Having been researching my family history since my teenage years, largely through Ancestry.com I decided in March, after much deliberation, to undertake a DNA test. The popularity of these tests for genealogical purposes has become very popular lately, particular as a result of television advertising

After paying my fee of £79, I received my DNA kit in the post, the test involves filling a test tube with saliva, I sent the test-tube back on 12 March and had the results within a month.

The results have three main areas.

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  1. DNA Story

This is supposed to pinpoint which parts of the world your DNA markers originate from. The results however are in my view slightly spurious, they undertake this test by sampling a couple of thousand individuals with long proven family backgrounds in different regions of the world, then match your DNA makers to theirs. Although this may seem like a very small sample base for a world population of more than 7 billion, apparently Ancestry has the largest sample base of any of the DNA companies.

Having traced all lines of my ancestry back to at least the 1700s (and many much further), I have found my background to be a quarter Irish and three quarters English.

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These are my results from the Ancestry DNA story, the 27% Irish being as expected, however 65% from Western Europe, and only 5% from England, came as something of a surprise, I have found no European ancestry, only English so far, this is presumably suggesting that almost every single one of my English ancestral lines originated in Europe, a fact that I find unlikely.

  1. DNA Matches

This section matches you up to other people who have taken the test and who share DNA markers with you, delineated by siblings, 1stcousins, 2ndcousins, 3rdcousins etc.

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It is in this area that for me the DNA test has been worthwhile, it connected me with four 3rdcousins (meaning we share a great grandparent). I contacted all four of these people, the first two I found were descendants of my father’s paternal grandmother’s siblings, including a line I had previously been unable to work out. The third was a granddaughter of my Mother’s maternal grandmother’s elder sister who had emigrated to America in the 1910s and the family had lost contact with – the family live in Buffalo on the banks of Lake Eerie, the final 3rdcousin turned out to be granddaughter of the illegitimate son of my father’s paternal grandfather’s brother, the discovery of this line has solved many mysteries in both our families.

The downside of this is that your shared matches have made their family trees private, as many people have, it is very difficult to work out family connections.

  1. DNA Circles

These it seems are linking you with distant cousins around a particular shared ancestor. I am still waiting for these to develop.

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In conclusion, while I treat the DNA story with some dubiousness, for me the DNA matches have made the whole process worthwhile, after only a month I have made contact with distant cousins and have filled out some unknown lines of my family tree, and for this purpose I would recommend it.