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I started this blog to help my matches on FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe. DNA testing has the potential to reunite long lost cousins but there are lots of barriers that impede this process and this blog attempts to help overcome them.


Trying to keep things simple whilst also achieving a requisite level of scientific accuracy is a challenge. As a result these pages are likely to undergo a continuous process of editing and refinement.

Use the menu to the right to go to your topic of interest.

And if you have any questions or comments, please do get in touch.

Other sources of information which you may find useful include the following:
  1. ISOGG Wiki page on autosomal DNA
  2. DNA testing for genealogy - getting started Part 3: autosomal DNA by CeCe Moore, Geni.com blog, 1 August 2012
  3. Autosomal DNA by Angela J. Cone
  4. Ask a geneticist by Dr. Erin Cline Davis, a science writer at 23andMe
  5. The atDNA gamble: playing the odds by Judy G. Russell
  6. FamilyTreeDNA's FAQ page relating to autosomal DNA testing

18 comments:

  1. Hi, I am a student in Ireland currently studying history. I am doing a project on Irish slavery. I have chosen this topic because I am very interested and fascinated about it. I have recently watched a presentation you have done on this topic on YouTube. For my project I need two sources which both have to be a recognised history book, I was just wondering if you knew of any I could try get hold of and use for my project ?

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    Replies
    1. Try these:
      Ireland, Slavery, and Anti-Slavery; Nini Rodgers
      If the Irish Ran the World; Don Akenson

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  2. Hello Maurice. I attended your "What's New in Irish Records" presentation in Toronto at the OGS conference last week and it was highly informative. Have you had a chance to post the presentation slides? Perhaps I am looking in the wrong place?

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  3. I am so happy to find your blog while exploring my X matches. I know I get my MTdna from my mother but my X chromosome is very similar to father's brother's X chromosome, which comes from Catherine Devereux. I think my 8th great grandmother was Anna Gleason, daughter of Thomas, who lived in Massachusetts in the mid-1600s. Here is the line: Gleason, Gibbs (late 1600s), Aikens (1700s,) Nash (early 1800s), and Devereux(1820s to early 1900s). Can you shed any light on this? I have confirmed DNA match with a Nash (3rdGG). Is there any hope of finding an earlier match?

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    Replies
    1. Irish records tend to peter out around 1800. There is a chance you will be able to go back further but only if you are very lucky, for example, if they were gentry.

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  4. Hi Maurice. Great Blog! My mother's mother (now deceased) was adopted and my mother has had no luck with the local authorities in getting information on her mother's situation. Which DNA test do think would give my mother the most information about her origins?

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    Replies
    1. Try an autosomal DNA test. If you think her parents were American, do Ancestry; if they were Irish or British, do FTDNA. Upload the raw data to Gedmatch. If there are no close matches, test with all 3 major companies - Ancestry, FTDNA, 23andme.

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  5. Hi Maurice,
    Can you please tell me, if I have a X chromosome match to someone on Gedmatch, does that mean we are related on my mother's side, or my matches' mother's side, or both?
    I am an adopted middle aged woman seeking to find any blood relatives. I have exhausted all the search methods and am now entirely relying on DNA. My closest match, reference above, is a female third cousin, approx. 3.2 generations apart.
    Thank you in advance for reading my note. I'll await your reply.

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    Replies
    1. Have a read of this blog post ... http://dnaandfamilytreeresearch.blogspot.co.uk/2013/05/analysing-dna-matches-step-32-x-dna.html

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  6. Hello MAURICE, I would like to correspond with you regarding my FAULK DNA SURNAME PROJECT (the 5 member R1a section). I (FTDNA Kit # 266152) have led the way among the 5 of us. This is by testing my paternal Y-111 STRs, the BIG Y & GENO 2.0, MTDNA, FAMILY FINDER (Autosomal). Also CLAN DONALD (J. DOUGLAS "DOUG" McDONALD) & CHRIS MORLEY analysis. I have memberships in the various R1a projects including the VIKING PROJECT. Also YFull & YSEQ analysis. I've successfully encouraged our 4 other members to test for my TERMINAL R1a SNP YP412. Whether they did it at FTDNA or YSEQ and they are all positive for it. I realize that my terminal SNP has 3 downstream SNPs, that they could be positive for. Our PROJECT at FTDNA is best articulated on WORLDFAMILIES.NET (Group Administrator - TERRY BARTON). TERRY BARTON informed me that our matches could / might be FALSE POSITIVES due to CONVERGENCE. Our deep clade NORDIC YP412 ancestor is only circa 900-1500 years old. To quote JOHN CHANDLER (Alumni MIT), our common surname suggest "a more recent MRCA. Three of our 5 paper trails indicate that we descend from my patriarch, RICHARD "The Immigrant" FALK (Folk/Foulk/Foulke), 1660-1712, arriving at (pre-Yorktown) YORK RIVER, VIRGINIA in 1668. As a matter of fact, the other 2 LOUISIANA members descend from LUKE FAULK (1735-1788), who some of us feel that he may be a grandson of RICHARD FALK. The GENETIC DISTANCE from me to our LUKE FAULK members is 3 & 4, with respect to our group modal only GD of 1 & 2. Any of your thoughts are appreciated. Thanx, MITCH FAULK

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mitch, drop me an email and let's discuss ... mauricegleeson AT doctors.org.uk

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  7. G'day Maurice
    I was direct to your site by the ISOGG web page and I am hoping you can tell me if I am looking for the impossible. I have used the Ancestry Kit and uploaded to Family Tree and My Heritage.
    I two questions:-
    1. My maternal grandfather's grandfather and great grandfather are unknown. Is it likely that DNA would break that wall down?
    2. It is believed that my wife and her first cousin, also female, had different maternal grandfathers. The Ancestry DNA seems to confirm this with no matches on the cousins DNA for the geographic areas that my wife has. Their matches are mostly through the grandmother's line. However, the first cousin believes she has a link in the late 18th century. So is it possible to use DNA to be definite about the grandfather and is it possble to have a match from more that 200 years but more recent?

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    Replies
    1. 1. since the connection is so far back, you are really stretching the limits of the reach of atDNA ... but if you are lucky, and if enough of the right people join the databases, you may be able to solve the mystery. But it will take a lot of work testing known family members to eliminate cousins from non-relevant lines.
      2. definite, no. Probable, yes. The biggest clue will be no matches via their respective maternal grandfathers lines.

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  8. Hi Maurice,
    I have matched on Ancestry with a lady whose father was adopted. We share 580 cm across 19 segments. The paper trail and shared matches lead to my paternal grandfather or his brother. I also match this lady on X chromosome on FTDNA. If both her grandparents were related to me would that inflate cms shared? I don't know if she is my half first cousin or 2nd cousin?

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    Replies
    1. Find out how old she is and look at her place in the tree - how likely is it that there is a generation gap between you? She could also be a half-1st cousin. The X match is only significant if substantial (ie >20cM). And yes, if both her grandparents are related to you, that will increase the amount of DNA shared.

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  9. Today, you did an amazing job at the Unlock You Past in Seattle. You provided more information than anyone who could possible absorb in one day. One of the handout had "A Strategic Approach to Irish Records" incorporated in one PDF. Is there be one available that is not imbedded in a PDF so I could print a much larger version? This one is a bit too small to read.

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