Searching the trees of your DNA matches for names can be a way to sift through some of the low-hanging matches that are easier to figure out. Of course many DNA matches do not have trees so this approach only looks at those trees–a definite limitation. There are other things to consider as well:
- The tree might not be correct and the name is wrong.
- The shared name (and the connection to that family) might be too far back in the tree to share any DNA through that family.
- There might actually be other connections you have with that person (through spots currently blank in their tree or yours) and while you share an ancestral name on your paper genealogy tree, your shared DNA is through another family.
- The name might be more common than you think and you might not even be related through that family–either on paper or via DNA.
Searching for shared names is a great way to get started. But like every analytical technique, being aware of the pitfalls is important. Knowing the limitations of any procedure does not mean we ignore the technique–it means that we use it carefully.
The recording and handouts for my AncestryDNA 2020 webinar have been released. More details are on our announcement page. The presentation, handout, and color chart (PDF and editable word file) can be ordered at the introductory rate for $20. Download immediate.