Richard III

Richard III

Richard III, ‘the Uncle of the Nation’

This page concerns the genetic and genealogical connections of Richard III, whose body we saw carried in procession through Leicestershire to Leicester Cathedral on 22 March. The procession was covered live on Channel 4 – with a little assistance from myself as a consultant to the program. I was delighted to be present with the Channel 4 team as Richard’s coffin was borne through the streets of Leicester on its way to Leicester Cathedral, where he will be buried on 26 March.


The funeral procession of Richard III in Leicester on 22 March 2015

The view of the funeral procession of Richard III in Leicester on 22 March 2015, from where we were standing.


Richard III's coffin, on its journey to Leicester Cathedral

Richard III’s coffin, on its journey to Leicester Cathedral

The Uncle of the Nation

Richard III’s only son died tragically before him. He left two illegitimate children, John who was executed by Henry VII and Richard, who lived as a bricklayer in Eastwell, Kent and died in 1500: none left any known descendants.

But Richard III’s his brothers and sisters left a vast number of descendants in Britain and Europe. Amongst these were his ill-fated nephews,  Edward V and Richard, Duke of York (the sons of his brother Edward IV), known to history as the ‘Princes in the Tower‘.

Other descendants of Richard III’s siblings include the present Royal Family, and the Duchess of Cambridge, former Prime Minister David Cameron; Boris Johnson; Lewis Carroll author of Alice in Wonderland; Barbara Spooner, the wife of the great anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce; Richard Dawkins the geneticist – and myself – and hundreds and hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. He is truly the ‘Uncle of the Nation’.

Most people who are related to him don’t know it: royal blood filters down through from royals to aristocracy and then from aristocracy into the middle classes and then into the rest of the population. Younger sons of younger sons of blue-blooded nobles became tradesmen and mingled with ordinary families in the towns and cities. And constantly, blue-blooded nobles also fathered numerous illegitimate children whose descendants might never know that their ancestor belonged to Richard III’s family.

Through genetic tests on Richard III’s bones, we know a little of his genetic makeup. His mother belonged to the female line genetic haplogroup J1c2c (this is the genetic signature shared by Michael Ibsen, whose mother was a direct female-line descendant of Richard’s sister Anne). Anybody who tests positive for female haplogroup J, and more specifically for sub-group J1c2c will know that they are related to Richard through the direct female line.

Only at the beginning of 2015 did they finally succeed in the harder task of extracting and identifying Richard III’s male line DNA, his Y chromosome. He belongs to haplogroup G, and within that to sub-group G (P287). Anybody like me who has the same genetic marker knows that they must be cousins of Richard III. That sub-group arose in the Middle East about 21,000 or more years ago, so he must have millions of very distant cousins in the Middle East now, and even further east – the marker is found in India and Pakistan and particularly amongst the Pathans of Afghanistan. Later, the geneticists might be able to find more detail in his genetic signature so people will be able to tell if they are related to him through the male line much more closely.

So whether it’s by family trees or genetics, the chances are that, somewhere in your ancestry, you have a family tie to Richard III!

Below, you will find, first, a pedigree of Richard III coming down from Edward III and continuing down through his brother George to myself; then details of my cousin Michael Ibsen’s female-line descent from Richard III’s sister – the means by which Richard’s body was identified in the first place; and then some comments on recent press reports on Richard’s male-line DNA (refuting the idea that this somehow invalidated the present Royal Family’s claim to the throne).


Edward III

Edward III

Edward III (1312-1377) married Philippa of Hainault and Holland.
The evidence from Richard III’s bones is that Edward and his male-line Plantagenet descendants belonged to the male-line Y chromosome genetic haplotype G (P287) (a subgroup to which I belong as well). They were parents of children including:

  1. Edward the Black Prince, whose son became Richard II but left no heirs.
  2. William, who died young.
  3. Lionel of Antwerp, Duke of Clarence (whose title is thought to have originated in the Honour of Clare in Suffolk), whose daughter Philippa married Edmund Mortimer, 3rd Earl of March.  They had a daughter Elizabeth Mortimer, who married Harry ‘Hotspur’ Percy, an ancestor of the present Duchess of Cambridge) and a son Roger Mortimer, 4th Earl of March, who was father of Anne Mortimer, who married Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge (see below), thus conveying the senior bloodline from Edward III into Richard’s family.
  4. John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster founder of the House of Lancaster, father of Henry IV (father, of Henry V, father of Henry VI), who was legitimate, and also of John Beaufort, Duke of Somerset who, though born to John’s mistress Catherine Swinford, was later legitimized when his parents married. John’s son John, Duke of Somerset was father of Margaret Beaufort, who married Edmund Tudor and was mother of Henry Tudor, who pressed his claim to the throne and became king when he defeated his cousin Richard III in 1485.
  5. Edmund, Duke of York (see below).
Edmund of Langley, Duke of York

Edmund of Langley, Duke of York

Edmund Plantagenet, Duke of York (1341-1402)
He married Isabel, daughter of Peter, King of Castile and Leon and had children including:

  1. Edward, Duke of York (1373-1415), who was slain at Againcourt, leaving no heirs.
  2. Richard, Earl of Cambridge (see below):
Richard, Earl of Cambridge

Richard, Earl of Cambridge

Richard Plantagenet, Earl of Cambridge (1375-1415)
He married Anne Mortimer (the senior heiress of Edward III, see above). They had a daughter Isabel (who married Henry Bourchier, Earl of Essex) and a son:

Richard, Duke of York, from a stained glass window in Ludlow

Richard, Duke of York, from a stained glass window in Ludlow

Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York (1411-1460)
He was born on 21 September 1411 and became Duke of York when his uncle Edward died in 1415, later inheriting his mother’s brother’s Earldoms of March and Ulster as well. In 1437 he married Cecily Neville, ‘proud Cis’, also known as the ‘Rose of Raby’, daughter of Ralph Neville, 1st Earl of Westmorland by his wife Joan Plantagenet, a daughter of John of Gaunt by Catherine Swynford). The genetic evidence from Richard III’s bones is that Cecily, Joan and Catherine belonged to the female line genetic haplogroup J1c2c. In 1450 he assumed leadership of the Yorkist faction and thus began the Wars of the Roses, fighting against the royal army at the Battle of St Albans in 1455 and taking Henry VI prisoner. He was Protector of the Realm from 1455 to 1456. He was later attainted in 1459, but when his son Edward, along with the earls of Salisbury and Warwick, seized London in 1460, he returned there and claimed the crown. He was not made king, however, for a compromise was reached whereby his attainder was reversed and he was made heir to Henry instead. But Henry’s wife Margaret of Anjou raised an army and defeated Richard in battle at Wakefield on 30 December 1460.  He was buried in Pontefract and his head was out on a spike in York, crowned with a  paper crown. His son Edward later had him buried (body and head together) at Fortheringay in 1476. They had children including:

  1. Edward IV (1442-1483). Born at Rouen, he grew up at Ludlow Castle, growing to over six feet tall, and had an extraordinarily good memory. He fought alongside his father and brother Edmund at the Battle of Wakefield in 1460, surviving the Yorkist defeat there: he eventually triumphed when Parliament declared him king in 1461, and he subsequently defeated his Lancastrian foes at the Battle of Towton in 1461. In 1464 Edward married Elizabeth Woodville. His marriage alienated many of his supporters, including his brother George and the Earl of Warwick. Warwick defeated Edward at the Battle of Banbury in 1469, and made Henry VI king again. Edward fled to France to save his life, but he returned and regained his throne in 1471, defeating Warwick at the Battle of Barnet: once Henry VI had died, he was at last secure upon his throne, but he was not immune to Nature: he caught pneumonia during a fishing trip on the Thames and died in 1483, and was buried in St George’s Chapel, Windsor. By Elizabeth Woodville, Edward IV had children including (1) Edward V, one of the ‘Princes in the Tower’ allegedly murdered by their uncle Richard III in 1483; (2) Richard, Duke of York, the other ‘Prince in the Tower’ allegedly murdered by Richard III; (3) Elizabeth of York, who was later married to Henry VII once he had gained the crown by killing Richard III in 1485: Elizabeth and Henry were the ancestors of all subsequent kings and queens of England and Great Britain, and of a vast number of other descendants including Boris Johnson and David Cameron. Edward IV was also the father of at least two illegitimate children: (a) Arthur Plantagenet, Viscount Lisle (whose descendant George Monk became 1st Duke of Albemarle in return for assisting in the restoration of Charles II) and (b) Grace, of whom virtually nothing is known) and (c) Elizabeth, who married Sir Thomas Lumley and they were ancestors of Carole Goldsmith, the mother of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge.
  2. Edmund Plantagenet, Earl of Rutland, was killed fighting alongside his father at the Battle of Wakefield.
  3. George, Duke of Clarence (see below)
  4. RICHARD III (1452-1485). Born at Fotheringay Castle, Northamptonshire, Richard created Duke of Gloucester on the eve of his brother Edward’s coronation in 1461, when he was only eight. He was a loyal supporter of his brother and fought for him bravely at the Battle of Tewkesbury. Richard was suspected of being involved with the death of his brother George, Duke of Clarence in 1478 but the charge cannot be proved. However, with George removed, Richard moved a step closer to the throne and he  became Lord High Protector of the Realm when Edward IV died on 9 April 1483. He rapidly gained custody of his nephew Edward V (who had been in the control of his mother’s family, members of whom Richard summarily executed). Richard claimed to be completely loyal to Edward V, but on 22 June, Dr Shaw preached a sermon at St Paul’s Cross, alleging that Edward IV had never been properly married, so Edward V was illegitimate. Parliament immediately offered Richard the crown on 26 June; Edward V and his brother Richard disappeared into the Tower of London, never to be seen again; and Richard was crowned king at Westminster Abbey. In 1485, when was in the north, Richard was faced with a rebellion by his cousin Henry Tudor, the leading Lancastrian claimant to the throne. Richard marched south and, despite having terrible nightmares on the eve of the battle, he met Henry’s Lancastrian army at Bosworth Field, Leicestershire on 22 August. Lord Stanley and his 7,000 men deserted him during the battle and he lost his horse too. He could have escaped but he declared ‘I will not budget a foot: I will die King of England’. He fought this way through the press of men towards Henry, but was killed doing so: he was 32 years old. The crest of his helmet was hacked off and Stanley found it under a thorn bush, picked it up and placed it on Henry’s head. Richard’s body was stripped of its armour and flung over a horse’s back to be carried to Leicester. He was buried quickly in Friars Abbey there. There was story, now discredited, that his bones were later dug up and flung into the River Soar, but the excavation of his bones in the Leicester carpark on the site of the abbey, followed by their DNA analysis, has disproved this. His body is due to be reburied, in Leicester Cathedral, on Thursday 26 March 2015. Richard’s wife was Anne Neville. He had one legitimate son, Edward, Prince of Wales, who died before him in 1484. He also had two illegitimate children, (a) John of Gloucester (also called John of Pontefract), Captain of Calais, whom Henry VII is said to have executed about 1499 and (b) Richard, who is said to have learned of his true identity only on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth and is said to have lived out his life as a bricklayer in Eastwell, Kent, where he was buried in 1550.
  5. Anne Plantagenet, who married first Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter and secondly Sir Thomas St Leger, leaving many descendants. Her daughter Anne St Leger was the ancestress in the direct female line of Joy Browne, whose son Michael Ibsen’s mitochondrial DNA was used to identify Richard III’s body. Details of Michael’s descent from Anne are given below.
  6. Elizabeth Plantagenet, wife of John de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, whose son John de la Pole was declared heir presumptive to the throne by Richard III in 1484, and was killed rebelling against Henry VII in 1487. Elizabeth’s only descendants are through her son Richard, who took refuge in France.
  7. Margaret Plantagenet, wife of Charles, Duke of Burgundy.
  8. Ursula Plantagenet, unmarried.
George, Duke of Clarence

George, Duke of Clarence

George Plantagenet Duke of Clarence (1449-1478)
George was born in Dublin Castle on 21 October 1449. When his older brother Edward became king he was made Duke of Clarence. He was made lord of Richmond in Yorkshire and Chief Governor of Ireland in 1462. George married (in Calais in 1469) Isabella Neville, sister of Richard III’s wife Anne: father was Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, the famous ‘Warwick the Kingmaker’, whose own father Richard Neville, Earl of Salisbury, was brother of Cecily Neville (above).  Sibling rivalry being what it is, he joined the Earl of Warwick’s rebellion against Edward IV which temporarily restored Henry VI to the throne, but then changed sides and supported Edward at the Battle of Barnet in 1471, where Warwick was slain. George was rewarded by becoming Earl of Warwick himself and was made Great Chamberlain of England. His wife died at Warwick Castle in 1476 (of ‘a venomous drink of ale mixed with poison’. George then considered marrying Mary of Burgundy, but did not do so. He was rarely at court and when he was he refused to eat anything in case it contained poison. George defended one of his servants who had predicted Edward’s death, so was promptly accused of treason. He was attainted on 8 February 1478, losing all his titles and his right to the throne (and his children’s rights too). He died in the Tower of London on 18 February 1478, allegedly drowned in a butt of Malmsey wine, allegedly at the behest of his younger brother Richard. He is buried with his wife at Tewkesbury Abbey. He is the subject of a fine biography by John Ashdown-Hill. They had children:

  1. Anne Plantagenet, born and died in 1470 in a ship in the English Channel.
  2. Margaret Plantagenet (see below)
  3. Edward Plantagenet (1475-1499), the last legitimate male-line Plantagenet. He inherited the earldom of Warwick through his mother, but was barred from inheriting the throne because of his father’s attainder. He remained an inconvenient presence, however, and Henry VII eventually found an excuse to execute him.
  4. Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York (1476-1477).
The Blessed Margaret Pole, the last living, legitimate Plantagenet.

The Blessed Margaret Pole, the last living, legitimate Plantagenet.

The Blessed Margaret Plantagenet (1473-1541).
She was born at Farley Castle, Somerset. She married Sir Richard Pole. They were parents of Reginald Pole (d. 1558), last Catholic Archbishop of Canterbury (I have a fig tree given to me by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s head gardener, grown from a cutting from the fig tree which Cardinal Pole brought over from Italy and planted at Lambeth Palace) and of:

Henry Pole, Baron Montagu (d. 1539)
He married Janet Neville and they had:

Katherine Pole
(d. 1576), who married Francis Hastings 2nd Earl of Huntingdon (1514-1561). They were parents of:

  1. George Hastings, 4th Earl of Huntingdon, ancestor of the Earls of Huntingdon; biographer Lady Selina Hastings; Vita Sackville-West and Lewis Carroll.
  2. Lady Katherine Hastings (see below)

Lady Katherine Hastings
She married Henry Clinton, 2nd Earl of Lincoln 1540-1616 and they were parents of:

Hon. Sir Edward Clinton
He married Mary Dighton and they were parents of:

Francis Clinton
Of Stourton Parva, Leicestershire. He married Priscila Hill and they were parents of:

  1. Francis Clinton, Earl of Lincoln, ancestor of the geneticist Richard Dawkins.
  2. Priscilla Clinton (see below)

Priscilla Clinton
She was wife of Sir Willoughby D’Ewes, 2nd Baronet, baptised on 7 March 1650 at St Margaret Westminster and died on 13 June 1685. They were parents of:

Sir Symonds D’Ewes, 3rd Baronet.
He married Delarivierre daughter and co-heiress of Thomas, 2nd Baron Jermyn of Bury St Edmunds, and great niece to Henry Jermyn, Earl of St Alban K.G, the subject of my book The King’s Henchman. They had:

Henrietta Maria D'Ewes, wife of Thomas Havers

Henrietta Maria D’Ewes, wife of Thomas Havers

Henrietta Maria D’Ewes,
co-heiress to her parents, married Thomas Havers of Thelveton Hall, Norfolk, Esq. (his earliest known Havers ancestor, John Havers, was gentleman of the horse to the Duke of Norfolk at the Battle of Bosworth, where both the duke and Richard III were slain). They were parents of:

William Havers (1732-1772)
of Dunkirk, who married Mary Wyke and had:

William Havers (1766-1837)
Lord of the Manor of Bacons, Essex, who married Mary Carpue and had:

William Joseph Havers (1813-1877)
Lord of the Manor of Bacons,  who married Elizabeth Anastasia Slaughter and had:

Stanislaus Joseph Havers (1852-1915)
He married Maria Julia Hammond and had:

Angela Havers, descendant of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Richard III, with her mother, husband and children.

Angela Havers, descendant of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of Richard III, with her mother, husband and children.

Angela Mary Havers (1885-1968)
She married Joseph Aloysius Alphonse Adolph and had:

Major Joseph Albert Stanislaus Adolph M.C., (1910-1995)
He who married Beryl Ivy Waters (descended from the Fairfaxes of Norwich and thence from the Fairfaxes of Yorkshire), who had:

Peter Joseph Adolph (b. 1937)
He who married Jane Patricia Collingwood Rietchel and had:

Anthony Adolph

Anthony Adolph

Anthony Richard Adolph, professional genealogist.


The body of Richard III was identified using genetics: his mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited through the female line, was matched exactly with the mitochondrial DNA of a female-line descendant of Richard’s sister Anne. Their female line haplogroup is J and the sub-group is J1c2c. The line, as identified by John Ashdown-Hill back in 2004, is:

Anne Plantagenet
(1439-1476), sister of Richard III, Edward IV (ancestor of the Duchess of Cambridge) and of my own ancestor George Plantagenet, Duke of Clarence. Anne married first to Henry Holland, Duke of Exeter, whom she divorced, and then married secondly  Thomas St Leger. She died in childbirth giving birth (and passing her mitochondrial DNA on) to:

Anne St Leger
(1476-1526), who married George Manners, Baron de Ros and was mother of: .

Catherine Manners
She married Robert Constable, Sheriff of Yorkshire and was mother of:

Barbara Constable
She married Sir William Babthorpe and  was mother of:

Margaret Babthorpe
(1550-1628), who married Sir Henry Cholmley  was mother of:

Barbara Cholmley
(d. 1619). She married Thomas Belasyse, Viscount Fauconberg (son of Sir Henry Belasyse and Ursula Fairfax, a relation of the Duchess of Cambridge: see my Fairfax genealogy notes). She was mother of John, 1st Lord Fauconberg, an ancestor of H.R.H. Prince William (see also my Fairfax genealogy notes) and also of:

Barbara Belasyse
(1610-1641), wife of Henry Slingsby, Baronet Scriven, who fought for the King at the Battle of Naseby and was beheaded in 1658. She was mother of:

Barbara Slingsby
She married Sir John Talbot  was mother of:

Barbara Talbot
(d. 1763), wife of Henry Yelverton, Viscount Longueville, and  was mother of:

Barbara Yelverton
(d. 1724), wife of Reynolds Calthorpe, High Sheriff of Suffolk  and was mother of:

Barbara Calthorpe
(d. 1782), wife of Sir Henry Gough and  was mother of:

Barbara Gough
(d. 1826), who became Gough-Calthorpe: she married Isaac Spooner of Birmingham and was mother of Barbara, wife of the anti-slavery campaigner William Wilberforce, and of:

Anne Spooner
(1780-1873), wife of Rev. Edward Vansittart-Neale, Rector of Taplow, Buckinghamshire and  was mother of:

Charlotte Vansittart Neale
(1817-1881), wife of Charles Frere, barrister and parliamentary clerk  and was mother of:

Charlotte Vansittart Frere
(1846-1916), wife of A. G. Folliott-Stokes of St Ives, author, and was mother of:

Muriel Stokes
(1884-1961), wife of Orlando Moray Brown  and was mother of:

Joy M. Brown
(1926-2008), wife of Norman Ibsen in Canada, who was  mother of:

Michael Ibsen
… whose mitochondrial DNA is an exact match with the body found in Leicester, which was already thought to be that of Richard III.

Managing to trace a female line down so far was a great achievement and led directly to the identification of Richard III’s body.


In the journal Nature Communications (2 December 2014)  Turi E. King and his team revealed the Y chromosome haplotype of Richard III, whose body had been found in  Leicester car park in 2012. It is G (P287), indicating that the Plantagenet dynasty was descended from the same male line ancestors as Otzi the Iceman and myself. They had also tested five descendants of Henry Beaufort, 5th Duke of Beaufort, whose male line goes back to John of Gaunt, son of Edward III and brother of Richard III’s father’s father’s father, Edmund Duke of York. Four of the Beaufort descendants came out as R (U152) and one was I (M170), so at least one of the Beaufort descendants did not share the same male-lineal ancestors as the others, and none of them shared the same male-lineal ancestors as Richard III.

Somewhere in the chain, a wife of one of the male-line ancestors either of Richard III or of the 5th Duke of Beaufort had presumably been unfaithful and had a son by another man, thus introducing his male-line genes into the bloodline. This of course caused a flurry of excitement in the press, with a huge amount of unfounded speculation on whether this meant that the Queen was not entitled to rule because her line was ‘illegitimate’. Of course, this is all complete nonsense.  For a start, we are concerned here with a ‘non-paternal event’ within a marriage, whereby a son was born legitimately to a married couple, only, as the DNA results suggest, his biological father just happened not to be his mother’s husband. Whoever he was, he was legitimate and capable of transmitting rights of succession, regardless of the biological truth, because what counts here is the law. Further, the Queen’s right to rule depends on her being the senior heir to her father the king, and that’s that. In any case, the most likely break in the chain was somewhere along the thirteen generations between John of Gaunt and the 5th Duke of Beaufort. There is a remote chance that the break in the chain actually happened between Edward III and Richard III, but the later Royal Family’s right to the throne rested not on this line at all, but on Henry VII’s descent from John of Gaunt. Of this line, only two generations were shared with the 5th Duke’s ancestors – John of Gaunt himself, and John’s son John, 1st Earl of Somerset. Then the line splits – the 1st Earl’s son John was Margaret’s father and the 1st Earl’s son Edmund was ancestor of the 5th Duke. So the new findings mean that John of Gaunt himself may not have had a royal father (which is extremely unlikely) or that his son John the 1st Earl was not his son at all, but that is highly unlikely too because the 1st Earl was the result of an intensely close love match between his mother and John of Gaunt.

It is highly likely, therefore, that the male line of the Plantagenets was G (P287) and that this true Plantagenet line came down unadulterated to both Richard III and Margaret Beaufort’s father. It is highly likely that the break came somewhere further down the long line of descendants which led to the 5th Duke of Beaufort. If so then the unfortunate result for the present Duke of Beaufort is that he may not be a male-line descendant of the Plantagenet as he had formerly believed himself to be, and if so I am very sorry for that, but the idea of any of this affecting the present Royal Family is absurd.