Monday, February 20, 2017

Jumping into the gene pool...

For my birthday last year, I got a DNA test done through While I was hoping to find out that I was interesting, I turned out to be as boring as I expected: 85% British. Considering that most people in the UK can only claim about 60% Great Britain on that test (according to Ancestry), that's quite impressive... in a really boring sort of way. I must be one of the most British Canadians out there!

Anyway, I wasn't all that impressed with Ancestry's breakdown of that 85%. Really, there was none. I know I have English and Scottish ancestors (at the level of my great-grandparents, I'm 3/8 Scottish and 5/8 English... including 1/8 from Newfoundland, but as far as I can tell, that family was from England, too). Ireland came in at a measly 4%, and the percentages for the rest of my trace amounts just got lower from there. Most surprising to me was the less than 1% from Scandinavia. My Scottish ancestors were from northern Scotland. Weren't the Vikings having a great old time up there, pillaging and looting and mixing their DNA into the local populace?

Anyway, I figured I'd just have to be disappointed with Ancestry's lackluster results. And then a distant cousin told me about GEDmatch. I'm still waiting for the batch processing to be complete (at which point I'll be able to see if I have any matches with family members on the GEDmatch site), but I was still able to run my DNA info through a few tools to find out my admixture. I ended up with much more information, and a few surprises.

The Eurogenes K36 test offered some interesting bits of information (sorry it's blurry... I don't know what's going on there; the images are clear if you click on them):

All percentages above 1% are represented in the pie chart. All that's missing here is North Caucasian at 0.33% and Western Mediterranean at 0.09%. Ancestry had me at less than 1% Italian, so... I don't know what that big orange wedge is all about.

The Eurogenes EUtest V2 K15 was even more interesting:

What's really interesting is what's not shown here: Red Sea at 0.55%, Amerindian at 0.12%, Oceanian at 0.40%, and Sub-Saharan at 0.08%. Now, I know that these are very small percentages and that there are probably margins of error that could explain these results away. Amerindian showed up using some of the other analysis tools as well, though, which makes me curious about that. There's no Amerindian ancestry that I know of in my family tree... but perhaps my DNA is hinting that there's something there.

We'll see if I get any matches when the batch processing is complete...

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Lamberts of Panfield... or Canfield?

I was looking for some of my Lambert ancestors, and I came across this post on  I do believe that this is my Steele Lambert.  What's interesting is that the exchange later talks about the Lamberts living at Canfield in Essex... whereas I have been told that the family lived at Panfield (specifically, they farmed the land around Panfield Hall).  The two places don't seem to be that far apart, but it still makes me wonder: which one is right?

Steele Lambert was the son of Jeffery and Martha.  Nobody in the RootsChat thread seemed to know the maiden name of Martha, though I have it in my records as Steele (which makes sense).  I haven't been able to find any birth/baptism records for a Martha Steele in that area, though.

I don't have an account on RootsChat, so I can't contribute to the conversation at the moment.  But if anyone researching the Lambert family (or the connected Willsher family) in this area of Essex has any more information, please feel free to leave a comment.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Family secrets...

I've been having a great time perusing the scans of documents that have recently been put up on  Out of curiosity, I looked up one of my ancestors.  According to stories I heard from the family, he'd died of the flu in 1919 (I'd always assumed he was caught up in the major pandemic).  But I could never figure out why his place of death was nowhere near where he and his family lived.  I think I've found the answer.

He didn't die of influenza.  He died of "exhaustion of acute mania" in an insane asylum, after being there for just over two weeks.  I suppose mental illness was one of those things that wasn't talked about back at that time.  I have my doubts as to whether anyone other than his wife even knew the truth; perhaps it was just easier for her to tell her children that their father had gotten ill with the flu and died.

It's a good illustration of why we need to be skeptical about stories that are passed down orally.  There are plenty of things that people might want to hide.  Unfortunately, unless we can find written records to determine what's actually true, these stories will keep getting passed along as the truth.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Horne family in... New Zealand?

I was recently contacted by another researcher about someone in my tree by the name of John Lewis Horne.  According to the information I had, John was born in 1845 in Edinburgh to James Wilson Horne and Sophia Lewis.  I'd found records in New Zealand for a John Lewis Horne on but I was never sure if it was the same person or just a coincidence.  But now, it looks like this John Lewis Horne is actually one of my Hornes: my great-great-grandfather's first cousin.

John married a woman named Elizabeth Margaret Lodge, and he was her second husband.  Elizabeth seems to have been quite an interesting character.  You can read about some of her trials and exploits on FamilySleuth's blog.

John and Elizabeth had one son, also named John Lewis Horne.  I knew that a number of my Hornes had spread out from Scotland, but this is the first time I've been able to trace any of them to New Zealand.  I wonder how many distant cousins I've got there that I'm not even aware of...

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

From the royals of one country to the "royals" of another...

The Daily Mail ran this piece last week on some of the connections the new royal baby will have with some Hollywood royalty.  As someone who's been trying for over a decade to track down ancestors, I know how difficult it can be... so to see that genealogists have managed to determine that the new little prince or princess will be the Jolie-Pitt kids' 27th cousin boggles my mind.  One of my (possible) branches goes back far enough to allow me to determine my 15th cousins... and that takes us back to the late 1400s.  To get to the common ancestor for 27th cousins... how far back is that?  Another 400 years or so?  Who are these miracle worker genealogists, and can I get them to help me out with my tree?

What am I doing wrong that I've only been able to crack the year 1500 maybe once in over a decade of searching?  (I'm sure having mostly servant-class ancestors doesn't help, but come on...  They say we're all connected if we go far enough back.  I want to see it!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Remind me to send those family reunion invites to Charlemagne, Nefertiti, and Confucius...

"You can ask whether everyone in the Western world is descended from Charlemagne, and the answer is yes, we're all descended from Charlemagne. But can you prove it? That's the game of genealogy."

-- Mark Humphrys

I'm still playing that game... without much success. I wonder if there is a list somewhere of English surnames that are most likely to be linked with the royal families of Europe, or perhaps some of the families who came over immediately after 1066. It would be helpful to know whether one particular family name is likely to be linked to royalty or not; chasing peasant lines for decades (and running up against the inevitable brick walls) seems like a bit of a waste of time... at least for this particular purpose.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Another brick wall...

I have so many brick walls. Some of the trickiest to smash through are (for some reason) those at around 1800. I'm not sure why. I would've thought that those around 1837 or 1855 would be more difficult...

In any case, this brick wall has been troublesome for a while now. I'd love to find more information on a man named William Withers. Census records state that he was born in Earley, Berkshire around 1801. He married Elizabeth Collins in 1821 in Tilehurst. Five of their six children were born in Tilehurst; the other was born in Earley.

There are a number of baptisms for William Withers in Berkshire on FamilySearch... but none are even close to Earley.

I have no idea how to smash down this brick wall.