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The Lyon family

1066 - 2015

DNA a discussion

There is certainly room for discussion about DNA.  The view of LFA (Lyon(s) Family Association is generally to recommend the use of DNA. Ancestry and most genealogy websites also promote DNA.  I am suggesting that readers read the articles below to save them wasting money and ending up disappointed.

The LFA have an expert on the subject - Diana at her website:-

  http://dgmweb.net/DNA/Lyon/LyonDNA.html to see what she has to offer.

To take a very modern use of this science - there is little doubt that a child could prove its ancestry to a grandfather and a parent quite conclusively, as courts have done for many years.


Warnings about limitations of the use of DNA

The most outstanding case recently has been the one about King Richard III this year.

Scientists have discovered a break in the DNA chain of the descendants of Edward III, suggesting the Royal Family may not have a direct bloodline to royalty. This graphic shows the direct line from Edward III to The Queen. The Daily Telegraph, Wednesday 12 August 2015 © Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/interactive-graphics/11269889/Richard-III-graphic-royal-family-tree.html

         There are aspects of this case that are very interesting and we should watch the video with an open mind.  There is no doubt no question about the trustworthiness of DNA results but there must always be an open mind about the interpretation of the data that is produced.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/9912822/DNA-ancestry-tests-branded-meaningless.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/science/science-news/3311051/The-limits-of-gene-ancestry-tests.html

         To help to put the DNA to the test we have an unusual family that can be traced over dozens of generations.  If people could be persuaded to share their experiences, whether good or bad, with DNA tests we could either save much money or make the testing a valuable tool for all genealogists to prove the above assertions correct or false.

         I am only the person who runs this web-site and want to encourage its use for all who enjoy the excitement of tracing their families. Please present your views and I will publish your experiences on this site. The following is taken from my book A Most Remarkable Family  Appendix I

       DNA—the problem - my opinion


DNA could well be the biggest aid to genealogists since the computer. However when I found the following statement about the Lyon brothers and their cousin, in a genealogical magazine - it needs some explanation.


As to the myth of Richard, Henry and Thomas being brothers, I am afraid that always was a myth with no paper documentation ever having been found to support it and now Y-DNA evidence has debunked it.” The author goes on to say: I’m sorry to be playing the unpopular role of ‘egghead at the party’ here but I think we are better off on the trail of the truth and the evidence is unequivocal.” (Egghead is an intellectual or bookish person)

These are two rather strong statements and they deserve some comment.


First of all we are talking about the claim that Richard, Henry and Thomas Lyon were not brothers because there is no paper documentation to support it. No genealogist would always expect there to be documentation such as birth certificates in the 1600’s. It is generally accepted by many genealogists that they were the sons of Richard Lyon born 1580 in Middlesex. They obtain their information from Parish Registers, County or town records, family records etc. I can find no information which suggests that this generally accepted view is incorrect.


  1. I am certainly no expert on DNA but have tried to get some answers to some basic questions how it can be used to establish relationships hundreds of years ago. I presume that there would be no samples of body tissue, bones or other remnants available from all the brothers from which DNA samples could be extracted. They lived in the 17th Century in England and America.
  2. One would need to find descendants, who could probably claim to be descendants of each of the brothers—this would take us from about twelve generations to the present day. We would have to be 100% certain that these were legitimate births and that the fathers’ claims of son-ship were correct.
  3. We would arrive at a position where we had enough descendants to give a DNA reading that matched. It would be impossible to say with certainty that they were brothers. The experts say that in this situation it would be impossible to say definitively that these were or were not brothers.
  4. “Both males and females have mitochondrial DNA because mitochondria are essential to life, so both males and females can take an mtDNA test. Still, both genders inherit their mtDNA only from their mother, because it’s transmitted in the body of the egg, not in the sperm. Like the DNA in the Y-chromosome, the DNA in mitochondria is passed on unchanged (except for rare mutations), so mtDNA analysis can reveal ancestry on your matrilineal line.


Patrilineal and Matrilineal Lines


“Between the two tests—a Y-DNA test and an mtDNA test—only two of the ancestral lines are being tested, that is, either an unbroken chain of male ancestors or an unbroken chain of female ancestors, and any one person has only one each of these lines.

All the rest of your ancestral lines zig—zag between males and females, so these lines cannot be revealed with your test results alone. To test all your ancestral lines, you need to share results with others whose ancestry you share. For example, to test your mother’s patrilineal line, you need to find and test a male relative of her father (e.g., a brother or uncle or male first cousin with that surname).

By finding and testing cousins, you can eventually piece together a complete picture of your yDNA and mtDNA ancestry. This dependence of the testing of cousins is the reason sharing information is so important because, while you are depending on others to test surnames in your ‘zig-zag’ lines of inheritance, they are depending on you to test yours for them.”

 http://dgmweb.net/DNA/Lyon/LyonDNA-Introduction.html


Taken from the website of ‘Egghead’ who states that Thomas, Henry and Richard are not brothers and that ‘the evidence is unequivocal.’”


In the future, genealogy has the potential not only to help with a family tree, but also to confuse. When you use such a tool you have to be sure that the DNA comes from a wide enough cross section so that you can screen out instances where outside DNA was maybe introduced, such as illegitimate offspring. In the case under discussion we have twelve generations faithful to each other. We hope that this was the case.

Genealogy also has a possible problem when in the future it may be proved that young children were taken in and became part of the family. In this sort of case we could have the problem where a person was raised as a member of a family and took the family name. We may eventually be able to prove that many historic families have breaks in their gene record.

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