If you were to ask me about my ancestors, I could certainly share somewhat limited information. My mother’s paternal ancestors were fairly easy to find, right up to the migration of ancestors from England, with the generation before that group coming from Ireland. My mom always celebrated St. Patrick’s Day, stating she was 1/4 Irish.
On my father’s paternal side, we were able to trace back our ancestors right to their migration from France to Nouvelle France (Quebec). We even have seen the ship’s roster with the name of our paternal ancestor, as well as his bride to be, even though they came on separate ships.
Those two groups of ancestors are fairly well identified, however, understanding so little about genes and how the generations’ distribution of genes spread given the two parents’ side, there are truly many branches of the trees that could have influenced our DNA profiles. Given we do not have our parents still with us, we won’t even know any generations above us in terms of DNA landscape, we can still find a lot of good information to help paint the migration picture.
What fascinated me and started my earnest search for information, was a trip that I took last summer on a tall ship. This was a three mast tall ship and our trip was a multifaceted one. Since we were all pilgrims who had walked across Spain on the Camino de Santiago (Northern Spain), our trip was to recreate the middle ages’ trips that pilgrims took to get to Santiago de Compostela. The other facet was the fact the ship was a naval training vessel, and we took on the role of student sailors. We sailed from Bordeaux France to A Coruna Spain. For 5 days, we shared tasks related to managing a sailboat. Cleaning, serving meals, washing the decks, managing the many sails, even being at the helm of the ship. I was constantly seasick during 4 of the 5 days. It seems my sea legs and sea body were nowhere to be found during that trip. What this experience did, however, is make me think often of my ancestors who traveled from France on a much larger sailboat, for more than 110 days! I can’t even imagine the challenges and difficulties the passengers endured. How many of them actually survived? How many arrived so sick they couldn’t even walk off the boat? I have on my bucket list a visit to the home town of my earliest known French ancestors to visit the church in which they were baptized.
I digress… let’s get back to the DNA results! I asked my siblings what they thought my personal breakdown would be. Keep in mind, due to the permutation and allocation of genes from parents to child, our respective personal DNA results would vary. I know that physically I take much more from my mother’s side of the family. According to this breakdown, it’s apparent that it’s also DNA wise. My three siblings’ expectations were as follow:
57% French, 23% Irish, 12% East European, 8% other.
40% French, 20% Irish, 20% British, 20% First nation.
40% French, 20% Irish, 20% Scottish, 10% German and 10% other.
My own expectations were 40% French, 30% Irish, 20% British and 10% Scottish.
Imagine my big surprise when I saw the results:
A huge Great Britain component, and to my complete surprise and utter joy, the Iberian Peninsula component which comprises Spain and Portugal. I often said that Spain felt like my second home, and I always feel that I truly belong when I am in Spain!
The other big surprise was Scandinavia. Scandinavia? Really? I realize that Europe is made up of very close countries. One can cross many European countries in very little time and distance. France and Spain are neighbors so I can understand some migration there, however, Scandinavia which refers to Denmark, Norway, and Sweden is quite North of France, and East of Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales). That would not have been an easy migration with the bodies of water separating those areas.
France actually came under the 2% of Europe West.
These results are quite different than what we all expected!
Also, the results showed a 95% match to the community of individuals whose ancestors traveled from France to New France (Quebec Canada). This added some good fodder to the results since we are well aware of that part of our family history.
The test itself was easy to do. I registered and paid online, and received a box with the necessary items and instructions. The DNA tests are done by analyzing the saliva. The kit was sent to Ireland, and I received my results 57 days later. During this time, AncestryDNA sent emails with regular updates when the kit was received, and when the sample was sent to the lab.
So, what happens now? Personally, this has deepened my interest in working to try to complete the maternal side of the trees and try to determine when our ancestors migrated to or from the Iberian Peninsula and Scandinavia. I may never get those answers, but for now, this adventure will continue on. Who knows what surprises we may find!
Do you have any experience with genealogy or Genetic Ancestry? I would appreciate reading your comments!