DNA test results and my favourite science hero!


My DNA test results arrived today and it goes to show how much I am into full genealogy history mode as I research and blog about my family tree. Somewhat bizarrely as I read the opening introduction stuff I thought about Watson & Crick studying the structure of deoxyribonucleic acid, the molecule containing our ancestral information for cells. Despite my initial university education in chemistry, neither of these two scientists made it into my top 3 science heroes who have remained at the top for 40+ years of my life. In 3rd place is Dmitry Mendeleev, the Russian scientist who created the periodic table of elements which fascinated me as a school child and propelled me towards an early career. In second place is Michael Faraday, the English scientist born in 1751 who pioneered what we now call “electrochemistry”. This was the field in which I did my doctoral research so a deep understanding of Faraday’s laws and principles was essential. A few years after I completed my PhD I was invited to a Royal Society inauguration presentation by my university tutor, Professor John Ottaway from Strathclyde University. In the latter half of his presentation John acknowledged how his early PhD students had worked so well with him in his areas of research in which Dr C was his second student and I was his third. He developed his presentation a bit like a family tree showing who was his own university mentor (Prof Eddie Bishop at Exeter), then who was Eddie’s mentor and so on going back in time further and further until he came to ……… Isaac Newton! The whole room was stunned into silence at how he had researched and worked all this out ….. without any DNA test results too! Naturally Isaac is my number one science hero, probably the greatest scientist of all time, and I have even read a cut down version of his diaries. One of my blogs about him is here Standing on the Shoulders of Isaac Newton  I hope you will read it as it has quite a few surprises about him!


Anyway back to my family tree. It appears to suggest that ethnically I am almost “the full English breakfast” mostly originating from the south west of England which does not surprise me as most of my traceable ancestors so far were from Cornwall.

DNA test results ethnic profile

The second map shows how in the early 1800s my ancestors migrated from South to North, from fields to towns, and this was presumably how I became a native of Cumbria with my mother of Cornish stock marrying my dad whose ancestors were from Devon.

DNA test results ethnic profile and national migration

The final map shows larger scale migration with my Cornish ancestors migrating, in the majority of cases, to USA and specifically to Wisconsin and Illinois and then on to California where there are still large communities celebrating their early culture.

DNA test results ethnic profile and global migration

The results also show that I have 3880 living 3rd and 4th cousins which I find quite mind boggling, and scary too as an introverted only-child! I have already been contacted by one person and whereas I am more than happy to share ancestry data from my research I’m not exactly on the lookout, at my age, for 3880 long lost cousins. But that’s no reflection on anyone who might contact me, it’s about who I am and what I am.


20 thoughts on “DNA test results and my favourite science hero!

  1. Hey, great blog, from a family history point of view I’d love to get my DNA tested, but I’m sceptical about the reliability of the algorithms (more accurately the data used), but more so the privacy implications, of a company holding such personal data! I’d be interested inyour thoughts?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I think that scepticism and caution is healthy, but it needs to be put into personal context. Algorithms etc are being improved all the time, results are updated as improvements are made or new data is added. It is where it is! Personally I was never interested in finding long lost cousins, but I was interested in my ethnicity origins for my daughters sake. (My wife is a 100% Newar from Kathmandu in Nepal and I’m a mongrel Englishman!). Regarding privacy …. we already give up so much. So many things we sign up for, or even buy now, we are asked to give out full name, address, email, phone number, even dob sometimes. Before long we’ll be asked for sock size and inside leg measurements if you’re male ….. or something! I reckon that at my late age there’s absolutely nothing could be done with my DNA that could have a lasting effect.

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        1. As a Blogger you get to decide how long you would like the story to be! My goal is to share and reach as many readers as possible and share Bloggers` awesome stories. Thank you so much for your interest to share your story, Dr. B !

          Liked by 1 person

  2. The Isaac Newton book recommendations are now on my reading list! I struggled with chemistry class until we advanced to biochem and I was able to see how it all worked in our bodies. I am balking at getting the DNA done, for various and sundry reasons, one of which is the cousin issue. I have 16 living first-cousins that I avoid, who needs more layers??!! As for ethnicity, my family seems to have staunchly avoided people of color for nearly 300 years and my blonde hair and blue eyes are proof. I finally injected some brown eyes into the tree, and my brown-eyed girl married a fella whose parents were born in the Phillipines, so that ought to stir things up for my grandchidren’s grandchidren…

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    1. Beware of the Neal Stephenson trilogy, it’s an absolute monster, stunningly well written, a mixture of fact and fiction but…. detailed, accurate in terms of events, with a number of intertwined themes ranging from the foundation of America opening the first book in Massachusetts, Mediterranean piracy, coin counterfeiting in London. It’s hard to place dear old Isaac in this at first! The counterfeit book is the easiest to read, but that trilogy is a masterpiece.
      The DNA is worth doing, I didn’t want the cousins stuff either, but my daughter is interested because my wife is 100% Newar caste from Kathmandu and quite brown skinned, and my daughter now knows she is absolutely 50:50 with no EU contamination 😂😂

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  3. Seems like they did a good job on providing geographic background on your DNA sample. Migration is an interesting topic. I’m always wondering exactly why people moved and why they chose a particular place to move to.

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    1. Yes Eilene, I’m quite pleased with the geographic background ethnically. I always knew that my first few generations back were from Cornwall, even though I was born and raised in Cumbria. My great grandfather moved north mid 1800s bringing his young son with him. In turn the son married to another Cornish girl but in Cumbria, and they were my mothers parents. It’s an identical tale on my dads side. But, going back a couple of more generations there are migrations to Wisconsin from Cornwall, tin miners moving because of lost employment when the tin market crashed, and to Wisconsin because they provided real expertise for the lead mines opening. I’m researching this quite a lot now which is the topic of my last few blog posts. And … thank you for commenting too 🙏🙏

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    1. No Darlene, the heading says “Northern Europe” but then suggests Devon and Cornwall plus South East England as predominant sub regions. The likeliest French migration I have always suspected is from Brittany across to Cornwall for tin, a really precious metal going back to Phoenician times. Did you know that legend has it that they called the Cornish coast the Cassiderates Isles after the word cassiterite the scientific name for tin oxide ore? Blog alert!!! Anyway, I’m more Celt than Norman!

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  4. Isn’t it interesting! As genealogists, we are blessed to have scientists (along with cartographers, geographers, linguists etc etc ) help us advance our family trees! Your mention of Strathclyde University rang a bell – it’s one of only a few institutions that offer a postgraduate program in genealogy. I’ve heard good things of Strathclyde. Best of luck finding some of your DNA cousins!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Is that map of the USA supposed to be accurate? The marker seems to be in California rather than Illinois. Interesting about Wisconsin, this is where most of the Nordic immigrants settled in the USA.

    The movement of people maps are always interested, coming from the east I have imagined Viking blood running through my veins!

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    1. If you look closely at the map it shows a direct line to the Wisconsin area, but not one to California. As I said in the post, a number of my ancestors went to Wisconsin but then in later life moved to California from Wisconsin so maybe this is what the map is showing. However these are the two main areas where these miners ended up. I’m currently researching one family who began it all sailing to Newfoundland in 1833, then on to Boston MA in a Brig, Eliza.

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