Discoveries using DNA Ethnicity

Has anyone thought about being DNA tested for your ethnicity? I decided to do it a few years ago, purely out of curiosity. Having done many years of family history research, thought it would be interesting to find out. There are a number of companies that perform the testing but which one did I choose?

Due to Ancestry having the largest database in the world, I picked them. Once the results came in, I linked it to my family tree and then waited for the matches to come in. The number of matches that have come through has been staggering and it is still counting – currently at around 20K. Initially it only showed my ethnicity was from the UK and Europe. But in the last couple of years, with the growth of number people taking tests thus increasing the number of matches, the ethnicity regions have been narrowed down – see map below from recent updates from Ancestry as of the end of August 2022.

Map of 3 ethnicity regions from ancestry. UK and Scandinavia


It turns out majority of my DNA is from 3 world regions – 56% England, 42% Scotland and 2% Sweden & Denmark. Initially Sweden/Denmark percentage was actually higher, with England and Scotland slightly lower. Each time the ethnicity is updated, ancestry display a breakdown of each region. I have found this fascinating as it matches my paper trail for the past 20 odd years.

Ancestry have now also broken down the ethnicity between each parent – see below the breakdowns. I can confirm Parent 1 is Maternal and Parent 2 is Paternal based from my paper trail and my DNA matches.

A DNA ethnicity pie chart breakdown of each parent

England region

The interesting thing about the region is that it has been broken down to the Midlands, most of my 3rd to 5th great grandparents yield from either Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Shropshire and Worcestershire so it closes matches with my paper trail. Check out the map below.

Map of the Midlands and the potteries

Scotland region

I knew early on my research I was an eighth Scottish from my maternal side, but was surprised how high the percentage was. The map below does however narrow down the field to North Eastern parts which matches paper trail from majority of my line coming from Aberdeenshire area.

Map of North Eastern Scotland

Sweden & Denmark region

Despite this percentage going down, it was still not surprising this would make up part of my DNA. Vikings entered both England and Scotland on several occasions. England parts would have been due to Danelaw which covered a good third of the country from the likes of Northumberland, Yorkshire and as far down as Leicestershire.

Why so many potential matches?

Perhaps look at how many potential ancestors one would have say up to 10th great grandparents. Here is the ancestral mathematics of how many potentials versus how many I knew about already or discovered – this always amazes me.

RelationshipNumber of each relationNumber of each know so far
Great Grandparents88
2nd Great Grandparents1615
3rd Great Grandparents3230
4th Great Grandparents6448
5th Great Grandparents12848
6th Great Grandparents25623
7th Great Grandparents51215
8th Great Grandparents10242
9th Great Grandparents20482
10th Great Grandparents40960

I have already identified a few sets of 5th great grandparents during my research. So, from the previous 12 generations, one would need 4094 ancestors over a period of 400 years. This can be hard to comprehend sometimes – can you imagine how many struggles, heartache and happiness your ancestors would have endured for you to be born.

Still interested in being tested?

The closer the relations that get tested the more common matches will come through. Each sibling won’t necessarily have same percentage, as genetically one sibling might inherit more from one parent than the other. So, the more siblings and cousins from each line that get tested the better the results help with narrowing down shared matches and furthering paper trail research.

What ancestral lines have been confirmed so far?

The DNA ethnicity has definitely helped confirm many cousins. In particular the relationship between my 2x great aunt Elizabeth Challoner who married her first cousin Charles Rhodes Bowmar with several shared DNA matches from New Zealand via the Hill, Bowmar and Challoner line. Another confirmation has been discovered between the Clunes from Canada with the George Ritchie/Barbara Imlay line. DNA also confirmed the Silks that emigrated from Kidderminster to USA. The cousins with shared DNA from Broadhurst line from Ashby de la Zouch were confirmed as well. These are the many plus sides to testing, but it can also show up illegitimacy along with adoption if one doesn’t know they are.


Have the above results intrigued you – hope so? There are a number of other sites that do testing, like MyHeritage, 23andMe and LivingDNA. I have also been tested with MyHeritage which showed similar results. Some of the sites can produce results that can be downloaded from one site and then uploaded to others, but not all. The costs can vary too, but quite often these sites do have special offers. Sites like Ancestry does allow several different people’s DNA tests and added to just one account to be managed by one person.

See posts about ancestors that have had confirmed DNA matches

Elizabeth Challoner (1840-1817) and Charles Rhodes Bowmar (1838-1816)

Researching my three times great aunt Elizabeth Challoner and her husband Charles Rhodes Bowmar led me to make some fascinating and rather startling discoveries. Reasons for blogging about them together will become apparent. I knew from my Dad’s research from the 1960s, that Elizabeth ended up overseas and whom she had married but my research…

George Ritchie (1819-1904)

This is the first of many blogs to come about my Scottish ancestral line. Researching this ancestor has been rather fascinating, as was able to explore exact geographical locations of where he lived and where his descendants ended up. Also I discovered that there are some brick walls to break down with more research. Here…

Fanny and Susan

Fanny Broadhurst (1866 – 1923) and Susan Broadhurst (1883 – 1964) This is the first blog featuring the Broadhurst family and features the names Fanny and Susan (if one searches google) which can be found in the Jane Austin novel Mansfield Park. However this is the story of my 2xgreat grandmother (Fanny) and my great…

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