Is DNA testing useful
I have received an
Email from “Family Tree DNA”, a testing company in the USA, advising me of the
results of a 37-marker high-resolution test submitted under my name of Walter
John Keynes of South Australia. I have been advised that my test matches
exactly Albert Leslie Caines of Ontario, Canada, and a match with a genetic
distance of 1 with Christopher C. Keene of California, USA. A genetic distance
of 1 means that the value of one of the 37 markers of Chris’s Y-Chromosome
varied from mine by 1. Receipt of this information was quite exciting and
distant cousins in Lincolnshire and Isle of Wight in England and those in
Canada, USA and Australia were equally thrilled. So what was there about this
result that caused the excitement? What is significant about the names, what do
the results mean and how do they help with my family history? A significant
aspect of the testing was the rarity of the Given Name involved. To answer
these questions it is necessary to add some of my family history.
Keros Keynes (1818-1892) emigrated with his family of wife Elizabeth (née Neil)
and 4 children to South Australia in 1851. His home village was in Wiltshire,
England and he was an agricultural labourer (the ubiquitous ‘ag lab’).
Research showed that
his father Jacob Cain Caines married twice with Keros being born to the second
marriage. The family seemed to use other old biblical names like Kadmiel and
Kish. Most of Keros’s siblings and half-siblings seemed to remain in England
and so did most of their descendants. A significant exception was Kish Caines,
born in 1816. While records of most of Kish’s siblings were found in England,
he seemed to disappear and in the family research it was assumed for many years
that he had left the home village, but to where remained unknown.
Several years ago I
put up a web site and included a ‘gedcom’ of my data base and over the years
made contact with people who found my site while placing a surname in a search
engine like ‘google’. So it was that Fay Herridge of Newfoundland, Canada,
while researching the Caines name, found my site and noted the entry of Kish
Caines. Because of the unusual given name she thought there may have been a
connection between an ancestor of hers in Newfoundland named Kish Caines and the
site’s Kish Keynes/Caines in Wiltshire, England.
Fay and I exchanged
information on our ‘Kish’s’ and concluded that while it seemed possible and even
likely that they were the same man, we could not find corroborating evidence.
The most likely possibility was that Kish in England went to Newfoundland when
it was a British colony, perhaps with a fishing fleet which was known to fish
off the coast of Newfoundland in that era during the fishing season before
returning to England. He may then have stayed there.
While our research
continued, we heard from Molly Harris in Newfoundland, who was also a Kish
descendant and was able to supply much information on Kish and his descendants.
But nothing surfaced which could link the Newfoundland Kish back to England.
Newfoundland lacked a parson in that era and births, marriages and deaths went
discussions, Fay, Molly and I considered the possibility of a DNA test on a male
descendant of each Kish. For some time we searched for a male descendant of the
Canadian Kish, but it was not until August 2009 when Albert Leslie Caines of
Ontario, Canada advised that he was willing to take a 37-marker Y-chromosome
test with me with the USA company, ‘Family Tree DNA’.
Albert Leslie and I
sent away for test kits, submitted them and sat back to await results. The test
laboratory does its testing in stages, first the 12-marker test, then the
25-marker test and finally the 37-marker test. Participants are advised of the
results at each stage. There were over 400 matches at the low-resolution test
of 12 markers, 3 exact matches at the 25-marker stage and then the exact match
between Albert Leslie Caines and me at the 37-marker stage with Christopher C
Keene having a genetic distance of 1 from Albert Leslie and me.
So what has been
achieved?! Before the DNA test I think we cousins had little doubt that there
was only one Kish Keynes/Caines in our family. The timing each side of the
Atlantic seemed right, the fishing traditions between England and Newfoundland
seemed possible for his departure from England, the unusual given name and some
given names for the next generation in Newfoundland all seemed to reinforce the
assumption of one Kish. In the absence of any birth, death or marriage
certificates, usual proofs of identity could never apply and so the DNA result
can now be applied as the catalyst for complete acceptance. So Albert Leslie
Caines in Canada and Walter John Keynes in South Australia are 5th
generation and 4th generation respectively, descendants of Jacob Cain
Caines (1767-1833) of Berwick St Leonard, Wiltshire, England.
with Christopher Keene is less straight forward. The similarity of the name and
the DNA result came as a surprise. It is accepted that there is a connection
between the families, but the most recent common ancestor of the 3 may be many
generations ago. Research in England and USA will continue to try to find the
are quite extraordinary compared with a few decades ago. While there are a few
negatives about the Internet, mobile telephones and various forms of
communication, for the genealogist there are many positives. How helpful has
been the Internet with its web sites, mailing lists and Email? And now we have
DNA analysis to assist. But what I find most invaluable is the human contact
right around the world established through the facilities computers and the
Internet offer. As a child many of us will remember ‘PenPals’, children with
whom we would communicate by mail: in my present world-wide circle of cousins
established by using a variety of modern facilities, we updated our call-sign to
‘KeyKin’, replacing the ‘Pen’ with a ‘Key’ from the keyboard and although we
might be writing to a ‘Pal’ it would certainly be a ‘Kin”.
The pleasure in
communicating with newly-found cousins around the world is incalculable.
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