John Ashdown-Hill
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John Ashdown-Hill

John Ashdown-Hill
Born(1949-04-05)5 April 1949
London, UK
Died18 May 2018(2018-05-18) (aged 69)
OccupationAuthor, historian, speaker
Alma materEast Anglia polytechnic, University of Essex
Notable worksEleanor the Secret Queen;
Mediaeval Colchester's Lost Landmarks;
Richard III's "Beloved Cousyn" - John Howard and the House of York;
The Last Days of Richard III and the Fate of his DNA;
Royal Marriage Secrets;
The Third Plantagenet
Children1 Son

Louis John Frederick Ashdown-Hill MBE FSA (5 April 1949 - 18 May 2018),[1] commonly known as John Ashdown-Hill, was an independent historian and author of books on late medieval English history with a focus on the House of York and Richard III of England. Ashdown-Hill died on 18 May 2018 of motor neurone disease.[2][3]


University and polytechnic

Early career

Ashdown-Hill taught languages including English, French, Spanish, Italian and modern Greek and also Classical civilisation in the UK, in Tunisia, in Spain and in Turkey, but eventually gave up teaching to focus on his historical research.


In 2003 Ashdown-Hill was asked by colleagues in Belgium to seek the mitochondrial DNA sequence shared by Richard III of England and his brothers and sisters as one of them, Margaret of York, had died and was buried in what is now Belgium. He spent a year tracing an all-female line of descent from Richard III's eldest sister, Anne, to Joy Ibsen, a woman living in Canada. In 2005 he announced the discovery of the Mitochondrial DNA sequence of Richard III and his siblings,[4] and in 2006 he gave a presentation on the subject of his DNA research to the Richard III Society in London, in the presence of Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester.

In 2004 Ashdown-Hill was commissioned by the BBC to research a story that Richard III's remains had been thrown into the River Soar. He concluded that the story was untrue.[5]

In 2009 Philippa Langley invited Ashdown-Hill to lead a study day for the Scottish Branch of the Richard III Society, as a result of which the Looking for Richard project was formally founded at the Crammond Inn, Edinburgh.[6]

In August 2012, after three years of work persuading the authorities in Leicester, the search for the lost remains of Richard III began with the excavation of the Social Services Department car park. On the first day of the dig (25 August 2012) bones which proved to be those of Richard III were found in the area predicted by Ashdown-Hill and Langley. Subsequent DNA research proved that the mtDNA of the bones matched the sequence from Richard III's descendants that Ashdown-Hill had discovered in 2004.

On 5 September 2012, Ashdown-Hill had the honour of carrying the remains from the car park. He covered the box of bones with his modern copy of the House of Plantagenet Royal Standard.

On 2 March 2013 He was awarded Honorary Life Membership of the Richard III Society by Society President Dr. Phillip Stone.[7]

In May 2014 Ashdown-Hill's key role in the finding of Richard III's remains was formally acknowledged by Lady Justice Hallett and her colleagues in the High Court Judgement regarding the reburial of the king's remains.[8]

Ashdown-Hill was awarded an MBE in the 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours for "services to historical research and the exhumation and identification of Richard III".[9]

Ashdown-Hill died 18 May 2018 of motor neurone disease.[2][3]

Other historical research

John Ashdown-Hill also carried out innovative research on the Plantagenet Y-chromosome,[10] and on the mtDNA sequence of the Princes in the Tower.[]


  • Mediaeval Colchester's Lost Landmarks (2009)
  • Eleanor The Secret Queen: The Woman Who Put Richard III on the Throne (2009)
  • Richard III's Beloved Cousyn: John Howard and the House of York (2009)
  • The Last Days of Richard III (and the Fate of His DNA) (first published 2010, fully revised and updated edition 2013)
  • Royal Marriage Secrets: Consorts and Concubines, Bigamists and Bastards (2013)
  • The Third Plantagenet: George, Duke of Clarence, Richard III's Brother (2014)
  • The Dublin King: The True Story of Lambert Simnel and the Princes in the Tower (2015)
  • The Mythology of Richard III (2015)
  • The Wars of the Roses (2015)
  • The Private Life of Edward IV (2016)
  • Cecily Neville: Mother of Richard III (2018) ISBN 9781526706324
  • The Poetry Of John Ashdown-Hill (2018) C S Hughes, ed. ISBN 9780994517586
  • The Mythology of the "Princes in the Tower" (2018)
  • The Pink Queen: Edward IV's Chief Mistress (2019)


  • Ashdown-Hill, John; David Johnson; Wendy Johnson; P. J. Langley (2014). Carson, Annette (ed.). Finding Richard III: The Official Account of Research by the Retrieval & Reburial Project. Horstead: Imprimis Imprimatur. ISBN 978-0-9576840-2-7.


  1. ^ FSA Directory, elected February 2014
  2. ^ a b John Ashdown-Hill obituary at Richard III Society, 18 May 2018.
  3. ^ a b "The Death of John Ashdown-Hill". 19 May 2018. Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ "'Now who's the winner of our king's descent?'". Leicester Mercury. 11 May 2005. p. 5.
  5. ^ "The fate of Richard III's body". BBC News -. Retrieved 2014.
  6. ^ A.J. Carson; et al. (2014). "Finding Richard III, the Official Account" (Horstead): 36, 57. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  7. ^
  8. ^ "The discovery of Richard's remains was due to the meticulous research by the historian, Dr. John Ashdown-Hill" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  9. ^ Leicester Mercury Archived 14 July 2015 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed 14 July 2015.
  10. ^ Ashdown-Hill, John (2013). The Last Days of Richard III. Stroud. p. 30. ISBN 978-0752492056.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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