Finally got around to publishing the Consangunity page of my database that lists relationships in order of consanguinity ie how closely couples were related.

One Uncle Niece relationship (25%): Ernest I Duke Saxe-Coburg-Gotha 1784-1844 and Marie Württemberg 1799-1860. Surpringly late in date.

There are two half-uncle niece relationships further down the list:

John 3rd Baron Darcy Aston 1602- and Isabel Wray -1623

Christian August Oldenburg I Duke Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg-Augustenburg 1696-1754 and Frederikke Louise Unknown.

Albert Saxe-Coburg-Gotha 1819-1861 and Victoria I Queen United Kingdom 1819-1901 are near the top of the list with a consangunity of 12.89% being first cousins and third cousins once removed.

King George I also married his first cousin Sophia Dorothea Hanover 1666-1726.

George, Duke of Clarence, and his younger brother King Richard III also listed since the Neville sisters, Isabel and Anne, daughters of Warwick the Kingmaker were their 1st cousins once removed, 2nd cousins once removed and third cousins.


Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour had the same mtDNA!

Family trees are commonly represented from the male perspective. Presenting family trees from the female perspective occasionally identifies relationships that aren’t always apparent.

The History Database has a number of Maternal Family Trees that show descent only through the female line. Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is passed from mothers to their children; men don’t pass mtDNA on.

In transpires that Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour, the latter having usurped the former in Henry VIII’s affections both shared the same mtDNA. So did their children Elizabeth I and Edward VI respectively. The progenitor of the line is Eleanor Vitre from Brittany, died 1233. She married William 2nd Earl of Salisbury. Their daughter Ela married William Longespée 3rd Earl Salisbury.

The maternal line continues through numerous families: Bourchier, Darcy, Grey, Fitzherbert, Boteler, Strange, Cockayne, Seymour, Cromwell and Howard to name some of the most prominent.

Jane Seymour inherited her mtDNA from her mother Margery Wentworth and her grandmother Anne Say.

Anne Boleyn inherited her mtDNA from her mother Elizabeth Howard and her grandmother Elizabeth Tilney.

And, of course, before Eleanor Vitre, her mother was Emma of Dinan (Brittany), whose mother was Eleanor of Brittany (aka Penthièvre which is in southern Brittany) whose mother was Hawise of Guincampe, which is in northern Brittany.

The line appears to have ended with the two daughters of Dorothy Sidney, Dorothy and Penelope, neither of whom appear to have had daughters, and Jane, the daughter of Mary Boyle, who didn’t have issue.


How did Richard Neville become “Kingmaker”?

Richard Neville is known to history as “Kingmaker” as a result of his support for King Edward IV (York) and subsequent defection to King Henry IV (Lancaster) during the Wars of the Roses, and his marring his daughters into the Plantagenet family, both Lancaster and York.

Born in 1428, Richard Neville was the eldest son of Richard Neville, 5th Earl of Salisbury by right of his wife Alice Montagu, 5th Countess of Salisbury, daughter and only child of Thomas Montagu, 4th Earl of Salisbury.

Richard “Kingmaker” Neville was, therefore, heir to the Earldom of Salisbury at birth. That Earldom in itself wasn’t sufficient to give him the power necessary to influence events in the way he subsequently did.

In 1434 aged 6 he was betrothed to Anne Beauchamp, daughter of Richard Beauchamp, 13th Earl Warwick, by his second marriage to Isabel Despencer, great grand-daughter of Edward III.

The Neville and Beauchamp families had close connections1.

Fate played Richard “Kingmaker” Neville a very generous hand when Henry Beauchamp, 14th Earl Warwick, his sister Cecily’s husband and his wife’s brother, died aged 21 in 1446.

Two years in 1448 later Henry 14th Earl of Warwick’s daughter Anne 15th Countess Warwick died, aged five (there is no report of suspicious circumstances).

Anne Beauchamp, Richard “Kingmaker” Neville’s wife, inherited the whole estate including the Earldom of Warwick and the Despencer inheritance2.

In June 1460 Richard Neville left Calais, landed at Sandwich (Kent), raised an army, took over London and captured King Henry VI at the Battle of Northampton, July 1460. He was now, literally, Kingmaker.

In 1462 (or before) Richard “Kingmaker” Neville’s mother Alice Montagu died; became 6th Earl of Salisbury.

Richard “Kingmaker” Neville owed his power to two women: his wife (Warwick) and his mother (Salisbury).

Fate had not finished with Richard Neville. His marriage produced two daughters, no sons.

Isabel married King Edward IV’s younger brother George, Duke of Clarence, who was subsequently executed for treason.

Anne married, firstly, Edward of Westminster, son of Henry VI, the Lancastrian heir, who was killed at the Battle of Tewkesbury and secondly, Richard III King England.

Of these marriages no issue survived to adulthood. Richard’s Neville’s line ended with his daughters.



1 Richard Beauchamp’s (13th Earl Warwick) only son and heir, Henry Beauchamp, 14th Earl Salisbury, married, in 1428, Richard Neville’s sister Cecily, in 1445.

1 Richard Beauchamp’s (13th Earl Warwick) daughter Elizabeth from his first marriage to Elizabeth Berkeley married George, 1st Baron Latimer, Richard “Kingmaker” Neville’s uncle (his father’ brother).

2 The inheritance was challenged by Anne’s three half-sisters who were married to John “Old Talbot” Talbot, the great knight of the Hundred Years War, Edmund Beaufort, 2nd Duke Somerset and George Neville, 1st Baron Latimer. The rancour following the court’s decision to award to a full sister before half-sisters was a contributing factor to the Wars of the Roses.

Why Henry VII was the Lancastrian Heir

In 1483 King Edward IV died unexpectedly aged 41. His younger brother, the future King Richard III, claimed Edward’s children were illegitimate as a result of Edward’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville being bigamous as result of Edward already having been married to Elizabeth Talbot on the basis of Bishop Richard Stillington’s evidence, he, Stillington, having officiated at, and been the only witness to, the earlier marriage ceremony.

In opposition the House of Lancaster was represented by Henry Tudor, future Henry VII, although there were some 35 extant male great great grandchildren of John of Gaunt, the progenitor of the House of Lancaster having married the heiress Blanche of Lancaster, second daughter and eventual heir of Henry of Grosmont, 1st Duke of Lancaster. John of Gaunt was created Duke of Lancaster in his own right aged 22 in 1362.

Henry VII’s claim to be the most senior representative of the House of Lancaster was based on his being the closest in the male line. His descent was senior to the descendants of Philippa of Lancaster, Elizabeth of Lancaster and Catherine of Lancaster since his great grandfather John Beaufort 1st Marquess Dorset 1st Marquess Somerset took precedence over those half-sisters as result of being male. The order of precedence of John of Gaunt’s children was as follows:

John Beaufort 1st Marquess Dorset 1st Marquess Somerset
Philippa of Lancaster
Elizabeth of Lancaster
Catherine of Lancaster
Joan Beaufort

Henry VII and Henry Stafford 2nd Duke Buckingham were both great grandchildren of John Beaufort 1st Marquess Dorset 1st Marquess Somerset. Henry Tudor, however, took precedence over Henry Stafford since Henry Tudor’s grandfather John 1st Duke Somerset was the elder brother of Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke Somerset. The Stewart brothers, including James III King Scotland, were descended from Joan Beaufort so had a lower precedence than Henry Stafford.

Charles Somerset 1st Earl Worcester was excluded as a result of his being illegitimate. Its is interesting to note that the Beaufort were all originally illegitimate. Their legitimacy was subsequently confirmed after John of Gaunt had married Katherine Roet but they were excluded from the succession. By this argument none of the Beaufort descendants should have succeeded. In that case the heir of the House of Lancaster would be John II King of Portugal. A ‘foreign’ king on the English throne was likely to be unacceptable to the general public so it appears the Beaufort bar to succession was ignored.

The following table shows the great great grandchildren alive in 1483 by order of birth date:

John of Gaunt
Philippa of Lancaster
Edward “The Philospher”
John II King Portugal
Manuel I King Portugal
Maximillian I Holy Roman Emperor
John II King Portugal
Manuel I King Portugal
Elizabeth of Lancaster
Constance Holland
Edmund Grey
George Grey 2nd Earl Kent
John Holland
Anne Holland
Ralph Neville 3rd Earl Westmoreland
Catherine of Lancaster
John Trastamara
John Prince Asturias
John Beaufort 1st Marquess Dorset 1st Marquess Somerset
John 1st Duke Somerset
Margaret Beaufort
King Henry VII
Joan Beaufort
Joan Stewart
John Douglas 2nd Earl Morton
James II King Scotland
James III King Scotland
Alexander 1st Duke Albany
David 1st Earl Moray
John 1st Earl Atholl
John 2nd Earl Atholl
James 1st Earl Buchan
Alexander 2nd Earl Buchan
James Traquair
Edmund Beaufort 2nd Duke Somerset
Henry Beaufort 3rd Duke Somerset
Charles Somerset 1st Earl Worcester (Illegitimate)
Margaret Beaufort
Henry Stafford 2nd Duke Buckingham
Joan Beaufort
Elizabeth Ferrers
Ralph Greystoke
Robert Greystoke
Richard Neville 5th Earl Salisbury
Joan Neville
Thomas Fitzalan 17th Earl Arundel
Katherine Neville
Edward Hastings 2nd Baron Hastings
Eleanor Neville
George Stanley 9th Baron Strange
Edward Stanley 1st Baron Monteagle
James Stanley Bishop Ely
George Neville 1st Baron Latimer
Henry Neville
Richard Neville 2nd Baron Latimer
Edward Neville 3rd Baron Abergavenny
George Neville 4th Baron Abergavenny
George Neville 5th Baron Abergavenny
Edward Neville
Margaret Neville
Thomas Brooke 8th Baron Cobham
Katherine Neville
John Mowbray 3rd Duke Norfolk
John Mowbray 4th Duke Norfolk
Joan Beaumont
Francis Lovell 1st Viscount Lovell
Eleanor Neville
Henry Percy 3th Earl Northumberland
Henry Percy 4th Earl Northumberland
Katherine Percy
George Grey 2nd Earl Kent
Anne Neville
Humphrey Stafford
Henry Stafford 2nd Duke Buckingham
Catherine Stafford
George Talbot 4th Earl Shrewsbury
John Stafford 1st Earl Wiltshire
Edward Stafford 2nd Earl Wiltshire

How common was Elizabeth Woodville?

Elizabeth Woodville is frequently, almost always in fact, described as a commoner. But how ‘common’ was she?

Her father Richard Woodville came from a family that had gradually improved its position over the course of several generations.

His grand-father was Sheriff of Northamptonshire three times.

His father was Chamberlain (or Steward) to the Duke of Bedford. An important role given that the Duke of Bedford was Regent to the young King Henry VI. He was also Constable of the Tower of London, Sheriff of Kent and Captain of Calais.

He, Richard, before Elizabeth his daughter married Edward IV, had fought in France for more than twelve years, been created Baron Rivers by Henry VI in 1448 and had been invested as a Knight of the Garter in 1450. He was then, through service rather than blood, a minor noble. As far as I can see he had no royal descent.

Elizabeth’s mother, on the other hand, came from European nobility. Jacquetta of Luxembourg, widow of John, Duke of Bedford, Regent (brother of King Henry V, uncle to King Henry VI), was descended from a number of English and Norman Kings:

  1. Her 2 x Great Grandfather Guy of Luxembourg, I Count Saint-Pol, I Count Ligny was 8 x Great Grandson of William I “Conqueror”
  2. Her 2 x Great Grandmother Mathilde Châtillon was 2 x Great Grand-daughter of King Henry III
  3. Her 3 x Great Grandmother Jeanne Fiennes was 5 x Great Granddaughter of Kinf Henry II
  4. Her 3 x Great Grandfather Roberto Orsini Count of Nola was 2 x Great Grandson King John I

It is also worth noting that Elizabeth’s mother was a Dowager Duchess, her grandfather Peter of Luxembourg was Count of Saint-Pol , her Great Grandfather Francesco Baux was 1st Duke Andria and her Great Great Grandfather Nicholas Orsini was Count of Nola.

Its difficult to see, therefore, why she, Elizabeth, should be described as a commoner since her royal and noble descent is clear. The definition of ‘commoner’ is ‘one of the ordinary or common people, as opposed to the aristocracy or to royalty’. Clearly that doesn’t describe Elizabeth Woodville.

Perhaps it should be read as ‘more common’ than Edward IV ie not being of the same level of royalty or nobility.

Looking at other medieval royal spouses in most cases there is a degree of parity between the King and his Queen Consorts descent:

  1. Isabella of Angoulême, second wife of King John, was Great Grand-daughter to Louis VI of France,
  2. Eleanor of Provence, wife of Henry III, was Great Great Grand-daughter of King Alfonso VII of Castile,
  3. Eleanor of Castile, wife of Edward I, was daughter of King Ferdinand III of Castile,
  4. Isabella of France, wife of Edward II, was daughter of King Philip IV of France, and
  5. Philippa of Hainault, wife of Edward III, was Great Great Grand-daughter of King Louis IX of France.

So perhaps Elizabeth Woodville wasn’t a commoner but was commoner, or more common, than King Edward IV.

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that Edward’s royal descent was based on his being a Great Great Grandson of Edward III through both his parents Richard 3rd Duke York and Cecily “Rose of Raby” Neville.

Henry V and Warwick the Kingmaker have the same mt-DNA

A surprising fact emerged from my development of Maternal Families Trees (families descended through the female line, those that share mt-DNA which is passed on only by females): Henry V King of England and Richard “Kingmaker” Neville, 16th Duke of Warwick, 16th Earl of Salisbury are both maternally descended from the same woman, Aoife (Eva) Ní Diarmait, Princess of Leinster.

Aoife (Eva) Ní Diarmait, was the daughter of the Dermot MacMurrough, the King of Leinster, who married 29 Aug 1170 Richard “Strongbow” Clare 2nd Earl Pembroke, 1st Earl Buckingham in return for Strongbow assisting Dermot to reclaim the Kingdom of Leinster having been deposed from it by the High King of Ireland Ruaidrí Ua Conchobair as a result of Dermot having abducted Derbforgaill, the wife of the King of Breifne, Tiernan O’Rourke.

Aoife and Richard had two children, a boy and a girl, Gilbert and Isabel. Gilbert died aged nine. Isabel married the great William Marshall, 1st Earl Pembroke, adding her inheritance to his prestige.

William and Isabel’s had ten children of which five were female of which four had issue:

1 Maud Marshall married three times:

William Plantagenet 5th Earl Surrey; two children

Hugh Bigod 3rd Earl Norfolk; four children

Walter Dunstanville; no issue.

Only one of Maud’s two daughters had issue; Isabel Bigod who married firstly Gilbert Lacy with whom she had three children, and secondly John Fitzpeter with whom she had six children including five females. Isabel Bigod’s maternal descendants include:

Hugh “The Younger” Despenser, favourite of Edward II, who was hung, drawn and quartered on the orders of Isabella Queen Consort of England, and

Philippa of Clarence, daughter of Lionel of Antwerp

Henry V King of England

Richard “Kingmaker” Neville, 16th Duke of Warwick, 16th Earl of Salisbury

John “Butcher of England” Tiptoft, 1st Earl Worcester, Edward IV’s ‘henchman. who responsible for the trial and execution, in some cases brutally, of his Lancastrian enemies.

2 Isabel Marshall married twice:

Richard Plantagenet 1st Earl Cornwall; four children

Gilbert Clare 4th Earl Hertford, 5th Earl Gloucester; four children.

3 Sybil Marshall married once to William Ferrers 5th Earl Derby with who she had seven children.

4 Eva Marshall married once to William Braose with whom she had four children.


Aoife’s maternal family tree has 16 generations and includes 350 people including Philippa Lancaster Queen Consort Denmark, Joan Beaufort Queen Consort Scotland, Henry II King France, James II King Scotland.


The 191 Great Great Grandchildren of Edward III



Looking at the number of great great grand children of some key people in history …

Charles “Charlemagne aka Great” has 23 great great grand children.

William “Conqueror” has 53.

Eleanor of Aquitaine

The illustrious Eleanor of Aquitaine has some 133 great great grand children. Her descendants include:

  • Richard “Lionheart” I King England,
  • Eleanor Plantagenet Queen Castile,
  • Berengaria I Queen Castile,
  • Ferdinand III King Castile, III King Leon,
  • Sancho “Pious” II King Portugal,
  • Alfonso III King Portugal,
  • Blanche Ivrea Queen Consort France,
  • Louis IX King France,
  • Charles King Sicily, Henry I King Castile,
  • Joan Plantagenet Queen Consort Sicily,
  • John “Lackland” I King England,
  • Margaret Dunkeld Queen Consort Norway.

Edward III and his Descendants

Edward III King England has more, 191 great great grand children. His descendants, as we know, from Who Do You Think You Are, include Danny Dyer, as well as most people in Europe, if not now, then in a generation or two.

His son, John of Gaunt 1st Duke of Lancaster, is even more prodigious, having 214 great great grand children; the most I’ve found so far. His descendants include:

  • Edward “The Philospher” I King Portugal,
  • John II King Portugal,
  • Manuel I King Portugal,
  • John II King Castile,
  • Joanna Queen Castile,
  • Catherine of Aragon Trastámara of Aragon Queen Consort England,
  • Henry VII King England and Ireland,
  • James II King Scotland,
  • Edward IV King England,
  • Richard III King England.

As the son of Edward III King England all of John of Gaunt’s descendants are also Edward’s.

Ralph Neville, 1st Earl Westmoreland

Ralph Neville 1st Earl Westmoreland is a close second having 211 great great grand-children mainly as a result of his having twenty two children with his two wives: Margaret Stafford and Joan Beaufort. His descendants include:

  • Edward IV King England,
  • Margaret Tudor Queen Consort Scotland,
  • Henry VIII King England and Ireland,
  • Mary Tudor Queen Consort France, Richard III King England.

Later Kings and Queens of England

The later Kings and Queens of England are less prodigious:

Henry VII King Engand has 28 great great grand children.

James VI of Scotland and I of England has a meagre 35 great great grand children.

George II King England has 22 and Queen Victoria has 65 (despite having 87 great grand-children; I’ll check).


So in terms of the most great great grand children John of Gaunt 1st Duke of Lancaster is the clear ‘winner’ with Ralph Neville 1st Earl Westmoreland coming a close second.

Interesting to note John of Gaunt was the son of Edward III and Ralph’s second wife Joan Beaufort the daughter of John of Gaunt. A case of good genes perhaps?