Friday, 21 December 2018

Haplogroup chart changes

An early Christmas present yesterday, two long awaited BigY results, one rather anxiously as we hoped that there was enough sample.

The impacted branches and surname projects are in the Recent changes list, mainly being the families of James SINTON of Abbotrule / Southdean, Roxburghshire (a second BigY result to refine his branch of the yDNA tree - see the SintonDNA project diary for specific links/info), and Joseph ROWE of Bere Ferrers, Devon (our first result for this branch, another to come).

As a result, the DNASurnames Haplogroup section has been republished, but not, as yet, the Lineages and analysis portion.
An earlier update for another of the I1 FAIRBAIRNs is included as well, but having only just finished yFull processing not yet been further analysed.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Transfer to MyHeritage NOW, before 1 Dec 2018

Two significant announcements from MyHeritage, and further information on them, from:

The first announcement being that you can now transfer in your LivingDNA or the more recent 23andme tests to MyHeritage.
Both use different testing chips from the other main companies (FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage and Ancestry) and have only been able to be compared across companies by using GEDMatch Genesis up until now.

The second, understandable, announcement is that the free transfer program will end on 1st December.
So, if you have tested elsewhere, and want to "fish in a different pond" (recommended) get in quick.
MyHeritage have excellent tools for working with your DNA matches, particularly the notifications of when your shared matches triangulate, and thus definitely you, your match and the shared match, all do share a common ancestor somewhere who gave you all that bit of DNA.

As the message from MyHeritage below explains, those uploading prior to 1 Dec will continue to receive the DNA tools for free after 1 Dec.

Hi Lorna,
I'm happy to announce another industry first from MyHeritage! We now support the upload of 23andMe v5 and Living DNA data files, in addition to supporting data uploads from all major DNA testing services, including Ancestry, 23andMe (prior to V5) and Family Tree DNA (Family Finder).
Since 2016, MyHeritage has allowed users who have already tested their DNA to upload their DNA data from Ancestry, 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. They receive DNA Matches and ethnicity estimates on MyHeritage for free. However, previously MyHeritage did not support the upload of tests based on the chip called GSA (Global Screening Array), now being used by 23andMe (v5), and by Living DNA. Recent improvements to our DNA algorithms now allow us to support DNA data processed on GSA chips, and so we now support uploads of 23andMe v5 and Living DNA data files.
Uploading DNA data to MyHeritage is fast and simple. For users that upload now, we offer full access to DNA Matching, Ethnicity Estimates, our industry-leading chromosome browser, and more, for FREE.
Upcoming changes
As of December 1, 2018, our policy regarding DNA uploads will change: DNA Matching will remain free for uploaded DNA data, but unlocking additional DNA features (for example, ethnicity estimate, chromosome browser, and some others) will require an extra payment for DNA files uploaded after this date. We will announce the full details of the new policy once it is finalized, closer to December 1st. All DNA data that was uploaded to MyHeritage in the past, and all DNA data that is uploaded now and prior to December 1, 2018, will continue to enjoy full access to all DNA features for free. These uploads will be grandfathered in and will remain free.
So, please advise your readers and followers to upload their DNA data to MyHeritage now, while all the DNA features are free (and they will remain free for those that upload now). 
And if they haven't tested their DNA yet, we invite them to order a DNA kit today.
Please see the full blog post here:
Kind regards
Daniel Horowitz
Genealogy Expert
MyHeritage Logo Trans 208

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Revised Haplogroup tree etc

Although the haplogroup trees (only R and I) on DNASurnames is a highly selective extract of branches that are of particular interest for the surnames and kits I monitor, I do try to keep it relevant - not always in a timely fashion.

The tree has now been updated.

Other general updates include:
  • additions to most of the Surname Project pages to include a link to WikiTree for any yDNA tests recorded there for each surname, which also includes their ancestors as propagated via the WikiTree DNA "smarts"  .
    If you are comfortable recording that you have DNA tested on a collaborative public tree, do consider WikiTree.
  • a note against all the now obsolete links to WorldFamiliesNetwork project pages
Surname/haplogroup specific updates of note:
  • R-S7361 and it's hierarchy has had a few branches added between it and R-S691 in preparation for a new project that has been requested on FamilyTreeDNA  that for R-BY3127 (BigTree link: which may be of interest to Henderson, McWhannell, Anderson, Alexander and several other surnames
  • The Andrews tested line tracked back to 1679 West Buckland, Somerset, England has jumped down the I1 haplogroup tree from I-BY15565 (some 4000 years ago) to I-Y28228 (some 700 years ago) as there is now a BigY match - with an earliest known ancestor John Taylor, b 1795 Virginia-Indiana
  • The Wight line from Bowden, Roxburghshire has been advanced down the R1b tree to  R-BY31019, with no matches even back up to ZZ12_1; On Big Tree at

Friday, 10 August 2018

Project privacy changes at FTDNA explained

Essential reading if you belong to a project on FamilyTreeDNA, or are considering doing so:

Roberta Estes blog about the privacy changes back in May and the recent update in August:

Bottom line, the default privacy setting of Limited is very much more sensible than that implemented in May.
As Roberta says, you join projects to collaborate, so the setting that allows that to happen is the best option!

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

GDPR / WorldFamiliesNetwork / WikiTree and DNA

Four letters that are creating challenges for the genealogical community and genetic genealogists in particular.

They cannot be ignored, they wont go away, but several sites and/or features we use are either changing or disappearing, directly or indirectly as a result.

Several posts of relevance:
DNAeXplained re GDPR implications and the demise of ySearch, mitoSearch and now WorldFamilies
WikiTree privacy changes thanks to GDPR
WorldFamlies Network - extract from the email to those Administrators of hosted projects there is included in the DNAeXplained blog above.
The changes to projects at FamilyTreeDNA will be the subject of a separate post.

For a dose of reality:

WorldFamilies Network (WFN)
This site has hosted Patriarchs and Result pages for several of the projects in the sidebar for many years:
Fairbairn, Runciman, Sinton, Dawe, Wight, McAdie, McKeich, Finlayson, Rowe,
all of which pages have now disappeared.
yDNA results will of course remain as part of the FamilyTreeDNA project result pages but will no longer be linked to their accompanying pedigree on the WFN Patriarch's page (which was only done with permission of the participants, and may, also have depending on the family, included links to he DNASurnames site this is the project diary for).

I recommend, strongly even, that you consider the use of WikiTree to preserve / publish at least the bare bones of your pedigree, and optionally use the WikiTree DNA facilities there to continue indicating that you have DNA tested.

Has removed DNA information from, and mark as "unlisted", anyone who has not themselves registered to use the site.
This impacts those people who manage profiles, and DNA test information on behalf of others, and all of us who use the DNA features to find DNA tested relatives for ancestors of interest as it has resulted in a loss of overall DNA tested information on many lines, regardless of whether or not any belong to anywhere near the EU.
So, if you wish to continue utilising the wonderful DNA features of WikiTree and receive a request to register for the site, please do so.
No further effort is required if you don't wish to contribute further but are comfortable being shown as tested, and connected to your pedigree.

Many links on the DNASurnames pages will need reviewing as a result of the above and will be corrected over time.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

FTDNA settings revision for 28th May 2018

Those who tested at FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) should have all received the message below this week.

There is a wonderful improvement in there.
The separation of matching and notifications.
You can now elect to remain in the matching pools for all levels of tests but NOT be notified of eg all those yDNA12 marker matches and those HVR1 mtDNA ones.
I've always put up with them and simply deleted the messages because someone somewhere might want to know the match exists and explore further.
This has not been possible up to now (or from May 28th 2018 when these all take effect).
Opting out of the matching at the lower levels to get rid of the notifications hid the match and details from view, from both yourself, and any matches, along with your desired effect, fewer emails.

I was initially concerned about the apparent changes to the Family Tree visibility as there was no explicit setting obvious to continue to allow you to hide the living, or those born within 100 years
But actually reading the FAQ pointed to below eased that concern.
It reads:
The Family Tree Sharing section is where you can choose whether or not to share your family tree and with whom you share it.
For family tree sharing, select one of the following options in the drop-down list:
  • Public – By Public, we mean that if you are linked to a match’s tree and that match shares their tree, or if one of their matches views the tree, your information will be displayed on their shared tree.
  • My Matches
  • Private 
Please note that when you select to share your family tree, living people born less than 100 years ago will not be displayed. You, deceased individuals, and individuals born more than 100 years ago will be displayed.
For most people, the current settings will continue to be fine, you belong to your projects, your privacy settings remain the same but you can now tweak your notifications more finely without messing your matches.
For the future, new testers will appear to need more education on the impacts of the defaults, particularly for projects. More information once impacts learnt and digested.

The email received from FTDNA:

Dear Valued Customer,

We’re updating our Account Settings options and wanted to give you an overview of some of what’s new. These changes impact the options for Privacy & Sharing, Project Preferences, and Email Notifications.

Anytime we make updates, we hope to make it easy for you to understand your choices and the control you have over your data on FamilyTreeDNA.

Check out the below posts in the Learning Center for full details.

Here's what has changed

Privacy & Sharing

We are updating the options in your matching preferences and will allow you to opt out of match email notifications but still participate in matching.

Family Tree sharing is now located in Privacy & Sharing.
LEARN MORE (link takes you to: )

Project Preferences

When joining a Group Project, members can select a Group Administrator access level for each individual Group Administrator.
LEARN MORE (link takes you to:

Email Notifications

We’ve separated DNA matching and new match email notification settings, allowing you to disable email notifications without disabling matching.
LEARN MORE (link takes you to:

Next steps

Please visit your My Profile pages to see the above changes and to review and update your Matching Levels, Email Notifications, and Project Preferences. Please note that changes to Project Preferences will not go into effect until May 25th, 2018. This means you can choose your settings but they will not be implemented until May 25th.

In addition to the above changes, we have also updated the Account Information and Genealogy sections in your My Profile pages. For more details on these changes, click the links to visit the Learning Center.

Your privacy comes first in all of these updates. We now meet the high standard for data privacy introduced by the new European data protection law known as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which goes into effect later in May. FamilyTreeDNA members around the world will benefit from the new privacy requirements mandated by the GDPR.


We will be sure to keep you informed as we continue to release updates to your account settings.

Thanks for being a part of the family,



Friday, 30 March 2018

Can you get double doses of steroids?

Further to my DNA on Steroids post below MyHeritage are continuing to roll out improvements to their offerings, not only for DNA but also, FINALLY, a pedigree view of their family tree which is has been a major shortcoming of the site for years.
A pedigree view for the DNA shared matches has been available for a while, but not for the overall tree.
It is being gradually rolled out so not everyone can see it as yet.

On the DNA front:
explains the latest improvements to the One to Many Chromosome browser, and the new indicator visible when you are looking at a match and seeing who else they also share DNA with.

This all being on top of some tweaks to the navigation on the still rather unwieldy match lists *
that allow you to jump to specific pages, increase the number of matches per page.

* which are able to be filtered and sorted by a useful range of criteria, eg filter for "has family tree" although this will still include those with only one person in their tree. MyHeritage developers have reported in Facebook comments that they are working on that - particularly those where a test is ordered, and the tree developed, separately, without the person realising they can go back to Manage DNA kits and reassign a kit to the person who is now both in the tree, and "floating" unconnected.

Monday, 12 March 2018

End of an era

Oxford Ancestors is closing down.

Read Bryan Sykes' farewell at

He certainly stimulated my interest in DNA testing, and is how I began my genetic journey, back in 2003 - I think.

I use the wonderfully colourful picture of my "Tara" haplogroup regularly, although the details have long since been improved with a mtDNA full sequence test from FamilyTreeDNA, and supplemented by autosomal testing - all for a fraction of the price paid for this initial test.

Thank you Bryan.

Roberta Estes' blog post at DNAeXplained has a very thoughtful article about the demise of yet another DNA resource, including what you can/should do to preserve your DNA.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

DNA on steroids!

MyHeritage have come good on two more of their promises.
I'm hedging my bets about how many promises they may have made, but these two are important to me :)
(See also further improvements in later post above:

1) Chromosome browser comparisons between up to 8 kits - WITH triangulated segments identified.

Have only had a chance for a brief play to date, and like several others on assorted lists, fell into the first trap.
Why aren't the triangulations showing?
Well they do, but only if all those in the selected list triangulate, so you have to add/subtract people for the list.
Which is a bit hit or miss without more knowledge or prior downloads of the one to one comparisons introduced back in January - and where promise number 2 comes in for less miss and more hit.
OR, opening another tab with the shared match list open :)

Here's a picture of a "hit" - I'm the grey background comparing with three of my Henderson/Wight or Henderson/Millar paternal side 2nd and 3rd cousins:
Note chromosome 7 with it's border around the triangulated segments.
Click inside the border and get the popup with details.

2) Ability to download all your match and segment data.
I cannot report on what that looks like as yet, having whizzed through all my kits requesting the downloads, and been promised an email when they were ready -nothing has yet arrived, some hours later *. Suspect they'll be a bit snowed under with that one.
* update from MyHeritage, all sent so the hold up appears to be the mail system somewhere, and no, they aren't in my spam folder.

Without such an ability I strongly suspect I've been missing out on noticing interesting new matches as unlike Ancestry you cannot quickly see which kits are new and have not yet been checked.
With Ancestry you can filter by just your new matches sorted by order of relationship, ie the most interesting float to the top. There's also a sort option by date - which is less useful in general. I tend to use that only to re-find the matches I've starred recently on Ancestry.
With FamilyTreeDNA's much more compact match list display than MyHeritage the "by match date" sort there is easy to quickly scan down for the larger new matches.

Here's the announcement received from MyHeritage including the links to their blog to explain the new features:
We are excited to announce a major upgrade to the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage. With this upgrade, we’ve upped our genetic genealogy game considerably to help people better understand how they are related to their DNA Matches. Together with family tree details like shared ancestral surnames and shared Smart Matches, users may be able to trace back the common ancestors who passed down shared DNA segments to them and their DNA Matches, and reconstruct the exact relationship path between themselves and DNA Matches that they find intriguing.
The initial version of the MyHeritage Chromosome Browser, released in January 2018, was a one-to-one chromosome browser. It displays DNA segments shared by you with one DNA Match.
The new One-to-Many Chromosome Browser, with its support for indicating triangulated segments, is an exciting addition to MyHeritage’s growing arsenal of useful tools for genetic genealogy. The tool is completely free.

Also new is the ability to export the list of DNA Matches, along with several other export capabilities.
Best regrads,
Daniel Horowitz
Genealogy Expert

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Onset of results

The BigY, and companion Y111 upgrade, results from the last sale are starting to roll in, so it was time to republish DNASurnames (both Haplogroup overviews and Lineage/result sections), but expect further updates as quite a few results have yet to arrive.

I've not kept full track of which ones have changed when but know there were updates in the Fairbairn and McAdie projects - still waiting on those for the Andrews, Bain, Dawe, Rowe, Sinton (from the previous sale, as it had to be re-run) surnames.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Kudos to MyHeritage

The MyHeritage Year in Review blog post of 26 Dec 2017 contained this statement:

You can count on MyHeritage DNA to continue to grow rapidly and improve in accuracy and features. We are working on a major revamp of the matching algorithms which will correct old problems, add a preliminary Chromosome Browser and put accuracy at an unprecedented high level, and this will be released in early January 2018.  

It is now 11 January 2018 and they have already come good on the promise to revamp the matching algorithms (but not as far as I can see, a Chromosome Browser - but see update below).

The problems I reported earlier, my own 2nd cousin not appearing in my matches, and the predicted 2nd cousin on Ancestry and FamilyTreeDNA that was missing on MyHeritage are both now fixed.
As has one I'd not reported to them and only discovered this afternoon - a match that wasn't real but showed as reasonably strong, (45cMs approximately, 5 segments) now shows as "not related", as suspected.
Also fixed, a predicted relationship of father/daughter now rather more accurately showing as siblings!

Support was on the ball too, sent me a message advising me the update had happened, and asking for my report on whether or not my issues had been solved.

Within a hour or so of my posting the above the promised chromosome browser was also there, with an ability to download the segment details for that individual match.
Along with a message from MyHeritage pointing me to their blog post about the improvements:

The match lists have grown immensely to be far more in line with those from other companies, instead of rather sparse and suspect before the upgrade.

As I've popped in our local Genie society newsletter for our DNA group news:
MyHeritage is definitely now a major player in the genetic genealogy stakes, and should deserve more consideration than Ancestry given the Chromosome Browser.

My preferred strategy should I be starting out again now would be to:
Test FamilyFinder at FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) to get a sample on file there available for the more specialised tests FTDNA also offer that the other companies do not - and provide hassle free communication with matches.
Then transfer that FamilyFinder file to MyHeritage to fish in that pond too - as well as GEDMatch of course.

If you've already tested at MyHeritage, that test can be transferred to FTDNA for free

Read Roberta Estes' post on Ancestry/FTDNA transfers before making up your mind about transferring an Ancestry test to FTDNA (they can't go the other way):

Don't forget GEDmatch - that cousin you've been looking for could be on any of the sites, so you should be on as many as you can too.