Canadian heir of King Richard III

King Richard III, by unknown artist. See sourc...
King Richard III, by unknown artist. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vancouver native Turi King, is a University of Leicester scientist who’s leading  genetic testing; and London, Ontario-born Micahel Ibsen, is a cabinet maker, who now lives in London, England.  These two Canadians are why I’m choosing to post this topic on my blog today.

For Ibsen, it started in 2005 when British historian and genealogist John Ashdown-Hill announced that he had traced King Richard III‘s lineage to Ibsen’s mother, Joy; she was a retired journalist who had emigrated from Britain to Canada after the Second World War.  At that time, it became known that she was a carrier of a maternal DNA signature reaching back to Cecily Neville, mother of Richard III.  Unfortunately, Joy Ibsen died in 2008 at age 82, but the mtDNA marker is carried by her children: Michael, Jeff of Toronto, Ontario, and Leslie of B.C.

“It’s just unbelievable.  You couldn’t have written a movie script better than this.  They find a skeleton with an arrow in its back, a spine  with sclerosis and a head wound.”  – 55-year-old Michael Isben told Postmedia News in September, upon learning he could  be the 17th great-grand-nephew of Richard III.

Scientists confirmed earlier today that it is “beyond reasonable doubt” that the remains unearthed last year under a parking lot in the city of Leicester are those of England’s King Richard III.

Historical records say he was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester.  The church was closed and dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, and with the passage of time, its exact location was lost.

But last year a team led by University of Leicester archaeologist Richard Buckley identified a possible site of the grave.  Ground-penetrating radar was employed to find the best places to start digging.

They began excavating in a parking lot last August. Within a week they had located thick walls and the remains of tiled floors. Soon after, they found the skeleton of an adult male who appeared to have died in battle.

Osteologist Jo Appleby said the 10 injuries to the body were inflicted by weapons like swords and daggers, which were consistent with accounts of Richard being struck down in battle.  She said some scars, including a knife wound to the buttock, bore the hallmarks of “humiliation injuries” inflicted after death.

The remains also showed signs of sclerosis (a form of spinal curvature), consistent with reported accounts of Richard’s appearance.  Even by William Shakespeare, who depicted Richard as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies on his way to the throne before dying in battle.

So, who exactly was King Richard III?  Well, few monarchs have seen their reputations go south as much as  Richard III after his death.

For decades, there was a fight over the throne, known as the Wars of the Roses.  It basically was two sides of the ruling Plantagenet dynasty — York and Lancaster —fighting against one another.

Fact:  he ruled England between 1483 and 1485.  Fact: during his brief reign, people saw liberal reforms, including the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.  Fact: his rule was challenged, and he was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII.  Fact: that pretty much ended the Plantagenet line.

But death was just the beginning of Richard’s problems. Historians trashed his reputation, accusing him of myriad crimes — most famously, the murder of the “Princes in the Tower,” the two sons of his elder brother, King Edward IV.

Richard remained a villain in the following years.  But others argue that the image is unfair, and say Richard’s reputation was smeared by his Tudor successors.

The mayor of Leicester, Peter Soulsby, said the monarch would be interred in the city’s cathedral and a memorial service would be held.

There is so much more to this story.  There is the Richard III Society – a group determined to seek the truth about the King. There’s the University of Leicester – who have unearthed all these discoveries.

To write this post, I learned most of this story from and the National Post.

Plus, because this was big news today, you can read more about it from:


  1. Having read this I believed it was extremely informative. I appreciate
    you finding the time and energy to put this short article together.
    I once again find myself personally spending a lot of time both reading and leaving comments.
    But so what, it was still worth it!


  2. Fascinating, T.K.– you’ll soon be appearing as an expert on one of those “cold case” television programs!! : )

    Are you familiar with Josephine Tey’s novel The Daughter Of Time? She speculates (via her Scotland Yard protagonist) about who really murdered the princes in the tower.

    Of course, the book’s not as good as your post… : )


  3. Strange this fascination with Richard III, especially, as you point out, after history has given him such a raw deal. Another funny thing, when I was taught English history at (Catholic) primary school round about 1970 we learned that the princes in the tower were most likely killed by Henry Tudor. That’s how having a Catholic or Protestant education changes your perspective on history!


  4. My little sister works for Genentech, but they think she’s crazy giving up a good future to write and teach about art and technology. She’s got all the brains…that’s why I’m the airhead.

    By the way, given this fact alone, how could he be any kind of criminal: “Fact: during his brief reign, people saw liberal reforms, including the lifting of restrictions on books and printing presses.” It’s just about antithetical to what he was.


  5. I just love it when a mystery is solved, a question is answered, a lost relative is found – through research, archaeology, scientific examination, etc. I know there are so many unanswered questions, history was not always exactly as it has been portrayed, the history books were written by the victors and everyone had an agenda. Thank you for your post. I hadn’t heard of the possibility of living relatives in Canada.


  6. they always blamed Richard for the princes murder but I personally think Henry 7th did the deed. After all it was the only way to secure the throne for the Tudors. as for Richard being a hunch back I am do not see it all the paintings I have seen he stands straight Shakespeare has a lot to answer for……


    • There are a lot theories out there, which is fascinating! It seems that even those who study him at length cannot all agree on some facts. You just have to love history, eh? Thanks for the visit and comment. 🙂


  7. There’s a book by, I think, Josephine Tey, which I read long ago saying that Richard’s bad reputation was probably the doing of Henry VII, who most likely was guilty of killing the princes in the tower. You might possibly find it interesting.
    Thanks for liking my post. Hope you’ll feel like visiting my blog some more. Best wishes.


  8. Hi TK; it’s History Month. Do you have any stories about BC black pioneer stories. I read something about Salt Spring Island Jim Anderson as a pioneer. Any just a thought that came up during meditation. 😀


  9. Thank you for the history lesson. I read about this on news sites but I was not aware that there was a living relative of his. Will he be going to the funeral?
    Good piece.
    Take Care.


  10. The technology today is so great that they can actually identified him. Knowing the “history” of KIng Richard, if I were the relative, I will renounce it just in case it will hunt me.


    • Yeah, you’re probably right about that. 🙂 isn’t it amazing what they can do today … And yet, we still suffer from the common cold … Umm, different science, though …


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