Friday 6 January 2017

AncestryDNA Test Kit - Should You Buy One?


AncestryDNA Test Kit - Should You Buy One?

A few weeks ago Ancestry had a Black Friday sale on their DNA kits. I had been considering whether to buy one for ages as they are very expensive. Usually they are £79 plus £20 postage and packaging, yes £99! I paid £49 each plus postage. It's always the way, I see a bargain and so bought two. One for me and one for my husband.
But should you buy one? How difficult is it to do and what do you actually get for your money? The quick answer is it's easy to do and not much unless you have an Ancestry subscription. I will expand on this below.

What Do You Have To Do?

The actual process is really simple. A week or so after I ordered the kit a box arrived. It was about the size of a novel. Inside is everything you need for your DNA test and to return it for processing.

The instructions are very clear, firstly go online and activate your kit, this is really easy to do too. Just follow the prompts and be careful to copy the number from the test tube correctly.
No food or drink for 30 minutes then spit in the tube. It says it's only a small amount but it for us it took quite a few spits to reach the line. Add the preserver, pop into the bag and then the box, take to the post office. Then wait.


Everything you need is inside a small box

Theres a unique number on the test tube that is needed to activate the kit

The instructions are really clear, and simple

The return box is pre printed 

What were my expectations?

I knew it would takes ages to get the results, they quote six to eight weeks and with Christmas in the middle I was expecting my results the middle of February but they came through really quickly, it had only taken two weeks.

I expected to find that 25% of my ancestry would be Irish as my maternal grandmother was from Letterard, a very rural village in West Ireland.
Some Scandinavian as one of my direct lines is Yorke, and York was a Viking stronghold, Yorvik.

I expected some German as I have a hunch that my great, great, great grandfather was John Phillip Lang from Kirn, Germany.

I also have two trees on Ancestry, mine with over 9,000 individuals and my husbands with 6.000+. I hoped that there would be links to other trees that would fill in the gaps and help to break down the brick walls.

My Results. What did they tell me?

I have a subscription to Ancestry and have two private trees. I think this makes a huge difference to what you get out of this test.

Firstly my Ethnicity Estimate

77% Great Britain
14% Ireland
9% Other Region.

Then my DNA matches

4 shared Ancestry Hints
0 starred matches
87 4th cousins or closer (More distant cousins, I had 116 pages of 50 individuals, that is over 5000 matches)

And finally DNA Circles

I am not in any circles as you must have a public tree on Ancestry and mine are private.

The home screen

Firstly my Ethnicity Estimate

77% Great Britain
14% Ireland
7% Scandinavian
2% Iberian Peninsular

It is stated quite clearly that this is only an estimate but assuming it is correct I am more British than the average British person, they only have 60% Great Britain DNA. The rest was sort of what I guessed. No German though so maybe my hunch is wrong.

I have always believed my ancestry to be Viking, from my name, and Irish from my Grand Mother. Ancestry doesn't explain individual DNA results but does explain what the general results mean. It appears that the Saxons and Vikings came to Britain from Scandinavia. The Vikings also went to Northern France, they are the Normans who came to Britain in 1066.
Does that mean I am descended from William the Conqueror? It doesn't rule it out but I am sure I am more likely to be the descendant of the Normans that came over with him.



My DNA Matches

My expectations were to find contacts closely related to me that had a common ancestor. so I could confirm my line and break down a few brick walls. That is true, but only if they have a public tree are you able to make a match and they need a good tree. My four matches that had trees were not a surprise to me. Two I had already connected with on Ancestry via our trees and one was a known line. The last person had little information and nothing to add to my tree. If you notice the third person had a lock by their tree, that is a private tree, anyone matching to me will also see that icon.

When I click on the link I get a chart of how I am related to that person. That helps confirm my 6th great grandparents but unfortunately their tree has much less information than mine so it doesn't take me any further back.


I had over five thousand matches. The closest a second cousin (1), that is a child of one of my parents cousins. Great lets have a look. Oh they don't have a tree so I can't check who it is.

The others (2, 3, 4) are more distant and when I click on their trees they seem to be related to my Irish Nan's side. This makes sense as two of her siblings were born in USA and many of the family emigrated there. A lot of the DNA tests are Americans, so their lines are more likely to turn up. The problem is they do not have my ancestors in their trees. I just know we share great, great, great grandparents! I have 32 great, great, great grandparents and so do they! I do not even know who mine are, I need a closer match.


Even though I can't immediately link my tree to those that share my ancestry there is a nifty search feature. It is hidden though. Click on View all DNA matches and on the next screen click Search matches. A new box will open.

ancestry-dna-test-search facilities

This box allows you to search for a name or a place from all your matches that have online trees. This helps to narrow down the results.


There is also a map option on each matched individual. You may not be able to pin point a name but possibly a shared birth location will help.


We share two locations in Kent. Can this help me narrow down our shared ancestors?

AncestryDNA Test Kit- Should You Buy One? 

There is no quick answer, for me yes as any information I gather I am happy with. For you? Well it depends what your expectations are and if you have an Ancestry subscription.

If you just fancy knowing your ethnicity then this will give you a rough guess and that will cost £99. If you want to know if you are related to a famous person, then this will not tell you that. It also cannot tell you how you are related to each of your matches. If you have an Ancestry subscription it will give you so much more information, that with a lot of work and research, you may discover new relatives and confirm your ancestral lines.
To really get the most from this test you need to have a public family tree on Ancestry so you can join in Ancestry circles. The circles match you with close cousins and together you can work out who your shared ancestors are. My tree is private. I like to know who is taking information from my tree so I will keep it that way.

I am really glad I took the test, I wish I had bought one for my dad to do too as that would help me know which of my matches are from my mothers side and which are his.

Have you taken an AncestryDNA test? Did you find an unknown ancestor or cousin?

If you'd like to read my genealogy tips for beginners then click on the tree below or the Family Tree tab above.


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