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DNA result curiosity

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DNA result curiosity

Postby MoVidger » Thu Feb 28, 2019 6:41 pm

I've recently received my AncestryDNA results. According to the results, I have an ethnicity estimate of 21% Norway. From what little I know about DNA results, this would suggest one of my grandparents had strong Norwegian DNA (unless I'm wrong).

I've been scratching my head all week because my painstaking family research of 10 years does not reflect any Norwegian ancestry whatsoever with either parent. At least nothing I can see from the 18th-century onwards.

However, I've just found an unrelated Ancestry tree featuring a Norwegian emigrant family. This family have a similar surname to mine ("Viger") and settled very near to where my paternal lot were living in the early 20-century in rural Minnesota. How's that for a weird coincidence?

My question now is: has AncestryDNA "muddled up" or incorrectly predicated my ethnicity estimates, given the fact these two unrelated families have a very similar name, and were residing in a nearby town from each other nearly 100 years ago?

As far as I'm aware, these two families had no other connection to each other.

Also, I've briefly viewed several Ancestry trees which AncestryDNA have connected to me as predicted 3rd cousins. None of these trees share any common surnames with mine. Most of the surnames in these trees (going back several generations) are Norwegian across the board. :?
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby JaneyH » Thu Feb 28, 2019 7:21 pm

DNA ethnicity estimates don’t relate to your actual ancestors. What they do is compare your DNA with 16,000 reference samples in the case of Ancestry. So your results mean that 21% of your DNA is similar to that of *current* Norwegian people. In terms of your ancestors, it can relate to people living 500-1,000 years ago, which is probably beyond the paper research of most people.

The results are reasonably reliable at the continental level but beyond that, they’re only a very rough guide.

I’ll dig out some useful reading later (currently cooking supper!)


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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby AdrianB38 » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:29 pm

I was quite disappointed with my Ancestry Ethnicity - all fairly boring. ;)

"England, Wales & NW Europe" (92%), a 6% dash of "Ireland & Scotland" (my G-GF Bruce from Dundee should contribute 12.5% of my DNA so, well, vaguely right...) and the only raised eye-brow was 2% Swedish - possibly accounts for why my father liked Abba! :)

More useful are the "proper" DNA matches to individuals, including a couple of people who have Bruces as ancestors themselves. Intriguing as I'm actually a Bruce twice over - GG-GF Bruce married GG-GM Bruce who was born a Bruce - her father inconveniently died just a few months before the 1851 census and can't be located with any conviction in the 1841. But their trees don't go far enough back to help much and there's no certainty that the common ancestor even is a Bruce - it could be another surname on the bit of their tree that they haven't done yet, possibly from the Dundee / Tay Valley area.
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby MoVidger » Sat Mar 02, 2019 4:13 pm

Hi Janey - thank you for the DNA ethnicity estimates assistance you provided. It's very helpful.
I'm still mystified by the 21% Norway estimate, though. If it was a very small percentage, I'd think "okay...fair enough". But in my mind, 21% is quite considerable. Apparently, this 21% has been narrowed down to the region of Østlandet in Eastern Norway. :?

What's caused my concern is the fact that Norwegian emigrant family (with a similar name) lived so close to my father's town in Minnesota.

I'm no expert on Scandinavian names, but their name (Viger) doesn't sound typically Norwegian. Having said that, I believe there's a Bay of Vigoer in Norway -- perhaps their name is derived from that?

Like you say, my 21% could relate to ancestors living 500-1,000 years ago. I know my Vidger/Vigor line lived in Somerset as far back as the 18th-century. Perhaps their ancestors came from Norway several centuries earlier?
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby amgarrett » Thu Mar 07, 2019 6:42 pm

Hi there.

I wanted to share an article with you that I recently read, but this forum will not allow me to post the link. The title is "How DNA Testing Botched My Family's Heritage and Probably Yours, Too." Written by Kristen V Brown, I found it on the Gizmodo website. It addresses your dilemma and proposes a few explanations that you may find helpful.

Also, my Norwegian ancestors settled in rural Minnesota & Wisconsin during the 1800s. I don't know what the draw was to that part of the country but, I believe there was a significant Norwegian population there.

Hope this helps a bit.
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby MoVidger » Thu Mar 07, 2019 7:10 pm

Thanks, I'll have a look at the article you mentioned. I believe Norwegian settlers moved to upper Midwest states (e.g Minnesota) because the land was plentiful and less expensive back then.

My father's grandparents moved to Minnesota from upstate New York (near the Adirondacks). Probably for the same reason the Norwegians did.

One of my direct ancestors sailed from Dorset to New England during the 1630s. Apparently, he and his brother were in the second or third wave of pilgrims, known as the Dorset Pilgrims.
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby DebbieBB » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:57 pm

Hi there, to your point on Norwegian names, you may or may not find it helpful to know that surnames followed a patronymic naming convention like Iceland and Russia for example. So son of Peter, daughter of Peter. In 1923, the goverment made families choose a surname which would stay the same for future generations.

So surname similarities before that date need to have extra scrutiny. On the plus side, quite a few Norwegian baptism records are now online and a small population helps in finding people from a particular location.
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby DianaCanada » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:14 pm

I believe this is simply a reflection of the Vikings who settled in the British Isles many centuries ago.
My brother and I both have under 10 Percent Scandinavian, but strangely mine is Norwegian and his is Swedish.
My daughter, who is British Isles for several centuries is 7 percent Norwegian. My husband (her stepfather), whose mother was Danish/Swedish shows 43 percent Scandinavian: 25 percent Swedish, 17 percent Danish and 1 Finnish.

I have Vigor relatives from E Sussex. My theory is that the name might have been French, as in Viger (pronounced Veejay sort of), but in England the pronunciation changed to Vie-gur. Just a theory.
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby MoVidger » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:07 am

At the risk of high-jacking my own thread, I thought perhaps the "Vigor's" in Somerset (where my lot are from) were named after the French bishop Saint Vigor. In Stratton-on-the-Fosse, there is a primary school named after him, and a church dedicated to him, as well.

What I find curious is how my ancestor's name morphed from Vigor to Vidger by the time he settled in upstate New York circa 1840.
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Re: DNA result curiosity

Postby johnf04 » Mon Mar 11, 2019 12:25 am

DebbieBB wrote:Hi there, to your point on Norwegian names, you may or may not find it helpful to know that surnames followed a patronymic naming convention like Iceland and Russia for example. So son of Peter, daughter of Peter. In 1923, the goverment made families choose a surname which would stay the same for future generations.

So surname similarities before that date need to have extra scrutiny. On the plus side, quite a few Norwegian baptism records are now online and a small population helps in finding people from a particular location.

Some Norwegian families adopted fixed surnames before 1923. My wife's great grandfather was Norwegian, and his surname when he arrived in New Zealand in 1872 was "Brungot" - the place his father's family came from. His patronymic surname would have been "Pedersen".
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