Noel Clarke Who Do You Think You Are?


Noel Clarke

Celebrity genealogy series. Actor and film-maker Noel Clarke visits the Caribbean to learn more about his family.


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Transcript


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You never know where filming's going to take you.

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This is probably the last place that I ever thought I'd see myself on a

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Sunday morning when I was a kid.

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You know, in Surrey, with trees and green, but here I am.

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Everything good there, mate?

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All good?

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Your crew become your family, you know?

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And that's part of the thing. I've not grown up with a family,

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so I guess I'm always kind of looking for that, in a weird way.

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Award-winning actor Noel Clarke has worked in film and television

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for over 20 years.

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I'm doing the job that I wanted to do when I was five or six years old.

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I'm proud of that.

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He's also a force behind the camera,

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taking on roles as a writer,

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director and producer.

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I'm from a single-parent family,

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you know, a council estate in West London.

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I'm not supposed to be sitting here.

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I grew up just alone with my mother.

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There wasn't a brother or a sister, or a dad.

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So it's just always been myself and her.

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I know my dad, but he wasn't really a part of my childhood.

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There wasn't really much of a connection to the Caribbean at all.

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I don't have a lot of connections and roots,

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so I definitely feel like there's something missing.

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I want to know about my family, you know?

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I want my kids to know about their bloodline.

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I want them to know.

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Good work, guys.

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So it would be good for me to find out.

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I grew up in West London.

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I never lived out of a sort of three-mile radius.

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And when I grew up, it was a pretty rough area.

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But when you're growing up there, you're just part of it.

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I just felt safe.

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Noel is starting his search by visiting his mother Gemma...

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-Hi, son.

-Yeah, Mum!

-Come up here!

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..to see what she can share with him about their family history.

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My mum is really important to me.

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She had to work really hard.

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She was a nurse.

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To raise me on her own and have me turn out, I guess,

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half decent, I think I'm all right!

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-Hi, son, how are you doing?

-All right.

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It was no mean feat.

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-Nice to see you.

-Yeah, you too.

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Gemma still lives in the flat where Noel grew up.

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Are you ready to show me some stuff?

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Yeah, son.

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How did we end up stranded on this cold island?

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What made you want to leave your home, to leave Trinidad, and

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-come to England?

-I have a friend, and she told me, "Oh, Gemma,

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"I applied to a hospital to go to England to do nursing."

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And I said to her, "Can you give me the address?"

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And she gave me the address, and I applied, and I got through,

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-and she didn't get through!

-Are you still friends with her?

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-Yeah.

-Well, good!

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I came here to better myself, son.

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You did a very good job.

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That's the nurses. That was our group.

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I'm liking that Afro, Mum.

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-Was that the style?

-Yeah.

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I like my Afro, man, too.

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-Is that me?

-Yeah.

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I remember, like, I was going to school on my own from seven years.

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And sometimes, if you had to work the late shift,

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I'd come home and you would have all of my snacks laid out.

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And, "Don't open the door for anyone, put the chain on."

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Yeah!

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And I would just sort of sit here and play with my toys

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or watch television or watch films and stuff like that

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until you came home.

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Yeah.

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But that was what you did back then.

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And every weekend we used to have our weekend.

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Yeah, you used to take me to theatre shows and cinemas

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at a very young age.

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So how does my childhood here compare to what it was like

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in Trinidad for you?

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I didn't... My childhood in Trinidad was better than yours!

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SHE LAUGHS

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We were free.

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We used to play hopscotch, play rounders, play cricket.

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We used to do lots of things.

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Girls used to do what the boys used to do also.

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Where exactly did you grow up?

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I grew up with my grandmother in Orange Field Road, Carapichaima.

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-Carapichaima? In Trinidad?

-In Trinidad.

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That's me when I was six months old.

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-That's you?

-As a baby, yes.

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I grew up with my grandmother.

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And I thought she was my mother.

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-What was her name?

-Elizabeth Adina Clarke.

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OK. So, my great-grandmother?

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Why were you living with your grandmother?

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I don't know the reason, but I was with my grandmother,

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and I know my mother used to come and see me.

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So who did you think your mother was?

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When my mother used to come around,

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we used to say, "Hello, Auntie Edna."

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-What was her name?

-Edna Naomi Clarke.

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-So...you grew up with your grandmother...

-Mm-hm.

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-..and thought your mother was your aunt?

-Yes.

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And then Edna told me that she was my mother.

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Did she do it like EastEnders, "I'm your mother!"

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No, no, no, she came one summer to take me, and she never took me back.

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And I stayed with her.

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I think I was 11 years.

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This is my mother when she was young...

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-That's Grandma?

-..and cute. Yes.

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-She was Edna Naomi Clarke?

-Mm-hm.

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How come I'm only hearing about all this stuff now?

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Well, you never asked.

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So I'm just telling you about it now.

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What was Great-Grandma like?

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She was easy-going.

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So where did you get the strictness from? From Granny? From Edna?

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No, I wasn't strict with you!

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You had a lot of leeway.

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Oh, man...!

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That's amazing how parents remember it, isn't it!

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So, if I want to really know about the family,

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I should probably start with Great-Grandma Elizabeth.

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Yes, that's a good place to start.

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Noel's mother Gemma grew up in Trinidad.

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Raised for the first 11 years of her life not by her mother, Edna Naomi,

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but by her grandmother, Elizabeth Adina.

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Elizabeth's husband, Noel's great-grandfather,

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was William Woods Clarke.

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To find out more about this line of the family,

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Noel has come to Trinidad. His first visit in 25 years.

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Trinidad and Tobago is the most southerly country

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in the Caribbean island chain,

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less than ten miles from the coast of South America.

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Elizabeth and William lived in Carapichaima, in central Trinidad.

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-This one's nice.

-Yeah, sweet?

-Yes, sweet, like sugar.

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For over 100 years,

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the sugar from this area was the mainstay of Trinidad's economy.

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Thanks a lot, man.

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Mm... It's good.

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Local historian Judy Raymond has brought Noel to the road his

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great-grandparents lived on.

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There's still one house from the period.

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So it's the kind of house that your great-grandparents would have lived

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in. It's kind of beautiful, in its own way.

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-It is, it's amazing.

-And it's a decent size, too.

-Yeah.

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-Yeah.

-So, when it was

-pitch-black,

-candlelight and...

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Yeah, they would have used candles and pitch oil lamps, kerosene lamps.

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That's right.

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And it was built on short columns to dissuade rats

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and other creatures. They would have grown a lot of their own food.

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Yeah.

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This is a breadfruit tree.

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So they would probably cook and eat the breadfruit from here.

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It sounds strange to think that they may have walked here.

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It's possible.

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What are you able to tell me about my great-grandma?

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Let me show you what I've found.

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So, this is a marriage certificate.

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Adina...

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Oh, it's the other way around.

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Adina Elizabeth John. That's my great-grandmother.

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-Yeah.

-She was 19 when she got married.

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She was a seamstress.

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Oh, man, this is unbelievable.

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And William Woods Clarke.

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Married at 27.

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Date of marriage, June 24th, 1906.

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My great-grandfather was a...mason.

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So, both of them, in other words, had special skills.

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Yeah, yeah.

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Wait a second. St Vincent and the Grenadines.

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Mm-hm, not Trinidad at all.

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Not Trinidad. There's me shouting, "Trini! Trini!" for all my life,

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and actually I'm waving the wrong flag.

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Yeah, there's lots of first and second generation Trinis,

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and they are just as Trini as anybody else.

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Trini to the bone, so...

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-Yeah, good.

-You don't have to worry about that.

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Were they both born in St Vincent, my great-grandparents?

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We don't know, because the records from before that date

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from St Vincent were destroyed in a volcanic explosion in 1902.

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That would do it, wouldn't it, destroy records!

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-OK.

-And the next thing that happened...

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Certified copy of an entry of birth.

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Oh, wow!

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15th of June 1913.

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Child...female.

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They had a child in St Vincent.

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I can't see a first name. Am I just not seeing it?

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No, in those days they just recorded the gender.

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And then the next document for you to look at is this one.

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So, OK, Trinidad and Tobago, here we go.

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The 3rd of April 1917.

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A female.

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The fact that they had a daughter here suggests that they did

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have actually quite a strong bond and they migrated as a family,

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rather than him coming here alone in search of work.

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And then, if you see, the informant is Robert John.

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Yes.

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Adina Clarke's father.

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My great-great-grandfather.

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And you also see it, it says, the mark of Robert John, labourer.

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-In other words, he was illiterate.

-Yeah.

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So the family was already moving up in the world,

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because his daughter was a seamstress, and she married a mason.

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Married a mason, so they're making moves.

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When Noel's great-grandparents migrated to Trinidad in 1917,

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its economy was booming.

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Chocolate was considered a vital morale boost for soldiers

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fighting in World War I. So cocoa and sugar were in great demand.

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Like William and Elizabeth,

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many inhabitants of smaller islands migrated to work on Trinidad's large

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and thriving estates.

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Each estate would have a mason,

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a carpenter and so on, who would carry out the skilled work

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that was needed to maintain buildings and the equipment.

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With Great-Grandfather doing his masonry,

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was Great-Grandma working as well, making clothes?

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What do you think she was doing? I mean, obviously...

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Well, I can tell you one thing she was doing.

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She loved it, didn't she, clearly!

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Great-Grandma, I know what you were up to!

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This is another daughter, she was born 25th of October, 1919.

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That's not my grandmother either.

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How many more of these is there?

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Wow, 22nd... This is my grandmother.

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I think.

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22nd of June, 1921.

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Yeah, this is my grandmother.

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-And that's it.

-That's it.

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So my grandmother was the youngest of four children.

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-Yes, exactly.

-I did not know that.

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OK, I have one more document.

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Passenger list, 1923.

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So these are people going to the United States.

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OK.

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-Which would have been...

-After my grandmother, Naomi, was born.

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Two years after she was born, Clarke, Elizabeth, 30, female.

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Married or single?

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W, widowed.

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What?

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-So, my great-grandfather's died?

-Yeah.

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Name and address of nearest relative,

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Mr R John, Pointe-a-Pierre, Trinidad.

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So that's her father.

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Final destination, New York. Why is she going to New York?

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Were they going to join a relative or friend, if so,

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what relative or friend?

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Sister, Brooklyn.

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So, my great-grandmother, in 1923, has gone to New York

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to stay with her sister. What about the kids?

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Does it say that the kids went with her?

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It doesn't say that.

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I can't imagine that she would just leave four children.

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Well, I'm sure, if she did, she must have had a very good reason.

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Yeah.

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To find out whether Elizabeth really did abandon her children,

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Noel is meeting Diane Prechad.

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-How are you?

-I'm fine, how are you?

-Yeah, good, you must be Diane, yeah?

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-Yes, and you must Noel?

-Yeah.

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Diane is an expert on the history of Caribbean migration.

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My great-grandmother, unfortunately, was widowed,

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and then seems to have disappeared to New York,

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and I think left her kids behind.

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So I'd love to know a little bit more about that.

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This article would tell you a context

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of what were the circumstances in Trinidad at that time.

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"The exodus from Trinidad, women leading the way.

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"An alarming situation. May 12th, 1923.

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"A revision of the passenger list for the last six months

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"discloses the alarming fact that, fully, 90%

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"of the emigrants leaving Trinidad are women.

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"It is noticeable that, when the women go away,

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"they earn the money and send back for the men.

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"Thus we find the order of things have radically changed."

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Wow. OK.

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"It is that the women have been forced to realise

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"that there is no living to be made by them locally and so,

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"rather than leading questionable lives...

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"..they elect to venture forth and eke out an existence."

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So, essentially,

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the only option was for them to either become prostitutes or...

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-..or leave.

-Yeah.

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And she decided she was going to leave.

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Then, post-World War I,

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there were crop failures so drastic that it affected

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the most vulnerable in society.

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So if men were already finding themselves unemployed,

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we could only imagine how it affected women

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with little or no opportunity at all.

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HE EXHALES HEAVILY

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I still couldn't do it, though.

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I don't think... I don't think, I don't know.

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I mean, it's one of those ones where I completely see why she did it and

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why she had to do it,

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because had she not been sending money back for them then, you know,

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maybe they would have been in a situation where

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they might have had to have "questionable lifestyles".

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She had four daughters.

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Upon that, she had no husband.

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Yeah.

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So she probably would have only thought about her daughters

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-and not herself.

-Yeah.

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To go work hard and send money back so they would just have

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-an opportunity.

-Mm-hm.

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And that their opportunity would have been better than hers.

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Now, we have this...

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Oh, my gosh. Declaring her intention

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to become a citizen of the United States.

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My great-grandmother became a naturalised US citizen.

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Ah! "I now reside in Brooklyn."

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With her sister and her brother-in-law.

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Yeah.

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And then... "I have four children.

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Louise, was born in Saint Vincent.

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There's names! Louise! St Vincent, yeah.

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Miriam, 1917.

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Wilhelmina.

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Naomi, that's my grandmother.

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And all reside in the West Indies.

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So, this is now 1926.

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So why would she still be there, like?

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I mean, she's left her kids. It's, like, three years on.

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Who has she left them with is what I'm wondering.

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Well, we don't know for sure who she left them with.

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On the, er...

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..passenger list of the original ship...

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..it says...Mr R John.

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That was her father. So maybe she left them with her father.

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And that's not an uncommon thing in the British West Indies.

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-Yeah.

-A mother wouldn't leave her children and abandoned them.

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-She would have left them in the care of somebody trustworthy.

-Yeah.

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Well, this would bring a context to her life in Brooklyn at that time.

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So, this would have been Brooklyn at the time?

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Yeah, that would have been Osborne Street, where she lived.

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Wow.

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And it was predominantly a West Indian and Jewish area.

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And this was the 1930 census.

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1930 census.

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Wow!

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Six years without your mother is a long time.

0:18:040:18:07

-Yeah.

-So it says here that she is a house worker.

0:18:070:18:10

What exactly is a house worker?

0:18:100:18:11

Because the last time I saw any description of her job,

0:18:110:18:15

she was a seamstress.

0:18:150:18:17

A house worker would be someone who is like a domestic worker.

0:18:170:18:21

Essentially, she would have had to work a 14-hour day.

0:18:210:18:25

-Yeah.

-She would have to do cooking, cleaning,

0:18:250:18:29

taking care of the children.

0:18:290:18:32

Her weekly pay would have been three to five US dollars.

0:18:320:18:35

Wow...

0:18:370:18:39

Weekly pay.

0:18:390:18:41

So, she could have just been looking after other people's kids

0:18:410:18:44

and missing her own and having to send back whatever cents,

0:18:440:18:48

peanut money, she'd got back to Trinidad.

0:18:480:18:52

The only thing that she probably would have had to communicate

0:18:520:18:57

through was letter writing and probably,

0:18:570:19:01

if she was very lucky, have a photo.

0:19:010:19:04

Yeah? So maybe some of the pictures I saw of my grandmother

0:19:040:19:07

were sent to her when she was young.

0:19:070:19:09

Wow. For her just to have something tangible like a photo to see

0:19:110:19:18

her progress, this would have been really, really big.

0:19:180:19:22

Do we know how long she actually stayed in New York?

0:19:220:19:25

So, the last record we have of her in New York is 1937.

0:19:250:19:30

Wow. I mean, those...

0:19:310:19:33

Those daughters would have grown up a lot in that time, obviously.

0:19:360:19:41

Yeah. Essentially, she would have missed a big chunk

0:19:420:19:47

of their childhood.

0:19:470:19:49

By 1937, her oldest would have been 24

0:19:490:19:54

and her youngest would have been 15.

0:19:540:19:56

Mm...

0:19:560:19:58

I mean...

0:19:580:19:59

..could I miss 15 years of my kids' lives?

0:20:010:20:04

My great-grandmother's experience is just...

0:20:100:20:13

I mean, it's unimaginable, really.

0:20:150:20:16

On the surface, it seems like she left them, but actually,

0:20:210:20:23

she had so much love for them that she had to leave.

0:20:230:20:26

Being a woman in those times

0:20:260:20:27

and not wanting to live a questionable lifestyle,

0:20:270:20:30

if you didn't leave, there was no jobs, there was no work.

0:20:300:20:33

Your children would starve in front of you.

0:20:330:20:36

My initial response of, like, "Well, I couldn't leave my kids..."

0:20:380:20:41

I couldn't.

0:20:410:20:43

But she actually was braver, in a way, to sacrifice being with them.

0:20:430:20:49

She didn't get to bring up her own kids,

0:20:510:20:53

so she came back and brought up my mother, which is why my mother ended

0:20:530:20:57

up growing up with Adina for a period of time.

0:20:570:21:00

Heartbreaking.

0:21:020:21:03

It wasn't just Noel's mother who came to Britain from Trinidad.

0:21:170:21:20

His father Alpheus did too.

0:21:200:21:22

But as Noel wasn't brought up by his dad,

0:21:260:21:28

he has even less information about this side of his family tree.

0:21:280:21:31

I know absolutely nothing about my dad's family.

0:21:350:21:39

I must have seen my dad's mother, like, twice in my whole life.

0:21:390:21:41

Maybe three times, max.

0:21:410:21:43

And so, you know,

0:21:430:21:45

I don't feel as connected to them, but that's 50% of my family.

0:21:450:21:49

Noel is heading to the south of the island,

0:21:490:21:51

the heart of Trinidad's oil industry,

0:21:510:21:54

where his paternal grandmother lived.

0:21:540:21:56

I remember my grandmother, Minelvia.

0:21:560:21:59

She was really funny and strong, like, really strong.

0:21:590:22:01

Like, you could picture her carrying boulders and stuff like that,

0:22:020:22:05

like a strong, strong, tough woman.

0:22:050:22:08

I have got a picture of the last time I saw her, Minelvia.

0:22:090:22:18

I've heard people call her Minerva,

0:22:180:22:20

but I wasn't around and I don't really know how it was pronounced,

0:22:200:22:23

so let's just go with Minelvia.

0:22:230:22:24

-We'll go with that.

-CREW MEMBER:

-What did you call her?

0:22:240:22:27

-What did I call her?

-Yeah?

-Granny!

0:22:270:22:29

I called her Granny. You don't call your elders anything other than what

0:22:320:22:36

they are to you. Granny.

0:22:360:22:37

Otherwise you got a backhand.

0:22:370:22:39

Fyzabad has been at the centre of this oil-producing region since the

0:22:430:22:46

early 20th century and makes claim to be the original home

0:22:460:22:51

of steel pans.

0:22:510:22:53

Now a feature of West Indian carnivals from Trinidad

0:23:040:23:07

to Notting Hill, the oil drums turned instruments

0:23:070:23:10

were first made by the early oil workers.

0:23:100:23:12

In British colonial times,

0:23:250:23:26

this area was reserved solely for the oil industry management.

0:23:260:23:30

Now, it's a public park created by Arthur Sanderson,

0:23:300:23:33

a local politician.

0:23:330:23:34

Did you know my grandmother?

0:23:390:23:41

-Minerva?

-Yeah.

-Everybody in Fyzabad knew your grandmother.

0:23:410:23:46

She was not only vocal, she was brave.

0:23:460:23:50

Your grandmother was a woman amongst women.

0:23:500:23:54

I knew, as a young boy going to school, being looked after,

0:23:540:23:58

because in those days the village grew the child...

0:23:580:24:01

Yeah.

0:24:010:24:02

-You know?

-If you don't go to school, somebody else will say,

0:24:020:24:05

-"Get to school!"

-Yes! And she will take the whip.

0:24:050:24:07

HE LAUGHS

0:24:070:24:09

-Did you ever get licks from her?

-No, I never.

0:24:090:24:11

I was a good boy.

0:24:110:24:13

Your grandmother was one of the early settlers.

0:24:130:24:16

She was not from Trinidad.

0:24:160:24:17

Your grandmother was from Grenada.

0:24:170:24:20

Bearing in mind I'm always shouting about I'm Trinian,

0:24:240:24:26

now it seems like I'm from here, there and everywhere.

0:24:260:24:29

I don't know what's going on any more. Why did she come here?

0:24:290:24:31

Your grandmother would have been attracted to come to Trinidad,

0:24:310:24:34

like many other women and men in Grenada, to find work.

0:24:340:24:39

Two world wars and the expanding car industry meant an ever-increasing

0:24:430:24:47

demand for Trinidad's rich supply of oil.

0:24:470:24:50

British and American companies rushed to exploit the new commodity.

0:24:520:24:55

And thousands of Caribbean men migrated to find work

0:24:570:25:01

in the oilfields.

0:25:010:25:02

I remember your grandmother made a statement to me.

0:25:050:25:08

-Yeah.

-"While Trinidad was exporting oil, Grenada was exporting people."

0:25:080:25:12

Yeah, right, yeah.

0:25:120:25:15

The time when your grandmother would have migrated to Trinidad,

0:25:150:25:19

they enjoyed what you will call segregation.

0:25:190:25:24

This area was where the white management lived.

0:25:240:25:30

-Yeah.

-There were about 26 houses inside here,

0:25:300:25:33

the pharmacist lived here,

0:25:330:25:35

the manager of operations lived here, the accountant lived here.

0:25:350:25:38

-If you are black, you couldn't live here.

-No. No, no.

0:25:380:25:41

-Early settlers, you couldn't live here.

-Wow.

-It was a gated community.

0:25:410:25:44

-Right.

-So your grandmother couldn't come in here, as a maid.

0:25:440:25:49

So we're sitting in a place now that actually the black people and the

0:25:490:25:52

-workers were not allowed to go.

-No. No, no, no.

-They weren't.

-No.

0:25:520:25:57

There was not an equitable distribution of the wealth

0:25:570:26:00

within the community.

0:26:000:26:02

The money's not filtering down.

0:26:020:26:03

No, no. It does not.

0:26:030:26:05

So your grandmother coming to Trinidad fell into that system.

0:26:050:26:12

When Menelvia came to Trinidad in the early 1940s,

0:26:130:26:16

it was still under British colonial rule and white British expats

0:26:160:26:21

ran both the government and the industries.

0:26:210:26:23

And profits flowed back into British coffers.

0:26:250:26:28

Fyzabad became the centre of an increasing political awareness

0:26:290:26:33

and activism against this inequality.

0:26:330:26:35

Calls for independence from Britain grew.

0:26:370:26:41

Your grandmother, she was one of the early fighters that built this

0:26:420:26:46

country. Simple people who were honest and loyal

0:26:460:26:50

towards a new Trinidad and Tobago. A new life, a new nation.

0:26:500:26:56

And your grandmother was one of those.

0:26:560:26:58

-Yes.

-Wow.

-She was a very strong Baptist.

0:26:580:27:03

-Yes.

-And she associated her spirituality in a church

0:27:030:27:07

that is not too far from here. So you should visit these areas.

0:27:070:27:13

-Yeah.

-And get a feel of the soul of the community.

0:27:130:27:17

SINGING AND CLAPPING

0:27:260:27:28

Menelvia worshipped at Egan Baptist Church

0:27:280:27:31

as part of the spiritual Baptist tradition,

0:27:310:27:33

which has strong connections to African spirituality.

0:27:330:27:37

SINGING AND CHANTING

0:27:370:27:41

The racial tensions of Trinidad in the early 20th century

0:27:450:27:48

led the British colonial authorities to ban this religion,

0:27:480:27:52

making its practice illegal until 1951.

0:27:520:27:55

The pastor and the ladies of the church still remember Menelvia well.

0:28:000:28:04

She was known to them as Mother Bernard.

0:28:040:28:07

Sounds like she was a very, very strong woman.

0:28:070:28:09

-Very strong.

-Yeah, she was very strong.

0:28:090:28:11

Very, very strong person.

0:28:110:28:13

Youngers having any problem would go to her.

0:28:140:28:17

So the people in the district also had that respect for her.

0:28:170:28:20

So you guys must miss her a lot.

0:28:200:28:22

-A lot.

-I'd like to present you with this.

0:28:220:28:26

-This is Mother Bernard here.

-Wow.

0:28:260:28:28

-She was very young.

-Yeah.

0:28:290:28:31

Do you know when this was?

0:28:310:28:32

-That is a PNM.

-Yeah.

0:28:320:28:34

What is the PNM?

0:28:340:28:37

It is one of the political parties in Trinidad,

0:28:370:28:39

it means the People's National Movement.

0:28:390:28:41

-I see.

-It was the first party established in 1956.

0:28:410:28:45

And she was a part of the party?

0:28:450:28:46

Yeah, she was the lady vice-chair.

0:28:460:28:49

-Wow.

-Wherever she go in the country, she was highly respected.

0:28:490:28:54

Menelvia was one of many women

0:28:590:29:01

who were part of the People's National Movement,

0:29:010:29:04

led by the charismatic Oxford-educated Eric Williams.

0:29:040:29:08

It was one of the first parties to give black Trinidadians

0:29:080:29:11

a political voice.

0:29:110:29:12

A lifelong supporter of the party,

0:29:150:29:18

in 1956 Menelvia saw the PNM win the general election.

0:29:180:29:22

Six years later, on the 31st of August 1962...

0:29:230:29:27

As Prime Minister of the newly-independent state

0:29:270:29:29

of Trinidad...

0:29:290:29:31

..Trinidad gained full independence from Britain.

0:29:310:29:34

Learning that my grandmother was such a respected member

0:29:410:29:44

of her community was amazing.

0:29:440:29:46

I'm glad I did come here. I want to bring the kids here one day so they

0:29:480:29:51

can know where they're from.

0:29:510:29:53

Noel has found out he has roots on more than one Caribbean island.

0:30:020:30:05

To find out more about the family history, I need to go to Grenada.

0:30:060:30:11

There's more digging to do.

0:30:110:30:13

He's going to meet someone who he hopes will be able to tell him more.

0:30:180:30:21

Menelvia's son, Telford, a 77-year-old uncle he has never met.

0:30:220:30:27

I've heard he's sort of like some sort of Crocodile Dundee type,

0:30:280:30:31

Indiana Jones type strange man who roams around the island

0:30:310:30:35

and swims everywhere and lives on his own like a hermit.

0:30:350:30:39

-Hello, Uncle Telford.

-I'm good! Well, well.

-Are you all right?

0:30:440:30:49

Yeah, man, I'm good, I'm good.

0:30:490:30:51

It's good to meet you after all these years.

0:30:510:30:53

Well, really and truly, I am very delighted to meet you.

0:30:530:30:56

You too, man. What was it like growing up here

0:30:560:30:59

when you were small?

0:30:590:31:00

Well, you see, I had to grow up with my grandmother

0:31:000:31:04

and I had a good life because, being the only child in the house,

0:31:040:31:08

I was free to do almost anything.

0:31:080:31:10

But my thing was the sea.

0:31:100:31:13

-Yeah.

-So at night, when my grandmother was sleeping,

0:31:130:31:16

I could come out of the house and I would go down into the sea and...

0:31:160:31:21

Just go on a little journey.

0:31:210:31:22

Yeah. When she woke up, I am there.

0:31:220:31:25

She doesn't even know that you left.

0:31:250:31:27

My mother was from Carriacou.

0:31:300:31:33

So my grandmother...

0:31:330:31:35

-Yeah.

-..is from Carriacou?

0:31:350:31:37

She's from Carriacou.

0:31:370:31:38

I'm not surprised by that. I thought I was a pure Trini,

0:31:390:31:42

but it turned out I'm from every other island except Trinidad really.

0:31:420:31:45

Where is Carriacou? Is it part of Granada?

0:31:460:31:48

It is about 70 miles away.

0:31:480:31:50

-It's over there.

-It is beyond them, yes.

0:31:500:31:52

You will see where that haze is.

0:31:520:31:54

If the weather was clear, you would see Carriacou.

0:31:540:31:57

What do you know about the family that you can tell me?

0:32:010:32:05

My mother was a Bedeau.

0:32:050:32:08

We pronounce it Bee-doo, b-e-d-e-a-u.

0:32:080:32:11

I don't know if you will be going to Carriacou, but that's the

0:32:110:32:16

headquarters of the Bedeau family.

0:32:160:32:19

Menelvia's father, I was told, was called Maxman.

0:32:190:32:23

-So he was your...

-Great-grandfather.

-Great-grandfather.

-Yeah.

0:32:230:32:25

Maxman Bedeau. Sounds like a superhero.

0:32:250:32:28

Yeah. And his father, I understand, was a sea captain.

0:32:280:32:32

-His father.

-He's Cadeau.

0:32:320:32:34

So my great-great-grandfather, Cadeau Bedeau.

0:32:340:32:38

-Yes.

-Cadeau.

0:32:380:32:39

He was the sea captain that got lost in a hurricane in 1921.

0:32:390:32:45

They took cargo in Trinidad for somewhere up the islands,

0:32:450:32:47

they stopped in Grenada to do something.

0:32:470:32:50

-Yeah.

-And they left in the evening and the same night there was this

0:32:500:32:54

hurricane, nobody's seen them since 1921.

0:32:540:32:57

-Wow. 1921.

-Yeah.

0:32:570:32:58

Most of the Carriacou men used to be shipwrights and sailors.

0:32:580:33:02

-Yeah.

-Hardly anything else.

0:33:020:33:03

Maybe that's where you got it from.

0:33:030:33:05

Yeah, yeah, yeah, had it in my blood.

0:33:050:33:07

So let me work this out.

0:33:070:33:08

-Menelvia's father was Maxman.

-Mm-hm.

0:33:080:33:12

-And Maxman's father was Cadeau.

-Cadeau.

0:33:120:33:14

And do you know anything about Cadeau's mother or father?

0:33:140:33:18

Does it go further? Do you know further?

0:33:180:33:20

Well, I hear about Benjamin.

0:33:200:33:22

-Benjamin.

-If he was Cadeau's father, or what, he was...

0:33:220:33:25

So he was a Bedeau, as well.

0:33:250:33:27

-Benjamin Bedeau.

-He was a senior to them, yeah.

0:33:270:33:29

So you think if I want to know more about the family history,

0:33:290:33:34

you think I should probably go to Carriacou.

0:33:340:33:37

Yeah, you will get some more information

0:33:370:33:40

from the other people in Carriacou.

0:33:400:33:42

-Shall we swim there?

-No problem.

0:33:420:33:45

Younger one has to go first!

0:33:450:33:47

Noel is descended from the Bedeau family from the island of Carriacou.

0:33:510:33:55

His grandmother, Menelvia's father, was Maxman Bedeau.

0:33:550:33:59

His father was the ship's captain Cadeau.

0:33:590:34:02

And Noel's great-great-great grandfather

0:34:020:34:04

was Benjamin Bedeau.

0:34:040:34:05

Noel's leaving the main island of Grenada and travelling north

0:34:110:34:14

across the waters that so many generations of the Bedeau family

0:34:140:34:17

would have sailed.

0:34:170:34:19

He's heading for Carriacou,

0:34:250:34:27

a tiny island with a long history of boat building.

0:34:270:34:30

It has a population today of just 7,000.

0:34:340:34:37

He is meeting a historian from the University of the West Indies,

0:34:430:34:46

Nicole Philip Dowell.

0:34:460:34:48

So my uncle's told me about Carriacou.

0:34:480:34:51

I'll be honest, I never heard of it before.

0:34:520:34:54

-Right.

-And my family comes from here,

0:34:540:34:58

so I would love to know a little bit more about the place and what you

0:34:580:35:01

-know about my family.

-OK.

0:35:010:35:03

I've managed to find this document, so you can have a look at it.

0:35:030:35:07

Yeah. Baptisms.

0:35:070:35:09

-Baptisms.

-Wait a second, let me just...

0:35:090:35:11

Oh, my goodness. Benjamin Bedeau.

0:35:140:35:17

So this is from here, he's born in Carriacou?

0:35:190:35:21

Yes, he's born in Carriacou.

0:35:210:35:23

Parents, Mary and Glasgow.

0:35:230:35:25

Glasgow, wow.

0:35:250:35:27

1848.

0:35:290:35:31

That's unbelievable.

0:35:310:35:32

Have a look at this document.

0:35:340:35:36

-Oh, my goodness.

-Yes, it's an old one.

0:35:360:35:38

The annual return of the increase and decrease of slaves

0:35:380:35:42

in Harvey Vale estate in the island of Carriacou in the year 1821.

0:35:420:35:46

OK.

0:35:480:35:50

OK...

0:35:500:35:51

Oh, I see, yeah, here. Glasgow.

0:35:530:35:55

Glasgow, uh-huh.

0:35:550:35:57

Age, one month. OK, so...

0:35:570:36:00

So what is this? This is...?

0:36:030:36:05

Four times, this is great-great-great-great-grandfather

0:36:070:36:12

Glasgow.

0:36:120:36:13

Was born into slavery.

0:36:150:36:17

Yes, born into slavery in Carriacou.

0:36:170:36:19

The planters had to give a record, or a statement,

0:36:190:36:24

of the slaves that they owned each year.

0:36:240:36:28

-Yeah.

-So they had to state how many slaves increased,

0:36:280:36:33

whether by birth or whether they bought any slaves.

0:36:330:36:36

-Yeah.

-So that's why it's written like this in the records.

0:36:360:36:40

-And this is 1821.

-1821.

0:36:400:36:43

I mean, you know, the thing is, kind of being...

0:36:450:36:48

Well, not kind of. Being black,

0:36:500:36:52

I thought that this might end up here at some point.

0:36:520:36:55

But it's still crazy to think that it...

0:36:550:36:58

-It's still crazy to see it, you know...

-Yeah.

-..in real time.

0:37:000:37:04

Yeah.

0:37:040:37:05

Carriacou became part of the British Empire in 1763

0:37:090:37:14

and immediately the British established plantations

0:37:140:37:17

and transported Africans by ship to the island

0:37:170:37:21

to work the land as slaves.

0:37:210:37:23

Within just 60 years of British control,

0:37:260:37:29

Carriacou's slave population numbered almost 4,000.

0:37:290:37:33

And then, what was that? Mother's...

0:37:390:37:41

Mother's name.

0:37:410:37:42

Second Jenevieve.

0:37:440:37:45

-What?

-That means there was more than one Jenevieve on the plantation,

0:37:450:37:49

so she's the second one.

0:37:490:37:50

Wow. So...

0:37:500:37:51

-Yes.

-There was another slave called Jenevieve,

0:37:510:37:54

so she was just a second slave called Jenevieve.

0:37:540:37:56

So they just called her Jenevieve Two.

0:37:560:37:57

-Yes.

-Wow. Why do you think he was called Glasgow?

0:37:570:38:01

The slave is property.

0:38:010:38:04

-Yeah.

-They have absolutely no rights

0:38:040:38:06

and because they are seen as property,

0:38:060:38:09

the planter could decide, for example, what to name a child.

0:38:090:38:13

The agent for this plantation, John Dallas, was actually Scottish.

0:38:130:38:19

So a name like Glasgow could have been because of the...

0:38:190:38:23

..that Scottish connection.

0:38:230:38:25

-Do we know anything about his father?

-No.

0:38:260:38:29

The slave records don't show fathers' names.

0:38:290:38:32

The only thing that goes on the records is the mother's name.

0:38:320:38:36

Would you like to see a map of Carriacou in 1832?

0:38:380:38:43

-Sure.

-Can you find...?

0:38:430:38:44

Ah, you've found Harvey Vale.

0:38:440:38:46

The entire island would have been carved up, as you notice,

0:38:460:38:49

with different plantations.

0:38:490:38:51

Harvey Vale is a cotton estate.

0:38:510:38:53

Would you like to know a little bit about

0:38:530:38:56

what life would have been like?

0:38:560:38:58

I have a pretty good idea, but, yeah, please tell me

0:38:580:39:00

what he would have had to endure.

0:39:000:39:02

Who was the master? Was it Harvey Vale?

0:39:020:39:04

Ah, great question.

0:39:040:39:05

The master, or planter, of Harvey Vale estate...

0:39:050:39:09

Thomas Davidson would have been the master of Harvey Vale estate.

0:39:090:39:12

Thomas Davidson.

0:39:120:39:13

They were absentee planters, which basically meant that he lived...

0:39:130:39:17

-Controlled it from afar.

-Right, he lived in England.

0:39:170:39:20

-Right.

-And they lived in Brunswick Square in London.

0:39:200:39:23

Brunswick Square in London.

0:39:250:39:26

-Mm-hm.

-Just north of Soho.

0:39:260:39:29

Right.

0:39:300:39:31

Wow.

0:39:340:39:35

I'm around that area all the time.

0:39:370:39:39

-Hm.

-I might go look for them.

0:39:400:39:43

Absentee planters.

0:39:430:39:45

So they were cowards, basically.

0:39:450:39:47

Well, they got their wealth out of the Caribbean,

0:39:470:39:50

but didn't necessarily live...

0:39:500:39:51

-Didn't want to see the dirty work.

-Didn't necessarily live here, no.

0:39:510:39:55

He would have an agent who's working,

0:39:550:39:57

doing the day-to-day running.

0:39:570:39:58

Who was the agent? John Dallas.

0:39:580:40:00

Yeah. We have some very unfortunate stories about John Dallas.

0:40:000:40:04

-Oh, really?

-Yes.

0:40:040:40:05

He was one of the bad ones, was he?

0:40:050:40:07

-Unfortunately.

-Yeah.

0:40:070:40:08

This was done by a sociologist and it's oral testimony

0:40:080:40:15

of the treatment that slaves received.

0:40:150:40:17

Yeah.

0:40:170:40:19

"Stories circulate about one particularly cruel master,

0:40:190:40:23

"John Dallas.

0:40:230:40:25

"In those days, a white man in the Harvey Vale was beating them

0:40:250:40:28

"so much, they used to put a woman that have big belly, dig a hole,

0:40:280:40:32

"and put the woman leg down,

0:40:320:40:33

"belly inside the hole and then beat them until they make the child."

0:40:330:40:37

-They would be beaten so bad they would give birth?

-Exactly.

0:40:390:40:41

-That's crazy.

-Yes.

0:40:430:40:46

So you had one of the cruellest masters on the island.

0:40:480:40:51

And my...my relatives were on that estate.

0:40:510:40:55

Yes.

0:40:550:40:56

Do you know anything about Jenevieve, Glasgow's mother?

0:40:580:41:03

The last record that I've been able to find of Jenevieve,

0:41:030:41:08

this is it, here.

0:41:080:41:11

Jenevieve.

0:41:110:41:13

31 here.

0:41:140:41:17

-Is that deceased?

-Decreased.

0:41:170:41:19

Decreased? What does decreased mean?

0:41:190:41:21

Decreased by death or whether they sold, they sold any slaves.

0:41:210:41:26

-So she died.

-Yeah.

0:41:260:41:28

Inflammation of the stomach and bowels at age 31.

0:41:280:41:33

And she probably would have been malnourished because of course she's

0:41:350:41:39

trying to breast-feed Glasgow,

0:41:390:41:42

but the nutrition that she's getting is not sufficient.

0:41:420:41:45

Now, we must note that Jenevieve died, so little Glasgow

0:41:450:41:51

probably would have had to be...

0:41:510:41:53

..he would have been taken in by the other women.

0:41:530:41:56

Yeah.

0:41:560:41:57

What year is this? 1824.

0:41:570:41:59

1824.

0:41:590:42:01

So...

0:42:020:42:03

So he was two.

0:42:040:42:06

Yeah.

0:42:060:42:07

She died when Glasgow was two.

0:42:070:42:09

I almost can see them now, Jenevieve, the kid Glasgow.

0:42:230:42:30

I don't think being ridiculously angry about it gets me anywhere.

0:42:310:42:37

You know, jeez, America had a black president.

0:42:380:42:41

I think that says something about where the world is.

0:42:420:42:46

And it's still not perfect, you know?

0:42:460:42:48

But to know that five generations back, my immediate,

0:42:500:42:55

direct-line family were slaves...

0:42:550:42:59

..it's a lot to take in, really.

0:43:010:43:03

A lot to process.

0:43:030:43:05

I know that without Jenevieve and Glasgow, I wouldn't be here.

0:43:350:43:38

But to be on the island where they actually suffered

0:43:390:43:44

and were slaves is hard.

0:43:440:43:47

To find out more about Glasgow's life on Carriacou,

0:43:570:44:01

Noel has arranged to meet local researcher Curtis Jacobs.

0:44:010:44:04

So, I'm understanding that my four times great-grandfather

0:44:050:44:11

was a slave around here in this area,

0:44:110:44:13

his mother was Jenevieve and she died when he was two,

0:44:130:44:15

his name was Glasgow.

0:44:150:44:17

-Can you tell me a little bit more about him?

-Yes. Yes, well, first

0:44:170:44:20

I would like to show you this document.

0:44:200:44:22

"Between Adam Read, planter, and his lawful wife Eliza Read,

0:44:220:44:26

"of one part of Glasgow Bedeau and John Ovid of the other part

0:44:260:44:31

"for the absolute sale thereof at, or for,

0:44:310:44:34

"the price or sum of £13 and four shillings."

0:44:340:44:37

This is like gibberish, there's no punctuation.

0:44:370:44:41

It's legalese.

0:44:410:44:42

Legalese? Nonsense-ese!

0:44:420:44:44

"A certain lot, piece, or parcel of land situated,

0:44:440:44:47

"lying and being a part or position of the cotton plantation

0:44:470:44:52

"or estate called Endeavour."

0:44:520:44:54

It sounds like Glasgow, my four-time great-grandfather was...

0:44:540:44:58

..was either being sold to the Endeavour estate,

0:45:000:45:07

or actually he was purchasing a piece of land

0:45:070:45:10

on the Endeavour estate.

0:45:100:45:12

Well, by 1844, the date of which that deed

0:45:120:45:15

is executed, slavery was abolished,

0:45:150:45:17

so there was no such thing about buying and selling of human beings.

0:45:170:45:21

-So they were buying land?

-Yes. They were buying land.

0:45:210:45:23

Wow.

0:45:260:45:27

That is something.

0:45:270:45:29

Where was the Endeavour estate?

0:45:300:45:32

OK. So he lived and worked here at Harvey Vale until the 1840s,

0:45:340:45:42

when he purchased a property.

0:45:420:45:44

-OK, wow.

-And Endeavour is up here, this way.

0:45:440:45:47

-Oh, yeah, wow. Yeah.

-You'll see it has a border.

0:45:470:45:50

-A border.

-A border with Harvey Vale.

0:45:500:45:52

And so...

0:45:520:45:53

-..where is the land they bought?

-We are on it now.

0:45:550:45:58

-This is it?

-Yes.

-Shut up!

0:45:580:45:59

We are on it.

0:46:010:46:02

GOAT BLEATS

0:46:060:46:08

Wow.

0:46:100:46:12

That is something.

0:46:120:46:13

Were these trees here? Did he sit under these trees for shade, like?

0:46:150:46:18

You know, suddenly it becomes very...

0:46:200:46:22

-..very real, you know?

-Exactly, that's the word, real.

0:46:240:46:28

It's a remarkable achievement, £13 and some shillings.

0:46:280:46:33

It looks like not much money today.

0:46:330:46:36

-Sure.

-But in... But 200 years ago, that was a sizeable...

0:46:360:46:40

A lot of money for him to raise.

0:46:400:46:42

Yes. Many, many of the formerly-owned slaves

0:46:420:46:45

did not manage to purchase land.

0:46:450:46:47

-Many did not.

-So he was a hard worker then, must have been.

0:46:480:46:51

Yes. Yes.

0:46:510:46:53

The average day wage for an agricultural labourer

0:46:530:46:57

was one shilling per day.

0:46:570:46:59

And he was not an adult as yet, so he was probably getting paid

0:46:590:47:04

-as a minor.

-So that's probably why he had to buy it with John Ovid.

0:47:040:47:08

Yes. We are not sure who John Ovid was, but this offers a clue.

0:47:080:47:13

This is an extract from a marriage register.

0:47:150:47:18

Glasgow Bedeau marrying Mary Ovid.

0:47:190:47:24

So John Ovid would either be her dad or her brother.

0:47:240:47:28

Yes, I would think so.

0:47:280:47:30

And so her father or her brother bought the land

0:47:300:47:33

with my four times great-grandfather.

0:47:330:47:34

-Yes.

-And maybe even Mary saved some of her money, too.

0:47:340:47:37

That is quite possible.

0:47:370:47:39

That would have taken years of unstinting effort to do.

0:47:390:47:43

And his grave is not far from here.

0:47:450:47:47

-Where?

-That's it there.

0:47:470:47:48

It's a pretty fancy grave.

0:47:550:47:57

In memory of...

0:48:030:48:04

Rest in peace.

0:48:110:48:13

76 is a good age to live to,

0:48:150:48:16

considering what he would have gone through

0:48:160:48:18

at the beginning of his life.

0:48:180:48:20

His grave is so impressive.

0:48:220:48:23

It goes all the way back, doesn't it?

0:48:290:48:30

Maxman and Cadeau and Benjamin and getting to Glasgow...

0:48:320:48:38

..who clearly worked hard.

0:48:410:48:42

And his mother, Jenevieve...

0:48:430:48:45

..you know, without that, then...

0:48:480:48:51

..there is no us standing here, really.

0:48:530:48:56

And the countless lines before that that we can't trace

0:48:570:49:00

because they were treated like cattle.

0:49:000:49:02

You know, it's always interesting when I see this show and they trace

0:49:060:49:09

people back to 1066 or whatever like that.

0:49:090:49:12

Well, yeah, of course, you know, that makes sense because, probably,

0:49:120:49:17

at no point you were bunched in a ship

0:49:170:49:21

and no-one cared if you died or not.

0:49:210:49:23

You know, and that's the difference.

0:49:240:49:26

So even getting this far back, I think is pretty impressive.

0:49:260:49:29

-Hello, good afternoon.

-Hi, good afternoon, how are you?

0:49:350:49:38

Noel is not the only Bedeau descendant on the island.

0:49:380:49:41

I'm just looking at my four times great-grandfather's grave.

0:49:410:49:46

I also come from Glasgow Bedeau's line.

0:49:460:49:48

-No, you don't!

-Yes, I am.

0:49:480:49:49

-Yeah?

-Yeah.

0:49:490:49:51

-What's your name?

-My name is Elizabeth Bedeau.

0:49:510:49:53

-Elizabeth, wow.

-Right.

0:49:530:49:55

-So we're related?

-We are.

0:49:550:49:57

Glasgow Bedeau is my great-great-great-grandfather.

0:49:570:50:02

-Three times.

-Three times.

0:50:020:50:03

Glasgow had four boys.

0:50:030:50:05

-Yeah.

-John Bedeau, Maxman Bedeau.

0:50:050:50:08

Wow.

0:50:080:50:10

Ange Bedeau, Benjamin Bedeau.

0:50:110:50:14

Wow, I'm from Benjamin's line.

0:50:140:50:15

I'm also from Benjamin's line.

0:50:150:50:17

-Really?

-Yes, I am.

0:50:180:50:19

-It's a pleasure to meet you.

-It's a pleasure to meet you.

0:50:190:50:22

Oh, my gosh! Sorry,

0:50:220:50:24

I'm looking you up and down because I'm just like, "How tall are you?"

0:50:240:50:27

-Like, "We're related."

-OK, yeah.

0:50:270:50:29

Wow. So how come he's got a grave like this?

0:50:290:50:31

How come his grave's kind of fancy?

0:50:310:50:34

Well, it seems to me that Glasgow was a wealthy man.

0:50:340:50:38

-So he did all right.

-Right.

0:50:380:50:40

This piece of land, all the way up, that's the Bedeau.

0:50:400:50:44

So this here was the Bedeau land.

0:50:440:50:47

Yeah, Maxman.

0:50:470:50:49

And so that here and all this here...

0:50:490:50:51

So who's putting candles there, do you know?

0:50:520:50:55

My bigger brother and some of the other Bedeau who believe in putting

0:50:550:50:59

-candles.

-The Bedeaus.

0:50:590:51:01

-Yeah, the Bedeaus.

-They're still here.

0:51:010:51:02

Yeah. Big family, united.

0:51:020:51:04

-Wow. That's amazing.

-Yeah.

0:51:040:51:07

Elizabeth is just one of Noel's relations on Carriacou.

0:51:100:51:14

Many people living on the island still trace their family lines

0:51:140:51:17

back to Glasgow and his four sons.

0:51:170:51:20

Well, that's a Bedeau here passing.

0:51:220:51:23

-Who?

-That's your first...

0:51:230:51:26

-That's a cousin from your side.

-What? Related to me?

-Yeah.

-Hey!

0:51:260:51:30

Hello! Hello! I think I'm your cousin!

0:51:300:51:32

Are you serious?

0:51:320:51:34

Yes, she is. She's from Benjamin and Cadeau's line.

0:51:340:51:37

-So your father's a Bedeau?

-Yeah, my father's a Bedeau.

0:51:410:51:44

-And he's from Cadeau's line?

-Yeah.

-Same as me.

0:51:440:51:46

That's random, that we're meeting.

0:51:460:51:48

-I'm your cousin, basically.

-OK.

0:51:480:51:50

-Amazing. What a pleasure to meet you.

-Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.

0:51:500:51:53

Lincoln, cousin.

0:51:530:51:54

Lincoln, the one with the bus.

0:51:540:51:56

-So he's related to me as well?

-Yes, and everybody else around here, no!

0:51:590:52:02

He's been driving me around!

0:52:020:52:04

Lincoln, I've got a bone to pick with you, man.

0:52:040:52:06

-Hey?

-I got a bone to pick with you.

-Pick a nice bone.

0:52:060:52:08

Do you know you're my cousin?

0:52:090:52:11

-Which line are you?

-I'm Maxman Bedeau.

0:52:110:52:14

So you're from Maxman's line?

0:52:140:52:15

-Maxman, yeah.

-Wow.

0:52:150:52:17

-And you still have the name, you still have the name?

-Bedeau? Yes.

0:52:170:52:20

Yeah, that's amazing. Well, good to meet you.

0:52:200:52:23

-Good to meet you again.

-Properly. Instead of just saying morning.

0:52:230:52:26

-Morning.

-"Morning. Yeah, morning, Lincoln, how you doing, man?

0:52:260:52:28

"Getting in the van now."

0:52:280:52:30

-My cousin.

-Morning, cuz!

-Yeah.

0:52:300:52:32

Wow, that's amazing.

0:52:320:52:33

So that's how it goes, yeah.

0:52:330:52:35

-So it seems like there's a lot, yeah?

-A lot of them, yeah.

-Yeah.

0:52:350:52:38

-A lot of the Bedeaus around.

-Wow.

0:52:380:52:40

For hundreds of years,

0:52:480:52:49

Carriacou has been home to a music tradition called the big drum.

0:52:490:52:53

SINGING AND DRUMMING

0:52:540:52:59

It always takes place at a crossroads, and tonight

0:53:020:53:05

it's happening on Noel's four times great-grandfather Glasgow's land.

0:53:050:53:09

This is the traditional dance and music of Carriacou.

0:53:090:53:14

It is normally used during festival as respect to the ancestors and also

0:53:140:53:19

-we are doing this to welcome you...

-No!

0:53:190:53:23

..to the Bedeau family and to Carriacou.

0:53:230:53:25

Oh, wow, thank you very much.

0:53:250:53:27

Wow. I'm...

0:53:270:53:29

I'm honoured by that, that's really nice.

0:53:300:53:32

But, yeah, strange, that.

0:53:320:53:35

To have family that you don't know you have.

0:53:350:53:38

The complete opposite of everything I've ever known.

0:53:380:53:41

-Thank you very much.

-You're welcome.

-Thank you very much indeed.

0:53:410:53:44

Noel has been invited to take part in the ritual that opens the dance.

0:53:450:53:50

Rum is used to wet the ground as an invitation to ancestors

0:53:500:53:53

to join the festivities.

0:53:530:53:55

Because Carriacou's population has remained so small and unchanged,

0:53:560:54:00

many of its traditions have survived since Africans were first brought to

0:54:000:54:04

the island. Historian Nicole Philip Dowell is on hand to explain how,

0:54:040:54:08

through the music, Noel can trace his roots back

0:54:080:54:12

beyond even Glasgow and Jenevieve.

0:54:120:54:15

Through music and dance and song,

0:54:150:54:18

the slaves were able to keep that part of their heritage alive.

0:54:180:54:22

The planters could not take away that from them.

0:54:220:54:25

And that is what has passed from one generation to the other.

0:54:250:54:29

-Wow.

-And what they basically did was to keep it in, what we call,

0:54:290:54:34

-like, nations.

-Yeah.

0:54:340:54:35

So that a nation is like an ethnic group that comes out of Africa.

0:54:350:54:40

-Yeah.

-So each nation will have their dance and their way of linking back

0:54:400:54:46

-to the past.

-Wow. So is this...?

0:54:460:54:48

Is this...? Was this the Bedeau dance?

0:54:480:54:50

Yes. So your nation...

0:54:500:54:51

-Yes, tell me!

-..would have come from the Coromantee or Akan people,

0:54:510:54:56

out of Ghana on the west coast of Africa.

0:54:560:54:59

-Wow.

-Yes.

-Wow.

0:54:590:55:01

That's your... That's your lineage.

0:55:010:55:03

Wow.

0:55:030:55:05

-That's amazing.

-Yes, it is.

0:55:070:55:08

SINGING

0:55:080:55:11

DRUMMING JOINS THE SINGING

0:55:140:55:17

-I'm Ghanaian! Wow!

-So you probably need to learn it

0:55:220:55:26

and pass it onto your boys.

0:55:260:55:27

To my children.

0:55:270:55:29

Yeah. Amazing.

0:55:290:55:31

-Amazing.

-Absolutely.

0:55:310:55:33

Once my family, you know, gets into slavery,

0:55:540:55:58

there's only so far you can go before they're nothing,

0:55:580:56:00

they're considered nothing, they were no-one.

0:56:000:56:03

Jenevieve, you can't even find her last name.

0:56:030:56:06

But this song, it goes all the way back through all the hardship

0:56:090:56:13

and the persecution and the disgusting treatment.

0:56:130:56:15

This song, through a family line, goes all the way back to Ghana,

0:56:170:56:23

before they were enslaved.

0:56:230:56:26

Glasgow...

0:56:290:56:31

Glasgow Bedeau, Jenevieve, would have sung that song...

0:56:350:56:41

..in the one hour a day, maybe, they had off.

0:56:430:56:47

They would have sung that song and then...

0:56:500:56:53

..and then, 200 years later, these guys are singing it for me.

0:56:590:57:02

That's...

0:57:020:57:03

It's like the universe has kind of gone...

0:57:070:57:09

"Oh, you didn't have anything or anyone from that family.

0:57:110:57:13

"Here you go."

0:57:130:57:14

You know, "There's everything you missed for all your life."

0:57:160:57:19

Just amazing, really.

0:57:280:57:30

Actor and film-maker Noel Clarke grew up in west London with his single-parent mum, and this left one side of his family tree a mystery to him.

His search starts in Trinidad, where both his parents are from, but soon takes him on a trail to other islands, ending on one of the smallest and most beautiful in the Caribbean. There he learns of an extraordinary great-great-great-great-grandfather called Glasgow Bedeau, who was born into slavery. The music Glasgow's enslaved parents and grandparents passed down reveals the part of Africa from which Noel's ancestors were taken.