Who Do You Think You Are? (2004) s15e01 Episode Script

Michelle Keegan

I can feel my toe nail varnish peeling off! Dead match.
That was good, yes.
Happy with that? - Yeah.
If you told me, like, ten years ago that I would be doing a BBC drama.
It's about the Army.
Playing a lead, I would never have believed you, I would have been like, no, definitely not, not me.
Michelle Keegan got her first big acting break in Coronation Street.
For the past two years, she's starred in the BBC drama Our Girl.
Calm down, Rab.
I loved every second of it and it was an amazing opportunity.
But I felt like a million miles away.
I felt so far away from home, it was ridiculous.
There's nowhere quite like Manchester and as soon as I'm back here, I feel settled and I feel happy.
Manchester's home.
When I meet new people they always say, what have you got in you? Obviously I'm dark skinned, I've got olive skinned so I turn around and go, Manchester.
They're like, no, no, there's something else there.
My grandad was from England and my grandma was from Gibraltar.
I would love to know more about my family history there.
And I'd love to find out where did we come from before Gibraltar.
Were we just in Gibraltar or did we come from somewhere totally different? I'm always the one that goes into old buildings and I'm like, imagine who has been in this room or imagine who has touched these walls.
I'm that person.
So to think that I can do that, and talk about my family who have been there before me I think will be unbelievable.
But I've always been interested in my family history, always.
When my grandma was alive I used to ask her so many questions but I would love to look further down the line, my great-great-great grandparents.
To kick-start her search Michelle has asked her mum, Jackie, to pull out some photos of their Gibraltarian family.
Hello! - Hi.
Oh, it's cold.
- Come on in.
Do you want to see some photos? - Yes.
How old is that case? Oh, older than me.
So it's very old.
Very old.
- This is a family heirloom.
Are there any pictures of grandma? In there? My Grandma, your mum.
There she is.
That's grandma.
I've no hair.
You didn't have any hair until you were about 18 months.
Look how proud grandma was.
Grandma was really attractive, wasn't she? She always was.
I've got one of her engagement here.
To your grandad.
Oh, yeah.
Look at grandad.
- I always thoughtgrandad looked like Postman Pat.
Did she ever speak Spanish to grandad? Yes, when she used to shout at him.
Grandad couldn't speak Spanish at all.
So she was like shouting in Spanish.
And then to shout at him.
So what of these, then, mum? These are your great grandparents.
This is Leonor and Charles on their wedding day.
Look how beautiful she looks.
She is very elegant.
They absolutely idolised each other.
Did they? - Yeah, they went everywhere together.
They never went anywhere separate.
And that's Charles with Leonor.
Look at the pram.
- Like a big bucket.
And that's the rock behind them.
Huge Gibraltar Rock.
There's the family again.
That's a nice picture.
That's your grandma.
Skinny legs.
- Look how smart the men always looked.
The kids, how smart they looked then.
The socks.
That's really cute.
- That is Leonor all dressed up.
That's a nice outfit.
That's a Gibraltarian outfit.
All the ruffles.
It's weird because obviously she's wearing the flamenco outfit now in this picture, which is obviously a Spanish tradition.
Gibraltarian, yeah.
But it's like It's hard to distinguish.
This Gibraltar Spanish or is it British? It's owned by Britain It's British.
The currency is British.
But she's dressed Spanish.
It's just the tradition of Gibraltar, you know? They've got to have their own traditions.
- But they see themselves as Like Scotland has the kilts and tartan.
They do see themselves as British? Yes.
- With Spanish heritage? Well, it's not Spanish, it's Gibraltarian.
- I don't get it.
Michelle wants to find out more about her great-grandmother, Leonor, who was born in Gibraltar and married Englishman, Charles Stewart Wiltshire, an electrician in the Royal Engineers Regiment.
Known as the rock, Gibraltar is located on the Mediterranean, attached to the southern tip of Spain.
British military have been in Gibraltar since they seized it from the Spanish in 1704.
Michelle has come to find out more about her great-grandmother and her Gibraltarian family.
I just want to know what her life was like before she was my great grandma.
Before she was my mum's grandma.
I just want to know everything I can about her.
Michelle has arranged to meet historian Jennifer Ballantyne.
Hi, Jennifer.
- Hi, Michelle.
Lovely to meet you.
- Lovely to meet you too.
Thank you so much for seeing me, I really appreciate it.
I want to show you some pictures that I've brought today, of my great grandma.
That's her.
She looks really happy and the children look very happy.
He's cute, isn't he? Lovely pram.
- It was like the box with wheels.
It looks like a toy, doesn't it? So I would really love to know more about my great-grandma's life.
Have a look at this.
This is 1911 census.
I take it this is her family? There she is.
That's her name.
That's Leonor.
- Orfila, that's my great-grandma's maiden name.
So she was four years old and then, obviously, she was the youngest when this was taken.
So it starts here.
Miguel Orfila, he's 49.
What does that say? - The head of the family.
So that is my great-grandma's dad? He would be my great, great grandfather.
Occupation, groom.
Yes, a groom.
So he looks after horses.
He looked after horses.
This would be very, very much a working class job.
Cleaning after horses, grooming them, keeping them fit.
Making sure that they were fed, keeping the stables clean.
There would be many stables around Gibraltar, in the city centre.
Not only because of horse-drawn carriages, but because we also had a fox hunt in Gibraltar.
There was a fox hunt in Gibraltar? From the early 19th century until the Second World War it was a big thing because Gibraltar is British, of course.
And very British at that.
The hunt was an important social event in Gibraltar.
Miguel's work as a groom would have made him familiar with such British customs yet, like most Gibraltarians at the time, he would speak Spanish with his family at home.
So, religion, Miguel was obviously a Roman Catholic, and so were the rest of the family.
- Yes.
Roman Catholic is the predominant religion and their education would have been a church education.
So it is likely that Leonor's education was in Spanish.
Because a lot of the priests would have come over from Spain.
I find it so interesting.
I remember that my great-grandmother when I was little, she only spoke Spanish.
I can't remember speaking a word of English.
My mum said that as well.
Especially in her later years she did not communicate in English at all.
Jennifer is taking Michelle to visit her great-grandmother Leonor's childhood home.
So how old are these buildings, then? They date back to the 19th century, a lot of them.
The street the Orfilas lived on was in a working-class area on the upper part of the town.
Lime Kiln Steps.
Yes, there was a lime kiln in this area at the top.
Limestone? - Burning limestone to create quicklime.
Like cement? - Yes.
Is that what most of the buildings are made up of, lime, around here? Yes, yes.
That would've had a great impact on the families living here.
In close proximity of an industrial process.
Because of the heat.
Pollution, the dust and obviously it is at the top of the rock as well.
Yes.
- It would drift down.
Throughout Leonor's childhood, the family rented small apartments here on Lime Kiln Steps.
Little doorways everywhere.
Yes.
And over here you see as well.
- Number four.
Yes.
- It's in here? Oh my God, it's so small.
So how many people lived here? Well, we know that 19 people lived there.
19 people? It's tiny.
Leonor lived in one of the upper apartments with her parents, three older brothers, and an older sister.
You can imagine all the kids playing around and looking out for each other.
I bet it was so loud.
- So loud.
Yeah.
People in and out crossing up and down all day.
Every day.
- Wow.
The conversations taking place from one window to the other.
Oh, yes.
- In Gibraltar, we refer to it as patio culture.
Because a lot of these tenements for working-class families did have a central courtyard where a lot of their activities, community activities, as you say, between people, which take place.
But I know, like, my grandma was when she was alive.
She had the door open, 24/7.
All the time.
And that's what it was like here as well.
I just wish I could go back in time and live a day, in the life here, just to feel it.
Just around the corner is the family's local church, the Sacred Heart.
So I take it they would have been here every Sunday morning as a family.
Every Sunday morning, every Holy Day of obligation.
It would have been a focal point for the family and every family living here.
That's it.
And whole community would have come here.
It's a beautiful church.
Yes.
- I have a picture, actually.
That I found my great grandma on her wedding day.
Oh, my goodness.
Do you think that would've been in this church? No, I'm afraid not.
- No? Why? Leonor would have certainly expected to have married inside the Sacred.
Heart Church, but she didn't.
She did not marry here.
So this is Leonor's marriage certificate.
Oh, she got married on the 29th of August 1932, she was 24.
Charles Stewart Wiltshire was 25.
Married in the Wesleyan Methodist church.
Obviously, my great-grandma was Roman Catholic.
Charles, my great-grandfather, he was Church of England.
Church of England.
- So he couldn't get married in the Roman Catholic Church.
- And this was a mixed marriage.
At the time known as a mixed marriage.
And so your parish priest tells you you can't do this, this is wrong.
She rebelled.
And she got married for love.
She must have.
- Which is a nice thing.
She must have because it would have been very hard for her to go against the opinion of the church.
Leonor chose love, I think, over I love that.
So it also makes sense now because when my mum showed me this picture she did say that my great grandma and my great grandad didn't like to be apart.
Yes, they look like a beautiful family.
But let me tell you that by 1940 the family would have been torn apart, like every other family in Gibraltar was torn apart at the time.
Why? Because of the Second World War and the evacuation of the civilian population of Gibraltar.
The military establishment in Gibraltar was preparing Gibraltar to function as a fortress.
As a military fortress.
So having civilians in Gibraltar posed all sorts of problems.
During World War II, Gibraltar was a vital strategic importance.
Its location gave Britain and her allies control of naval traffic between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean.
It became a target for enemy bombs.
All regular life on the rock was suspended, and civilians required to leave.
Leonor and her three children, including Michelle's grandmother, were among 16,000 women and children and elderly citizens evacuated.
So my great-grandfather stayed in Gibraltar in the war? Yes, and so Charles would have remained as an electrician.
He would certainly have had an important role to play within the war effort in Gibraltar.
And my grandmother and the kids went off somewhere else? They went off somewhere else.
- Where did they go? Some were sent to Madeira, others to Jamaica, and some families went to London.
I didn't know that.
For the whole war they were separated? To find out where Leonor and her young children were sent, Michelle is going to search records at the Gibraltar National archive.
My great-grandma and my great grandad didn't like to be apart.
They never wear apart, they loved each other very much.
So to be on her own, with three kids would have been absolutely terrifying for her.
Among the archives' huge store of material from the evacuation are the passenger lists of every boat involved.
This is very exciting.
I've just got the box with all the information of ships that were carrying the evacuees to different countries.
All evacuees detail for the these ships must embark.
And that says, underlined, must embark.
And you realise, like, the seriousness of it.
'Noncompliance with any of the above instructions will make the delinquent liable to penalties under the defence regulations.
' So if they step out of line they will be punished, basically.
That's horrendous.
Such a very young mother as well and her children.
And not knowing whether she's going to see her husband ever again, who she was absolutely in love with.
I just want to find out where my great-grandmother was going to.
I'm just going to get W, because I know her surname was Wiltshire.
Yes.
Yes.
There she is.
Leonor Wiltshire, 4, Lime Kiln Steps, and my grandma, Mary Elizabeth.
She was six.
Alfred and Stuart, four and two.
That was my grandma's two brothers.
And my grandmother was six years old.
The ship they were on, it says Ship E, and it's Ulster Monarch.
That's the ship.
They were on that very boat.
I'm going to find out where the Ulster Monarch was going.
Which country it was getting evacuated to.
God, there was loads and loads of ships.
Found it.
Ulster Monarch, Ship E, destination, oh .
.
United Kingdom.
Evacuees like Michelle's grandmother and great-grandmother were mainly housed in London, around Bayswater, Kensington and Fulham.
Michelle has found a newsreel from the time reporting on the new arrivals.
The Navy has brought many women and children from Gibraltar and in Britain, the kindness and generosity is providing clothes and toys for them.
Most of these women have never been outside the vicinity of the rock.
Many of them know very little English.
In their own language, which is a variation of Spanish, PT instruction is given to the children.
There are so many friendly strangers in our midst these days.
So they are actually seen as foreign refugees in the UK.
And they're speaking Spanish, they don't speak English.
The children don't speak any English, so again, must be very confusing for them and terrifying.
They were actually seen as foreign people entering the UK, when they saw themselves as British.
They are British citizens.
Aware like fathers like Charles, Michelle's great-grandfather would be anxious about their families, the war office produced a film to be shown in the cinemas back in Gibraltar.
Here in the open spaces of the capital, your families take their daily walk.
Kids are so young.
Their games are the games of English schoolchildren.
They're playing netball.
That's me, never got it in.
You can see the more trying to get in the camera shot.
You can see them, trying to move each other out the way, saying, I'm here, I'm OK.
We're all here, we're all fine.
The idea of Britain that everyone in schoolchildren shall be well nourished with the right kind of food.
And this principle extends to the young visitors in its midst.
It's breaking my heart a little bit watching it, trying to take it in, trying to spot my grandma.
I guess when all the fathers and brothers are watching this, of their families they are doing exactly same thing.
They're looking out for their relatives, too.
It's made me really want to know what it was like.
Were the kids actually that happy? Or was that all for show? So I'd really like to talk to someone about that and my grandma's cousin, Michael, he was very close to my grandma, he is of a similar age to her, would he have been on the list as well as my grandma? So I'm going to check, I'm going to check.
I've just come across the address where we visited before, which is Lime Kiln Steps, number four.
I see Jose and Maria and Miguel.
And Miguel is Michael, and that's who I know.
So he lived with my grandma on Lime Kiln Steps.
I would love to ask him more about that, definitely.
Michelle's great-uncle Michael, now aged 84, still lives in Gibraltar.
And she has arranged to meet him for a drink and a chat.
Hi! - Hello! They're joined by Michael's grandson, Michelle's third cousin, Tim.
So, do you remember my grandma, then, with you? Yes, yes.
- Were you close growing up? Yes.
I was born in September and she was born in November.
I think that we were always together, you know? Were you more like brother and sister than cousins? I don't know if you knew, Tim, because I didn't know, I was in the archives down in Gibraltar town centre and apparently you were evacuees.
Yes.
- And you went to London? London, yeah.
It took us about 16 days to get there.
It took 16 days? Down in the hull of a cargo ship.
There was six toilets for maybe 300, 400 people in the boat.
When we got to London, they took us to a place to wash us.
Like wash you, hose you down? And brush us.
And then something, in case you had any germs or anything like that.
Oh, no, no, no! How long were you in London for? Four years.
- Four years? Whereabouts did you stay? 100 Lancaster Gate, it's opposite the Hyde Park.
Nice area.
- If you walk that way, you go to Paddington Station.
My granddad's got a few photos.
That's Lancaster Gate, where we stayed.
This is where you lived? - Yes.
This balcony there.
On the second floor.
- I feel likeI've driven past here before.
In this building, would you say that everyone was from Gibraltar, in this building? - About 400 odd.
400 in this one building? I imagine it was relative luxury after sharing six toilets between 400 on a ship.
- I know.
On a ship, yes.
- What was it like? Quite good because we used to go to the pictures.
I remember going to a toy shop in Oxford Street.
I used to go to the park and play with other boys.
So just like a normal upbringing, really? What do you think it would have been like for the mums? I think they had to put up with what they had, you know? You cannot choose.
- Do you think they found it hard? Beggars cannot choose.
- True.
Michelle's family and the other Gibraltar evacuees had been in London less than a month when in September 1940, the Blitz began.
During 76 nights of relentless firebombing by the Luftwaffe, half a million of London's houses were destroyed.
Anti-aircraft guns were installed in Hyde Park.
Buckingham Palace, just a short walk away from where Michelle's family were living, was struck twice.
In 1944, the family was still in the city when the Germans targeted London again, with unmanned missiles known as doodlebugs or flying bombs.
Do you remember, do you remember bombs going off? Do you remember it? - Yes.
When the flying bombs came and then B-bombers, it's more-or-less a stronger one.
And do you remember, like, going to air raid shelters and hearing? The noise? Yes.
We went to the Underground.
Right.
- Because things were getting bad, very bad.
I looked out of one of the windows one day and I saw a flying bomb, on the way to Hyde Park.
It must have fallen there.
Really? - Even the road in front of us was bombed all the road was Did you see that? - Yes, we saw it.
After it happened? - In the morning, after we looked out the window.
It's amazing, I think, what it says about that generation, that they didn't feel the threat, and they felt that, that they had that spirit, that you have to get on with whatever you're dealt with.
- Yeah.
I've learnt so many things about my family from being here.
I didn't even know my great grandma and my grandma were involved in World War II.
When I was away filming Our Girl, obviously, I was in these foreign countries, carrying my backpack, and finding it really tough.
But I realise now, that was nothing compared to what my great grandma went through.
She literally had to leave her husband behind, travel across to London, in the middle of World War II, on her own with three young kids and I am very, very proud of her.
Michelle now wants to push further back into her family history.
I'd love to find out, where did we come from before Gibraltar? Were we just in Gibraltar? Or did we come from somewhere totally different? She's come to the Garrison Library to meet local researcher Richard Garcia.
Hi, Richard.
Hi, lovely to meet you.
Pleased to meet you.
Come this way, please.
I've been doing a bit of research and I want you to have a look at your family tree.
Fantastic, thank you.
- For you to open up and have a look.
Oh, I just saw my name! It's huge.
It's massive.
It goes back, it goes back centuries.
It's amazing, wow.
OK, so obviously, myself, the last one.
My mum and my dad.
My grandma and grandad, Brian and Mary, and I've just been finding out a lot about Leonor, Gibraltarian.
Go up again Portugal here.
We have Spain, Leon, Gibraltar again, Menorca.
Yes.
- So Genoa Genoa? - Yes, Genoa, yes.
Where's that? - In Italy.
Italy? - Yes, North Italy.
It was The Republic of Genoa at the time.
So I have Italian in my blood? Yes, you do.
I had no idea.
I didn't know that at all.
Richard's identified the first of Michelle's ancestors to have settled in Gibraltar.
So that's third times, four times, five times.
Yes.
- Six times.
So that's seven times great-grandfather? That's right.
- Giacomo Parodi.
Giacomo.
He was originally from Genoa.
I've got a map here.
- Thanks.
I'm not going to lie, Richard, I have no idea where Genoa is, no idea! - Well, that's why the map is useful.
Thank you.
So I take it that's Italy here.
And have a look up there.
So it's right on the coast.
Yes.
- Genoa.
So, Giacomo travelled from Italy to Gibraltar? Why was that? - There was work here.
Britain took Gibraltar from Spain in 1704, and quickly established a military garrison to make sure they held onto it.
The Garrison and the Royal Navy ships that filled the harbour required regular and substantial supplies.
People from every corner of the Mediterranean, including Michelle's seven times great-grandfather Giacomo, were drawn to the opportunities that British Gibraltar offered.
Do you know when Giacomo came over? Obviously the late 1700s.
Right, well, we have another document here.
This is the census of 1777.
Look at this Giacomo, there he is.
And - Seaman.
A seaman.
- 34.
The first column So he was 34 in 1777, and had been in Gibraltar for 21 years.
So he was 13 when he came over? - Exactly.
So he was 13 when he came over from Italy to work? Yes.
Only 13.
And we've got a picture here.
It shows what a Genoese seaman looked like.
They look like they're wearing their pyjamas.
But, although it says here he was a seaman, he also actually had a wine shop.
And his wine shop was situated between the barracks and the Naval Hospital.
- Great location.
In business, yes, yes, yes.
And in 1777, he ran into a spot of bother.
Because he was selling wine to soldiers after hours.
And that was illegal back then, I take it? Yes, he was not allowed to sell wine after nine o'clock.
So what does he do? - I don't know.
He panics.
On the 12th of September, he and his wife sailed from Gibraltar.
They ran away.
Oh, did they? - And on the 14th, the matter came before a judge for a decision and he was fined $10 in absentia.
Did he come back? - Yes, he did.
He was back within a month.
But there's another document here I wanted you to have a look at.
Bakers So he's gone from selling wine, seaman first, selling wine, seaman again, and then to a baker? And look again at this other list.
Tobacconist? He's got a finger in every pie.
So he was a businessman? He was, indeed.
- And a savvy businessman at that.
He'd really made the grade.
And, in fact, we can see over here, these are Mediterranean passes for ships.
Parodi.
- This was one of three ships that he owned.
So would you say back then he was quite wealthy? Yes.
From a 13-year-old penniless boy turning up in Gibraltar.
He ended up with a tobacconist license, a baker, owning ships, and - Wine seller.
He did terrifically well.
This is something that I have been wanting for a long, long time, to know where my heritage is from.
Like looking at all the different places, where I actually have roots, it's unbelievable.
I've got heritage in Italy.
Never in a million years would that have crossed my mind, and I'd definitely love to find out more.
Can we go? Michelle is heading for the childhood home of her seven times great-grandfather, Genoa, in northern Italy.
Hello! - Hello, where are you? Well, I'm not in Gibraltar any more.
- Oh, wow, where are you, then? Guess.
Somewhere in Spain? No, no.
I'll give you a clue I'm drinking a cappuccino.
France? You're not very good at geography, are you? - That's where I get it from you! So, obviously, I've been doing research on the family, and originally we came from Italy.
Look, there's your name.
Grandma.
And then I think it's like your six times grandad is.
Giacomo Parodi, and he's from Genoa.
But he went over to Gibraltar when he was 13 years old, on his own.
We've gone back, right back to the 18th century, 1740, we went back to.
I'm going to go out now and find out more about Giacomo.
OK then, have a good time.
- Bye, love you.
Italy, as it exists today, was not formed until 1861.
Giacomo Parodi was a citizen of Genoa, an independent state whose wealth and reputation was based on seafaring.
Christopher Columbus was born and raised here.
I've always wanted to find out about my ancestry.
I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd end up somewhere as amazing as this.
To find out more about Giacomo and the Parodi family line, Michelle is meeting researcher Maria-Laura Rufelini.
This is Santo Stefano Church.
This is Giacomo's family church.
So Giacomo came here when he was younger? He was baptised in this church.
This area was a country area, they were farmers and peasants.
They were growing a lot of vegetables that were meant for the market in Genoa.
So was this like a poor village here? Definitely.
Giacomo left his country because he was poor.
Most of the Italians that emigrated had the same reason.
Let me show the records, where they are.
Brilliant.
So you work in here, then? Do you? It's freezing cold.
- Is it haunted? No, not really.
We should wear these gloves.
Protective gloves.
There was a study done by the Polytechnic of Milan, and they found on the books are clues of the diet of the people at that time, of chick peas and beans.
How did they find that out? Because they found some protein of those vegetables on the pages of the books.
And also, they found another thing, the protein of the bacterium of the plague.
Yes.
- The plague? Yes, the plague, in the records dating back to mid-1600.
So are we safe with this book? Are we so safe to touch this book? - Yes.
Santo Stefano was the only church in the neighbourhood with a font, so local Genoans, including Michelle's ancestors, were all baptised here.
And this is the birth record of.
Giacomo Parodi.
Yes, it says Giacomo Filippo Parodi, son of Giovanbattista Parodi, and of Teresa, his wife.
So is this written in Italian? No, it is written in Latin.
Latin was the language of the church.
We have do go back in this volume, and we'll find So you can find Giacomo's parents' baptism records as well? Yeah.
Here it is.
Giovanbattista Parodi was born from Giuseppe and Pellegrina on 22nd of June, 1713.
That's gone way back.
Is that Parodi, there? Yes.
It says, 1680 is born Giuseppe Maria Parodi.
It says that he was born but he was in danger of death, so he was baptised in his house by the midwife.
I thought only priests were able to baptise a baby? Yes, but when a baby is in danger of life So he was baptised at home because there was complications at the birth? So Giovanbattista and Angela Parodi were my Seven, eight, nine, ten Ten times great-grandparents? Yes.
Your ancestors really, definitely, are coming from here.
Not only from this area, but from this village, from this church, and your roots are in this book.
That's amazing, isn't it? - Yeah, I know.
Thank you for finding this for me, Maria.
The parish priest has given permission for Michelle to take a look inside the church that was so central to her Genoese ancestors' lives.
It is absolutely stunning.
Look at the walls.
Oh, my God.
So this is the font where Giacomo would have been baptised? So that's hundreds and hundreds of years old.
My other ancestors, this was their main parish church and them two got baptised in here.
And I'm here now, just touching it.
If you think about how poor this neighbourhood was, and just farmers, they worked on the land, but look at this church.
It's phenomenal.
It's stunning.
This doesn't look like a church of a poor town.
It just shows how important religion was to them.
It would be a beautiful church to get married in though, wouldn't it? This would make the day.
Right on cue.
I'm actually looking through the eyes of my ancestors, being in this room now.
This is very, very special.
Very special.
I was just born in Manchester and my grandma spoke Spanish now and again, and that was it.
And people have said, "Oh you've got a bit of a tan, "you catch the sun easy, don't you? You've got dark hair".
And then, in fact, rewind 300 years, and this is why.
This is where it all stemmed from.
It's just very, very overwhelming, but in a nice way, in a beautiful way.
It's just very overwhelming.
I'd love to bring my mum here.
I never thought in my wildest dreams that I'd end up somewhere as amazing as this.
So the fact that I've, you know, followed in my ancestors' footsteps for the past few days, and the fact we've gone back to the 17th century is unbelievable and is definitely making me think, what else is there on the other side of my family, on other branches? And I definitely, definitely would love to find out.
Back home, Michelle is now on the trail of her Manchester roots, about which she knows very little.
Because my grandma was such a big presence in the family, she sort of overshadowed my grandad a lot of the time.
So it was all about her side of the family and, obviously, because she was born abroad, everyone wanted to know about her side.
So I want to take this chance to find out more about my English side of the family, my granddad's side.
Michelle is visiting her grandfather Brian's younger sister, her great aunt Paula.
Hello! Nice to see you.
- Lovely to see you! How are you? - It is.
I'm very well.
I got you a present.
From Italy.
You must be whizzing all over the place.
Do you want to come through into the living room? We can sit down, and have a chat.
Thank you.
So, I'm back in Manchester now and I want to find out about my granddad's side.
Yeah.
- Your brother's side.
Is there anything you can tell me? Well, if you look at this picture behind us.
Yeah.
- The three children in the bottom left.
The one on the right hand side with the mop of curly hair, that's your grandad.
- Grandad! He had curls, apparently, because I wasn't born then Until he was nine or ten.
Who is the couple above that picture, because he looks exactly like grandad? Oh, right, yes.
Well, that's my dad, Jim, James.
Is it, because I've never seen a picture of my great grandad! Yeah, he was the image.
He really was.
- And that's Nora, my mum.
Your mum, yeah.
- On their wedding day.
Do you know when that was taken? The wedding, they were married in 1926.
I knew that the '20s, you can tell by the veil that was in the '20s.
So who were her parents? Elizabeth and John, who we called, they called Jack.
So do you have photos of Elizabeth and Jack? I have nothing.
We didn't take any photos at all, I'm ashamed to say.
They lived in Greenheys.
Where's that? - Which is Moss Side.
A particular area of Moss Side, very poor area.
Every Saturday, I'd go on the bus and I'd walk from the main road to Waterloo Grove, where she lived on the end house.
All I can think of around there is how friendly it all was but how black everything was.
Really? - Yeah, every Bricks were not red.
They were black.
- Was that from the pollution? Yeah, because of the fog was The factories as well.
- Yeah.
When it was foggy, it was black fog.
You literally could not see a thing.
- Really? And my nana sort of looked after the whole of Waterloo Grove.
She sat there at her front door whenever possible and she looked after a couple of waifs and strays.
She looked after people's money.
She kept their rent books, and paid their rent for them, and looked after people.
- Did she? She told them off as well.
If they were a bit feckless, you know? Oh yeah, she'd give them what for.
So she was well-respected? - A very strong character, yeah.
He was very respected but very quiet.
Do you know when Jack and Elizabeth were born and married, like dates? I have no idea.
- I wish I wouldn't have left it for so long to find out information about the family.
Well, it would be interesting.
I'd love to find out something about them because, you know, we know nothing about them, really.
To continue the search into her Mancunian roots, Michelle is heading to central Manchester.
See, now that I'm in Manchester, back up north, and driving round the city with my cup of tea, I feel like I'm home.
Well, I am home.
I don't know if it's the people, I don't know if it's the feeling of the city itself, I don't know if it's about the culture and, you know, the history behind it, I don't know, but this is where I'm meant to be.
Michelle wants to find out about her two times great-grandparents, John, known as Jack, and Elizabeth Kirwan.
She has come to Manchester Central Library.
Do you want on come this way and I'll show you these documents? Michelle's meeting historian Michaela Hume to find out what records can tell her about Elizabeth and John's lives.
So, it's a marriage certificate? And this was in 1901, from my great, great grandparents? Great, great grandparents.
- OK, and it's John Kirwan.
Yes.
- And he was 22 years of age.
And then Elizabeth Lethbridge, yeah, Lethbridge? She was 20 years of age and she lived at the same address as She actually lived next door.
So she lived at 94, so they were neighbours.
So she was next door neighbour! - They were neighbours, yes.
That's quite sweet.
And her dad is Edward Lethbridge, deceased before she got married.
Yeah, he actually died before her first birthday.
Would that have been hard in them days? - That would have been really difficult.
Women tended to rely on their husband's wage, so he would have been the main breadwinner.
So the fact that Elizabeth's mum had managed to keep them out of the workhouse is really testament towards her character.
She was obviously a very strong woman.
- She was a very strong woman, yeah.
Shortly after their marriage, Elizabeth and John moved to West Gorton, one of the most overcrowded and industrial parts of Manchester.
The tightly terraced houses had little access to clean air or water and disease was rife.
So, I'm going to give you this certificate just to have a look at.
OK.
Right So this is A death certificate.
So, 1903.
Kathleen Kirwan, mother E Kirwan.
Four months old.
So this is their daughter of four months, died? Oh my God, that's awful.
That's horrible.
Cause of death Epidemic enteritis, and that's 21 days.
That's what we would call today diarrhoea.
She died from diarrhoea? Yeah, diarrhoea was a common thing to die of during this period.
And the fact it was an epidemic, it's sort of going round the area.
Gorton, that's near here, that, isn't it? Not far from here at all.
It was only, they had three rooms, that was it.
The family did? So if you can imagine So one's a kitchen, living room, there was a bathroom? Or was the bathroom outside? The kitchen and living room would have been one, and then two bedrooms.
- That would have been it.
There was a street in Manchester where 280 people shared one privy.
One toilet.
- One toilet? One toilet, yeah.
So I've got another certificate here for you to have a look at.
Another death certificate.
The 9th of April 1904, Winifred Kirwan, two years.
Yeah, so she's two years old.
Cause of death What is that? - That's convulsions.
And convulsions, that's fits? Fits, yeah.
And she had those for three hours.
I can't believe that happened in the space of a year, that two of her babies died.
Literally, they lost two children in the year.
That's really sad.
But looking at where both these babies died, they died at home.
Would my great-great-grandmother Elizabeth been there at the time of the deaths? - She would have.
The chances are that their mother would have been looking after them herself.
I bet that was terrifying.
And I think what's noticeable about both of these deaths is had those children been living today, they They wouldn't have died? - They wouldn't have died.
God, that's awful.
When the Kirwans lived there, nearly a quarter of all children in West Gorton died before their first birthday.
Health campaigners had only just begun to understand how contaminated water carried disease and toxic fumes from factories caused respiratory illness.
If you look at Winifred's death in particular, she was two years old.
So you would, as a mother, perhaps suggest that by that age she would, you know, she would have been out of the woods.
In terms of infant mortality, but unfortunately, she wasn't.
Right, I've got another certificate I'd like to show you now.
Birth certificate.
A happier one! So the 7th of May 1904, Norah.
My great grandma was born in 1904.
Yeah.
- 7th of May.
When registered, 16th of June 1904.
And they lived at 23, Thomas Street in Gorton.
Yeah.
I want you just to keep reading here.
So signature of registrar is E Pankhurst.
Why do I know that name? - That's Emmeline Pankhurst.
She was one of the leaders of the suffragette movement.
So why did she sign this certificate? Because she was actually also the registrar of the Chorlton-upon-Medlock district.
So, obviously, my great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth, would have known who she was? Emmeline Pankhurst would have been sort of famous at this time for being the leader of the suffragette movement.
Yeah, they were quite radical, so they were in the papers quite a bit.
So, yeah, so Elizabeth would have known who she was.
Really? - Yes.
So my great-great-grandma Elizabeth, would she have been involved with the suffragettes? It's hard for us to say whether Elizabeth Kirwan would have been part of this movement, and that's just through a lack of records, especially with working-class women at this time.
Generally, we can only find out if they were involved by looking at newspaper reports, or if they'd done something wrong.
It was some sort of criminal report, that they would have been actually registered as part of this movement.
But Elizabeth would have known who she was.
Michelle has discovered that great-grandmother's birth was registered by the famous suffragette leader, Emmeline Pankhurst.
In her work as a registrar, officially recording births, marriages and deaths, Emmeline witnessed first-hand not just the appalling living conditions, but also the gruelling, poorly paid work many women endured.
The Pankhursts were one of Manchester's most radical families and had long campaigned for women's votes, convinced that without representation, the suffering of women like Elizabeth Kirwan would never be addressed.
The year before signing Norah Kirwan's birth certificate, Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women's Socialist Political Union.
Their slogan, 'Deeds Not Words', was a rallying cry for active confrontation.
From large-scale demonstrations, to direct clashes with the police, arrest, prison and hunger strikes, these women were using civil disobedience to bring about political change.
Militant suffragists have waited too long for political justice.
We refuse to wait any longer.
To find out whether her great-great-grandmother, Elizabeth, could have been involved in this campaign, Michelle has come to the Pankhurst Centre.
She's meeting social historian Helen Antrobus.
Hi, Michelle! - Hi, nice to meet you.
I'm Helen, welcome to the Pankhurst Centre.
Come in.
Come through.
So, this is the drawing-room where Emmeline Pankhurst formed the WSPU.
And she actually lived in this space? She did, this was her parlour, so this is where in 1903 Come through.
They decided that action was needed and they decided to form The Women's Social and Political Union.
So in here, this is where they had all the women's meetings and stuff? Yeah, this is where they'll started off, just in this small drawing-room.
I would love to be a fly on the wall It must have been amazing.
- .
.
back then.
Do you want to come and take a seat in the parlour? Yeah.
Where did it come from, the name 'suffragette'? So suffragette came from the term suffragists.
If you were a suffragist, you were a woman fighting for the vote, and that's, like, the term, the overarching term that everyone was using at the time.
The way they differed from other campaigns, is that they did not obey the law.
They would smash windows, they would bomb postboxes.
Women's suffrage really did kick off here in Manchester.
And you always hear people go, "Oh, she's a strong Northern lass".
Do you think that's where it came from? - I think it goes back further than that.
We look back at the working-class women who would have gone out of the factories in the morning, come back, made dinner.
It was them who controlled all the wages that came in, who did everything.
I think women had to be strong.
It was hard times and they had to help their families survive.
I was speaking to my great auntie, Paula, who was telling me about her grandma, Elizabeth, and how she was like the matriarch of the street, and of the community.
She used to, like, take people in and everyone saw her, as this strong leader in this community.
Would you say she was a part this movement? We do struggle as museum curators and historians because working-class women are so often written out of history.
So that's the trouble, really, I'll never find out if she was involved or not? Well, we actually have some census documents from 1911 about Elizabeth.
Now in 1911, loads of the suffrage organisations tried to boycott the census, because they said if they weren't being represented, they weren't going to represent themselves.
So John Kirwan, Elizabeth Kirwan.
Wife She was a suffragist? - Elizabeth was a suffragist.
No way! So she was involved in this campaign? - She was involved in this campaign.
So she saw that as a job for her, so her job was being a suffragist? She saw it as her occupation, to be a suffragist, to fight for women to win the vote.
No way! She fought for votes for women.
Which, everything you've told me about her, is absolutely no surprise.
She's been very clever with the census, because lots of women would deface it, would scribble all over it.
She's actually operating inside the law.
She's not breaking any rules by writing 'suffragist', she's not defaced it or scribbled 'votes for women' across it, which some people did.
But she's still being defiant.
She's proud, like, this is me, this is what I support and I'm writing that down for the world to see.
Absolutely, she wants everyone to know that she's fighting for women to win the vote.
In 1918, seven years after Elizabeth identified herself as a suffragist, the Representation of the People Act allowed women to vote in general elections for the first time.
And this is the polling district of Chorlton-upon-Medlock.
And if you look here, this is Waterloo Grove, where John and Elizabeth lived.
Elizabeth and John Kirwan, at the top! Elizabeth is the first, she's the first name up there.
She's the first! They both voted? This had been the first time ever Elizabeth would have been able to vote for a candidate.
I can't believe it's only 100 years ago.
When you say it, it doesn't seem very long.
It wasn't even that long ago when this happened.
Absolutely.
- That's amazing, that's unbelievable! You can see loads of other women's names on this, would've been the first time this happened.
Oh, God, don't get emotional! And it's good to see, actually, looking at all the list, very empowering and I bet, like, a lot of these women had been fighting for this for years, as well.
It's like you said, this day meant a lot to them.
I've always been proud of my heritage, always, and I'm always very, very proud of my family, always.
From my grandma to my mum, I've always been around strong women, and now, looking at my ancestors and my bloodline, I totally understand why now.
Like, on my mum's side I have my grandma, my great-grandma, who were evacuated from a totally different country, on their own and seen as refugees.
And then on this side, on my granddad's side, which I didn't know anything about until the past few days my ancestor was a suffragette and she fought for women and she fought for women's rights.
And it's sort of like a jigsaw that's all fitted together and it all sort of makes sense now.
And I'm really proud of the fact that these women are actually in me, they're part of me, and that's what I'm going to take forward.