Analyzing the mtDNA of descendants of Richard III’s mother

(Followup to my previous post about Richard III’s mtDNA.)

When I posted earlier today, I was aware that Joy and Michael Ibsen who are descendants of Richard III’s mother and who would share the same mtDNA sequence had been tested as being in haplogroup J. At the time, I was unaware of and had not been able to find more details about their DNA tests.

It turns out that some details of Joy Ibsen’s test had been published in the book The Last Days of Richard III by John Ashdown-Hill (Kindle link; hardcover and paperback also available) published in 2010. Helen Riding was kind enough to post the results to facebook:

This isn’t a full sequence, and only a subset of HVR1 and HVR2 were sequenced, but this gets us 682bp of sequence, significantly better than the 53bp we have for Richard III. (There are two sequencing results because it was sequenced twice by separate labs.)

So let’s see what this reveals to us in mthap. First, let’s convert that table to a format usable by mthap and save that to a file:

16069T 16126C
73G 146C 185A 188G 263G 295T 315.1C

Next we’ll again visit the advanced options page because the HVR1 and HVR2 ranges weren’t fully sequenced. This time we want to check HVR1 and enter positions 16020-16390 and check HVR2 and enter positions 58-367. After clicking “Upload” and waiting 10-15 seconds we get this result:

Based on this, Joy Ibsen’s haplogroup is most likely J1c2c. J1c2 is pretty definite. J1c2c is based on optional marker 146C, but since we’re already pretty sure about J1c2, then J1c2c is also a good bet. According to Behar et. al. 2012 the estimated age for this haplogroup is about 4543 years old. J1c2c2 and J1c2c2a are also possibilities but the defining markers are not included in the sequence. (UPDATE 2: J1c2c1 is also possible; see below.) Note that 228A is missing, but it is an optional marker because reversions are very common within J1c.

Now, this isn’t Richard III’s sequence, but I would assume that they wouldn’t be so certain about the DNA matching if they didn’t already know it at least matched this much. Therefore it is likely that Richard III was also J1c2c. We’ll have to wait for more details on his sequence to be released to be sure.

UPDATE: This Science News article also says that Ibsen and the Richard III remains are J1c2c.

UPDATE 2: The above originally omitted J1c2c1 as a possibility due to lack of the 222T marker. Based on Ian Logan’s observations, 222T is an unstable marker prone to reversion, so lack of this marker is not necessarily significant. J1c2c1a would still be excluded.

12 thoughts on “Analyzing the mtDNA of descendants of Richard III’s mother”

  1. My maternal haplogroup is J1c2b (the last digit b rather than c) on my Irish side.
    My father, however, is the person who is more likely related to Richard, as he had “stuart” genes, as far as I know. I don’t know his haplogroup. I have only been tested on the maternal side (Irish). My paternal side is Scots and English.

  2. I share both of Joy Ibsen’s mutations at HVR1(+ another 4) and all of her mutations at HVR2 except 146C. Most of my mtDNA J matches to date have had an earliest known mitochondrial ancestor who was either Ulster Presbyterian from Co. Down (as in my case), or Norwegian. Not so odd as it sounds, because Stephen Oppenheimer, in his book “The Origins of the British”, has a map showing migration from present-day Norway to present-day Scotland in the Neolithic, and of course it was mainly Scots who migrated to Ulster during the Plantation period in the early 1600s.


  3. Thanks James for all your work and great mtdna tool. I am also a J1c2c with all the above listed mutations. I also have another mutation that was outside of the 16020-16390 and 58-397 search range. This mutation has just been used to create the j1c2c3 subgroup. I am waiting to see what the full sequence of the King will give us. It was just announced that this will be done and “Once completed, the full details of Richard’s genome will be published online, offering historians and scientists intriguing research opportunities.” You can read more about this at:

  4. My mother is J1c2c and she is from Ukraine, not sure if it helps but I read somewhere that this haplogroup belongs to a Celtic woman who was taken to Scandinavia and then it spread into North and Eastern Europe. Some sources talk about a Polish princess in Richard III maternal line through Catherine Valois.

  5. I have noticed your site and would like to add my comments.
    I have had my daughters mtDNA processed by Britains DNA. The results that I received are as follows:- subtype J1c2b
    73G 185A 188G 228A 263G 295T 462T 489C 750G 1438G 2706G 3010A 4454C 4769G 6383A 7028T 11251G 11719A 12612G 13708A 14798C 15452A 15924G 16069T 16126C 16519C
    I note that “Harry D Watson” indicated that Co.Down in Ireland had some bearing. I believe my late wife’s line came from a Sarah Nicholson born in 1789 at Mallow Co.Cork Ireland. The husband of one of her daughters came from Co.Down
    I don’t know if this will shed any light on things.
    Any other information re the above genetic signature will be appreciated.
    Thank you
    Raphael Sinicola

  6. I am J1c2c following a DNA test with 23&me
    does this mean I am a direct descendant of Richard 3rd?
    ‘Easy to understand’ answers much appreciated 🙂

  7. I had my DNA tested with 23and Me….I am J1c2c. I assume that this does not automatically make me a descendant of Richard III, but would it be safe to say somewhere down the line I am Plantagenet?

  8. I’m J1c2 according to 23 and (maternal line) and as far as I know all maternal ancestors lived in Ukraine or nearest countries, maybe it will help somebody

  9. I am J12C2 through DNA testing by National Geographic. And I am 93% Scandinavian and 7% Siberian ancestery. I am female. I have been told that my ancestry is from Norway .

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