Thursday, December 1, 2016

The DNA Dimension in Family History (Part 2)

My DNA test had a few small surprises.  In my previous post I mentioned that on paper I am split down the middle: 50% Irish and 50% Carpatho-Rusyn (from Eastern Slovakia).  As you see from the results below, Iberia shows up as 10% in me.  And there's a little bit of Great Britain and a teensy piece of Finland and the Caucasus.

I attempted to post the pretty graphic illustrating my ethnicity breakdown but it didn't work.   Instead I've listed the percentages of ethnicity for each person I have results for.  The tests were done through except my husband's and uncle's is through the company 23andMe.

ME                                                                           BROTHER
Europe East 45% (Dad's side)                                   Europe East 39%
Ireland 38% (Mom's side)                                         Ireland 43%
Iberian Peninsula 10%                                            Iberian Peninsula 7%
Great Britain 4%                                                     Great Britain 4%
Finland / NW Russia less than 1%                            Scandinavia less than 1%
Caucasus 2% (Attila the Hun?)                                 Europe West 2%
                                                                               European Jewish 1%
                                                                               Italy / Greece 3%?

Europe East 40%
Ireland 36%
Great Britain 5%
Iberia 7%
Scandinavia 4%
Finland / NW Russia 2%
Italy / Greece 2%
Asia Central less than 1%
European Jewish less than 1%
Europe West less than 1%
Caucasus 1%

The Iberia part is curious to me. I grew up hearing our Irish were mixed with the Spanish whose Armada sunk off the coast of Ireland in 1588--thus the term "black Irish" to describe our darkness. This presumption has been  disproved. The Spaniards who made it to Ireland from their sinking ships were captured and executed by the English. But still.

My brother and I are just about reversed on Eastern Europe and Ireland. I got the black Irish colors (dark hair, Irish hazel eyes) and my body type is Eastern European (short and wide). My brother has the Carpatho-Rusyn deep blue eyes but his hair is the darker black Irish. His tiny Jewish percentage didn't surprise me as my Grandparents' home area of Slovakia was about 1/3 Jewish (pre-WW2). Europe West refers to France-Switzerland-Germany-Netherlands-Belgium. I have no paper trail to those places. Once part of the Roman Empire and prone to invasions from the east, Western Europe had plenty mixing of peoples. The Celtic people of Ireland migrated there from Germany.

MY NEPHEW (son of SISTER 2 above)

Ireland 35%
Native American 20%
Italy / Greece 13%
Europe East 11%
Iberian Peninsula 8%
Africa North 5%

My Dad's siblings:

PATERNAL UNCLE (23andMe):                                PATERNAL AUNT:
Eastern Europe 62.1%                                            Eastern Europe 79%
Southern Europe Balkan 26.5%                              Iberia 12%
Southern Europe other 1.3%                                  Italy / Greece 5%
Northwest Europe 0.9%                                          Great Britain 3%
broadly European 9.1%                                           Caucasus 1%

My husband's family

FATHER-IN-LAW                                                    MOTHER-IN-LAW
Great Britain 48%                                                       Great Britain 24%
Ireland 23%                                                                 Ireland 2%
Scandinavia 19%                                                         Scandinavia 2%
Europe West 6%                                                          Europe West 61%
Europe East 1%                                                           Europe East 2%
Iberia 1%                                                                     Iberia 4%
Melanesia less than 1%
                                                                                   European Jewish 1%
                                                                                   Italy / Greece 1%
                                                                                   Finland / NW Russia less than 1%
                                                                                   Middle East less than 1%
                                                                                   Asia East less than 1%

MY HUSBAND (23andMe)                                       HUSBAND's SISTER 1                                
British and Irish 57.5 %                                         Great Britain 57%
French and German 9.8%                                      Ireland 7%
Scandinavian 2.6%                                                Scandinavia 20%
broadly NW European 21.9%                                 Europe West 7%
Ashkenazi Jewish 2.9%
Sardinian less than 1 percent                                Italy/Greece less than 1%
Eastern European less than 1 percent                   Europe East 3%
broadly European 4.2%                                         Iberia 2%
Sub-Saharan Africa less than 1%                           Africa North 1%
                                                                             Middle East less than 1%
                                                                             Asia South less than 1%

Europe West 63%
Great Britain 27%
Ireland 6%
Iberia 2%
Asia East less than 1%
Asia West less than 1%
Middle East less than 1%

23andMe doesn't separate the British and Irish, but they do distinguish the French and German from the rest of Western Europe.  My husband has way less Scandinavian than his father, and even less than our sons.

Our children: I have been very curious to see the DNA from son #2.  He was born with Mongolian blue spots, a dark coloration of some pigment on the back.  Well, there's that one percent each of Asia Central and the Caucasus area that could be the source of the blue spots.  I show 2% Caucasus.

OUR 2nd DAUGHTER:                                 
Eastern Europe 33%
Great Britain 30%
Ireland 16%
Iberia 8%
Europe West 7% 
Scandinavia 4%
Italy / Greece 2%

OUR 2nd SON:                                                           OUR 3rd SON:
Great Britain 30%                                                      Great Britain 8%
Eastern Europe 27%                                                   Eastern Europe 33%
Europe West 12%                                                       Europe West 8%
Iberia 10%                                                                  Iberia 5%
Ireland 8%                                                                  Ireland 39%
Scandinavia 8%                                                           Scandinavia 4%
Italy / Greece 3%                                                        Italy / Greece 2%
Asia Central less than 1%
Caucasus less than 1%                                                Caucasus 1%

3rd Son has dark dark hair and olive skin, so much so that if he's among Middle Easterners, they think he's a native, yet his heritage doesn't include M East.

The surnames in my father-in-law's family are very English and Scottish.  Perhaps some of them were part of the plantations in Ireland, which could account for the large Irish percentage.  Where the Scandinavia comes from we don't know.  That was a huge surprise.  We know the Danes got around a millennia ago.  My father-in-law has no Scandinavian names in his genealogy, at least in the last 200 years, and if the mixing occurred in the distant past that would explain it.  And Melanesia?   Perhaps a wayward outrigger canoe found its way to the British Isles?

Well, it's fun to compare with each other and I hope to have more family members do a test in the future.  DNA testing has raised some fascinating questions, and though they may not be answered in this life, I have enjoyed learning that we have a little more diversity in our genes than we expected.


  1. From Susanne:

    I enjoyed reading these results! My dad's second highest percentage was Caucasus. Top three for him:

    47% Italy/Greece

    14% Caucasus

    13% Ireland

    And remember, no Greek/Italian surnames in our family tree. Granted, we don't know it too far back, but still.

    My mom's top three:

    28% Europe West

    26% Ireland

    23% Great Britain

    She also had 8% Iberian which is a bit surprising.

    I love that your son, brother, and father in law were tested too. Thanks for making me more interested in this sort of thing.

  2. Susanne, Ireland seems an interesting complement to your Dad's southern & eastern ancestry. For not having Greek/Italian surnames that's a high percentage that he's got.

    Your Mom's is more similar to what we see in my husband's family, but she has that Iberian slice that pops up in my family too. I don't know enough about Iberia to understand the migration pattern that would account for the 10 percent. DNA results create so many questions in my mind, and that one is a biggie.

    It is possible that Irish young men went to Spain to join their army to fight against England. But then, did they return home with Spanish wives? Or perhaps the expulsion of Sephardic Jews in 1492 scattered Spanish blood? Or in a DNA test would that show up only as Jewish and not Iberian? So much to learn.

  3. You redid your post? I enjoyed discussing the DNA results with you! Your thoughts on the Iberian DNA are interesting, too.

    My nephew had 35% Iberian, but his dad is from Venezuela. Also, he had 14% Native American. I should research which tribes were/are in the Mérida area of Venezuela.

    I enjoyed your month of posts. I guess I'll see you on Bridget's blog until next year. :)

  4. Yes, I had to re-do it because some of the data was displaying weirdly. I copied the comments to the new post so they weren't lost. And I want to post Craig's results also so check back in a couple of days.

    Wow 35% Iberian. Makes sense for someone with a parent from South America. The Native American also. Perhaps in the future there will be a way to distinguish between N.A. tribes. It seems that there wouldn't be much of a paper trail. Perhaps some some oral history?

    I haven't read other blogs this month except I did peek at your book reviews. Seems that writing mine every day for a month sucks up time. I do like to do that though. Will go back and read more soon!

  5. Very interesting. I'm shocked that Steven didn't have any traces from the Middle East, or Ashkenazi Jewish. I also found the Melanesian result intriguing. Can't wait to see what mine are.