection. When I eat asparagus, my urine smells strongly. It confirms for me - that the system works! It also correctly identifies that I have a sweet tooth, that I have blue eyes, etc.
Now to the genetic genealogy goodies.
The genetic marker that I inherit from my strictly paternal lineage - father's father, father, and so on, going back. On paper, I've traced this back to a John Brooker, that lived in Oxfordshire, but was born outside of that county, perhaps in nearby Berkshire, circa 1785. Of course, that is if no-one ever lied in forms over who the father was.
This one was a shocker. A little background first. Although my paper ancestry over the past 350 years is overwhelmingly localised in parts of the county of Norfolk, in East Anglia, my paternal-line surname carrier, that should be the donor of my Y chromosome marker, or Y-DNA, can be traced to Oxfordshire, in Wessex. Out of my eight paper great grandparents, seven were Norfolk born and bred. However, the exception was my paternal great grandfather. Therefore I would not expect my Y-DNA to belong to any local Norfolk gene-pool. It is the least representative lineage for my heritage. This is why I feel that people can sometimes place too much value on their haplogroups. I did however, expect it to belong to a common English or British haplogroup such as the Y-DNA R1b group.
I was in for a surprise. It is exotic L2*.
From initial research including an Internet search, this haplogroup forms only a rare back scatter across Europe. It appears more commonly across Western Asia and the Sub-Continent, from Turkey to Southern India. It is most common in Pakistan, where it may originate, circa 30,000 years ago. It is not a common European Y-DNA haplogroup. I need to more carefully research this in the near future, but I'm in awe to find that I have an exotic Y-DNA. It does conjure up images of one of my paternal ancestors being a Syrian archer, or Persian mercenary in the Roman Army, fathering a child, while stationed in Britannia, or perhaps elsewhere in Roman Europe. But that might be too fanciful. Anyway, I'm having pheasant curry for dinner tonight.
This genetic marker should be shared with my son, and my brother. A few of my first cousins will also have it.
The genetic marker that I inherit from my strictly maternal lineage - mother's mother, mother and so on back. On paper, I've traced it back to a Mary Page, who was born in 1802, in Norfolk. I like the maternal line, as it is actually the most biologically secure. Few forms lie about who the mother is. I'd expect my mt-DNA to be a haplogroup firmly established in East Anglia.
A nice one to have. It is H6a1.
This haplogroup belongs to the Helena group. However, it is not ancient European. H6 is believed to have mutated from H around 30,000 years ago in Central Asia.
H6a1 has recently been associated with the Yamnaya migration into Western Europe, from the Eurasian Steppes to the north of the Black Sea, some 4,000 to 5,500 years ago. In Europe itself, it could be associated with a number of Early Bronze Age cultures, the Corded Ware culture. It has been linked with the R1b Y haplogroup, that dominates Western European countries such as Ireland, France, and the British Isles. Recent studies have indeed suggested a significant displacement of people in Western Europe, that occurred in late prehistory, with the arrival of pastoralists from Eurasia. This migration is also associated with the rise of the dominant Indo-European linguistic group of Europe. If H6a1 does indeed prove to be linked to the Indo-European explosion of the early Bronze Age, I'd be very happy. I like to imagine one of my maternal ancestors 5,500 years ago, accompanying a band of prehistoric pastoralists, that are heading westwards into Europe with their horses.
This genetic marker will be shared with my mother, my brother, my sisters, and their children. A few cousins will also share it.
This is an area that I've been trying to understand recently. It uses computer analysis, to compare my autosome DNA to a number of others in reference populations from around the World, which then composes suggested ancestry in percentages. This magic attempts to look not at a few genetic markers or haplogroups, but at all of the patterns in my autosomal DNA, to predict likely ancestry on any lineages that survive in my DNA.
Previous to receiving my results, I recently revised and bolstered up my paper genealogy based family tree, I now have 172 direct ancestors listed, going back to Generation 14 during the 17th Century. I noted that all, and everyone of my paper recorded ancestors were English. All of them. That includes all of my eight grandparents, all of my sixteen great great grandparents, and thirty of my thirty two great great great grandparents. That is 100% English.
Now, I'm sure that you'd agree, I should be expecting my 23andMe ancestry composition to give 100% English, right? Well no. They can't presently identify an ethnic group like the English. Instead, I should expect my results to fall 100% into the British & Irish category.
100% British & Irish? No, I'll give this one early. it was 32% British & Irish on speculative mode. More on this further down.
My paper research before I received my results also revealed just how concentrated, most of my ancestry has been over the past 350 years. I compiled the below map of East Anglia. The BLUE marking the places of ancestral events from my family tree on my father's side; and the RED marking the places of ancestral events on my mother's side. The larger the marker, the more events recorded.
I also made a map based on East Norfolk during the 4th Century AD, before sea levels fell, and drainage changed the coastline. I then marked out the area of my mother's ancestry on that.
60% British & Irish
10% French & German
25% unidentified broadly NW European
People of Irish heritage, or even Americans with either Irish or British ancestry, tend to score a higher percentage of British & Irish than do the present day ethnic English. 23andMe has a generous and growing reference population in it's British & Irish database. However I hypothesised that 1) the 23andMe B&I reference is skewed to the Irish, and away from English. It is also possible that it is distorted by a case of genetic drift by testing Americans of British origin. 2) that the British & Irish designation may actually be inadvertently looking at DNA that arrived in the British Isles largely previous to the early medieval North Sea migrations. To the British and Irish genes that have been here since late prehistory. On the other hand, the French & German, the Scandinavian, and perhaps some of the undesignated Broadly NW European percentages that are usually assigned to the ethnic English, may actually reflect early medieval migration from across the North Sea. The computer analysis is simply unable to distinguish some of the DNA from that of present day French, Germans, or Scandinavians, because of ancient admixture.
I'm told that this would not be the case, that 23andMe ancestral composition could not detect such deep, ancient admixture. However, what if I am correct about my own heritage - that I likely have enhanced levels of Anglo-Saxon and perhaps Norse heritage, because of the geographical location of so many of my ancestors? Should I not expect even lower percentage of the 23andMe British & Irish category, and even higher percentages of other NW Europeans from across the North Sea? So what was my 23andMe ancestry composition percentages (speculative mode)?
100% European. Broken down into:
94% NW European.
3% South European.
I'll get to the South European later, but what about this North west European? Let's break it down into 23andMe's sub categories:
32% British & Irish
27% French & German
29% undistinguished broadly NW European
Oh my goodness. It correctly fits my prediction. I have more than double the average percentage of F&G and Scand for English people. Despite having a paper researched genealogy that is 100% English, 23andMe's ancestry composition based on a generous reference sample size of 1251 sets, gives me 32% British & Irish.
So a predicted, but still incredibly exciting result. I'm chuffed to bits. It does in my eyes, blow 23andMe's British & Irish designation out of the water though. Their reference samples do not appear to match the East English. Instead, their software misreads some of the English DNA for French & German, or Scandinavian. I'm suggesting that this is because of ancient admixture, during the 4th to 11th centuries AD, with North Sea immigration. I invite others to knock my suggestion down.
One more surprise from my Ancestry Composition: A South European 2.7%. Broken down into 23andMe's sub categories:
2.4% undistinguished broadly South European
This looks real. It appears that I have a small percentage of South European heritage. Most likely from Spain, Portugal, or Basque. I probably have Iberian ancestry that I have not yet detected using paper genealogy. Either that, or it's an anomaly, a incorrect interpretation.
An estimated 2.9%.
That's just slightly above the average of 2.7% for modern Europeans. So I am not more Neanderthal than most others. Sorry to disappoint.
All in all, very happy that I spent the money.
First of all, I haven't mentioned the mandolin for a while. Gary Nava of Nava Guitars has commenced building my commissioned mandolin at his nearby workshop.
The first photo! The herringbone pattern for the rosette. He's now just waiting on the set of Robson tuners to be manufactured.
I'm really looking forward to that.
On the 23andMe progress, my sample passed through DNA extraction, quality review, and has now reached the final process of computing. Judging by what I can see on the forum, I should hopefully receive the results within the next few weeks. This is my learning curve. Trying to get a better grasp of how I should interpret and use those results when I receive them.
I've been looking at the ancestral composition results that ethnic English people, with a strong English heritage receive from 23andMe. There is a pattern - but it isn't "100% English". It appears, using speculative mode, on average to be something close to:
60% B&I (British & Irish)
10% F&G (French & German)
2% Scand (Scandinavian)
25% Broadly NW Europe/
At first I wondered if B&I represented the populations that settled the British Isles and Ireland during late prehistory, and the F&G / Scand represented the Early Medieval waves of immigration from across the North Sea. However, no, it appears that it does not represent such ancient admixture at all. It merely represents the failure of ancestral profiling, using current representative samples, to successfully distinguish and recognise the English! Bizarrely, not only the Irish appear to commonly score higher on British & Irish, than do the British, but so do many Americans of British origin!
On the Genealogy front, I want to use open source maps to draw the locations of all of my East Anglian ancestors. There is also always more tidying to do to the family tree database.
I've now been running with dogs for over three months. We've run a total of around 220 miles. Do I feel better for it? Hell yes.
The above map has been modified from an original copied from © OpenStreetMap contributors
I have plotted my ancestral places that are tagged in my Gramps genealogical GEDCOM database. These Places represent events -births, baptisms, marriages, or residence, etc. These Places belong to my direct ancestors, although they may also include siblings of ancestors. Overall, I have modified this map in order to illustrate the distribution of my East Anglian (almost entirely of the County of Norfolk, with a few over the border in Suffolk) ancestors over the past 350 years - as so far revealed by paper genealogical research.
The BLUE markers represent the places of my father's recorded ancestors. The RED markers represent the places of my mother's recorded ancestors. The more events recorded for any place, the larger the marker. You can click on the image in order to see a full resolution image.
The RED markers include pretty much all events for my mother's ancestors, as presently recorded in my family history database. She has no recorded ancestry from outside of Norfolk, for the past 350 years. She has an incredibly strong Norfolk ancestry. Particularly in the East of Norfolk.
The BLUE markers do not cover all of my father's recorded ancestors, as I have also detected ancestry for him in Oxfordshire, London, and possibly Lincolnshire. These ancestors lived outside of the mapped area.
When my mother and father initially met each other in 1956, they believed that they came from quite different parts of Norfolk, from opposite sides of the City of Norwich, with my father moving from East Dereham to my mother's neighbourhood in the Hassingham area. Yet this map suggests that over the past 350 years, some of their ancestors have lived much closer. The chances of them both sharing common ancestry during the Medieval, or even more recently are good.
This might support the findings of the POBI (People of the British Isles) 2015 study, that not only emphasised the homogeneous nature of the English, but also suggested that the old Anglo-Saxon kingdoms could still be detected as localised gene pools to today.
I have previously created the below map, using red dappling to mark out the main zone of my mother's ancestry, onto a map of East Norfolk, as it would have appeared during the 5th Century AD, before sea levels fell, and drainage works created the more recent Norfolk coast:
My hypothesis is that my mother's ancestors clustered in an area of East Anglia, that would most likely have experienced an influx of North Sea immigration between the 4th and 11th centuries AD from Frisia, and perhaps Angeln and Denmark.
I also modified the below map from Wikimedia Commons. Attribution is: By Nilfanion [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons. This map, as the legend states, illustrates the distribution of my recorded direct ancestors (bother on my father's and mother's sides are in RED) across the wider area of England at a single generation level, based between 1756 to 1810. It suggests a combined ancestry, concentrated in Norfolk, East Anglia, but with a few lineages in Wessex / Mercia.
I recently had another little bash at Internet Genealogy, principally using the NORS online database at the Norfolk FHS website, and FamilySearch.org. I think that the ancestors will soon dry up from these resources, but I clutched several new families, and a few new ancestral locations.
All of this new batch are on my mother's side of my Norfolk ancestry. I'm pleased that some of my recent additions have centred on Moulton St Mary's. It's my favourite church in that area. I took the above photo of it years ago. I discovered that one of my ancestors, Thomas Barker, was born there around 1801. I've seen Moulton a few times recently. During the same research, I discovered that two other ancestors - Robert Waters, and Elizabeth Ransby were also married at that church, in 1795. Otherwise, the Waters appear to have been a Freethorpe family. Both were born at Freethorpe around 1771. Their children were all to be baptised at Freethorpe. I think that a nice idea for a series of future posts, would to be to focus on one ancestral parish or location at a time. Associate it with my ancestors that lived there or passed through, see what Internet local history and any photographs that I can dig up.
Blofield has cropped up a few times as well. My ancestors Thomas Dingle and Mary Ginby for example, were married there in 1782. Thomas Dingle was from "Bradiston", which I eventually ascertained was Brayderston, a hamlet on the Blofield side of Strumpshaw. Mary Ginby on the other hand, came from a family of Gynby, in a new village for the tree. Several miles to the north, from the village of Woodbastwick, close to Salhouse.
Most of my mother's paper ancestors lived on the loam soils north of the River Yare in East Norfolk. However, sometimes I find lineages that have crossed the river from the south. I found that this was the case with my ancestor Mary Gorll. It turns out that she was born during 1741 in the small town of Loddon. Spellings of her family surname in Loddon, varied from Gorll to Gall, Gaull, and Gaul. She went on to marry my ancestor Henry Rose, at Loddon in 1768, and later they crossed the river to settle in Strumpshaw.
Finally, I also got a bit lucky with my Merrison / Morrison ancestors. Benjamin Merrison married my ancestor Lydia Norton at Lingwood in 1796. They raised their children at Lingwood, including my ancestor Hopeful Barker (nee Morrison). However, I didn't know where Benjamin Merrison originated from. Without transcripts and online indexing, I'd have been very lucky to find stray ancestors like Benjamin - people that move from more than one or two parishes away. It turns out that he was baptised as Benjamin Marison in 1759 at the hamlet of Repps-with-Bastwick, between Thurne and Bastwick, near to the River Thurne.
There you are. New families on my mother's side - Gaul, Ransby, Morrison, Gynby. New ancestral parishes in Norfolk - Loddon, Braydeston, Woodbastwick, and Repps-with-Bastwick.
So here I am away from home on a training course. Other professionals may recognise this world. We are put up in hotels, where amongst families, couples, and holiday travellers, we spot the other delegates, reps, engineers, trainees, contractors and consultants of our kind - the workers. Fitness wise, our stays in these places can be a mixed blessing. Hotel gyms abound, but then we have to control our intake of restaurant nosh, and visits to the hotel bar.
I sneaked the above image on one such visit to the bar (I excused my sin on having run a virtual five miles earlier on a treadmill in the gym). There were four people sitting near to the bar. All men, on their own.
Back for example, during the 1970s, they would most likely sit right at the bar on the stools. One might sit down reading a newspaper. The others would have discussed world politics, or perhaps something mundane such as a sport. The young bar staff would have politely smiled and tried to appear interested as they wished on closing time. They would face each other, talk, converse, using words laden with accent that gave clues to their origin, background - something that others could pick up from, looking for a common interest or dialogue. They wouldn't have just communicated with words - they'll also talk with their facial expressions, postures, maybe even hands. They'd talk with laughter, yawns, smiles, nods and frowns.
Now the 1970s may not be a good period to reflect on. The conversation at times may well have been prejudiced, racist, or sexist - but it may well not have been. At a bar it might have been between white middle aged men - but not always.
Time travel to the present. Four customers at a bar. Two of them looking down at mobile phones. The other two at Ipads. They sit alone, facing away. I sat there nearly an hour, not one word spoken. No interaction within the room. The only interaction perhaps taking place in a binary form across the hotel wifi. This is the 21st Century.
Gramps is available free, and Open Source on both Windows and on Linux. It may be available for other platforms as well, I don't know. I've installed Gramps 4.2 onto my Windows 7 64 bit PC. I've also installed Gramps 4.0 onto my Lubuntu 14.04 (Linux) netbook. The screenshots that I've uploaded to this post, were taken on the Windows PC. There are differences between my two versions on two platforms, and I won't go into all of those. I'm mainly interested in updating and generating .ged GEDCOM files, bearing in mind, my past experiences in losing data over the years. As long as I don't faff around too much on attributes carried by Gramps native features, that are not carried over by the GEDCOM format, the programs both run great. I haven't yet played too much with images. My understanding is, that you need to host the binary files in folders on your hard drive - then GRAMPS merely points / looks at them. That isn't something (as I presently understand) that is supported under GEDCOM.
Gramps is a database. Like any database, it revolves around objects, attributes, and tags. Some glossy family history software might dumb all of this down a bit. They want to catch the mass market. Gramps does not shy away though. It's real magic is that it offers so many different ways of entering data, in ways that can be tracked to resources, citations, notes, places, even coordinates. It's a piece of free software that the geek genealogist should love. Typical of Open Source, it is more functional than pretty. It's a piece of software that can be daunting at first. However, if you are methodical, and reasonably pooter-literate, give it a little perseverance, and you soon start to love it. It's features will encourage tidiness and well documented research. Why spend out on EULA licensed software?
This week, I've been investigating the Places objects. I've discovered that you can geo-tag your places - that can be referenced to events, such as baptisms, deaths, census records, etc. I must have hundreds of places for my family database of 1,435 ancestors / relations. None-the-less, I've been spending too much time on the pooter, tidying up my place data, and by referring to OpenStreetMap.org, copy and pasting longitudes and latitudes into all of them, along with place-type, alternative names, etc. It's all about making a better GEDCOM, a better family history database.
So why bother? Well for one it's going to be a vastly improved record of my family. A healthy database. Not only that, but GRAMPS allows me to plot my ancestors locations - or rather, the locations of "events":
I can see at least one error there - in the sea off the Kent coast. Some more tidying to do. By the way - the mapped events include the paper ancestors on my kid's family tree, including those of my Ex. Alternatively, I can browse the places, hit an option, and in a browser, up pops the location on OpenStreetMaps!
There are many more features to explore on Gramps. I'll get to them in time. I've uploaded several of the fancharts that it can generate already on this blog. There are a range of other reports that it can produce, and web pages. The generated website is incredibly functional. It took a couple of minutes to generate pages for every one of my 1,435 family tree individuals. All with trees galore. All that I would need is a web host.
As for stability. I've seen someone complain that it slows down. Nonsense. It's fine even with my extensive database. My Windows version is very slow to launch though - not so the Linux version. However, when it's up, even on Windows,, it is perfectly functional and very fast.
Some people are also confused on how to load a GEDCOM file at start. I was. It's simple. You need to first create a blank family tree file from the manager. Then you can import your GEDCOM into it. You don't see the Import/Export functions until you have first loaded a family tree - just make it a new blank file. Once you have created a family tree, and imported a GEDCOM - be careful to use that file next time, and not do as I did - import the GEDCOM again. You'll end up with two of each individuals. Always back up before and after making any edits. I like to mail a backup to myself on webmail, so that the GEDCOM is also backed up on two webmail servers.
That geo data that I produced on Gramps, is carried over on GEDCOM to other databases and platforms. I use the GEDexplorer v1.24 ap on my Android smartphone. This app allows me to view my GEDCOM files on my phone! It cost me a couple of quid from the Play Store, but it was money well spent.
The above screenshot shows a view of one part of my tree - the ancestors of my great grandfather Sam. It's a really nice feature of GEDCOM files and this software, that you can open up your database, look through trees, fan charts, or just the data itself, browsing through ancestors. Handy if you just get a spare hour here or there to research with - but no lap top! Easy quick reference of your entire database from a phone.
You see, it's all there. The beauty of GEDCOM format has reached from my Windows 3.1 machine, to my Sony Z3 phone. That's a rugged file format.
Now to the point of this entire post really. Those hours that I've wasted away on giving geo-tag provenances to all of my ancestral places? The GEDCOM picks up the latitude and longitudes, and GEDexplorer displays them. Just click on any hyperlinked ancestral event place, such as my great grandmother's place of birth above, and ....
and I can hit the link and look at it in more detail using Google Maps. Hell, I could even navigate to the actual place.