Saturday, 20 October 2007

The Daglish DNA Project

An item in the morning news today prompted me to write about the Daglish DNA Study, which began about a year ago.

Fathers pass to their sons, via the Y-chromosome, DNA markers which remain virtually unchanged generation after generation.

These markers can be compared with the markers for other individuals to establish relationships that may have been impossible to find by documentation alone.

The objectives of the Daglish DNA Study are:
  • to determine which of the many Daglish families can can be linked back to a common ancestor. For example many Daglish families in County Durham can be traced back to Whickham parish - but even from the extensive parish registers we do not know if they all shared a common ancestor. Other Daglish families can be traced back to Northumberland. Are these separate from the County Durham Daglishes - or are these linked by a common ancestor? This will help the usual question 'are we related' and will also give a greater insight into the history of the Daglish name.

  • to test whether there is a link between DAGLISH and other similar names: in particular DALGLISH and DALGLIESH. The standard reference works on surnames show that Daglish is derived from these names - but this is not clear so far from currently available data.
So far we have 11 members of the Daglish DNA study - and some interesting results.

There are five matches for a group of distinct Daglish families which trace their origins back to the parish of Whickham in County Durham. This suggests that these families share a common ancestor, probably around 500 years ago. At this stage there is no known link between these families through the paper records, so this provides an interesting challenge for further research.

It is worth noting that the chances of getting a random match is several times less likely than the chances of winning the UK lottery - so I believe that these results are significant.

The results for Daglishes whose histories go back to ther parts of North East England are less conclusive at this stage.

The news story that prompted me to write about our study is that it has been announced that the web site is offering DNA testing for family historians; the story is can be seen here.

This is likely to be a significant step forward in the use of DNA as a tool for genealogy. Ancestry is by far the largest commercial family history web: it already offers online access to the England & Wales census 1841-1901, birth, marriage and death indexes and much more. Although home access to Ancestry is by subscription, the site can be accessed free from most major libraries.

One common concern with DNA for genealogy is that the test is medically informative and can identify someone as an individual. In fact, the test is made on a part of the DNA structure which has no medical value and is completely different from the tests used as a ‘forensic’ profile by the police. Put simply, we are interested in what people share in common with their ancestors, not what makes them unique.

The value of testing is to find matches with others. If you would be interested in joining the DNA Study, please let me know. Your surname will be Daglish or Dalglish or other close variant - and you must be male! The biggest barrier to DNA research is the cost of the tests - but it is worth noting that tests ordered within the Daglish DNA Study receive a discount.

For more information about DNA and how it can be used in genealogy, please see the following sites:
Genetics & Genealogy - An Introduction
International Society of Genetic Genealogy

No comments: