There is a programme on British television called “Who do you think you are?” A selection of celebrities take up the challenge to delve into their family history to fill in blanks and discover amusing or terrifying skeletons in the family cupboard. It’s popularity hinges significantly on the surprises. I had an amusing “Who do I think I am” moment today.
My better half got a biography out of the library of one of England’s famous sons, Oliver Cromwell. Being somewhat “challenged” in this period of history, we had an interesting discussion over the dinner table. But then came the surprise. The conversation went thus:
“You might be related,” said my husband. “And I don’t mean in the way you marched me into a shoe shop this afternoon in military fashion”.
“There are no Cromwells in my family tree!”
“Ah, but his surname wasn’t really Cromwell.”
Cue blank look on my side of the table.
“Well it seems they were somewhat ‘cavalier’ about surnames, and in fact his name was Williams.”
My mum was a Williams. It’s quite a common name but I doubt many people keep it if they become famous.
“Oliver Williams is a bit lame isn’t it? Not surprised he changed it. I mean, imagine if Napoleon’s surname had been Smith. The “Smith” Wars doesn’t have the same ring to it as ‘Napoleonic’ now does it?”
It would also explain the whiff of Republicanism in our family!