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Thread: A Greenhorn's Attempt at Distinguishing NW Europe from Germanic Europe

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    A Greenhorn's Attempt at Distinguishing NW Europe from Germanic Europe

    Hi all!

    I apologize in advance if this topic or a similar one has been made; I also apologize if I make mistakes or wrong assumptions in this post, as I consider myself very much a learning greenhorn when it comes to genealogy and ancestry.

    The majority of my ancestors come from continental Europe. Over the last few months I have been marking down my ancestry from continental Europe-- here's a map in which I marked my father's continental European ancestors' locations in yellow, and my mother's ancestors' locations in blue.

    My father's ancestors' locations are concentrated in the Netherlands and overall exist west of my mother's ancestors' locations, which are mostly in Germany. I noticed with the new Ancestry update that my dad's estimates include a substantially higher 'England/Wales/NW Europe' percentage than my mother; my mother, on the other hand, was given a high 'Germanic Europe' percentage.

    I was under the assumption that my mother, who has deep roots in Saxony and Lower Saxony, would have a high Anglo-Saxon (NW Europe) score-- instead, my father had the higher Anglo-Saxon score, which I suppose makes sense due to the closer proximity of Dad's locations to England/Wales/etc (Angles etc) compared to my mom's, who are further away. I want to also add that to my knowledge my mother has no known ancestry in England/Wales/etc. My father does have known ancestry from those areas, but it is very far back (1600s) and accounts for maybe approx. 6% of his DNA, so I'm fairly certain that this wouldn't terribly skew the percentages other than a few points towards the England/Wales/NW Europe region.

    For comparison, here are my parents' updated ancestry DNA results (ranges in parentheses), shared with permission:

    Dad's
    England/Wales/NW Europe: 47% (45-58)
    Germanic Europe: 41% (40-41)
    Norway: 7% (0-18)
    Sweden: 2% (0-3)
    Slavic: 2% (0-4)
    European Jewish: 1% (0-3)

    Mom's
    Germanic Europe: 82% (78-100)
    Sweden: 9% (0-11)
    Slavic: 4% (0-19)
    Baltic: 3% (0-9)
    England/Wales/NW Europe: 2%

    My parents' Paper Trails:

    Dad's
    GERMAN -- 37.5%
    -- 28.125% Lower Saxony/Hanover (Berel, Burgdorf, Bookholt, Nordhorn.)
    -- 6.25% North Rhine-Westphalia (Westphalia)
    -- 3.125% Bavaria (Blumenburg)
    DUTCH -- 31.25%
    -- 15.625% Gelderland (Eibergen, Lichtenvoorde, Beltrum, Groenlo, Ruule, Silvolde, Wehl, Deetinchem, Groot?)
    -- 12.5% Noord-Brabant (Amsterdam, Eersel, Bergeyk, Riethoven, Valkenswaard, Wintelre, Barbant, Reek, Berlicum, Heeswijk.)
    -- 3.125% Zeeland
    BELGIAN -- 6.25% (broadly)
    FRENCH -- 6.25%
    -- 6.25% Alsace-Lorraine (Schirrhein, Schirhoffen.)
    COLONIAL AMERICAN -- 6.25%
    -- 6.25% Irish, English, Welsh
    UNKNOWN -- 12.5%

    Mom's
    GERMAN -- 87.5%
    -- 34.375% Saxony (Eastern Germany. Lunzenau, Lengefeld, Vielau, Chemnitz, Hartensdorf, Löbtau, Dresden, Ammendorf.)
    -- 31.25% Lower Saxony/Hanover (Northwestern Germany. Oberfrankenhain, Bremer Vorde, Wolterdingen.)
    -- 12.5% Baden-Wüttermburg (Southwestern Germany. Southern Roenigheim)
    -- 9.375% Saxony-Anhalt (Central/Eastern Germany. Planena/Haale, Naumberg.)
    SWISS -- 12.5%
    -- 12.5% Bern/Berne (Central Switzerland)

    Is it safe to assume that the NW Europe component of the "England/Wales/NW Europe" region ancestry tests for is probably everything west of Germany and north of the Iberian Peninsula? Is there a clear distinction between "NW Europe" and "Germanic Europe" in Ancestry's context? Where would you draw a line between the two, if you had to? Am I safe to assume that my father is more "Anglo-Saxon" than my mother, based on these results?

    Looking forward to any and all replies on the topic; so excited to learn about this and better understand these results! I apologize for my ignorance on this topic!

    Thanks in advance,

    MischievousRaven

    IMG_20180923_011726_563.jpg
    Last edited by MischievousRaven; 09-23-2018 at 01:50 PM.
    Ethnicity via Paper Trail (Rounded): 63% German, 16% Dutch, 6% Swiss, 6% Unknown, 3% Belgian, 3% French, 3% Colonial American (Irish, English, Welsh).

    Ancestry DNA Results: 64% Germanic Europe, 22% England/Wales/Northwest Europe, 6% Norway, 3% Baltic, 3% Sweden, 2% Slavic.

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  3. #2
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    It seems like people with more of a Dutch, Flemish, French and Swiss admixtures score much higher compared to Germans. Most likely because the overlapping gets pretty severe in the corner and there’s no really place for them aside from the French which hav their own mess of a category.

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  5. #3
    This really interesting, thank you for sharing! This nwe Europe vs Germany question is one of the more complicated things in the update for western euro, so it is great to see these results so we try to figure it out.

    I wouldn’t look too much into the “Anglo-Saxon” name. The England/Wales/nwe does not accurately represent anglosaxons (or any other ancient populations), it’s just a term recycled by ancestry in the code from previous iterations of the ethnicity estimate. E/w/nwe I think comes from modern English and welsh reference samples. Due to the high scores in France, western Germany, and the Benelux, ancestry added nw euro to the title. I think the high scores are due to the genetic similarity of these different groups. This may have something to do with shared Anglo-Saxon or Celtic heritage, but I don’t think that means any of the ancestry regions correspond to these ancient populations. They correspond to modern populations, and spill over into adjacent regions because of some historical mixing or shared heritage. Your mom is more likely to match to modern Germans than modern English and welsh, so high Germanic is to be expected

    Look at the new ancestry whitepaper, there is a map of the e/w/nwe across Europe. I don’t think there is a hard border where nwe turns in Germany, but there is a gradient from the Benelux to eastern Germany. For western Germany and the Benelux, the reference populations don’t fall into one category or the other, but get a mixture on average.

    It looks like the areas where your dad is from are mostly 25-50% e/w/nwe, and the areas where your mom is from are mostly 5-25% e/w/nwe. You also have to remember that these are averages- there is variation across individuals even in the reference samples.

    Sometimes, such as in Americans with palatine German ancestry, all of the western German gets lumped into e/w/nwe.

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  7. #4
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    I think it could have to do with how hard it is to separate out from the overall mix, vs. the specific region alone.

    My estimate is that my mother is around 18-20% German (to the extent I've traced it, it's consistently Rhineland-Palatinate, one family coming from Flammersfeld, for example. She's also 25% Swedish.

    Edit: map didn't show what it was supposed to, so I removed it.

    My dad has trace German and/or Dutch, I'd say about 6.25% in combination (he has one ggg grandparent of each). He has a similar amount of French (one gg grandmother). Again, the German is likely from the Rhineland.

    My dad has a lot of SE English ancestry too (i.e., higher AS percentages). Note: I don't mention this because of the code name for the E/W/NWE category, but because I think the higher AS percentage could have been why before my English seemed to be skewed into a combination of Europe West and Scandinavia.

    Both my parents are a mix of English and other British Isles otherwise (my dad mostly English, but also a significant amount of Welsh, my mom English and Scots Irish).

    All my German is in NW Europe (my French is too), and my Swedish is a bit low (8% vs. 12/13%, and yes I know it could be this in reality, and different from the paper results, but I get 11% in other tests). My Irish/Scottish is right if it includes my Welsh.

    My sister gets the same amount of French as on paper (3%) and a little German (4%, vs. the roughly 12% that the paper would give her), and her Swedish is also low. Her German is either in NW Europe or in the Norwegian she gets (less than the very high "Scandinavian" she had before, but still there and wrong).

    I'm inclined to think her Norwegian is actual due to overlap between Scandinavian and British Isles and that the rest of her German is in NW Europe, like mine is, especially since our actual German is more Southern than Northern.

    If I'd tested my mom on Ancestry this would be more useful, but sadly I did not.

    So as a data point, mine and my sister's suggests that Rhineland German, at least from colonial times and mixed heavily with English and other British Isles ancestry, goes into NW Europe, mostly.
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    Last edited by msmarjoribanks; 09-23-2018 at 06:42 PM.

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    I think all of this makes perfect sense. I started out with 68% Europe West, 19% Ireland/Scotland/Wales, 8% Great Britiain (and the rest a bit of Iberian Penninsula and Italian). I believe I had such high Europe West due to German, Dutch and Swiss ancestors.

    With the update, I am now 76% England/Wales/NW Europe, 14% Ireland/Scotland and 10% Germanic Europe. This makes more sense to me because I have a lot of English, some Scottish and Irish and a great deal of German. I also believe the Rhineland German, Dutch and Swiss went into the England/Wales/NW Europe and that my DNA from other parts of Germany went into that 10% Germanic Europe.

    It's funny because until I really started building my family tree, I had NO IDEA that I had any German DNA. I always associated with the English and Scottish. This is in spite of living in a part of Ohio with a heavy German presence from way back. Now I know that that German heritage is mine as well. lol. That's what's so fun about genealogy, making new discoveries. It turns out that the English and Scottish men in my background were marrying a whole lot of German women. Now I'm learning to speak German, cooking German dishes and learning about the German history in my area and having a great deal of fun doing so.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mwoneill7 View Post
    This really interesting, thank you for sharing! This nwe Europe vs Germany question is one of the more complicated things in the update for western euro, so it is great to see these results so we try to figure it out.

    I wouldn’t look too much into the “Anglo-Saxon” name. The England/Wales/nwe does not accurately represent anglosaxons (or any other ancient populations), it’s just a term recycled by ancestry in the code from previous iterations of the ethnicity estimate. E/w/nwe I think comes from modern English and welsh reference samples. Due to the high scores in France, western Germany, and the Benelux, ancestry added nw euro to the title. I think the high scores are due to the genetic similarity of these different groups. This may have something to do with shared Anglo-Saxon or Celtic heritage, but I don’t think that means any of the ancestry regions correspond to these ancient populations. They correspond to modern populations, and spill over into adjacent regions because of some historical mixing or shared heritage. Your mom is more likely to match to modern Germans than modern English and welsh, so high Germanic is to be expected

    Look at the new ancestry whitepaper, there is a map of the e/w/nwe across Europe. I don’t think there is a hard border where nwe turns in Germany, but there is a gradient from the Benelux to eastern Germany. For western Germany and the Benelux, the reference populations don’t fall into one category or the other, but get a mixture on average.

    It looks like the areas where your dad is from are mostly 25-50% e/w/nwe, and the areas where your mom is from are mostly 5-25% e/w/nwe. You also have to remember that these are averages- there is variation across individuals even in the reference samples.

    Sometimes, such as in Americans with palatine German ancestry, all of the western German gets lumped into e/w/nwe.

    Im not so sure about your last statement. I’m from America and my grandfather was pure German with all family coming from dellfeld pfalz Rhineland palatine and I get 25% German from that side. My mom on the other hand had family from Hesse Darmstadt Germany and gets English and nw euro

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    i am regionally mixed North Sea and Ionian Sea. my North Sea is comprised of North German, S.W. and Western English, and unknown region Scottish. because of this I get all of these groups in some fashion on all calculators except the ones heavily slanted for Asia or Africa. I even get Frisian as a primary on one model which in my view indicates a happy medium between the U.K. and Northern Germany. Also, because North Germany and the east coast of England Scotland have considerable Scandinavian history I get some Scandinavian as a primary on some models.

    all this just to say in my views, German (particularly north Germany) would be near impossible to distinguish separately for a Englishman from the eastern part of the country. However, Germans have it easier because their DNA went into England, not the other way around....

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    Offhand, I'd say that "Baltic States" is likely to be German. I mean, my 2% Baltic States might be a result of germans absorbing Balts back in history in the East Prussia/West Prussia region, and not from (in my case) having ancestors coming to the USA from Latvia or Lithuania. Also, I notice that people with Baltic States who match me (often) have Pennsylvania German origins in their make up.

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    Aren’t Frisians close to the English sample

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    Quote Originally Posted by JerryS. View Post
    i am regionally mixed North Sea and Ionian Sea. my North Sea is comprised of North German, S.W. and Western English, and unknown region Scottish. because of this I get all of these groups in some fashion on all calculators except the ones heavily slanted for Asia or Africa. I even get Frisian as a primary on one model which in my view indicates a happy medium between the U.K. and Northern Germany. Also, because North Germany and the east coast of England Scotland have considerable Scandinavian history I get some Scandinavian as a primary on some models.

    all this just to say in my views, German (particularly north Germany) would be near impossible to distinguish separately for a Englishman from the eastern part of the country. However, Germans have it easier because their DNA went into England, not the other way around....
    I'm not quite sure what you mean when you say "Germans have it easier". I mean, I agree with your statement about the direction of the gene flow, but I don't believe Ancestry is working as hard to convince people that their English ancestry is really German as they are to convince people that their German ancestry is really English.

    My problem is that I have close to equal amount of both German and British ancestry -- with the British side coming out slightly on top only when my Irish ancestry is also added in. But, the split goes back to even when my Alsatian and Swiss ancestry are added to the "German" side. They both come out over 40%, with "German" regaining a slight edge (roughly 41% for "British & Irish" and 44% for "German/Swiss/Alsatian".

    This is not what Ancestry "sees", however. They claim 73% "England, Wales & Northwestern Europe" plus another 14% "Ireland & Scotland". That's 87% for a combination that should be only 41%. (Since regardless of what they call it, Ancestry still acts as if "England, Wales & Northwestern Europe" is simply another label for "Great Britain".)

    Meanwhile, instead of showing 44% of my ancestry as "Germanic Europe", that category is given only 10%. There's something wrong with this picture. But even worse is that 12.5% of my ancestry is Catalan (from Menorca), and I get a mere 1% for "Spain" and nothing for "France". It's definitely there, and I have the DNA matches to prove it, but that doesn't stop Ancestry from missing it almost completely.

    At least they give me that 1%. Before the 2019 update, they found no Spanish ancestry. When you consider that your matches can make this choice: "Your DNA matches can only see the portion of your ethnic regions and Genetic Communities™ they have in common with you" -- then it's a problem.

    It's also a problem now when I find cousins who have the same Native Americans ancestors I do, only maybe they get a bit of "Indigenous Americas -- Mexico", while I get only "Indigenous Americas -- North". To Ancestry, these are completely different categories. But how do they know that the "source" individuals wouldn't have tested partly in one category, and partly in the other? Answer: they don't. The just pretend that their reference populations for each category can't possibly overlap. And maybe they don't, but if so it's simply because of how they chose which samples to keep.

    But what they can't know is how these modern samples compare to folks who were born a couple hundred years ago.
    Besides British-German-Catalan, ancestry includes smaller amounts of French, Irish, Swiss, Choctaw & another NA tribe, possibly Catawba. Avatar picture is: my father, his father, & his father's father; baby is my eldest brother.

    GB

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