Clearing up questions about DNA for Ancestor research

Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links.


New Book:


I was sent a review copy of Pen & Sword’s book Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA,* a Guide for Family Historians and it really is clearing up some of the questions that I had about DNA tests for discovering my ancestors.

Like many, I have done a DNA test or two and then I look at the results and while I can see some “cousins” that I have no idea how we are related, I still wonder what else I can do with my results having taken the test.

There is always the worry that I may have chosen the wrong test to do, and can someone explain what the principles and the purpose of DNA testing is?

Tracing Your Ancestors Usng DNA  *


It is therefore great to have got my hands on a book that aims to make it clear what is the science behind DNA and how it can be of use to those of us who want to use it for furthering our family tree research. It is welcome that the book states that we need to use DNA results in collaboration with traditional record research and so it is important that we continue to look for ancestors in the records as before.  This book covers the subject of DNA in a way that genealogists will find useful and sympathetic to what we are trying to achieve in our research.

Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA is edited by Graham S Holton with contributions from John Cleary, Michelle Leonard, Iain McDonald and Alisdair F. Macdonald and they compare various DNA tests, explain the principles and purposes of doing a test, cover the ethical and legal issues raised and describe what can be learnt from the DNA of our distant ancestors.

I was impressed by how I came away having learnt a lot, even though it is a quite complex subject to tackle. I will admit, however, that it did need some careful reading in some cases before I experienced a number of those “light-bulb” moments when I realised that I now understood more about Y-DNA,  mtDNA, and atDNA.

Recommended for anyone thinking of doing a test – this is an informative volume that most will find interesting to read.


Priced £14.99 but discounted to £11.99 at time of writing.

Read more at Pen & Sword’s website here: Tracing Your Ancestors Using DNA *




*Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links. This does not mean that you pay more just that I make a percentage on the sales from my links. The payments help me pay for the cost of running the site. You may like to read this explanation here:

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Family Networks – Taking the guesswork out of DNA relationships

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I saw this press release from the Living DNA team this week. I for one can’t wait for it to be rolled out!


Family Networks – Taking the guesswork out of DNA relationships

Family Networks - Tree View
Family Networks – Tree View

Living DNA, the global consumer genetics company,  announced this week it will preview “Family Networks”—a new DNA-driven matching system and family tree reconstruction method—at RootsTech 2018, the world’s largest family-history technology conference taking place Feb. 28 – March 3 2018 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Requiring no prior user-generated family research, Living DNA’s family reconstruction tree method is based solely on users’ DNA, gender, and age. Unlike competing organisations, Living DNA’s Family Networks will provide the most precise matching service on the market by analysing a user’s unique motherline and fatherline DNA data (mtDNA and YDNA), on top of the family ancestry line (autosomal).

With Family Networks, we not only predict how users are related to direct matches, but we can also infer through DNA up to 13 generations back to connect matches with whom they share no DNA with today,” said Living DNA co-founder and Managing Director David Nicholson. “The technology behind Family Networks runs through millions of ways in which users in the network are related and automatically works out which genetic trees are possible. This new capability offers distinct benefits to a range of users, from avid genealogists to family history hobbyists, to adoptees and others searching for their family members. It will reduce the risk of human error and support the task of figuring out how each person in a user’s list are related to one another. We’re truly taking the guesswork out of DNA relationships.

Family Networks will go into private beta in Q2 and open beta in Q3 2018 where it will be available to all existing and new Living DNA users. The unique computation this feature provides gives customers- even those who upload from other DNA testing sites- a level of relationship prediction and specificity beyond anything currently on the market. Where competing offerings rely solely on time-consuming and often error-prone user research, Living DNA’s amazing power tools process users’ DNA to identify relatives and define relationships deeper back in time. Through this extremely rich experience, users can even learn how they’re related to people with whom they share no DNA today.

Users need to only provide their gender and birthdate for Living DNA to build a family tree that shows where their matches fit into their family tree, with no need of Gedcom files or any other user input. This can be especially useful for adoptees and family searchers who are trying to locate long-lost family members but who don’t have any information on their biological family, Living DNA can translate their matches into a potential family tree, giving them a clearer place to start from.

Living DNA, which launched in the U.S. in 2017, owes its existence to advances in genomic science and technology. The company makes it easier for users to discover more about their roots in greater detail than ever before by comparing users’ DNA to the DNA of individuals from 80 worldwide regions—more than any other company. That means mainstream consumers who are curious to know where they come from get a regional percentage breakdown that’s ground-breaking in its detail. For example, instead of telling a user that their ancestors may have hailed from Great Britain, Living DNA can express the percentage of their DNA matching Yorkshire, Devon and Cornwall. Living DNA currently has the ability to detect up to 21 regions in the UK, four in Italy and four in China—and the company is adding more all the time.

Living DNA’s 3-in-1 DNA test offers three tests for roughly the same price that most competing companies charge for only one test. From a simple saliva swab, Living DNA not only covers a user’s family line ancestry, but—unlike most other tests—it also includes the user’s motherline and (if male) fatherline ancestry. The company uses the newest DNA chip technology and innovative software technology developed with top universities including University College London, Bristol University and Oxford University. Living DNA also worked with experts to create the ground-breaking Orion DNA chip to help select the widest range of DNA markers that and beneficial for users with ethnicities from all parts of the world.

*Disclosure: Please note this post contains affiliate links. This does not mean that you pay more just that I make a percentage on the sales from my links. The payments help me pay for the cost of running the site. You may like to read this explanation here:

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