Wednesday, 21 October 2009

The result of the third DNA test in the Fitz(-)henry surname study

It's what you've all been waiting for.

Last year, my Dad was the first Fitz-Henry male (from family group 1)* to be tested in the Fitz(-)henry surname study.
You can't tell anything from a single test though.

So Ann persuaded her husband to take the test. Ann's husband is descended from the legendary Enoch Fitzhenry (Family group 2) who reputedly came to America from Armagh in Ireland sometime in the 1760s, but his past has always been shrouded in mystery.

The results were very disappointing - they were so unlike each other they could have been the results of two random blokes walking in off the street.

And then..... Drum roll... we were very pleased to be approached by a Fitzhenry family in Australia - in fact a branch of Wendy Rutter's family tree descended from Albert Fitzhenry, the fourth child of William Fitzhenry and Louisa Coward (Family group 20)
One of their chaps took the test and we were gobsmacked when it came back as a match on 36 out of 37 markers to Ann's husband. This is as good at it gets for a match when we know there hasn't been a common ancestor since at least the 1750's, and we were all very surprised and very delighted by it.

We know that family group 20 can reliably trace their ancestry back to John Fitzhenry and Elizabeth Atkin of Oulartwick, County Wexford. So it's likely that Enoch's family also originally hailed from that area and gives us another line of enquiry.

So we have family groups 2 and 20 linked genetically, and family group 1 is so far unmatched.
We also know that family groups 2 and 20 were historically Protestants, and family group 1 were Catholic.

So what's next? This is very exciting but until more Fitz(-)henry men join in the DNA study we just have an interesting trio of results. With more results on the database, I'm sure we can join up previously unlinked family groups and show whether there is a distinct Catholic / Protestant genetic grouping.

Anybody who is interested in finding out more about DNA testing for family history research, please drop us a line.

* The family group numbering system is in order that I put them together or they were sent to me. Over time some of the smaller groups have merged as we found a common ancestor. We have 53 family groups from all around the world on the database at present.

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