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5:58pm on Tuesday, 8th November, 2016:



I sent off to Ancestry.com for a DNA test, and the results came back while I was away.

The good news is that I do have DNA.

The less good news is that the test is, well, misleading. It gives my ethnicity estimate as being:

That 39% Ireland is just flat out incorrect. In my view, it should say 39% Celtic. Now Ancestry.com calls it Ireland, because that's where it sourced the Celts in its survey, however if it had also sourced some Highland Scots it would have perhaps used a different label. So many Americans come from Ireland, though, that they're going to please more people by calling it Ireland than by being less particular.

Of course, it's possible that the labelling is correct and someone in my family has been fooling around. If one of my immediate ancestors had a different father to the one the records say they had, all bets would be off. I know this isn't the case, though, because Ancestry also gives links to people who are close cousins, and the ones it's picked out wouldn't work if the family tree as I understand it was wrong. For example, there's someone it found who is descended from my father's father's mother's sister: this wouldn't have been discovered if my father or my grandfather had been misinformed as to their parentage.

So, for me to be 39% Irish, three out of my eight great-grandparents would have to have an overwhelmingly Irish set of ancestors. Here are where my great-grandparents actually came from:

Those 100% figures go back several generations. The Cooke one does have a trace of Channel Islands in it that I know about, but the rest are all Gloucestershire. The entire population of Cirencester would have had to have come from Ireland for that family to have any substantial Irish ascent in it. Likewise, the Whincup one is in situ in the same Yorkshire village marrying other people from that area for hundreds of years. It can't have come from Ireland. The Hewitt one is similarly fixed in place for centuries in one fairly small area of Yorkshire. The Limbert and Toase branches are more flexible, but even then you have to go back several more generations to find someone who might have had a non-Yorkshire parent. The Wighton and Stott branches come from Banffshire and Perthshire, where they, too, are pretty well embedded.

The 39% comes with an error bar that actually places it between 22% and 54%. This says to me that it's actually covering the two Scottish branches, with a smattering of Welsh from one person five generations of Bartle back, plus perhaps some Irish from a distant (probably maternal) line I couldn't follow.

I guess this means I won't be applying for an Irish passport, then.

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