Advertisement

Kate Winslet Would've Been 'Upset and Disgusted' to Learn Her Ancestors Were Rich

SourceKate Winslet has told of her relief at discovering that her ancestors were peasants, saying she would have been “upset and disgusted” to have come from wealth.

The actress contacted the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? programme and asked to be featured because she wanted to know more about her heritage. …

Winslet said that she “would have been upset and disgusted if I had come from wealth or royalty”, and explained: “Mr roots are socialist, working class and, in a funny way, my parents frowned upon the wealthy. …

She told Radio Times that discovering how poor her ancestors were made sense of her life. “I come from a long line of impoverished people on both sides of my family, which perhaps explains why I’ve tried to instil my parents’ values into my kids.” …

Winslet has three children, the youngest with Edward Abel Smith, nephew of Sir Richard Branson and previously known as Ned Rocknroll.

Advertisement

Looks like congratulations are in order for Kate Winslet! It must be so rewarding to find out that you come from a long line of Jacks instead of a bunch of Cal Hockleys. Good for her! I mean, sure, it was probably no bargain for her ancestors who were actually, you know, poor. Working long, back breaking jobs, seven days a week in the factories and mills, the shipyards and mines. Not being able to afford decent medical care. With dentistry an absolute unthinkable pipe dream. OK, so some of them might have died in squalid, unsanitary conditions without running water.

But there’s nobility in poverty, that really pays off generations down the road when your great, great granddaughter is starring in the highest grossing movie off all time and making babies with Ned Rocknroll, the nephew of one of the world’s richest men. Not enough nobility to ever actually want yourself to be poor. Or your children or grandchildren. But just enough that you’d be upset and disgusted to learn your forebears were successful and led comfortable lives.

So I guess I owe a debt of gratitude to my ancestors as well. I always thought it would’ve been pretty sweet if they had some business acumen and let us all grow up rich. But I suppose I wasn’t thinking Big Picture, about how lucky I am to come from a long line of dirt poor Irish.

It’s actually a little ironic because I’ve got a brother and some cousins who did the research and found out we have a great grandmother whose eviction by a hated Protestant landlord was covered in the local newspaper. This is from my cousin’s email:

A reporter for the Tuam Herald showed up to cover the eviction of Bridget (Lally) Thornton and her children, as it gives us an eyewitness account of a critical event in our family’s history … enough to choke you up with anger and sadness over what happened to our great grandmother 126 years ago.

What is known is that after the eviction, Bridget departed Ireland and reunited with her husband Thomas. Within a year, she gave birth to their first child to be born on American soil, John Francis Thornton.

An interesting side note is that the first Gaelic Football game to be played in northern Galway was organized in response to the local outrage over the treatment of our family; and took place on the land from which Bridget was evicted.

Irish Rules Football

So pretty cool, right? My ancestors were not only poor, noble and sympathetic, but also inspired an Irish Rules football game. Which I felt great about for a couple of days. Until more digging found that good ol’ Thomas Thornton was in the United States because he did the 19th century equivalent of “I’m just running out to the store to grab a 6-pack” and instead deadbeated off to Boston before Bridget had a chance to realize he was gone. Eventually she tracked his Mick ass down and they started pumping out American born Thorntons. And here I am.

Ever since I’ve felt pretty bad about coming from guy who tried to skate off on his family, leaving his wife and four kids behind to get kicked out of their home by a Catholic-hating landowner. But thanks to Kate Winslet’s brilliant perspective, I stand corrected. Thanks to my great grandparents. Thanks to Bud & Irene for working at the phone company instead of being internationally celebrated film stars or owning their own luxury airline. I appreciate how lucky I was that you were all so impoverished. Your lack of wealth has really been swell for the rest of us.