Genes Reunited Blog
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Last night was the final episode of Who Do You Think You Are? and the turn of famous artist Tracey Emin. The programme opens with Tracey discussing how little she knows about her own family history. They start to delve back into Tracey's maternal side and they soon discover some black sheep... Tracey's great grandfather, Henry, was sent to adult prison at just 13 years old.
In the 19th Century there was a growing problem with child criminals and the government was concerned that children were struggling to reform because they were being sent to adult prisons. In 1854 Reformatory Schools were established for child offenders. Originally from France they were described as a moral alternative to prison. The young offenders were taught agricultural skills, reading, writing and arithmetic.
Tracey's great grandfather Henry was sent to Kerrison Reformatory. She discovers that after their time spent in Reformatory's there was an opportunity to immigrate to Canada. Canada offered a new start that many youngsters needed, from 1817 - 1925, 18,000 people went to Canada to start a new life as labourers. It's thought that some children were sent to Canada without their parents consent. Henry left Kerrison Reformatory and returned home to his father, Tracey learns that he expressed a wish to go to Canada but was persuaded not to by his friends.
Tracey looks devastated to hear that Henry commits another crime and is sent straight to prison. A historian explains to Tracey the harsh treatments in prisons and how the strict separation of inmates drove many people to insanity. There is a light at the end of the tunnel for Henry, once out of prison he settles down and marries.
In the final half of the programme Tracey learns more about her great great grandfather, Joseph who was a gypsy and a Beesom (broom stick) maker. Industrialisation meant that travellers struggled to survive as machines started taking over their skilled work. Tracey discovers that Joseph later marries in Bethnal Green and listed his occupation as an engine driver. It seems that he abandoned his family and moved to the city. He didn't even tell his children of his true roots.
Tracey was delighted to discover that her ancestors were gypsies and it made for a very interesting show. If you missed the show and want to catch up again you can view it here.
That was the last episode of series 8, what did you make of this year's Who Do You Think You Are? and which show was your favourite?