Posted by on 7 September 2010 in General

The penultimate episode of Who Do You Think You Are? series seven was undoubtedly my favourite so far. It had all the ingredients I look for – real family history research, fascinating social history, and a likeable celebrity in Hugh Quarshie.

Uncle Jimmy’s birthday party was a great way to kick off the episode. As well as providing a real sense of fun, it was a reminder that at its heart the programme is all about family. This theme continued throughout – I particularly enjoyed the never-ending line of relatives in Kamerling House, and the enthusiastic old lady who promised to name her unborn grandchild after him.

It is amazing the amount of information you can uncover simply by talking to your relatives. I always recommend that anyone who’s new to family history starts by quizzing their parents and grandparents. If you’ve already exhausted that route, you can start uncovering unknown cousins through our Member Connect service. Find out more

Of course, the other highlight was the trip to Abe. The initial tension about whether Hugh was there to claim the chieftaincy didn’t seem like an invention of television – a couple of words out of place, and I suspect he’d have been made extremely unwelcome. As it was, the villagers embraced him, and provided some vital clues about his ancestry.

The icing on the cake came through another long lost cousin, Eric Kamerling in Holland. Rarely have I seen such an efficient family record keeper – he had a seemingly endless ream of incredible photographs, and his copy of his great-uncle’s will provided the perfect conclusion.

I would urge all of you to locate your ancestors’ wills wherever possible. They’re fascinating historical documents, and are far less regimented than other official records, so there’s no telling what information you might uncover. The easiest way to trace wills and probate records after 1860 is through our National Probate Calendar.

Please let me know your thoughts on the episode in the comments below. Was there anything you’d have liked a bit more focus on, or did you think the producers got it about right?

1 Comment

Moira Fidler 

I agree with Russell I thought the show was great because it was so different and showed when there’s a lack of offical records the importance of oral history. Hugh was lucky that the land of his forebares have a tradition of oral narrative, unlike our British button-lipped Victorian society who never talked about anything!
I particularily enjoyed the end of the show, the look on Hugh’s face when his Dutch Kamerling relative produced that enelope of wonderful photo’s!
My only complaint- I would have liked them to try and find Hugh’s mystery Philips ancestor- perhaps they did but were unable to, but wouldn’t it make a great follow-up show to try!

7 September 2010 at 2:12 pm