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Why You Shouldn’t Be Fooled In To Thinking Everyone Has A Family Coat-of-Arms or Crest.

Why You Shouldn’t Be Fooled In To Thinking Everyone Has A Family Coat-of-Arms or Crest.

The majority of people, when they first get in to Genealogy or Family History often (And me included) want to find out their “Family Crest” or “Coat-of-Arms”. If you google your last name followed by one of the two you’ll find countless sites which all want to sell you merchandise with “your” particular crest on.

Having a Coat-of-Arms is a particularly rare thing to have and even if a branch of your family does happen to have one, being able to use it legally is a completely different story. The majority of the companies that offer to show you your Family crest are not engaged in any legitimate genealogical research and will often completely make up or plagiarise/copy another companies work.

If you think you are entitled to use a Coat-of-Arms you first need to understand how they work and how they are issued in the first place.

United Kingdom Coat of Arms

The Motto

The Motto is a line of text or short message which the owner has chosen to represent them and their family/group. It will be set at the very top of the Coat-of-Arms.

The Crest

The Crest is the part of a Coat-of-Arms which sits upon the helm/helmet. This can often be a simplified version of the Coat-of-Arms which can be substituted in when a simple version is needed such as on cutlery. On the Coat-of-Arms it sits just under the Motto and will usually represent a characteristic or trait of the original owner. It could be the head of a Lion to represent bravery or something more delicate that represents success in a particular field or profession.

The Shield

The Shield can have many elements. The shield part of a Coat-of-Arms comes from when they would have originally been painted on to the shields of the bearer and has now become a part of the Coat-of-Arms itself. The elements on the shield can be different colours and have many different designs. The placement of these helps paint a picture of the story that the bearer wanted to tell.

Supporters

There will also be supporters which are usually two animals or figures that stand either side of the shield, supporting it. The animals or figures used as supporters will also tell part of the story of the origin of the arms when used in conjunction with the other elements of the shield.

Heritability 

Inheritance

The right to bear arms is heritable, this means the sons, and in special circumstances, the daughters of a bearer. However, and this is the most important thing about Coat-of-Arms, Only one person can have a particular Coat-of-Arms so every descendant that inherits will have a slightly different one. This can be in the form of something being added or modified as well as colours being changed. The crest will almost always stay the same and will only change in very particular circumstances.



Laws regarding the use of Coat-of-Arms

Whilst long ago the right to bear a Coat-of-Arms was custom and not heavily regulated, during the 1400s in England it became law that only certain families and groups could bear certain Coat-of-Arms. A lot of Coats-of-Arms have been trademarked these days which means the owners have the last say on how their Coat-of-Arms are allowed to be used. They are not limited to people and can be used by corporations and businesses as long as they have a legal right to bear them.

What To Do Once You Have Your DNA Test Results.

What To Do Once You Have Your DNA Test Results.

So you’ve just received your chosen DNA Tests results. Now what? A lot of people don’t realise that you can do a lot more with the raw test results than what is shown on any of the sites that test DNA.

Your raw results come in the form of a file that can be easily uploaded to a number of other sites. To top it off almost all of these sites and tools are free!

promethease

1 – Promethease ($5)

“Promethease is a literature retrieval system that builds a personal DNA report based on connecting a file of DNA genotypes to the scientific findings cited in SNPedia.”

Promethease costs $5 and basically uses freely available data on SNPedia to generate a report outlining all of the health related information your DNA holds. This is particularly useful for anyone that has tested using AncestryDNA or FamilyTreeDNA and does not have any health results to go with their ancestral results. Something worth noting is that FamilyTreeDNA specifically removes some health related SNP’s so this won’t be of much use to people that have used this service. But for $5 it hardly breaks the bank if you’ve just forked out 20x that on the test in the first place.

Either way this is definitely worth it if you are interested in learning what your DNA means for your health. Don’t do this if you are a hypochondriac!

gedmatch

2 – Gedmatch (Free or $10 for Extras) 

Gedmatch allows you to upload your raw DNA results from: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, WeGene and GENETIConcept, then once they have been processed you can match with anyone else from any site that has uploaded their results to Gedmatch too. This is a good way to get around having to buy kits on each site.

The site also contains tools you can use to analyse your DNA such as: Various admixture tools that can break down where parts of your DNA are likely to have originated, Eye colour predictions which look at various SNP’s thought to affect eye colour, Kit-Kit comparisons which allow you to compare two kits and see exactly what parts of your DNA you share with someone and a few more other cool tools. It’s free to use and runs off of donations as well as a newly implemented tier system which gives you access to more tools for a $10 Donation. 



3 –  23++ Chrome Extension and Ancestry Helper Chrome Extension. (Free) 

“23++ is an extension for the Google Chrome Browser that adds additional functionality to 23andMe and makes the site a little nicer to use.”

“The extension helps with analyzing and comparing your AncestryDNA test results. The automated scanner, accessible using the Full Scan and Resume Scan buttons added to your DNA Home Page, will go through your list of DNA matches and open each one to scan their pedigree charts.”

These tools help make their related sites easier to use and add features such as enhancing the way DNA matches look and the ability to download matches for future reference.

davepike

4 – Dave Pike’s DNA Analysis Tools (Free) 

Dave Pike is a professor at the Memorial University of Newfoundland and has developed a load of useful tools that can be used to gain further insight in to your DNA.

They are particularly useful if you have very close relatives that have also tested as you can do things like phase children’s DNA with parents to see exactly which alleles (One half of an SNP, one is inherited from each parent) were inherited from which parent or searching for Discordant SNP’s, these are SNP’s that differ from the parents, possibly meaning the SNP has mutated.

jameslick

5 –  James Lick’s mtDNA Haplogroup Analysis Tool (Free) 

This tool is useful if you’re interested in your direct maternal line. It can more accurately plot where on the mtDNA Human tree your maternal Haplogroup is found. For example my 23andMe mtDNA result came back as “k1a10” wheras James Lick’s tool narrowed it down to “k1a10a” not a massive difference in my case but it could have narrowed it much further by looking at genetic markers 23andMe’s algorithm doesn’t look at. The tool also tells you similar Haplogroups and which markers you are missing. This is still not a replacement for getting a dedicated mtDNA Test from FamilyTreeDNA as it only looks at around 19.7% of the entire mtDNA so a dedicated test would be much more accurate.

Uploading your results to all of the tools above will not only give you more information on your genome but you’ll also end up understanding the way DNA Tests work much more clearly.

Tips for Researching Dutch Ancestors.

Tips for Researching Dutch Ancestors.

It’s often daunting when looking at records from another country, in a different language to what you are accustom to. Dutch records are definitely no exception. We often take for granted in the UK how easy it is to obtain Birth/Marriage/Death certificates and how little effort it takes to find them.

WieWasWie Logo

WieWasWie

When it comes to Dutch records, looking around in forums or using a search engine will usually bring you to the site “WieWasWie”. Since WieWasWie is a paid website it is often overlooked by people only looking for one or two distant ancestors a couple of hundred years ago. It does contain a lot of information which is almost exclusively Baptism, Marriage and Burial records (Doop, Trouw, Begraven).

Open Archives Logo




Openarch

There is however usually the same information and sources available elsewhere on the internet. One such site is Open Archives which uses the Open Source data supplied by the Dutch Archives, it is free to use and has more records.

National Archief

GaHetNa

If you are looking for Military or VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, Otherwise known as the Dutch East India Company) records. Then GaHetNa is the website you need. It is the Dutch National Archives website and is the number one stop if you’re ancestor was in the Dutch Military.

Militieregisters Logo

Militieregisters

Another useful Military site is militieregisters.nl. This site contains thousands of military service records and has an incredible simple easy to use search menu. Although viewing scans is not free you can earn free scans by indexing various projects on velehanden.nl which also helps bring new searchable projects and source collections on to the internet.

Ministerie Van Defence

Archieven (Dutch Ministry of Defense)

The Dutch Ministry of Defense has repositories that contain the names of dutch citizens within Napoleons armies. These records contain not only basic information and their military unit but also nearly always contain the Mother and Father of the person in question which can massively help with the research in to a family.

Geneaknowhow

Geneaknowhow

Indexes for different areas in The Netherlands can be found at Geneaknowhow.net. The site does have an English mirror but it is not updated along with the dutch version. It’s not particularly user friendly but does the job and can be very useful if you know what you want.

Zoekakten Logo

Zoekakten

Zoekakten is another not so easy to use site. It does tend to have a massive repository of data though if you can work out how to use it. It usually has Christening/Marriage/Burial records that are missing from other sites online.

Local Sources

If you know exactly where your ancestors are from then your best bet is to look for the local archive for that region as they will have the most in depth records available. They can be found easily by searching for “[placename] archief genealogie”.