Ancestry Now Divides Your Matches by Parent

Even if you haven’t been carefully assigning sides and relationships to your DNA matches, Ancestry will now try to assign sides for you! As with the recent Sideview feature (click here for that blog post), it uses Parent 1 and Parent 2. However you can use the blue Edit Parent link to change them to Paternal and Maternal, if you can figure out from the matches or communities which is which.

If you click on DNA Matches in the DNA menu as shown above you go to a new page like the one for my matches that I show here (click it for a larger version). It separates your matches into parent 1 and parent 2 (or maternal and paternal if you have assigned those) plus Both sides and Unassigned. Newer matches since April will always be unassigned, as well as ones it cannot figure out (click here for Ancestry’s explanation). You can see more surnames or communities by clicking on the blue View more in each panel. Clicking on All matches in the top menu bar will take you to the usual match page but now each match will have a side, both sides or unassigned listed underneath their relationship in the list. There are a few examples below. You can click on By parent to get back to this interesting new page. Clicking View matches in the first box for Parent 1 or any designation will show you your match list with matches from just that side.

I had delayed blogging about this fun feature because it was initially buggy and they took it down briefly. Also it is still in Beta test, so perhaps not everyone has it yet. Sadly there are still a few problems, so take your results with a grain of salt. Not surprisingly, people from endogamous populations are mainly out of luck with this new tool.

If you have already assigned a side, there will be a little circled i next to that side in your match list. If Ancestry disagrees with you, that label and the i will show as red and you can click on it to get a popup (also shown below) where you can change it. Strangely, it incorrectly questions my both sides designation for my full brother (proven by FIRs and his match with my Dad) as follows.

Since I have about a hundred people I have helped who have shared their DNA with me, I checked all of them with siblings. Only one other was wrong. However here is an example of a case where the daughter is listed as not related on both sides, which is clearly impossible:

As with the SideView feature, this is very useful when your parents are from different ethnic groups. It makes it easy to separate your matches by side which could be a boon for unknown parentage cases.

20 thoughts on “Ancestry Now Divides Your Matches by Parent

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  1. Three of my kits have the new beta parent determination and two do not….it’s been over two months since most people in my area have the new feature.
    If I read your blog and understand what you said, Ancestry will not be including matches since April 2022
    Thanks for the update

  2. I just identified a paternal 3C1R who is a new tester on the unidentified list. Will my adding such proven relationships help Ancestry in any way? Also have done it for a Norwegian third cousin on my grandfather’s Tallaksen line.

  3. Thanks for this helpful write-up. I just had a look at the feature and it looks good – accurate for my matches. When I first saw “both sides” I thought it was incorrect because my parents came from totally different populations. Then I had a good laugh at myself when I saw the “both side” matches are my children and my sister. Well yes, of course that is correct! I’m looking forward to using this feature to investigate some of my more obscure matches.

  4. Hi Kitty, yes to the strangeness of being only a parent 1 match to my mother, while my full sister (and half sisters) all show as matching to both sides of my mother! It is a strange feeling, especially when most of the closest dna matches to my mother all show as unassigned, and I know for a fact, that most of them tested way before April, in some cases, years before. There seems to be a huge mixup happening with my dna matches, as well as with my mother’s matches. And oddly, my dna-proven half-uncle, that we thought was a full brother to my mother before dna testing, shows as matching to both of sides of her dna, but I do not! Tis a puzzlement! I am completely in the dark as to how to proceed figuring out who her parent 1 and parent 2 are .

  5. Kitty, I have a question about New England inbreeding that is not connected to these posts. Is it OK if I ask it here? Bill

  6. Does anyone know how often Ancestry updates their Sideview results for new DNA tests? My father was recently DNA tested and I have been able to find relatively few matches through his mother and would like to focus there on the more distant matches.

    • On the top left of the DNA by parent page it indicates when it was last updated. Most of the people I have access to show Jan 2023 there whereas my page lists Nov 20. Judging by that, it is updated every month or so

  7. Thank you! Mine says updated Jan 2023, but does not include his match (DNA sample ready 1/30). I guess I just have to be patient and wait for his Sideview matches to update. The ethnicity inheritance and chromosome browser by parent are there now, but I don’t see any way for me to specify Parent 1 and Parent 2 yet.

    • It has updated now. Unfortunately it shows 308/187/8996 parent 1/2, unassigned matches. And oddly I can’t find any of the matches where I specified the relationship already (still seen under all matches, just not any of the 4 side categories, though I see one of the photos in the unassigned graphic ;-).

      Strange behavior. My guess is Ancestry was criticized for getting parents wrong sometimes so has become very conservative with respect to that? Any thoughts on that? I just hope more matches are assigned in the next update.

      This compares to my DNA test (last updated Jan 2023) which has 2,754/12,764/1,626 paternal/maternal/unassigned matches per SideView. Only 106 matches are shared with my father. I have 679 20+ cM matches (minimum to be shared) and he has 235. Hopefully I will eventually be able to use DNAGedcom to extract all of our matches and compare by id to get the full list of shared matches (and by elimination get the same knowledge for my mother).

      The strange behavior led me to look a little deeper. The Ancestry support article does not have much detail:
      But this paper has more:
      (Table 2 has interesting data on how performance, matches, and phasing error vary with database size)

      After skimming that paper I suspect the ethnicities involved are important. My father is 100% recent German which I suspect causes problems reliably phasing between subgroups. This would also explain an anomaly in my ethnicity results. My mother was roughly 1/4 (earlier in US) German yet Ancestry seems unable to detect that. I suspect that also explains some anomalous by parent match results I see.

      I wish Ancestry would allow us to download their take on our phased genomes. I don’t see how privacy concerns (their explanation for most missing DNA features) would apply there.

  8. Hi Kitty, my name is Vynette.
    My son James McKenzie has taken an Ancestry DNA test and has many expected Matches with family members of his paternal ancestors, both male and female sides. All his paternal great grandparents and their immediate families were either born in Australia or migrated here from Scotland and Yorkshire over a century ago. Since he has expected matches on all paternal sides, I’m fairly certain they are all biological ancestors.

    James also has many mysterious paternal matches with people in Canada and the US, the closest being a match of 372cm with a longest segment of 127cm. Ancestry categorises this person as “close family”. Using the shared matches function and the trees of those who have them linked to their DNA, I can see that all of these mysterious matches appear to be descendants of one couple who were born in the USA. There are no names or locations in common with our tree.

    I have also taken a DNA test and none of these people are related to me so they are not maternal matches.

    How is this possible? It’s truly mysterious and I’ve been trying to find a connection but no luck so far. I’m hoping you can give me some advice. Thanks, Vynette.

    • Vynette,
      How long ago sis this common couple live? The most likely explanation is that the male in that USA couple was not who he said he was and is a closish paternal side relative to your son.
      Can you get some of these matches and your son to upload elsewhere where you can look at the actual segments? There might be other explanations for that large segment. Upload to GEDmatch and/or MyHeritage for better segment information.
      Then email me and I will look at it.

  9. Does anyone else have difficulty assigning relationship because it does not show in the list? From time to time the list shows different parts. Seems the area should be extended to have the list constant!

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