Richard III's DNA - The complete story

Richard III’s DNA

The chronology and contexts of John Ashdown-Hill’s discovery of Richard III’s mtDNA sequence, and of John’s research on the Plantagenet Y-chromosome and on the mtDNA of the ‘Princes in the Tower’


25-27 September

Centre Européen d’Etudes Bourgignonnes 44th annual conference at Mechelen, commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Richard III’s sister, Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. Belgian colleagues asked John Ashdown-Hill to find an mtDNA sequence for Richard III and his siblings in connection with possible bones of Margaret, which had been found in Belgium.



John traced a living mtDNA line to Joy Brown (Ibsen), in Canada.


Joy Ibsen agreed to give a sample to be analysed initially by Oxford Ancestors, but requested that until / unless she gave permission, details of her mtDNA sequence should not be published.


Joy’s sample was sent to Oxford Ancestors, together with a consent letter allowing them to reveal the results to John Ashdown-Hill, and for him to forward them to colleagues in Belgium. The work was designated by Oxford Ancestors as ‘Special Project R13251’.

11 August

Joy Ibsen acknowledged receipt of her mtDNA sequence results (haplogroup J) from Oxford Ancestors.

Read More

Portraits of the female descendents of Anne of York

In John's search for the DNA of Richard III (2003-2004), he traced a line from Anne of York to Joy Ibsen. Some of the faces of the women in between have been preserved for history. Click on an image below to enlarge it and find out about each of the ladies.

For further information about the family tree please read The Last Days of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill.

Seeking the Plantagenet Y chromosome

In theory the Duke of Beaufort and his male–line relatives should carry the Plantagenet Y-chromosome, because although they do not bear the surname PLANTAGENET, they are, in theory, direct (but illegitimate) male-line descendents of John of Gaunt, via the Beaufort Dukes of Somerset. Details of all the living male members of the Somerset family were given to Leicester University in 2012, and work on the attempt to establish the Plantagenet Y-chromosome is ongoing.

Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset

Edmund Beaufort, Duke of Somerset