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About the Family Finder DNA test

In April 2012, Cledia took a 'Family Finder' DNA test with Family Tree DNA.  She was curious to discover more about her distant ancestry, especially to find out if there was any proof for the story that one of her distant ancestors had taken an Amazonian Indian wife.  At the time, this was quite a new type of DNA test, and different from the yDNA tests usually used for genealogy in that it examines ALL the chromosomes that make up our DNA, not just those that define our gender.  


The basic principle is that we inherit roughly 50% of our genes from each of our parents, which is made up of around 25% from each of our four grandparents, 12.5% from each of our eight great grandparents and so on.  As the amount of genetic  

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material inherited from the more distant generations gets smaller and smaller, this type of autosomal DNA test is mainly used to find matches with cousins up to around 4th or 5th cousins.


These cousins can be descended from ANY of our 64 4xgreat grandparents (but known relatives will of course only appear if they have also taken a Family Finder test and their results are in the database).


Subsequently, two other members of Cledia's family have taken Family Finder tests - her paternal aunt Helena and her maternal grandmother, Silvia.

What did the test results show?

When Cledia's results first arrived back in early June 2012, they showed the details of just 16 people whom she matched in the database.  This was considerably less than most people's matches, but was probably because there were many fewer sets of results in the database from people living in Brasil at that time.  She now has nearly 700 matches - still much fewer than people living in the USA or the UK!


As expected, Helena and Silvia are her closest matches, followed by four people predicted as 3rd cousins - meaning they probably share a 2xgreat grandparent with Cledia. There are also 24 predicted to be around 4th cousin level, and the remainder more distantly related.  The interesting thing is a number of the more closely related matches we have contacted seem to have a strong link with the Azores.

Best of all, there are a couple of enthusiastic genealogists amongst the list of matches - which increases the chance of identifying how they are connected to Cledia's ancestors.


Having known relatives from each side of the family means we can divide Cledias matches into those who also match Helena (so must be connected to Cledia's father's side) and those who match Silvia (who must be connected to Cledia's mother's side).  Confusingly, we also found that Helena and Silvia are very distantly related (at '5th cousin - remote cousin' level).


We now have one set of yDNA results from a family member, but he has only one quite distant match (who has provided no information about his ancestry) so I hope that we will find some more informative matches in the near future!

And what about those very distant ancestors?

The Family Finder test also claims to give an indication of your very distant ancestry.  This would be the regions in the world where your ancestors may have lived many centuries ago (certainly before the Portuguese first colonized Brasil in the 16th century!)


As expected, the largest percentage (32%) of Cledia's DNA showed Mediterranean roots, though there was also a sizeable amount (29%) of DNA from North-Eastern Europe.  It looks as if the family story about the indigineous American ancestor was also correct with 7% of Central American DNA, and there is also around 7% of African DNA.  The remaining 25% of DNA has origins in central and western Asia.


Could this tie in with the possible connection with the Azores?  The Azores DNA Project tells us that the first settlers of the Azores archipelago arrived in the 1430s, primarily Portuguese and Flemish, along with small populations of Jewish and Moors.  


Azorean emigration to America started in the 1800s. See the 'Movimentacao de Portugueses no Brasil 1808-1842' website, which contains details of thousands of individuals (though we need to discover who the first de MORAIS/ MENDONCA ancestors were to arrive in Brasil, and roughly when, before we can find the correct records!

ancestral roots

The above chart was created using Cledia's autosomal DNA results with the HarappaWorld model, created by Zach, courtesy of

As further reference data becomes available for the world's populations, these results will be refined.

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