How can DNA testing help the Appleby one-name study?
As a result of the sharing of individual pieces of family history research by various Appleby researchers, we have produced a number of family trees, based on paper records and family recollections. However, for the period before general registration in the UK, the available written records are not always easily located and, even when found, they often do not include sufficient information to be absolutely certain that we have made the correct connections between individuals.
DNA testing is probably the only way of providing irrefutable confirmation of the accuracy of reconstructed family lines – providing certain safeguards are followed! And it will also demonstrate whether any of our lines connect up further back than it has been possible to discover though traditional genealogical methods.
We have selected the largest company which specialises in DNA testing for genealogical purposes, and once we have collated as many family trees as possible, we need to identify which branches of each of the Appleby lines we should aim to test, to ensure that we do not waste our very limited financial resources in paying for tests where we could confidently predict the likely outcome (e.g. by testing very closely related male Applebys).
What will a DNA test tell me about my ancestry?
On its own, the results for your individual test will tell you about your deep ancestral origins – by which route your ancestors arrived in Britain from Africa thousands of years ago. Were they likely to have been members of the Brigante tribe or did they arrive with the Vikings; or perhaps you could be descended from a Roman soldier stationed in Britain? That in itself is fascinating, but it doesn’t help us prove a great deal about our Appleby family research – most of which dates from no more than 300 – 500 years ago.
It starts getting more exciting every time we discover matches between two or more volunteers. Before we can be certain that our Appleby lines have been reconstructed correctly, we need to find pairs of matching test results from the same tree (but from different branches of the tree). One or two minor differences between the two sets of results can indicate how far back in time the two individuals shared a common ancestor.
Now that we have tested individuals from a number of different Appleby lines, we have begun to discover links between different lines and the degree of matching provides clues as to how far back in time those lines share a common ancestor. That will help us to focus our search for earlier records to try to replicate the match with written evidence.
Where can I find out more?
Chris Pomery, a member of the Guild of One-Name Studies who has undertaken a large DNA study of the Pomeroy family, has written an excellent book 'Family History in the Genes' published by the National Archives ISBN 978 1 905615 12 4 (2007) - well worth ordering a copy for a clear concise explanation!
Or, visit Chris's website, where you can read Chris's latest articles, from the online Journal of Genetic Genealogy and elsewhere.
There is further information on the website of FamilyTreeDNA – the company that we are using to carry out the DNA testing for the Appleby Project.
You can also read more technical information on the Wikipedia page on Genetic Genealogy.
The International Society of Genetic Geneology (ISOGG) has a link to a helpful section for DNA ‘Newbies’ on their main page. They also provide a useful chart which gives a rough guide to the main DNA sources for each county in the British Isles.
The following charts from the ISOGG website demonstrate the path by which yDNA and mtDNA are passed down through a family: