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Thu Sep 13, 2012, 12:33 AM

DNA testing may establish lineage going back more than 500 years

to the death of King Richard III of England in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth.

As a long-time Ricardian (one who believes that the Richard III of history is less of a villain but more a victim of Tudor propaganda), I've been following the recent story of the dig in Leicester to find the church of the Greyfriars where Richard was supposed to have been buried. It reached an exciting turn yesterday with the discovery of a skeleton which may very well be that of Richard, and it's in good condition.

What happens next is mitochondrial DNA testing to try to determine whether this is indeed the skeleton of the last Plantagenet king of England. This excerpt from an article on the Richard III Society website explains about DNA testing:

"In terms of what happens next, our plan has been to extract DNA from the skeletal material and compare the DNA with a known living relative of Richard III and see if it matches. Discussions are underway to enable this. In reality this will be a long process.

"In the first instance we will be hoping that we can extract mitochondrial DNA of sufficient quality to be able to sequence it. Mitochondrial DNA is the piece of DNA of choice for this particular project for two reasons. Mitochondrial DNA is found in hundreds to thousands of copies in our cells so it's mitochondrial DNA that is the easiest to retrieve from ancient material. Whether we will be able to retrieve any DNA depends on the conditions of the burial - cold and dry is best for DNA preservation.

"Mitochondrial DNA is passed down through the female line (in the ovum). As it's being copied to be passed down through the generations, little typos happen in the DNA sequence such that not everyone has the same mtDNA type. Siblings will all have the same mtDNA type that their mother gave them, which is the mtDNA that her mother gave her. Daughters will pass on their mtDNA type but sons will not. This means that if we have any female-line relatives we can test them to see if they match one another. Fortunately, we have this in the form of Michael Ibsen whose genealogy –it has been claimed -makes him the 17th great grand-nephew of Richard III. We hope to use the latest technologies to sequence the DNA from these skeletal remains and compare them with those of Michael Ibsen to see if the results are consistent with them being related.".

(The royal family still have a drop of Plantagenet blood, but much of the inheritance has come from the male line, so it clearly wouldn't do.)

In theory, any of us could have our DNA tested to determine our distant ancestry – not just whether it's Celtic, Roman, Viking, Gallic or anything else, but even to the area our ancestors came from. In practice, I'm sure it would not only cost a fortune, but would drive scientists crazy - there would be millions of applicants, I'm sure. But wouldn't it be fascinating to know our background from way back beyone where all records stop - in fact, before records were even thought of.

And for anyone who's interested in learning more about Richard III and the archeological dig, here's a link to the Society' website:

http://www.richardiii.net/



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Response to Matilda (Original post)

Thu Sep 13, 2012, 06:27 AM

1. Matilda - Y-DNA & M-DNA tests cost far less than you think + can be ordered in minutes

Just to correct you on your penultimate point. I'd like to DEMYSTIFY THIS.
For males: a basic Y-DNA self-test is around $156---eg: the YDNA-37 or 37 markers test. . Anybody can order them---& some MILLIONS of normal run-of-the-mill individuals already have --including me !--It's really easy + no rocket science is needed !!
The other Mt-DNA (maternal line) test for males or females can be ordered (also on-line) for slightly more.
Take a look at www.ftdna.com - which, in my view, is technically the best firm -(Don't use Ancestry.com as they are money-grabbers + unreliable; as also is Sorensen et al)...
For those who want to wait for something cutting edge--there is a new GENO 2.0 coming out end October, (around $220 I think) which is predicted to be a "wow" kind of next-generation of testing, but the present tests are often exciting. Depends if one has gentry or plebby ancestry (as ever!). As I have used vocabulary such as "one"---this is a subtle hint I might possess one or 2 gentry ancestries.
It is not just Monsieur Ibsen who is descended from the vast "Plantagenet" or Angevin genetic pond of Richard III - there are some millions of his relatives alive today...Seriously! They just don't know it --& never will!

Cheers!
Gerard (UK)

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Response to geronimo3000 (Reply #1)

Thu Sep 13, 2012, 10:04 PM

2. Thanks for that info - it would be very exciting to do.

I saw it done on an episode of Time Team once, and they said you could do it, but I simply assumed it would be very expensive.

I'm sure there would be many other descendants of the Plantagenets, but the trick seems to be finding those who've come down through a female line. I'd figured they could use one of the royals, but the lack of a strong female line seems to be a stumbling block. But it's just a wonderful thing that they'll be able to say for certain; not so long ago it would have had to remain an educated guess.

I've taken my mother's ancestry back to 17th century, but I have no idea what their original gene pool was. I've reached a point where I'm not likely to be able to go back much further with records (early 17th century on one line, but not as far on others), so it would just be nice to get a picture of their origins.

Thanks for the info!

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Response to Matilda (Reply #2)

Fri Sep 14, 2012, 08:18 AM

3. They do DNA testing for African Americans a lot

Most of them have a difficult time tracing their ancestry and sometimes, DNA evidence is all there is.

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Response to geronimo3000 (Reply #1)

Wed Sep 19, 2012, 04:43 PM

5. What do you think

about "23andMe"? Do you know anything about them and their autosomonal DNA test?

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Response to geronimo3000 (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 01:39 PM

8. a very belated welcome to DU.

And a wave to you over the Pond!

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Response to geronimo3000 (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 01:42 PM

9. I've stumbled across an ancestor...

....who was the gr gr granddaughter of Henry II. Haven't done any further research on that yet. I have pages and pages of gentry to study in my tree. It's a big job to do the research!

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Response to Matilda (Original post)

Tue Sep 18, 2012, 11:14 PM

4. As a corollary to the DNA testing of the body found in Leicester,

it would be very interesting if the bones of two boys found in the Tower in 1674 could be DNA tested to see whether they are the bodies of the two princes.

The bones, found under a stone staircase, were declared to be those of the two princes and were placed in an urn by order of Charles II and placed in Westminster Abbey, where they remain today. But many historians now think it's quite unlikely that these are the bones of the princes - it would have been an impossible task to have demolished a stone staircase, buried the bodies and rebuilt the staircase in a night, as the legend has it. It's believed far more likely that the bones were buried before the construction of the staircase, generations before the princes lived.

DNA testing could prove once and for all whether the bodies are those of the two Plantagenet princes, and if not, it weakens the case against Richard III considerably. But only the Queen can grant permission for the testing, and she has so far refused to do so. It's hard to believe she has so little curiosity about her distant family. Perhaps Prince Charles may be able to change her mind - he has a degree in archeology, which indicates an interest in history. We can only hope.

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Response to Matilda (Reply #4)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 12:25 AM

6. Also the two extra children in Edward IV's tomb annex.

If children are in those coffins.

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Response to aquart (Reply #6)

Mon Feb 11, 2013, 08:55 PM

7. I read about those coffins on the website of the Richard III Society in NSW.

I'd never heard of them until a few months ago.

There seems to be an assumption that they contain the bodies of children, so presumably the coffins are small. If they are children, it seems on balance far more likely that they would be the missing princes than the bones found in the Tower.

It's hard to understand the attitudes of authorities who don't want to investigate - afraid their long-held prejudices won't hold up?

And it seems that the Westminster Archdiocese can give authority for the bones there to be examined, but they refuse, backed by the Queen and the government. I hope pressure will mount on them with the discovery of Richard III's bones. Some big Tudor lies have now been exposed, and it's time to solve a few more mysteries. Dig them all up and test them now that the technology is there.

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Response to Matilda (Original post)

Fri Mar 1, 2013, 10:58 PM

10. This is one fascinating thread...

...if a bit ghoulish here and there.

I've been reading about DNA tests for years and have been sorely tempted, especially with the advances made and the brick walls in my family history, but I haven't taken the plunge yet.

Still, this might be worth bringing up with the relatives on Facebook...

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Response to Matilda (Original post)

Thu Apr 25, 2013, 10:29 PM

11. Tale of Richard III's skeleton is filled with drama – and it's not over yet

An interesting article on further testing being done on Richard's skeleton:

http://cosmiclog.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/04/21/17841721-tale-of-richard-iiis-skeleton-is-filled-with-drama-and-its-not-over-yet

Move down to about halfway through the article, where it deals with mitochondrial DNA testing, which cannot guarantee proof of ancestry 100%. This perhaps explains why DUers on some threads have expressed disappointment with the results of some DNA tests they've undertaken. Seems that perhaps many of these tests are too generalised to be of much help with fine-tuning the genealogy of our ancesters.

There's still so much I have to learn on this subject, but how fascinating it is.

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Response to Matilda (Reply #11)

Sun Mar 23, 2014, 01:15 AM

12. Now the drama is over where they're going to re-inter him

A brand-new War in the Wars of the Roses, this time between York & Leicester.

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