If you have tested your DNA at Living DNA or uploaded a kit there, you may have wondered how to use the site best. With a much smaller pool of DNA test-takers, you probably don’t have many close matches, and without family trees, it has been difficult to identify common family lines. Two new tools released recently, however, give us more options for discovering and grouping our matches – the chromosome browser and the matchbox, which is similar to Ancestry DNA’s colored dot system. Used in conjunction with my chromosome map on DNA Painter, I’ve finally been able to make some progress in organizing my DNA match list.
About Living DNA
Nicole and I first learned about Living DNA at Rootstech several years ago. We met and interviewed the founders and were impressed with their goal of focusing on British Isles ancestry. The company gives you a breakdown of your biogeographical makeup based on specific locations in Great Britain and Ireland.
With my maternal side largely mid-nineteenth-century English immigrants, I have many known localities in England. My estimates shown below verify what I know about my maternal line, which is 75% English and 25% Danish.
My paternal lines are colonial U.S. out of the southern states and come from a wide variety of locations: Germany, France, England, Ireland, and Scandinavia. These immigrants arrived between 1625 and 1750, and I have traced few of the lines back to Europe.
Can these specific identified regions in England give me clues to my DNA matches?
Living DNA Family Matching
Living DNA offers Family Matching, which lists your DNA matches by degrees. I have immediate family listed – my mother, a son, and a daughter. Then I have a 3rd-degree match – my known first cousin. After that, my next closest match is a 6th-degree match of 88.81 cm. This is a mystery match that I would like to know more about. The rest of my matches range from 10 – 60 cM, so not enough to do a Leeds Chart for grouping. With the new matchbox tool, I can start grouping my matches and perhaps identify more of them.
The first step is to add a new match group. Because Living DNA doesn’t tell you whether a match is paternal or maternal, I started by creating a match group for both lines. My plan is to use the blue/green dots for paternal ancestral couples and the pink/orange dots for maternal ones. I’ve uploaded my mother’s kit to Living DNA, so I’ll be able to determine the correct line by viewing her shared matches.
With a maternal and a paternal group created, I can start adding matches.
With my mother added to the maternal group, the color dot now shows on my match page. I won’t add Nicole to a matchbox since she matches both my maternal and paternal lines, and I know who she is! As I continue to research my DNA matches, I can add additional color dots. Just as in Ancestry and MyHeritage, you can assign as many dots to a DNA match as you want. When you click on your matchbox, you can choose any of your groups and see all the people you’ve assigned to that group.
Next, I was excited to look at shared matches with my mother and give them a pink dot. My maternal and paternal lines have virtually no overlap. I’ve only found one instance where distant relatives married from their lines – so I’m fairly confident that any matches with Anna Mae will be maternal. Since these are my English lines, I’m hoping to connect with some cousins in England. I added matches down to about 25 cM. They each shared two and four segments with me. With a higher number of shared cM, there is less chance of the match being a false positive.
I discovered that, just like on Ancestry DNA, I have many more paternal ancestors than maternal ones. My paternal line is all colonial southern U.S., and there are a lot of descendants coming through these lines.
With an easy way now to show whether maternal or paternal, I can more easily focus my research on my English maternal matches. In the screenshot below, you can see my first cousin and two mystery matches – one on the maternal and one on the paternal line.
My maternal 2nd-3rd cousin (we’ll call him John) shares 88 cM across 10 shared segments. Using the chromosome browser and biogeographical estimate, can I discover our MRCA (most recent common ancestral couple)?
Living DNA Chromosome Browser
To see the specific segments you share with a DNA match, click the “Shared DNA” tab. This is still in beta, so appears in blue. You can decide how large of segments you want to show. The default view shows all 10 detected segments, but when I adjust for only segments longer than 7 cM and disregard those in the filtered common areas, I come up with four segments ranging from 7 cM to 19 cM. Hovering over each segment shows the segment length and start and end positions – see chromosome 1.
I can easily copy the segment data to import into my chromosome map on DNA Painter by clicking the button in the top right corner.
DNA Painter Chromosome Map
I’ve been working on my chromosome map in DNA Painter for a few years using the chromosome browsers at Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, and GEDmatch. Although I have painted 208 segments, DNA Painter tells me that only 46% of my genome is painted. Is this enough to help with my mystery match?
When I imported my maternal mystery match into my chromosome map, I identified it as maternal and gave it the name “unknown Kelsey or Creer,” which are my mother’s parents’ surnames. As you can see, the segment on chromosome 4 doesn’t match with any of my known maternal matches, so I can’t yet identify it as my grandmother’s or grandfather’s line. However, I have a clue that it might be on the Kelsey line because the red and dark pink segments directly to the left are for Creer cousins. There is no overlap with the Creers.
I titled the segment with the match name and company, for example, “John – Living DNA.”
Could our shared biogeographical regions help to narrow down John’s identity? Looking at our shared map, I saw that we share some specific regions in Europe and Britain. The South Germanic region in purple is from my paternal, not maternal, lines, so that wouldn’t be the origin of our shared segments. John and I don’t share any Danish ancestry, so I can eliminate half of the Creer line since my great-grandmother, Mary Margaret (Peterson) Creer, was fully Danish.
However, I’m very interested in the highlighted Southeast England region where my 2nd great-grandparents, William Henry Kelsey and Harriet Hugget, came from. I mapped the locations of my three remaining 2nd great-grandparents and John, and I don’t share DNA in the orange or green star locations. It appears that our shared ancestors are likely along the Kelsey/Huggett line, which originated in the southeast England counties of Kent, Surrey, and Sussex.
Identifying My Mystery Match
With the clue that John could be a descendant of the Kelsey family, I turned to my tried and tested tools – the Shared cM Project on DNA Painter, Lucidchart for diagramming, and my Ancestry tree for exploring possibilities.
First, I checked the amount of DNA that both myself and my mother share with John on the Shared cM Project to see the possibilities. Then I diagrammed the Kelsey family and where the match could fit in. Next, I checked my tree for descendants of my great-grandparents, William Henry Kelsey Jr. and Selena Beddoes. Some searching found a tree created by John under just his initials. The tree showed our exact connection.
In the diagram below, you can see the grayed-out squares that I eliminated based on ancestry, shared map locations, and my chromosome map. The segments I share with John come through our Kelsey -Beddoes ancestors and almost certainly through the Kelsey line based on the shared location shown as southeast England.
As I continue to explore shared matches with John on Living DNA, I’ll repeat this process and hopefully discover more connections on my English lines. Having the ability to now group matches and use segment data to hypothesize makes all the difference.
Best of luck in all your genealogical efforts!