I had my DNA tested by AncestryDNA — and it changed everything I thought I knew about my family tree

10 March 2016

This article originally appeared in Business Insider Australia.


BI image1So, as it turns out, I’m not Australian.

Well, that’s not completely true. I was born here, but my genetics tell another story.

  • 14-Day Free Trial

While my grandparents, like many other Australians, were born overseas — making me part-Kiwi and part-Irish — I always thought of myself as a “born and bred” Aussie.

Since having my DNA tested by AncestryDNA I can tell you I am in fact just 4% away from being a “typical native” Great Brit, and I have traces of Eastern European, Scandinavian, Western European, Russian, Italian, and Iberian running through my veins.

This was a startling discovery at first, but after some reflection, it’s probably not a dissimilar story from one that many other Australians would experience.

Australia is one of the most multicultural countries in the world. Its settlement started with convicts, sent from England as punishment. Others have fled here seeking refuge, or with the desire to start a new life. We are a melting pot of genes, cultures, and faiths.

All my life I mistook my “Great British” heritage for “Australian.”

My results from AncestryDNA intrigued me to dig a little deeper.

I found that my strong British ancestry extended way back to when my family first settled in Australia as early pioneers in 1829.

*The AncestryDNA Kit was paid for by Ancestry.com.

It all started with James Phillip Kimmerley, who was arrested while attempting to rob a drunken man in London in November 1827. He was sent to Australia as a punishment for his crime. He was 17 years old.

A few years after arriving in Australia, James changed his surname from Kimmerley to Kimmorley. Now, every Kimmorley in the world is not only a direct descendant of James, but is also is a distant relative in some way.

As for the other origins in my results, I can only assume I have a little Romany dust in my blood too.

If not for the straightforward AncestryDNA saliva test, I would have never known this about myself.

Here’s a look at the process from the unboxing to receiving the results.

Here it is: the AncestryDNA testing kit that will tell me everything I never knew about myself.

BI image22


Along with finding out about my own DNA, Ancestry will review my DNA matches …

BI image23


… check DNA matches with those already on the Ancestry database, and try to find out how I’m related with those matches.

BI image24


Eight easy steps is all it takes!

BI image25


Everything is labelled with instructions, but they appear simple and easy to follow.

BI image26


It surprises me how easy this all seems, considering I will be learning about such a complex thing as my DNA.

BI image27


This is the tube that will collect my spit.

BI image28


Once the sample has been collected, it will go in here and I’ll send it back to the lab for testing.

BI image29


OK, let’s activate my account online so I can receive my results when they are ready.

BI image210


Done. Now, time to get down to business.

BI image211


Here goes nothing.

BI image212


Gross. You may not think it, but spitting the right amount to fill to the line was relatively difficult.

BI image213


Fast-forward a couple of weeks, and my results were cooked.

BI image214


Let’s see what science says about Sarah. 57% Great British, that’s a surprise! Irish, not so much of a surprise. Look at all these people I’m apparently related to.

BI imageblur


Going into the breakdown of the origins of my heritage is fascinating. I never thought about my British heritage until seeing this. I guess I always mistook it for Australian.

BI image216


This is about the only result that didn’t surprise me. My grandmother was born in Ireland, and the parents of my great-grandmother, who was born in New Zealand, were Scottish.

BI image217


As for the rest of the results, I guess I will never know. This is the good and bad thing about these tests: They give the answers, but they don’t provide an explanation. At the very least it got me interested in learning more about my family history, and now I can start my family tree.

BI image218

Would I spend $149 on it? [U.S. test is $99] Probably not. I’d get more information spending the same amount on a six-month premium subscription from Ancestry. And an extra $50 or so could get you something like 23andMe [U.S. test is $199], which is a more detailed test that provides information on everything from how much DNA you share with our Neanderthal ancestors to how much caffeine you’re likely to consume.

BI image219


By Sarah Kimmorley, Business Insider Australia