BBC presenter Alex Scott fought back tears after learning one of her ancestors owned 26 slaves, while tracing her ancestry on the programmeWho Do You Think You Are?
Alex visited Jamaica to trace back her father's family, and was horrified to learn that 26 people were enslaved by her four-times great grandfather Robert Coombs between 1817 and 1832.
"In my family line – this doesn’t sound right coming out of my mouth – but Robert Francis Coombs owned people?" said Alex.
The One Show host fought back tears as she looked at the records of people enslaved by her four-times great grandfather, saying: "In terms of explaining my emotion behind it, I suppose that goes against everything that I stand for, who I am."
"It was hard to take," said Alex.
"That ownership of a human life is so wrong. I don’t think that stories are told a lot about black people owning slaves."
During the episode, she also learnt about her relatives including Robert Coomb's wife, and her four-times great grandmother Henrietta, who endured heartbreak after her husband, mother and two children died within a few years of one another from 1905.
Henrietta's relatives, and Alex's ancestors, had died of "dropsy", also known as oedema or water retention.
After filming the episode, which will be broadcast on October 26, 2021, she said: "I was very aware we may be delving into the topic of slavery, but I really did believe I’d be learning about my family as slaves, not the other side, as the slave owners."
Although learning about her family history had shocked her, Alex said she was glad to have found out more about her past.
"People hide their past because maybe they see it as something that people will frown upon if they tell true stories," said Alex.
"But I will never be ashamed of my history because it’s made me the person I am today."
Who Do You Think You Are? BBC1, Tuesday 26, October, 9pm
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