November 2, 2012

DNA Special Edition



DNA - what's it all about?

How DNA is inherited

How can a Y-DNA test help?

What will an mtDNA test tell you?

Are autosomal DNA tests the future?

Find your DNA partners NEW FEATURE

Who should I be looking for?

When the paper-trail runs out....

It's not all good news

Choosing a testing company

Genes for face shape identified

DNA may identify remains of King Richard III

Could a child have THREE parents?

Steve Robinson interview EXCLUSIVE

Save $$$s on your Ancestry subscription

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The North American edition of the LostCousins newsletter is published irregularly. To access the previous issue (dated June 11, 2012) please click here.


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DNA - what's it all about?

Researching our family tree is all about finding evidence - evidence that proves or, at least, strongly suggests that a particular person is our ancestor. The further we go back the harder it is to find that evidence. But we also know that written records, even official certificates, can be just as unreliable as family stories that are passed down the generations. DNA can not only fill in the gaps in our knowledge, but also verify the evidence that we've collected from conventional sources.


Until quite recently DNA tests were very limited in what they could do - so some of the companies marketing the tests invented concepts such as the 'Seven daughters of Eve' in order to sell tests to a wider market. I was very unhappy about the claims that were being made, and the way that tests were being marketed - so for a long time my advice to family historians was only to buy a DNA test in order to test a specific hypothesis.


I'm glad to say that in the past couple of years new tests have become available that offer many more opportunities, and in this newsletter I'll explain why they are so exciting.


Note: in the following articles I'm going to keep the explanations simple by writing about what normally happens, and ignore the very rare exceptions - not least because they are still being discovered!


How DNA is inherited

Humans have 46 chromosomes in the nucleus of our cells, long strands of DNA that - even under a microscope - are only visible during cell division. We inherit 23 chromosomes from each of our parents, and we get 22 of them whether we are male or female; they are called autosomes. The last two chromosomes determine sex: females have two X chromosomes, one inherited from each parent; males have one X chromosome (inherited from their mother) and one Y chromosome (inherited from their father).


Cells also contain organelles (the word means 'little organs') called mitochondria which have their own DNA (it's thought that mitochondria are the relics of bacteria that invaded cells over a billion years ago); the role of mitochondria is to provide energy for the cell. These mitochondria are passed by mothers to all of their children, both male and female - but only the female children can pass their mitochondria, and thus their mtDNA, to the next generation.


The following family tree illustrates how the Y chromosome and mtDNA are passed down the generations:



I've used colours to indicate how the Y chromosome(shades of blue)and mtDNA (shades of red) are inherited - note how the Y chromosome inherited by the two brothers has passed down the left-hand edge of the tree, whilst the mtDNA inherited by all three siblings has passed down the right-hand edge.


Typically the Y chromosome follows the surname, although in this example James Bradford was illegitimate and so - as usually happens in such circumstances - his surname came from his mother. By contrast on the right-hand edge of the tree the surname changes with every generation - this makes it more difficult to use mtDNA to find cousins.


Y-DNA and mtDNA tests each tell us about just one ancestor from each generation: 2 of our 4 grandparents, 2 of our 8 great-grandparents, 2 of our 16 great-great grandparents, and so on. This means that the further we go back, the less they tell us about our overall ancestry.


How can a Y-DNA test help?

The fact that the Y chromosome passes from father to son with only slight modifications means that Y-DNA tests can be very useful when used in conjunction with surname studies - because surnames normally pass from father to son - and it allows male cousins who bear the same surname to confirm that they share a common ancestor. It's even possible to estimate how many generations back that common ancestor lived, which is very useful.


There's also the tantalising possibility of using a Y-DNA test to discover the identity of the father of an illegitimate child - but only in certain circumstances. For a start, the child must be a boy - otherwise the Y chromosome won't have been passed on - and for the same reason the person providing the DNA sample needs to be a descendant in the direct male line.


Let's see how this would work in practice using the example tree above. Notice that both of Robert Bradford's grandfathers, James Bradford and Arthur Dent, were illegitimate. Because Robert carries the same Y chromosome that his paternal grandfather inherited, a Y-DNA test offers the possibility of discovering who fathered Mary Bradford's child.


However, if Robert wants to use a Y-DNA test to find out who the father of his maternal grandfather was he's got a problem - unless Arthur Dent is still alive, or Mary Dent had a brother who isn't shown in the diagram, there's nobody in the family who has the same Y chromosome as Arthur and his unknown father.


Even if you can locate such a cousin you next have to persuade them to provide a DNA sample, which won't always be easy - and if you expect them to contribute to the cost it could be well nigh impossible! And even after the sample has been tested there is no guarantee that there will be an immediate match.


Even if there is a match it will only tell you what the surname of the father might have been, not precisely who they were - and the surname could still be wrong (for example, if there's another illegitimacy somewhere along the line). Nevertheless, it's better than nothing, and if you're lucky there may be some circumstantial evidence that points to a particular person - for example, there might be a neighbour, a lodger, or a fellow servant who has the same surname.


Note: there must have been cases when even the mother of an illegitimate child didn't know who the father was, which makes it particularly amazing that you or I might discover the answer 150 years later!


What will an mtDNA test tell you?

Mitochondrial DNA passes virtually unaltered from mother to child, which means that in theory you can trace back your ancestry on your maternal line for thousands of years. This was the logic behind the 'Seven daughters of Eve' concept developed by Professor Bryan Sykes, and described in his book. Whilst it has a romantic appeal, so far as genealogy is concerned it's pretty useless - indeed, I'd argue that it's worse than useless, because it can be grossly misleading.


Why? Because with every generation you go back the number of ancestors doubles, and once you go back more than a few thousand years it's statistically likely that we all share exactly the same ancestors. This means that identifying one person on one line 45,000 years ago is pretty meaningless, because everyone else in the world is also descended from that person, albeit by a different route.


Can mtDNA tests provide any insight in cases of illegitimacy? Usually there will be no doubt who the mother was, but there are exceptions - for example, the child may have been a foundling, or adopted and given a new name. However, because the surname changes with each generation, it won't be easy to interpret matches in a meaningful way.


I haven't yet found a way in which I can use an mtDNA test to help me with my family tree, and if you're new to DNA testing I would suggest you look instead at the test I'm going to write about next.....


Are autosomal DNA tests the future?

Autosomal DNA comes from the 22 pairs of chromosomes that are inherited by all children, male or female. Whereas Y-DNA and mtDNA tests can only tell us about the ancestors at the extreme edges of our family tree, an autosomal DNA test (such as the Family Finder test from Family Tree DNA) offers the potential to make discoveries and solve mysteries in any of our family lines.


However, before getting too excited about the prospects it's important to understand how autosomal DNA is inherited. You will recall from my introductory article that we inherit one chromosome in each pair from our father and one from our mother - and that sounds pretty simple, until you remember that each of our parents has two copies of each autosome. What decides which one of each pair they pass to us?


In practice we get a mixture - within each of the autosomes you inherited from your father there will be some parts that came from his father, and some that came from his mother. The same applies to your grandparents - they inherited a mixture from their parents, and so on, and so on.


This means that our DNA literally does contain a record of our ancestry, though of course, what we don't know is which bit of autosomal DNA came from which ancestor. The companies which offer auto tests use sophisticated statistical algorithms to determine which of their customers may be related - and they're also able to estimate how close the relationship is (the longer the segments of DNA that two possible cousins share, the closer the relationship is likely to be).


One day it will be feasible for the average family historian to have their entire genome sequenced: until then autosomal tests are the best option for those of us who are looking for more information about our ancestry than can be reliably ascertained using the available records. Family Tree DNA's test uses over 700,000 pairs of locations, which is a phenomenally large number compared to previous tests - and yet it still represents only 0.024% (about 1/4000th) of your autosomal DNA!


Tip: taking a Family Finder test is like completing your My Ancestors page at the LostCousins site - it's something that you only need to do once, but you'll continue to get matches as more and more people join the project.


Find your DNA partners NEW FEATURE

No matter how experienced a genealogist you are, or how well you understand the principles of DNA testing, there's a limit to how many questions can be answered using DNA samples that you yourself provide.


Sometimes there will be another family member who can provide the necessary sample, but even when that is the case, you may need another sample to test it against (it depends on what it is you are trying to find out).


That's why I'm delighted to announced that you can now use LostCousins to search for potential candidates by using the new DNA research category on your My Ancestors page. There are plenty of sites that allow you to upload your family tree, but only LostCousins makes it easy to enter people who aren't on your tree - either because you haven't worked out whether or how they are connected, or because you're carrying out a project such as a One-Name or One-Place Study.


Note: although the following examples uses a British census, you can use any of the 8 censuses that LostCousins supports, including the US 1880 and 1940 censuses, and the 1881 Census of Canada.



How does this new feature work? Very simply, you look for DNA partners in precisely the same way that you search for cousins.


When you click the Search button on your My Ancestors page every single entry you've made is compared with the millions of entries made by other LostCousins members (this could potentially involve billions of comparisons, depending how much data you have entered), and any new matches found are highlighted with a red tick, as you can see in the example below:



Whenever you're matched with someone new the first thing you should do is go to your My Cousins page, where there will be an entry in the New contacts section.



The name of the person you're matched with isn't shown - you'll only see their initials (that's because LostCousins respects the privacy and security of its members). But you can find out how the other person is connected to you even before you contact them, simply by clicking on their initials - this displays the My Contact page for the relationship:



In this example the other member is a direct descendant of the person you've entered, which increases the chance that they'll be able to provide the sample that you need. But even if the other member is connected in some other way, they might still be able to put you in contact with a suitable donor - after all, they wouldn't belong to LostCousins if they weren't seriously researching their tree.


Tip: the My Contact page is available for every person you're linked with, and is particularly valuable when you're matched with someone who is a relative of yours, because the information displayed is often sufficient for you to work out what the connection is - which means that once contact is established you get down to business right away! Use the Notes box as an 'aide memoire'.


Who should I be looking for?

How do you determine who to enter on your My Ancestors page when your aim is to use DNA to prove an hypothesis or solve a mystery?


The key things to remember are that the Y-chromosome passes from father to son, whilst mtDNA passes from mother to child. There must be an unbroken chain from the person whose identity you are attempting to infer or confirm, to the person who provides the test.


This means, for example, that I can't use a Y-DNA test to find out who the father of my illegitimate ancestors was because those ancestors were both female (although one did have a brother who might possibly share the same father, so there is still some hope).


Tip: when the terms 'paternal ancestor' and 'maternal ancestor' are used in relation to DNA testing it is always the ancestors at the very edges of your family tree - your DIRECT paternal and maternal ancestors - who are being referred to.


Here's the question that you should ask yourself: "if there is someone alive today who shares my ancestor's Y-chromosome or mtDNA, who will they be descended from?"


You might think that the answer to that question is simply "my ancestor", but that's only half the story. Why? Because the Y-chromosome or mtDNA in question didn't suddenly materialise when your ancestor was born - it was inherited from their father or mother.


Let's consider an example using the family tree which I used to illustrate how Y-DNA and mtDNA are passed down the generations:



Imagine you're Robert Bradford, whose paternal grandfather was illegitimate. You've obviously inherited your great-grandfather's Y-chromosome which provides a clue to his identity - but only if you can match it against another sample. In many cases you wouldn't have any idea who the father of the illegitimate child was, so the best you can do is take a Y-DNA test yourself and see if there are any matches in the database of the testing company, or other accessible databases that will provide a clue to the surname of your unknown paternal ancestor.


But let's suppose that in this particular case you have a strong suspicion that the father of Mary Bradford's child James was one Roger Smith - maybe he was lodging with the family at the time when the child was conceived, but died before James was born. Or perhaps there is a family story that points in Roger Smith's direction.


Now, because Roger Smith died before marrying, and - to the best of your knowledge - before fathering any other children, the only person who will have inherited his Y-chromosome is your ancestor James Bradford. So is this a hopeless cause?


No, it isn't - because Roger will have inherited his Y-chromosome from his own father, John, and John had another son, imaginatively called John Smith, who was living at home with Roger and his parents on the 1881 Census. Perhaps John did marry and have a son?



The only problem is, John Smith is such a common name that trying to track his descendants would be really, really difficult - and that's where LostCousins can help. If you enter not only Roger Smith, but also his brother John and their father using the 'DNA research' category you'll be matched with the other LostCousins members who have entered any one of them the moment you click on the Search button.


Of course, you're not guaranteed of a match, and even if there is a match, you don't know that Roger's brother had any sons. But since it will only take a couple of minutes to add the 1881 Census data for this family to your My Ancestors page, it's got to be worth a try!


It's not possible in a short article to cover every possibility, but whilst this example has focused on Y-DNA, similar logic applies to the inheritance of mtDNA. Of course, mtDNA will never tell you who the father of an illegitimate child was, but it might well provide a clue to the identity of a female ancestor whose baptism or marriage you've been unable to find.


Note: up to now many people have taken DNA tests without any real understanding of how they might help resolve their questions about their family tree. Using the 'DNA research' feature I've created doesn't commit you in any way to taking a DNA test - it merely helps to create a situation in which taking a test is more likely to tell you something useful!


When the paper-trail runs out....

There aren't many occasions when mtDNA can be used to answer specific questions, so I was delighted when Pamela wrote from Australia to tell me how it had helped her:


"I used a DNA test to knock down a brick wall around my great grandmother. There was absolutely no paper trail for her at all - I can't even find a marriage. The only information was in a biographical index of Western Australia about her mother applying for poor relief after the death of her husband, naming her 3 children - but not her. Colonial records being very informative, I requested the files for that area, but found that her file was gone.


"I had heard rumours about our great-great uncle being aboriginal and was informed that he was adopted, his mother dying in childbirth."


Pamela wondered whether her great-grandmother might also have been aboriginal. As the great-grandmother in question was her mother's mother's mother, she was in Pamela's direct maternal line - which meant that Pamela's own mtDNA would be virtually identical to that of her great-grandmother - so she decided to have her mtDNA tested.


The result proved that Pamela has an aboriginal ancestor in her direct maternal line, and given the other evidence - or lack of it - it seems extremely likely that it was her great-grandmother.


Tip: although testing your mtDNA is very unlikely to tell you precisely who your maternal ancestors were, it may provide some useful clues to their geographical and/or ethnic origin; in some cases these additional clues will greatly increase your chances of finding documentary evidence.


It's not all good news

Whether we're using DNA or more traditional methods to research our family tree there could be occasions whenwe discover something that we wish we hadn't. Cheryl sent me an example from her own experience which illustrates this well:


Further to your DNA themed newsletter this month, I thought I would pass on my experience with DNA testing. The individual this story relates to has asked me not to publicly identify him, so I will keep that part vague.


My paternal line is LONG of Wiltshire whose documented pedigree stretches back to the 13th century. There is a tradition in the family (dating from at least the early 19th century) that another line originating in a nearby village is descended from my line - but with only circumstantial evidence (i.e an administration in 1630 naming names, but not the relationship to the deceased).


A certain gentleman (I will call him JL), very proud of his Long name and history, descended from this other line and a very keen genealogist, decided to settle the question once and for all. While we waited for the results of his DNA comparison with my brother's, we felt quite excited that at last we might know for sure, one way or the other.


Disappointingly, there was no match. Well, that was that, or so it would seem....


I continued to check his results and found overwhelming numbers of matches with another name. The same name as JL's great-great grandmother's SECOND husband. The lady in question was the daughter of an Earl, and the second husband was a 1st Baronet whom she had married in 1808, a year after her first husband's death. The hapless first husband was probably unaware his wife had passed off at least one of her children with her lover, as his. Not an uncommon situation in families of all ranks, and one which will affect any hopeful DNA matches today, unfortunately.


Needless to say, poor JL was shocked to learn he apparently has no Long DNA. But then again, perhaps my brother's DNA wouldn't have proved anything either, for the same reason.


There was an even bigger shock for an Ohio woman who discovered (through DNA testing) that she had married her own father. You'll find the full shocking story in this Daily Mail article.



Choosing a testing company

There are lots of companies offering DNA tests - and inevitably some are cheaper than others. My only experience is of Family Tree DNA, about whom I've only ever heard good things - indeed, that's one reason why I chose them.


Having a DNA test isn't like buying gas or electricity - where you get the same quality product whoever your supplier is. Not only does the level of expertise vary, some companies only offer the cheaper, more basic tests - presumably in the hope that you'll buy on price alone, without looking too closely at what you're getting. But equally important, once you've taken your test you want your results to be checked against the largest possible database - and that's the second reason why I went with the company that has carried out more DNA analyses for family historians than any other.


The third thing that appealed to me about Family Tree DNA is that, like LostCousins, it was founded by someone who had a keen interest in researching his own genealogy. Bennett Greenspan may be the President and Chief Executive of the company, but three years in a row he's been at the Who Do You Think You Are? show in London talking to ordinary people like you and me!


Note: 23andMe are believed to have a larger database of autosomal DNA tests - their equivalent to Family Finder is called Relative Finder. However, because 23andMe offer tests for purposes other than genealogical research you won't necessarily get more useful results.


Your DNA is a time machine. It could give you a glimpse of your future Ė Start your Journey here!


Genes for face shape identified

A study of 10,000 people has identified 5 genes which are associated with different face shapes, and could ultimately lead to visual reconstructions of long-dead ancestors (results from a previous study suggest that hair and eye colour can also be predicted from DNA).


DNA may identify remains of King Richard III

The long-running story of the search underneath a Leicester car park for the bones of King Richard III, whose death at Bosworth in 1485 ended the War of the Roses and allowed Henry Tudor to seize the throne, is nearing its conclusion. Remains have been found which match some of the physical aspects of the King, and by the end of the year DNA tests should prove whether or not they belong to the monarch.


The DNA sample against which the bones will be tested has been provided by a Canadian man whose mother was in the direct female line of descent from Anne of York, King Richard's sister - but tracing her ancestry through 17 generations must have been quite a challenge! You can read more about this aspect of the story here.


Note: King Richard III isn't the only English King whose final resting place is in doubt, as this BBC article explains.


Could a child have THREE parents?

A public consultation has begun into a technique that could eliminate diseases, some of them fatal, which are inherited through mitochondrial DNA - but it requires a third person to provide DNA, so technically the child could be said to have three parents.


According to a BBC News report about 1 child in 200 is born with defective mitochondria, and while most show few symptoms, some suffer from muscular weakness, blindness, or heart failure.One woman lost all 7 of her children to the same disease, as another BBC article relates.


If the procedure is approved for use, let's hope that it is properly documented. It's bad enough that the family historians of the future may not be able to draw on the census as a source of information - but imagine if the results of DNA tests couldn't be relied upon either!


Steve Robinson interview EXCLUSIVE

When I started reading In the Blood, the crime mystery featuring American genealogist Jefferson Tayte, I couldn't put it down. And I'm not the only one - almost two-thirds of the reviewers on have given it 5 stars out of 5.


When I then discovered that Steve Robinson, the author, lives just 20 miles away from me, I couldn't resist tracking him down for an exclusive interview.


'In the Blood' has been incredibly well-received, and once I got into it I couldn't put it down. What decided you to write a series of crime novels with a genealogical theme?


"The story of In the Blood began with something I read in a National Trust pamphlet about the Helford ferry in 1803.From that I had the idea for a crime set in that time period and so I needed a way to uncover that crime.Having a genealogist digging up the past seemed like an interesting angle and a logical way to get to the mystery that lies at the heart of the story. I then imagined that someone in the present might want the past to remain buried and would try to stop the genealogist, which added the thriller element to the present day narrative.I suppose one thing really led to another."


How much research have you done into your own family tree?


I've had very little time for my own genealogical research since I started writing full time and what time I have has been focused on my maternal grandfather, which was the inspiration behind my second book, To the Grave. He was an American GI during WW2.Soon after the war he went back to America leaving a young family behind and until recently I've know very little about him.After gathering some basic information from my family I found his enlistment record on the NARA website which opened the door.Then with the help of an amateur genealogist in Maine, New England, who wrote to me about my books, I now know his final resting place and even have a photograph of his headstone in the military cemetery where he's buried.I also found out that I have quite an extensive American family as he was one of nine children.I hope to continue working on my family history when I have time and I plan to write the story of my previously unknown American grandfather, which I will share on my website when I feel the journey has reached its conclusion.


Was the character of Jefferson Tayte, the genealogist hero of your novels, inspired by someone you met?


No, I've never met anyone like Jefferson Tayte, which is a shame because I think we'd get on really well.I like his sense of humour and that he cares about people. He's an everyman in a non-stereotypical action-hero body who is based on the things that I didn't see in other fictional characters.


Is it as enjoyable writing your books as it is reading them?


I'm never really in reading mode when I'm reading my own work.I'm always editing.I do enjoy that though because it means the hard work is done.I'm just fine tuning at the reading stage.The writing part is something of a pleasure and pain process.You have good days and bad days but you keep going because it's the only way to get to the end of the story and once I start a book I really feel the need to finish it.That has a lot to do with the characters I've created.It might sound strange but I feel I owe it to them to keep going until their story is told.


How important is it to you that the details in your novels are accurate?


It's extremely important.I might not always get everything exactly right first time but I try very hard to and I think having that attitude has helped.I always make edits whenever anyone points something out to me, too, and one of the great things about ebooks is that changes can be made within hours.I think it's part of the writer's job to get the facts right.It might be fiction but it should feel real to the reader.


Who are the other authors that you most admire, and how have they affected the way you write?


That's a difficult question for me to answer as I don't really have any firm favourites.When I read a book that I really admire I tend to analyse it to understand why, but there's no one author who repeatedly does that for me.I think you find your own style over time and I really couldn't put my finger on which authors have influenced me.


Your second Jefferson Tayte novel, 'To the Grave', is reckoned by many of the reviewers on Amazon to be even better than the first. What are reviewers going to say about your third book, and when can we expect to see it?


As I like to make each story different to keep things fresh I never know what readers might say about a book before I release it.I can only hope that the key elements that readers enjoyed from the previous books are maintained and that they enjoy the story.JT's a likeable character by all accounts and he's not going to change, and there's always going to be a past mystery with a present day thriller, but I try not to follow any more of a formula than that. There's no past narrative at all in the third book for example, but there's still plenty of genealogy and history revealed through Tayte's research.I think as readers we all have our favourite books in any series and it's impossible to make each book better than the last for everyone.I'm expecting to release the third Jefferson Tayte genealogical crime mystery by next spring.


Are you going to kill off Jefferson Tayte at some point so that you can focus on 'serious' writing, in the same way that Conan Doyle killed off Sherlock Holmes?


I'm not exactly sure what you mean by 'serious'.I certainly take my writing seriously.If you mean 'literary' then no, I'll leave that to others.I write the kind of stories I enjoy reading and hope others will too.If I had a mantra for such things it would simply be 'a good story, well told'.That's what I aim for.As for killing JT off, I don't know.His research certainly gets him into plenty of life threatening situations so he'll have to watch out and we'll just have to wait and see.


What would your (Jefferson Tayte's?) advice be to someone researching their family tree who is up against a 'brick wall'?


JT has certainly hit plenty of brick walls and as I like to carry out the research he does in the book for real I've had quite a time trying to climb them with him.The best advice I can give is that the best way to climb a genealogical brick wall is to find a way around it.By which I mean that it's good to think differently about the problem and seek another approach to it.There is often more than one way to find what you're looking for.


Finally, as I know some LostCousins members are thinking of publishing their own electronic book, how difficult was it to put your book into Kindle format, and what was it like as a lone author dealing with an

enormous company like Amazon?


Publishing an ebook or paperback yourself and dealing with Amazon are the easy aspects of becoming an indie author.The process is straightforward and Amazon are the best when it comes to helping authors get noticed.Marketing your work is undoubtedly the hardest part in my opinion and newsletters such as this are a great way to help with that, so thanks, Peter, for recommending my genealogical crime series and for this interview.


And thank you, Steve, for interrupting your vacation to answer my questions.


Note: the third Jefferson Tayte book is due to be released on Kindle in December, with a paperback version following in the spring of 2013.


Save $$$s on your Ancestry subscription

It's amazing that in an era when information can circle the globe in a fraction of a second a big company like Ancestry can charge very different prices for the same subscription in different countries - but they do.


Which Ancestry site is the cheapest? There's a hint in the title of this article! All of the sites that charge in dollars - whether US, Canadian, or Australian - are considerably more expensive than the UK site. Look how little you will pay at!



Note: the published price of a Worldwide subscription on Ancestry's UK website is £155.40, but that includes UK taxes. If you live in the US, Canada, or indeed anywhere other than Europe you'll pay £135.13, as shown in the screenshot above - the actual price will, of course, be displayed before you complete your purchase.


At today's exchange rate that price equates to just $217 (US), or $216 (Canadian), which is a substantial saving compared to the $299 you'd pay for exactly the same subscription (though with a slightly different name) at, or! And although it says 'Initial Annual Membership Fee' it isn't a special offer price - renewals are charged at the same rate.


There are four simple steps to take:


(1) Cancel your existing subscription - do it now, even if it isn't due to expire for some time (you'll still get the time you've paid for). That way there's no risk that you might forget to cancel nearer the time. I always cancel on the day my subscription starts - that's the safest approach.


(2) When you're ready to take out a new subscription* click here to go to (note: if you use that link LostCousins may receive some commission - if you don't we won't).


* when my subscription runs out I can often manage for a week or two without renewing, so that's a way to save even more!


(3) Don't re-register. Simply log-in using your existing user name and password - that way you won't lose anything (and you can even continue using the same site to access Ancestry's records if you prefer).


Tip: if you want to share this tip with friends or relatives please send them a link to this newsletter - that way you'll be supporting LostCousins and its members.


Are you receiving the right newsletter?

Most LostCousins members have some British or Irish ancestry, and the main edition of my newsletter is aimed at those members (it also includes important genealogy news from around the world, including the US and Canada). If you have British or Irish ancestry then you would probably find that edition - which is published twice a month - more useful. Currently your My Details page indicates that you wish to receive news relating to the US and Canada only - if you would like to receive the main edition simply change the settings in the My Interests section:



If you haven't already done so, now would be a good time to complete the other parts of your My Details page - and to change your password if you're still using the temporary one issued when you first registered.


Tip: you can get an instant email reminder of your password by clicking here.



I hope you've found this newsletter interesting, and that you now have a better understanding of how DNA tests might be able to help you unravel some of the mysteries of your family tree.


Description: Description: peter_signature


Peter Calver

Founder, LostCousins


© Copyright 2012 Peter Calver


You may link to this newsletter, and I have included bookmarks so you can - if you wish - link to a specific article by copying the relevant entry in the list of contents at the beginning of the newsletter. However, please email me first if you would like to re-publish any part of the newsletter on your own website or in any other format.