King Richard, Is That You???


The newsworld is abuzz today with the news that skeletal remains found a few months ago under a parking lot in Leicester are indeed those of England’s King Richard the Third who was killed in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.  He was hastily buried by the Greyfriars friars, but the associated church is long gone and the location forgotten.  The parking lot inadvertently covered the cemetery which included, ironically, King Richard III.  He was buried without a coffin or shroud in a shallow grave.  His skull is shown below, courtesty of the University of Leicester.


Of course, for the genetic genealogy community, the exciting part of this is that DNA evidence is a prime piece of the puzzle proving his identification, along with bone analysis of his known scoliosis.

The mitochondrial DNA of the remains matches that of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian cabinetmaker and direct maternal descendant of Richard’s sister, Anne of York.

Be sure to watch the video that accompanies this news article.

Debbie Kennett, a British genetic genealogy blogger has been following these developments closely and has done a wonderful writeup complete with the backstory and discovery.  In addition, she has compiled a nice list of resources for those interested.



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20 thoughts on “King Richard, Is That You???

  1. Wow! thats amazing what they can do with DNA, your Haplogroup too. Do you know if they got to test Kenniwick Man before they had to gave his bones back to the Indians? From the skull they determined he was a match with the Anui? which was a caucasian that lived in Japan before the Asians. Need a follow up on “Big Foot” too. Did they test for Paternal Type too?

    • They were not able to test Kenniwick Man before the testing was halted by court order. They are still working with King Richard’s DNA trying to obtain the Y line, but that is much more difficult to obtain in degraded remains.

  2. I keep thinking that his teeth are in remarkably good shape. But then, he was only 32 when he died. Such an interesting find.

  3. On the linked blog is a comment that refers to King Richard III as having the J haplogroup, saying it is the rarer mtDNA haplogroup. It also says that “because of the rarity of the haplogroup J and all of the overwhelming evidence from other sources that a partial match would be sufficient in this particular case.” I didn’t realize that the J was that rare. Does that mean that I can use my matches to my J haplogroup for truly finding a recent relative? I was thinking it was too remote to be useful and haven’t gave much time to investigating my matches on that test.

    • To be terribly useful for genealogy, you really need the full sequence test. Sometimes you are lucky enough to be able to connect with someone who shares a common ancestor, and sometimes not. But it’s one of those things that you’ll never know if you don’t try.

  4. So, naturally, the BIG question is “When will we see King Richard’s autosomal results post to familytreedna or 23andme?” After all, he’s my kin too, and who knows, we’re seeing 10th cousin once removed matches, so why not?!? 🙂

    • Hmmm,. well the problem is that he didn’t test AT Family Tree DNA or at 23andMe, so there is no way of getting his full results into that data base. Of course, that’s assuming we could piece together full results. Right now, they only have mitochondrial DNA, and only a partial sequence. They don’t even have the Y chromosome, let alone autosomal. But it’s good to dream big. We don’t know what the future holds.

    • Haplogroup J is pervasive throughout Europe and the British Isles. The question is whether you and she share a common expanded haplogroup. The only way for you to figure out what yours is is to take the mitochondrial full sequence test at Family Tree DNA. James Lick did an analysis of Richard’s mtdna and came to the conclusion that it is J1c2c which was later confirmed by the team working on Richard (Turi King).

      So, if you are J1c2c, you share a common female ancestor someplace upstream with Richard the III.

  5. So nobody knows the Y-DNA haplogroup of the Richard III?
    His mtDNA isn’t really what made him the King, it was the Y-DNA.
    It is after all the more interesting part of his DNA?

  6. I found something on the Y-DNA of Richard III;

    ‘I am advised that Prof Kevin Schurer (University of Leicester) stated in the press conference that they obtained Y-DNA samples from descendants of the Dukes of Beaufort for comparison with Richard III, but the analysis is in the early stages.
    So, seems there is some hope of a Y result.’

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  12. These comments are now ten years old, it is now 2023. Are there any updates on the Y chromosome DNA haplogroup subclade of the skeleton believed to be King Richard III ? My dna test result was J1 mitochondrial dna but I don’t believe the test results. I got them through National Geographic Genographic project, and when I went back to look at my results over a year later, they had changed them from J1 to J*.

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