14 Dec 2012

DNA Tests for Christmas?

I have talked a lot in this Blog about the use of DNA tests to answer questions about the relationships between the various branches of the Swinfield family. They can be a great tool to supplement the paper and parchment documents for our ancestors which we, as genealogists, use to put together a family tree.
My grandparents' grave - St Michael's churchyard,
Yorktown, Surrey
Genealogical records such as birth, marriage and death certificates, census returns, parish registers, wills and gravestones provide us with the “facts” about our ancestors' lives but they often do not tell the whole story! As has been discovered and illustrated during this series of the articles, to be read here, although they are documents which purport to provide a record of the important events in the lives (and deaths) of our relatives, they are often far from truthful. Every time one of our forebears provided information to the relevant authorities, whether the state or the church, he or she may have “bent” the facts or just lied. They often altered their ages, invented names for errant fathers, or hid illegitimacy.
Genetic inheritance cannot lie to us. It provides an accurate account of the real ancestors who donated the code which makes us who we are. If we can read the blueprint, we sometimes find clues, especially in the male line (like mine), which tells us that a branch contains hidden illegitimacy. After all, we only have our female ancestor's word for who was the true father of any of her children. We can compare men, using the Y-chromosome tests, to see how closely they are (or are not!) related. This has already told us a lot about the Swinfield lines from which we have samples. We were even included in an article, published in The Guardian last Saturday, about genetic tests which are being done on the possible body of Richard III.  
DNA Worldwide test kit
I have very recently “targeted” 18 male Swinfields who are representatives of six major branches of the family from which no one has yet been tested or where more samples are needed. I have sought their participation to see if any are prepared to take advantage of a seasonal cut-price offer which is currently available through FamilyTree DNA. Until 31st December, the price of a 37-marker test is just £75 ($119), a saving of over £30 off the normal price. To date, only two have replied, wishing me well with the study, providing genealogical information, but declining to pay for a test.
So if you are still looking for that very special and personal present for your beloved Swinfield male for Christmas, what better gift could there be? What's more, if you test one member of a family, you will get a result for his father, brothers, sons and even his grandsons! They all have the same Y-chromosome. You would also contribute significantly to our knowledge of the wider family's history so it would be a much- appreciated present for me too!
Happy Christmas and a great genealogical New Year!