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Brian Blessed's episode

Discuss the brand new series of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring the likes of Julie Walters, Brian Blessed and Billy Connolly

Brian Blessed's episode

Postby Jon Bauckham » Thu Aug 14, 2014 2:03 pm

Hello everyone,

Continuing the brand new series Who Do You Think You Are? is the one and only BRIAN BLESSED, whose episode will be broadcast tonight on BBC One at 9pm.

I had the privilege of seeing the episode in advance, and I can assure you that it's a great story (but you'll probably want to turn the sound down a bit!)

As ever, let us know what you thought by posting below.

Happy viewing!

I've now left Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. Please contact regarding any forum queries.
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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby richardrailton1 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 8:26 pm

So far Brian blessed story is a sad one with the deaths of his ancestors leaving 4 children

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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby ColinB » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:00 pm

What a splendid tale and what a lovely man !

Brilliant !

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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby callbrian » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:16 pm

The English eccentric is still alive and living in the body of Brian Blessed!
What a really good story from beginning to end.
I have been helping with a family history around St. Mary's church parish, so was excited to actually see it on screen.
I hope the rest of the series can match the first two episodes.
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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby coopernicola » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:30 pm

Loved tonights episode, just goes to show so called ordinary ancestors can have really interesting lives. A really great surprise ending to a story of a family split apart so young.
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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby smithp39 » Thu Aug 14, 2014 9:47 pm

Amazing what can be found out about seemingly ordinary people in our past. Loved Brian's enthusiasm.

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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby ksouthall » Thu Aug 14, 2014 11:15 pm

I also enjoyed this episode. I wondered if perhaps Jabez went to look for his brother when he ran away from the workhouse. As he was working on a boat, he may have travelled between London and the north east regularly and kept in contact with him that way. Barnabas Charles was a shoe and boot maker so may have been well known when Jabez tried to contact him. I had a look to see where Barnabas and his family were living/ran a business over the years to get an idea of how much he moved around. Details as follows:-

5 June 1838 - Marriage of Barnabas Charles Blessed to Mary Ann Wills
51 James Street, St Marylebone.
Barnabas appears to have signed the marriage register. He also knew his father's name and occupation which not all orphans did at that time, despite only being 8 when his parents died.

8 Oct 1843 - Baptism of Barnabas' children Elizabeth and William
East Street, Kennington St Mark

9 Sep 1846 - Baptism of Barnabas' daughter Isabella
Southampton Street, Camberwell St George

30 Jan 1848 - Baptism of Barnabas' son George Charles Blessed
Southampton Street, Camberwell St George

1848 - Post Office Directory
6 Southampton Street, Camberwell

1851 Census - indexed as Pane Chas Blesser
10 Triangle, Southampton Street, Camberwell

1856 - Post Office Directory
9 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

1861 Census - listed as Barnalia
2 Camberwell Lane, Brixton

1867 - Post Office Directory
2 Sussex Road, Brixton

3 June 1869- Marriage of Elizabeth Blessed
Elizabeth Blessed was living in Brixton at the time of her marriage. She appears to have signed the marriage record, as does her brother, George Charles who was one of the witnesses.

1871 Census - indexed as Barnabas C Blesser
2 Coldharbour Lane

4 March 1873 - Marriage of George Charles Blessed
George Charles Blessed was a bootmaker living at 2 Coldharbour Lane.

1 Aug 1876 - Second marriage of Jabez Blessed to Sabina Johnson
463 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton
Both Jabez and his brother Barnabas appear to have signed the marriage register.

1878 - Post Office Directory
463 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

1881 Census
463 Coldharbour Lane, Brixton

Barnabas' death was registered in Kensington in 1889.

It looks like Barnabas and Jabez could read and write. Also, both their sets of children attended school so perhaps the family was able to maintain contact through letter writing.

Also, it looks like there was an older brother, William Curven Blessed, born in 1803 and baptised at St Paul Covent Garden, son of Barnabas and Elizabeth. He was a bookbinder in London in the 1841 Census. Perhaps he did not go to Portsmouth or came back before his younger siblings, as he would have been about 19 when his parents died. He died in London in September 1841.
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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby Editor » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:46 pm

Yes, my first thought was that Jabez had run off to look for his brother. We're so used to the internet and telephones that it's hard to imagine how hard it would be to find someone in the Victorian era. They must have been really driven to stay in touch.

On another note, I spoke to the programme makers and they said Brian was an absolute delight to work with and was kind and charming to everyone he met. When I saw him talking about the making of his episode in London he said it had genuinely been life changing for him.

On our current podcast I speak to the series producer, Kathryn Taylor, and she says it's her favourite episode in the series.

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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby Brummie on Exmoor » Fri Aug 15, 2014 12:56 pm

What a fantastic episode! Really back to basics, giving all of us who are 'just ordinary', a wonderful example of 'how to do it'. It was full of useful hints and tips about how to get back quite a long way on one's Tree, and I see that much of what was used is actually available at the click of a mouse, on Ancestry.

I agree wholeheartedly with coopernicola above, that it also demonstrated how 'ordinary' ancestors can be interesting. The story was really gripping, and great fun. Of course, the enthusiasm of Mr BLESSED himself was a very enjoyable part of that.

So thank you team, please lets have more episodes like this.

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Re: Brian Blessed's episode

Postby Wahian » Sun Aug 17, 2014 7:44 pm

I thought this a most enjoyable and thought provoking episode made even more so by Mr Blessed himself getting into the feel of his ancestors and what they'd endured in every day Victorian life. Sad to see Removal Orders being given against 4 orphans so soon after their parent's deaths.

But interesting for me to see St Pancras Old Church I've been meaning to visit as in 1813, William Franklin, the illegitimate son of inventor and statesman Benjamin Franklin, was buried there.
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