View Full Version : 100% British and Irish DNA, now what?

03-05-2019, 1:46 AM
Hi all,

Iím relatively new here. Let me start at the beginning.

Iíve always known that Iím mostly English, Irish and Scottish and thatís it. Having known all of my grandparents I was able to speak to them all and found nothing or rather I was told nothing outside of the British Isles. Recently I sent off my DNA sample to My Heritage and got what I expected:

55.5% Irish, Scottish & Welsh (Although I wasnít aware of any Welsh ancestry)
44.5% English

That was it. I was expecting the odd unexpected small percentage of French or German for example, but no, Iím 100% from the British Isles. I donít really know how far back this test goes.

Iíve traced some of my family lines back to 1500 and some are 100% English and some back to only 1900 and all Irish but where do I go now? I feel like my My Heritage DNA results have been surprising but have raised more questions than answers.

Are my DNA results unique or common being 100% British and Irish?

Please help a novice genealogist. Thank you in advance.


03-05-2019, 9:07 AM
My Living DNA test also had me as 100% British and Irish - it's supposed to go back for 10 generations, or about 250 years, which in my case is further back than I've managed to get with any of my lines. The Living DNA test breaks down into more sub-divisions for the UK and Ireland than the other services do, and confirmed what my research had already told me, which is that my DNA is roughly half-and-half from SE England and Wales. It picked up the little bit of Irish that I knew about as well. Interestingly, it also had small percentages from other places that I can't explain from my records, so I assume those bits are from further back than the 6 or 7 generations I have managed to trace. As I'm sure others will tell you, these DNA tests are not that conclusive, being based on the similarity of your DNA breakdown to that of the other samples on the company's database. The short answer to your question "Where do I go from here" is - keep searching the records and hope for more to become available as time goes on. Unless you manage to get back 10 generations on all your lines, there's not much more you can do...

Lesley Robertson
03-05-2019, 10:29 AM
Agreed, Davyr.
Go back to the records - only they can tell you who your ancestors actually were.
The DNA is a tool. So are the records.

Guy Etchells
04-05-2019, 6:46 AM
Ethnicity results are based on guesses based on the guesses of the ancestry of people living today.
They are not an accurate representation of where ones ancestors came from and never, repeat never will be.
They are best viewed as a bit of fun rather than anything that will help the family historian.

The important part of the DNA for the family historian is not the ethnicity guess but the data revealed by the chromosomes and any resulting matches, but even then care must be taken, as any gedcom associated with a match may not be accurate.


Peter Goodey
04-05-2019, 8:05 AM
I sent off my DNA sample to My Heritage

I was wondering why you thought a company based in Israel was the best choice for you. My understanding is that the usefulness (if any) of the results depends on the database that the testing company has available.

For example Findmypast use LivingDNA which is based in Europe and which some people argue is more appropriate for British users (or people who think their ancestry is mainly from the British Isles).

Guy Etchells
04-05-2019, 1:32 PM
I was wondering why you thought a company based in Israel was the best choice for you. My understanding is that the usefulness (if any) of the results depends on the database that the testing company has available.

For example Findmypast use LivingDNA which is based in Europe and which some people argue is more appropriate for British users (or people who think their ancestry is mainly from the British Isles).

That argument does not really hold water as it is possible to download ones raw data from MyHeritage (and most other DNA testing sites) and upload it to other testers sites such as Ancestry & FTDNA and possibly more importantly Gedmatch.
That ability allows one to access practically every DNA database available to genetic genealogy.

Gone are the days when one was tied into ones testing company's site.


09-05-2019, 6:24 PM
Hi all, thank for your reply.

I find the information youíve given me to be very interesting and I understand that DNA ancestry tests can only tell you so much.

I have actually had my results transferred over to FTDNA to see potential matches but itís thrown a right spanner in the works. My Heritage said I was 100% Irish, Scottish and English. Now my FTDNA results are showing me as 83% British and 17% Italian/Greek.

Where the 17% has come from I have no idea. I appreciate those saying that these DNA tests can only reveal so much but does anybody know why thereís such a big difference.

Some of my family lines I have back to 1500ís and are all English so I knew Iíd have high British DNA results.

The FTDNA database also has me as having 9,000 current genetic matches on their database, is that a lot?

I am a total geanology novice so any help would be appreciated.


Lesley Robertson
09-05-2019, 6:55 PM
It depends on the company's methods, databases, etc. And the sensitivity. It's not always as accurate as they claim. Did they both look at the same areas of DNA?

Also, you have to remember that the population of the UK, especially England, is remarkably hybrid. Your Italians could have come over with the Romans, perhaps. Or as traders or seamen. Perhaps as refugees or migrants brought in for their skills. Or someone in the military brought back an exotic wife. People travelled, it just took longer. There's probably quite a lot of unexpected Spanish in the UK genome thanks to Armada survivors.

The only way to try and find out is to search for the records.

tommy tipper
13-05-2019, 6:05 AM
Ancestry does not allow other companies tests to be uploaded to their database,thats why people test at ancestry and upload to other sites

Colin Parkinson
13-05-2019, 8:40 AM
My frustration after finding possible DNA matches a lot of folk do not post a family tree so difficult to see the likely match. Worse still, they have posted a tree, you can see the match, you contact someone who don't bother to reply! Possibly they are only interested in their Ethnic entity which as previously stated is only a guide at best or a bit of fun otherwise. I have a known Irish 2xgreat Grandmother (Mary Jane Eakins born 1832) and a German great Grandfather (Matthew Boor born about 1847) but not particularly highlighted on a couple of DNA tests I have done.
Hey ho, we carry on regardless!

Norfolk Nan
07-10-2019, 11:52 AM
I know this thread has been quiet for a while but can I add my thoughts and experience.

Late last year my husband and I did the LivingDNA test because we fancied knowing if we were vikings. It was as silly as that. No intention of looking for family matches. The tests came back - I was also 100% English, not even Scottish, Welsh or Irish connections which confirmed everything I had found through straightforward FH research so far. My husband found he was mostly English but with a tiny percentage of Kurdish in him. That caused a laugh as I've traced his family tree back at least 12 generations and they never moved from the same two counties in all that time.

However, I made a connection with someone via Ancestry who is a second cousin and she encouraged me to consider matching. That proved hard. LivingDNA files aren't readily accepted by many sites - MyHeritage says it accepts the files but LivingDNA changed the format of their data at the end of last year which makes it incompatible with MyHeritage's systems. MyHeritage say they are working on the problem but clearly have no urgency to sort it out. My cousin uploaded her data to LivingDNA and after some time she and I were matched. But I'm her only match and she's my only match. Clearly, LivingDNA have a very small database to use for matches and as their files aren't easily shared, I have to question the value of using their service. So far, the only site that takes my test results and runs with them is GEDmatch - such a lot of data and 3000 matches but none close enough to consider pursuing. At last I feel the test has more than just novelty factor although the science of it goes way over my head and will need some studying.

We decided to have the MtDNA and Y-DNA tests done and as a result the original test was re-run by LivingDNA and our results changed. I now have a wider range of geographic connections that do include Scotland, Ireland and Wales and a proportion from the Iberian peninsular. My husband lost his Kurdish connection but gained a Germanic link. I've no idea how they work in our trees but they've given me something to think about. Being female I could only have the MtDNA test done and that has been fascinating - I share my maternal lines with 47% of the Saami population. It's made me think about my mother's mother's line rather than my paternal lines for the first time which is about time I suppose.

Sorry for such a long post but I wanted to know if others had the same lack of use for LivingDNA test results or if it was just me? It's the test pushed by FindMyPast so I thought it would be worth taking. Any thoughts?

31-10-2019, 8:25 PM
Hi to Norfolk Nan, from another Norfolk Nan,
I, too, used Living DNA for testing. Giving me a 90% British Heritage and.... 10% Chuvashian (a region in Russia} Complete mystery to me how Russian's come into my ancestry. Especially as my brother did the same test and was 100% British with no European infiltration. I did find a first cousin on Gedmatch. He is the closest match I have found on the comparison sites.

31-10-2019, 10:13 PM
I find this whole DNA thing so tiresome. 100% British combines most european nations.

From Ireland to Russia(it was part of the Swedish Empire(Viking), to Spain and and even China, it's all a mish mash.

Angles and Saxons,Bretons(Brittany,France), Romans and Greeks,Celts(central europe), Normans(French/Scandinavians). Britain is a veritable soup of nations.


Norfolk Nan
01-11-2019, 9:07 AM
Of course you are right, Stepives, but it’s the variability and strangeness of the results that’s the puzzle.

And hello DeliaB - I’m Norfolk Nan on GEDmatch too so if you find me on your list let me know!