The results are in!

So finally the long wait is over – I got the anticipated email from Ancestry to say that my DNA results were now available to view.

I saw the email first thing before driving to work that day, but without time to look.  It was lunchtime before I was able to log into Ancestry and take a peek.

It was no surprise to see that it reckons 88% of my ancestry is from England, Wales and north-western Europe and that probably the greatest proportion is from southeast England.  The Greater London area (which appears to include the Oxfordshire borders) also fits well.  However, it also suggests a link with Devon and Cornwall, where I have absolutely no known ancestors, which is interesting.  As with the LivingDNA profile there is no highlighted association with Norfolk, which is rather disappointing, but probably the biggest surprise is the suggestion of 10% ancestry from Sweden (probably including Denmark)!

Ancestry DNA map
Living DNA map







Comparing the results with those from the LivingDNA test, I see that Cornwall featured there too, so that’s certainly something to have in the back of my mind during my research.  With LivingDNA’s slightly more sophisticated mapping tool, it gives more detail of specific areas within England, including South Yorkshire (maybe my Wakefield ancestors really did come from Yorkshire?).  The European connection featured in this test is 15% Germanic (the map shows Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium).  Viewed in tandem with the Ancestry results, then, my hunch would be that it is the Norfolk connection who had come from across the water, from somewhere in Europe or Scandinavia, which would fit with what I know of immigration to East Anglia.

Ancestry ethnicity estimate

So much for the ethnicity results then.  What about the matches?  This was the aspect of Living DNA which had been so disappointing.  Well there are LOADS of them!  But how could I tell whether any of them were a close match?  At this point I was jolly glad that I had previously come across the International Society of Genetic Genealogy .  Here I found this invaluable table:

Autosomal DNA match thresholds

I thought I’d start by focussing on those where the amount of shared centiMorgans is either very high or extremely high.  Ancestry helpfully indicates whether or not the matched person has an Ancestry tree which you can view and will take you to your common ancestor if there appears to be one.  Annoyingly, my top 2 matches (72 and 62 shared centiMorgans) have no tree to view, so I have left them for the time being.  I moved on to those in the ‘very high’ category and that same evening messaged four of them (better not go overboard to start with or I might not cope with the correspondence!).  Two were connected to the Neighbour tree, one to the Mitchells and one to the Georges.  The following day I had a reply from one person, which was very exciting!  This has led to us exchanging ancestral photos, research notes and hunches.  So far there has been no reply from any of the others, but then I have experienced this in the past, with people taking a long time to respond to messages via Ancestry.

I am very pleased with the matching results which the Ancestry test has provided, and I can work my way through my closest matches and those with common ancestors to see how they fit in.  I like the way you can then group your matches and colour-code them according to the family they belong to. Perhaps I can also read up on why I have high matches with people who apparently have no shared surnames or birth locations.  It can all get a bit technical, but there is lots of help out there and hopefully all those detailed Family Tree magazine articles will now make rather more sense!

My family and other plants

It was something that Roy Lancaster had written in the January issue of The Garden which resonated with me:  “over the years I have come to regard [my plants] as an extended family…Like all gardens, there are losses and new arrivals that help provide a continuing sense of anticipation and pleasure”.

What good fortune he has had to have lived in the same house for well over 30 years!  Hence he can look out into his garden at plants collected over that period, some given to him by friends, some bought by him and some grown from cuttings or seeds.  As he says, “each comes with a story”.

And so it is, as we prepare for a house move this summer, that our garden plants are much in my mind.  As frequent movers (due to my husband’s job), many of our plants are deliberately grown in pots for ease of transportation, but to others, as with friends made in our current location, we will have to bid a fond farewell in due course.

The other week we did the annual repotting of the amaryllis bulbs after their overwintering in the dark and cool of the garage.  One of them is named Vera (I can show you the label if you don’t believe me), named after the dear elderly lady to whom it previously belonged.  Somehow we inherited it after her death more than 15 years ago (and two houses ago).  It blooms faithfully.

The hydrangea in the front garden was from a cutting of a plant in my Mum’s garden, and which I don’t think will tolerate moving.  However, anticipating this I have two cuttings from it in the kitchen which I am hopeful will thrive and can in time be planted in a new garden.

Currently in the greenhouse there’s a fuchsia given us by someone two moves ago who also, sadly, has now passed on.  I was saddened that all of my fuchsias last year developed some kind of infection which distorts the leaves and flowers.  It’s a great shame because I love fuchsias.

We also have a peony which dates from three moves ago.  Now rather crowded out by Japanese anemones, it may not be worth the effort to attempt a fourth move.

As with family and friends there are inevitably losses over the years.  I do like fruiting trees and bushes.  We had a small cherry two moves ago which, with herculean effort, we did manage to move and replant and hopefully it is still thriving at our previous house.  The cherry bought to replace it here, though, very sadly died.  We came to the conclusion that the conditions were not right.

Attending a family funeral two weeks’ ago it was sobering to realise how many of that generation have passed on in the time we have been in our current house.   But at the same time it was heartening to see the ‘younger generation’, all grown up now with gainful employment and meaningful relationships, and to learn of one new twiglet due to make an appearance on the family tree later this year.

Pouring over the photo albums in the pub after the funeral proved to be an unexpectedly bonding experience.  Spotting ourselves as young children, we shared memories of the games we played at the legendary Christmas family parties.

Losses and new growth, plants to say goodbye to and cuttings to take with us.  2020 is likely to bring new discoveries both of ancestors on the tree and plants in a new garden.  One plant, though, which we are determined to take with us, is the wisteria which for over 20 years has been entwined around a framed garden seat.  Last weekend we took a pruning saw to it and separated the two.  We managed to keep a surprising amount of growth, so now we just hope that the shock of separation will not prove fatal and that it will join the family of plants to be moved by one means or another to pastures new.  Both plants and family history provide that “continuing sense of anticipation and pleasure”.

Newly separated wisteria