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Old 25-10-21, 22:32
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Default Who Do You Think You Are - Alex Scott 26th Oct

On BBC1 at 9 p.m.
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Old 26-10-21, 22:12
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Episode summary:

Alex Scott was brought up by her mother, Carol McKee, in East London. Her father left when Alex was 7 or 8. Alex went to see Carol, who showed her some family photos and told her that her own father also left when she (Carol) was about 10 or 11. Carol's father came over to England from Belfast in the 1950's and met Carol's mother, Leah Gittleson, known as Lil. Lil's father, Philip Gittleson, was a Russian Jew, known as "Phil G." Lil's mother died when Carol was a baby, but she knew Phil and showed Alex a photo of him.

Alex phoned Carol's cousin Gaby, who told her that Phil G. was attacked in the Battle of Cable Street, and that his parents, Morris and Dora Gittleson, came from Russia. Alex went to a synagogue in East London and met an historian who showed her Morris and Dora's synagogue registration documents, which said they came from ┼Żagar? in Lithuania, where they had married in the late 1800's. Lithuania was then part of the Russian empire and many Jews fled because of anti-Semitism. Philip's birth certificate showed that he was born at 17 St George Street in East London. The street no longer exists, but an old map showed that it was on the edge of the area where many Jews lived.

On the 1911 census, Morris and Dora and their family of 9 people altogether were living in two rooms. On the 1939 Register, their son Abraham Gittleson, Philip's older brother, was listed at Colney Hatch Asylum in Friern Barnet. Alex went to the site of the old asylum, now converted to flats, and met an historian who showed her a photo of Abraham with his wife Annie and another of Abraham as a patient. Records showed that he was admitted to the asylum in 1934 age 41, with symptoms including hearing voices and suffering from delusions. Possible causes were noted as stress, unemployment, and poverty. Annie applied several times for Abraham to be discharged but each time her request was refused. Abraham's death certificate showed that he died in 1963 age 69, still at Friern Barnet.

Alex then went to an old Jewish bakery in the East End and met an historian who showed her that on the 1936 electoral register, Philip was living at 16 St George's Street. On the 4th Oct 1936 Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists planned to hold a march in the East End, with St George's Street being a possible alternative to Cable Street for the route. The police tried to clear the route so the march could take place, but locals prevented them and the "Battle of Cable Street" ended with the march being abandoned. Alex went to see a commemorative mural.

Alex then turned to the paternal side of her tree and went to see her cousin Marie who showed her photos of her grandparents, and their marriage certificate dated 27 Jan 1946 in Portland, Jamaica. John Scott and Philicita Guest gave their fathers' names as Edward Scott, a sailor, and Cleveland Guest. Alex went to Boundbrook Wharf, Port Antonio, in Jamaica and met an historian who showed her a 1905 passenger list for travellers from there to Boston, Massachusetts, where Edward Scott was listed as aged 22, servant to Joshua Hamlin Baker, a member of an important American family in Portland who exported bananas to the US. Alex went to a banana farm to see what it was like. She was shown various records relating to Edward Scott where several different occupations were listed for him. One record showed him as an engineer, after which he went to the US for a few years and returned to Jamaica with a wife. His death certificate showed that he died in Portland age 68.

Alex then found out about her Nan Philicita's parents, Cleveland Guest and Isadora Wright. She went to meet a distant cousin, Lynette Reynolds, who showed her Philicita's birth certificate which said she was born at Swift River, Portland, and told her that the family moved away from Swift River after a disastrous flood. Lynette remembered Cleveland as her mother's uncle who lived with her family, and who used to talk about his mother Hernietta Coombs. Hernietta's baptism record showed that she was born in Saint Ann Parish, Jamaica, on the 25th Jul 1875, the daughter of Samuel Coombs, labourer, and Mary Bailey. Alex went to Happy Retreat Estate and met an historian who showed her a family tree of Hernietta and her partners and 17 children, of which Cleveland was the fifth. Hernietta was listed as a domestic on early records and then as a labourer. Death certificates showed that in 1905 Hernietta's husband Philip Green age 25 and her mother Mary Bailey, and then in 1912 two children, Alice Green age 2 and Leanne Green age 4, all died of dropsy. Hernietta died of cancer in 1942, age 67. Alex asked the historian what "Sambo" meant on Hernietta's baptism record and was told it meant mixed race.

Alex then went to the area where the Coombs family lived, and met an historian who showed her Samuel Coombs' baptism record from 1832, which said that he was "of colour", also meaning mixed race. He was the son of Robert Francis Coombs, a free man, and Frances Tracey, probably a free black woman, according to the historian, as no slave records had been found for Frances. A slave return from 1826 showed Robert as a slave owner in Saint Ann Parish, and a compensation claim from 1834 when slavery was abolished showed that he claimed compensation for freeing 26 slaves, including children. One of the children was Diana, daughter of Eleanor Frances Henry, also a slave.

Robert's will dated 1851 left annuities to "Frances Tracey my current housekeeper" and to Eleanor Frances Henry. It also listed his "reputed children", including Samuel and Diana. Alex went to see Samuel's grave and was helped by a local man who said that he, like everybody else in the area, was descended from the Coombs family.
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Old 26-10-21, 22:13
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I much preferred this episode to the previous two, as it concentrated on more recent generations with a higher degree of connection to the celebrity. Most of the information in the first two episodes was from such a long time ago.
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Old 26-10-21, 22:42
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I wasn't sure whether I had heard the date correctly, so doublechecked the records on Ancestry - Alice aged 2 and Leanne aged 4 both died in 1912. As Philip had died in 1905, they obviously were not his children, but Alex didn't pick up on this.
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Old 27-10-21, 07:19
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I know this is nit picking, lol, but I lived opposite Friern Barnet hospital in the late 60s. My recollection is that Colney Hatch was about a mile away from the main hospital and was a farm devoted to long stay patients such as those with learning difficulties or epilepsy. Maybe it's just a confusion of names.

I quite enjoyed this, as Kate says, it seemed more personal and immediate than the previous two episodes.

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Old 27-10-21, 08:45
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crawfie View Post
I wasn't sure whether I had heard the date correctly, so doublechecked the records on Ancestry - Alice aged 2 and Leanne aged 4 both died in 1912. As Philip had died in 1905, they obviously were not his children, but Alex didn't pick up on this.
Thanks for that, Crawfie. I have corrected my post.
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Old 27-10-21, 08:46
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Olde Crone View Post
I know this is nit picking, lol, but I lived opposite Friern Barnet hospital in the late 60s. My recollection is that Colney Hatch was about a mile away from the main hospital and was a farm devoted to long stay patients such as those with learning difficulties or epilepsy. Maybe it's just a confusion of names.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Friern_Hospital
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Old 27-10-21, 09:53
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I'm always amazed at the records available in the West Indies.
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Old 27-10-21, 10:13
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There are a lot of Jamaican records online now, Gwynne. She could probably have done most of the research from home!
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Old 27-10-21, 14:13
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I'm not sure what the Jamaican researcher meant about Edward Scott going to the USA and coming back with a wife, because this seems to be the marriage record for John Scott's parents (link below) - or was she talking about a second wife?

https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61...3A1%3AKP1B-P9Q
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