I and my half-sister are considering having DNA testing done, for the following primary reasons:

  1. To attempt to identify my sister's paternal line. We have no information about her father, who may be American, British, Polish, French, Belgian or something else entirely; however, American or British are probably most likely.
  2. To shed more light on the question of linkages between various James families in Llanfair Nant Y Gof, Wales in the 1750 - 1800 period (or possibly even earlier). This is 5 or 6 generations back on my mother's line.
  3. To investigate the persistent family story on my mother's side that we have Spanish and/or Jewish ancestors, although nothing has shown up in the documentary evidence yet. (To be honest, I just want to put this question to bed and not deal with it ever again at family reunions).
  4. To assist in future lines of research.

There is no living male descendant of my father or paternal grandfather (that I have located yet), so Y-DNA testing at the present is not possible. We am therefore planning to have mtDNA and Autosomal DNA testing done.

We are based in the UK.

What factors (other than cost) should I consider when comparing the various testing services on offer?

  • You seem to be asking several questions here. Scenarios 1-3 seem to be asking what type of test is most useful. Scenario 4 is too open ended.
    – Sue Adams
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 11:25
  • @SueAdams, I'm not asking what tests to get at all - I have decided on mtDNA and Autosomal DNA (as the question says)
    – user104
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 14:59
  • Current DNA technology is not going to be a help with 1. or 2. Some companies may say things that sound like they can help with issue 3., but I harbor doubts about that.
    – RobertShaw
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 21:53
  • 1
    You have probably left it too late to try the only foolproof strategy. Become sufficiently famous that an american television show does all the work (and meets the costs) for you.
    – Fortiter
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 1:25

2 Answers 2


The fundamental criteria for selecting a genetic genealogy service provider should be

  • overall technical competence and ethical practices
  • provide the particular tests you need
  • have a significant database of samples against which you can be matched

With respect to your proposed uses, I assume that (4) is of secondary importance and would be covered by a question to the "best" provider for the other three "What else do you offer?"

My understanding of the chances of two females locating a completely unknown father is that purpose (1) goes to the bottom of the priority pile. Reliance on autosomal testing makes this very unlikely to succeed.

Which leaves you looking for a provider with (2) lots of current clients in Wales (or the Welsh diaspora) and (3) a proven track record in identifying deep Sephardic roots.

To the extent that expertise in Jewish genealogy tends to be concentrated in corporations operating in the USA, these might be conflicting demands.

  • Actually, it's one sister looking for a completely unknown father, so the chances are even less, but it's the only avenue open.
    – user104
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 18:15

DNA testing for genealogy is still in its infancy. So start by assuming that it may take years to find a close match, and also assume that many of today's DNA companies will not exist in 10 years.

Try and find the 3 or 4 companies with the largest databases, then compare how they allow you to transfer your results among other companies. You want to get into as many databases as possible, with a single test.

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