Category Archives: Celebrity

Celebrity Genealogy Stories

Tony Robinson (Baldrick in Blackadder) and “Sexy National Archives”, Genealogy

The Daily Telegraph has an article by Ben Fenton about Tony Robinson (Baldrick in Blackadder, as well as Time Team) and his family’s history. Those of you who follow him, know that he’s now become well-known for helping to popularise archaeology, but surprisingly, he hasn’t looked into his family history all that much. That’s changed recently.

Excerpt from the article:

You might think that Tony Robinson, normally to be found scrutinising a dirty brown object that might be a shard of Roman pottery or a dried-out slug, would find the precise world of the National Archives rather dull.

The actor, unearthed first as Baldrick in Blackadder, but now best-known for popularising archaeology on programmes such as Time Team, seems to be more at home in the speculative habitat of the dig rather than the exact and certificated world of censuses and marriage registers.

Far from it.

“Whoever would have thought that archives could be sexy?” says Robinson, his eyes sparkling in the sterile atmosphere of a windowless sideroom in The National Archives in Kew.

In the space of a few hours, helped by experts from the Archives, the internet genealogy company and Nick Barratt, The Daily Telegraph’s family history expert, he has already uncovered enough nuggets about his own past to fuel gossip in the Robinson clan for another generation.

“For instance, nobody ever told me that my mum was born only six months after her parents married!” he say

A very intersting article, and worth reading, but I’m a bit worried that people with only a mild interest in genealogy will read it and come away thinking that genealogy is just as easy as the click of a mouse button.

Harry Potter Genealogy Mapped Out

For those of you into fictional genealogy, Cassandra sent me a note about mapping out the genealogy of the characters in the Harry Potter books. J.K. Rowling, the series’ author, is a big fan of genealogy, and has included a lot of back history of the various characters.

The site is hosted at RootsWeb, and as an example, you can see Harry Potter’s family tree in Pedigree format.

500+ Year Old Document From A Very Important Genealogist

From 50, we have an article about an interesting document that’s now available online. It’s referred to as Mostyn MS 88, and was written sometime between 1488 and 1498 by Gutun Owain from Shropshire.

Excerpt from the article:

The National Library Of Wales have put a fascinating fifteenth century manuscript online, the majority of which (pages 9-83) were written by Gutun Owain, born to a noble family in the lordship of Oswestry and baptised Gruffudd ap Huw ab Owain. He was a student of Dafydd ab Edmwnd (fl. 1450-97) and it is said that both were present at the Carmarthen Eisteddfod of 1450.

Although he’s mainly as a poet he was proficient in a number of fields. He was the most important genealogist of his time and was a member of the commission appointed by Henry VII to trace the genealogy of his grandfather Owain Tudur.

The manuscript site ( and National Library of Wales.

Swiss Sutter swings by Sacramento

Janet Fullwood has an interesting article in The Sacremento Bee, Swiss Sutter swings by Sacramento, that is the opposite of what Americans normally experience when it comes to travel and genealogy – somebody from elsewhere stopping by to do a little genealogy research in the US, or in this case, several times.

Excerpt from the article:

Americans travel all over the planet to trace their family history. But given our nation’s relatively short existence, the reverse isn’t so often seen.

Bernhard Sutter, 38, a Swiss journalist in town recently for a travel industry conference, grew up on stories of a relative named John Sutter who traveled to California in the 1830s, charmed his way into a Mexican land grant, built a fort and founded a colony called New Helvetia (New Switzerland).

That settlement, of course, became Sacramento. And John Sutter, whose mill on the American River was the site of an 1848 gold discovery that rocked the world, has had a place in the history books ever since.

“My father and grandfather always told me we were somehow related, but no one really knew if it was wishful thinking or true. No one had done the genealogy,” Bernhard Sutter said.

What is known is that Sacramento’s founder, though born in Germany, married and fathered five children in the same Swiss canton (political-geographic area) that is the ancestral home of Bernhard’s branch of the Sutter clan.

Good article, and unique. Usually it’s Americans returning to Europe or elsewhere.

Oprah’s Liberian heritage could inspire nation’s residents

Oprah’s Liberian heritage could inspire nation’s residents, an interesting article by Jeremy Levitt in the Chicago Sun-Times, delves into just what impact the recent PBS Documentary “African American Lives”, which covered the genealogy of several prominent African-Americans, will have on Liberia and Liberian genealogy research as a whole. Although it covers mostly the Liberian aspect, it’s still kind of an interesting read (and they bring up some of the problems with DNA genealogy research).

Excerpt from the article:

According to the brilliant PBS documentary ”African American Lives” hosted by Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., Winfrey — one of the richest, most influential and most popular people in the world — originally descends from Liberia, one of the poorest and most war-torn countries on Earth. She purportedly originates from the Kpelle ethnic group, one of 16 of Liberia’s major ethno-linguistic groups……

The four-hour multipart series investigates and reconstructs African-American history through genealogy and DNA testing. The show’s subjects included several other black notables, including Quincy Jones, Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Tucker.