I’ve always been fascinated by history and genealogy, so it’s been somewhat ironic that I know so little about my family history. It was one of the reasons I decided to get a DNA test. I considered Ancestry.com and 23andMe.com, but Ancestry had a sale, so I opted to go with its service. (I may use 23andMe later because they also give you medical info related to your DNA.)
So, drumroll, please…
Here are my DNA results:
- Ireland/Scotland/Wales 51%
- Great Britain 37%
Low Confidence Regions
- Europe West 3%
- Finland/Northwest Russia 3%
- Europe East 2%
- Iberian Penisula 1%
- Europe South 1%
- Caucasus <1%
- Asia South <1%
So, I’m not a mutant X-Men — that would have been pretty cool, except with my luck, I’m sure my mutant superpower would have been something pretty lame like being unable to get a buzz off alcohol.
In looking over the results, no surprise, I’m mostly Irish/Scottish/Welsh — my maternal grandparents were from County Galway in Ireland (Connemara). The Scots were originally from Ireland, so again no surprise that my DNA shows in that grouping — as to whether any of my ancestors actually lived in Scotland is still to be determined. My Irish grandmother was a Walsh, which is a common surname given to many of the Welsh who settled in Ireland over the centuries. Themselves a conquered people, they came over to Ireland with the English as soldiers, administrators, and plantation settlers and married into the local population.
Great Britain represents 37% of my DNA — I’m guessing that’s the English (and possibly Norman) genes. I would have thought it might have been a bit higher — my surname is Layton, after all, a good English surname, However, it’s derived from the American side of the family and God only knows what was going on over with that group. My great grandfather Layton (or Leighton as he is rumored to have originally spelled his name) supposedly came over from the UK in the late 19th or early 20th century. But my paternal grandmother’s family may have had a longer presence in the U.S. dating back to the colonies. There’s a real mix on the American side that I can only guess at — there are Donovans (Irish), Woodzells (no idea, but maybe something Germanic?) and maybe Camerons — but those are the only names I have.
Comparing my genetic profile with others on file in a database, the test indicated I had a lot of relatives who participated in the Ohio River Valley migration in the late 17th early 18th century. But being out on the frontier meant there weren’t tons of records.
An exotic mystery ancestor or two?
Anyway, my genetic spread is mostly European though it does go beyond the British Isles and Ireland, however, overall it’s a small percentage. And then we get down to the less than 1% stuff — I possibly have distant ancestors from the Caucasus and Asia South. Now that’s really far afield and very interesting!
The Caucasus region in Ancestry’s grouping encompasses a wide area including Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Iran, Cyprus, Israel, Kuwait, parts of Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan.
The Asia South region includes India, Pakistan, parts of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, and parts of Myanmar. (I doubt it explains my fondness for Indian food, but it won’t stop me from claiming so).
It is in the Low Confidence group, so I have to take it with a grain of salt (Maybe a sloppy lab worker contaminated my sample with his curry takeaway?). But that really peaked my interest and I shared the news with the Houseguest, who takes great pride in her Persian and Indian background — her father is a Parsi from Mumbai (she’s also got Swiss ancestry, which might explain her fondness for pastries). When I pointed out to her that she is no longer the only person in the house who could claim the Caucasus or South Asia as ancestral lands or an exotic pedigree, she rolled her eyes.
“Oh, please, you’re Irish and there are billions of you.”
Okay, a slight exaggeration. True, there are a lot of us around the world thanks to my English and Norman ancestors defeating my Irish ancestors with the help of my Welsh ancestors. This resulted in a wide dispersal of the Irish (whether fleeing military defeats at home, being transported as rebels, joining the British armies, or migrating due to famine).
“Fifty-one percent Ireland and 37 percent Great Britain? That’s a lot of bad teeth and pasty skin,” she added.
I pointed out that the bad teeth was a stereotype and told her to stop oppressing me and to accept me for who I am. (Speaking of crooked teeth, guess which one of us didn’t have to wear braces as a child? The same one who doesn’t wear a bra. Yeah, that second one would be me if it’s unclear, though my brother did offer to buy me a bra at one point when I was getting man boobs — okay, this whole aside is falling apart). Anyway, normally, at this point, we would start arguing about whose family is more inbred (the Parsis are somewhat insular so not tons of genetic diversity, plus she’s from West Virginia so naturally, I have to bring that up, though she likes to point out my family are descended from actual hillbillies from the Blue Ridge Mountains, hers just moved to hill country). Anyway, I still don’t think she’s impressed with my exotic DNA because she quickly lost interest and went back to watching TV.
Piecing together the story
So, the DNA from the Caucuses or Asia South could be a glitch, but I like to think that a long-lost ancestor of mine was from a far-flung place. I’ll never know who that ancestor was or where he or she came from — but, I would love to know the story of how they ended up in my family.
It was interesting getting my results, but it makes me somewhat wistful. I wish I at least knew who my forebearers were, their names and occupations. But I have the barest of information. I’ve done a bit of sleuthing but most of it, even the fairly recent stuff, is still obscured in the mists of time. I’ve uncovered a little bit, a couple of great-grandparents and great-great grandparents, but names and dates only and no other information.
One thing Ancestry.com does is show you other members in their database who are relatives — and I have 907 of them. Most are fairly distantly related but I do have a 2nd cousin 6 times removed (I still don’t know what that means). I’m actually in the process of contacting some of them to see if I can make some connections between our ancestors and fill in some of the blanks in regard to common ancestors.
I believe Ancestry.com is tied in with the Mormon church, which would make sense considering the Mormons’ obsession with lineage. I’ve found some census info through Ancestry — I just wonder if it makes sense to go down to the Mormon Annex in town where they have extensive genealogical records?
Anyway, I guess on St. Patrick’s Day, I have to get an edited button now that ads the disclaimer:
Kiss Me, I’m (Mostly) Irish.
Are you thinking about taking a DNA test? Keep an eye open for sales on Ancestry.com and 23andMe.
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