03 April 2017

Why Are Your DNA Ethnicity Results Unexpected: Brick Walls

Living DNA states their sub-regional results refer to “founder populations,” about 10 generations back. Yet for most people that's beyond the genealogical horizon. So how can you judge the reality of your ethnicity results from a DNA test?

Typically people assume the earliest generation they know about along any line is representative of their ancestors.

In my case with parents born in Scotland and Wales, one grandparent born in Wales, the rest in England, it's not a very good assumption at that recent period, unless you look at a larger scale -- Great Britain.

Were people in earlier times less mobile? Perhaps, but the generations you don't know about are the ones more likely to have moved. That's likely why you can't find them.

Another approach is to use surname distributions. If you have an ancestor with an uncommon surname and no obvious ancestry in the area, they may well have come from the area where the name is most common.

Just because you don't find the area found by an ethnic ancestry test in your paper record based family tree doesn't mean the results are not reality.

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