Tag Archives: DNA

DNA: which test?

I have taken quite a few genetic tests and for over 10 years have included DNA tests in talks and articles and so I am occasionally asked to recommend particular companies for tests.

I am really just a novice and am still trying to make sense of what the results tell me. But I respond “it depends on what you are trying to find out”: maternal ancestry, paternal ancestry but most seem interested in the so called ethnicity tests (autosomal). This makes sense for people with limited documentary evidence and/or mixed-ancestry but really at the moment this is the least useful for researching ancestral roots below continental level, but is great for connecting with close family.

For a recent talk recounting the motivation behind my family history research  and experience researching my Barbadian ancestry I thought it would be interesting to summarise results. Some of the information has been discussed in these pages: My genes and my genes update, but I was most surprised by the results when I saw my ethnicity tests in a table.

DNA ethnicity tests from 5 companies

Results from 5 ethnicity tests

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My genes update

This is an update on my earlier blog on my DNA tests. Since the blog was written in 2014 four other Grannums have undertaken DNA tests and we all have close paternal matches – in addition three of them match as genetic cousins. Because of the genetic evidence suggesting that were possibly related within about 5 generations we used personal and online indexes and linked documentary evidence to join two previously unknown family groups, rewrite the family tree for one family and take both families back several generations to the 1840s. The testers have joined the FamilyTreeDNA Grannum project at https://www.familytreedna.com/groups/grannum/about
ydna-from-ftdna

Paternal DNA markers – the highlighted sections indicate differences. The red are faster changing STR markers

From: https://www.familytreedna.com/public/grannum?iframe=yresults

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My genes

I had heard about DNA tests as a genealogical tool for many years but costs were quite high and I was not convinced of their value to my research or for wider Caribbean genealogical research.

However, because of documentaries such as BBCs Motherland in 2003 Caribbean genealogists increasingly asked me if DNA tests would be useful for their research and help them reconnect with their African ancestors; I added several slides on DNA to my talks.

As the price came down I thought about taking a test – so that I could understand what was involved and if the results could actually help someone to extend their family tree or link them to their ancestral home. I was also curious if such tests would help answer these three questions:

  1. I do not know where my Grannum / Cranham ancestors came from and so maybe these tests would help to narrow down place of origin
  2. Maybe I would find a match with someone in Europe which would help me to continue my research
  3. My family had lived in Barbados for over 250 years.  Was I mixed-race?

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