Celebrity genealogy series. Having reached a turning point in his life, Richard Madeley decides to learn more about the Canadian side of his family.
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# BBC Radio Two. #
13 minutes past eight o'clock on Radio Two.
This is the Chris Evans Show, but it's Richard sitting in for him. He's back on Monday.
Richard Madeley, one of the best know faces on daytime television,
has ditched the comfort of the studio sofa
which he shared with his wife Judy for more than two decades.
Now in his mid-50s, he's at a turning point in his life.
I think both Judy and I are very much over a watershed now.
I do feel in a very, very new place in my life, you know, professionally and personally.
We spent all those years presenting together,
and we're never going to do that again, and that's an absolutely clear decision.
It's 20 past eight. More travel from Lin.
And having been off that particular hamster wheel for about two years,
I do find myself, cos I've got the time,
wondering why I am the way I am.
Richard was born in Romford, Essex, in 1956,
the son of an English father and Canadian mother.
I know a lot about my father's side of the family
back to the latter stages of the Victorian era, the 19th century.
But my knowledge of my mother's family and her background is pretty patchy.
Mum's Canadian, but as far as how the family got to Canada, I don't know.
So I'm hoping we'll discover something about that side of the family cos I know so little about it.
This used to be my, er, this used to be my school train.
We used to get the train from Romford into Stratford
and then get the tube to Mile End and walk to my East End grammar school.
It hasn't changed a bit.
The backs of the houses...
I mean, there's almost nothing changed at all.
In the early 1950s, Richard's father Christopher went to Canada in search of work,
where he met Mary Claire, Richard's mother.
After marrying, they moved back to Essex,
where Richard was born and grew up.
I was very lucky, I've been looking at these pictures from all these years ago.
I had such a happy childhood. I mean, that's my birthday.
That's my sister, Liz, that's Mum in her 60s dress.
And we're in Epping Forest and I could take you to that clearing today.
I know exactly where it is.
Richard is on his way to Norfolk, where his mother now lives.
His father died in 1977.
Come on, Mum. It's pouring down.
How are you? Are you OK? Let's go in.
Have you got any pictures of your parents?
I don't think I've ever seen a picture of them.
There is a picture of my father and mother,
and that must've been soon after they were married.
-She's got a sweet face, hasn't she, your mother?
-She was beautiful.
How did your parents meet? I don't know that story.
My father had emigrated from Scotland
-and he went straight to Quebec.
And he went into northern Quebec where he became...
Oh, chopped down trees.
And then he decided, "I want to see the rest of Canada,"
so in Canada they had gangs of men, or women,
who collected the strawberries, the fruit
and they go further and further west as they go
till finally they get to the wheat country.
-I see. So they kind of follow the seasons as the different crops and fruits mature?
-And that takes them sort of inexorably west?
So he ended up in the west?
He ended up in Saskatchewan,
and my mother was looking after the farm.
So this is your mum, just a slip of a girl,
running this huge farm all by herself and basically handling these,
well, not quite cowboys, but rowdy farm workers?
Yes. Oh, but they weren't rowdy. Not with my mother!
And they met, and it was instant.
They fell in love with each other.
Richard's mother Mary Claire was born in 1932,
during the time of the Great Depression.
When she was growing up, the province of Saskatchewan
was the agricultural heartland of Canada.
Here, her parents Hector and Barbara
had run the family's 1800 acre wheat farm.
And here is their wedding certificate.
What year would this be?
1926, and she was 19 then.
Trading profession, farmer.
And there's your mother's name, Barbara Violet Bailey.
Your mother's occupation is put down as 'living at home'.
That's a fine career! Nothing wrong with that.
-Her father was Harris A Bailey. Was...
We've got the maiden name of your grandmother, Mary Murdock.
She was Mary Alvenia.
She was born in Nova Scotia.
That is the way she looked when she disapproved.
That is one heck of a... That's one heck of a disapproving expression!
-Have you got any other pictures of her...
-..when she's not looking quite so stern?
-Yes, I have.
-Now that's what she was like normally.
-That's more like it.
-You were very close to your grandmother?
-Very close. Very close indeed.
As I was going to have dates, you know when I was around 14, 15,
my grandmother would always, she had a rocking chair
and the bedroom window looked out on the street where I would come in,
and she sat there until I came in, and then she slipped into bed.
-If you were late, did she give you one of those looks?
-No, she didn't. She never did.
She never did. I could do no wrong.
But I'm sorry to say that my grandmother
is the furthest back that I can go.
-Well, that's up to me to see if I can crack that.
-That's my job.
To trace his Canadian roots further,
Richard has to start with his mother's grandmother, Mary Alvenia Murdock,
who he knows was born in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia.
I'll do Mary A Murdock.
There she is.
This is from the 1871 Canadian Census.
Mary A Murdock.
Birth, about, they're not sure, 1868 in Nova Scotia.
Let's just view the images and see if there's anymore in here.
Erm, there she is.
Mary A, and she was three at the time.
Er, there's Murdock, John, that would've been her father,
he was 43, and John's type of work, he was a farmer.
Another Canadian farmer.
So, I guess we need to type him in now.
Right we've got the register of deaths here from Nova Scotia.
Name of deceased, John Murdock.
Date of death, May 14th, 1912.
The address he was listed at last was South Street, Bridgetown.
His occupation is given as a gentleman,
and he is, of course, married.
So we've found him.
There is a slight discrepancy here.
Here, he's listed as a gentleman, whatever that means,
in the earlier documents he was a farmer,
so something must've happened.
So, Novia Scotia.
A pretty cold, windswept place, I would've thought.
Richard has discovered that his connection to Canada
goes back at least four generations
to his great, great grandfather, John Murdock.
Richard has come to the snowbound wilds of Nova Scotia
on the east coast of Canada.
When John Murdock was born in 1828,
the formation of modern-day Canada was in its infancy.
The European discovery in the 15th century
of what we now know as Canada lead to over two centuries of conflict,
as Europe's colonial powers vied for territory.
By 1828, much of Canada was part of Britain's Empire.
Richard is travelling to Bridgetown,
where he knows his great, great grandfather died.
I know so little about him, but there is this central mystery about him
which was that he's a farmer when he gets married,
and years later when he dies, he's a gentleman.
That seems a weird transition out here.
I can imagine that in the shires of England,
a prosperous gentleman farmer, but not here. And not in those days.
Richard is meeting local historian Frances Lowry
at the James House Museum.
I'm trying to trace the mother's side of my family
and one of her ancestors, my great, great grandfather,
was a guy called John Murdock.
All I know about him is that he was born in 1828,
died in 1912, and that's kind of it.
Well, we have a copy of John Murdock's obituary
in the Halifax newspaper.
-That's the capital of the province?
-Yes, it is.
Right, Bridgetown, May 15th,
"The sudden death of John Murdock at the age of 84 years at 1:30 this morning,"
gosh, that's precise, "came as a shock to his friends.
"The deceased was a retired farmer." So he was a farmer.
"After retiring at eight o'clock last night, and while in his usual health,
"he was noticed by his wife becoming helpless.
"A slight shock had touched the strong man
"and Doctor Deckman was called quickly.
"He at once said, 'It is only a matter of a few hours.'
"A staunch supporter of the Methodist church
"and a warm political friend of the Right Honourable RL Borden.
"Burial at Bridgetown on Thursday afternoon."
That was really something that it was in the Halifax paper
because that had just been, erm, after the Titanic had gone down.
The previous month, of course, in April.
Yes, so Halifax was a very busy place
with the burial of over 150 people in Halifax.
So it had to be reported big, he was a big guy?
Well, he was a well respected farmer and you can tell
in his relationship with Sir Robert Borden there...
..that he obviously had some good friends around.
He was a local politician, Borden?
-Have you got any money on you?
-Er, yes. Why?
-Take out your money.
-OK, I've got about a hundred and...
-I'll take this one.
What are you doing?! What's your game?!
-This is Sir Robert Borden.
-Oh, is that him?
-He was the Prime Minster of Canada.
-He knew the Prime Minister of Canada?!
On good terms? On personal terms?
Yes, because the families had been friends for quite some time.
Does this mean that my great, great granddad had influence?
Yes. He was influential in town.
-And he was born here, and we have his parents' marriage.
So here it is, here.
-Another John Murdock.
And Harriet Hicks of Annapolis.
Harriet Hicks' grandfather was John Hicks,
and he was a settler here.
He came here in 1765.
-We're really going back now, then?
-So, this is early days for Nova Scotia?
-This is early days.
When John Murdock married into the Hicks family,
he was marrying into one of the most influential families in the area.
John Hicks established the very first ferry here on the river.
-There was no bridge.
So he established the very first ferry
and so the local name for the town became Hicks' Ferry.
-Really? Before Bridgetown?
-Yes, before Bridgetown.
Richard has traced his Canadian family back more than 250 years
to one of the very first settlers of modern day Nova Scotia,
his ancestor John Hicks.
So I've got a great, great, great, great, great grandfather in my gun-sights now,
John Hicks, settling here in the late 18th century, in the late 1700s,
and that's a heck of a way further back than I ever thought we'd get in such a short space of time.
When John Hicks arrived in 1760,
the province was largely uninhabited,
with only a few pockets of indigenous tribes
and some isolated French settlements.
To find out why his ancestor came to Nova Scotia,
Richard is travelling to the nearby village of Hall's Harbour,
where he's tracked down another descendant of John Hicks,
his distant cousin, Henry Hicks.
Well, by the size of that sign and the location of this drive,
I'm expecting quite a special house.
This isn't a drive!
Oh, this is ridiculous.
Oh, man, this is like something out of the movies.
What a beautiful house.
A beautiful house.
I'm Richard. Hi. Good to meet you.
John Hicks is my great, great, great, great, great grandfather.
He's my fifth grandfather. Is it the same for you, or...?
Actually, I'm six times removed so he would be...
-Great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather.
All I kind of know about him at the moment is, John Hicks,
is that he came here at some point in the mid-to-late 1700s
and he ran the ferry.
Well, John Hicks actually was an American,
and most all of the communities that had been settled in America at the time,
or in the United States, were along the Eastern Seaboard and they couldn't spread west
because the natives were still very hostile
and things were crowded there.
They had very few options in terms of expanding families and land and other things,
and therefore they left the community where there were churches and schools
and all things that are civilised,
to come to a country that was unsettled
because of the opportunity of having land and being able to expand from there.
Throughout the 1600s,
the province of Nova Scotia had been under French rule.
But, in 1713, the British had finally taken the province,
and, by the late 1750s,
almost all the French inhabitants had been brutally deported.
In the mid-18th century,
the British settlements on the east coast of America were overcrowded.
With most of the rest of the country still in the hands of the native Indian population,
men like John Hicks, in search of new lands to settle,
saw their opportunity in the north.
In 1760, Nova Scotia was still largely uninhabited by the British,
nearly 50 years after they'd taken it.
The Governor issued a proclamation inviting people to participate in owning land
which would be ceded to those people who were accepted.
-And they didn't have to pay a red cent for this?
-No, they did not.
Says, "By His Excellency Charles Lawrence Esq,
"Captain General and Governor in Chief in his Majesty's province of Nova Scotia,
"a favourable opportunity now presents for the peopling and cultivating
"as well as the lands vacated by the..." Vacated by the French!
Driven out, more like!
"I shall be ready to receive any proposals that may hereafter be made to me
"for effectually settling the said vacated or any other lands within the province aforesaid.
"God save the King."
So our great, great... Well, my great, great, great, great, great,
one more great for you, grandfather saw this as a golden opportunity, presumably?
In 1760, the 45-year-old John Hicks,
with his wife Elizabeth and their young children,
along with hundreds of other settlers,
left New England in America.
After a 400 mile voyage north, John and his family
were faced with the challenge of creating a new society
in the harsh wilds of Nova Scotia.
What kind of conditions would he have found when he got here?
Well, there was still a threat from the French,
those that were not expelled.
There was also a threat from the native population,
and therefore there needed to be some protection
in terms of a garrison, and so on.
The land had actually been vacant for some time,
-so it was pretty wild.
Those who came, including John, would bring everything.
Their furnishings, their whole life.
What did they do? Did they build a log cabin to begin with
and improve it from there? Were they living in tents?
They would've built homes,
-and some of them even brought their structures with them.
-What, prefab homes?
Yes, and so they would've just cut it right out and...
So this is a little bit like, in later generations, the settlers who went west?
They put everything in the wagons and lit out?
Absolutely. In this case they came by boat,
and it's hard for us to envisage, really, what they came to,
but it was really very rudimentary in terms of any...
So, he was an American to begin with,
so I've come to the end of my Canadian ancestry,
my Canadian family tree. Where do I go from here?
-John Hicks had a son.
-Thomas Hicks, yeah.
Who would be your great-great- great-great-grandfather.
Er, and he married Sarah Chute.
If you check that out, you will find that you can follow your lineage quite nicely, I think.
-Thank you very much. It's been great talking to you.
Just look at the difference between what John Hicks set out to do and achieved
and the environment that he did it in
and what I've done in my pathetic life, you know, sitting on a sofa in a warm television studio
asking people a few moderately easy questions.
I mean, the contrast couldn't be greater.
Protected, cosseted, overly paid, you know, all of that,
and you set that kind of modern pampered existence
against the sort of things that they had to do and had to risk and had to judge,
knowing it might not come off and knowing that the consequences of failure weren't...
a P45 and slight public humiliation, but death.
The contrast couldn't be greater.
Richard has traced his Canadian ancestry back seven generations to John Hicks.
To go further back, he must now turn his attention to the family
of his great-great-great- great-grandmother, Sarah Chute.
He's on his way to meet archivist Lois York
who has been researching the earliest records of Nova Scotia.
So what can you tell me about Sarah Chute?
Well, now, Chute is an old Nova Scotian name.
It goes back to the 1760's
and we have some of the very old records.
These early settlers set up a register.
They asked each family for information
and here you've got Sarah...
-This is the actual document?
-This is the actual document.
-See the old handwriting?
Born the 3rd of November 1758,
and the last of the family born in New England, her parents,
John and Judith would have been part of the migration around 1760
from those New England colonies.
-They would have come up with my five times great-grandfather.
You've found and revealed Sarah to me so I know where she was born.
But I don't know what to do with this information. Where do I go from here?
You go southwest.
Leave Nova Scotia, go down to New England.
You've got Sarah and you have her parents.
Your answers lie wherever they lived before they came to Nova Scotia.
-Here we go.
I thought we were going to get interesting, quirky stories about smallholdings and farms.
What we've got is quite epic.
When I was driving back last night, through a very heavy blizzard and there was nothing to be seen,
there were no lights, we were in complete isolation in heavy snow,
with months more heavy snow and isolation to come, and yet we've got a 4x4 car,
we can come back to a hotel.
These guys were completely out on limb
in very, very wild place, and they did what they needed to do to make it work.
I'm just so full of admiration for them.
Richard has discovered that his Canadian ancestors migrated from America
when its east coast territories were part of Britain's Empire.
Now he must travel to America to find out more.
The area known as New England was first settled in 1620,
as English colonists arrived in search of political and religious freedom,
and economic profit.
Richard is on his way to Boston, the state capital of Massachusetts.
Founded in 1630, Boston was named after its English counterpart in Lincolnshire
and quickly became the most important town of New England,
attracting thousands of migrants as the city developed.
Richard is hoping to uncover information that will lead him
right back to the very start of his North American ancestry.
He's going to the Massachusetts archives to meet genealogist and historian, Diane Rapaport,
who's traced Sarah Chute's family back to her great-great-grandparents,
Ezekiel and Ann Woodward, in the mid-17th century.
Do we know what they did for a living?
Most people back then were pretty much jacks of all trades, and Ezekiel, he did some carpentry work.
-Later on her became a tavern keeper.
Ann would have...she would have spent a lot of time cooking, and then another thing,
you know, if anyone was sick in the family, the women were in charge of generally...
-There were women healers and doctors.
But mostly, women, unless it became serious, they knew how to make herbal remedies.
She would have been taking care of that.
And were they midwives as well?
They were definitely midwives.
-In fact, they were very important in the community because most people had large families.
And anyway I'll moved this out of the way
because I've found a document involving Ann and a midwife
that I think you'll find very interesting.
-How far back does this date?
Ann was involved in what has been called one of the...
-the first collective political actions of American women.
There was a midwife named Alice Tilly, from Boston,
and Alice Tilly had been arrested and imprisoned and jail...
and convicted of, basically, medical malpractice.
Someone under Alice's care must have died in childbirth and...
And she copped, she copped the blame for it.
Right, and somebody complained, and so anyway,
Ann was one of about 130 women who signed a petition on her behalf.
-So this is an exclusively female-signed petition?
-These are all women, right.
These women wanted her... wanted her to be released.
This was a vote of faith by the women in the community.
They were saying that she's a good midwife.
Right, and I don't know if you can read...
To the Right Honourable John Endicott, Governor, the...
-That's Thomas - T-H-O. Thomas Dudley.
-Thomas Dudley Esq.
-What does it say here? Can you read this to me? I'm very bad at this...
"Whereas your petitioners having had manifold experiences
"of the skill and ability through the good hand of God,
-"of a useful instrument..." They're talking about Alice.
And we're over here.
-I'm with you.
-"By providence has become a prisoner to your worships..."
-Namely Alice Tilly.
"And therein several crimes written on her forehead."
That's a metaphor. They're not really...
I think that's a metaphor, although in those days
-sometimes people would be branded on their forehead...
-..with whatever their...
Hence that expression.
"Crimes written on your forehead which God
-"nor her own conscience made lay to her charge..." They're saying...
-So where's my great- great-great-great-great-great- great-great-grandmother's signature
-in this lot?
-All right. Well, she's in the fourth column.
She's the second from the top.
-Ann without an E.
-Er, yeah. The last name is very hard to read.
I can see a W and it certainly finishes with R-D, and you're telling me that
this was one of the first recorded community actions by women in a political context in America.
Yes, and it was one of the... unprecedented in terms of numbers.
So, Ann was a feisty woman, clearly.
The petition Ann signed was one of several delivered to the authorities.
In total, 217 women stood up against the governors and succeeded in securing the release of Alice Tilly.
At a time when many women were only allowed the most basic education, had no right to own property,
and no say in the governing of their communities, this was an unprecedented collective statement,
nearly three centuries before women were granted the right to vote in the United States.
Let's talk about her husband, Ezekiel. Have you found out stuff about him?
All right. I have indeed. So, this is his baptismal record.
This is back in England, in Poddington, Bedfordshire.
-Pottington did you say?
-Poddington. I may not pronounce it the way...
-That's all right. In Bedfordshire.
Oh, so he actually wasn't born in Massachusetts, Ezekiel. He came from England.
He was born about 1624 and he is on this document.
So Ezekiel Woodward, son of Nathaniel Woodward. Is that?
-Baptised I think.
-Baptised something May, anyway.
-So we know it was 1624.
-We know that he was the son of Nathaniel Woodward and he was baptised in May of that year.
And he came over to New England and he definitely left records as well.
-And was feisty, like Ann.
-What do you mean, feisty?
-Well, let me show you.
He also petitioned, the general court...
-A couple of rebels, these two!
-This is a petition that Ezekiel...
-Just a one-man petition?
-All his own work?
-A one-man petition.
What's he moaning about here?
-You want to see if you can...?
"Tour petitioner... was in the time of the war
-"bearing the office of a sergeant..."
"..and can get...
"..no more satisfaction of the treasurer..."
-It's about money this, isn't it?
-It's about money, yes.
-"..than that which belongs to a common soldier..."
"..as witness my hand."
And then it says, "The mark of Ezekiel Woodward."
-He's obviously owed money.
-He wasn't paid as a Sergeant should have been paid in, in this war.
So which war was this?
This was King Philip's war
and not too many people really even know about it.
-Is that Philip from Spain?
Philip... This was a native American.
Indians, native Americans were living amidst the colonists
in a lot of parts of New England.
More or less peacefully for many years
but in June of 1675, tensions erupted.
And Ezekiel was, was in the thick of it?
He signed on for to what was called the Narragansett campaign,
that was fought mostly in Rhode Island.
One of the most bloody and difficult parts of the war.
So that's all really I can discover here in Boston.
I've got to go south to Rhode Island to find out more?
Rhode Island is where the battle occurred.
-Diane, thank you so much.
-Well, thank you.
-Really good. Thank you.
I've always been attracted to people and particularly women
who are feisty and stroppy and strong-minded.
I don't know why, I just am.
And I remember the very first time that I, that I saw and met Judy.
It was in the newsroom at Granada Television
and I walked into the morning news conference
which can be quite... punch-up sort of affairs.
And she even though she was relatively junior,
although she was a presenter,
she was absolutely steaming in to a rather pompous producer
who'd said something rather silly, and giving no quarter.
But she was right.
And I loved that about her straightaway
and she is, as anybody who knows her,
for all her gentle qualities,
she can be gloriously stroppy and I love that.
And thinking about Ann and Ezekiel,
that's exactly what they had.
They obviously were attracted to each other.
They were drawn to each other, and were both stroppy mavericks.
Richard wants to find out more about his ancestors' involvement
in the Narragansett Campaign of King Philip's war,
a war between the colonists and the Native Americans.
He's come to Rhode Island where the campaign took place.
When the first British settlers arrived in America
in the early 17th century
they were ill equipped to survive
in the harsh and unforgiving conditions of the new colonies.
Brutal weather, starvation and illness
decimated the colonial population.
Within months, the colonists who survived.
had turned to the Native Indian tribes
who inhabited New England, for help.
But as the colonists became accustomed to the new world
they needed less support from their Indian neighbours
and their desire for land and power grew.
The early alliance began to fall apart and wars broke out.
I'm fascinated by the fact that men like Ezekiel
on the one hand had to live check by jowl
with the Native Indian population and get on with them, er,
but at the same time these wars would suddenly erupt.
Richard's meeting Professor Lin Fisher at Smiths Castle Museum.
My great times eight grandfather, Ezekiel, came down here to sort out
a problem with the Indians and that's kind of all I know.
What was going on back then?
It's interesting, when they first arrived, the colonists that is,
in 1620 here in New England,
there were about 70,000 Native Americans, so quite a few.
More than you might expect, and over time, as the English became
more and more independent and needed Indians less and less,
they began to take advantage of them in specific ways, and several ways.
So first of all they began to take a lot of land which caused
a lot of grievance on the part of the Native American.
And second of all they put a lot of these native groups under political sort of subjugation
and then they also, the English that is, the colonists,
began to evangelise these natives very actively as well.
And so all of this over the course between 1620, 1630 and the 1670's
leads up to a lot of disagreements.
A lot of tensions between the Indians and the colonists.
So what actually specifically happened then as far as Ezekiel was concerned?
What specifically was the tipping point?
King Philip, who we have a little portrait of,
he was the lead Sachem of the Wampanoag Tribe
and the English were suspicious that Philip
was actually planning a pan-Indian uprising.
In June 1675, three members of the Wampanoag Tribe
were tried and found guilty for the murder of a Christian Indian
who was an ally of the colonists.
The three men were executed by the English.
Many Native Americans believed this act
was deliberately provocative
and under their leader, Metacom,
who the English had renamed Prince Philip,
several Indian tribes of New England rose up against the colonists.
As trouble swept through the region,
all the able-bodied men in the colony were called on to fight.
Ezekiel Woodward was a sergeant
attached to a company of nearly 150 men.
At the age of 51, he was one of the senior men
in a position of authority.
In early December the company set off on a 70 mile march south,
to a meeting point at Smith's Castle,
in preparation for a battle against the Narragansetts,
one of the tribes which had turned against the colonists.
If you can think about it through the eyes of Ezekiel.
He gets the initial call. He has to inform his family.
He knows it's gong to be basically a two month campaign
so he's away from home for two months.
His family doesn't know if he's returning.
It's a very poignant moment
and then when the actual day comes, they strap on all their gear
and then they have to actually march the whole way down to this location
exactly at Smith's Castle.
-So Ezekiel would have been here?
So he arrived here on December 13th.
They began roving around,
they find a few native villages and they burn them to the ground
and there's a really fascinating description,
that is captured in a letter by Joseph Dudley
who is one of the chaplains for the militias.
"May it please Your Honour,
"I am commanded by the General
"to give Your Honour account of our proceeding..."
Lets do this together.
Well, actually we have a transcription that will little bit if that's OK with you.
Yes, please. Yeah.
"We have burned two of their towns,
"many of them large wigwams, and seized or slain 50 persons.
"In all, our prisoners being about 40.
"The whole body of them we find removed into their great swamp,
"and hope tomorrow a march towards them.
"Peter, who we have found very faithful,
"will make us believe that they are 3,000 fighting men."
What's interesting, several things.
First of all, as you'll find in this letter I want to show you as well,
that describes the actual fight, Indian Peter plays a critical role.
The other thing that's interesting is how sort of casually
-Joseph Dudley mentions going out and pillaging local Indian towns.
-I mean so it gives you a sense of the broader context
in which Ezekiel was working.
It would have been horrific to perpetuate these kinds deeds,
but at the same time, this was a matter of life and death
and Joseph Dudley is simply reporting what was taking place.
On December the 19th, 1675,
in deep winter, Ezekiel's company join nearly a thousand other men
who, helped by a native guide the colonists knew as Indian Peter,
marched to an area known as the Great Swamp.
Here, the troops believed,
members of the Narragansett Tribe
had taken shelter in a palisaded fort.
The Great Swamp fight depends on your perspective.
It's a Great Swamp Massacre
and it involves a very specific campaign
that took months to plan, prepare.
What's interesting is the palisaded fort in the swamp
was designed to be inaccessible, except by one or two little paths,
and you had to know precisely where you were going to get there.
-Indian Peter did know.
-Indian Pete, this is where he comes in.
Right, but the swamp was also frozen.
So you put together these two pieces.
-They have Indian Peter and the swamp is frozen.
And suddenly this fortress, becomes very vulnerable,
and there is again actually a letter that comes from Joseph Dudley
-and it starts down here, sort of at the bottom.
"A tedious march in the snow without intermission
"brought us about two of the clock in the afternoon
"to the entrance to the swamp, by the help of Indian Peter.
"Within the cedar swamp we found some hundreds of wigwams.
"They entertained us with a fierce fight and many thousands shot
"for about an hour, when our men valiantly sealed the fort.
"The Indians fell on again re-carried,
"and beat us out of the fort."
So there was a real pitched battle.
-It was a tough fight.
-To-ing and fro-ing.
-It was a tough fight.
"We reinforced and very hardily into the fort again
"and fired the wigwams with many living and dead persons in them.
"Great piles of meal and heaps of corn.
"The ground not admitting burial of their store were consumed."
So they burnt the lot. They torched it.
-Bodies, people, living, dead.
-Corn, meat, the whole thing.
-The whole thing to the flame.
-About 500 wigwams.
Think about Ezekiel taking part in all that.
It's one heck of an encounter.
Do you think that, that my ancestor Ezekiel was lucky to survive it?
I think he was.
The Great Swamp Fight, or Massacre,
was the bloodiest battle within King Philip's war.
And King Philip's war is the bloodiest war
ever fought on US soil,
as a proportion of the population compared to those who died.
-Very, very bloody set of events.
The great thing about being here in Rhode Island is that the Great Swamp isn't that far away.
-And I highly recommend that you actually go out to the Great Swamp,
whether you drive, or march like Ezekiel, did is up to you!
But to go there and to see it
-and to experience the expanse, the closeness.
Everything, in the snow, it would be terrific.
And I will be on the very spot
that my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather was
-and fought and went into combat.
-You'll be right there.
Richard has come to the Great Swamp
where a monument was erected in 1906 to commemorate the battle.
Hello, are you John?
-Very pleased to meet you.
-Nice meeting you.
-Hi, can we get in?
-Go round. Thank you.
John Brown is a member of the Narragansett Tribe,
and historic preservation director.
You're about 300 yards away from the actual encampment.
-Where the battle, where the battle happened?
So I only learned two hours ago
that my great times eight grandfather was in this battle.
This was not a battle or a war.
This was a massacre.
The combatants that they were looking for,
were not here.
The people that were here in this forest were the old men,
old women, women and children.
They came in with several thousand troops.
When they could not gain entrance into the compound,
they then burned it and killed the people in there.
None of the people that you would consider soldiers were here.
None of the actual defenders were here.
They were on a campaign in the Boston area.
Why do you think then, that when the militia men,
including my great times eight grandfather,
when they got here, why do you think when they realised that
the people they were looking for weren't here,
why carry on anyway and kill and destroy the place?
Their purpose was to colonise,
and when you colonise,
you remove the indigenous species no matter what those species are
and you replace them with that which you bring.
And we were in the way of them wanting the land.
It was an attempt to break our life cycle.
And using terms of this and the last century,
would you describe it as genocide what happened here that day?
Oh, certainly. That was the attempt.
-They didn't come in the middle of the day.
They snuck in in the middle of the night
and they used a trader to do it.
So you tell me how you'd look at it?
If I came to your house
with all your family there and your extended family there,
in the middle of the night,
and said "come out," and I came there with a bunch of guys with guns
and will you come out and say "Hey, I'm not coming out, you've got guns.
"Go away." I start shooting.
And when that doesn't get the job done, I'd start burning.
How would you look at me?
I'm the direct descendant of one of the more senior soldiers
who came down here that day and did what they did.
Er, and you're a direct descendant
-of some of the people who were here.
So, er, we're looking at each other,
er, separated by about 350 years but through the same genetic material.
-Yes, exactly right.
-Across the face of time.
Absolutely. So it makes me feel a little guilty after all this time.
Er, and I'm not being politically correct in saying that.
I does, I mean, I do feel a sense of visceral guilt
that that happened to your people.
How do you feel about me?
You're not a bad person.
-And you cannot change what was done back then.
The only thing that we can do in this time and this place
is attempt to live our lives
in such a way that we give back to those who gave to us.
And that's what we do.
Why should you be my enemy and why should I be yours?
If I could conjure up
the spirit, the person of my ancestor right here and now,
would you be in a position to offer him forgiveness for what happened?
Would you understand possibly that he was himself in a bind,
in a position where he felt he had no alternatives as a simple...
Not a politician, just a simple militiaman
told to do what he was told to do?
I think you've said it in a most eloquent way that, er,
these people really didn't have a whole lot of choices.
They either were in for that penny or they were in for that pound,
and no matter whether it was a pound or a penny,
-they were in and there was no getting out.
This is an interesting one. I've just spoken to a modern-day historian
whose take on what happened here was effectively that it was a battle,
but from the Indian perspective it was just a slaughter
and it was genocide, and it was cold-blooded murder
and if that's true, then my direct ancestor
was part of something pretty horrible.
Having said that, that tends to be what happens
when there are great population migrations anywhere in the world.
You get these terrible clashes
between an indigenous population and the incomers, and bad stuff happens.
And I can't really, I can't make a moral judgment against
my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather at this distance.
It doesn't seem reasonable.
This was pretty bad, though, I have to say.
King Philip's war devastated the Native American population of New England,
with an estimated death toll of 3,000 from a population of just 20,000.
Many of those Indians who survived were enslaved or transported
from their tribal lands and forcibly resettled
in other areas of New England.
In 1676, when the war ended,
the English colonists had effectively
gained total control of New England.
Richard knows that his ancestor Ezekiel Woodward
was born in England in 1624
and migrated to America when he was a teenager.
But to see if this American line goes any further back,
he has to turn to Ezekiel's wife, Ann.
Richard has come back to Boston
to find out where Ann's family were from.
He's meeting historian Bob Anderson in the City Hall archives.
So I know that Ezekiel was born and christened
in England round about 1624, but I know very little about his wife Ann.
What can you tell me about her and her parents?
Well, Ann was born right here in Boston.
Her father had come to Boston at least as early as 1632.
We know that in fact because Ann's birth is recorded here.
It's one of the earliest births recorded in the town of Boston.
-Boston had been settled in the fall of 1630.
So just two years after the settlement.
Two years after the settlement. And we do have a record of, er,
Ann's birth right here.
So these are genuine originals?
Genuine originals. Written by the first town clerk of Boston.
1636. I can see the numbers OK.
It's the names that are difficult to read.
-No, I can't find it.
It's right here. There's Ann,
the daughter of William, and William is abbreviated Wm.
Beamsley, and Ann his wife was born
-the first of the 12th month, 1632.
-Gosh, you're good at this.
-So she was born in that winter of 1632-33.
And just a half a mile from here.
Their house was in the north end of Boston.
-Half a mile from where we're sitting?
Gosh. This document is truly remarkable, isn't it?
And you know, my relatives,
-my blood ancestors are on this page.
-I've found them.
I've gone right back to the founding of the colonies
and my first American relative.
So your family is part of the absolute founding
of this part of the world.
Absolutely, and I'm so proud of them, actually.
-You should be.
-So proud of them.
It's almost impossible, isn't it,
to imagine what Boston would have looked like, what, 400 years ago?
I mean, these people had travelled
a couple of thousand miles over the Atlantic,
and when they got here there was nothing for them.
Nothing except the space and the land that they craved.
I can just imagine as the boats pulled in and they looked at this,
this wilderness, really, covered in trees,
with just a few people moving around, putting up shacks, chopping wood,
and the sound of hammering
as people started to put together their very, very basic shelters,
and the smell of raw sawn wood hanging in the air, resin,
but basically pretty chaotic.
I think they would have been pretty daunted at first
at seeing just how brand new and fundamentally undeveloped Boston was.
Before leaving Boston,
Richard wants to find out why his family came to America.
He's meeting Professor Brendan McConville.
How should I think of this couple as they step off the boat?
As Boston's founding fathers amongst them or founding families?
What phrase would you as a historian
use to describe them, to categorise them?
They were certainly among the original settlers,
original founders of the society,
but the true leader in a sense of this migration was this person,
-I've heard of him.
Winthrop was a leading Puritan gentleman
from the south-east of England.
He had substantial resources and was widely respected in Puritan circles,
which allowed him to organise this voyage.
So it's entirely probable, if not absolutely certain,
that William and Ann were on one of his ships,
and possibly conversed with him, saw him?
They certainly saw him when they were in Boston. It was a small town.
-They had to have seen him.
-They had to have seen him.
In 1630, a fleet of 11 ships
left England carrying migrants to America.
On board were the men and women
who would become the first settlers of the city of Boston.
Amongst them were William and Ann Beamsley.
They were led by the Puritan John Winthrop,
who'd gathered these families together to settle the New World.
Though some migrants were making the journey for economic reasons,
many made the journey in search of religious freedom.
In the early decades of the 1600s,
the Church of England was under pressure.
It had separated from Rome nearly a century earlier,
but many followers believed it remained too steeped in Catholicism.
As separatists split from the official church,
a new religious movement emerged, known as Puritanism.
And by 1630, New England had become a safe haven for its followers.
So were William and Ann Puritans themselves, do you think?
Most of the migrants who came were of Puritan leanings,
but in the case of your ancestors,
we know for certain that they weren't Puritans.
How do you know that?
By examining the early church records of First Church in Boston,
we can determine that Ann's husband became a church member in 1635.
-And you've got that here?
Well, I'm looking for a William here,
and I'm not sure how I'm going to find him.
Er, is that a William there?
-Is that him?
-I believe it is.
-This isn't a set-up, honestly.
-No, I know.
This is the first time I've gone more or less straight to
an entry that is of my ancestor.
It says "William Beamsley, labourer,"
-and it looks like March 1635.
-It is March. You're right. March 1635.
So he was accepted into the church in the spring of 1635,
-about two or three years after coming here.
The two key things he would have gained by coming to America,
The first is a status in a new church community
that he might not have achieved in an English parish in the same way.
Church membership in Boston,
full church membership in the Boston First Church
is an extremely important thing, socially and spiritually.
The second thing he would have gained
is the opportunity to own his own land.
Because of the abundance of land in America,
there would have been an opportunity for him to gain land
that would not have existed for him had he remained in England.
You know, I started this personal journey of mine a couple of weeks ago
thinking I was going to go back maybe 150, 200 years,
and it was going to be Canadian and Scottish ancestry,
and it's lead me to America,
it's lead me to one of the first Americans and her parents
who came from England.
You've put the icing on the cake for me. Thank you very much.
-Great to see you.
-Great to see you.
It's still filtering into my consciousness,
but I feel almost redefined
by what I've discovered over the last couple of weeks.
Knowing where I come from and knowing what my ancestors did
and how they handed what they'd achieved down to the next generation
has given me an extra dimension, I think,
in the way that I regard myself and what I am, you know,
what I've become.
My ancestors came with burning hope in their heart.
With extraordinary optimism,
and with a determination to face down the fears
that must have gripped them from time to time.
They tried and they did it. They succeeded.
I hope I've got something in me that they had in them in such abundance.
I hope a little bit of it has been passed on.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
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Having reached a turning point in his life, former daytime television presenter Richard Madeley decides to find out more about his family roots, and in particular the Canadian side of his family. He traces his extraordinary lineage back to the earliest Canadian and, to his surprise, American pioneers.
The trail leads Richard back seven generations to the first settlers of the then wild and largely uninhabited province of Nova Scotia. As he pushes back further, Richard discovers that the trail leads to America and New England. In Massachusetts, Richard discovers one ancestor striking a blow for women's rights, 300 years before women got the vote in America.
In Rhode Island Richard finds out that his eighth great-grandfather, Ezekiel Woodward, fought in a war between New England colonists and local Native Americans. In a moving and emotional encounter with a member of the Narrangansett Indian tribe, he discovers the role his ancestor played in one of the bloodiest ever massacres on American soil.
Richard's trail finally leads him to Boston, where he finds ancestors who travelled from England in search of religious freedom in the early 1630s, and discovers that they were among Boston's very first settlers and part of the birth of modern America.