In a new study from Oxford University and published in Nature, researchers have found genetic signatures among people from Britain that give away their historical roots in particular areas of the UK. It has enabled them to create the finest-scale map of genetic variation yet.
The analysis gives us a snapshot of clusters of genetic variation in the late 1800s, when people were less likely to migrate far from their region of birth and so they believe this reflects the historical waves of migration by different populations into the island that is Britain.
“The patterns we see are extraordinary,” says Peter Donnelly, director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, UK, who co-led the study published 18 March in Nature. “The genetic effects we’re looking at are the result of, probably, thousands of years of history.”
Few people from the British Isles would today have ancestors from just one region of the country, but the researchers were able to find 2,039 Britons of European ancestry who lived in rural areas and also knew that their four grandparents were all born within a short distance of each other.
Their findings are that
Modern Britain can be divided into 17 distinct genetic groupings
The English genomes are 40 percent French, about 26 per cent shared with the Germans, 11 per cent with the Danes and in the region of nine per cent with the Belgians
The Northern Welsh have the most DNA from the the original settlers of Briton and differ from the Southern Welsh
A clear genetic division between the people of Cornwall and Devon that still persists along the county boundary of the River Tamar which shows for the first time what had been thought for a long time
Notwithstanding the long held belief that the Vikings raped as they conquered they have left very little of their DNA behind
Family Tree DNA, the genetic genealogy company and established market leader in the field of DNA testing, has announced they have now processed more than 1,000,000 DNA tests, many for family history research purposes.
The family finder test finds relatives within 5 generations and gives a detailed geographic breakdown of where your ancestors originate from, by comparing a person's DNA to the DNA of other users in the Family Tree DNA's huge database.
Here in the UK, TheGenealogist.co.uk offers DNA testing through Family Tree DNA. The range of DNA tests available can be found by clicking here on TheGenealogist website.
An interesting piece of news from the BBC reports on how scientists are investigating the murder of a man in Northampton in 1930. At the time, the man's badly-burned body was examined and samples taken during a post-mortem examination at a pub near the crime scene in the village of Hardingstone. The perpetrator was soon caught but the body was never identified.
Decades later, a woman was investigating her family ancestry when her grandmother revealed her long-held belief that her uncle was the man burned to death in a car.The uncle, William Thomas Briggs, left his home in London for a doctor's appointment in November 1930, but disappeared and was never seen again. "My family were convinced that William was the victim," said Samantha Hall, whose grandmother had confided in her.
The family were put in touch with the University of Leicester and the team that successfully identified King Richard III whose bones were found under a Leicester car park in 2012.
"The scientists were able to obtain a full single male mtDNA profile from the slide to compare to the family," a spokeswoman for the team said. The result is due to be revealed to Ms Hall shortly. There's more details available from the BBC website.
Latest news from TheGenealogist is they have significantly reduced the prices on their DNA tests. You can now buy a test for under £50! Some of the other more extensive tests offer savings of over £100 and £150 too.
DNA tests make ideal Christmas presents for genealogists or even for yourself. With the reduction in price, they are definitely worth having a look at to possibly help break down that break wall or find that missing ancestral link you've been struggling with.
There are three types of test offered by TheGenealogist to choose from:
MtDNA - Traces your maternal (Mother's) line, this test can be taken by males and females.
YDNA - Traces your paternal (Father's) Line and this test can only be taken by males (But you can ask a male relative to take it if you are female) as YDNA is only passed from father to son. Family Finder - Ideal for genealogists, this test traces both lines and gives you information on the geographic regions your ancestors are from. This test can be taken by both males and females and can show matches within approximately 5 generations.
If you'd like to know more visit http://www.thegenealogist.co.uk/dna
Oxfordshire Family History Society has launched a new project offering two free DNA tests to members of their society. It is open to members only who have at least 3 generations of Oxfordshire ancestors going back into the mid-19th century or earlier.
All you have to do is submit 400-600 words on why you feel a DNA test would be useful to help you discover more about your Oxfordshire family/families using DNA, including a short summary on your family and your family history 'brick walls'. Send to firstname.lastname@example.org before 30th May 2013. Terms and conditions apply and are available from the Editor of the Oxfordshire society.
If you are not yet a member of the family history society, but have Oxfordshire ancestors and want to enter the competition, then why not join? It's well worth the cost of the membership to have a chance of winning a DNA test. See www.ofhs.org.uk for membership details.
If you'd like more information in general regarding DNA testing for family history research, please use this link.
An interesting development over the last couple of years for the family historian has been the availability of DNA testing to assist in tracing ancestral lineage. It's become both more available and less expensive and can really help with research.
In the U.S. in January, Life Technologies Corp. introduced a new machine to to map an entire human genome for $1,000 in just one day, according to The Wall Street Journal. Following on from this, Family History Research Companies have started offering DNA tests on a smaller scale. Here in the U.K., a British website, TheGenealogist has started offering these DNA tests to the public to help trace family lines.
It's a new feature that can help both amateur and professional family historians. Beginners can jump straight into family history and potentially see some significant results in a very quick time.
It is also useful when the family history researcher hits that 'brick wall' in their research. When you research a line, there's only so far back you can go before the paper trail ends. With DNA testing, it is possible to bridge that gap and get past those brick walls. Many thousands of users have taken advantage of this service in the U.S. already and the demand is increasing in the U.K. as people decide to take their family history research that step further.
Many people are interested in genealogy but don't have time to research their full family history themselves. Now you learn more about your family line than they ever thought possible. DNA testing in the UK starts from around £60 and more information can be found here.
Has anyone taken advantage of DNA testing yet in their family history research?