Saturday, 7 June 2008

My mtDNA results

I've now received my mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test results from Family Tree DNA. Somewhat surprisingly my maternal line belongs to haplogroup U4, a small Indo-European haplogroup which seems to be quite rare. The haplogroup is found in only 1.63% of the population of England and Wales. The highest frequencies of U4 are found in southern Siberia, and it is also found in Eastern Europe, the Urals, in some German-speaking populations and in a few lineages in India.

Brian Sykes gives names to the seven main European mitochondrial haplogroups in his book The Seven Daughters of Eve. All the women in Europe can supposedly trace their genetic ancestry back to one of these seven women. Haplogroup U4 is not one of Sykes's original clan mothers but is a sub-clade or sub-branch of haplogroup U, otherwise known as Ursula. "Ursula" lived around 45,000 years ago. "Ulrike" is of more recent origin and lived around 18,000 years ago. Sykes describes Ulrike thus: thus:
The clan of Ulrike (German for Mistress of All) is not among the original "Seven Daughters of Eve" clans, but with just under 2% of Europeans among its members, it has a claim to being included among the numerically important clans. Ulrike lived about 18,000 years ago in the cold refuges of the Ukraine at the northern limits of human habitation. Though Ulrike's descendants are nowhere common, the clan is found today mainly in the east and north of Europe with particularly high concentrations in Scandinavia and the Baltic states.
I have so far been able to trace my direct maternal line back to Mary Ann Butler, the daughter of James Butler, a labourer. Mary Ann was born in Purton, Wiltshire, in around 1815. She married Moses Ball in 1842 in Walcot, Somerset. Moses and Mary Ann had six children who were born in Sherston, Wiltshire, and Westonbirt, Gloucestershire. My maternal line continues with their daughter Hannah Ball, who moved to London and married William Saunders, a coachman and stage coach driver, on 16th June 1872 at the Parish Church of St Marks in North Audley Street. The other names in the later generations of my maternal line are Tidbury, Rattey and of course Cruwys.

Mutations occur much less frequently in mitochondrial DNA and the tests are therefore not so useful as the Y-DNA test which we are using for the Cruwys DNA Project. Most people who take the mtDNA test have large numbers of matches in the various databases. Not surprisingly, with my rare U4 haplotype, I do not have a single match in the Family Tree DNA database. I have also uploaded my results to Mitosearch, the public mtDNA database sponsored by Family Tree DNA, but again I do not have any matches. It is also possible to search the Mitosearch database by haplogroup. There are only 472 people in the whole world with my haplogroup in the database at present.

I regard the mtDNA test as an investment for the future. My grandmother was an only child and my great-grandmother was the only daughter in her family. My sister and I have both had sons so our direct maternal line is now at an end. Sons do of course inherit mtDNA from their mother but they cannot pass it on to the next generation. My mtDNA results will have more value as more people in the UK get tested and once I start to make further progress with my research into my maternal line in Wiltshire. With a rare haplogroup it should also be much easier to verify my maternal line.


Anonymous said...

Please contact me. I too am U4. With a bit of additional research I have found that i belong to U4a. I live in the US.

Anonymous said...

I too have u4. Would love to hear more about what you've found out. This is new to me- am working on a project for a theatre in Chicago. My email is

Anonymous said...

I, too, am a U4a. I can trace my mitichondrial line back to the early 1700's in Wuertenburg, Germany. This many times maternal great grandmother moved to Pennsylvania as a young bride.

Debbie Kennett said...

Thanks for sharing your DNA results. Which company did you test with? If you've tested with Family Tree DNA do join our haplogroup U4 project:

Anonymous said...

23andMe has assigned me to U4c1, there is only one match to that on the 993 relatives that it lists for me. I have just joined Family Tree DNA for the Y-DNA test. I have not yet decided whether to take their mtDNA test, but if I do then I will join the U4 project.

Debbie Kennett said...


You can transfer your 23andMe results to Family Tree DNA:

You've just missed the sale by one day as the transfer cost $49 in the sale. However, the transfer does not include your 23andMe mtDNA results.

You can just do the $49 mtDNA test which would allow you access to the FTDNA projects and the mtDNA genealogical matching database. U4c1 is not that common so you would not be inundated with matches as some people are, especially in haplogroup H.

In case it's of interest I explained the different types of tests in a previous blog post:

Anonymous said...

Hello, I also have U4c1. I am from Slovenia, Europe. If you would like to share info about our rare haplogroup, please contact me via email:
Thank you and take care :-)

Debbie Kennett said...

Hello Anunni

It's always good to hear from a fellow U4c1 cousin.

Are you on Facebook by any chance? If so you might like to join our Haplogroup u4 group where you can meet a few more of your cousins:

Unknown said...

I'm also a haplotype U4 from the British Isles. Given it's rarity, I'm very interested in talking with anyone else with similar. My earliest known female line ancestor was born about 1700 in Antrim County, Ireland. Her family was described as "Scots-Irish", and presumed to be of Scottish or northern English origin who settled in northern Ireland in the 1600s, many of whom moved on to the United States in the 1700s. I have researched all 7 generations between her and my grandmother and so far found no other all-female line descendants alive today outside my immediate family, although it is hard to trace females forward. So my closest mtDNA matches are likely 400+ years back of British origin. Direct any responses to Thank you!