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DNA Genealogy - a 37 marker test will probably suffice ($150)

You probably do not need to buy the more expensive 67 or 111, marker tests though the extra information you get from them can be very interesting and revealing. In most cases 37 markers will tell you a lot about your deep ancestry, your detailed haplogroup, who you are related to, and which Langton village you descend from.

If you want to get tested but don't want to spend much then you can buy just 12 markers for only $49 and in some cases this will also be enough. Below I explain why this is.

by Clark Ellis

I've written this article in responce to people contacting LostLangtons asking for advice on DNA testing. Hopefully this article will answer your questions, but if not, then please get in contact and let us know.

What tests are available, and why are they useful for Geneaology?

Several tests have become available over the years, but this article focuses on the Y chromosome tests. We do not reccomend the Autosomnal DNA tests. If you want to know why then get in contact for our explaination. We recomend the Y chromsome test. The reason why is that the Y Chromosome is passed from Father to Son, down the generations. So I have the same Y chromosome as my father, and the same as my grandfather, and great grandfather and so on, all the way back many many generations. In fact, a descendant of William the Conqueror, if alive today, would carry the same Y chromosome as William did back in 1066 when he invaded England from Normandy. If we had Williams Y chromosome (and actually we think we do because one Langton family came from a son of the Conqueror) we could compare it to people living today to see if he has any living descendants. I should stress that over the many centuries a small amount of Y chromosome mutation would have occured, and the two profiles would not match exactly, but they would still be very close, perfectly close enough to prove descent. The mutations actually help you identify matches in various ways and to help establish how close two living relatives are to each other, within the same group.

Now, forget about William for a moment, and lets look at an example closer to our own interests. We dont have the DNA of our ancient ancestors either, so how can our DNA results be useful? Well, there are three ways in which it can be useful:

1. Your DNA Y chromosome results can be compared to other living Langtons anywhere in the world. Any which match, or are very close will be related. If its an exact match, then your common ancestor will be only a handful of generations ago, if there is a slight mismatch then that shows a small amount of mutation has crept in since your two lines split at the common ancestor, and that shows that your common ancestor was more distant. Depending on the level of mutation, your common ancestor could be 50 or even 100 generations ago.

If your results were very different from another Langton, then that would show that there is no relation, meaning that you originate from different Langton villages.

If your results are not what you expected (for example, if you believe you are a Lancashire Langton descendant but your DNA does not match other Lancashire Langtons DNA. Don't go concluding 'great great granny had an affair and I'm descended from Fred bloggs'. Send in your result. It is almost certainly genuine even if you think it isn't. We have reason to believe most counties have more than one Langton origin; your DNA will help us prove it.

Finally, if you want you list your DNA anonymously that is fine, just let us know and we won't list your name.

2. Taking point 1 further, if you are unsure of your Langton origin (which Langton village your ancestors came from and took their surname from) by matching with another Langton with the same DNA results as you, if they know their origin, or at least part of their ancestry, then this will also be yours! So, for example, if you can only trace back 100 years to your great grandfather, but your dna matches someone else who can trace back all the way to their Langton village origin, then because you match then, although you are having problems tracing back before your great grandfather, you know which langton village you came from. This can help you trace back and make the specific link to your great grandfather, as we have an extensive tree from medieval times, from each Langton village, working down (in some cases to the present day).

We have lots of different Langton profiles now and have managed to link most of them to their Langton village origin. So if you take a test, the chances are excellent, that you will discover your Langton village origin.

If your still confused, don't worry. Just get your DNA tested and we will help you with the interpretation.

3. As well as the markers themselves, the Y DNA test also tells you which haplogroup you belong to, which can give a general picture of your more distant ancestry, giving an idea of which European/Asian tribal group you came from. The majority of Britian (about 70%) is haplogroup R, but the interesting thing we have discovered is that most Langtons come from the rarer groups, J, I, and E. We think that with Langton being a place-name surname, the people who took the name on were the owners of these villages, they were wealthy and almost certainly not native to England before the Norman Conquest in 1066. In other words, they were the invading force, and they were given the Langton villages as their reward. If you want to know more, google it, or send us an email and we will tell you more.

What a Y chromosome is not.

These tests only look at a very small subsection, of one specific chromosome in your DNA. You have 46 chromosomes, and 45 of these are ignored completely. It is not the same as a DNA test carried out by the police when they suspect someone of a crime. Those tells are far more detailed. Neither could your test results be used to produce clones, or any other you might see in a sci-fi film. Put simply, these DNA tests are looking at such a tiny tiny segment of your DNA that it is useless for anything other than your family history research.

So, why might I only need 37 markers tested?

Companies supplying these Y chromosome tests provide different levels of tests, the main difference being the number of markers tested. Obviously, the more markers you have tested the more the test costs and the more information you get. The companies who supply these tests will recommend the more expensive tests - obviously. But you may not need them. Read below for why.

Surely 67 markers is better than 37 markers?

Better, yes. But necessary? Not always. The reason is this:

Your main goal is to ascertain which Langton family you originate from, as well as which Langtons you are related to, and in so doing, find out which Langton village your ancestors came from, and which family lines (living and dead) you are related to. Now, there are only a maximum of about fifteen Langton surname origins (there are slightly more Langton villages in existence, but not all gave rise to a surname), and each origin will have a unique Y chromosome associated with it. The chances of two of these Y chromosomes being a close match with each other, is not high. A couple of these Y chromsomes in the same common group R haplogroup do share similarities in some cases, but can almost definitely be told apart with 37 markers. With 12, you might get lucky any be a member of one of the rarer haplogroups (I belong to group J for instance), distinguishing you very definitaly from the others, or you might get lucky and have a rare marker result within group R which effectively distinguishes you as well, but to be sure, we would suggest you get 37 markers tested. But 12 markers is better than nothing. Lets imagine for a second that you had a 12 marker test done. When you compare your results you will get one of three things:

i. A very high number of matches with a single Langton group from the database (10-12 markers out of 12) showing you have a very high probability, or a certainty, of being from that group.

ii. A few matches (1-5/12) in which case you are not related to that group.

iii. If you are unlucky then you will be in one of the more common haplogroups, usually group R, and this means you may match closely, say 8-11 out of 12 markers, with more than one Langton profile group. In some cases one of the groups you match with may have a rare feature (for example multiple mutations on the same marker) and your also having this rare feature, or not, will either match you or rule you out of belonging to that group. But if you are unlucky then it will be too close to call with just 12 markers, and we won't be able to confirm which Langton profile group you belong to, though usually it will be narrowed down to one of two profile groups that you could belong to. In this case, you would need a greater number of markers (more data) to help confirm or rule out one of the two groups for you, meaning you'd need to accept some uncertainty, or upgrade to more markers at some point to ascertain which Langton profile group you are a member of. With 37 markers it is far more likely that we can tell you apart from any other similar profile groups, because there is more data to compare you against the existing Langton profiles to see which you match. This is true even if you are from the common group R haplogroup.

So, there is a chance that you would get away with just 12 markers, but we cannot guarantee it. With 37 markers you are probably safe even if you belong to a common haplogroup. The more markers you have the greater confidence you can have in matching a profile group more definitaly. The good news is that most companies allow you to buy the cheaper 12 markers and then upgrade at a later date. So, if you want to do it as cheaply as possible, you can get twelve markers, and if you later find you need more, you can order them subsequently.

The other benefit to having more markers is that its easier and more accurate to understand how closely related you are to other people in your profile group.

If your family history already suggests that you likely belong to a profile group already on the site which is group R, then we would advice you to get at least 37 markers done, simply because group R, being more common, increases the changes of false matches. More markers give you more data to work with to identify your origins more accurately.

If in doubt: contact us for advise specific to you and we will help you out.

A quick note on upgrades

Most companies store your saliva (unless you tell them not to), so that you can later buy upgrades (more markers) at a later date, without having to send in a new sample. Upgrades cost money of course, but some companies are better than others on prices. FTDNA and Ancestry are resonable, but Genebase are very expensive for upgrades. Check other companies too before you buy if you think you might ever want to buy an upgrade.

Value for money

Not only can you split the cost with other relatives, but its not that expensive if you think about what you are getting, and its a one-off cost that covers all your male Langton relatives. You never need to pay to have it replaced, it wont wear out. It costs a lot more to have the brakes changed on your car, or your boiler fixed, or perhaps even a large grocery shop. So when you think about it, its fairly good value for money.

An important note about standards (or the lack-there-of)

A 20 marker test from one company may not be as useful as a 12 marker test from another company.

The main thing you want, as well as reliable results, is the ability to compare your results with other people. But, whereas most companies agree on some of the markers being 'standard', and will test them, there are other markers that one company test that another company does not. Take a look at the DNA project on the site, there is a “Tested by” column, so you can see what I mean about Ancestry, FTDNA and others having some overlap on what markers they test, but others that are specific to them.

FTDNA and Ancestry are the market leaders and so testing with one of these is the best bet - you will be able to compare more of your marker results with other people. Some companies, like Genebase do odd things like change which markers they test quite frequently, so even if you try to compare with other genebase results, you might find that you still cant compare all your markers! very frustrating!

If you want to go with a company other than FTDNA or Ancestry then we would recomend that you call/email them and check exactly which markers they will test for you, and compare these to the markers other people have had tested in the Langton DNA project.

Who sells these tests?

Lots of companies do. LostLangtons does not have any affiliation with any of them and we receive no fee or benefit from any of these companies. But we reccomend FTDNA or Ancestry, and really we think FTDNA is the best option out of those two.

The two market leaders

The two big companies - the market leaders - are Family Tree DNA, who will do a 37 marker test for $169. We had our own DNA tested with FTDNA and we administor the Langton Project on FTDNA. They provide a discounted rate for people buying through one of the projects they run, and so if you want to go with FTDNA then let us know and we will help you get the discount ($149 for 37 markers for instance). We don't recieve any fee or other benefit if you do go with FTDNA, the only person who gains is you as you get a discount.

The other market leader is Ancestry - this company seems to be the fastest at processing the results and getting them back to you. Family Tree DNA who we used for our own test, took a bit longer than ancestry typically do.

But, we still reccomend FTDNA over Ancestry because the markers they test are the most scientifcally valid and useful, and they run a huge international project with The National Geographic so have by far the largest database of results to compare against.

Does everyone in my family need to get tested?

No. Just one person needs to take the test, but they must be male. So if you are one of four brothers for example, then you could split the cost between you, but only one of you needs to do the cheek swab and send it off. This is because you all carry the exact same Y chromosome.

It must be a male who takes the test, as only men carry a Y chromosome.

If you have results already then please get in contact and share your results.

If you want to take a test but want to know more about it, then we can give you information about the tests available. We don't sell any ourselves, but we can tell you who does and which tests are best and why.

Click HERE for The Langton DNA Project page.