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.


Maternal Family Trees

Katherine Roet’s Maternal Family Tree

Family Trees are traditionally presented by paternal descent.

Maternal descent is a not often seen alternative. Mitochondrial DNA, or mt-DNA, is passed from mother to sons and daughters. However, sons do not pass it to their children.

Richard III

In the discovery of Richard III’s remains in Leicester it was the mt-DNA that proved his identity. Two maternal descendants of Richard III’s mother Cecily “Rose of Raby” Neville were identified: Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig.

It was descendants of Cecily’s daughter Anne that provided the match for Richard III through more than seventeen female generations. Wendy Duldig is now, therefore, the only known carrier of Cecily “Rose of Raby” Neville’s mt-DNA that is able to pass it on.

Cecily was descended from Joan Beaufort, daughter of John of Gaunt and Katherine Roet (aka Swynford).  Katherine Roet is the ultimate maternal ancestor of Richard III, Michael Ibsen and Wendy Duldig. It is Katherine’s mt-DNA that provided the match.

Families are usually given the father’s surname; the patronymic. For Maternal Families I have used the earliest identifiable ancestor for the family name eg Katherine Roet.

History Database

The History Data Maternal Family Trees Index

Its an unusual way of looking at families with some relationships that aren’t immediately apparent from Paternal Family Trees. I’ve limited Maternal Family Trees to those with more than three generations for now.

Katherine Roet’s Maternal Family Tree stands out for having 21 generations. Her maternal descendants include Edward IV King England and Richard III King England.

Aoife Ní Diarmait’s also stands out for having 16 generations with 345 people in her Maternal Family Tree including Henry of Monmouth V King England, Philippa Lancaster Queen Consort Denmark, Joan Beaufort Queen Consort Scotland, Henry II King France, James II King Scotland, Richard “Kingmaker” Neville 16th Earl Warwick, 6th Earl Salisbury.

Dangereuse Île-Bouchard has 8 generations with 109 people including

  • Eleanor of Aquitaine, Queen Consort France, Queen Consort England,
  • Richard “Lionheart” I King England,
  • Eleanor Plantagenet Queen Castile,
  • Berengaria I King 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.