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the article and data that initiated the Ravenstonedale  project


our project page on the Family Tree DNA website

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yDNA tests can match a living male descendant to any other living male descendant who is directly descendend through the paternal line.


yDNA is inherited only by males from their father.  The markers selected for testing are known to mutate very slowly – so yDNA testing can find matches with other males descended from a common male ancestor who may have lived over five centuries ago. Because in most cultures, surnames are also inherited through the male line, this is the most common form of DNA test used for genealogical purposes, particularly for Surname Studies.

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Ravenstonedale DNA project

Ravenstonedale DNA project

2. The different types of DNA test

DNA testing can never replace traditional genealogical techniques, but it can be used to verify the accuracy of our research, and it can also provide valuable clues as to our genetic origins.  In addition to my role as administrator of the ADAMTHWAITE DNA project and the APPLEBY DNA project (which mainly use yDNA testing), as part of my search to discover all my own ancestors, I am participating in the 'Family Finder'  DNA testing program with Family Tree DNA and we are also experimenting with Family Finder tests in this project.  Here is a brief summary of the different types of DNA testing:

yDNA inheritance
autosomal DNA inheritance
mtDNA inheritance

mtDNA tests can match a living male or female to any living male or female descended through females on the maternal line.


mtDNA is inherited by all children from their mother – but is only passed on by females. Mitochondrial DNA tests can identify matches with others who share a common female ancestor many centuries ago. But because of the constant changes of surname and the lack of detailed information about mothers in older parish registers, it is notoriously difficult to accurately research the female line, this type of test is rarely used for genealogical purposes.

Autosomal DNA is inherited by both male and female children from both their parents.  The Family Finder test compares each set of results against all the others in the testing company's database, identifying matching blocks of DNA on all 22 autosomal chromosomes.  The degree of matching indicates the closeness of the relationship.


The test can match up to five or more generations with accuracy, so is ideal for identifying more closely related individuals than the other types of testing.  You will obtain the best information if you can persuade known cousins on different branches of your tree to test - this allows you to work out where other (unknown) matches fit in your tree.

Why use Family Tree DNA?

What if I have already taken a DNA test?

I have some concerns about confidentiality

When I was first setting up the Adamthwaite Surname Project, I sought advice from other members of the Guild of One-Name Studies who were already running DNA Projects.  Their universal view was that this company provides the largest database of yDNA results, the most support to project administrators, and the most detailed and useful information to prospective testers.  I have no hesitation in recommending Family Tree DNA to anyone considering taking a yDNA test.

If you have already taken a yDNA test through Family Tree DNA, it is very simple to join this project in addition to any other projects you may already have joined.  Many people belong to a Surname Project and also a Haplogroup Project, as well as one or more Geographical Projects.  Just visit our Ravenstonedale Group page and click on 'JOIN' ... if you have already tested you will be asked to enter your kit number and password before being taken to the Join Request Form where you will need to enter the details about how you are connected to an ancestor from Ravenstonedale.


If you have taken an autosomal DNA test with another testing company, you can transfer Ancestry, My Heritage or 23andMe Autosomal results to Family Tree DNA for free, and they will be included with ftDNA's Family Finder results in our Group Project. (Though you may want to pay the $19 to access additional analysis features), 

Absolutely!  Although some Projects do include the names of their testers, in the projects I manage, each set of yDNA test results is referred to ONLY by the name and dates of the Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA).  So instead of naming a set of results with the name 'Fred BLOGGS', the results wouldbe labelled 'William BLOGGS (1659-1702) Ravenstonedale, WES, ENG'.


It is more difficult with the case of Family Finder Autosomal DNA results - as these relate to all the ancestors of a living person.  it is very difficult to publish Autosomal DNA results in any format which would not reveal the testers' identities.  

What about the cost?

Although the cost of DNA testing is coming down all the time, it is still not cheap.  Generally, for yDNA testing, the most cost-effective way is to find out if there is aready a Surname Project for your surname.  Buying a test kit (we always used 37 marker yDNA tests) through a surname project will always be cheaper and you may be fortunate in finding that your surname project offers subsidised, or even free, test kits (I still have two free kits waiting for living Adamthwaites from lines not yet tested!).  Buying a 37 marker yDNA test kit through our project will cost you US$149 a saving of $40 on the usual price - but you may find that the matches you discover will take your family history back several hundred years.


Family Finder tests have come down in price dramatically: when they first came out you could expect to pay US$289 - but now these tests have been reduced permanently to just $79 (with occasional reductions to $59).  So potentially you could find out more about ALL branches of your family history.  As the database grows, the chances of finding close matches increases all the time.

What else can a DNA test tell me?

More Questions?

One of the most interesting features of the yDNA test is to identify which Haplogroup your paternal ancestral line belongs to.  This information tells you about your deep ancestry ... what route your ancestors took out of the birthplace of man in Africa.  Did your ancestors arrive in Britain with the Vikings? or with the Roman armies?  Were they at the forefront of those earliest settlers that brought the techniques of farming? The Administrators of the many Haplogroup projects are very knowledgeable and can advise you on the best extra analyses you can order to discover more about your paternal ancestry.


The Family Finder test also provides a fascinating insight into your genetic make-up.  As well as listing all your matches in the database up to 5th to distant cousin level (with contact details so you can get in touch to find out more), you receive a breakdown of your ancestry called 'My Origins'.  This gives you an idea of what proportion of your ancestors came from different continents and regions, e.g. British Isles, Western Europe, Scandinavia, or as far afield as Asia, the Far or Middle East, Africa, etc.  These calculations are based on profiles being generated by various research projects, and results continue to be updated as more reference data is available.  

For answers to your specific questions about the technicalities of DNA testing, take a look at the various websites, blogs, books and videos listed on the previous page.  If you have any questions about this particular project, please do not hesitate to contact me using the Contact form (see top right)

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