Wednesday 11 June 2014

My first autosomal DNA success story

I took the Family Tree DNA Family Finder test back in February 2010, and I took the opportunity at the same time to get my mum and dad tested too. I've been getting a steady stream of matches since then, and I now have a grand total of 267 matches, but so far I've been unable to find the genealogical connections with any of them (apart of course from my parents!). That all changed last week. I was casually glancing through my dad's matches when I was very excited to spot the surname Cruwys in bold in the list of matching surnames of one of his new matches. Cruwys is of course my maiden name. It is the surname I've spent the most time researching and is also the subject of my one-name study.
The new match was predicted to be my dad's second to fourth cousin. I checked my own match list and found that the same cousin appeared in my list and was predicted to be my fifth to distant cousin. As all my dad's ancestral lines are in the UK and the cousin's ancestors were all in Canada, it was evident by a process of elimination that there was only one possible ancestral couple that we could share in common - William Cruwys (1793-1846) and Margaret Eastmond (1792-1874) who married in Rose Ash, Devon, on 18th July 1814. On contacting my newly found genetic cousin in Canada and checking our family trees I was able to establish that he is my dad’s third cousin once removed and my fourth cousin. My dad is descended from William and Margaret's son Thomas Cruwys (1831-1890) who was baptised on 19th June 1831 in Burrington, Devon, and the Canadian cousin is descended from one of his older brothers William George Cruwys (1821-1873) who was baptised on 21st January 1821 in Burrington.

William George Cruwys last appears in the English records in the 1841 census. He was living in Chulmleigh not far from his mother and one of his other brothers and working as a male servant. William cannot be found in any of the subsequent censuses in England, and there is no record of a marriage or a death in the General Register Office indexes. However, a William of the right age appears in the Canadian censuses living in Prince Edward Island. I have a record of the 1848 marriage of William and his wife Sarah Burrows but unfortunately the PEI marriage records of this time do not provide any information about the names of the parents. I therefore do not have any documentary proof that the PEI William is the same William who was born in Burrington. However, the circumstantial evidence is strong and is bolstered by the fact that William and Sarah gave one of their sons the distinctive name Augustus. This is the name of one of William's presumed brothers from Devon, and I have not found the name Augustus used in any other Cruwys family in my one-name study. We had additional evidence of the link to PEI through my Cruwys DNA Project with two matching Y-chromosome results. The Y-DNA test proves that the two men share the same fatherline but it is not conclusive proof that their ancestors were brothers. However, the combination of evidence is very strong, and the fact that we now have an autosomal DNA match which corresponds precisely with the expected relationship is the icing on the cake, and I think the relationship is proven beyond doubt.

Another cousin from the PEI tree, who is also my fourth cousin and my dad's third cousin once removed, took the Family Finder test last year, but unfortunately she did not show up as a match either to me or my dad. This is because of the random way in which autosomal DNA is inherited. Around 90% of third cousins will share enough DNA to show up as match but only around 50% of fourth cousins would be expected to match. Perhaps around 70% of third cousins once removed would show up as a match.  

The Family Finder chromosome browser allows you to see a visual representation of the matching segment data. You can adjust the browser to see which segments you share with your matches at varying levels starting from 1 centiMorgan and going up to 10 centiMorgans (a centiMorgan is a unit of recombination which is used to measure the amount of sharing on each segment). My dad and his cousin have 10 matching segments. I share seven segments with my cousin. From the chromosome browser view you can generate a table showing the matching segment data. When I checked the data I discovered that although I seemingly shared a number of small segments with my cousin, my dad and his cousin did not share these same small segments. I therefore concluded that these were coincidental (identical by state) matching segments. The only segment that we all shared in common was on chromosome 11. The actual figures are as follows:

My dad vs. cousin  Start location 60459979  End location 78299008 17.12 cMS  4300 matching SNPs

Debbie vs. cousin   Start location 61282647  End location 78299008 16.62 cMs   4100 matching SNPs

I therefore set the chromosome browser view so that only the large matching segments were shown. The first view shows a comparison of the matching segments shared by my dad and his cousin.

The second chromosome browser view below shows a comparison of the matching segments shared by me and my cousin. You can actually see the DNA inheritance process in action here, as you can see quite clearly that I did not inherit the two large segments on chromosomes 1 and 3, leaving me with just the one segment on chromosome 11 that I share in common with my cousin.

What is really exciting about this match is that I can now ascribe this one specific segment on chromosome 11 that I inherited from my father to an ancestral couple - William Cruwys and Margaret Eastmond. Without doing further testing and triangulation I won't be able to establish whether this segment was passed down to me by William Cruwys or by Margaret Eastmond, but I know that it has been passed on to me in the Cruwys line from my great-great grandfather Thomas Cruwys to my great-grandfather Frederick Augustus Cruwys to my grandfather and then on to my dad and me. The segment has travelled on a different path in my Canadian cousin's family. He inherited the segment from his grandmother Emma Pearl Cruwys, the daughter of William George Cruwys and Sarah Burrows. Emma married George Clark Kitson in 1917 in Charlottetown, PEI, and the segment has been passed on through the Kitson line to the present day.

I'm hoping that this will be the first of many genealogical connections that I will be able to make through autosomal DNA testing. Now that the tests are so cheap (the Family Finder test costs just £47 in the current Father's Day sale at Family Tree DNA) there is really no excuse for anyone not to do the Family Finder test!

© 2014 Debbie Kennett


IsraelP said...

Debbie, I share you joy at the connection, but I am not sure I understand the Family Finder angle.

Your Cruwys work is easy enough to find and had this new cousin googled his ancestral surname he would have found you easily enough. You would have drawn the same conclusions about the ancestral couple and done the documentation that you were able to do anyway.

So the DNA was a facilitator of convenience, rather than the actual (and necessary) engine of discovery.

Or do I misunderstand?

Debbie Kennett said...

Israel, What I liked about having this match was that it provided additional corroborating evidence/ None of the other evidence was conclusive in its own right. However, when you combine the indirect documentary evidence with the results from both the Y-DNA testing and Family Finder testing then I can be much more confident that this part of my tree is correct. Even though I do have lots of Cruwys material freely available on the web I'd not had any prior contact with this cousin so the process of testing has turned out to be an alternative way of making contact with relatives who perhaps wouldn't have sought me out through other means.

Philip Milton said...

Interesting Debbie! You'd best watch out as we may be related! Dad's family all hailed from Atherington/High Bickington area and then there's Mum's family who had relatives who emigrated to Canada! PEI was a popular destination for Devonians as well... there's a book on the subject I believe.

Debbie Kennett said...


Perhaps you should order the Family Finder test and then we can see if we are related! My husband has ancestry from the High Bickington area. There was indeed a lot of emigration to Canada, and to PEI and Ontario in particular. It was related to the shipbuilding at Appledore. The wood to build the ships came from PEI. The Bible Christians were also a big influence. I have copies of two books about the Devon/PEI connection: "Westcountrymen in Prince Edward's Isle" by Basil Greenhill and Ann Giffard, and "A Corner for the Preacher" by Sherrell Branton Leetooze.

Kelly said...

Hurray! I hope this is just the start. I just spent last weekend with a 2nd cousin and 2 3rd cousins I met through DNA! What a trip---we shared stories, photos and lots of things in common.

And one of the third cousins I have recently tracked down on ANCESTRY had a unique name and I found them in my 23andme match list!

Debbie Kennett said...

Kelly, Thanks for the encouragement. Let's hope that this is just the first of many such successes.

Alan Harwood said...

Congratulations! I envy you since I've yet not found a positive match. Same problems lots of people have such as lack of responses to inquiries and people who used other venders for their autosomal searches.

Debbie Kennett said...

Alan, I hope you don't have to wait too long to get a match. More and more people are now getting tested. Don't forget that you can upload your raw data to the free GedMatch website to compare your results with people who have tested with other companies:

The site is currently being transferred to a new server but I hope it will be up and running again soon.

Joe Bissett said...

you might want to drive the new program genome mate. there is a facebook users group where you can learn a lot about the program.

Debbie Kennett said...

Thanks Joe. I've been meaning to try out GenomeMate but haven't yet had time to do so. I didn't realise they were on Facebook. The tool I like best so far is Don Worth's autosomal DNA segment analyser which is on the DNAGEDCOM site:

It's a very easy way of honing in on the triangulated groups so that you can prioritise who you wish to contact.

Jim Owston said...

This is a great find. I hadn't realized that Family Finder was available in 2010. I was thinking it came out the next year. I've done some controlled testing on 23andMe that both verified a suspected adoption and put an suspected cousin in the right family grouping. See

Debbie Kennett said...

Jim, Thanks for sharing your blog post. It's very interesting to read how you've been able to solve your genealogical problems with DNA testing. Your example shows that negative results can also be very useful for disproving relationships.