- 2 October 2012
your DNA partners NEW FEATURE
Whenever possible links are
included to the websites or articles mentioned in the newsletter (they are
highlighted in blue or purple and underlined,
so you can't miss them).For your convenience, when you click on a link a new
browser window or tab will open (so that you don’t lose your place in the
newsletter) - if nothing seems to happen then you need to enable pop-ups in
To go to the main LostCousins
website click the logo at the top of this newsletter. If you're not already a
member, do join - it's free, and you'll get an email to alert you whenever
there's a new edition of this newsletter available!
I've written many times about the big
savings that can be made by switching your Ancestry subscription to a different
site, but I get so many emails asking for more details that I'm going to run
over them once more.
Here are the facts: Ancestry offers a Worldwide subscription through all of its sites, but the
cost varies enormously from one site to another - this partly reflects changes
in exchange rates since the prices were fixed, but some of the differences are
too large to be explained entirely by currency movements.
Even if you don't need a Worldwide subscription you might still be able to save money
by switching. You might even be able to get a better (or more appropriate)
subscription and save money.
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 would pay at Ancestry.co.uk!
the published price of a Worldwide subscription on
Ancestry's UK website is £155.40, but that includes UK taxes. So long as you
live outside the European Union 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 $210 (Australian), $218 (US), or $215 (Canadian), which is a substantial saving compared to the
price you'd pay for exactly the same subscription (though with a slightly different
name) at Ancestry.com.au, Ancestry.com, or Ancestry.ca! 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, unless you're in the first 7 days of a subscription longer than one month which has been automatically renewed, in which case you'll receive a full refund). 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) Wait until your existing subscription has expired - otherwise you won't be able to switch sites. Then when you're ready to take out a new
subscription* click here
to go to Ancestry.co.uk (note: if you use that link LostCousins may receive some commission - if you
don't we won't).
(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
* 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!
You can still save money if you don't
currently have a Worldwide subscription - for example,
the cost of a UK Heritage Plus subscription at Ancestry.com.au is $215.40 which
is slightly more than you'd pay for a Wordwide
subscription at Ancestry.co.uk!
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.
Newspaper Archive, the joint venture between the British Library and BrightSolid (owners of findmypast and Genes Reunited) now
has over 5,750,000 newspaper pages online, taken from historic copies of
hundreds of local and regional newspapers. Currently you can get 15 free
credits when you register for the first time - potentially enough to view 3
I've found the records useful not only
for researching my family tree, but also for researching the area where I live
- which has changed enormously over the past 200 years.
there's also a collection of British local newspapers that can be accessed free
at many public libraries (or online using your library ticket) - and, whilst
it's a much smaller collection, there's little or no overlap so it's worth
checking both. Some libraries also offer access to The Times archive and some
other national newspapers - these are particularly useful when you want to put
events in your family history into an historical context.
When we arrange for our own Y-DNA and mtDNA to be tested the results can only ever tell us about
the ancestors in our direct paternal and maternal lines - the lines that run
down the outside edges of our family tree. They can't tell us anything about
the remaining 99% of our ancestors, which is why the Family
Finder test I wrote about in my last newsletter is so exciting.
However, whilst your mtDNA
and, if you are male, your Y-DNA are virtually identical to that of your
ancestors in your direct maternal and paternal lines, your autosomal DNA is a
mishmash. It isn't identical to, or even an
approximation to, the DNA of any one ancestor - it has little bits from all of
them. In other words, it's full of clues to your ancestry, but in isolation it
doesn't prove anything. It's
certainly unlikely to answer specific questions - the sort of questions that
need answering if there's a particular 'brick wall' you are determined to knock
Imagine that you could re-draw your
family tree so that your 'brick wall' ancestors were all at the edges of the
tree, so that you could use the precise Y-DNA and mtDNA
tests to find out about them. It's impossible, of course, and yet..... what if you could find another person who could provide the
DNA sample you need, someone who shares the same ancestral line and has
inherited the Y chromosome or mtDNA of your ancestor?
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
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 from today you can 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
How does this new feature work? Very
simply, you look for DNA partners in precisely the same way that you search for
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
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.
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.
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 t he 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'.
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
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).
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
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 from the last newsletter 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
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
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
Whether we're using DNA or more traditional methods to research our family
tree there could be occasions when we
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
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.
How would you feel if you
discovered that one of your relatives had been jailed 5 times and buried in an unmarked
Leicestershire suffragette Alice Hawkins was imprisoned on 5 occasions
because she fought for the rights of women. A mother of six, she worked as a
shoe machinist, but still found time to speak out for a cause she believed in.
Last week a memorial service was held at which friends and relatives
commemorated her life - according to a BBC news
article her great-grandson, Peter Barratt, said the whole family was
"immensely proud" of her actions.
I'd also be immensely proud to have someone like Alice Hawkins in my tree
- how about you?
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
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!
The following article was contributed by LostCousins member Peter Taylor:
The recent article titled Genes for
Face Shape Identified (Lost Cousins Newsletter 22 September 2012) set me
thinking about other physical characteristics which tend to be handed down
ancestral lines. My late mother, Mary 'Mollie' Wilkinson (1924-1978), used to
speak affectionately of 'the Wilkinson finger'.
Whenever the latest Wilkinson descendant was born, she
would rush off to examine its tiny fingers to see if the outer joint on the
smallest finger on each hand had this characteristic slight inward cranking
towards the other fingers. Then, excitedly, she would show everyone that he, or
she is truly a Wilkinson! My own smallest fingers and those of all my three
children share this physical characteristic.
My mother's paternal grandfather
was Richard WILKINSON (1854 - 1927) who married Sara Jane ASHWORTH (1858 -
1927). I am in touch with Sara's first cousin, four times removed, Andrew
ASHWORTH, who has emailed me with the information that he does NOT have this
physical characteristic but shares a distinctive forehead shape with his ASHWORTH
ancestors, so 'the finger' does not appear to have come from the ASHWORTH side
of the family. However, Andrew's mother
is Carole, née WILKINSON, and she DOES have it!
Other families may have another
distinctive feature that identifies them as members of that family and it
occurred to me that the Internet can provide a useful way of gathering
information, to an extent that was never previously available to our ancestors.
I should love to know how many
other descendants of the WILKINSON family share this particular characteristic
of their little fingers.
Bramley, Leeds, UK
I was particularly interested to read what Peter Taylor had written
because there's also a genetic trait in my family, which I believe comes from
my mother's side (if only I'd taken more notice at the time I was told about
it!). What about your family?
Findmypast have recently added a
further 175,000 baptism and burial records for Middlesex - click here to find out more and see a list of the
parishes included. Other smaller recent additions include burial records from Derbyshire, and baptisms and marriages from Kent.
It has become apparent that the transcriptions of about half of the 1911
England & Wales census entries at Ancestry don't include the Schedule
Number, which is one of the two census references you'll need when completing
your My Ancestors page.
It's a strange omission considering that the Schedule Number is one of the
references you can specify when searching this census at Ancestry, but it
needn't stop you entering your relatives - for ordinary households the Schedule
Number is clearly shown in the top right-hand corner of the census form.
It's very easy to publish information on the Internet, whether you write a
blog, contribute to forums, upload family trees, or have your own website - but
there's little or no quality control, which sadly means that the level of
accuracy can be very low.
Everybody makes mistakes, but some people have a vested interest in
selling a particular point of view - politicians, for example. With the US
Presidential Election just 5 weeks away I was interested to discover a supposedly
non-partisan site called Politifact.com
which analyses claims made by political figures from both sides - I even
downloaded the app for my smartphone - but of more general interest is the
forthcoming launch of Hypothes.is which will aim
to cover the entire Internet using crowd-sourcing.
Of course, the danger for any experiment of this kind is that the people
posting comments could be even more misguided (or bigoted) than the people
whose words they are criticising - but the founders of Hypothes.is have apparently
developed a system that will overcome problems like this.
Wouldn't it be great if the companies who run the big genealogy sites provided
some simple means of commenting on the trees that others have posted?
It's so hard to get errors corrected - often the person who posted the
original information proves either uncontactable or unamenable - and as a
result the same mistakes can get copied time and time again by unsuspecting researchers.
All too often the wrong version becomes so prevalent that it is accepted as
fact, and those of us who have taken the time to research the evidence are
considered slightly deranged for sticking to our guns!
Last year there weren't very many entries for my jam competition, but they
were all very good - and the winning entry was absolutely outstanding!
This year there are once again two categories: Tomato jam and Open
Entries for the tomato jam category may include other fruit (my own recipe
includes lemon or lime, and usually stem ginger too) - but tomato must be the main
ingredient apart from sugar. Given the weather I expect there will be some
green tomato jam entered this year!
Please remember that this is a jam competition - if you enter chutneys or
other savoury concoctions the judges (my wife and I) will happily devour them,
and may even compliment you on them, but you won't be considered for the two
prizes. However, if there is sufficent demand I may add a chutney category next
The address for entries is shown on the Contact Us page; all entries
should arrive during the month of November. If you send a recipe it must be
accompanied by a sample pot - unaccompanied recipes will not be assessed.
All entrants will receive a free LostCousins subscription of between 6 and
12 months duration, and there will be appropriate prizes for the winners of
Tip: if you think you're in with a
chance of winning my competition, why not have a go at the competition in the
October issue of Gardeners World (page 115)?
Do you like wine? I've got two tickets (worth £10 each) for the Tesco Wine
Fair that's being held in London on Sunday 28th October, and I'm going to give
them away to the member who adds the most entries to his or her My Ancestors page between 2nd-21st
October. If the winner doesn't live near London he or she can nominate a cousin
or friend - who must also be a LostCousins member - who can attend.
It's a chance to taste hundreds of wines and champagnes from all over the
world for absolutely nothing! To be in with a chance of winning add at least 20
new entries to your My Ancestors
page, then send me an email telling me how many you have added (your email must
arrive by 22nd October as the tickets will be sent to the winner or nominee by post).
Tip: your My Summary page shows
how many entries you've made - if you check it now, and then again on 21st
October the difference in the totals will tell you how many you've added.
If you've got a sweet tooth and are very discerning then you would, like
me and my wife, find the Hotel Chocolat
chocolates from the Chocolate Tasting Club
absolutely amazing. Catering for all tastes with 6 different collections (not
just milk and dark) they're not only the most expensive chocolates I've ever
tasted but also the best - which is why I splash out on half-a-dozen boxes each
year, even though it might mean turning the thermostat down another degree to
pay for them!
I'm not sure how much longer this offers lasts, but right now you can get your
first box for just £9.95 (instead of £19.95) when you follow this link and enter the
discount code FGAFF0109 - you even
get a bonus gift valued at £7. There's absolutely no obligation to continue as
a club member, although you might find it tempting to stay at least until
In my last newsletter I mentioned that GiffGaff offers
250 minutes of phone calls, unlimited texts, and virtually unlimited Internet
for mobile phones - all for just £10 a month with no contract or other tie-in.
At the time they were actually offering unlimited minutes, but banned
tethering (which is where you use your phone as a WiFi hotspot - very handy if
you have a laptop or tablet, or a wife who can't get a signal on her Orange
I knew there were changes in the offing, because they surveyed their
customers asking for suggestions (wow!), and starting in a few weeks time the
£10 deal will offer 250 minutes, unlimited texts, plus a massive 1Gb of mobile data
- and tethering will be allowed for the first time. For me it makes it an even
better deal since my mobile Internet usage never comes close to 1Gb in a month,
but I do like to be able to access the Internet on my netbook when I'm out and
about. Click here
to get a free SIM and £5 of free credit.
From today until 28 October you can save £10 on almost any order of £75 or
more from Tesco Direct ('Sellers at Tesco' are not included) when you click here
and use the code TD-MXTN at the
online checkout. You can even get the discount if you pick the order up at your
local store, just so long as you placed your order online. So if you were
thinking of buying someone a Kindle
for Christmas it's a chance to save £10
compared to Amazon's prices, although sadly you won't find the new colour
screen models at Tesco.
By the way, if you have read either
(or both!) of Steve Robinson's genealogy
mysteries, whether on your Kindle, your PC, or simply as a good old book, do
post a review at Amazon to help others make up their mind! User reviews are,
for me, the number one source of guidance when it comes to low cost one-off
items, although for expensive household items I always check what Which? magazine has had to say.
Finally, if you're thinking of entering my jam-making competition - or
even if you aren't - why not pop along to your local supermarket just as
they're discounting their produce before it goes out of date (this happens at
7.30pm at my local store, but all stores are different, even within the same
chain). There's nothing like a pile of cheap fruit and vegetables to inspire
Just after this newsletter went to press
I made a great discovery - it's now possible to buy a Worldwide subscription to
findmypast through their British site!
You might think that's no big deal -
after all, worldwide subscriptions have been on sale through findmypast's
overseas sites for some time. But the Search at the overseas sites is very,
very different from what existing UK subscribers are used to - in fact it's
closer to what you'll find at the new FamilySearch site. So for me it's a great
relief that it's now possible to buy a Worldwide
subscription and continue to use the existing Search for British records.
Findmypast are offering an Introductory
Discount on the price of a Worldwide subscription -
you can save £20 on a 12 month subscription or £10 on a 6 month subscription
(remember that 12 month subscriptions are always much better value). You don't
need a discount code, but you can help to support LostCousins by following this
link to the findmypast site.
I hope you've found this newsletter interesting, and that you're finding my articles about DNA
testing useful - do let me know either way!
© Copyright 2012 Peter Calver
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.