Who Do You Think You Are? US

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Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - TV & RADIO -

Re­search of­ten throws up an­ces­tors who com­mit­ted crimes where there were mit­i­gat­ing cir­cum­stances. And that’s cer­tainly the case with Cyn­thia Nixon’s 3x great grand­mother, Martha Cur­nutt. The Sex And The City star dis­cov­ered in sea­son five of the US ver­sion of WDYTYA? that Martha killed her abu­sive hus­band, Noah Casto, with an axe.

Martha, it seems, feared for her life and de­cided to act be­fore she was the one who per­ished. To quote a con­tem­po­rary news­pa­per ac­count: “On the morn­ing of the [killing] he told his wife to get up and get break­fast for him­self and her two chil­dren, and then to com­mence say­ing her prayers, for she should die, he swore, be­fore sun­set.”

Martha was sen­tenced to five years in jail for man­slaugh­ter and sent to Mis­souri State Pen­i­ten­tiary. She was the only fe­male in­mate. There, in 1844, she gave birth to a daugh­ter, Sarah, al­though it’s un­clear who the father was. There is some light and hope in this oth­er­wise dark story: pub­lic pres­sure led to Martha be­ing par­doned and herer ex­pe­ri­ences forced the state of Mis­souri to re­form how it dealt with women pris­on­ers.

On Tues­day 23 June, it’s the turn of ac­tor Jesse Tyler Fer­gu­son, who stars in the sit­com Mod­ern Fam­ily, to trace his ances­try. He also finds a fore­bear who had a brush with the law. His great grand­fa­ther, Jesse Wheat Up­per­cue, was tried twice for mur­der­ing his aunt and ap­pears to have been some­thing of a con­man.

As for Rachel McA­dams, star of the forth­com­ing se­cond se­ries of True De­tec­tive, and her sis­ter Kayleen (a Hol­ly­wood make-up artist)artist), their re­search cen­tres on their mother’smothers side of the fam­ily. This in­volves a trip to the UK to trace Bri­tish fore­bears, and the rev­e­la­tion that, in the af­ter­math of the Amer­i­can Rev­o­lu­tion, fam­ily mem­bers loyal to the Crown were forced to live in a refugee camp in Canada.

The se­ries will also fea­ture episodes fo­cused on Va­lerie Bertinelli, one of the stars of hit US sit­com Hot In Cleve­land; Kelsey Gram­mer of Frasier fame; and a re-edited ver­sion of the UK show fea­tur­ing film star Min­nie Driver, who learnt about her war hero father’s dou­ble life. Jonathan Wright

Cyn­thia Nixon dis­cov­ers a shock­ing death in the fam­ily in her episode

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