Author Topic: How Welsh am I?  (Read 1122 times)

Offline jane k

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How Welsh am I?
« on: Thursday 27 April 23 19:23 BST (UK) »
I know very little about the Ancestry DNA testing other than that the results are dependant on the number of people around the world who have already taken the test.

My interest is simply that I have a very Welsh maiden name - Howell - but despite tracing my tree back to the 1790s have not found anyone who was actually born there (presumably because they left Wales at some point prior to that to find work in the English midlands).

Would the DNA test tell me if I do actually have Welsh ancestry?  And if so would it single out a particular area of Wales?

(Please bear in mind my lack of knowledge and keep explanations to words of one syllable!)

Many thanks

Offline jc26red

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #1 on: Thursday 27 April 23 20:59 BST (UK) »
Welcome to my world Jane,

I have the same maiden name as you, I was brought up believing my paternal side came from Wales. After all my grandfather came from Maesteg in Wales and joined the Welsh guards and he and all his siblings had lovely Welsh accents. When I started researching 20 years ago, only the 1901 census was online, so I sent off for my grandad’s birth certificate and it said he was born Bristol! The family actually moved to Wales around 1907.
Since then, I found his parents came from Somerset… and their parents and their parents  etc., all the way back to 1500s! No Welsh blood at all!  Around 1790 I found the spelling changed from Hoyle to Howell, I’ve seen lots of different spellings in that area since then, Hole, Howle etc., so rather than try and find a way back to Wales,I have come to accept that the name derived from Hole or cave dweller.

My dna also doesn’t suggest any Welsh heritage either 🤷‍♀️ I have higher Scandinavian ((Viking) dna than I do Welsh!  My paternal grandmothers family originated from Midlothian, Scotland before 1806 but as I also have little Scottish dna, I am beginning to believe that my Scottish Anderson family were originally Andersen from one of the Nordic countries sometime prior to 1700…..but I doubt if I will ever be able to prove that theory.

if your Howell ancestors left before 1790 then the percentage would also be quite small and quite difficult to isolate as your maternal side could also throw the percentages out.
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Offline Biggles50

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #2 on: Thursday 27 April 23 21:42 BST (UK) »
It will give an Estimate, not specific, not 100% accurate, guidelines only.

My Ancestry Ethnicity Estimate bears very little resemblance today to what it looked like 5 years ago.

Taking a DNA test is best for finding matches who share parts of your DNA and to help break down brick walls


Offline Cell

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #3 on: Friday 28 April 23 00:09 BST (UK) »
Regarding  your question "if it would  single out a particular area in Wales", I've just looked at mine  and my child's  for you on Ancestry  (I tend not to take any notice with these ethnicity feature parts of the sites . It  is not accurate and shouldn't be taken seriously).

I am Welsh born , with a welsh father going back generations ( my mother is Irish) :
 With my Welsh half of my DNA ethnicity breakdown, just says it is  "Wales"   and doesn't  give  me which regions under that Wales label- whilst unlike  mine , my child's has a region  listed (  my hubby is  fully Welsh minus a ggg Finnish  ancestor, making our child almost 3/4 welsh,) ,  under the label of "Wales", it says  "South East Wales" - which is only part true , as  only some of his father's maternal  ancestors are  from  the South East,and some are from the West, whilst his father's paternal  side are all from the South West.
( I  also know that  my  father's  lot are  from the South West and Mid for generations and generations)  it really should be showing  South West and Not South East as that is predominately where the majority of my child's Welsh Ancestry is from.

So in answer to your question  if they will give a specific area within Wales , not always, as they haven't given me any  , but have given my child one.
Even if they give you a specific area , treat it with a  very large pinch of salt.

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Offline jane k

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #4 on: Friday 28 April 23 09:40 BST (UK) »
thankyou.  Having read all of that I have decided the results I am likely to get aren`t worth the cost of doing the test

jc26red  I was very interested to read that you think the name Howell may come from Hole or Cave dweller. My ancestor from the 1790s lived in Stourbridge which is very close to Kinver where people actually did live in  Caves until relatively recently!

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/visit/shropshire-staffordshire/kinver-edge-and-the-rock-houses

Offline phil57

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #5 on: Friday 28 April 23 10:48 BST (UK) »
thankyou.  Having read all of that I have decided the results I am likely to get aren`t worth the cost of doing the test

I would agree , if all you are looking for is an ethnicity estimate to "prove" a Welsh connection.

But if you are looking to find people who are related to you/your ancestors, and you are prepared to put in the hard work of researching your ancestors through paper records, and possibly having to do the same to verify the connections that the DNA test may reveal, then the Ancestry test has to be the first choice for an autosomal DNA test, juts because of the sheer numbers of tests already in their database.

Identifying and researching those connections may (or may not) reveal a link to Wales, which will be much better proof than any ethnicity estimate at such a localised level with ethnicity estimation technology as it exists today.
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Offline KGarrad

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #6 on: Friday 28 April 23 11:50 BST (UK) »
Due to the decline of the Bristol and Somerset coalfields, there was a lot of migration from Somerset to South Wales.

My grandfather and his brother moved from Wiltshire (Ag labs) to Bristol (mines) and then to South Wales coalfields.
Garrad (Suffolk, Essex, Somerset), Crocker (Somerset), Vanstone (Devon, Jersey), Sims (Wiltshire), Bridger (Kent)

Offline Biggles50

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #7 on: Friday 28 April 23 19:39 BST (UK) »
Pity that you discount taking a DNA test purely on cost grounds.

Anyone can have all the paper records galore for their tree but they can mean nothing if they are not confirmed by DNA.

Looking at my own DNA matches there are two gaping holes, there are none from my Paternal Great Grandfathers and beyond and yet I have over one hundred DNA matches who share with various other matches in a standalone tree of 700 the same Irish connection. 

My paper records for each in my own tree are robust but there is a probable NPE.

IMO taking a DNA test is a Must Do action for all Genealogists researching their family.

Offline jc26red

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Re: How Welsh am I?
« Reply #8 on: Friday 28 April 23 20:38 BST (UK) »
Due to the decline of the Bristol and Somerset coalfields, there was a lot of migration from Somerset to South Wales.

My grandfather and his brother moved from Wiltshire (Ag labs) to Bristol (mines) and then to South Wales coalfields.

My great grandfather was a saddler as was his father, but many of the wider family migrated to south Wales looking for work. Prior to that they worked in the local brewery or were shoe makers.

Jane, right at the beginning of my research I looked up the meaning of my surname interests, of course I initially thought yes… Hywel would be a wonderful ancestor  but another meaning was the cave dweller or hole dweller and there are plenty of caves in Somerset too. My expections dropped somewhat 😁

I agree with Phil regarding doing a dna test, I think you have know what you want to get out of it. Mine was done for a bit of fun, while my husband did his at the request of someone else who was trying to prove his Irish heritage and it did.
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