Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

My DNA: What have we learned so far?

Some time ago, I ordered a DNA Test from In the middle of the RootsTech 2017 Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, I received the results. I wrote a blog post about the rough results in a blog post entitled, "My DNA TEST RESULTS are in." The rough results are as follows:
  • British and Irish 87.0%
  • Scandinavian 9.3%
  • Ashkenazi Jewish 2.5%
  • South Asia 1.2%
I have now sent these results out to my children and gotten some initial responses. To understand a little about our family, you need to know that we have 5 Ph.ds, and the rest of my children and their spouses are all capable. professional level researchers. Several of them are also deeply involved in genealogical research. 

There is absolutely no controversy about the British and Irish or Scandinavian. Most of my family lines trace back to England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland. Some go back into the 1600s in America. There are two Scandinavian lines in Demark. All of this is well documented. This leaves the small percentages of Ashkenazi Jewish and South Asia.

The Ashkenazi Jewish line is also easily resolved. I have a Great-great-grandfather named, Charles Godfrey DeFriez who changed his surname to Jarvis when he came to America. DeFriez is a Jewish name and some of the ancestors in this line have the following given names:
  • Marcus Mordecai Jacob
  • Serche Eizik
  • Machteld Machieltje Jacob
Now, I had been waiting to do some research on this family line due to the lack of positive information that they were Jewish, now I can begin to document this line. By the way, none of my children disagree that this our Jewish line. One of the interesting observations sent to me by one of my daughters is the following:
There are two major subgroups of Judaism: Ashkenazi and Sephardic. Generally speaking, the Ashkenazi are from Germany and Eastern Europe and speak Yiddish and Hebrew, while the Sephardic Jews are from further south and speak Ladino and Hebrew. A bit of googling finds a number of features associated with Ashkenazi heritage: high IQ, essential tremor, and hearing loss and deafness. Fortunately, the severe genetic diseases associated with Ashkenazi heritage were not passed down in the family, including Tay-Sachs.
I managed to inherit all of the above features (except, perhaps, the high IQ). 

The South Asia connection is more problematic and has engendered a considerable amount of discussion. There are a number of possibilities:
  • One of our English or Dutch ancestors married an Indian woman during the time when England or the Netherlands were in India. This would seem to be hard to determine and not very likely.
  • Given the percentage, it appears that one of our family lines may be Romani (Roma). We have one line that has this as a distinct possibility. 
The important thing to remember here is that without the extensive genealogical research we have already done (i.e. paper research), these connections would be an absolute mystery. 

If we make any progress in solving these issues, I will write more on the subject. 


  1. Interesting! Do they list the people you match with, and if so, were there any you did not know were relatives?

    Regarding Tay-Sachs, both parents have to be carriers in order for the child to get the disease.

    I think you did get the high IQ.


    1. Yes, they list 36 people so far and I do not know any of them at all. Interesting. Thanks for the nice comment.