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Thread: Method to confirm/dispute accuracy of ancestry results?

  1. #1
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    Method to confirm/dispute accuracy of ancestry results?

    Is there any way of confirming the accuracy of the AncestryDNA update results, using Gedmatch calculators and the like?

    The results have been quite interesting for me as someone who believes I have Scottish ancestry but no documented proof due to poor records.

    My results are: 63% Irish and 37% Scottish.

    37% Scottish would suggest, at a minimum Scottish ancestry on both of my fatherís lines and possibly on some of my motherís lines.

    I say this because my fathers paternal line is Ulster Scots, but has a small section of Ulster Irish dna in that line. Meaning that, that wouldnít yield 25% Scottish for myself. His maternal line is Ulster Irish.

    Is there any way for me to find out how accurate this result is or to estimate how much Scottish ancestry I would have, given the lack of paper records?

    Although my paternal grandfatherís lineage is mostly Ulster Scots beyond the 1800ís, I have no way of estimating how true that is prior to the 1800ís.

    I have noticed a trend where full Ulster Irish are 10-15% Scots.

    Is it possible that this is old Gaelic ancestry?

    25+12 = 37???

    Is that where this 37% is coming from? An old Scottish Gaelic component in my Ulster Irish lines?

    I mean if we got to 3rd G Grandparents:

    11 British
    21 Irish

    Surnames
    Last edited by Nqp15hhu; 09-15-2020 at 01:46 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nqp15hhu View Post
    Is there any way of confirming the accuracy of the AncestryDNA update results, using Gedmatch calculators and the like?

    The results have been quite interesting for me as someone who believes I have Scottish ancestry but no documented proof due to poor records.

    My results are: 63% Irish and 37% Scottish.

    37% Scottish would suggest, at a minimum Scottish ancestry on both of my fatherís lines and possibly on some of my motherís lines.

    I say this because my fathers paternal line is Ulster Scots, but has a small section of Ulster Irish dna in that line. Meaning that, that wouldnít yield 25% Scottish for myself. His maternal line is Ulster Irish.

    Is there any way for me to find out how accurate this result is or to estimate how much Scottish ancestry I would have, given the lack of paper records?

    Although my paternal grandfatherís lineage is mostly Ulster Scots beyond the 1800ís, I have no way of estimating how true that is prior to the 1800ís.

    I have noticed a trend where full Ulster Irish are 10-15% Scots.

    Is it possible that this is old Gaelic ancestry?

    25+12 = 37???

    Is that where this 37% is coming from? An old Scottish Gaelic component in my Ulster Irish lines?

    I mean if we got to 3rd G Grandparents:

    11 British
    21 Irish

    Surnames
    Well, I think that most calculators can do a better job when their are fewer different ancestries in the mix -- though it probably depends on how alike those ancestries are. Some ancestries just seem to be harder to distinguish than others do.

    This really is part of my frustration. If you look at my signature, you can see that my ancestry British (mostly Scottish and northern Irish, but with possible English and Welsh); German; Swiss; Alsatian; French; Menorcan Spanish; and indigenous American. To some of the calculators, English and German can be hard to fully differentiate.

    With this latest Ancestry update, I now am told that I have

    • 58% England & Northwestern Europe
    • 25% Scotland
    • 6% Wales
    • 5% Germanic Europe
    • 4% Ireland
    • 1% Finland
    • 1% Indigenous Americas - Mexico
    • <1% Indigenous Americas - North


    Two key problems here are: (1) missing Spanish ancestry, which my paper trail and several other calculators both show; and (2) the excessive England & Northwestern Europe, which is considerably higher than my British & Irish ancestry combined, either by my paper trail or 23andMe.

    Yet even the England & Northwestern Europe isn't necessarily a problem as long as you take the "Northwestern Europe" seriously. While Ancestry says it's "primarily located in England", their region makes also takes in much of France, part of Germany, and even a significant portion of Switzerland. I happen to have paper trail ancestry from each of these locations.

    As to the Spanish, it's actually well-known that Ancestry has had problems in detecting Spanish ancestry in many cases. But in addition to that, my Spanish ancestry is specifically from Menorca, which is part of the Catalan region. This means there's a strong French influence, more than in other parts of Spain. Also, it's Mediterranean, and has been subject to multiple regional influences. Ancestry isn't picking up any "French" for me, but maybe my Spanish ancestry somehow looks less Spanish in relation to their reference panel?

    I also have results from LivingDNA:

    76.9% Great Britain and Ireland
    19.2% South Central England
    15.8% Central England
    14.2% Southeast England
    6.1% East Anglia
    5.8% Northern Ireland and Southwest Scotland
    4.3% Cumbria
    3.7% Northwest Scotland
    3% Ireland
    3% South Wales
    1.9% Lincolnshire
    16.4% Northwest Germanic
    6.7% East Iberia

    Note that

    • the total "British & Irish" for LivingDNA -- while still excessive, in my view -- is still significantly lower than the total at Ancestry for all British Isles ancestries
    • LivingDNA also doesn't see all of my German ancestry, but they do see over three times as much as Ancestry now does
    • The "extra" English LivingDNA sees are pretty much all in regions with a substantial amount of DNA from the Angles and Saxons, and I think that's why it's mixing in some of my German ancestry with my Scottish/northern Irish ancestry -- and why these numbers are lower than Ancestry's.
    • LivingDNA didn't pick up on any Native American ancestry, though most companies and most calculators do


    Here's what I get from FTDNA. It will change whenever they finally get to their promised update, I'm sure.

    • 70% British Isles
    • 13% West and Central Europe
    • 13% Asia Minor
    • "Trace Results". These include Finland <1%, North Africa <1%, Southeast Asia <1%, North and Central America <2% and Southeastern Europe <2%.


    Again, no Spanish -- so Ancestry isn't alone in not detecting it. But Spanish seems harder to detect for several different companies and calculators. It probably boils down mainly to who's in the reference panels for each region. Anyway, you can see the British Isles estimate isn't that far from LivingDNA's, but I suspect for the same region -- that some "continental" ancestry is hard to distinguish from British, even though it isn't the same thing. The MyOrigins map does show an overlap in the "British Isles" and "West and Central Europe" regions.

    The "Asia Minor" is really a puzzle. I haven't seen this in any other estimate. But at 23andMe, a small amount (less than 2%) of my "Southern European" total is being reported as "Greek and Balkan". And of course, there's that "Trace" Southeast Europe of <2% at FTDNA. All I can think of is that maybe the "Asia Minor" is actually related somehow to having Mediterranean ancestry.

    For me at least, FTDNA's estimate is really bad -- yet I do hear from people who think it's pretty close for them.

    Here's MyHeritage's analysis. This is not based on their own test, but on their analysis of an upload of Ancestry's test:

    Europe 97.5%
    North and West Europe 80.7%
    Irish, Scottish, and Welsh 46.6%
    North and West European 34.1%
    South Europe 16.8%
    Iberian 9.5%
    Italian 7.3%
    American 2.5%
    Native American 1.5%
    Native American 1.5%
    Central and South America 1.0%
    Mesoamerican and Andean 1.0%

    And finally, just for fun, here's DNA.Land:

    West Eurasian 98%
    Northwest European 54%
    Southwestern European 17%
    South European 13%
    South/Central European 11%
    Balkan 1.4%
    Finnish 9.4%
    Mid-Turkic 4%
    Ashkenazi 1.1%
    Native American 1.7%

    I've also used various calculators on GEDmatch, with sometimes very different results. About the most consistent thing to show up is that "Native American" (except at LivingDNA), at around 1-2%.
    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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  5. #3
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    I don't know, if these calculators really 'split up' my British Isles regions. Is there specific components in these calculators that would hint at different types of British Isles ancestry, for example, I did read that Scottish people sometimes have a small portion of Finnish dna?

    Here are the results from the same sites for myself:

    Living DNA
    Great Britain and Ireland
    100%

    Ireland

    85.1%

    Northwest Scotland

    8%

    Cumbria

    5.1%

    Southwest Scotland and Northern Ireland

    1.8%

    There is Ulster Scots dna detected here, but not much, at all. This is a completely different result to AncestryDNA's current update.

    MyHeritage

    Europe
    98.8%

    North and West Europe
    94.7%
    Irish, Scottish, and Welsh
    94.7%
    East Europe
    4.1%
    East European
    2.6%
    Balkan
    1.5%

    Asia
    1.2%

    South Asia
    1.2%
    South Asian
    1.2%

    This is the exact same as my original AncestryDNA result.

    FTDNA

    European
    100%
    British Isles
    78%
    Scandinavia
    12%
    Southeast Europe
    10%

    DNA Land
    West Eurasian 100%
    Northwest European 97%
    Southwestern European 1.6%
    Mediterranean Islander 1.3%

    So, it's clear to me that I have a high Celtic ethnicity, the question is what is that composed of?
    Last edited by Nqp15hhu; 09-15-2020 at 10:57 PM.

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    I guess I didn't really answer the question very well -- which was how to confirm your results. I still think the best way is against a good paper trail, but that's really the problem. Knowing how reliable your paper trail really is.

    DNA testing can help there, too, if you can who the most recent ancestors are that you share with your matches. ThruLines can be helpful here, although you have to use caution. At Ancestry trees are often copied and recopied uncritically -- and as you know, it doesn't matter how large a number is, if you multiply it times 0 it's still 0.

    That's the basic idea, though. It should be easier when your ancestry goes pretty far back in the same non-colonial area. Mine goes pretty far back in Pennsylvania -- on my father's side -- but it's more mixed on my mother's. Pretty far on her mother's side in Mississippi, but including Oklahoma, Ohio, Kentucky, and Virginia on her father's side.

    But of course I said "non-colonial", because in the U.S. all of our ancestry came from somewhere else unless it's Native American. I have a small percentage of that, through both my maternal grandparents, but that still leaves about 98% that came from a few different places in Europe.

    And I think it doesn't help the calculators that the "mixing" of various European ancestries started pretty early -- by no later than the 3rd or 4th generation, which was still several generations before me. So you end up with my two main ancestries -- British and German -- pretty thoroughly mixed in together.

    I'd have thought my Spanish ancestry would stand out more, since it's more recent (in terms of generations before me), but the fact that it's from a Mediterranean island may make some difference. I don't know.

    But again, your best bet is probably a good paper trail, and then use several different calculators. If you have relatively uncomplicated ancestry, you'll probably see somewhat more consistent results than I do. Or, if you have multiple ancestries it's probably easier the more distinct they are from each other.

    I think that's why my Native American is the most consistent of my ancestries across different calculators. And even at Ancestry, with slight changes in percentage or characterization -- like "Indigenous Americas - North" morphing into "Indigenous Americas - Mexico" on the most recent update -- the range has stayed exactly the same (0-3%). With everything else, even the range has shifted from one update to another.
    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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  9. #5
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    Sorry, I didn't intend to insult you at all. I was thinking aloud as to possible differences in Irish and Scottish dna that could be identified within these tests. I have asked this question because I am struggling to do so through the DNA tests and I am struggling with my paper trail.

    The earliest ancestor I have is in the 1790's, so there is little use in that for me in identifying potential Scottish ancestors. I have also identified one or two differences with matches that would hint at an affair, so I am not totally confident in this. The only way I have been able to confirm some lines, is through a constant presence of matches with those surnames. But I can't do that for surnames that I don't know about in the 1700's.

    I have identified some matches to colonial American lines. I don't know if I am actually related to these people, just that I have a tonne of matches with those people in their family trees.

    Here is an example of one such couple:
    https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Patton-247

    I have hundreds of matches with this couple in their family tree. I don't know if it is a common thing, but I thought it very odd that I would be related to all these people from just the one couple (if this is true).
    Last edited by Nqp15hhu; 09-15-2020 at 11:19 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nqp15hhu View Post
    I don't know, if these calculators really 'split up' my British Isles regions. Is there specific components in these calculators that would hint at different types of British Isles ancestry, for example, I did read that Scottish people sometimes have a small portion of Finnish dna?

    Here are the results from the same sites for myself:

    Living DNA
    Great Britain and Ireland
    100%

    Ireland

    85.1%

    Northwest Scotland

    8%

    Cumbria

    5.1%

    Southwest Scotland and Northern Ireland

    1.8%

    There is Ulster Scots dna detected here, but not much, at all. This is a completely different result to AncestryDNA's current update.

    MyHeritage

    Europe
    98.8%

    North and West Europe
    94.7%
    Irish, Scottish, and Welsh
    94.7%
    East Europe
    4.1%
    East European
    2.6%
    Balkan
    1.5%

    Asia
    1.2%

    South Asia
    1.2%
    South Asian
    1.2%

    This is the exact same as my original AncestryDNA result.

    FTDNA

    European
    100%
    British Isles
    78%
    Scandinavia
    12%
    Southeast Europe
    10%

    DNA Land
    West Eurasian 100%
    Northwest European 97%
    Southwestern European 1.6%
    Mediterranean Islander 1.3%

    So, it's clear to me that I have a high Celtic ethnicity, the question is what is that composed of?
    Well, I guess the problem here as what I mentioned about how distinct one ancestry is from another. Remember also that you're not being compared to panels of actual ancestors, but to panels made up of living folks who meet certain criteria to be considered proxies for the region.

    The problem is, it has to be easier to distinguish Celtic ancestry from German than to distinguish groups of closely-related Celts from another. I mean, Irish Gaelic and Scottish Gaelic are definitely very different -- but they're still both Gaelic.

    (I do have to say I had an easier time understanding the English spoken in Ireland than the English spoken in Scotland -- but that's either just me or the particular tour guides we had.)
    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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    Quote Originally Posted by Nqp15hhu View Post
    Sorry, I didn't intend to insult you at all. I was thinking aloud as to possible differences in Irish and Scottish dna that could be identified within these tests. I have asked this question because I am struggling to do so through the DNA tests and I am struggling with my paper trail.

    The earliest ancestor I have is in the 1790's, so there is little use in that for me in identifying potential Scottish ancestors. I have also identified one or two differences that would hint at an affair, so I am not totally confident in this. The only way I have been able to confirm some lines, is through a constant presence of matches with those surnames. But I can't do that for surnames that I don't know about in the 1700's.
    One problem with surnames maybe affects Americans more than folks in Northern Ireland -- it's the fact that so maybe "foreign" surnames ending up being "replaced" by a similar sounding English name. Or sometimes the name was just translated -- like Zimmerman to Carpenter.

    My own surname no longer looks German, since it shifted from Buchhammer to Bookhammer. But nobody can figure out just what a "Bookhammer" would be, even if it does look like two ordinary English words. My grandfather once told me a story that it was an occupational name from someone who used a hammer to emboss leather covers for books! But that was just my grandfather being my grandfather. If you asked him a question, he'd give you an answer ... even if he had to invent one on the spot!

    Actually, Buchhammer -- which looks like two ordinary German words -- is not an occupational name, but is from a place. Probably from one of several villages or towns named "Buchheim" in both Germany and Austria. The -hammer part comes from the fact that in both Bavaria and Austria, "heim" is "ham". So you actually see a lot of names ending in "-hammer" in those places, names that elsewhere in Germany appear as "-heimer".

    I've done the same thing you're talking about: basically, counting up surnames of 3rd great grandparents and doing a little division. But I chose to take any name that could be English (or at least British), such as "White" and "Smith", and assume that it actually was English.

    I also have a few French names at the 3rd great grandparent level, and of course some "Spanish" names. The only thing is, some of these are actually indistinguishable from "French" names, such as "Pons" -- which was the surname of my maternal grandmother's father. But they're genuine Catalan names, as well.

    One thing I like about 23andMe, by the way, is that it's one of very few companies that allow you to actually see where each ancestry is on the genome. So I can, for example, look at segments where I match one of my "Cannette" cousins
    and see what "ethnicity" is shown for my cousin in the same region. (The Catalan spelling of the name, by the way, is "Canet", but my ancestor immigrated to a place with strong French influence, and they would have pronounced "-et" as "-eh". The "-ette" ending better preserves the original pronunciation.)

    In the case of Irish and Scottish names, it can sometimes be difficult to tell; and then you have Irish names which have been made to look more "English". I know I'm not telling you anything you don't know, but I also have that problem with names I think were likely British, but I can't pinpoint the origin within the British Isles. I also have a few names like Gregg, which I know came from an ancestor with what in America we would call "Scots-Irish" or "Scotch-Irish"; and "Keith", which came from a Scottish ancestor.

    I guess if there's something I like about Ancestry's update, it's the effort to better distinguish Scottish, Irish, and Welsh ancestry from English ancestry. I can definitely believe the 35% total I have for those three categories, plus there's probably a little bit of that 58% "England and Northwestern Europe" that may actually be from England. (With the bulk of it being continental.)
    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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  15. #8
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    Hmm, I don't know if I can rely on the 3rd great grandparents surnames anyhow, as I have found that my own surname is an NPE!

    But, the 'Scottish' like surnames that I identified would be: (my surname), Caldwell, Black, Smith, Irwin, Thompson, McKinney, Owens, McKay, Kerr, Sinclair.

    Some of these names are definitely British, but at least 3/4 could be Irish. A calculation brings 22% of the names being British if we take out the 3/4 that might be Irish.

    Which brings me to the idea that some of the Scots is Gallowglass.
    Last edited by Nqp15hhu; 09-16-2020 at 12:07 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by geebee View Post
    Well, I think that most calculators can do a better job when their are fewer different ancestries in the mix -- though it probably depends on how alike those ancestries are. Some ancestries just seem to be harder to distinguish than others do.

    This really is part of my frustration. If you look at my signature, you can see that my ancestry British (mostly Scottish and northern Irish, but with possible English and Welsh); German; Swiss; Alsatian; French; Menorcan Spanish; and indigenous American. To some of the calculators, English and German can be hard to fully differentiate.

    With this latest Ancestry update, I now am told that I have

    • 58% England & Northwestern Europe
    • 25% Scotland
    • 6% Wales
    • 5% Germanic Europe
    • 4% Ireland
    • 1% Finland
    • 1% Indigenous Americas - Mexico
    • <1% Indigenous Americas - North


    Two key problems here are: (1) missing Spanish ancestry, which my paper trail and several other calculators both show; and (2) the excessive England & Northwestern Europe, which is considerably higher than my British & Irish ancestry combined, either by my paper trail or 23andMe.

    Yet even the England & Northwestern Europe isn't necessarily a problem as long as you take the "Northwestern Europe" seriously. While Ancestry says it's "primarily located in England", their region makes also takes in much of France, part of Germany, and even a significant portion of Switzerland. I happen to have paper trail ancestry from each of these locations.

    As to the Spanish, it's actually well-known that Ancestry has had problems in detecting Spanish ancestry in many cases. But in addition to that, my Spanish ancestry is specifically from Menorca, which is part of the Catalan region. This means there's a strong French influence, more than in other parts of Spain. Also, it's Mediterranean, and has been subject to multiple regional influences. Ancestry isn't picking up any "French" for me, but maybe my Spanish ancestry somehow looks less Spanish in relation to their reference panel?

    I also have results from LivingDNA:

    76.9% Great Britain and Ireland
    19.2% South Central England
    15.8% Central England
    14.2% Southeast England
    6.1% East Anglia
    5.8% Northern Ireland and Southwest Scotland
    4.3% Cumbria
    3.7% Northwest Scotland
    3% Ireland
    3% South Wales
    1.9% Lincolnshire
    16.4% Northwest Germanic
    6.7% East Iberia

    Note that

    • the total "British & Irish" for LivingDNA -- while still excessive, in my view -- is still significantly lower than the total at Ancestry for all British Isles ancestries
    • LivingDNA also doesn't see all of my German ancestry, but they do see over three times as much as Ancestry now does
    • The "extra" English LivingDNA sees are pretty much all in regions with a substantial amount of DNA from the Angles and Saxons, and I think that's why it's mixing in some of my German ancestry with my Scottish/northern Irish ancestry -- and why these numbers are lower than Ancestry's.
    • LivingDNA didn't pick up on any Native American ancestry, though most companies and most calculators do


    Here's what I get from FTDNA. It will change whenever they finally get to their promised update, I'm sure.

    • 70% British Isles
    • 13% West and Central Europe
    • 13% Asia Minor
    • "Trace Results". These include Finland <1%, North Africa <1%, Southeast Asia <1%, North and Central America <2% and Southeastern Europe <2%.


    Again, no Spanish -- so Ancestry isn't alone in not detecting it. But Spanish seems harder to detect for several different companies and calculators. It probably boils down mainly to who's in the reference panels for each region. Anyway, you can see the British Isles estimate isn't that far from LivingDNA's, but I suspect for the same region -- that some "continental" ancestry is hard to distinguish from British, even though it isn't the same thing. The MyOrigins map does show an overlap in the "British Isles" and "West and Central Europe" regions.

    The "Asia Minor" is really a puzzle. I haven't seen this in any other estimate. But at 23andMe, a small amount (less than 2%) of my "Southern European" total is being reported as "Greek and Balkan". And of course, there's that "Trace" Southeast Europe of <2% at FTDNA. All I can think of is that maybe the "Asia Minor" is actually related somehow to having Mediterranean ancestry.

    For me at least, FTDNA's estimate is really bad -- yet I do hear from people who think it's pretty close for them.

    Here's MyHeritage's analysis. This is not based on their own test, but on their analysis of an upload of Ancestry's test:

    Europe 97.5%
    North and West Europe 80.7%
    Irish, Scottish, and Welsh 46.6%
    North and West European 34.1%
    South Europe 16.8%
    Iberian 9.5%
    Italian 7.3%
    American 2.5%
    Native American 1.5%
    Native American 1.5%
    Central and South America 1.0%
    Mesoamerican and Andean 1.0%

    And finally, just for fun, here's DNA.Land:

    West Eurasian 98%
    Northwest European 54%
    Southwestern European 17%
    South European 13%
    South/Central European 11%
    Balkan 1.4%
    Finnish 9.4%
    Mid-Turkic 4%
    Ashkenazi 1.1%
    Native American 1.7%

    I've also used various calculators on GEDmatch, with sometimes very different results. About the most consistent thing to show up is that "Native American" (except at LivingDNA), at around 1-2%.
    MyHeritage seems pretty spot on for your ancestry wow

  17. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aiden View Post
    MyHeritage seems pretty spot on for your ancestry wow
    Yes, which I think underscores the idea that -- for whatever reason -- a company which some people may think isn't very good can actually turn out to have better results for other people.

    Of course, it could be coincidence ... but I really think it's a matter of a particular reference panel being one that is a closer match for your ancestry. Continuing to "tweak" that reference panel (or those reference panels, all that apply) may not make the reference panel any better, at least not for everyone.

    It used to be this way for me with Ancestry, before the 2018 update. Back then, virtually every estimate Ancestry made for me was closer to my paper trail than in 2018, 2019, or 2020.

    • Europe West 44% --- paper trail estimate for combined German, French, Alsatian, and Swiss ancestry 44.9%
    • Great Britain 25% and Ireland 9% --- paper trail estimate for combined British and Irish 40.6%
    • Iberian Peninsula 9% --- Menorcan Spanish 12.5%
    • Scandinavia 3% --- possibly related to British (Scottish?) ancestry
    • Caucasus 3% --- ?
    • Italy/Greece 2% --- possibly related to Menorcan Spanish ancestry
    • Native American 1% ... paper trail estimate 2.0%
    • Asia Central 1% --- ?
    • European Jewish <1% --- ?
    • Finland/Northwest Russian <1% --- ?
    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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