It has been a while since my last post, but in addition to and FamilyTreeDNA I also received my Jamaican results. I am dedicating an entire blog post to these results because I have now made my main place for my DNA research.

Ethnicity Estimate

Full disclosure… I received these results months ago and my results have changed over time. As updated data comes in for each region, updates the percentages to make these results more accurate. Additionally, has the largest data pool from which to determine these results. The more data there is the more accurate the the estimate.

Jamaican Results – Ethnicity Estimate

DNA Relatives

Due to the large pool of data (users who submitted samples) there are much more relatives that I found in this system. As you can see there are even 2nd – 3rd cousins that I found. My wife found a 1st cousin. These results are very helpful when building a family tree especially for those with Jamaican ancestry.

Jamaican Results – DNA Matches

Comparison of Results

The table below represents the findings of each of the tests that I took. When we look at the numbers the results are quite similar with minor discrepancies. To see more detail of my and FamilyTreeDNA tests click here.

West AfricanEast Central AfricanEuropean

So what? Terrence you did all of this testing and analysis. You found out a little about your ethnic breakdown and you are now connected to a myriad of long lost cousins. What do you do with this information? What use is it to you? Well, it feels good to know. Slavery has destroyed Jamaican families. Studying our ancestry and genealogy and actually finding results is something that was impossible for generations of people like me. These modern tools have unlocked a door that can lead us to places that we cannot even fathom. My Jamaican DNA results, in addition to the DNA results from the other services, have made me even more determined to learn as much as I can about the amazing people in my family tree.

I was doing some more research on my family tree and signed up for the world deluxe package that includes international records. I came across a collection that I never thought I would find, Slave Registers of former British Colonial Dependencies, 1813-1834. Thank you to all who helped to decipher the beautiful text.

Full Document

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Jamaica ss – A Return of Slaves in the Parish of Westmoreland in the possession of Alex James Rankine as Lessee from M. Ja Rankine on the 28th day of June in the year of our Lord 1823

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Males by last return 10 Females 15 Total by last return 35
Names Colour Age African or Creole Remarks Increase & cause thereof Decrease & cause thereof
Frederick Negro 2 Creole Son of Diana By Birth
Edward do 2 do Son of Nanny do
Sydney do do Death
Increase 2 Decrease 1

Number of Slaves on the 28th day of June 1823 Thirty two

Births since last return 2 Deaths since last return 1

Do = ditto meaning same as record above

African refers to slaves that came directly from Africa. Creole means that the person was born in Jamaica.

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I Alexander James Rankine do swear that the above list and return is a true, perfect, and complete list and return, to the best of my knowledge and belief, in every particular therein mentioned, of all and every slave and slaves possessed by me as Lessee considered as most permanently settled, worked or employed in the parish of Westmoreland on the 28th day of June in the year of our lord 1823 without fraud deceit or eversion so help me God. – Alex Ja. Rankine

Sworn before me this 18th day of October 1823} John Dobson

Affidavit produced in Vestry according to Law

There are 3 main types of DNA testing used for genealogy: autosomal, mitochondrial (mtDNA), paternal yDNA. Each are great ways to find out information about yourself, but the collected data can lead you in multiple directions. Here I will try to briefly explain the differences.

yDNA – Paternal Line

First thing to know about this type of test is that it is only available to males. This test requires examination of the Y chromosome which only exists in males. However, if you are a woman there is still some hope for you. You can do the test on your brother, father, paternal uncles, or grandfather and the results will be the same. yDNA has been passed unchanged through your paternal male ancestors on your family tree for thousands of years, and due to this fact genealogists are able to use this information to determine where in the world your earliest ancestors lived.

For black people who are the descendants of slaves, using the paternal line when looking for their earliest male African ancestor has a lower rate of success than using your maternal line. According to paternal DNA test results in African ancestry 75% of the time while mitochondrial DNA tests result in African ancestry 92% of the time. Why is this? Sadly, it is because most white slave owners and overseers raped their female slaves. President of Dr. Gina Paige gives further explanation about this in the video below.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)– Maternal Line

As mentioned above there is also the mtDNA test. An unchanged portion of your Mitochondrial DNA is inherited from your mother, who in tern inherited from her mother and so on. This portion of DNA has also been passed down for thousands of years, just like yDNA on your paternal side. However, this test is open to both men and woman and is used find your earliest living maternal ancestor.


Autosomal DNA

As you can see the two previous tests miss out on everyone in the middle portion of your family tree. This where autosomal DNA testing comes in. This is the newest type of test and it covers everyone in your family tree going back around 5 generations and therefore picks up on all the people that were missed in the other two tests. With these results companies can compare the various portions of your DNA with others in their databases to determine what regions in the world your ancestors originated from and provide you with the percentage of DNA that you have that originates from those regions.

Personally, I’ve only done the autosomal DNA test, but hope to do both and mitochondrial and yDna test at some time in the future. As you have seen not all of the 3 types of DNA testing used for genealogy may apply to you, however I hope that this brief post helps if you are considering taking a test.

It’s 2008 and I graduated from university. My degree is in Computer Science but, after being hyped up on genealogy series, I really wanted to know the names and stories of people in my family tree. I started my family tree on It’s a free service that is offered by the Church of Latter Day Saints, also know as the Mormon Church. The church collects historical records from all over the world. They do this because they believe that they can pray for the soul of a dead person and that person will gain salvation ( I am a Christian, but I do not prescribe to those beliefs. However, the fact that they have this info and offer it for free to anyone wanting to find out about their genealogy is fantastic. I searched for the names of my Grandmother and Grandfather. I found nothing. Back to the drawing board…

How I finally found information

I spoke with my mother to see if she knew the maiden name of her mother. She did, but I still could not find what I was looking for an I concluded that Jamaica is a third world country and that those records probably don’t exist… feeling dejected I resigned myself to believing that I would never find the information that I needed. Then one day the phone rang. My grandmother’s youngest sister called to speak with my mom. I was able to garner some great information from my grand aunt about her mother. Her name was Miriam McFarlane, and her story was very interesting to say the least, and I’ll be writing a post about her in the near future. Once I got this info I ran to and I met my great grandmother, and some of my grandmother’s siblings for the first time. I also, found my Grandmother and Great Grandmother’s birth certificates and the birth certificates of their siblings. Incredible! I was now hooked.

My great grandmother’s birth certificate via

I found out that my Grandmother’s parents were not married at the time when my Grandma was born. Due to this, she was listed with her mother’s last name. Once I realized this, I used the same method to find my maternal grandfather’s birth certificate and the names of his parents.

My great grandfather’s birth certificate via

I now had a method for searching for people in my family tree:

  1. If the person is not found with the name that you think that they should have, try using the maiden name of the mother as the child’s last name.
  2. If a birth certificate is found look at all of the names in the document. Many times, the witnesses are a member of the mother’s family. In my Grandmother’s case, the witness was listed as Evel Rankine, which in actuality was her father.
  3. Try to also find Church of England christening records. By the time the child is christened point 1 is usually corrected. Also, during those days families were quite large, and more than one child was christened on a specific day. Check the lines above and below your ancestor in the record book, you may find additional family members.
  4. Do an ancestry DNA test and connect with long lost cousins to garner more information. I did mine with, but I would recommend doing it with 23andMe or AncestryDNA. Both of those services have larger databases of people which equates to more matches.
  5. Check out the Legacies of British Slave-ownership website. Here you can find out information about slave owners from across the Caribbean.

Most black people that are around my age, that I know, have no idea of the name of their great grandparents. Their parents never discussed their parents. Their grandparents, who most likely are no longer alive, never told them stories about their parents. As a result, the only people that could answer questions about ancestry are gone. So what? Why is this important? Well those are some good questions. Questions that I asked myself when I got interested in genealogy.

Let me start with a little bit of my personal history. I am black, I was born in Canada, and my parents are Jamaican immigrants. I’m a child of the 80s and grew up in the 90s. This was transitional period in Toronto public schools. The generation before mine consisted of mostly white students, but the generation of students that began to enter the school system when I did was a mixed community. There were Asians, Africans, Indians, Middle Easterners, Europeans, and people of Caribbean decent in my classes. Culturally, I don’t think the school system was equipped to make curriculum relevant to all students. Case in point, the coat of arms incident….

I was in fourth grade and was asked to bring in my family’s coat of arms to present to the class. I’m black, my ancestors were slaves, ‘wi nuh ave dat’ (we don’t have that). I think I ended up bringing in the Jamaican coat of arms, but I remember being fascinated that the white kids had personal family coats of arms that were passed down through the centuries. I think that was the first time that I really thought that I would love to know more about my ancestors. I realized that I must have come from somewhere. My interest was sparked but I was in fourth grade, all I wanted to do was play outside and watch tv. Where is a 9-year-old going to get that information… there was no internet back then.

So, although my interest was sparked I didn’t really do much to keep the fire going. Even at a very young age I was into learning about the civil rights movement and the plights that black people had to endure. I remember seeing a Public Enemy hip hop video with various black iconography in it and asking my mom what that was all about. From that point on I became fascinated with the civil rights movement. I learned about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, and many of the great men and women of the movement. However, as great as those people were, they were not a direct part of my personal Jamaican history.

Many years later while in university I was able to watch Roots. That was absolutely life changing for me. Soon after watching Roots I was able to watch the complete docu-series African American Lives with Professor Skip Gates. This set me off and running. I watched every season of African American Lives, and his other show Finding Your Roots. While I watched I became more and more motivated to do this for myself. The revelations in this show for Skip’s guests had me feeling like these ancestors were my very own. I determined to do my best to find as much as I could. I wasn’t sure where to start but I knew that if these people could find all of this information, I too should be able to do the same… I was somewhat wrong in that assumption.

I started out on free I had no money to pay for the full service, so I got nowhere. I somehow happened upon and doors were open that I never knew existed. I also wrote to the genealogical institute in Jamaica and had them perform a search for me that ended up resulting in providing me with information that I already had. It felt like a waste of money, but it did reveal the name of an ancestor that I didn’t know. I’ll share more about this in later posts.

Between,, and my family tree has ballooned to over 200 people. I’m able to trace my family back approximately 4 generations, even though when I began all I knew were the names of my grandparents. I was even able to find the names of a few of my slave ancestors. Amazing!

It was somewhere around this time that I happened upon this amazing documentary about slavery in Jamaica on YouTube. It discussed the Beckford family and their slaves and how brutal slavery was on the island. I realized that the fact that I am alive is a miracle; I wrote about why all this matters to me in a previous post. Based on the paper trail, I know that my ancestors must have been some amazing people to survive all the hardships that came their way. I have their blood running through my veins, I inherited their DNA, I am them. They made me. The lessons that they learned were passed unconsciously down from generation to generation and live in me. I feel like the more that I can learn about them the better I can understand my grandparents, parents and even myself. So please join me on this journey as I uncover all that I can, and as I share my methods of finding Caribbean, European, and African geological records online.

Reading through the birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates and baptismal records of my ancestors gives a small glimpse of what it might have been like in terms of just surviving. People had a lot of children in those days… I mean a lot. However, the flip side to all these births is the high infant mortality rate. Many mothers in my family tree lost babies between the ages of 0 – 2. My grandmother’s previous two siblings both died at birth. It’s a blessing to be alive.

I was able to go back pretty far on a couple of the lines of my tree, relatively speaking for a black person. (I’m still thinking about the best way to share this information on this site). However, I still wanted to back further, so my wife and I decided to test our DNA. I decided on They were having a sale so I picked them. The test came in a couple of weeks. We swabbed our cheeks and sent it back. In a few months our results were in.


I was able to download my Raw DNA data and upload it to FamilyTreeDNA. These are the results.