I’ve always been interested in family history and family stories, and even before the internet made genealogy so much easier, I had constructed a family tree for me and my sister. In the beginning all I knew was that my grandparents were Reuben and Maud, Reg and Ida and it’s always been a sadness to me that I never knew Rue who died a month before I was born. I was fortunate enough to meet one set of great-grandparents, Tom and Anne, and I knew Anne’s maiden name too. I had a hazy idea about most of their siblings, my great-aunts and uncles. I knew Reuben’s parents were Reuben and Kate, and that Ida’s were Lois and Louis, and Reg’s father and grandfather also had William as a first name, as Reg did.
My basic tree was greatly enlarged by a cousin of my mum, who followed that family tree back over a hundred years – and she did it the hard way, going round and looking at parish records and church registers. Once I had access to the internet my tree grew in all directions, and I have names and some stories going back to the eighteenth century.
Then came DNA… and I couldn’t resist having mine done. I knew I had Jewish ancestry, and my dad had always said our family were Vikings – for that read Scandinavian settlers in East Anglia… and yes, it turns out I do have Scandi-roots! 7% to be precise!! My Jewish roots are 9%, I have a mysterious 9% Iberian peninsular – which must go back a jolly long way, unless it accounts for the dark good looks of my granddad Rue! I have 14% Celtic ancestry – is this why I feel so at home in Ireland? There’s all-purpose west European, 33% and a measly 24% what might be called British. I have a tiny 3% eastern European, and an intriguing 1% Bantu…
I realise of course that these traces might go back hundreds of years and I’m not expecting to find a Spaniard or Portuguese great-however-many-times-grandmother! But… thanks to a well-known genealogical site I can check for other people who have had their DNA tested who might be related to me a little more closely… and yes I have! I have found some cousins on granddad Rue’s side, which has been fabulous and several from my mum’s side. I have found a few mysterious close connections where the other person and I can’t work out where our cousinship comes from and then the other day, I made a connection with a lovely lady in the States, whose ancestor is my great-grandma Anne’s sister!
I was so excited! Since then we have been in touch and shared photos and stories and family information. What is most remarkable is that in sharing photos we have discovered great likenesses to our closer cousins! I guess it is to be expected, but it really is wonderful to see.
So many bad things happen through the internet… but maybe there are just as many good and lovely things we just don’t hear about!
Granny Anne – I have found her sister’s family!!