Posted by Kristen Hyde on June 20, 2019 in AncestryDNA, Regional, United Kingdom

This month Ancestry has launched 73 new and updated AncestryDNA® communities for the UK, as a part of a global release of over 225 new regions.

This is an exciting next step in the journey we are taking with our customers, as we continue to discover more about how our DNA can add to our knowledge and understanding of our individual family histories.

The update was based on a huge amount of data provided by scientists, consequently allowing us to provide more refined and accurate communities for our test takers. Each of these 73 new and updated regions contains genetically identifiable communities and our researchers have been working to provide information for each of these regions which is specific to those communities.

The information for each genetic region generally covers the period 1700-1950 and begins with an overview of the background and people who lived there during that time. There are then more detailed sections, each covering timespans of 25 to 50 years. You can expect to learn about the occupations and industries that were important to the local economy, about the living conditions and diet of ordinary people living in those areas. There is likely to be some discussion of what it was like to be a child at that time and place, at what age children were expected to work and the educational opportunities that were available to them.

Events in the wider world, as well as on a national and a local level all influenced the lives and decisions made by our ancestors and you will gain an understanding of events on all these levels that proved significant to each of these communities. This is particularly useful to those of us whose ancestors moved away from their birthplaces; it helps us understand why they might have taken the decision to move away from friends and loved ones, to sometimes risk dangerous journeys and to step into the unknown.

For example, you might discover a link to family near Greater London and learn where your ancestors lived during the bustling Industrial Revolution, which began in the late 1700s. Game-changing advances in agriculture and technology spurred countless countryside merchants, bakers, butchers, brewers, tailors, and other rural workers to relocate to opportunity-filled cities, like London, laying the foundation for some of England’s greatest modern cities.

Particular attention has been paid to the migratory routes that have been revealed or corroborated by study of the DNA results. It is fascinating to be able to follow the movements of groups of people through DNA results. We can sometimes see that people from one particular area or city in the UK moved in significant numbers to another particular area or city, whether that be in the UK or elsewhere in the world such as a particular city in Canada, USA, Australia or New Zealand. Starting a new life somewhere new must have been very daunting for our ancestors and so it is comforting to think that they went to places where they already had a few friends or relatives and perhaps a promise of work.

These new genetic regions could potentially offer a breakthrough for those of us with brick walls. If you don’t know where in the UK your ancestor came from, your improved ethnicity estimate may point to one of these regions. Learning more about that region may highlight a particular area or city from which a known migratory route began, to a place you know your family lived in. Don’t forget to go back to your DNA matches and see if any of them have origins in that place too.

The world of genetic genealogy is moving at such a fast pace. We know it will continue to evolve and refine and Ancestry is determined to remain the leader in using this science to help family historians. We are really excited to share this next step on that journey with you and hope that it will offer you a greater understanding of your ancestor’s lives and, just maybe, a breakthrough.

This blogpost was written by guest writer, Joanne Penn from Ancestry ProGenealogist. Joanne specialises in English research, early palaeography, and breaking down brick walls. 

Kristen Hyde

Kristen is Ancestry's Social Media Manager for the United Kingdom.

8 Comments

  1. Phil Brown

    I was not impressed with the update. 3/4 of my ancestors are North England (Northumberland & Durham) yet I’m in the south East community. Most of my 4 th cousins are from this area too. Is there a reason why.

    • Ben

      Hi Phil, from what I understand (as a fellow customer) different regions in the UK have a slightly different ‘signature’ or pattern of genes based on varying amounts of ancestry from historical populations (e.g. Vikings, ‘post-beaker/’Britain/’Celt’, Anglo-Saxons etc). Looking at the genetics of people with ancestral roots in Northumbria, from what I understand, there is slightly more ‘Celtic’ (Goidelic/Scots origin?) in the mix than most other English regions, with presumably a certain percentage of Scandinavian (Viking) and Angle/Saxon ancestry. In comparison, people in the South East have a higher proportion of Saxon, less Norse, and the least ‘Celtic’. You inherit 50% of your genes from each parent, but the makeup of those genes (from each ‘pool’ of genes available from each parent) is random. Therefore, by chance, you may have inherited most of the ‘Saxon’ genes from your parents, a less of the Norse and ‘Celtic’, which presents a profile that appears ‘on paper’ more characteristic of someone from the South East than the ‘average’ North East person. That is probably way too simplistic an explanation, but is the limit of my understanding and hopefully is still helpful. I had a similar experience (expecting a much stronger signature characteristic of a particular county/area). Nevertheless it doesn’t diminish my connection to that area through cultural, familial, or historical affiliation. My genes still come from ancestors from that region, but that pattern I ended up with is less characteristic of the region when looking at the genes of people on mass.

  2. JaniceB

    Why has Ancestry named the region going northwest from London across Berkshire and Buckinghamshire towards Oxford “Greater London” ?
    Greater London is the name given to the large conurbation area around the capital and certainly doesn’t reach even as far as Buckinghamshire let alone Oxfordshire.
    Greater Lo d

  3. Rose M

    My paternal side have lived in the West Midlands area for centuries and now I have lost that area completely on the latest upgrade and now have South East England – Surrey and Sussex where I have absolutely no ancestors from those areas going back at least to the 1500s. Not at all impressed.

  4. Rafaela Santos Ribeiro

    Grande sucesso. Eu acho que esses novos 73 novos ancestrais irão o historiador explorar o Reino Unido em uma nova definição. As novas descobertas também ajudarão na pesquisa e análise de dados e na criação de novos escopos. A fonte pode ajudar muito. Mesmo escrevendo artigos de pesquisa, antiplagio online source pode ser muito útil. Porque sem uma boa fonte de escrita, você pode esperar boa qualidade.

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