DNA

When I started researching the Newells of “The Dock” there was no Internet and no DNA test. All of these came along in subsequent years and resulted in significant changes in genealogical research. The most recent of these is the use of DNA for  genealogical research.  Initially, there was a feeling that DNA would solve all the mysteries but like most new technologies it simply deepened them.

I have tested my DNA with National Geographic DNA and Family Tree DNA and it has opened up many new questions. Before I start discussing my results I need to provide some background information on DNA test. There are currently three types of DNA that are generally used for genealogical research.

The first type is Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) found outside the nucleus of the cell. This type of DNA is found in the human egg but not in sperm  so it is passed down almost unchanged from a mother to her children, allowing you to trace your maternal ancestry. Males have their mothers mtDNA but do not pass it on to their children. National Geographic identified my mtDNA  haplogroup (more on haplogroups under Y-DNA below) as U5B2A1B which is associated with NW Europe (UK, Germany, Ireland and Scandinavia).

The other type of  DNA used in genealogy is contained in the cell nucleus and is packaged in 23 pairs of chromosomes. For DNA based genealogical research this nucleic DNA  is divided into autosomal and Y-DNA depending on which chromosomes it is packaged in. The first 22 chromosome pairs are the  autosomal  chromosomes. In these each member of the pair has the same structure: however, in the 23rd pair (the sex chromosomes) the structure differs depending on your sex.  If you are female you have a pair of  X  chromosomes; however, if you are male you have a X and a Y. The Y is smaller than the X so the two members of the pair differ. Whether you are male or female is determined by your fathers sperm which can contain either X or Y. DNA from the Y member of the 23rd pair of chromosomes is the other type of nucleic DNA used in genealogical research since this DNA only comes from your father and was passed down from his father like the family name in European cultures. Females do not have Y DNA.

The Autosomal DNA which is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes (chromosomes 1-22) contain most of the DNA which determine how we look and function (the main exception is which sex we are, which is determined by the 23rd pair).  In humans and most other complex organisms, one copy of each autosomal chromosome is inherited from the female parent and the other from the male parent. This explains why children inherit some of their traits from their mother and others from their father. Basically you randomly get half of your autosomal DNA from each parent who got half from each of theirs so you got approximately 1/4 of your DNA from each grandparent and 1/8 from each great grandparent. Test of autosomal DNA gives us a measure of the DNA we inherited from all of our ancestors but since it gets diluted in each generation it is less useful in identifying matching ancestors beyond 3 or 4 generations (since the amount of DNA from each great-great-grandparent is so small (approximately 1/16 of your total) .  The one area where it can be useful is in determining the origin of your ancestors. This occurs since in pre-industrial societies people generally married within their cultural/ethnic/geographic groups. Due to the mixing with each generation certain autosomal genetic markers spread through the population so for example people from Germany have different markers than those from Italy. When a DNA testing company says you are 50% German, 25 % Italian and 25% French it means that those are the proportion of these specific markers in your autosomal DNA.  This could reflect that two of your grandparents were from Germany and one each from France and Italy.  The DNA testing companies use statistical analysis of Markers (SNP) in the DNA to relate these to geography (see: https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn14631-human-geography-is-mapped-in-the-genes/) and determine your origin. The more genetically different the people from different regions are the easier it is to pinpoint origins. The following map shows how people from different European countries differ using one of these methods:

The DNA clusters (on left) are associated with different countries (see codes on right). Some countries have relatively unique DNA signatures (e.g. Poland and Italy); while others overlap (e.g. Neatherlands, Denmark and Northern Germany). The UK and Ireland have some genetic components that are unique and some that are shared with their Northwest European neighbors.

National Geographic tested my autosomal DNA using a  similar methodology (somewhat different Geographic regions) and identified my closest matching region as Denmark and my second matching region as Germany (they do not divide Germany into north and south). For someone with links to the UK this might simply reflect Anglo Saxon roots (the area of UK DNA on above diagram that overlaps with Denmark and Germany).  However, the absence of a French DNA match indicates that this is a not a major component of my DNA.  This DNA suggest a low probability of French roots except perhaps for Brittany, the Rhine region and NW France which have more Germanic DNA.  I have ordered a Ancestry DNA autosomal test that will give better resolution and will update my site in a few months. It is important to note that for Newell relatives the autosomal results include DNA from my mothers side (Norman and Snelgrove families) plus my fathers mother’s family (Andrews) and earlier non Newell ancestors so their autosomal results might differ.

 

 

This section is Under Construction

Y_DNA

Family Tree DNA tests for specific makers short tandem repeats (STR) found on the Y chromosome. Only males have Y chromosomes and these get passed from father to son so can be used to track family connections.  These markers are identified by the letters DYS followed by a number e.g. DYS-390 and have a value that indicates the number of repeats. The number of repeats in each marker remains relatively constant from one generation to the next so can be used to track relationships.  My values for some of the first 12 markers tested are unusual for someone in the R1b haplogroup which is useful since it reduces the chance of getting a random match. When I tested my first 12 markers there were only 4 other exact matches on these 4 markers. One was my 1st cousin Ted, another was Peter Noel who was from the Harbour Grace Noels, one was a Mr. Clark from Dorset, England and the last had roots in Ireland. Subsequent testing with more markers ruled out the Irish match (likely a random match on the first 12 markers tested). Mr Clark and my cousin Ted only tested 12 markers and are now both deceased.

Earlier this year (2017) a 3rd cousin with roots in the Dock (John son of Philip is our common ancestor) did the Family Tree DNA test and we matched exactly on 63 of the 64 markers (what you would expect for 3rd cousins). This gives a good baseline on the DNA profile for the Newells of ‘The Dock’.   A comparison of the 64 marker DNA results for the Dock with similar data for Peter Noel indicates that there is a 90 % probability of a common ancestor within the last 10 generations (likely before the families moved to Newfoundland).

Given the scarcity of exact matches on the first 12 markers (a majority of people in the databases only test these 12 markers) I searched the DNA databases for people with a match on 11 of the 12 markers. This is not evidence of a family connection (none of these had one of the related family names) but might suggest distant relationships (common origins). Only some of there people were aware of their family origins (many like us just suspected origins in the UK) and some did not share information on origins. From those that did there were clusters in the south east USA and the UK.  The UK cluster tended more towards the West Midlands and Northwest of England (with outliers in Scotland, Ireland and Wales which border the core) rather than the SW of England where most Newfoundlanders have their origins. I suspect the matches in the southeast USA reflect early colonial migrants to Virginia and Carolina. Given the location of the UK cluster it might suggest that the Newall spelling should be considered since it is more common in this area. Again, I should emphasize that a 11 of 12 match is not strong evidence but just suggestive.