Richard III’s Y-DNA could unlock more royal genetic genealogy – if the Church allowed it

Richard III’s Y-DNA could unlock more royal genetic genealogy – if the Church allowed it


The DNA analysis of Richard III’s remains, which helped verify his identity through the female line of descent, is now set to cast a fascinating light on his male line.

Geneticist Dr Turi King of the University of Leicester corroborated the royal identity of the skeleton found under a Leicester car park by matching a sequence of it’s mitochondrial DNA with that of 2 direct descendents of Richard III’s elder sister.  One descendant wishes to remain anonymous, the other is Canadian-born Michael Ibsen, a 17th generation direct descendant of Anne of York.

Common Ancestor – John of Gaunt

Dr King is now hoping to compare Richard III’s Y chromosome DNA with descendents down the male line.  A genealogical study, led by the University of Leicester’s Professor Kevin Schürer, has already found 4 living descendants of Richard III’s great-great-grandfather, John of Gaunt (who was the 3rd surviving son of Edward III).  Dr King has found matches in their Y chromosome, establishing that they are all true descendants of John of Gaunt.  She has also extracted enough Y chromosome DNA from Richard III’s bones to make a match with the living descendants.

She said:  “A number of the men identified as descendents of Edward III through his son John of Gaunt – who would both have shared the same Y chromosome as Richard III – have been kind enough to donate their DNA to our project.  The analysis of their DNA is complete and I now have a consensus Y chromosome type of these individuals.  As such, this side of the work is in its early stages, and may indeed prove inconclusive, but we are hopeful that, if it’s possible to conduct a full analysis, it will provide a complete picture on both the male and female lines.”

Off limits – the Princes in the Tower

Dr King also believes that if she could gather enough DNA from bones purported to belong to Edward V and Richard Duke of York – the two young ‘Princes in the Tower‘ allegedly murdered around 1483 on the orders of their uncle Richard III – she could establish whether the 3 sets of remains are indeed related.  The bones of two small human skeletons, believed to be the remains of the Princes, were discovered by workmen in the Tower of London in 1674, supposedly wrapped in velvet rags and buried in a wooden box under the stairs of the White Tower.  They were interred in Westminster Abbey in a sarcophagus designed by Sir Christopher Wren, with the Latin inscription: “These brothers being confined to the Tower of London and there stifled with pillows, were privately and meanly buried, by the order of their perfidious uncle, Richard the Usurper.

However, the Church of England, backed by the Queen, has repeatedly refused to allow forensic tests on the bones on the grounds that it could set a precedent for testing historical theories that would lead to multiple royal disinterments.  The religious authorities at Westminster Abbey, perhaps with an eye on the result of forensic testing of artefacts like the Shroud of Turin, have said that they are “not in the business of satisfying curiosity, or of certifying that remains in the abbey tombs are what they are said to be.”

In other words, they are not interested in revealing the truth.

Source:  University of Leicester

***UPDATE – 2 December 2014 – Richard III’s y-DNA reveals a cuckoo in the royal nest**



  1. United States Most likely the R3 Y-DNA is in Hg I1 with some admixture events for R3 male ancestors happening in NW France / Low Countries where R3 went to hideout on occasion.

    • United States More likely Richard is in the R1b Haplo Group like 80% of his country men. I1a are rare in comparision.

  2. United States Apparently this issue has gotten mired down into politics! Nothing has changed in 500 years. One thing though is apparent. If Richard’s DNA had matched the current Monarchy – this revelation would have hit the Media immediately!

    • United States Except that they did no DNA comparisons to the current Royal family, so there are no “results” of that nature to announce.

  3. United States Over 400 years ago Sir Francis Bacon posed to us that, “Truth is the Daughter of Time”! If Truth is the Daughter of Time then the indestructible binary code that Truth is written in is DNA. How profoundly Prophetic of Francis – perhaps he was only speaking of his own heritage though… The only tragedy that could result in this Research of Richard’s Genome is that in order to justly Honor him we unwittingly assist the dark forces that have so maligned Him for 500 years. Let us not rush to silence him beneath alabaster and marbled. Let’s allow Richard to bask in the warm light of “Truth” until he has shared with us his entire story!! LET RICHARD SPEAK !!!

  4. United Kingdom Professor kevin Schurer did NOT find the living descendants of John of Gaunt – any more than he found the living mtDNA links for Richard III!!! I discovered the mtDNA links in 2004. And in 2006 I contacted the senior living Y-chromosome Plantagenet descemdant – His Grace The Duke of Beaufort. Unfortunately the Duke declined to give a DNA sample for analysis. However, I then tracked down twelve other living male line descendants in Australia, South Africa and the UK, and in September 2012, after the LOOKING FOR RICHARD PROJECT (of which I was a founder member) had COMMISSIONED and PAID the University of Leicester Archaeologists to do the dig at the Leicester Greyfriars site, and after the remains which proved to be Richard III’s had been found, I offered my list of living Y-chromosome descendants’ names and addresses to Dr Turi King, who welcomed this offer. I have the exchange of emails between myself and Dr Turi King if anyone wishes to see the evidence.

  5. United States I’ve been avidly following all of this for about a year and a half (not all that long, I realize. I’m a writer and editor, have been doing genealogy for 30 years, and studied history in college. And btw, I’ve found your site & resources, Mr. Ashdown-Hill, excellently helpful and interesting. :-)

    It just so happened that I was working on a family friend’s family tree at the end of 2012 and had just realized that her dad (a Texan, last name of Warren) was a direct male-line descendant of good ole Geoffery V Count of Anjou right around the time (within days or weeks) of the announcement hubub about R3 last February.

    From the research I’ve done on that Warren line (Surrey to Poynton then back south to Dover, then to Virginia in 1600s in the person of Thomas Warren, Sr) I feel relatively confident that the links all check out; that the line in question does represent an accurate & tenable “direct Plantagenet” line, and as you all likely know, it appears some men of the line are I1.

    The friend turns out to have some male cousins of her Warren uncles. I’d love to facilitate getting their DNA tested, but a) I haven’t approached any strangers about sampling their genes, & the friend doesn’t seem eager to be in touch w/ her cousins, and b) I don’t have the funds to cover the costs should I even figure out how to approach & convince them to donate to the cause of history.

    Any ideas on ways this can be approached? From whom or by what manner to potentially get the small funding that would be necessary?)

    Also, I’m curious as to what ever bases or evidence there are for the notion that R3 & the Plantagenets will be haploground R1.


    Kylen Campbell
    Oakland, CA

    • United States I am working on my own genealogy and believe it is possible that I am a direct male line descendent of Thomas Warren from Surry, VA. I am currently getting a Y-DNA test done. What is the best way to compare against the Plantaganet line? Have any Warrens been proven by DNA to be in the Plantaganet line?


    Queen and her lackeys have power to destroy any opposition. Car “accidents”, so called ‘suicide’, over doses, ‘intentionally’ falling down stairs, etc.

    Diane did not have a chance and she KNEW it. (See published Princess letters, notes, diary…

    The Windsors don’t belong on the throne. The Queen etc. will object, obfuscate, destroy and or tamper w/evidence to keep the status quo. Henry VIII immediately executed those in the “know” as soon as possible after he allegedly stole the throne. Edward V & brother Richard were traumatized as a child and emerging adult. Henry VIII, no rigt He allegedly knew Sir Dudley and Sir Empson (BOTH of Parliament & royal linkage EXECUTED 1510} (CONSTRUCTIVE TREASON) rescued the live princes from the Tower. George V and his brother had a legal right to the throne. speculation, facts to be proven NOW w/DNA. Expect no co-operation for a Queen who stands to lose the crown, prestige, entitlements, manor houses and much $s allegedly stolen.. RESTORE the status quo. If the DNA proves the Windsor line are shams and carpet baggers let Edward V or Richard’s descendants -the correct royals ascend, the throne. WE ALL have had enough of their embarrassing antics.



  7. United Kingdom I would be very interested to know more about the twelve living descendants of the Plantagenets which John Ashdown-Hill has found. My first question is, are they all descendants of John of Gaunt (e.g. they are Beauforts)? My second question is, what relation (generally speaking, no need to be exact) are they to the current Duke of Beaufort? My third question is, has Dr. Turi King had any luck with getting any of them to provide samples?

    I completely understand the duke’s reticence… I suspect someone well removed from the ducal title is likely to be more forthcoming!

  8. United States Just a recap of English history here: Richard III is a direct male line descendant of Edmund of Langley, John of Gaunt’s brother (Richard III also descends from John of Gaunt through a maternal line). So, it is entirely possible that Richard III’s Y DNA, only five generations removed from Edward III (father of Edmund and John)is the true Plantagenet DNA and the much later Beaufort descendants are subjects of the paternal line “error.” How far back? There were rumors during John of Gaunt’s lifetime, perhaps politically motivated, perhaps not, that John of Gaunt was a changeling. Well, now was he? This is only one of many questions that Richard III’s Y DNA results engender. Perhaps future King Charles or King William will feel differently about using DNA analyses to enrich our understanding of English royal history.

      • United States I would think that Richard being the product of a Very Rare Mt-DNA (J2) and an Equally Rare Y-DNA (G-P287) would be an example of a Very Robust Human. Yet Richard III show all the Classic signs of Generational Inbreeding. Can someone outside of the R3 project in the Scientific community explain this!

  9. United States As a fascinated reader to the article and the comments. I think it is wonderful that ones family can be traced, proven with very precise DNA molecules. I also wish that I had a better understanding of molecular biology.

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