Countryfile presenter and Strictly Come Dancing contestant Anita Rani was born in Yorkshire to Indian parents. But it is her maternal grandfather’s story in the turbulent period of Partition that takes Anita to the Punjab to see if she can find out more.
Ahita Rahi Nazran, better known as Anita Rani (born 25th October 1977) is an English radio and television broadcaster born in Bradford.
Her mother Lakhbir (Lucky) Kaur, works at the Bradford Royal Infirmary as a liaison officer and is of Sikh descent. Anita’s father, on the other hand, is Balvinder Singh Nazran and he is a Hindu. Both her parents were born in India, although her father came to Britain when he was four, so Anita says he’s a Yorkshireman through and through.
On Thursday night the BBC aired the latest episode of Who Do You Think You Are?
It fascinatingly explored the maternal line of the BBC’s Security correspondent, Frank Gardner. His mother’s family turn out to have been descended from William the Conqueror in a direct line that went through a Tudor knight who, having picked the wrong side in the power struggle between the Duke of Somerset and Warwick, ended losing his head at the Tower of London.
Frank was seen in the broadcast to be incensed by the unfair treatment of his ancestor Sir Michael Stanhope, who was beheaded on being found guilty on circumstantial evidence.
The programme traced the journalist’s maternal line through 28 generations back to William I.
For many of us Anne Reid is a familiar face on our TV screens. Perhaps we remember her as Valerie Barlow from Coronation Street, or Jean in Dinner ladies?Or it may be from the more recent series of programmes in which she stars along side Derek Jacobi as Celia Dawson in Last Tango in Halifax.
Acclaimed British actress Anne Reid MBE, is the next of the celebrities to feature in the Who Do You Think You Are? programmes. In her episode she discovers that her family tree features ancestors who were employed as solicitor’s clerks in Liverpool, but who came originally from Scotland. Tracing this respectable line further back in the records she comes across a Scots schoolmaster and becomes upset to find out that he ended up marooned on the other side of the world having served a sentence for fraud that saw him transported to Australia from Scotland.
Choirmaster, Gareth Malone, is not the first in his family to perform to an audience. Music and drama is in his blood. From an ancestor that appeared at King George V’s Coronation Gala to a Dublin impresario.
Tracing back the family to Gareth’s great-great-grandfather, researchers have found that he was an English actor, comedian and singer named Edmund James Payne. Gareth’s forebear begun on the stage in the 1880s playing more than 300 roles including parts in The Shop Girl and The Messenger Boy. A critic from the time described him as a “little man with a very funny face with which he could work wonders” while another report says that Payne was a “universal favourite and a very great comedian”.
Research in Dublin has also unearthed that Gareth’s four times great grandfather Daniel Lowery was in the theatre. Family legends, passed down to Gareth, were that Daniel had been a theatre impresario in Dublin. It has been discovered that there had actually been two Daniel Lowerys, father and son – the latter having been the manager and impresario while the father had the talent and had created the theatrical legacy.
Model and former wife of Sir Mick Jagger, Jerry Hall is a Texan who moved to Europe in her teens. Her father’s family, however, emigrated to the USA from Lancashire in the 1880s. Jerry’s mother’s side were from pioneering roots, trailing west across America at the time of the Frontier.
Hall’s investigations into her family history take her all over the USA as she traces the movements of her pioneer ancestors, who at various times owned large chunks of farmland, often fighting native Americans in order to hang on to their newly acquired property. “I can’t believe such important information was lost all these years!” she gasps.
The Sir Derek George Jacobi’s story on Who Do You Think You Are? was one of equal contrasts. Though we found out that he is from working class roots in London, with a boot maker for a grandfather, as we delved further back in time we discovered that his family are from much grander stock, one having mixed with Louis the Sun King until his religious belief had him imprisoned and he escaped to England.
Sir Derek’s ancestor was Joseph de la Plaigne, a financier and French Protestant from Bordeaux who had to conceal his religious beliefs from his monarch in order to remain in favour with the Catholic Louis XIV. In 1701 de la Plaigne was found out to be a Protestant and incarcerated in prison at Loches in the Loire Valley. Making his escape he, like many Huguenots, made his way to England.
In 1708, at the age of 70 and living in England, Joseph de la Plaigne married Salome de la Bastide. Researchers have found that the wedding took place on the 7th August at St. Mary Magdalene, Old Fish Street, London. The couple’s son, Guillaume, was born soon after this with his christening taking place on the 28th May 1709. The now elderly Joseph died not a long time later and researchers from TheGenealogist website have been able to find his will in the Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills collection accessible on TheGenealogist where if you are a subscriber you will be able to search for images of the actual Wills that had been lodged with the PCC for probate. In de la Plaigne’s case the document shows that Joseph was born at Bordeaux and was living in the Parish of St Anne’s, Westminster when he made the will.
To see a copy of the will and to read TheGenealogist’s full article on Sir Derek Jacobi’s family history click this link. TheGenealogist website has a broad suite of resources to find ancestors in the records.
The family story of Joyce Penelope Wilhelmina Frankenberg, known better by her stage name of Jane Seymour, is an emotional rollercoaster of a ride. Her Father’s family are Jewish while her mother was a Dutch Protestant who had endured being in a Second World War Japanese concentration camp.
The television episode followed Jane as she discovered more about her two great-aunts, Michaela and Jadwiga who had experienced the horrors of Poland under Nazi occupation.
TheGenealogist website, meanwhile, has discovered that Jane’s paternal grandfather, Leon Frankenberg, had come to Britain after his family had fled persecution in Eastern Europe. He was the lucky one as he established his own business and became a respected member of his local synagogue community as recorded in the London Jewish Seatholder’s records now searchable on TheGenealogist.
Did you see the first programme in the 12th series of Who Do You Think You Are? on TV?
Paul Hollywood, from The Great British Bake Off, was taken back to his grandfather’s WWII experience in North Africa where his grandfather was sent as soon as he had completed his training. At Medjez el Bab in Tunisia, Norman’s Light Anti-Aircraft division were protecting the infantry from enemy air attacks at the time of the major Allied offensive to take Tunis from the German forces. With the enemy throwing bombs and missiles at them it was hard on these men.
From there Paul travelled to Italy, where he learnt about how his grandfather was part of the landing force that became trapped on the beaches at Anzio for four months, surrounded by Germans and all the while under constant aerial bombardment. Paul gets to see the landing area where his grandfather and the other men would have felt like sitting ducks, with death and devastation all around them. Norman and his comrades finally managed to land and their gun was then transported five miles inland. Unfortunately for them the regiment was soon surrounded by the enemy in a dangerously exposed area. Huge numbers of men had no choice but to dig themselves into 7ft long fox holes and spend months trapped, coming under repeated German shell attacks.
In May 1944 and thanks to Norman’s regiment’s extraordinary efforts, the stalemate at Anzio was broken. The next month the Allied armies went on to liberate Rome, but not without the loss of 14,000 lives. Paul’s grandfather brought back from this conflict a visible memento of his terrifying time. He had developed a facial tic that stayed with him until he died.
Following his Scottish family line up to Glasgow he then found that the next generation in the McKenzie family was a Glasgow Policeman, down from the Highlands, who had a certain amount of trouble avoiding alcohol.
Paul then discovered that his great, great, great, great grandfather Donald McKenzie, was a Highland postman with quite extraordinary stamina. Not being able to afford a horse with which to cover his rounds delivering the mail to 30,000 people, Donald simply ran the 120 miles with the mail every week.
With thanks to TheGenealogist for using part of their article. Read the full piece that reveals even more about Paul Hollywood’s family history by clicking this link:
The BBC has now announced the order in which the Who do You Think You Are? episodes will be broadcast for the 12th U.K. series.
This popular genealogy TV programme kicks off with Great British Bake Off judge Paul Hollywood on 13th August, on BBC One. The series will be aired every Thursday evening at 9pm, with a one week break in between Mark Gatiss and Frances de la Tour’s episodes on 15th October.
Although the schedule may still be subject to change, Frances de la Tour’s story will close the series on 22nd of October.
Three days of brilliant family history talks, expert advice, new records and resources to explore have just finished for this year’s Who Do You Think You Are? Live.
Held at the new venue for the show at the NEC, Birmingham there was so much more space with wider aisles and the airiness of a more modern venue compared to its old home of Olympia in London.
Many of the visitors to the show seemed happy with the mixture of Genealogical Supplies vendors and Family History Societies on hand, though a few were disappointed to find some FHS from the south-east and also Scotland hadn’t managed to make it to the show this year.
The main data subscription sites, however, were there to showcase their various online offerings as was the National Archives, GRO and many more.
Feedback from those visiting seemed to be very positive overall and next year’s dates have now been announced as April 7th-9th 2016 back at the NEC.