So the TV show is back on our screens and we get to learn about a famous person’s ancestors. I have to say I love watching the show but I often wonder how many celebrities don’t make it to filming. Not everyone can have a famous or important person in their past. But surely all our ancestors are just as important as any other?
OK so from the show so far we’ve learnt that Sir Matthew Pinsent is descended from King William I, (the conqueror), as is Alexander Armstrong and the actor Larry Lamb ancestor was a lion tamer!
But what about your ancestors? Did they have such an interesting life? But then anyone who has lived has had a fascinating life as far as I’m concerned. No matter what they did with their lives they contributed to the fact that you are here so in my opinion it’s all important. Take for example my double great grandfather William Thomas Dent who was born in Norfolk in 1835.
Now William was a farrier, saddler and publican in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire. So he was an important person to many people. Not only did he take care of the local horses but he took care of their owner. It’s really clever if you think about it. The horse comes to be reshod or to have a new saddle or one repaired. The owner then leaves the horse and goes into the Red Lion Inn (William’s pub) and has a few drinks and perhaps something to eat. So he makes money twice, genius!
At the other end of the scale though is my 5 times great grandfather William Wardle. He was born in Staffordshire in 1800. He spent his entire life as a farmer. Now some may feel this is not a very interesting life and so not as important, but it is. If he and the thousands of other like him didn’t work the land and produce food, how would everyone else have lived? If farming was not as important then why would TV shows such as the Victorian Farm, the Edwardian farm and the Monastic farm have been made?
Also a lot of the time the role of female ancestors is over looked in the show. Ok in some cases a female ancestor is followed, but what about the millions of women who raised you ancestors and ran the home and in the case of a lot of families worked alongside the man of the house. Now in the case of William Wardle it would be very unlikely that his wife Ellen Taylor wasn’t working on the farm with him. Why employ someone to help on the farm when Ellen can help, as well as raising their 5 children. The same is also probably true of William Dent’s wife Louisa Payling. She must have helped in the pub as well as raising the couples 11 children. But these people would not make great TV.
If we consider what our ancestors did, can we honestly say anyone was any more important than any others? Yes some can be much more interesting. I’m not saying for example Sir Thomas Cromwell, King Henry VIII adviser was on a level with a farmer, but they were equally important. Cromwell could have passed all the laws he wanted, but if the farmers weren’t doing their important work then there would have been no food to eat and so the population would have got much smaller and so who would Cromwell’ s law’s be relevant to. No people, no need for laws!
So Who Do You Think You Are may show the “interesting” parts of celebrities ancestors but my view is all our ancestors are interesting and worth learning more about.