I am posting here on this blog as this is the optimal place to share the info with Forkgens worldwide and I think this is interesting and perhaps important to inform you all of as it probably affects many of you in one way or the other, even if we are on different branches of the family tree.
I had a DNA test via Ancestry DNA a short while back – not as part of a paternity suit (they haven’t found me yet!) but because I was keen to know a bit about our background. Based on family history, I knew for sure that we had the following heritage somewhere along the line:
- Maternal Grandmother: English (surname Pace)
- Maternal Grandfather: Irish (surname Lohan)
- Paternal Grandmother: Burmese and Irish (surname Kavanagh)
However the slightly grey area was on my Paternal Grandfather’s side. My Grandfather was born and brought up in Burma, part of a long line of pioneering Forkgens who had lived and worked under British rule and British passports in India and Burma. They were part of the British community and considered themselves to be British and in the 1950s came “home” to England after things went south in Burma post WWII.
However, this level of Britishness on the Forkgen side has always been in slight question. The Forkgens are not pure aryan, we all have some swarthiness about us and on the whole we tan well! My kids have inherited this and I don’t believe its wholly based on the Burmese genes – I don’t think I look too Burmese to be fair. So it was really this bit that I was interested in hence the DNA test.
Around four weeks ago, I spat into a test tube, mixed my saliva with the stabilising agent and popped the tube in the prepaid box then sent it off to the lab. Around two weeks ago I received the results back via the online portal of Ancestry DNA. I had fairly low expectations as to what this test would reveal:
- My friend and business partner had done this already and had found that the “narrowing” of country origins is not too accurate. Sometimes, only the continent can be determined.
- I have an acquaintance who is a geneticist and she gave me the whole historical and sociological spiel about how no DNA test can ever be 100% accurate when it comes to location origins due to the large scale migration of peoples in recent times (i.e. 1700s-today) which has led to extreme dilution of gene pools in many cases. Furthermore she said that DNA marker identification is only as good as the database that one’s DNA is being compared against. I was hopeful as I knew that Ancestry DNA have over 6 million records but she said that even then, if there aren’t many records in an area such as India then matching would be vague.
Nevertheless, once the results came in I was both surprised and confused – the test raised more questions than it answered frankly and here I will explain why.
So, first things first, here is the general summary (click to enlarge). It shows a large slant towards Great Britain and Ireland which I knew was strong due to genes on both sides but 47% British (specifically S.England) and 21% Irish was a bit of a surprise as I don’t look too British and definitely not Irish 🙂
Then we have the Asia Central part of me – 14%; this was the biggest new mystery and I will come back to that in a second.
Unsurprising was the South Asia (India etc) and East Asia ( Burma etc) at a cumulative 7% – although I would have thought it would be more than that.
And finally 8% Western Europe (on the AncestryDNA map this specifies the continental area of Europe e.g. Germany, France, Belguim etc), probably some of my British ancestors with some European dabblings, no surprises there but we didn’t have any evidence of this up to now and my Mum knows of no blood relations in Europe in living memory.
Finally, the trace elements: African, Polynesian, Iberian, Caucus etc. Apparently many Europeans have these traces in them due to migration / invasion over the centuries – even the most right-wing Brit will have some African in them apparently 🙂
So back to the Asia Central part of me – all 14% of it. Looking at this, it’s a bit weird as observing a partially zoomed view of AncestryDNA’s map (see left and click to enlarge), this looks to be areas such as Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and lots of other “stans”. So do we have roots in these areas? I am not sure as it’s not what we were led to think and doesn’t correlate with the looks I feel.
But zooming in a bit (click left), this region according to AncestryDNA also reveals areas of North India and Pakistan (which was of course once India and only became Pakistan in the late 40s). My Dad and family actually lived in Lahore for some years prior to partition, irrelevant to this gene search but in those days Lahore was part of India so Brits could move freely. I am wondering if we have some North Indian in us – areas like Kashmir, Himchal Pradesh and the Punjab overlap into this “Central Asia” area so I wonder if this is it?
As I said, more questions that answers in some ways – and now 14% of me is very vague in origin where it was not before!
In conclusion though, this does echo the warnings I received before the test: that these tests are only as good as the database that they are matched against and that in some areas, it’s impossible to match to country level due to the sheer lack of data. Perhaps this will improve in coming years and / or perhaps if I try another DB company I will get a more clear result. But for now, we are where we are.
One other thing that’s interesting about the results: one can then drill down and find “cousin matches”. I clicked on this and without any other information at all, AncestryDNA matched me against several Lohans and one Logan. If you were paying attention earlier, you may remember that my Mother’s maiden name is Lohan so these people are definitely cousins of some sort – interesting. Now all I need to do is pay the £58 yearly fee to become a member of AncestryDNA and I can contact them. Maybe another day… 🙂
I hope that this has been interesting for you – I will leave comments open on this post so if you want to comment / discuss, you should see a comment box somewhere on this page.
Peace and love!