Like mother, like daughter

I had plans to do ‘stuff’ on the day my mother’s DNA results came through. Up at 6:30 am, I made myself a coffee, then fired up the laptop to read the news and check emails before getting started.  Staring at me from my inbox was an email from AncestryDNA; ‘It’s ready, Leanne!! Cancel your plans and absorb yourself in DNA-land for the next few hours instead!’

OK, so the email didn’t actually say that. Nevertheless, absorb myself is exactly what I started to do.

I felt bad, then guilty. But right on the verge of getting up and seizing the day, team-weather came to the rescue with an absolute downpour of rain and gusty winds.  Taking this as an absolute sign to abandon all plans, my Sunday morning suddenly turned around.

Thanks, team-weather!  Great to know you’re on my side.

So, what did the ethnicity results show?

Mother-daughter comparison. My mother's results are on the left.
Mother-daughter comparison. My mother’s results are on the left. % breakdown by region included.

1. We both have a bunch of Great Britain, and similar amounts of Ireland.

Our family tree already tells us this, but it’s pretty neat seeing it visually as well.  Plus, as we all inherit 50% of our DNA from each parent, the totals support that my father also has ancestors from Great Britain (which includes Scotland) and Ireland. No surprises there – it’s in his family tree, too.

Even though Dad hasn’t been tested, the fact that I show 80% for Great Britain + Ireland (combined) means that this must be in his ethnicity as well.  I couldn’t have inherited all of this from just my mother’s side – the numbers (for Great Britain in particular) are too large for that to be the case.

2. Her Scandinavian is slightly higher than mine.

The other thing about DNA inheritance is that it ‘dilutes’ with each new generation.  My mother has more of our ancestors’ DNA than I do.  As Mum’s great-great grandparents were from Denmark, and – as far as I am aware – there are no Scandinavian ancestors on my father’s side, it makes sense that I have less in this area.

3. I have higher amounts for Europe West and Iberian Peninsula.

This one is a bit exciting.  Even though ethnicity sampling is not an exact science, what this might tell me is that I inherited more DNA in these regions from my father’s side (especially given that Mum’s is < 1%, which is too small to count, really). We’re not aware of any German, French or Spanish ancestry, but having small amounts from these areas is interesting (and intriguing). I would love to get Dad tested to see how much he has!


The other interesting thing about all of this is that if I were to ask my brother or sister to take a test, their ethnicity results would be slightly different again.  While we receive 50% from each parent, their results may show (for example) more Scandinavia, more Europe West…or in fact no amounts from these regions at all! It’s all a bit random in terms of which DNA ‘bits’ (segments) we inherit from our ancestors, but I’d expect them to also have Great Britain given that it’s so high for both my mother and I. They may just show different percentages.

Having my mother’s DNA results has already been fantastic in narrowing down which line a match may come from.  In my list of ‘4th cousin or closer’ matches, I currently have 53 people.  Until recently, I could filter my matches and view only those with:

  • Hints (meaning that the match and I have a common ancestor in our family trees),
  • New (those I haven’t viewed yet) or
  • Starred (you can ‘star’ matches to make them easier to come back to later).

But with her results now processed, I have an extra filter!


Using the Mother filter reduces the list to include only those who share DNA with both of us. Doing so brings my ‘4th cousin or closer’ matches from 53 down to 28. Which also means that the remaining 25 are from my father’s side.  When you’re looking at family trees to try and figure who a common relative may be, this is a huge help.

And remember the Bannister cousins?  Mum also shares DNA with all of them too. So, while I already had my results to help verify a family connection, the fact that she also matches them makes it that much stronger.

But perhaps the best bit so far, is that because Mum has more of our ancestors’ DNA than I do, she has matched with people in the AncestryDNA database that I don’t.  Which has opened a heap of new leads to follow, and potential cousins to connect with.

Can you see now why my Sunday morning got awesome really quickly?!

I may not have made any a lot of progress on my plans for ‘stuff’ that day, but there’s always tomorrow, right?

I wonder if there’s such a thing as a procrastination gene…

Convicts and stumps

As a result of having my DNA tested earlier this year, two stumps have been cleared and seven more ancestors warmly welcomed into the family tree.

One of these stumps was a known convict, and the other was…also a convict as it turns out!   My little family of ‘criminal’ ancestors has now grown to 16, and I love it.  DNA testing has certainly kept things interesting, along with some great connections with distant cousins made along the way.

It may seem like a large number of convicts to some people, and I’m often asked if they are direct ancestors or whether they just ‘married into the family’ or were perhaps siblings.

Nope – definitely direct.

And when you think about it, we have in excess of 200 possible ancestors once we reach the 8th generation (fifth great-grandparents).  So it’s actually only around 6% of the total.

Known Ancestors
My ancestor scorecard has grown, now showing 120 ‘known’.


See?  Quite possible indeed!  Especially if you live in Tasmania, where 13 of my convicts were transported to. The other three were sent to New South Wales – the earliest arriving in 1797 on the ship Ganges.

Being a very visual person, I’ve put together a bit of a snapshot to illustrate how these 16 relate to me.  The visual shows seven generations in full, and at generations eight and nine, only my NSW convicts have been squeezed in.

Convict Ancestors
Light green indicates known ancestors, dark grey are current stumps. Only surnames of convicts are included.


My mother’s DNA result are due back any day now, and I’m excited to think of what other discoveries we may find.  Having her results will help narrow down which line of the family tree a match belongs to; if someone matches with both of us, I can rule out ancestors on my father’s side in looking for a connection.

Great stuff.


Look out, stumps – we’re coming for you.