There are Tickle and Tickell families all over the the world. How many of them are related to each other way back, many centuries ago? Unless you are descended from landed gentry, it’s usually impossible to follow your line beyond the 18th century. Early records don’t contain enough information for you to be sure that the John or James or Peter you have found is actually your ancestor, and not someone with a similar name and birth year.
In my own family tree, I can trace back to my 3 X g. grandfather, James Tickle b. 1785 in Eccleston, but then the trail runs cold. Many years ago, my great aunt won a family history competition. Her prize was to have a professional genealogist look into this ‘brick wall’. He told her that James’ father was named Bryan Tickle. As there have never been any Bryans or Brians in the family that we know of, she didn’t believe this was true. My recent online research has led me to think Bryan Tickle might indeed be my ancestor, but there is no way of knowing for sure …. apart from through DNA.
I’ve written posts about the Tickles in the US who are descended from German Digels and I know some of them follow this blog. Many are now scattered across the country, living in different states, and may be unsure of exactly who their ancestors are. Only DNA could confirm whether they are from a German or English Tickle line. One descendent of John Tickle (Digel) has already taken an advanced DNA test and he is really keen for other Digel descendants to follow him and compare results.
DNA can confirm that the paper trail you have is correct, and connect you to other branches of the same family.
However, not just any DNA test can do this. What’s needed for checking your Tickle / Tickell connection is Y-DNA testing. This is different from the type of DNA test that gets promoted on TV or Facebook, promising to disclose the secrets of your ethnicity. Although the results of these tests are often interesting, they can result in hundreds of distant ‘matches’ and it can be hard to make sense of them or to identify a common ancestor.
What is DNA?
DNA is a long chemical chain that tells our cells how to grow and act. DNA is divided up into major blocks, called chromosomes, which are in turn divided into genes. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 in all) arranged in a double helix, like the image at the top of this post. We inherit 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father.
Twenty-two of the pairs, called autosomes, look the same in both males and females. These are what are used in the most common type of DNA testing, known as autosomal testing. The 23rd pair are the sex chromosomes, and determine if we are male or female. Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome.
The Y-chromosome is only found in males. They inherit their Y-chromosome from their father, who inherited it from his father, and so on bock through the generations.
Y-DNA testing examines this Y-chromosome. It changes very little over time and so allows you to trace a direct male line back for thousands of years. Surnames are also passed down the male line in many cultures, meaning there is a strong link between Y-DNA and surnames..
As only males have a Y-chromosome, only males can take a Y-DNA test. Females cannot take the test themselves, but they can ask a male relative (a brother, father, or uncle) to take the test for them. Testing the oldest generation possible is always best.
The only company to offer individual Y-DNA testing kits is FamilyTreeDNA, which has the largest Y-DNA database in the world. They offer three options depending on how detailed a test you want. They also host DNA Projects and I run a Tickle / Tickell DNA project under their banner. You can read more about FTDNA Y-DNA testing here, but please get in touch with me to discuss your options before you sign up to buy anything!
The Tickle / Tickell DNA Project
This project uses genealogical DNA tests (especially Y-DNA tests) to trace male lineage and to identify those with common ancestors. Because surnames are passed down from father to son and Y-chromosomes are also passed from father to son, with a predictable rate of mutation, people with the same surname can use DNA testing to discover whether they share a common ancestor within recent history. If two males with the same surname both take a Y-DNA test, the results will show whether or not they are related. If they are related, the number of markers tested and the number of matches at those markers determines the range of generations until their most recent common ancestor – known as their MRCA.
Because a man’s Y-DNA chromosome is nearly identical to his father, grandfather, great-grandfather, and so on through the generations, a Y-DNA line can be traced back hundreds, or even thousands of years. This is unlike autosomal testing, where the amount of DNA inherited from a single ancestor becomes less and less with successive generations.
Y-DNA tests range from testing 10 to 111 markers on the Y chromosome. For this project I recommend taking a Y-DNA37 test, which tests 37 markers. If the two tests match on 37 markers, there is a 90% probability that the MRCA was less than five generations ago and a 95% probability that the MRCA was less than eight generations ago.
The project is still new and this is the first publicity I have given it. To date, there are only five DNA results, belonging to 3 distinct family lines, as you can see in the image below. Would your DNA match one of these lines?
You can access the Tickle / Tickell DNA project here.
How to Participate in the Project
Participating in the project is your chance to make an important contribution to the knowledge about different Tickle / Tickell lines and which are historically related. Both men and women can help, but males with the Tickle or Tickell surname are the most valuable. This is what you can do:
Males – if you have already taken an autosomal DNA test, you can upload the results to FTDNA and I can add them to the project, but what is really important is for you to take a Y-DNA37 test.. If your original test was with FTDNA, they can use the same sample; there is no need for you to supply an additional one. If you tested with another company, or have never tested, you should take a Y-DNA37 test with FTDNA. You can order these directly online and they sometimes have sales. There are discounts available for project members and I can also get discounted kits through the Guild of One-Name Studies, so I recommend you get in touch with me before you buy anything and we can discuss the best option for you, depending on current prices and where you live. Click here to email me.
Females – you can’t take a Y-DNA test yourself, as you don’t have the Y chromosome, but perhaps you could ask a male family member with the surname to take a test on your behalf? That would be really useful. If you have already taken an autosomal DNA test, your results can be included in the project, but they can’t be used directly to identify your family line in the same way as Y-DNA results. You can upload results from other companies to FTDNA for inclusion in the project. If you plan to buy a Y-DNA37 kit for a male relative, please get in touch with me first so we can ensure you get the best price going at the time. Click here to email me.
Everyone – unfortunately, Y-DNA tests are more expensive that autosomal testing and may be beyond what some can afford. The project has a General Fund to help cover part of the cost for those on a low budget. If you can afford to give anything to the Fund, please do so, and let me know also if you would like to take a Y-DNA test but cannot afford it at present. I will keep you in mind for when we have sufficient to pay some of the price. Click here to email me.
I encourage everyone with the Tickle / Tickell name to participate in this project if they can as it will provide really solid evidence for your genealogical research. Click here to access the project and to donate to the General Fund.
Warning – You May Not Get the Results You Expect!
Finally, there is an important fact you should be aware of, before taking a test. Y-DNA testing, like all DNA testing, could reveal a misattributed parentage somewhere in your tree. Your results could indicate a completely different family name connection, or provide unexpected genetic matches. There are a number of reasons this can happen. Illegitimacy, adultery, and adoption are the most common, but families may also have changed their surname at some point. It isn’t possible to identify how many generations back the name connection was broken, although testing other male relatives sharing your surname may shed some light on the event.