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DNA Shared Matches

Discussion in 'DNA Questions and Answers' started by Bryman, Jul 19, 2019.

  1. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    For what it’s worth I am confused (as perhaps are others) by many of the ‘techno-speak’ postings in this DNA Shared Matches section. Like my interest in computing and IT in general, I find myself coming up against jargon and do my best to interpret without recourse to same. (Indeed, my Computer magazine has a section where it quotes techno-speak and then explains in plain English what it means in just a few words)

    Now I find myself reading Forum DNA related postings thinking … ’what on earth are they getting at"? Even though I know -heart of hearts –they are doing their best to explain.

    I note Peter once again mentioning that Thru Lines does not take account of DNA as I well know. This probably explains why I find it the most useful addition to Ancestry’s repertoire (particularly filtering ‘Potential Ancestors). I also enjoy HINTS, regardless of the ‘funnies’ they often produce. At the end of the day it up to the individual to sort the wheat from the chaff and I have learned much from both avenues of research.

    As Peter often says, DNA adds a new dimension to traditional research and that is exactly how I use it. Having read (sometimes forgotten and re-read) his Masterclasses, and perused the useful charts, I have a basic understanding of things. Plus, hopefully, enough savvy to be aware of the pitfalls of oddities that do not fit the jigsaw without the need to dissect their cause, as many seem to do.

    As you have probably gathered, I dislike jargon and overt complications - so do not get me going on multi-colour coding- and put it down to my old age and carry on regardless.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 6, 2019
  2. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Sorry, Bob, if I've used jargon. You are right that we should avoid it, and as Peter reminded me, even the jargon goes out of date!

    I think one valid conclusion that has come out of this thread is that DNA shared matches can be useful but need to be treated with caution. You are right that DNA can't be used in isolation, but needs to be combined with traditional research for meaningful results.
  3. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Absolutely right Helen, and when the two disciplines meld together it is a pure delight and even more so when people respond to messaging and pass on new information (As recently happened to me in my discovery of my daughters maternal Mormon connections). May not strictly be breaking down brick walls in the accepted sense, but very rewarding nevertheless.

    Jargon forgiven by the way as you are very adept at explaining things as I have commented before
  4. canadianbeth

    canadianbeth LostCousins Member

    I still do not understand "segments". Are you saying that common matches with just one segment should be pretty much ignored? Most of those whom I have identified as matches do have more than one; my niece has 77 and a cousin once removed 14 (she is only on my maternal line). Most of those listed as 3rd or 4th cousin, matched or not, have at least two and only two with just one have been identified as a fifth cousin once removed and a sixth cousin; (obviously both are far back to a 5th GG)
    in fact, many with two have not either. I have a half 4th cousin once removed with 2 segments.
  5. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    The closer your matches are, the more segments you're likely to share with them - and the more cM you'll share in total. But it drops off very quickly, and beyond 2nd or 3rd cousin the amount of DNA shared is virtually meaningless as a guide to how closely-related you are.

    But provided you follow the strategies in the Masterclasss none of this really matters
  6. Margery

    Margery LostCousins Member

    Oh, how I agree, Bob.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  7. Bryman

    Bryman LostCousins Megastar

    Bob, don't make excuses for yourself! I am sure that you are no older than me.

    Regarding the list of DNA results from Ancestry, I agree that multi-colour coding adds more complication than it is worth but I have now found that I ignore the shade and just use it as an indicator that I know which octet of my tree that person belongs to. Some shades are so similar and even if the difference is detected then I cannot remember which is relevant for each branch, so I use the pointer to hover over the coloured blob and the name of my relevant family gets displayed.

    If nothing else, when most results are indicated as belonging to just one branch, I then know where to enhance my conventional research to find the missing twigs. Although Shared Matches are no guarantee of which branch contains that individual, they do provide a strong probability.
  8. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    There may be a few years between us, although I doubt many, but my dislike of over complicating things has more to do with mindset than age. However, I agree with you when you say ...
    ... that makes sense and although to date I use no colour shading in my DNA results, I was persuaded a while ago to try colour coding in FTM and did so using just 4 shades (something like -Red/Purple : Green/Yellow) as a recognition aid. This is more useful when viewing the 5 or so other Trees I store in FTM.

    I might try the 4-shade colour coding with DNA results, but as I tend to concentrate on 4th cousin or better -unless suitably intrigued to go beyond if a Tree is public and bountiful - I am seldom at a loss to know which branch of my Tree is involved anyway. As I said for FTM, it may be of more use when working my wife or daughters DNA results. But multi-colouring no way Pedro!
  9. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    The important thing to bear in mind is that having created a group you can search within it. This might enable you to figure out how you're related to a cluster of relatives.
    • Agree Agree x 3
  10. emjay

    emjay LostCousins Member

    Bob I think it is 'No way Jose' and 'Oh No! Pedro!' ;)
    • Agree Agree x 1
  11. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    I was doing a 'Dell boy' interpretation, as my wife and I often twist the French vernacular as he was prone to do... our favourite being Quel Fromage!
  12. emjay

    emjay LostCousins Member

    Monge too mate :confused:
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
    • Agree Agree x 1
  13. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    I have another query on the DNA Shared Matches theme which I wonder if the good people of this forum can help me with.

    A new DNA match recently appeared on my husband’s list, which, at 192 cM over 10 segments, suggests a likely 2nd cousin, or perhaps a half 1st cousin once removed (judging by the numbers in Peter’s DNA Masterclass chart, and Ancestry’s % figures). This was exciting, as I thought we knew about all his 2nd cousins, certainly those in the UK, but this one is in Australia. Looking at the Shared Matches for this person, there are a couple – of 25 and 31 cM – which I’d already verified by documentary evidence as a 3rd cousin once removed and a half 3rd cousin. They are both related to my husband on his maternal grandfather’s line.

    I concluded that the new match must also be related on the same line as these documented cousins, possibly descended from one of said maternal grandfather’s siblings. However, when I contacted her with some names, she replied that she did not recognise any of them, and I don’t recognise the names she mentioned either. However, there is a geographical link in that her father (EG) and my mother-in-law were both born in the same very small town, two years apart, so it’s the right place and time, just the wrong names. I wonder if there could be a non-paternity event here? EG’s parents married 3 years before he was born, and I can’t see any link to our family except the place where they lived, but I suppose it’s possible that his biological father was not his mother’s husband but my grandfather-in-law or one of his two brothers. It seems unlikely, but it’s all I can really think of to explain the DNA results.

    My question is this: if you have DNA matches which you have identified as documented cousins, can you draw the conclusion that matches shared with them must be from the same branch of the tree? I have assumed this to be the case, but maybe I’m wrong?
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2019
  14. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    This is a question I've pondered, and I think possibly asked here before. I think the conclusion I've reached is that to some extent you can but DNA inheritance isn't always quite that simple.

    As a general rule, I mark unknown shared matches of documented cousins as possibly being from the same branch of my tree. But I do have a few incidences where a documented cousin from one branch of my tree has shared matches with 'possibles' from another branch.

    And my longest running mystery is an unidentified match (GD) with whom I share 137 cM across 8 segments, and is a shared match with documented cousins on my mother's paternal side and on my father's paternal side - with no evidence on paper or in my DNA that my parents were related.
    • Thanks! Thanks! x 1
  15. peter

    peter Administrator Staff Member

    Yes, it's exceedingly likely this is the case, and I'd certainly use that as my working hypothesis (though remember there is always more than one shared line).

    But where you might be going wrong is focusing on just two possible relationships, 2C and half 1C1R. If you look at the chart again you'll see that there are many other relationships for which total shared segments of 192cM is a feasible result, including 3C, 2C1R, 2C2R, half 1C2R, half 2C, and half 2C1R. Most of those relationships involve going back a generation further.

    You might be able to rule out some of these by comparing your husband's age with that of his genetic cousin., but remember that whilst a woman's child-bearing years are limited, this doesn't apply to men.

    In any case like this you have to tread carefully, because the solution could involve adultery, adoption, rape, sperm donation, or even babies being swapped at the hospital. Some are more likely than others, but all of them have happened to someone (and most of them to LostCousins members - there are some cases reported to me that I can;t write about in my newsletter).

    The best approach is to make no assumptions, and instead to ask your husband's cousin whether they are prepared to help you solve the mystery. Right now you are only seeing the shared matches from your husband's side - if you could also see them from the cousin's side it should make it easier to focus on the relevant part of their respective trees.

    You certainly don't want to scare off the other person by talking about NPEs.
  16. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    That is exactly the approach I am taking. She is new to family history and still feeling her way. I have asked about her other DNA matches to see if we can try to solve the mystery. I don't know her exact age (and don't want to ask!) but from what has been said so far, she seems to be the same generation as my husband.
  17. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    A very strange scenario, and one that must be very frustrating. Have you been in touch with this person to try and sort out your connection? My son has a match of 136 cM across 8 segments with the person I discuss above with the same shared matches as my husband, no crossover to the other parent, or other branches!
  18. Pauline

    Pauline LostCousins Megastar

    Yes, I was in touch with the other person - in as as much as they were willing to engage - but didn't get anywhere. Another cousin (a documented 3rd cousin to me on my father's side) tried to get in touch more recently but didn't any response. This 3rd cousin (AS) shares almost as much DNA with GD as I do, and considerably more than AS and I share (25cM across 3 segments).
  19. Bob Spiers

    Bob Spiers LostCousins Superstar

    Having lived for some 10 years or so in a little town (in my case really a village)in the 60's nothing surprises me about such matters. It would certainly take a DNA result to confirm (or deny of course) what village rumours undoubtedly took to be commonplace fact.

    My (then) mother-in-law was the village 'Nora Batty' from 'Last of the Summer wine'. She knew everyone and their 'comings and goings' and constantly passed on tidbits of information to her daughter, and she to me over the dinner table. It all went over my head at the time (and not being a village native I seldom knew who they were anyway), but I do recall most of the tales cast doubt on who was or wasn't the real father of this or that child.

    I doubt things were much different 'in the day' and the sheer closeness and intimacy of parochial life often contributed to such happenings. I would imagine small town living with families in close proximity to one another, was much the same.

    Not quite a serious DNA response to your question Helen, but perhaps room for thought.
  20. Helen7

    Helen7 LostCousins Superstar

    Yes, I'm sure you're right. In this case, one of the possible fathers - my husband's great uncle (or grand uncle? his grandfather's brother anyway) emigrated to Canada just a few months after EG was born. Possibly hiding a guilty secret? Now, my imagination is running away with me, but who knows... DNA is certainly raking up old secrets that were previously hidden.

    One way to solve this mystery would be to persuade one of my husband's Canadian 2nd cousins to test, but would they want to besmirch their grandfather's name? I think not!

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