In this week's Kith and Kin, Peter Munro from the Borders Family History Society, shares a new family connection he found through Ancestry...


Last week, I had an email from Ancestry. It said “Monicha Tully 2nd-3rd cousin Unlinked tree” and it invited me to explore my match.

If I have a second cousin, it means that we have a great-grandparent in common, and it’s a third cousin, a two greats-grandparent in common.

I’ve never heard of Monicha Tully but it’s easily possible that she’s descended from one of my two greats-grandparents, because all of them had large families and I don’t have details of all the lines.

Clicking on the “Explore your match” achieves very little other than logging me into Ancestry using the registration details that I created when ordering a DNA test, just over a year ago.

What does “unlinked tree” mean?

To begin with, I used the Ancestry Chat function and that turned out not to be at all useful.

I suspect that’s because it’s an automated chat function that returns previously created help pages which contain keywords similar to the ones I typed in. I searched the UK Ancestry site,, using Google for “unlinked tree”.

There were only two results, both of them about users who have an unlinked tree, and on the American site,, there were only four results all connected to users.

On Ancestry, it’s not clear what an unlinked tree is.

There are instructions about how to unlink your tree but not why one might want to.

I’ve found a much more useful site, Your DNA Guide,, which explains that an unlinked tree is a family tree that has been uploaded to Ancestry but is not linked to a DNA Test.

Ancestry says that a DNA test can be linked to only one tree at a time, and that if you want to link a different family tree to your DNA test, you need to unlink the family tree.

I don’t yet understand why anyone might want to do this, except that some people like to organise their family trees by ancestors.

Many years ago, there were quite small limits on file sizes; either a maximum number of bytes and/or a maximum number of records.

I know a few older people whose extensive research led them to fall foul of that problem.

One of them split his family tree into a tree for each of his grandparents.

I can see that for him, he might want to link his DNA test to his different family trees to look at different DNA matches.

Those file size problems are in the past and I think it would be more useful to combine the trees.

For me, it wouldn’t be useful to have separate trees for each grandparent simply because there were marriages between people on at least two grandparents’ trees.

So, Monicha Tully has unlinked her family tree for some reason that I don’t know.

My DNA test isn’t yet linked to a family tree because I haven’t uploaded my family tree yet and that’s because I’m still trying to work out how to exclude living people from my family tree without deleting them.