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.


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.