The Genetic Legacy of British India – the FIBIS DNA Project


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Just after my last blog post in January this year I was approached by Debbie Kennet to present a lecture for the DNA Workshops at Who Do You Think You Are – Live at Birmingham NEC in April and I agreed. I knew exactly what I was going to talk about and the examples I was going to use. The title of my talk was to be “The Genetic Legacy of British India – the FIBIS DNA Project” and I would use examples from my family – mainly my Grandmother, who I had tested several years ago, and her son, my Uncle, who I had tested last year, plus some examples from the FIBIS DNA project that I administer. I had not had a chance to investigate my Uncles test results, so I thought this would be a good opportunity.

I also approached my colleague, Geraldine Charles, to give the talk with me as she I knew she had done a lot of mtDNA research with her family and had some excellent examples to show. We agreed she would talk about her mtDNA research and I would talk about my family’s Family Finder results and the FIBIS DNA project in general. Luckily for me Geraldine agreed as my planned talk was about to fall apart!

A few weeks later I started to prepare my PowerPoint presentation and took some screenshots of my Grandmothers and Uncles Family Finder (atDNA) “my Origins” results. First I wanted to show my Grandmothers results showing her Central Asian DNA percentages and then my Uncles. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t had time to investigate my Uncles results. When the test results had come through all I had done was have a quick look and breath a quick sigh of relieve that Grandma showed up as being his mother, as the last thing you want to do is tell an 89-year-old lady that she brought back the wrong baby from the hospital sixty odd years ago! Then I checked if he had Central Asian DNA, and he had, but I didn’t compare results or check percentages.

As I inserted the screenshots into the presentation I suddenly noticed that Grandma only had 4% Central Asian DNA and my Uncle had twice the amount. How could that be when Grandma only has 4% and my Grandfather was English with no known connections to India? Surely it should be Grandma that has twice as much as my Uncle! I had researched most of my grandfathers family back to the late 1700s and they were basically all born and raised in the London area with no obvious Asian connections.

To make matters worse I started to have problems with my eyesight. Letters/words would disappear when I tried to read them and straight lines would bend. Long story short I had develop a hole in my retina.

My talk seemed doomed, but it did go ahead thanks to Geraldine, who managed to get a Family Finder test carried out on herself in time to include in the talk. Geraldine ended up giving the majority of the talk, due to mine not going to plan, but I did find where the extra Central Asian DNA came from and if you listed to the below talk all will be revealed! I am continually amazed by what you can find out your family from DNA testing, the mysteries it can solve and rumours it can confirm!

Unfortunately, due to the hole in my retina not being repaired before I had to give the talk, I was unable to read my part of the presentation when I got up on stage. Luckily Geraldine jumped up on stage to the rescue and read it for me until I recomposed myself and gave the rest of the talk from memory. Thank you Geraldine!

Hope you enjoy the talk below!

The Genetic Legacy of British India – the FIBIS DNA Project

The blurb

This presentation relates to people who went to India under the East India Company and the Raj and married into Indian/Anglo Indian families. The presentation will cover Mitochondrial Eve; Geraldine’s own mtDNA result which indicate Indian ancestry; Illustrating with Geraldine’s family tree, How others of her extended family tree share her mtDNA; How she used the tree to identify other living individuals, who carry other testable mtDNA lines for ancestors they have in common; The Y-chromosome and its significance with respect to surnames in Britain; FIBIS’s DNA project; Autosomal Family Finder/MyOrigins results from Valmay’s family and other people in the FIBIS project.

Valmay Young, FIBIS trustee and Geraldine Charles, Fibis trustee and Professional Archivist – Although an archivist for many years with the National Maritime Museum, Geraldine Charles originally studied Biological Sciences at degree level. This included Anthropology and Genetics. Geraldine is also a founder member of the Families in British India Society (FIBIS) and has given many talks that include the use of DNA in British India family history. Valmay Young is webmaster and trustee of FIBIS. Valmay also works at Suffolk Record Office and started the FIBIS DNA project in 2012 after realising its potential in breaking down the all too common brick walls in British India research due to the lack of documentary evidence.

This lecture was presented at Who Do You Think You Are? Live 2015 (Thurs 16th to Sat 18th April 2015, Birmingham, UK). Please note that these videos are copyrighted to the presenter and should only be used for personal study. They are not to be used for any other purpose without the presenters express permission. Also, please note that because this is a rapidly advancing field, the content may quickly become outdated.

The lectures were sponsored by FamilyTreeDNA (at and organised by Maurice Gleeson & Debbie Kennett on behalf of ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy at

1920s Photograph Album belonging to Muriel Wardley


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I have spent the last year scanning family photographs in my spare time and have uploaded one completed album that belonged to my Great Grandmother, Muriel Wardley (nee Collett) to Flickr. The photographs are mainly of the Wardley, Collett, Dunn, FitzPatrick, Duncan, Kuhlmey, Luschwitz, Gilbert-Lodge, Plummer and Barry family in the 1920s/1930s India and Berlin.

The images are much better viewed on Flickr as you can then see the labels. I figured it better to add the slideshow of the album here rather that upload 108 images to this blog to create another gallery!

Many of the images were originally unlabelled, but I uploaded them to Facebook and with the help of distant cousins in Australia and Canada I was able to label some of them and in return provide my cousins with copies of photos they didn’t have.


Christmas wishes from the Kuhlmey family in 1920’s Berlin


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In 1896 my Great Great Grandfather, Gustav Kuhlmey, died in India of consumption. The family had lived there for the last ten years or so due to Gustav working in India as a Bandmaster with various regiments. My Great Grandfathers three brothers Franz, Gustav and Siegfried were sent back to Berlin to live with their grandparents, but my Great Grandfather, Wolfram Kuhlmey, was only two years old so he stayed in India with his mother and sisters. Although all my Great Grandfather sisters remained in India, the youngest, Elsa, joined her brothers in Berlin sometime in the 1920’s. Every Christmas they would take a photograph of the Kuhlmey family celebrations and send it to my Great Grandfather in India. Here are the only three remaining photographs I have.

Although they are undated I know they must have been taken after 1920, as Franz is not in the photographs and he died in March 1920. I also know they must have been taken before 1932 when Elsa died.

I only wish I knew who all the other people in the photographs are! Gustav and Siegfried didn’t have any children, but Franz had two daughters, Margot and Charlotte. They are too young to be any of the other women in the photographs though. The rest could be family or friends.

Surname Christmas Tree Tag Clouds


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This afternoon I had a bright idea and thought it would be nice to make a tag cloud in the shape of a Christmas tree made up of ancestors surnames. I selected surnames of all the descendants of my ancestor, Lewis Andrew Collett, and tried a couple of online tag cloud generators, but confess to getting a little bored after just trying out two of them! I thougt I would share them with you anyhow just in case the idea tickled your fancy you enjoy the idea more than me!

Feel free to share any you have made with me as I might come back to this idea at a later date and curious if anyone else knows of a better tag cloud generator than either of the one I tried.

My first attempt was with

Tagul Christmas Surname tree

Click image to visit tree on



The second one I tried was and was probably the easiest tag cloud generator of the two.


Click image to visit tree on


1960s Northamptonshire Regiment Christmas Card


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Seeing as it is nearly Christmas, I thought I would share the below scans of the Christmas card my Grandparents, Major and Mrs F.W. Gascoyne, sent out to people some time in the early 1960s.


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