I’d like to meet…

The theme for this weeks 52 ancestors challenge is “I’d like to meet …” Well, there really is one person I would like to meet, but the conversation might be a bit awkward. She is Anne Rudgard, my great grandmother – born in Lincoln in 1824, and passed away at the age of 95 in 1919. In the only photograph I have of her, she looks really really serious, and conservative. Definitely not a party animal. But then again, she was married at the age of 25 to the local vicar (my great grandfather) who was 47 at the time, and proceeded to have 7 children over the next 14 years.
Anne Rudgard & Children

DNA does not lie

Why the conversation would be a bit awkward concerns DNA, for as we know DNA does not lie, and there appear to be some discrepancies in my DNA results.

Some time ago, I took a Y-DNA test, which looks at my paternal ancestry. The Y-DNA test is unique in that the Y-chromosome is inherited intact from father to son each generation, and thus can be used to trace your direct paternal ancestry accurately for 10’s of 1000’s of years in the past. This is unlike the standard autosomal DNA tests, which are a combination of both parents’ DNA and get diluted by half each generation. So going beyond great-great grandparent level (where you only share about 6% of DNA) can be of limited value.

The are occasional mutations in the Y-DNA which happen on average every 100 to 140 years in some known markers, so over time differences do develop and enables us to trace new family lines starting from our original human ancestor, known as Y-Adam who probably lived in Africa some 275,000 years ago. He would have been our 8,800th great grandfather or thereabouts. He was obviously not the only male alive at the time, but he is the only one who has an unbroken line of sons, through thousands of generations, right down to the present time. He is the paternal ancestor of all humans alive today.

Haplogroup map for R-BY115162
Path travelled from Africa by my paternal ancestors, leading up to haplogroup R-BY115162 in England in the 1600’s

While this is interesting, especially finding out the route my paternal ancestors took out of Africa to end up in England in the current generation, I am not about to try and identify exactly who my 8000th great grandfather was. However, when surnames first started being used about 400-600 years ago, it is logical that in communities where the surname is passed down from father to son, that I should be able to use my Y-DNA results to identify other men directly related to me via the same paternal line, who share my surname.

Family Tree DNA has established ‘surname projects’ to do exactly this. Most members of these projects tend to be from the US, as that is where the most tests have been performed, and as I have traced my family tree back to the 1500’s in England using traditional genealogy techniques & paper records, I thought it may be interesting to see which of the many US-based clans who share my Kent surname in the FT DNA surname project are linked to me via Y-DNA.

When I finally got my Y-DNA results back, surprisingly, the answer was … None!

However there were many matches with the surname ‘Kirkman’ and Kellam (also Kellum, and Caellum). Mmmm someone, somewhere was not exactly playing by the rules! We figured that this was strong evidence of a NPE (or ‘non paternity event’), however it was difficult to say when exactly this may have happened.

The only way to identify when this happened would be to test known cousins, particularly 2nd, 3rd and 4th cousins sharing my surname who based on our paper records have a common paternal ancestor. In my tree, this goes back to William Kent from Lincolnshire who died in 1584, my ninth great grandfather.

I recently made contact with my 3rd cousin 3X removed (I only knew his details via paper records, but managed to make contact via facebook). Our common ancestor is my 2x great grandfather, George Davies Kent (1773-1849), who was also a vicar in Lincoln.

My cousin shared with me his ancestry DNA test details, and surprise, surprise, we had no shared matches! Although this is still possible, as at this level it is predicted that we should only share about 0.097% of DNA [or an average of 27cM], it does hint that an NPE may have occurred somewhere down the line, but cant accurately say where. My cousin has now agreed to do a Y-DNA test to explore this possibility further. If we have different Y-DNA, it would confirm that ‘the event’ happened during or after the lifetime of my 2x great grandfather!

Awkward conversations

So why the focus on Anne Rudgard, my great grandmother? Well, in my analysis of my own DNA matches, I have been able to locate DNA matches which prove a direct relationship to her Rudgard line. She is definitely my biological great grandmother, and I share a 29.4cM section of DNA on chromosome 16 with her direct ancestors.
On the other hand, I have been unable to find any DNA matches that connect to my great grandfather, the vicar! So that’s why the conversation may be a bit awkward!

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