Friday, April 13, 2018

To D(NA) or not to D(NA)

Ads for personal DNA analysis come across my Facebook feed on an almost daily basis and it is tempting.  The movement of peoples around the earth fascinate me. Mitochondrial DNA, inherited solely from the maternal line, and the Y chromosome, inherited solely from the male line, tell you a great deal about your ancestors and where they came from.  Hence books such as "Y Chromosome Adam and Mitochondrial Eve".

That is what I would dearly love to learn about myself.  I don't need more relatives, though they are nice to have, as we have a pretty good handle on all our parent's cousins and most of our second cousins.  But where did they come from, not in the near past but in the distant past?

Technically my one set of grandparents came from County Cork, Ireland to Canada in 1906, one came from Holland, via Iowa roughly the same time and one came from Yorkshire emigrants to Canada a hundred years earlier. But their more distant genetic antecedents are pretty much unknown.

It is highly unlikely I have any Irish blood in me at all. The first Hingstons in Ireland arrived in the late 1650's as part of Cromwell's replacement of the heathen Papist Irish with God-fearing English and Scots (Never ask an Irishman his opinion of Butcher Cromwell).  My paternal grandmother is a Ross which is a Scottish name. Though we have not much information on the family's history, I would suggest it is not much different than the Hingstons.  There was mingling of the newcomers and the Irish over time but not much until more recently and given the fiercely religious attitudes of my grandparents, I doubt there was any in their families.

My maternal grandfather came from Holland.  Unless his relatives in the States (he was the only one who moved on to Canada) have family history, we have no further information on his ancestors.

It is my maternal grandmother, of the Bielby family, originally of Yorkshire , that interests me the most.  There is a village and parish in eastern Yorkshire named Bielby.  According to Wikipedia, for what it is worth, there is a Roman fortress near by and the place was over run by Vikings in the late 9th century and the remnants settled there and ruled the place for about a century until 954.

Source Wikipedia
Wiki says that Bielby (spelled Belebi in the Doomsday book) is taken from a Scandinavian name of Beli and means farm or village belonging to Beli.  I have my own theory about that.  The Russian word for white is белый (pronounced belyy or in poor Russian beli).  So maybe Bielby or Belebi means White Farm and has a Slavic link.  My reasoning is based on the fact that not only were the Vikings raiding (and settling) up and down the coasts of Great Britain and Ireland, they were also trading (and settling) up and down the Dnieper and other rivers from the Baltic into the Black Sea. They were known as the Varangians by the Greeks, Rus' and Ruthenians.  They became the aristocracy in Kyiv and were the first rulers thereof according to the histories I read.

Now maybe one or many of the Varangians returned from the Slavic countries bringing some of the local language, or leaving some of theirs behind, and were part of the raiders and settlers in Yorkshire and maybe I have some genetic links to Ukraine via Vikings/Varangians?

I hesitate to get a DNA analysis for several reasons.  I have no idea which company is best.  I do not have $100 dollars or more at the moment.  There is a huge amount of information available from DNA analysis and once the company have your DNA they own it regardless of the fine print which likely says they own it anyhow.

DNA analysis not only affects you, it affects everyone you are linked to for many generations both laterally and vertically.  That is scary.  What might they know about me and all my relatives near and far and what might they do with the information?

I asked one of my daughters and her answer was don't do it. I guess that settles it.  I'll never know, I'll just speculate.

10 comments:

  1. A close male relative of mine just had his DNA Y-chromosome history traced. On the paternal line, absolutely everything going right back to forever was pure British Isles -- English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh, with a side of Scandinavian (those same Viking settlers, I imagine). Looks like my paternal ancestors stuck pretty close to home.

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    1. Did it show far enough to say Celt or Saxon or French or Roman? It would be interesting to see if his mDNA showed anything different.

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    2. No, it didn't get that specific. His paternal DNA results would essentially apply to my line as well, but if I were to get my maternal DNA results done, it would show much more European roots, I suspect. I'm like you, though -- unsure if I want my personal info "out there."

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  2. I've done lots of family history research but never had the DNA investigated, and I don't think I want to either. I'm quite happy to know that the ancestry of both my mother and my father is purely British, well, as far back as the middle 1700s anyway, and if there might be a Viking or two in the mix, it won't make a lot of difference. My cousin in Australia was very keen to get DNA done, but I didn't hear if she ever went ahead.

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    1. My brother and cousin are the genealogists in our family but only go back a couple hundred years. I am more interested in the past 80,000 years and found a site that supposedly traces to that detail, Y chromosome and m DNA. I'd love to read the fine print BEFORE i sign up.

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  3. Maybe it's more fun to speculate! I'm the keeper of our family tree, but I don't have any real interest in DNA analysis - I just enjoy finding out about the family stories and personalities.

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    1. Family history as opposed to family tree. If people would write what they know, it would make interesting reading. My dad's Uncle Joe was infamous. Most of the stories died along with the people who knew him. Just as well.

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  4. I'm not sure it's worth the money to pay for DNA testing. Heard a report on NPR the other day about some researcher deciding to do qualify control and discovering that close to 50 percent of the results people were given were wrong.

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    1. Wouldn't that just rot your socks. Go to three different companies get three different ancestors. They are called forefathers though as the Irishman said, I've only met the one of them

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  5. An interesting article about DNA testing and privacy concerns. You may have already seen this. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/dna-testing-1.4632272

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