Actress Kim Cattrall set out to solve a 70-year-old mystery and explore her British heritage on her episode of “Who Do You Think You Are?”
George Baugh, Cattrall’s grandfather, disappeared when her mother, Shane, was 8 years old. When George left, he tried to bribe Shane to accompany him, but she decided to stay behind with her mother. Shane never saw him again, and her mother and two sisters lived in extreme poverty in Liverpool.
After meeting with Shane and her two aunts, Cattralls discovers through a newspaper clipping that George had a sister Edna. Cattrall visits an address listed for Edna, and when no one answers, she knocks on a neighbor’s door. The neighbor instantly recognizes Cattrall and tells her that Edna and George’s other sister Amy are still alive; she gives Cattrall their address.
When she meets with Edna and Amy, she learns that George had a history of running away and was unhappy with his marriage to Cattrall’s grandmother. The sisters also show Cattrall family photos, but none of them are of George.
Cattrall returns to the hotel where a package from a researcher is waiting for her. It contains a copy of George’s marriage certificate to woman that was not Cattrall’s grandmother. The document indicates he remarried less than a year after he left the family without divorcing his first wife.
With his new wife, Isabella Oliver, George moves to Durham County where the couple has three children during the 1950s — Penelope Isabella Baugh, John Oliver Baugh and George William Baugh.
Isabella’s brother, William Oliver, and his wife Maisie lived next to Isabella and George in Durham County. Cattrall finds Maisie in a phone book and meets with her and her daughter. (For more on tracing ancestors using city directories, see our how-to guide.)
Maisie explains that George met Isabella in Manchester in 1938, and they had a daughter, Irene, there before moving to Durham County. His new family with Isabella didn’t know anything about George’s previous family.
Maisie also tells Cattrall that George and his family picked up and moved to Australia in the 1960s. After traveling Down Under, Cattrall discovers George died in 1974 and Isabella in 1990. She decides not to track down their children in Australia.
After her journey, Cattrall returns to Liverpool to share everything she learned about George with her mother Shane and her aunts. After hearing the story, the sisters decide to contact their half siblings in Australia.
(For more on tracing British subjects in Australia, see the March 2011 issue of Family Tree Magazine on newsstands now.)
“WDYTYA” airs Fridays at 8pm EST on NBC. Check the Genealogy Insider blog for a brief recap of each episode.