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Oxford Ancestors

From ISOGG Wiki

Oxford Ancestors
Industry Genealogy, DTC genetic testing
Founded April 2000
Founder(s) Professor Bryan Sykes
Headquarters Kidlington, Oxfordshire, England
Area served International
Products mtDNA Tests, Y-STR tests

Oxford Ancestors is a commercial genetic genealogy company launched in April 2000 by Professor Bryan Sykes, a Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford. Oxford Ancestors was set up to meet the anticipated demand for mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests from members of the public in response to the publication of Sykes' book The Seven Daughters of Eve (published spring 2001) which claimed to show that almost everyone in Europe was descended on the maternal line from one of seven female ancestors. The "daughters" or clans correspond to the most common mitochondrial DNA haplogroups in Europe. For a list of the clan mother names used by Oxford Ancestors for the mtDNA haplogroups see the ISOGG Wiki list Oxford Ancestors haplogroup nicknames.

Sykes was one of the first researchers to establish a link between the Y chromosome and surnames. His paper "Surnames and the Y chromosome" suggested that the surname Sykes had a single surname founder, even though written sources had predicted multiple origins.[1] A Y chromosome test was also offered to the public on the company's launch. Oxford Ancestors similarly assign clan names to the Y-DNA haplogroups.

Oxford Ancestors participated in producing the 2001 BBC television documentary, "Blood of the Vikings," which claimed to show how Y-chromosome DNA testing could reveal Viking ancestry.

In early March, 2018, Oxford Ancestors' chairman, Bryan Sykes, announced on the company's website that Oxford Ancestors would be closing after 18 years in operation. Sykes wrote, "In practical terms, all outstanding orders will be fulfilled in accordance with our Terms and Conditions and the databases will operate as usual for a few more months." He added that he will be leaving England in the summer of 2018 to live abroad and to devote more time to writing.


The company currently offers the following products:

  • The MatriLine test sequences a client's mitochondrial DNA and identifies which of the "seven daughters" (haplogroups) is the client's own ancestor and describes her imagined life. The Matriline test is a low-resolution HVR1 (hypervariable region 1) mitochondrial DNA test suitable for deep ancestry purposes only.
  • Y-Clan is a basic Y-chromosome DNA test. The company will deduce your "paternal clan and your ancient ancestral father". The Y-Clan test consists of 26 Y-STR markers.
  • Tribes of Britain service. If your paternal roots are in Britain or Ireland this Y-clan analysis test purports to tell you whether you are descended from a Celt, Saxon or Viking. The service is based on research from Professor Sykes' laboratory on the genetic history of Britain and Ireland, which was published in the book Blood of the Isles (published in the US and Canada as Saxons, Vikings and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland). Sample Tribes of Britain reports can be seen here and here. Note, however, that these reports are for entertainment value only and do not have any scientific basis.[2]

News reports


Further reading

See also


  1. Bryan Sykes and Catherine Irven. Surnames and the Y Chromosome. American Journal of Human Genetics, April 2000, Vol 66, issue 4, pp1417–1419.
  2. Shriver MD, Kittles RA. Genetic ancestry and the search for personalized genetic histories. Nature Reviews Genetics 2004: 5: 611-618.

External links