Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spit Hit - Now I'm a Believer

One of the last geneatasks I carried out before my holiday was The Big Spit in which I provided a sample of saliva for DNA analysis by AncestryDNA.

As I was having so much fun on my travels I didn't think much about this until I was heading home. Conveniently two months later while waiting in the airport lounge in Bangkok I received notification that my results were in. I didn't look straight away but sat on the results until I got home.  So what did I find?

On my DNA page that was clearly set out I found a summary of my ethnicity estimate and links to my DNA matches. I was pleased to find that there were some matches. With the AncestryDNA  service being very new in Australia I thought that I might not find anyone close to me.

My Summary Page
I firstly selected the link to look at my Full Ethnicity Estimate. There were no great surprises there. As all my Dad's side hails from Ireland and Mum has a couple I expected this to be over 50%. The Scandanavian bit was at first a surprise as I have no known ancestry from that region but I guess I can put that down to marauding Vikings who invaded the British Isles (my convict roots?) centuries ago. I have D'arcy in my ancestry so that might account for the Iberian Peninsula percentage.  I was not able to confirm any Australian aboriginal ancestry as I have learnt that Ancestry does not test for this yet.

Full Ethnicity Estimate
It was then time to search for cousins. The results told me that 10 4th cousins or closer plus some more distant ones had been identified. I have been a bit sceptical about all this DNA stuff - how could a bit of spit contain so much information? I haven't the foggiest idea but the results I received confirmed some of the research I have done over the past 25 years.

I am so fortunate that two distant Australian cousins in my tree have undertaken AncestryDNA tests and that their results match mine closely - one as a 3rd cousin and one as a 4th cousin. How's that? Now I'm a believer. That's only two from my list of matches but I now have faith that these others must be related waaaaay back.

My closest match is a 3rd cousin named Michelle with whom I was in contact yonks ago. I had lost her details but have now reestablished communication and she is as excited as me. In a message she said "It is so exciting! I don't know a lot about this line so would love to collaborate with you." We are related through my ancestors James Pusell and Maria Tucker. I have been able to trace the Tucker line back to Datchet, Bucks but in spite of visits to Wigan and their archives and years of searching cannot identify James Pusell with confidence. Hopefully DNA will lead me to an answer.

The image below from AncestryDNA shows how I am related to Michelle. For reasons of privacy I have only shared three generations from the image.

My shared ancestors with Michelle
Although I immediately contacted the other confirmed cousin (with whom I have no previous contact) he has not yet responded. He is a descendant of my ancestor Elizabeth Phipps. Although he does not have Elizabeth Phipps listed in his online tree it was easy for me to work this out from my research and the names he had published.  If one wants to find matches it is vital to link one's DNA results to a tree and to make it public so that others can find you.

I have gone through all of the matches identified by AncestryDNA and cannot work out where we have a connection. Of course some of the matches have not made their info private or shared a tree so I will get round to messaging them individually.

Today AncestryDNA added a new Shared Matches tool that interrogates one's matches trees for shared matches. It showed Michelle as a shared match but not the other cousin (because he doesn't have Elizabeth phipps in his online tree).

As one who has an unscientific brain I find the way the AncestryDNA platform easier to use than the other DNA testing company with which I have tested.

I am trying to decide whom in my family I will get to test next. Perhaps someone on my Dad's side. The two confirmed matches I have so far are from Mum's side so a test from my paternal line will help me organise my matches.

Now I am going to sit back and hope some of my genimates and unknown cousins take a test with AncestryDNA so that their database can grow and provide more surprises.

Disclaimer AncestryDNA provided me with a complimentary DNA testing kit


Jana Last said...


I'd like to let you know that your blog post is listed in my Fab Finds post at

Have a great weekend!

Cassmob (Pauleen) said...

Good title for a song ;) Yes it takes some getting one's head around!


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