top of page
mastelfamily banner 1

Mastel Family History

Mastel Family History

Family Finder DNA

In addition to my role as administrator of the ADAMTHWAITE DNA project and the APPLEBY DNA project, as part of my search to discover all my own ancestors, I am participating in a 'Family Finder'  DNA testing program with Family Tree DNA.  Several close family members, plus first and third cousins have also taken Family Finder tests - which is really helpful in sorting out the thousands of 'matches' into those that are likely to belong to specific branches of our ancestry.  If you have taken an Ancestry DNA test, or a Family Finder test, and you are biologically related to us - do please let me know so I can compare your results to the testers in our family group.


Here is a brief summary of the different types of DNA testing, with particular emphasis on the Family Finder test that I have taken.

Background info about Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder test …

yDNA inheritance
mtDNA inheritance
autosomal DNA inheritance

My own experience has been with Family Tree DNA's Family Finder test, so I shall describe how that works ... but the other tests available from Ancestry, 23 and Me, My Heritage all work in much the same way (though each company publishes their results in their own style). Potentially, Family Finder matches can turn up from any of your 5th or more distant cousins who have taken a Family Finder test, i.e. any person who is descended from any of your 32 pairs of 4 x great grandparents.


Theoretically, if in each generation every couple had just two children who went on to produce descendants that are still living today, you would have 64 fifth cousins from each of your 32 pairs of 4 x gt grandparents – i.e. 2,048 fifth cousins. And approximately half of the children born in each generation are likely to have a new surname, because they will be the children of married daughters!  This of course greatly complicates the situation.


However, in practice it is likely that although of course some families would have had many more children – a number of the lines would have died out.   What it does demonstrate is the potential difficulty in identifying where a connection may lie between your own research and that of any person with whom you share a match.


From my own point of view, even after researching my own family history for over 15 years, I still only  know the identity of seven of my eight pairs of great great grandparents, and only eleven of my 16 pairs of 3 x gt grandparents, so there are many potential unknowns in my own ancestry.


And, like most genealogists, I have concentrated on working my way BACKWARDS in time (which is of course the usual way of doing it!), so although I made a note of all the brothers and sisters of my grandparents, great grandparents, etc, I didn’t spend much time investigating all of THEIR descendants, so I have little idea of how many 2nd - 5th cousins I actually have.


However my maternal grandmother was an ADAMTHWAITE, and for the past seven or eight years I have been coordinating an ADAMTHWAITE one-name study.  Therefore I am in an excellent position to know about every single ADAMTHWAITE descended from my ADAMTHWAITE 5x gt grandfather John Adamthwaite who was born in Westmorland in about 1725, as I have worked back down the line to the present day for every branch of that line.  Because it is a surname study, we don't follow the descendants of married female ADAMTHWAITEs (even though they would also be blood relatives, the study is only interested in people who carry the surname whereas of course the children of married female Adamthwaite daughters inherited their father's surname - but their descendatns would still be 'blood relatives' for the purposes of autosomal DNA matching).  So even to make that line complete, I need to do a lot more work!


Just six months after the introduction of the Family Finder test, my matches included 60 individuals from many parts of the world, of whom five were suggested as ‘close and immediate’ relatives (i.e. 3rd to 5th cousins) and just one was suggested as a third cousin.  In fact, this last person was the only one actually known to me, and she is indeed a third cousin in my Adamthwaite line.  


Eight years on I have thousands of matches - including a some where I have been able to identify the connection, and we have a growing number of Family Finder results for known cousins and members of families associated with ADAMTHWAITEs, GREENs, DEARLs, SNARYs, APPLEBYs, etc.


As I progress with the task of updating and correcting this website, I will add a complete NAME LIST and full information about all of our known ancestors, but to start with, I hope to produce links to pdf files showing charts of the descendants of most of our own KNOWN 3xgt grandparents (though there is much more work to do to trace descendants of all branches of these lines as currently most only show the branches leading to our own family!!) : NOTE: the charts did appear on the old site but have now disappeared!


  • descendants of John ADAMTHWAITE and Hannah ROBINSON

  • descendants of Isaac SNARY and Harriet EVERSON

  • descendants of George KENT and Mary THOMSON

  • descendants of William OLPIN & Joanna BROOKS

  • descendants of William GREEN and Ann DONOVAN

  • descendants of Robert CARTER and Hannah ROBINSON

  • descendants of William NAY and Ann ?

  • descendants of Colwell WAGGETT and Mary Ann RATLIDGE

  • descendants of John GORTON and Ann ADAMS

  • descendants of John HILL and Ann FORD

  • descendants of John JOHNSON and Elizabeth CADELL

  • descendants of Thomas DEARL and Harriet WELBY

  • descendants of Thomas MULROY and Margaret DROMGOOLD 


The Ancestry DNA test

Although you will find very little information about the type of DNA test currently offered by Ancestry in the advertising material - this too is mainly an autosomal DNA test (Ancestry did also offer yDNA tests in the past and continue to include a small number of yDNA markers, but not sufficient to reliably predict your haplogroup).  If you have taken an Ancestry DNA test in the past few years and you share any known ancestors with the individuals shown on this website, please do contact me as it is possible to compare results using a third party database at, or to transfer your Ancestry data to Family Tree DNA.


Some important points to consider if you are considering taking an Autosomal DNA test:


Which company to choose

I have used Family Tree DNA's Family Finder test for all the family members who have tested to date - this is mainly because only ftDNA offers the facility to group members of a particular set of people into a Group Project, so I have included all my own family in the ADAMTHWAITE Group Project which I administer. This company is also the only one to offer yDNA tests, and several of my male relatives have taken this type of DNA test. This allows me (as the Group Administrator) to view everyone's match lists and also to check regularly whether there are any shared matches between different family members. Family Tree DNA also offer a number of tools to analyse and compare results - such as their Chromosome Browser, which allows you to see which segments of DNA are shared by different testers.


The cost of the test you choose is also important - and though Ancestry may sometimes offer a slightly better price when they hold a sale, one of the factors they NEVER mention in their publicity is that to continue to have access to all the latest additions to your list of matches, you have to continue to subscribe to their database.  This adds an ongoing annual cost to the the initial purchase price.  Family Tree DNA's test kit entails a one-off purchase price and the results remain accessible for ever at no additional charge.


Privacy issues Both Ancestry and Family Tree DNA publish results (in the form of match lists) on their website, and to access both sets of results you will have to use a username/kit number and password.  No one else can access any personal information about you UNLESS YOU CHOOSE TO ADD A PUBLIC FAMILY TREE TO THEIR WEBSITE.  With Family Tree DNA, I have not added any public trees at all - and so far, all my family members that have tested have chosen to put my email address as the contact which is seen by all their matches.  If people contact me to learn more about a match with a member of my own family I will of course let the person know if the match is a close one, but I can also block time-wasters who have no real connection to our family members.  


yDNA tests can match a living male descendant to any other living male descendant who is directly descended through the paternal line.


yDNA is inherited only by males from their father.  The markers selected for testing are known to mutate very slowly - so yDNA testing can find matches with other males decended from  common male ancestor who may have lived over five centuries ago.  Because in most cultures, surnames are also inherited through the male line, this is the most common form of DNA test used for genealogical purposes, particularly for Surname Studies.

mtDNA tests can match a living male or female to any living male or female descended through females on the maternal line.


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited by all children from their mother - but is only passed on by females.  mtDNA tests can identify matches with others who share a common female ancestor many centuries ago.  But because of the constant changes of surname and the lack of detailed informatin about mothers  in older parish registers, it is notoriously difficult to accurately research the female line, this type of test is rarely used for genealogical purposes, except for confirming hypotheses about maternal ancestry.

Autosomal DNA is inherited by both male and female children from BOTH their parents.  The  test compares each set of results against all the others in the testing company's database, identifying matching blocks of DNA on all 22 autosomal chromosomes.  The degree of matching indicates the closeness of the relationship.


The test can match up to five or more generations with accuracy, so is ideal for identifying more closely related individuals than the other tupes of testing.  You will obtain the best information if you can persuade known cousins on different branches of your tree to test - this allows you to work where other (unknown) matches might fit into your own tree.

Family Tree DNA launched their new autosomal DNA test called ‘Family Finder’ at the ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ Exhibition at Olympia in February 2010, with the slogan ‘Sex doesn’t matter anymore!’  This was a new approach to genetic genealogy, as this test could be taken by both males and females and it could identify matches with both males and females too.  The test was designed to help us find more closely related blood relatives than the yDNA test which is generally used for genealogical purposes (and it has been used successfully with adoptees trying to locate members of their birth families).


Family Tree DNA’s website says:

"The Family Finder test matches you confidently with any cousin within five generations. The science is simple - shared blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes are matched between two people. The degree of matching yields evidence for the relationship."  This means you can confidently identify matches with the descendants of each of your eight pairs of great great grandparents! And in practice, matches are also likely to show up with fifth or even sixth cousins – with whom you share a 4 x great grandparent.


Since that date, more autosomal DNA tests have become available - with Ancestry, 23andMe, plus more tests associated with companies such as My Heritage, etc.  But one new company offers something new ... for those with ancestry mainly in the British Isles, Living DNA has brought a new meaning to the ethnic origin maps - providing details showing not just countries where your ancestors may have lived, but refining the data down to County level (based on Reference Data from the People of the British Isles research project).  See this page to see what my own Living DNA results look like!

bottom of page