Henry III, King of England, Fox in the Henhouse, 52 Ancestors #49

I had been so looking forward to the results of the DNA processing of King Richard the III.  Richard was killed in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 and was reportedly buried in the “choir of the church” at the Greyfriars friary in Leicester. The friary was dissolved in 1538, following the orders of King Henry VIII who ordered all monasteries destroyed.  The building was later destroyed, and over the years, the exact location of the cemetery was lost.  In 2012, the friary location was found again, quite by accident and remains believed to be King Richard III were discovered buried under the car park, or what is known as a parking lot in the US.

Richard had a very distinctive trait – scoliosis to the point where his right shoulder was higher than his left.  He was also described, at age 32, as a fine-boned hunchback with a withered arm and a limp.  This, in addition to his slim build and his battle injuries led investigators to believe, and later confirm through mitochondrial DNA matching, that it was indeed Richard.  At least they are 99% sure that it is Richard using archaeological, osteological and radiocarbon dating, in addition to DNA and good old genealogy.

Mitochondrial DNA testing was initially used to identify Richard the III by comparing his mitochondrial to that of current individuals matrilineally descended from his sister, Anne of York.  That DNA was rare, and matched exactly in one case, and with only one difference in a second descendant, so either the skeleton is Richard or another individual who is matrilineally related.  Fortunately, Richard’s mtDNA was quite unusual, with no other individuals matching in more than 26,000 other European sequences.  The scientists estimated that the chances of a random match were about 1 in 10,000.  The scientific team has utilized other evidence as well and feel certain that they have identified King Richard III himself.

King Richard III did not have any surviving descendants, so why was I so excited?

As it turns out, his Y DNA is representative of the Plantagenet family line which includes King Richard III’s great-great-great-great-grandfather, King Edward I, who is also my 19th great-grandfather, which would make King Richard III my 5th cousin, 16 times removed, I think.  Maybe.

According to a paper released this week by Turi King, et al, “Identification of the remains of King Richard III”, it seems that there is a bit of a fly in the ointment.  It’s no wonder this paper was in peer review forever.  The authors knew that when it was released, it would be the shot heard round the world.  For one thing, a tiny trivial matter, one of the possible outcomes could call into question the legitimacy of the current English monarchy.  Only a detail for an American, but I’m thinking this is probably important to many people in England, especially those who think they should be the ruling monarch, and in particular, to the ruling monarch herself.

I wonder if Dr. Turi King rang up the Queen in advance with the news.  I mean, what would you say to her???  How, exactly, would one begin that conversation?  “Um, Your Highness, um, I think there has been a fox in the henhouse…”

In order to confirm the Y DNA line of King Richard III, his Y DNA was compared to that of another descendant of King Edward III, the great-grandson of my ancestor, Edward I.  Edward III had two sons, Edmund, Duke of York from whom King Richard III descended and John of Gaunt, from whom the other Y DNA testers descend.  Five male descendants of Henry Somerset were tested for comparison.  Of those five, four matched each other, and one did not, indicating an NPE (nonparental event) or undocumented adoption in that line.  The pedigree chart provided in the paper, below, shows the line of descent for both the Y and mitochondrial DNA participants.

Richard III tree

Now, what we have is an uncertain situation.  We know that Richard’s mitochondrial DNA matches that of his sister’s descendants, Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig, shown at right, above.

We know that the Y DNA of Richard does not match with the Y DNA of the Somerset line.  We know that in the Somerset line, there were two illegitimate births, according to the paper, in the 13 generations between John of Gaunt and Henry Somerset, which were later legitimized.   The first illegitimate birth is John Beaufort, the oldest illegitimate child of John of Gaunt and his mistress, Katherine Swynford, who later became John’s third wife.  Katherine was previously married to a knight in the service of John of Gaunt, who is believed to have died, and was governess to John of Gaunt’s daughters.

The second illegitimate birth is Charles Somerset (1460-1526) who was the illegitimate son of Henry Beaufort and Joan Hill, about whom little is known.

The Somerset line proves to be downstream of haplogroup R1b-U152 (x L2, Z36, Z56, M160, M126 and Z192) with STR markers confirming their relationship to each other.  King Richard III’s haplogroup is G-P287.

Richard III haplotree

In this case, we don’t even need to scrutinize the STR markers, because the haplogroups don’t match, as you can see, above, in a haplotree provided in the paper.

The paper goes on to say that given a conservative false paternity rate of between 1 and 2% per generation, that there is a 16% probability of a false paternity in the number of generations separating King Richard III and the Somerset men.

What does this really mean?

According to the paper:

“One can speculate that a false-paternity event (or events) at some point(s) in this genealogy could be of key historical significance, particularly if it occurred in the five generations between John of Gaunt (1340–1399) and Richard III). A false-paternity between Edward III (1312–1377) and John would mean that John’s son, Henry IV (1367–1413), and Henry’s direct descendants (Henry V and Henry VI) would have had no legitimate claim to the crown. This would also hold true, indirectly, for the entire Tudor dynasty (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I) since their claim to the crown also rested, in part, on their descent from John of Gaunt. The claim of the Tudor dynasty would also be brought into question if the false paternity occurred between John of Gaunt and his son, John Beaufort, Earl of Somerset. If the false paternity occurred in either of the three generations between Edward III and Richard, Duke of York, the father of Edward IV and Richard III, then neither of their claims to the crown would have been legitimate.”

While the known illegitimate births in the Somerset line lead us to look at those generations with scrutiny, the break in the Y chromosome inheritance could have happened in any generation, on either side of the tree.

According to the BBC article announcing the DNA results:

“Henry’s ancestor John of Gaunt was plagued by rumors of illegitimacy throughout his life, apparently prompted by the absence of Edward III at his birth. He was reportedly enraged by gossip suggesting he was the son of a Flemish butcher.

“Hypothetically speaking, if John of Gaunt wasn’t Edward III’s son, it would have meant that (his son) Henry IV had no legitimate claim to the throne, nor Henry V, nor Henry VI,” said Prof Schurer.”

So where does this leave us? I wonder if anyone has the name of that Flemish butcher????

Will the real Plantagenet, please stand up…or maybe be dug up.

What we need is a tie-breaker.  Although the paper did not state this explicitly, I’m sure that the scientists also knew that they needed a tie-breaker – a male that descends through all males from someone upstream of Edward III.  It appears that the Plantagenet line may well be a dead end, other than the Somerset line.  I’m sure, with all of the resources brought to bear by the authors of this paper, that if there was another Plantagenet Y DNA male to be found, they would have done so.

So, the bottom line is that we don’t know what the real Plantagenet Y DNA line looks like, short of exhuming one of the Plantagenet Kings.  They are mostly buried in Westminster Abbey in crypts. The Plantagenet line could be a subgroup of haplogroup R1b-U152. It could be haplogroup G.  And, it could be yet something else.  How?  There could have been a NPE in both lines.  I have seen it happen before.

Purely looking at the number of generations, meaning the number of opportunities for the genetic break to occur, there were 3 opportunities between King Richard the III and his great-great-grandfather, King Edward III, and there were 14 opportunities between Henry Somerset and King Edward III, so it’s more likely to have occurred in the Somerset line.

Richard III Y descent

But that is small comfort, because all it took was one event, and there clearly was one.  We don’t know which one, where.  In this case, probabilities don’t matter – only actualities matter.

Back to my ancestor, King Henry III, father of King Edward I….

Dear Grandpa King Henry III,

I was just writing to catch you up on the news.  This is your 20 times great-granddaughter….you do remember me…right?

I am sorry to report that there seems to have been a fox in the henhouse.  Yes, that would be the Plantagenet henhouse.  No, I don’t know when, or where.  We just have fox DNA.  Yes, we probably also have hen DNA, which would be your DNA, but you see, we can’t tell the difference between fox DNA and hen DNA.

By the way, would you mind trying that Houdini message thing and sending me a message about which DNA is fox and which is hen?

Thanks a million….

Your 20 times great-granddaughter

Even though we will probably never know what the Plantagenet DNA line looks like, we do know a lot about King Henry III, the father of King Edward I.  We also have some idea what King Henry himself looked like.  The effigy on his coffin in Westminster Abbey is shown below.

Henry IIi effigy

King Henry III was born on October 1, 1207 in Winchester Castle, shown below, the son of King John and Isabella of Angouleme, and died on November 16, 1272.  He was known as Henry of Winchester and was King of England, Lord of Ireland and Duke of Aquitaine from 1216 until his death.

Winchester Castle

He ascended the throne at age 9, on October 28th, 1216, at Gloucester Cathedral, and ruled under a guardian, council of 13 executors and the tutelage of his mother until he became of age.  He assumed formal control of the government in January 1227, although he didn’t turn 21 until the following year.  He ruled for a total of 56 years.  A 13th century depiction of his coronation is shown below.

Henry III coronation

Henry took the cross, declaring himself a crusader, which entitled him to special protections from Rome.  While Henry never did actually go on Crusade, he might well have joined the Seventh Crusade in 1248 had he not been engaged in such a negative rivalry with the King of France.  After Louis’s defeat at the Battle of Al Mansurah in 1250, Henry announced that he would be undertaking his own crusade to the Levant, but that Crusade never happened.  Henry was aging by that time, at 43. It would he Henry’s son, Edward, who would represent the family in the Crusades, leaving in 1270 for the Eighth Crusade.

Henry was also crowned a second time, after the first Baron’s War, on May 17, 1220, at Westminster Abbey, in an effort to affirm the authority of the King, and with the Pope’s blessing.  The medieval manuscript by Matthew Paris depicts the second coronation.

Henry III second coronation

While the first coronation was hurried after his father’s death and with, in essence, a borrowed crown from Queen Isabella, since the royal crown had been either lost or sold during the war, the second coronation used a new set of royal regalia.

Henry III great seal

Engravings of Henry’s great seal.

Eleanor of Provence

Henry married Eleanor of Provence, daughter of Raymond-Berengar, the Count of Provene and Beatrice of Savoy, whose sisters all married Kings as well.  Eleanor had never seen Henry before their marriage at Canterbury cathedral on January 14, 1236.  At the time of their marriage, she was age 12 and he was 28.  It was feared she was barren at first, but they went on to have 5 children, including Henry’s successor to the crown, Edward I.  Her first child was born when she was age 15.

Royal 14. B. VI, membrane 7

This medieval manuscript chronology from the early 1300s shows Henry III at the top, with his children left to right, the future King Edward I, Margaret, Beatrice, Edmund and Katherine.

In 1239 when Eleanor gave birth to their first child, Edward, named after Henry’s patron saint and ancestor, Edward the Confessor, Henry was overjoyed and held huge celebrations, giving lavishly to the Church and to the poor to encourage God to protect his young son.  Their first daughter, Margaret, named after Eleanor’s sister, followed in 1240, her birth also accompanied by celebrations and donations to the poor.

Eleanor accompanied Henry to Poitrou on a military campaign, and their third child, Beatrice, named after Eleanor’s mother, and born in Poitou, France in1242.

Henry III return from Poitou

This manuscript by Matthew Paris depicts Henry and Eleanor returning to England from Poitou in 1243.

Their fourth child, Edmund, arrived in 1245 and was named after the 9th-century saint.  Concerned about Eleanor’s health, Henry donated large amounts of money to the Church throughout the pregnancy. A third daughter, Katherine, was born in 1253 but soon fell ill, possibly the result of a degenerative disorder such as Rett syndrome, and was unable to speak. She died in 1257 and Henry was distraught.

Henry’s children spent most of their childhood at Windsor Castle and he appears to have been extremely close to his family, rarely spending extended periods apart from them.  King Henry III and Eleanor had the following children:

  1. Edward, eventually King Edward I, was born on June 17, 1239 and died on July 7, 1307. He married Eleanor of Castile in 1254 and Margaret of France in 1299.
  2. Margaret was born on September 29, 1240 and died on February 26, 1275, at age 35. She was the Queen of Scots and married King Alexander III, the King of Scotland at age 11. She had three children; Margaret born in 1261 who married King Eric II of Norway, Alexander born in 1264 who died at age 20 and David born in 1272 who died at age 9.
  3. Beatrice was born on June 25, 1242 and died on March 24, 1275 at the age of 33. She married John II, Duke of Brittany, a love match, and had 6 children. Two of her descendant females would marry kings.
  4. Edmund, known as Edmund Crouchback, was born on January 16, 1245 and died on June 5, 1296, at the age of 51. Crouchback reportedly refers to “crossed-back” and refers to his participation in the Ninth Crusade, although with King Richard III’s scoliosis, I have to wonder. He married Lady Aveline de Forz in 1269 at age 11. She died 4 years later, at age 15, possibly related to childbirth. He then married Blanche de Artois in 1276, in Paris, widow of Henri I, King of Navarre, with whom he had three sons, two of whom revolted against King Edward II.
  5. The story of Katherine is sad indeed. She was born either deaf or a deaf-mute at Westminster Palace on November 25, 1253 and died on Mary 3. 1257, before her 4th birthday. It was obvious at her birth, that in spite of her beauty, something was wrong. As she aged a bit, it also became evident that she was mentally challenged. Matthew Paris, chronicler of King Henry III, described her as “the most beautiful girl, but dumb and useless.” She was therefore not a political asset and was never betrothed. Her parents, however, loved her devotedly.

A few days after her christening, on the day of Saint Edward the Confessor’s death, January 5,1254, the King held a massive banquet, to which he invited all the nobility. The provisions for this banquet included “fourteen wild boars, twenty-four swans, one hundred and thirty-five rabbits, two hundred and fifty partridges, fifty hares, two hundred and fifty wild ducks, sixteen hundred and fifty fowls, thirty-six female geese and sixty-one thousand eggs”.

After Katherine’s death, both Henry and Eleanor were heartbroken.

Although the marriage of Henry III and Eleanor was clearly political in nature, Henry was kind and generous and they apparently came to love each other.  Henry, unusual as compared to other English Kings, had no illegitimate children.

Henry was reported to have a drooping eyelid and an occasional fierce temper, but was generally known to be “amiable, easy-going and sympathetic,” as reported by historian David Carpenter.

Henry III sketch

The sketch above is from Cassell’s History of England published in 1902 but it does not reflect a drooping eyelid.  The painting, below, from an unknown artist in 1620 is titled simply “Edward,” but it does depict the drooping eyelid.  King Edward I was the son of Henry III.  Now, if Richard III had only been reported with a droopy eyelid, we’d have another clue.  Interestingly enough, the National Portrait Gallery has a discussion about the “crooked eye group” of kings, the latest of which is Edward II.

Edward droopy eyelid

Henry III was known for his piety, celebrating mass at least once a day, holding lavish religious ceremonies and giving generously to charities.  He fed 500 paupers each day, fasted before the feast days of Edward the Confessor and may have washed the feet of lepers.  He was often moved to tears during religious ceremonies.  The King was particularly devoted to the figure of Edward the Confessor, whom he adopted as his patron saint.  Edward the Confessor was an early English King who lived a very pious life and who was also Henry III’s 6 times great-grandfather.

Henry reformed the system of silver coins in England in 1247, replacing the older Short Cross silver pennies with a new Long Cross design, shown below. Between 1243 and 1258, the King assembled two great hoards, or stockpiles, of gold. In 1257, Henry needed to spend the second of these hoards urgently and, rather than selling the gold quickly and depressing its value, Henry decided to introduce gold pennies into England, following the popular trend in Italy. The gold pennies resembled the gold coins issued by Edward the Confessor, but the overvalued currency attracted complaints from the City of London and was ultimately abandoned.

long cross pennies

In 1247, Henry was sent the “Relic of the Holy Blood” by the Patriarch of Jerusalem, said to contain some of the blood of Christ.  He carried the Relic through the streets of London from its storage location at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in a procession to Westminster Abbey, shown below, by Matthew Paris.  He then promoted the relic as a focus for pilgrimages, but it never became popular.

henry III carrying relic

Henry III’s reign in England was marked by multiple insurrections and allegations of ineffective government at best and improprieties at worst.

Henry started out at a disadvantage due to his age and of course, inexperience as a child.  The first problem happened before Henry was of age.

Taking advantage of the child-king, Louis VIII of France allied himself with Hugh de Lusignan and invaded first Poitou and then Gascony, lands held by the English monarchy. Henry III’s army in Poitou was under-resourced and lacked support from the French barons, many of whom had felt abandoned during the years of Henry’s minority and as a result, the province quickly fell. It became clear that Gascony would also fall unless reinforcements were sent from England.

In early 1225 a great council approved a tax of £40,000 to dispatch an army, which quickly retook Gascony. In exchange for agreeing to support Henry III, the English barons demanded that the King reissue the Magna Carta, originally issued by King John in 1215. Henry complied, declared that the charter was issued of his own “spontaneous and free will” and confirmed the new with the royal seal.  This gave the new Great Charter and the Charter of the Forest of 1225, shown below from the UK National Archives, much more authority than any previous versions. The barons anticipated that the King would act in accordance with these definitive charters, subject to the law and moderated by the advice of the nobility.

1225 great charter

Henry invaded France in 1230, in an attempt to reclaim family lands lost since the reign of King John, but his attempts were both unsuccessful and very expensive.  As you can see, most of the Plantagenet family holdings in France had been lost, except for Gascony.

Plantagenet land in France

The drawing below depicts Henry travelling to Brittany in 1230, by Matthew Paris.

Henry III to Brittany

The English people paid for military actions as well as Henry’s expensive lifestyle, carrying out major remodeling of royal properties, through increased taxes, which caused Henry, over time, to become very unpopular.

In 1258, a group of Barons seized power in a coup, reforming English government through a process called the Provisions of Oxford, which is regarded at England’s first constitution.  This document was the first to be published in English since the Norman Conquest 200 years previously. As a result, Henry ruled in conjunction with a council of 24 members, 12 selected by the crown and 12 by the barons.  Those 24 then selected 2 men to oversee decisions.  This certainly wasn’t what Henry wanted, but he had little choice at the time.

However, in 1261, Henry overthrew the Provisions of Oxford and the superceeding Provisions of Westminster, with assistance from the Pope in the form of a papal bull which started the second Baron’s War.  In 1264, Henry was defeated and taken prisoner at the battle of Lewes, but his oldest son, the eventual King Edward I, escaped from captivity and freed his father the following year.

This time, Henry won and was restored to power, initially reacted harshly, confiscating all of the land and titles of the revolting Barons.  In an effort to bring eventual peace, the Dictum of Kenilworth was issued to reconcile the rebels of the Baron’s War with the King.

Death of Simon de Montfort

Their rebel leader, Simon de Montfort, Henry’s brother-in-law who had married his sister, Eleanor, was now dead at the Battle of Evesham in 1265, shown above. The Dictum pardoned the revolting Barons and restored their previously confiscated lands to them, contingent on payment of penalties equal to their level of involvement in the rebellion, typically 5 times the value of the annual yield of the land.

The spirit of peace and reconciliation established by the Dictum of Kenilworth lasted for the remainder of Henry III’s reign and into the 1290s, although reconstruction was slow.  Henry died in 1272, succeeded by his son, Edward, who became King Edward I, who was on crusade in the Holy Lands at the time of his father’s death.

Although unpopular due to his spending habits, Henry invested significantly in many properties still enjoyed by people today, improving their defenses and adding facilities, including rebuilding Westminster Abbey and his favorite palatial complex by the same name in London.

Westminster complex

The Tower of London was extended to form a concentric fortress with extensive living quarters, although Henry primarily used the castle as a secure retreat in the event of war or civil strife.

Tower of London map

Tower of London as it appears today from the Thames.

Tower of London

Henry also kept a menagerie at the Tower, a tradition begun by his father, and his exotic specimens included an elephant, a leopard and a camel.

Henry III elephant

Henry was given an elephant, above, as a gift by King Louis IX of France.

Henry III visiting Louis IX France

King Henry III visiting Louis IX of France.

Winchester Castle great hall

Among other projects, Henry built the Great Hall of Winchester Castle, shown above.

Perhaps Henry’s legacy contribution is the creation of what would become the English Parliament.  The term “parliament” first appeared in the 1230s and 1240s to describe large gatherings of the royal court, and parliamentary gatherings were held periodically throughout Henry’s reign. They were used to agree to the raising of taxes which, in the 13th century, were single, one-off levies, typically on movable property, intended to supplement the King’s normal revenues for particular projects. During Henry’s reign, the counties began to send regular delegations to these parliaments, and came to represent a broader cross-section of the community than simply the major barons.

In Henry’s last years, he was increasingly ill. He continued to invest in Westminster Abbey, which became a replacement for the Angevin mausoleum at Fontevraud Abbey in Anjou, France,  In 1269 Henry oversaw a grand ceremony to rebury Edward the Confessor in a lavish new shrine, personally helping to carry the body to its new resting place in the rebuilt Westminster Abbey.  Edward the Confessor has built the original Westminster Abbey in 1065 which was demolished by Henry III to construct the new Westminster Abbey in its place.

In 1270, Henry’s son, Edward left on the Eighth Crusade and at one time, Henry voiced his intention to join Edward.  That never happened, and Henry III died at Westminster Palace on the evening of November 16, 1272.  Eleanor was probably at his side.

At his request, Henry was buried in Westminster Abbey in front of the church’s high altar, in the former resting place of Edward the Confessor. A few years later, work began on a grander tomb for King Henry III and in 1290, Edward moved his father’s body to its current location in Westminster Abbey.

Henry III crypt

See, it wouldn’t be difficult at all to access the remains of King Henry III…no digging involved!!!  For that matter, we could just skip to the beginning and start with the remains of Edward the Confessor.



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85 thoughts on “Henry III, King of England, Fox in the Henhouse, 52 Ancestors #49

  1. Descent by Y-DNA and mt-DNA is no different whether so called ‘Royal’ or ‘Commoner’. This example is so in most families so we are all alike by custom! As far as the legitimacy of the Sovereign of the UK the ‘family DNA line’ is irrelevant because its the ‘most powerful family’ that rules usually by force of arms in battle that claims a country’s throne! This has been true right up to the Stewart/Cromwell period and after that the King was allowed to reign by Parliamentary consent and invitation as in the period of Ann and William of Orange now known as a ‘Constitutional Monarchy’.

    Peter D Beattie

    • There is no doubt the Windsor’s are staying put…but the truth is very powerful and shouldn’t be a mystery. Even if Richard III father’s might be a Flemish butcher, I think the truth should be known for history’s sake. On a humorous note…I doubt of Edward the Confessor would miss his little toe!

      • I guess you meant to say “what if John of Gaunt’s father was a Flemish butcher”.

        At any rate, what is the probability that a butcher would have access to a Queen……..

      • Actually it was Roberta’s article that made the suggestion about the butcher (read the article). I suggested it was the cook! LOL! And we both said it incorrectly, it’s Edward, John of Gaunt’s father whose legitimacy is in question.

          • Dear Roberta,
            I follow your blog.
            It seems I am the last male Plantagenet.
            My yDNA haplo group is R-BY45605, I’m Hamelin D’Anjou DeWarenne’s (1124-1204) 21st GGS. I don’t match anyone Turi is studying, got the “word” the other day. On that note I would be a great grandson of a Knights Templar too.
            I found your/ this page today through an author’s website who wrote a book about his family, who found me also related to King George. You two should talk. (Maybe ya already do, I don’t know).
            Seems DNA doesn’t hold up to “proper” documentation (whatever that means). From what I can gather, I’m the last of this male line.
            My left eye is weaker than my right eye…
            I’m also an Rh Neg blood type, I got it from my dad…
            I also have 14 unnamed SNP Variants. (You taught me that. Still don’t understand the depth though.)
            Feel free to contact me if need be.

  2. Thank you for a most interesting Post. Your suggestion might not be so unusual, as the Barry DNA project at FTDNA have organised the extraction of the third lord of Barrymore in Ireland for the purposes of confirming the DNA and written history of the Barry evolution. So with a more important line then I for one would contribute towards the cost,
    Best regards

    Mike Barry

  3. Exactly what all of this means Roberta is that the STAFFORDS should have remained in power!!!! King Edward III secretly m. Elizabeth Woodville (who was the sister of my 11 X great-grandmother Katherine). and they had 2 sons. Those 2 boys mysteriously disappeared!!! RIGHT! anyway Richard blamed it all on Henry “Harry” Stafford my 11X great-grandfather who m. Katherine Woodville. Based on the false charges Harry was sent to the Tower and later beheaded!!! as was his son Edward Stafford 3rd Duke of Buckingham by King Henry VIII. This was the beginning of the end of the great noble houses that could rival a king… The STAFFORD family eventually ended up in Northern Ireland and then my 4th g-grandmother Margrett Stafford was b. in 1786 in County Fermanagh and was married in 1804 in Montgomery Co VA to Jesse Blankenship…

    I’ve heard this story a few times since I began my genealogical quest but never really thought much about it when everyone began talking about Richard III until today!!

    I subscribe to a book club for Kindle eBooks and there was a story – historical fiction – but it was called “The Stolen Crown: The Secret Marriage that Forever Changed the Fate of England “. Having just read about what the story was about – seeing Katherine Woodville and Harry Stafford mentioned along with the War of the Roses and all of the intrigue, etc… then you send out today’s DNA Blog and it all began to click for me!!!

    Do you think we should try to reclaim what should have been ours???
    Just a thought… lol

    Lynda Logan

    • Edward IV (not Edward III) married Elizabeth Woodville.

      Henry Stafford (Buckingham) was executed in Salisbury, and there is a plaque to commemorate where it happened on the wall next to Debenham’s department store. It is surreal because it is next to the park and a bus stop, so time did not stand still.

      As a member of the Richard III Society, I have my own thoughts, although as/when new evidence comes out, I will be intellectually honest if I need to change my mind.

    • I did not know that Richard III ever addressed the topic of his “missing” nephews, let alone accused Stafford of disposing them. I, too, am related (I hear there are about 150 million of us cousins (smile)

    • Strange how things just seems to come together in a nice little package that makes complete sense – it is the ignorant that choose not to delve deeper into the truths

  4. Interesting discussion of Henry III’s life. While it would be interesting to learn the truth of Richard III’s paternity (gossip even about our ancestors is irresistable), the question of whether the current Royal line is legitimate (so to speak) is threatened is a straw argument. Readers who are interested in reading a thoughtful discussion of that issue might try this link:

  5. Interesting discussion of Henry III’s life. While it would be interesting to learn the truth of Richard III’s paternity (gossip even about our ancestors is irresistible), the question of whether the current Royal line is legitimate (so to speak) is threatened is a straw argument. Readers who are interested in reading a thoughtful discussion of that issue might try this link:

  6. Love this! Now if we could only take a dna sample of King Henry VIII, as my ancestor Miles Cary claimed descendancy to the Barony , meaning Lord Hundsdon Cary, possible child of King Henry VIII and Mary Bolin.

    I am loving all this history, please continue these historical genealogy dna adventures.

      • Without the ancestors there’s no history, without the history the ancestors aren’t all that interesting. The spouse is a Plantagenet descendent as well as a Mayflower descendent. Since I’m the one doing the digging, it’s just fascinating finding people who were the movers and shakers in the family tree.

    • I Share a Common Paternal Ancestor with King Henry VIII and The Boleyn’s. I am a BIG Y Tester at FamilyTreeDna
      My Scott Paternal Line is Descended From The Scott’s of Scott’s Hall Kent England and the Baliol Family.
      My FTDNA Kit# can be found in The Boleyn, Carey, Hudson/Hutson, Y DNA Surname Groups and i also have
      a Howard Y DNA 67 Match GD 7.
      From my Results and Matches i suspect Henry VIII would be R-DF105 or a Subclade. i am in Family V of the Scott Surname Y DNA Group My Distant Surname Matches are in Family ZZX. I Have 3 UnNamed Variants That account for about 432 Years of the First Step of my BIG Y Results
      For my Terminal SNP. My Most Distant BIG Y Matches are DF105 and one of My Carey Y DNA Matches who only Tested to Y111 is DF105.

      I Have One Lazy Eye Lid and The same Bushy Hair when i let it Grow.

  7. I apologize for being off-topic. And I asked the question earlier, but I buried it in an old post that probably isn’t being monitored. Anyway, do you have any insight on the Y-tree update going on at Genograpic? Last week I changed from an R-DF19 to an R-V221. I still show R-DF19 at FTDNA.

      • Several of us switched back today to our previous haplogroups. Here is the message that came with the earlier change at Geno 2.0:

        “Thanks in great part to your participation in our scientific research, we have gained new insights into paternal ancestry and have updated the Y chromosome tree. If you are a male, you will see that your haplogroup may have changed slightly and the number of stops along your paternal migratory path may have increased. We also added some new branch tips to the tree. Take a closer look at your results, see what’s new, and tell us how The Genographic Project and these new discoveries help shape your understanding of who you are and where you (and your ancestors) came from. We will be updating our mitochondrial (maternal) results soon, too!”

  8. Off topic, but related to the previous comment, My haplogroup at 23andme shows me as J1c3, but it has changed to a Y group only. Any idea what I would be classified as now? And do you think they should update me or I should pay for a new test to determine it? They might not have my DNA anymore.

  9. While they have no claim to the throne, couldn’t an illigetimate male plantagenet’s current ancestor provide Y DNA comparison – or am I not understanding the DNA link process?

      • So would I be correct in saying a Y match between Edward the Confessor and a male today would solve the mystery? Also, keeping in mind that there are several thousand people that think they are a match…oh what fun that would be to do…is FTDNA listening? Or Henry Gates? PBS? Think of all those new genes in the database, and the advertising they would get!!! We need that little toe!

      • Margaret Hurley- Edward the Confessor was the son of AEthelred and Emma of Normandy, I believe she was aunt to William the Conqueror. I am not sure why genes from Geoffrey of Anjou de Plantagenet mean anything. William the Conqueror’s genes are through the female line, Matilda, granddaughter of William the Conqueror.

      • Edward the Confessor was not Henry III’s 6th great grandfather. Edward the Confessor died childless. His mother was Emma of Normandie, who was a aunt of William the Conqueror, I believe that would make them first cousins or first cousins once removed. But I’m almost positive Emma was his fathers sister.

        • Emma was the sister of Richard II of Normandy, William the Conqueror’s paternal grandfather. So William was Edward’s first cousin once removed.

          Emma’s sister Hawise married Duke Geoffrey I of Brittany. Eudon I of Brittany was their third son; he provided thousands of Breton soldiers for William’s expedition to England in 1066; these soldiers feature strongly on the Bayeux Tapestry, along with Eudon’s second son, Count Alan Rufus. Eudon also has a cameo in the Norman version of the “Song of Roland”.

  10. Great article, the study on Richard III’s DNA is amazing, rarely do we get a look like that into such a key historical figures DNA. Unfortunately that article representing some things very falsely. As interesting as it is wether there was a non-parternal event on either or both (can’t forget both lines could be illegitimate, there are moderate reasons to suspect a non-paternal event of both the son of John of Gaunt and the son of Edmund of Langley) it does not effect royal succession for many of the parties involved and effectively not at all for most of the Tudor line down.

    The article says

    This would also hold true, indirectly, for the entire Tudor dynasty (Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I) since their claim to the crown also rested, in part, on their descent from John of Gaunt.

    The only case this really matters if for Henry VII, if he was not a descendant of John of Gaunt then he really had no claim to the throne, that claim was in fact very weak even if it was right, parliament actually previously had banned royal succession through the Beaufort line since it was a pre-marital line legitimized by marriage later. What’s important to remember though is Henry VII was very smart, he married Elizabeth of York and his descendants (the Tudor dynasty beyond him) gained the royal succession of the York line (which was technically the legitimate succession)… which leads to the second quote from the article, which really gets things wrong:

    “If the false paternity occurred in either of the three generations between Edward III and Richard, Duke of York, the father of Edward IV and Richard III, then neither of their claims to the crown would have been legitimate.”

    This almost completely misses the mark, to see the York claim to the throne you can look at the very good chart in the wikipedia page:

    They had two claims:
    1) Their senior claim through cognatic primogeniture

    This was a male/female descent from Lionel of Antwerp, Edward III’s second surviving son (his first surviving’s son having died out, Edward the Black Prince -> Richard II). It’s important to remember that this technically was the proper descent and was in fact what was expected and detailed before Henry of Bolingbroke (Henry IV) broke this line by power plays (often of course power is more important that legitimate lines of succession)

    2) Their much weaker claim was through agnatic primogeniture, basically the paternal only line to Edmund of Langely, the fourth oldest surviving son of Edward III. If “fourth oldest son” of Edward III doesn’t sound like an impressive claim it’s because it isn’t.

    Conversely the Lancaster’s had a claim through agnatic primogeniture, meaning purely paternal descent from John of Gaunt, the third surviving son of Edward III.

    What this means is the York’s 2nd claim is almost completely inconsequential. It’s icing on the cake. They lose out to that line of descent to the Lancasters, but they have the senior claim in line #1… and despite what the DNA shows unless Richard III’s immediate father was where the break was (when the line most suspect is actually further up) then it doesn’t effect his claim to the throne at all (but would mean he was’t the “last” Plantagenet king.

    Henry Tudor, Henry VII of course had neither of these, he wasn’t male/female descendant of the primary succession line of Lionel of Antwerp and he wasn’t a paternal descendant of any of the sons of Edward III. He was a male/female descendant of John of Gaunt on a banned line of succession… and due to DNA results he might not have even had that… Though again he married Elizabeth of York so all of his descendants had the senior cognatic line of succession to the throne even if his DNA was broken.

    So again very interesting, but quite annoying how some articles are misrepresenting how this really affects things. It’s extremely unlikely this changes anything to do with royal succession except for a couple of specific individuals that got replaced by their descendants with better claims.

    • It would appear the Tudors, King Henry VIII specifically, continued to worry about the Yorks (whether from paranoia, or reality), and as late at 1541, he had the Yorkist Margaret Plantagenet de la Pole (1473-1541) executed by chopping off her head. She was 68 years old!! She was the daughter of George, Duke of Clarence 1449-1478. George was the brother to Richard III and Edward IV. I think Henry’s excuse to dispatch her was that she was “intriguing” against him.

      • Very true… The Tudors had good reason since there only real claim of strength was through the York line, and with others who descended from that line it could easily open the door for them to challenge their succession.

    • Everyone is confused, including me. Henry VII did NOT claim the throne due to his Beaufort descent. He claimed it exactly the same as William the Conqueror, by right of battle. William the I’s claim to the throne was that his aunt Emma was Edward the Confessor’s, mother. Everyone seems to forget that the Normans were invaders, they spoke French, not English or Celtic and treated the native Bretons like we Americans treated the native people. Henry VII was descended of the original native people, they kept even the Romans at bay, at Hadrian’s Wall, and they are the reason we still speak English, and the Celtic tongue survived…(while the Anglo Saxons were the enemy, when the Normans arrived, there was a common enemy) and not Latin or French Most of all. they were the Home Team, the underdogs…They fought in the Battle of Hastings, and lost, to the Norman invaders. Well, at the Battle of Bosworth Field, they won supremacy over their native land. The Tudors after Henry VII forgot they were descended from the Y Mab Darogan. (I always root for the home team, especially when they are playing a home game.)..

  11. Hi Roberta, For some reason I can’t send emails to the address at roberta@dnaexplain.com without them being returned, so here is the email I attempted to send:
    Hi Roberta,

    I’m thinking about doing the full sequence mtdna. I just recently read that Richard III had a J haplogroup, as did John of Gaunt, etc. I know the controversy regarding their legitimacy. I was told by 23andme that I was in the J haplogroup as J1c3, but that has been changed to a Y haplogroup, so I guess I’m still a J.

    Now I have two reasons that might connect me to Richard III and John…

    1) My great grandmother was Helen Marr Bagot. A direct descendant of the Bagot’s from Blithfield Hall, Staffordshire, England and the castle still exist to this day.
    More can be read about them here:

    2) Her middle name “Marr” is from Yorkshire England the same place that Richard III was born and raised at Middleham Castle.

    I know its a longshot, but since I have the J haplogroup, wouldn’t it be fun to see if I’m related? The question is: would I find out by doing a full sequence mtdna test?

    Is any of the information from the recent tests done on King Richard’s DNA being shared with the public?

    I read somewhere that FTDNA is doing a project regarding the J haplogroup in light of the recent findings on Richard III.
    I looked on their website and couldn’t find anything. Would you know anything?

    I guess that’s more than one question…any feedback would be appreciated.

    Margaret Hurley

  12. Hello Cousin! I am a direct ancestor of Henry III, too (21 generations!). Thank you for sharing his life story. I learned a lot about our ancestor.

  13. Hello Roberta,
    My family talk from time to time was we were related to the Plantagenet line of Eleanor of Provence. I wonder what would be the best way for me to trace this using my Goin family line? One 5th. cousin has traced the connection to Henry III using Ancestry’s green leaves, and told me i could too, but i feel that does not show proof of the connection.



    • Ancestry.com has the most polluted stream of cons rather than true connections. It’s data in some circumstances is correct, but 99% is false to an outrageous degree. This is to their benefit as they aren’t In the genealogy business, they’re in the database business where people’s entries generate their hints. We discovered this after we inserted an error in our first months of research. That one false event has now been propagated throughout the database with no interest by ancestry to correct it as, as soon as you’re done researching, you have no reason to continue to pay.

      They want to string people along to grow their coffers heavy.

      • Let me elaborate, we refer to Royal & noble genealogies, not in the events people enter from knowledge of their own families. Once you get back to yearly America—1620-1700, start looking for gateway ancestors through documents sources not easily found on ancestry websites, but usually found through Google searches but it’s tricky. Some ancestry entries show up outside the searchable database through another service they offer, but be wary of any Royal hints to trees as unfounded. We had our tree private to prevent our errors from entering the database, but then discovered they still were generating hints as the deluge of persons thanking me for the data I added, not what I call private at all!

        The honest truth? Royal pedigrees are largely through illegitimate lines. Henry I Beauclerc was an outrageous philanderer, with grandkids in the hundreds. We have at least 8 illegitimate, 1 legitimate like to him through Douglas Richardsons works you can partially view on Google books.

        We used the ancestry database to record our findings, but we consider them spurious until approved of by the final authority—College of Arms London, though we did tweet William once as his cousin. As far as we’re concerned, this is the wrong direction to be concerned with. We need to be looking forward to the kingdom to come, not to the past and dead men’s bones.
        Regards, Y’srael Aldobrandini

      • Ancestry correct errors! Never! They have no interest. In the past 6 months, I have found in a tree, a man who married his grandmother AND had a child by her. And in another tree, a couple who had a son, and the son married himself and had a child!!!!!

        I am not making this up.

      • I just wanted to point out that these errors are User created trees not Ancestry itself. Hints are just hints, they aren’t meant to be assumed as your ancestor, they can’t do the work for people doing genealogy they just provide a large database and some basic hints. Lazy genealogists are the problem.

        • Lazy or inexperienced. If you look at Ancestry’s ads, they encourage novices to believe whatever they find that is already “out there”. By the time you’ve figured out that it isn’t true, you’ve already amassed a tree. Some people never figure out that it isn’t true.

  14. Pingback: 2014 Top Genetic Genealogy Happenings – A Baker’s Dozen +1 | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  15. I loved the story and remembered how excited Aleda was when the findings were first published. She did some kind of large chart as a present for family members with the connection to John Of Gaunt I think. She would have loved all this information.

  16. Historic records confirm that Edmund of Langley disinherited Richard of Conisborough because he did not believe that he was his biological father, as did Edmund’s brothers. I suspect it was common knowledge within the family. It is most likely why Richard of York only used his female descent from Lionel of Antwerp, which, if I follow this right would have Richard III only descended through the female line. They should test the Howard-Arundel family. They inherited the blepharoptosis. Look at the Tudor period paintings of the Dukes of Norfolk and the Earls of Surry.

    • I descend from Edward Howard (1616 to ca 1688) who settled in Boston, Mass. about 1642 or so. His male descendants have the haplogroup G as do the male descendants of other Howard families who also settled in Massachusetts in the 1620s to 1650s – our respective Howard families do not have any paper trail to connect us to each other although some of us originated in London and Kent county, England. Does anyone know what is the haplogroup of the Dukes of Norfolk; all of us colonial Howards believe we descend from them.

  17. Am I correct in my understanding of this article and the posts, that the Y Plantagenet chromosome is passed only in a direct male to male line? John of Gaunt’s biological children would trump any York children born in wedlock, but fathered by someone other than a York, biology over civil laws? (Oh, the Flemish butcher was because Gaunt is the English pronunciation of Ghent, where John was born. Plus, Richard III said, himself, that his mother was unfaithful… (I don’t believe it, but I don’t like Richard III because he seemed to think of women in derogatory terms… witches and the one that rhymes with it… he claimed his own mother was unfaithful… I did not believe that, either… ) John of Gaunt was ancestor to Henry the Navigator… good genes in anyone’s book.

  18. Derk Sherren
    I am hoping to see if I am connected to King Henry III, as he would be my 20th Great Grandfather. This would enhance the history and connection to the Royals on my family tree.

  19. I am Shawn Morton / gresley / stafford / toeni/ eyesteinsson ! Y dna ! Very ancient royal bloodline ! Can you help ? Thank you

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      • Hi there someone referred me to this. yes its rare, but Richards 23 STR markers make it even rarer! Nevgen haplo estimator shows he is actually G-FGC8051+ quite a few branches down G-P287…, and which only a handful of men of UK descent carry, indeed globally it is very rare. Strangely I am one of them! My own descent can be shown back to a Knight of King Henry II in 1187. Richard and I have a common male ancestor, but its just like to be a very long time ago and predates the Norman Invasion. I’ve done a bit of comparison to our results, the interesting thing will be Richards full SNP results.

  21. I am a double direct ancestor of King Henry III and descend from his son Edmond. I am 20 G through my father and 21 G through my mother, as they both descend from Mary Gye who married John Maverick and came to the United States in 1630 on the ship named for them, “The Mary and John.” Mary Gye is well documented and the 9th great granddaughter of Henry III. Can you tell me what DNA test/s you would suggest for someone like me and if a service such as 23andme would provide useful information? Thanks so much. Howard

  22. Hello,
    I think we may be related. I am an American and live in California. I believe my 8th Greatgrandfather was Rowland Ellis of Wales. He was supposedly related to Henry lll.

  23. Hi! I am a descendant of king Henry III too! He is my 26th great grandfather. They way it falls I am also related to Ann Boyln the 3rd wife of king Henry VIII through her grandmother. Through the Plantagenet bloodline and the house of Anjou I also have a connection to the knights templer. If you have any more cool information on our many times over great grandfather, id love to hear it!

  24. Any truth to the Warrens being Plantagenet descendants by way of Hamelin D’Anjou DeWarenne, 5th Earl of Surrey (1124-1202)?
    My: uncle, Henry III (minus the bad eye), and William DeWarenne III Earl of Surrey all look like family!

  25. These records of English nobility are very frustrating. Agnes Anne (Gascoigne) Fairfax, for example, is possibly my 14x great grandmother. But her alleged daughter, my alleged 13x ggm, was born in 1508, and Agnes Anne died in 1504 according to most sources. However in 1520 when Agnes Anne’s husband Thomas Fairfax died, sources say he named her as his “wife and executor”. So either Agnes and Anne are 2 different wives, or the dates are off or who knows what is going on there. But nobody seems to have even made note of the discrepency or even speculated about it anywhere. It’s very frustrating. In all likelihood one person made a leap in their family tree research ages ago and now everyone just copies it without question. Maybe its more likely that I am related to a Flemish butcher than Agnes Anne. LOL. I did my DNA through Ancestry and didn’t get back any matches with fanfare saying I am descended from royalty…but I am not sure if they do that LOL. I did however find a very close cousin who uncovered some of the mystery of my grandfathers birth and connected me to a cousin who never knew a blood relative before me, so that was cool. Royal DNA would have been cooler. My grandma always told a story that we were distantly related to royalty that was kind of like a family rumor passed down. Too bad they don’t just test all those old buried monarchs and we can finally sort this mess out.

    • Very true, the majority of genealogy linking to nobility and royalty out there is flawed and likely incorrect. Some lines are well documented. The reason they are is basically luck, records both happened to exist outlining confusing details, especially linking over the ocean, for some lines those documents simply never existed, and then because those records survived, some just didn’t survive at all. Additionally those records were found and identified… there certainly are still many records out there confirming critical pieces of the puzzle and either people haven’t found them or don’t realize what’s in them.

      The reality is if you have a lot of colonial American ancestry you likely descend from nobility and royalty in Britain, as well as if you have immigrants more recent from that region.

      Heck if you descend from anywhere in Europe there’s a good chance you have noble and/or royal European ancestry somewhere. There simply were so many descendants that went so many ways and the further back we go the population pool shrinks.

      The challenge is in finding a confidently documented line… Unfortunately a lot of lines sit on the edge of that and many people out there spread a lot of bad information… some of it being from genealogy work back in the late 19th and early 20th century.

      I still run into lines that were established back to a noble family in the 1600s to an immigrant into the US, that have been in books and repeated for over a century, only to find not legitimate evidence for it and upon deeper digging finding multiple other likely explanations for the connection.

      Part of the problem is there are far fewer records for lesser or more common families… so when linking person A with surname B back to England (or wherever) people gravitate to the records that exist for surname B… they then find an AB and declare it was the same person… after that they’ll find any circumstantial evidence to make them feel better about the dubious connection… “In Virginia AB landed next to a 3rd cousin twice removed of Noble family B, so they must be related!”.

      The reality is Genealogy is coming to the most likely conclusions since we know very little… without massive amounts of DNA tests (and possibly even digging up bodies for testing) we can just add up the evidence and see if it gives us a very likely conclusion and if not we need to keep looking or leave it where it is.

      • As Roberta has stated, having a Gateway Ancestor is our best bet to claim Royal heritage. Do agree, or doubt, that Gary Boyd Roberts and Douglas Richardson have it right with their list of Gateway Ancestors ?

  26. Richard that is incredible, thank you! I didn’t know that King John’s teeth had been exhumed. I posted on May 15, 2016 that I am a double direct descendant of King Henry III through Mary Gye who came to the United States in 1630. Her ancestry is well documented. As you know, Henry III was King John’s son.

    Roberta posted back at that time that Henry’s DNA would be too far back to be genetically provable. I wonder if anyone has considered DNA extraction from these teeth…(and if they have proof that these are the actual teeth from King John). As progress is made in DNA research it’s no telling what information this might provide in the future. Thanks again, Howard

  27. Howard,

    King John’s teeth are available if permission was granted. Ancient DNA analysis continues to improve. I am advised that the best sources are either a molar or a femur to source competent DNA to analyze.


  28. Hi, is there any one who could compare my DNA with Henry VIII, or Henry VIII’s sisters to see if I am related?

  29. Edward Plantagenet (abt.1867-1938) [unknown confidence]
    4. Courtland is the son of Joseph M Applegate (1833-1904) [confident]
    5. Joseph is the son of John Edward Applegate (1801-1848) [uncertain]
    6. John is the son of Richard Applegate (abt.1775-abt.1845) DNA confirmed
    7. Richard is the son of John Applegate (abt.1709-aft.1779) [uncertain]
    8. John is the son of Rebecca (Winter) Applegate (abt.1685-abt.1732) [unknown confidence]
    9. Rebecca is the daughter of William Winter (abt.1654-1733) [unknown confidence]
    10. William is the son of Margaret (Cromwell) Winter (1638-1675) [confident]
    11. Margaret is the daughter of John Cromwell (1610-1700) [confident]
    12. John is the son of Abigal (Stewart) Cromwell (1595-) [confident]
    13. Abigal is the daughter of Bridget (Poole) Stewart (abt.1565-) [confident]
    14. Bridget is the daughter of John Poole (-bef.1613) [confident]
    15. John is the son of Mary (Talbot) Poole (abt.1510-) [confident]
    16. Mary is the daughter of John Talbot (1485-1549) [confident]
    17. John is the son of Gilbert Talbot KG (1452-1517) [unknown confidence]
    18. Gilbert is the son of John Talbot KG KB (1413-1460) [unknown confidence]
    19. John is the son of John Talbot KG (abt.1387-1453) [unknown confidence]
    20. John is the son of Richard Talbot (abt.1361-1396) [confident]
    21. Richard is the son of Pernel (Butler) Talbot (abt.1335-abt.1368) [confident]
    22. Pernel is the daughter of Eleanor (Bohun) Dagworth (abt.1310-1363) [confident]
    23. Eleanor is the daughter of Elizabeth (Plantagenet) de Bohun (abt.1282-1316) [confident]
    24. Elizabeth is the daughter of Edward Plantagenet (abt.1239-1307) [confident]
    This makes Edward the 22nd great grandfather of William

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