Vousden DNA Project

I have now started a DNA study of the Vousden surname with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), a leading DNA testing firm. The principal purpose of the study is to demonstrate genetic linkages between families, especially where we have not been able to do this by researching paper records.

As well as reading this web page you can visit the Vousden DNA Project at the Family TreeDNA web site.

FTDNA can compare Vousden test results with their database - the largest of its kind in the world - and tell us what the clues say about our ancestry.

DNA strands: like a twisted ladder in a double helix.

Now we need some volunteers, specifically Vousden males with a continuous line of Vousden descendancy. This is Y-chromosome testing which follows the male line. This chromosome, found only in men, is passed from father to son, typically unchanged for centuries. By testing markers on the Y chromosome we can determine if two men share a common ancestor, and the approximate time frame of the common ancestor.

Females do not receive Y-DNA, and therefore females cannot be tested for the paternal line. If you are a female and would like to know about your paternal Vousden line, you would need to have a brother or a male relative from that line tested.

Whilst you may not be able to personally participate in the test itself because of your gender or because you just do not carry a "Vousden Y-Chromosome" does not mean that you cannot help the project along.

One way you help the Vousden DNA Project, whether you are taking a test or not, is to to help pay for some or towards some tests by making a donation to the Fund.

We have established a General Fund, to accept donations in any currency via credit card. These funds will be held at the testing company, and used to help sponsor test kits for key males who are unable financially to participate. We encourage you to make a donation.

Visit the Vousden DNA Project web site, and then click "Contribute to the Project General Fund" on the left side to make a donation. If you decide to donate, please specify "Vousden Project General Fund" in the top box of the Donation form.

If you can contribute to the fund, please do make a donation. Anything you do donate will only be used in the DNA Programme. Please do consider making a financial contribution no matter how small.

Thank you.

Please contact me for further information about the Vousden DNA Project and how you can help.

The Value of a DNA Project

Logo of Vousden DNA Project: searching for deep ancestral roots.

Genetic DNA testing is a relatively new tool for family history research. It provides information not available in the paper or oral records. Our ancestors left clues in our DNA which we can use to extend, support and challenge our "conventional" genealogy.

We can unlock our family history with DNA testing. It can show if two people are related, reveal our deep ancestral ethnic origins and suggest geographic origins.

Thus, DNA data can help in solving genealogical problems, and will tell which family trees are related. All my Vousden research points to the conclusion that the Vousdens (and Fousdens, Vowsdens, and some other variant names) are all related and were once (say, 450 years ago) just a handful of people concentrated in a very small area of England, around the village of Goudhurst in Kent, close to the Sussex border.

But where did they come from before that? And what about the surname Fosten? There are a number of Fostens recorded in the Cranbrook and Biddenden areas of Kent from the 1500s onwards. Might we share a common ancestor? There are some Vousden families that have hit a "brickwall" in tracing their ancestry, and/or cannot find a connection into the larger Vousden group. DNA testing could reveal the connection.

How does the test work?

The test is a quick and simple procedure. A kit is sent to each participant from the Family Tree DNA testing lab. The kit includes instructions for collecting your DNA sample. This kit consists of two small tubes with a couple of cotton bud type swabs. The swabs are rubbed on the inside of the cheek to collect a sample. Then the swab is placed into the tube or vial and the kit is sent back along with the consent form.

The Family Tree DNA test kit.

The vials are delivered using the kit serial number double-blind to the testing facility at the University of Arizona. At this stage, FTDNA no longer has control of the sample, and the University doesn't know the individuals it belongs to. The sample is placed in a medium and allowed to grow sufficiently for the DNA patterns to be measured by technicians (two separate reads per sample).

The results will come back in batches. In four to six weeks we will receive back a chart showing the value of the first markers measured and a preliminary indication of which (if any) Vousden these match with. The second results of the final markers come back about two weeks later. The numbers and patterns are not significant in themselves; what is important is the matches with other testers in the project. Markers do mutate over time (approximately one every 500 generations) and these mis-matches are sometimes useful in determining individual branches of a family tree. This is also the reason why they are different family to family.

By contributing a sample of your DNA to this project you will help us to form a more accurate picture. It will be a gift to future researchers, who may discover some new "hidden" information and be able to put together a better scenario. You will be remembered for your foresight!

What is DNA? - A more technical explanation

DNA: the Molecule of Life.

DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is one of the information-containing molecules found in the nucleus of every human cell. DNA is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. A historical document is encoded in our DNA.

Nearly every cell in a person's body has the same DNA. There are a few exceptions. For example, our red blood cells lack DNA. Blood itself can be typed because of the DNA contained in our white blood cells. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA).

At conception, a person receives DNA from both the father and mother. We each have 23 pairs of chromosomes. Of each pair, one was received from the father and one was received from the mother. These 23 pairs of chromosomes are known as nuclear DNA because they reside in the nucleus of every cell (except red blood cells).

The 23rd chromosome from the mother is always an X. From the father, a person inherits either an X chromosome or a Y chromosome. The chromosome inherited from the father determines their gender. An X from the father would result in an XX combination, which is a female, and a Y from the father would result in an XY combination, which is a male.

The combination of the mother's and father's cells determine who you are as an individual with genetic traits from both parents. Because the Y chromosome is unique and not paired, it carries a duplicate match to your father and to his father etc.

The DNA in a cell is made up of four different parts, like letters of an alphabet, called nucleotides: adenine (A); cytosine(C); guanine (G); and thymine (T).

The DNA double helix: twin helical strands form the DNA backbone.

DNA has two strands, twisted together like a twisted ladder in a double helix. The sides of the ladder comprise the sugar-phosphate portions of adjacent nucleotides bonded together. The steps are formed by the nitrogen bases of the nucleotides where adenine pairs with thymine (A-T) and cytosine with guanine (C-G).

The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.

An important property of DNA is that it can replicate, or make copies of itself. Each strand of DNA in the double helix can serve as a pattern for duplicating the sequence of bases. This is critical when cells divide because each new cell needs to have an exact copy of the DNA present in the old cell.

The information in DNA guides the cell in making new proteins that determine our biological traits, and it gets passed (copied) from one generation to the next.

Links to useful / interesting web sites for Genetic DNA research
Web Site Link Site Description
International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) This society is a non-commercial non-profit organization with over 7,000 members. Its mission includes educating others about the use of genetics in genealogy through workshops, this website, speaker's bureau, forums, and meetings.
Genographic Project The Genographic Project is a research partnership led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Spencer Wells. A team of international scientists and IBM researchers are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA to better understand our human genetic roots. The Project is anonymous, non-medical, non-profit and all results will be placed in the public domain following scientific peer publication.
Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) works in association with a scientific advisory board and the University of Arizona Research Labs, led by Dr. Michael Hammer, a leading authority in the field of Genetics. 90% Of Genealogists Choose FTDNA. FTDNA has the largest DNA database with 304,146 records (July 28, 2010), 6,010 Surname Projects (including the Vousden one), 188,475 Y-DNA records and 115,671 mtDNA records.
Ysearch Family Tree DNA is offering Ysearch as a free public service in order to allow people that have tested with the different companies to make their results available for comparison. FTDNA have added several tools that allow you to compare side-by-side different users - the YsearchCompare - as well as generate a Genetic Distance™ Report, and many other features, including the upload of GEDCOM files.

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