The story of the
Chrimes, Crimes, Chrymes and Crymes
This is a new section of the website, where the merits of DNA Testing will be explored. The following article provides an introduction to the subject, but IS IN NEED OF EXPERT REVIEW. If interest is shown, and benefits can be demonstrated, then more content will be added here.
DNA Testing - a great opportunity?
There has been a lot of interest recently in the use of DNA testing for family history research. Several companies are advertising their DNA Testing products at prices which are beginning to be affordable. But what do these products offer the family history reseacher in general and, in particular, can they help with this One Name Study?
How does it work?
Basically, you take the test and the company tells you:
The testing company will tell you now (and in the future, as more people are tested) about "matches" which it already has in its database, and how closely these matches are related to you (third cousin, fourth cousin, etc.). Generally speaking DNA testing cannot tell you how you are actually connected to the matched individuals, but you are given the opportunity to contact the matched individuals so that you may try to work out the connection between you. The expectation is that you will not have known about all of the matches before taking the test and so the test will reveal some previously unknown members of your family.
As each testing company has its own database, in general two people can only be matched if they have been tested by the same company. Some companies will however allow their test results to be transferred to another company's database, but this is not the case for the biggest player- "Ancestry". All of the companies have a clear commercial interest in hooking you in to their particular system.
There are several types of DNA test for genealogical research, the most common by far being Autosomal DNA testing. For instance, if you respond to the barrage of advertising by "Ancestry", that is what you get by default. An Autosomal DNA test can be taken by males and females, and can find matches to both males and females going back about 4 or 5 generations, with significantly reduced confidence for more distant matches. Matches may also be made with distantly related but living people who are 3rd or 4th cousins. It is understandable that Autosomal DNA testing is the most popular, but it does not offer much help to One Name Studiers who are trying to find matches going back many more than 5 generations.
Testing of the Y chromosome (Y-DNA)
Y-DNA is passed only from father to son, with little change (mutation) over the generations so can, for instance, be used to test whether two living males are descended from a common ancestor. This male-only limitation rules it out of the product range of the majority of the commercial DNA testing companies, but nevertheless, Y-DNA tests are available.
On this website we currently have 14 "branches", where each "branch" is headed by a male whose ancestors are not known. To have achieved the reduction in the number of "branches" to 14 already is commendable, but we are running out of historical records which could help to link (and thereby reduce the number of) "branches". Some researchers have postulated further linkages based on circumstantial evidence, but they are not generally adopted by this website. Can we use Y-DNA testing to link "branches"? In theory, we should be able to select a living male from each of two "branches" and use Y-DNA testing to tell us whether those two "branches" have a common ancestor. The tests could not reveal who the common ancestor was, so we could not link the "branches" in the conventional way through the "branch" charts or the website database, but knowing that a common ancestor existed is enough to show that the two "branches" did not result from separate origination of the surname. From the perspective of the One Name Study, this would be highly valuable information. In other words, Y-DNA testing would be most valuable in determining the number of separate origins of the surname.
It is already a source of great satisfaction that 12 of the 14 "branches" have been shown to originate in the county of Cheshire, England. Perhaps Y-DNA testing could show that the 2 UK outliers, Sheffield and Staffordshire, are linked to the Cheshire "branches", enabling us to say that ALL CRIMES/CHRIMES/CRYMES/CHRYMES (worldwide) originate from Cheshire. Thereafter, it seems improbable that all of us originate from just one person. Rather, the mechanism by which CRYMES became a surname could have been applied to several separate originators, but all within Cheshire. Y-DNA testing seems to offer the opportunity to find the number of separate originations.
How to get a Y-DNA test?
There is currently just one (US-based) significant company offering Y-DNA tests: "FamilyTreeDNA". It offers selected levels of detail in the test results: 37, 67 or 111 markers. Like the more popular (Autosomal) DNA testing companies, they have a database of all those who have been tested, and with your results you get suggestions as to possible relatives from their database. However, that in itself is unlikely to be beneficial to this One Name Study as so few people have taken a Y-DNA test. What we need is results from 2 selected people which we can compare. "FamilyTreeDNA" accept orders worldwide, but take payment in USD through their US website, which adds a level of complication for payment and shipping for UK customers. However, the UK company "The Genealogist" offers DNA tests, including Y-DNA and importantly, they actually use the services of the US company "FamilyTreeDNA" with the test results being stored on the "FamilyTreeDNA" database. "The Genealogist" takes payment in GBP.
Who to test?
For a chosen "branch", a living male volunteer must be found, who has been proven by conventional research to be directly descended through the male line from the head of the "branch". Males whose ancestry includes the surname passing through a female connection (for instance through illegitimacy) are fully valid members of the One Name Study, but are not suitable for this Y-DNA testing. Some "branches" have internal connections which depend on interpretation rather than indisputable facts. Males in these parts of "branches" should also be avoided, at least initially, though if the testing technique proves to be successful, it could in fact be used to "firm up" on questionable internal connections. Regrettably the Tennessee "branch" cannot benefit from this specific proposal though, as time goes by, Y-DNA testing may yet prove of benefit to the large number of CRYMES and CRIMES in the US who are descended from their enslaved ancestors of Virginia.
How to assess the results?
This is the area in which I have the least understanding, and so I welcome comments on this section
For a 37 marker test, if two tested males with the same (or variant) surname share 34, 35, 36 or 37 markers, then they are Related; 33: Probably; 32: Possibly; 31 or lower: Not Related. If the two tests match on 37 markers, there is a 90% probability that the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) was less than five generations ago and a 95% probability that the MRCA was less than eight generations ago. Each of the companies which offer Y-DNA tests can re-visit their test results at a later date (at an additional cost) to extract 67 markers, or 111 markers, without the need for a further test, but I do not foresee the need for this at the moment. "FamilyTreeDNA" give their match results in the form of "Genetic Distance" but this is simply the number of matched markers below 37 (ie. 37 matched markers is "Genetic Distance" 0).
DNA testing is not cheap. Y-DNA testing is more expensive than Autosomal DNA testing, probably because the numbers being tested are less. A Y-DNA test costs typically £100 for 37 markers. In particular, "The Genealogist" offers Y-DNA37 tests for £99.95. It would be unrealistic to expect volunteers to pay for these tests. Even if they were sufficiently interested in their genealogy to consider buying a DNA test, they would almost always go for an Autosomal test, rather than a Y-DNA test for which the purpose is to satisfy someone else's One Name Study. It therefore falls to me to fund the tests, and so a strategy for the order/priority of testing must be developed, based on perceived benefit to the One Name Study.
Tests must be scheduled according to greatest benefit. There is one possible exception to this rule, where a "branch" may have only a small number of living males, and there is a risk that the opportunity for DNA tests may be lost forever. This is believed to be the case for the Chester "branch". Beyond this risk mitigation, priority should be given to UK "branches" out with Cheshire, namely "Sheffield" and "Staffordshire".
What progress so far?
I have undertaken a Y-DNA test (37 markers) with "The Genealogist" (FamilyTreeDNA). The procedure was straightforward and will be detailed in another article within this section of the website. My results are now on the FamilyTreeDNA database. When I received the first list of "matches" from FamilyTreeDNA, it included just one exact match, who is a first cousin of mine. In one respect this can be seen as superfluous information, but it is in fact good to know that the FamilyTreeDNA system for finding matches works (without prompting). I know of only one other CHRIMES/CRIMES/CHRYMES/CRYMES who has undertaken a Y-DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA, and he does not appear as a match to me. So I conclude that his "branch" and mine are not connected.
David Chrimes November 2022
Do you have any information or comments on this article?
Would you like to share your experiences of DNA testing?
Would you volunteer to undergo a Y-DNA test?