39% anglo-irish!

As I have always been curious about my ancestry, I made a DNA test on 23andMe. While the company no longer provides statistics about potential medical conditions because of a lawsuit, it does return an ancestry analysis of sorts. In my case, my major ancestry composition is Anglo-Irish!  (with 39% of my DNA) and northern European (with 32%), while only 19% is Franco-German… In retrospect, not so much of a surprise—not because of my well-known Anglophilia but—given that my (known, i.e., at least for the direct ancestral branches) family roots are in Normandy—whose duke invaded Britain in 1056—and Brittany—which was invaded by British Celts fleeing Anglo-Saxons in the 400’s.  What’s maybe more surprising to me is that the database contained 23 people identified as 4th degree cousins and a total of 652 relatives… While the potential number of my potential 4th degree cousins stands in the 10,000’s, and hence there may indeed be a few ending up as 23andMe—mostly American—customers, I am indeed surprised that a .37% coincidence in our genes qualifies for being 4th degree cousins! But given that I only share 3.1% with my great⁴-grandfather, it actually make sense that I share about .1% to .4% with such remote cousins. However I wonder at the precision of such an allocation: could those cousins be even more remotely related? Not related at all? [Warning: All the links to 23andMe in this post are part of their referral program.]


4 Responses to “39% anglo-irish!”

  1. Donci Bardash Says:

    You can cross check the results by uploading your raw data to Gedmatch and comparing results directly with those individuals. Consider asking them to upload their data as well.

  2. Marnie Dunsmore Says:

    Someone I know who is Armenian was recently told by 23andme that she is 60% Italian, even thought that is very unlikely to be true in the last 500 years. Hmmm.

    There was a study done recently that showed that the Northern French and people of the British Isles are probably very closely related, so if you are of Northern French ancestry, then your “Anglo Irish” ancestry could be from a relationship between the British Isles and Northern France from any time in the last 5,000 years!

    People want a specific answer about their ancestry. That encourages people to buy these tests.

    If 23andme were instead to have told you that you were related to other people from Northwest Europe sometime in the last 5,000 years, well, what can I say?!

    It wouldn’t generate many follow on sales.

    I hate to sound cynical, but I am.

    • Xi’an, you will like this if you are interested in ancestry: in Hardwar, there is a family priest for our family line, who has these gigantic books filled with our ancestors’ names; presumably everyone has one? When someone in our family dies, someone goes to Hardwar with the ashes, and asks around to find the priest, and they direct you to the priest in charge (how do they keep track? I have no idea). And then the priest updates the records. It’s a very strange system, and it surprises me that it works (presumably it does). I guess nobody is going to take my ashes to Hardwar, since I live in Germany, and so their records are probably going to get messed up :). A lot of my cousins are Americans now, and so I guess that line will also fade from the records.

      • Thank Shravan: Prior to the French Revolution, births and deaths in France were also registered in church records, with one copy kept in the local church and another copy stored at the corresponding see. When searching for my ancestors, I read through some of those records, which contained information about parents’ jobs and own birthplaces and hence allowed for the genealogical threads to be traced for a few more generations. They also showed the poor grammar and cumbersome writing of some of the priests, whose school exposure was often quite limited. But they were still readable as far back as 1632, being written in French rather than Latin or Breton.

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