My Great British Forebears

Living DNA reckons my autosomes make me 100% British.They could be almost right – I have a Norwegian great-grandfather, Marthin NIELSEN, and know the names of his parents. I also have a great grandmother who told a census enumerator that she was born in France. The Channel Islands have, I think, been in French hands for a short time now and again – and were known as “The French Isles” for a while  –  but have for most of the last 500 years been a Crown Possession, not part of England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom.

MH_Ethnicity_GB&Ire_DNAMy “paper research” has taken me back on the Y-line to a 9th great grandfather, John HESSEY born 1854. If I could make similar progress on all lines I would have 2,046 grand/great-grandparents of various sorts. For this post only (to make a point) I’m going to suggest that my autosomal result applies to this population – and ignores the very few that were born beyond British shores. The graphic (left) is My Heritage’s take on my British “ethnicity”: 26.3% English, 14.4% Irish, Welsh and Scottish. The remainder is European with all but 7.6% Scandinavian.

Living DNA slices the beef pie finer and puts my forebears into ten regions made up of a single or several counties. My research has only found 54 grand/great grandparents so far – that’s barely 0.3% of the 2,046 so I can’t attach much importance to the geographical distribution of so few birthplaces. But the percentages are in a small way instructive. All of my so far discovered Yorkshire ancestors were born in the East Riding but I have put them in  Living DNA’s “North Yorkshire” for the map comparison.


Here are the percentage figures with Lincolnshire being the standout difference:-


If the non-British folk in my direct lines over the last 350 years are left out of any calculations, the Living DNA breakdown could very well be accurate. All I need to do is find the right numbers of ancestors among the missing 1,990 who were born in the so far empty “paper” regions to prove it.

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