Who do I think I am? Finding out with Living DNA


Have you ever watched, “Who Do You Think You Are” on television?  I’m always fascinated by how far back it’s possible to trace your family roots.  Sadly, as neither my mother nor my father are still alive, it’s not been practicable to find out very much about my family’s ancestry.  So when I saw that Living DNA * were looking for reviewers, I thought this would be an ideal opportunity to explore further.

Living DNA

Living DNA, as you might have guessed, are a DNA testing company that provide 3-in-1 detailed views of your ancestry.  (And they’re local to me too as they’re based in Frome):

  • Your family ancestry stretching back 10 generations with an in-depth breakdown of the countries and regions (80 regions worldwide including 21 in the UK)
  • Your maternal ancestry (also known as the motherline) and paternal ancestry for males (also known as the fatherline) going back around 200,000 years
  • Your ancestors’ migration paths going right back to when the first humans migrated out of Africa.


You get a kit through the post and after which you need to create and activate an online account.  Then you take a DNA sample using a mouth swab and post it back in the provided pre-paid envelope.  Your results are added to your online profile approximately 8-10 weeks afterwards.  (Although I must confess, I had to take the test again as my first swab didn’t collect enough DNA).  The test costs £89 for a lifetime account and, as more research is conducted, more information would become available to you.  You can also share your interactive online results with friends and family.  And even order a personalised coffee table book showing the journey of your ancestry.


Living DNA – Family Ancestry

Your DNA is passed down from all your ancestors.  Your combination of ancestors is unique to you and makes up your personal genetic code.  Interestingly, what you call your ancestry depends upon what point of time you refer to.  For example, 200,000 years ago, the majority of most modern humans were living in Africa.

As far as I’m aware, I’m British, but with a tiny bit of Eastern European from my mother’s side.  Her father’s mother was apparently an alcoholic Romany gipsy.  A fact that my cranky grandmother would frequently bemoan to my long-suffering grandfather as they grew older.  But I didn’t know if this was the actual truth, or just an insult (!)


According to the Family Ancestry Map, it looks as if my grandmother was telling the truth.  A fact further confirmed by the Family Ancestry Visualisation, with its avatar.


For the Family Ancestry Chart, I decided to delve a little deeper into my Great Britain and Ireland make up.  It turns out my family is predominantly from Central Southern England and East Anglia.


Living DNA – Motherline

Your motherline is your direct maternal heritage, passed down through mother to child through the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).  Males receive mtDNA but can’t pass it on though.

My results showed I belong to the mtDNA Haplogroup H, one of the most common groups in Europe and found in most European countries.  Haplogroups can be associated with geographic regions, and are also used to trace the ancient migrations of early humans – as during the Ice Age, for example, like this Coverage Map shows.


The Migration Map shows the journey that my ancient ancestors could have taken as they spread out and moved across the globe.  And it allows me to see how I fit in to the human family tree.  Each colour change in the lines represents a change in that mtDNA, giving rise to a new Maternal Haplogroup.


And lastly, we have my personal Phylogenetic Tree, which shows my position within the mtDNA evolutionary tree of life.  At the top of the tree is the root group that every living person today can trace their ancestry to.  Further down the tree, different people take different branches and at the very last level is my subtype, the signature specific to me.


Final thoughts

Unfortunately, unlike Matthew Pinsent and Danny Dyer, I’m neither descended from Jesus, nor from royalty.  But I’ve loved finding out a little more about my mother’s side of the family.  And although my results didn’t throw up any major surprises, I’m very pleased to discover I’m almost certainly a tiny bit Romany gipsy.  Big thank you to Living DNA for giving me the opportunity to find out a little more about who I am, it’s been a quite fascinating journey.

What do you think about ancestry investigations?  Would you like to find out more about who you are and where you come from too?

* I was gifted this kit in exchange for a review but all opinions are my own and this is an honest, unbiased review.


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Elizabeth TablerAditi KaushivaMerkittyTiffanyRuth Recent comment authors
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Ruth Josey

I haven’t done one of these yet, but I got my husband one for Father’s Day. It was fun for him but we really haven’t looked much at the site to get more detail. Thank you for breaking it down. LOL – Grandparents! I have gypsies in my background, too, but my Dad avoided talking about them.


Cordelia Moor

This is so fascinating Lisa! I’m always endlessly curious about my ancestry because my family is so large and varied – I think I have an Italian-American great grandad on one side, and some Indian blood on the other, and something Austrian somewhere! Might have to invest, just to find out once and for all. I love how far back they go though, that’s so cool

Cordelia || cordeliamoor.com

Eve Morgan

This looks incredibly detailed! I have seen lots of adverts for DNA kits like this and I really want to try it. I’ve been building my family tree for a while now but am not sure how accurate it is. If my family tree is right, then I’m a mix of English, Irish and Welsh. It would be interesting to see if there’s anywhere else.

Eve | http://www.evemorganinteriors.com


Ohhh this sounds amazing! I’d love to do something like this, I don’t really know much about my family past my grandparents so this would be incredible to discover where we came from!
PaleGirlRambling xo

Jenny in Neverland

I’ve worked with Living DNA and have my post up a little later this month but I’ve loved reading about your results! They differ quite a bit from mine and the whole process was SO interesting! That’s so funny that your grandmother was telling the truth all along! I have LOADS of Norwegian in me and more surprisingly, Kazakhstan! xxx


I LOVE this post! I would love to trace my family ancestry but it can be so expensive doing it online. £89 for a lifetime subscription is great and well worth it imo!

Liv x

Sophie Wentworth

I would LOVE to do a test like this. I know very little about my ancestors. As far as I’m aware, I’m fully British. But my grandad thinks we have something Nordic in us based on the totally (not at all) solid logic we’re all blonde with blue eyes. It would be interesting to find out! Good to know your grandmother was telling the truth! x



This is amazing to be able to do! I find this so interesting. Looks like you were given so much detail which is so good! I would love to know more about my history! Thank you for sharing!
Lauren | http://www.bournemouthgirl.com


This is so interesting. My husband’s father was very into ancestry before he passed and I’m forever thankful I spent time with him going over everything he found!


I never did one of these but it looks really interesting.

Jennifer | Mrs Q Beauty

I would love to do this DNA testing. It’s on my wishlist. Great post!

Jennifer | Mrs Q Beauty

Ms Via

This DNA testing is really interesting. We did it last year from 23andme. It is so interesting to see the results. My husband also found a person whose great grand parents had some connection to our family. We had to send a good amount of saliva to do this test. We still keep getting some interesting results all the time. Ours also told us about the health part. 🙂

Via | http://glossnglitters.com

Jordanne | Thelifeofaglasgowgirl

This sounds so awesome, we have been searching through the ancestry sites to find out more about our family and that was really fascinating so to give this a go would be amazing! I’m Definietly thinking about this for my gran, I know she would love that. I totally love watching who do you think you are, it’s very fascinating to hear about people’s ancestry and this would be a great way to give yourself a little bit of that.

Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk


This is really fascinating Lisa and it’s amazing how the results are so detailed and accurate. Reading about mtDNA and phylogenetic trees did give me flash backs to the genetics module I studied in my degree which was so hard, I’m not sure if I could face it all again (ha ha). It is so interesting though and I love how it is all so visual, especially the maps, which makes it easy to understand. It’s funny that the kit confirmed that your grandmother was right all along, he he! This would actually make a really cool Christmas present for… Read more »


I love how much detail you get from this. One of my best friends is fascinated by things like this, so this may be a good present to get for her 30th birthday when it comes around. Even though you weren’t surprised by your discoveries, at least it confirmed the things you weren’t sure were true! Thanks for sharing x


This is so interesting! It’s fascinating to read about your family history and the kit sounds absolutely brilliant. I’ve read a lot of positive reviews about this one in particular recently so I definitely think I’ll be giving it a go in future, I honestly know nothing about my ancestry which is shame but until now I’ve not known how to start. I love how far this goes back though, you can find out so much! Brilliant review Lisa xx

Tiffany x http://www.foodandotherloves.co.uk


This is fascinating! I’ve always wanted to try out one of these kits, hopefully one day I will get the chance to.

That’s cool that some of your family is from my neck of the woods.. East Anglia.

Haha, you just reminded me about that Danny Dyer episode and how much I laughed when he found out he was descended from royalty.

Thanks for sharing, this was such an interesting read! ♥

Aditi Kaushiva

This is really interesting, Lisa! Thank you for all the details. I really want to try now!

Aditi | http://www.aditispen.com

Elizabeth Tabler

I did one of these. It was a very fun experience.