DNA for Family History

Since 2007 Dartford Branch committee member Barbara Phillips has been looking into the use of DNA in family history and has provided information as follows.

DNA Testing Offer

Barbara writes:

"As you know, I foolishly agreed to have a look at the various deals that were on offer from companies doing DNA testing. I used Geoff Swinfield's list of possibles plus I looked at a few others besides. The offerings from these companies are very different which made it difficult to make a comparison, but I did come to a conclusion. I picked two companies, both with a UK base, that were easily accessible. I contacted both. From the responses I thought that both were what we were looking for but for different reasons. The majority of people wanted Y-chromosome and/or mitochondrial DNA tests. The latter establishes details of the important genetic markers that you have inherited from your ancient ancestors. It explains how these markers reveal the story of your ancestors and follows the progress of your own lineage as the human race expanded from our African motherland to people the world.

  • Geogene offers each test for £95, or £161.50 for both. Since my original contact they have offered a further 10% discount which can be acquired by putting NWKFHS in the promotion code on their website www.geogene.com. For this, you get the name of the tribe you came from, a wall chart showing the geographical area and a CD-ROM containing copies of your personalised wall chart so that you can share your ancestors' story with family and friends. Testing normally takes 6-10 weeks. I suggest you consult the website for further reading to make sure this is what you really want.   Stop Press: due to ongoing technical issues and increasing competition from National Geographic's similar Genographic Project, GeoGene is closing down. They are no longer taking any new orders although they are continuing with the analyses that are already underway [11 Nov]
  • The other company is Oxford Ancestors. They produce the same information as Geogene but in a lot more detail, and a great deal more besides. For anyone wanting information on DNA markers, comparison to other family members etc., this would be the one for you because Geogene cannot provide this service. The website is www.oxfordancestors.com and I would also strongly suggest you look at this if your requirement is more in-depth. The range of services is vast. The cost is obviously more on the basic Y-chromosome and Mitochondrial DNA testing (almost double) because they are providing much more detailed information. They did offer us a group rate but I would have had to have collected samples, keep them refrigerated and despatch as a whole and I am unable to do this. I also thought that there would not be enough people to make this viable.

I have contacted both companies to tell them that this information has now gone out to members and to expect a response. All that remains is to wish you good luck with your endeavours and await with interest what tribe you come from!"

Barbara Phillips
Barbara Phillips

As of September 2008 the Geogene offer still stands for Society members.

People of the British Isles

There is also a DNA project being conducted by the University of Oxford called People of the British Isles, for which the Wellcome Trust have funded a five year project. They want to test people who were born in the same locality as their parents and grandparents. DNA sampling will help their research into genetic differences caused by history from those that signify an underlying susceptibility to disease. There will be a talk in Ashford on the 30 September if you are interested, otherwise one can contact the University of Oxford for further information. The full blurb is as follows:

"Historical events such as the Anglo Saxon and Viking invasions may even now still have an impact on modern medical genetics. These ancient movements of peoples can make it difficult to interpret the results of studies that aim to look for genes that might be involved in diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

To help solve this problem, the Wellcome Trust have funded a five year project to collect and characterise 3,500 blood samples from all over the UK, from people born in the same rural locality of their parents and grandparents.

The idea is that analysis of genetic variation found among these samples should shed light on the genetic impact of peoples such as the Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans on the present day UK population. The analysis will be done using modern techniques applied to the DNA that can be obtained from just a small sample of blood.

This will allow scientists to untangle the effects of history and geography from their studies and so make the identification of the disease susceptibility genes much more secure.

This is where you can help. We are looking for people who were born in the same area as their parents and grandparents and, if this describes you, we would like to hear from you. All we will need is about 30 minutes of your time and about 20ml (less than a standard measure) of your blood.

If you would like to volunteer for the project, or would first like some further information, please contact: Tammy Day on Tammy.Day@clinpharm.ox.ac.uk Department of Clinical Pharmacology, Old Road Campus Research Building, University of Oxford, Old Road Campus, Off Roosevelt Drive, Headington, Oxford, OX3 7DQ. Also visit website www.peopleofthebritishisles.org. On the 30th September, 5-7pm we will be collecting blood samples and give a talk to the Family History group at The Willesbrough Windmill, Hythe Road, Ashford, Kent as all are welcome to both events."


Information from:

Barbara Phillips
Dartford Branch Programme Secretary,
Bookstall & Events Co-ordinator