So I have done a recent genealogy test with Tell Me Gen as I have for a number of years been fascinated with my family history and wanting to know my ethnicity.
One of the first things that peaked my interest was a video I saw on Facebook which involved 10 people in the US all undertaking ancestry and ethnicity tests – they were asked their preconceptions over what they thought their ethnicity was an then given the results. This is the link to that video.
What I remember seeing on this video was how many people’s conceptions of their ethnicity were wrong, for instance there is one man interviewed who was adamant he wouldn’t have German ancestry yet 5% of his DNA came from the area. Also what was surprising is two people involved in the experiment didn’t realise they were related to each other as cousins!
On top of this there were a couple of ITV shows that I watched which were fascinating. There was one about Ant and Dec who are a really famous TV presenting duo in the UK where they traced their ancestry and actually found out they were very distant cousins as well.
There was also a second documentary involving the cast of the British TV soap Coronation Street which had similar results when actresses Sally Ann Matthews (who currently plays Jenny in the soap) and Amanda Barrie who played Alma were in fact related.
— Sally Ann Matthews (@SallyAnMatthews) September 5, 2018
So anyway when my sister’s other half decided to order a test for his mum’s birthday and he did one too I decided to do one myself.
What the test involved?
After doing my research, I ordered the Tell Me Gen test from Amazon.
The test arrived and I had to register on the Tell Me Gen website: https://tellmegen.com/ which also allowed me to print off the labels to send my DNA sample back. I believe with other ancestry DNA kits you normally have to take a swab but with this one I actually had to spit into a test tube through a funnel before mixing it with some preservation solution before sending it off to their lab in Spain where I then had to await the results which I was emailed a notification for. The wait time was around 4 weeks.
Prior to my Ancestry DNA test I had done some research into the family tree and learned some things. I myself have been born and raised in West Bromwich which is in the West Midlands in the UK.
My uncle had actually traced my mum’s family tree back to the 1700’s through Ancestry a few years ago (I do have a printout of this around the house somewhere which I would like to find and possibly share on here but it has been some years since I saw it so and given the results which I will share below I would like to see this again.
On my dad’s side I knew that my grandmother was not from the West Midlands, she originally came from Lancashire and was born in 1908 and was from a very poor family – even spending some years in workhouses which still existed in the Edwardian period and up to the First World War. My grandad was raised in the area but my great granddad came from Poplar in London and was a merchant salesman.
I had also learned some information on the origins of my surname from a book my sister bought on holiday. My surname is of course Wilson and like many English surnames with “son” in e.g Johnson, Thompson it comes form the medieval way of announcing your lineage as a son e.g. “son of John”, “son of Thomas” or in my case “son of William”. However the book also mentions William is the English translation of the German surname Wilhelm.
I’d also learned through the TV shows I’d watched above that due to the movement of people on Britain being invaded in it’s history by the Anglo-Saxons that it may be possible that I had some German ancestry within my DNA as this is actually very common in people who are White British.
The results did show that I was correct in my deductions over German ancestry but I was surprised about how high the number was – at 49.5% ancestry and actually being higher than my English ancestry which was second at 34.7%.
The ancestry DNA test also revealed some other surprises, I am 13.9% Iberian which is Spanish / Portuguese and even 1.9% Finn.
The test also revealed by maternal haplogroup as T (the maternal haplogroup is a maternal line which goes back to the first human ancestors which settled in East Africa 150,000 years ago which is the “mitochondrial Eve”. The mitochondrial Eve is a subject I have would like to find out more from.
What lessons has it taught me?
The first thing that doing my ancestry test has taught is actually a little bit more about myself as I do wonder whether some of my characteristics and interests which were probably quite random might have connections to my genes.
I recently became a licenced Zumba instructor as I love dancing and one of it’s appeals is the music which does now make me thing with the 13.9% Iberian whether this is partly to do with my ancestry. I also have to admit I like to do things efficiently and can be quite impatient if it’s not the case which are often considered German stereotypes.
I was surprised by the amount of German ancestry as I had read it was common and could be as high as 40% yet I’m almost half this amount which does make me want to delve into my family history further to see where these connections could potentially be though whether they could be identified is a different matter.
I also found it a valuable lesson that at the moment we live in an increasingly divided world which can be upsetting yet this DNA test for me highlights that we are all connected in some way an though we all have different countries and cultures which make up our identity, we are ultimately one human race and we cross over more than we think we do.
I will be continuing to do more research into this as time goes on but I would love to know if you have been inspired to start looking into your own ancestry DNA? Or maybe you have and had even more surprising results than my own? Let me know in the comments below.