Another great episode of Who Do You Think You Are was aired on Tuesday evening on The Learning Channel If you haven't seen this episode yet, you can watch it on the website now. SPOILER ALERT: If you haven't seen the show yet, the following is a detailed account of the episode!
This weeks episode showed the research performed for country music artist and celebrity chef, Trisha Yearwood.
The famed country singer was born in Montecello, Georgia. She is married to country artist, Garth Brooks. Her Dad was a banker and her Mom a school teacher. She stated she knew about her mother's family, but knew nothing beyond her grandmother on her Dad's side. She stated her parents were wonderful and encouraged her to be a singer since she knew that was what she wanted to be since the age of 5.
Yearwood states her Dad was an only child. His mother, Elizabeth Winslett Yearwood, did not talk about her family.
So Yearwood met with Genealogist Kyle Betit at the Nashville Public Library to get started on her research.
The search began on Ancestry.com. Betit had started a family tree for Yearwood on the site, and had traced Yearwood's family back to her 5x great-grandfather, Samuel Winslett, who was born 1744 at Binstead Hamlet, England. He died 1829 in Georgia.
And so, Yearwood was off to Hampshire, England to learn as much as she could about Samuel Winslett. Here she met with Genealogist Les Mitchinson.
They begin with the Parish Registers.
Samuel's parents were John and Mary Winslut (a variation on the spelling Winslett). And they were able to locate 4 of John and Mary's children in the birth register: Samuel, James, William and John.
In the Burial Register, they found that Mary, the wife of John Winslett was buried on May 3rd, 1753. And John, Sr. was buried on April 3rd, 1759, essentially leaving the boys as orphans.
But what happened to the boys after this?
A check through the West Sussex records showed a record for Samuel, James and John Winslett, who were accused of poaching deer at Shillinglee Estate.
And so, Yearwood is off again. This time to The Deer Tower at Shillinglee Estate. Here she met with Dr. Emma Griffin, an 18th Century Historian at the University of East Anglia. Here Yearwood was shown documents from the Sussex Rental Roll, dated June 18, 1765. A letter to the King was found, written by Lord Winterton, in which he requests a reward of 30-guineas be given for revealing the poachers on his property for killing 5 deer and maiming another, which they left behind. (At this time deer were protected under the Black Act, which was a list of 222 crimes punishable by death, poaching deer among the them.)
Another document is produced dated June 22, 1765, in which a confession by Thomas White and James White implicates the 3 Winslett brothers in the crime.
On yet another (undated) document, John Newman, a jailer, gave a statement that he overheard Samuel Winslett state he hoped he would not be hanged, as he had no mother, father or wife to weep for him.
Yearwood is now directed to head to the National Archives in Kew, to see what happened next.
"I'm on pins and needles to find out what happened to Samuel next. Obviously he wasn't hanged, as here I am today!" Yearwood stated.
At the National Archives, Yearwood meets with Historian James Horn from the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. He presents her with a judgement on Samuel and John Winslett - "...let them be hanged..." . On the opposite side of the page, a small single word is found "Reprieved".
From State Papers from Whitehall in 1766, John and Samuel were transported to America, as convicts, for a term of 14-years. Here prisoners would be auctioned to "owners", much as a slave, for their sentenced term.
From here, Yearwood was instructed to go to the place she knew where Samuel had ended up. So she was off to the Georgia State Archives in Atlanta, Georgia. Here she met with Dr. Joshua Haynes, an Early Georgia Historian, at the University of Georgia.
Under the Registry of Land Grants, Yearwood was excited to find in 1770, Samuel Winslett was granted 100 acres in Wrightsborough, Georgia. Just 4 years after his transportation to America.
Then on a document dated 17 May 1784, he received a grant in Washington County for 287-1/2 acres. At this time, this area was Creek Indian territory, and the government was attempting to expand into this area and gain more land. So Samuel would have been right on the front line of Indian upheavals.
Haynes offers Yearwood a road trip, to visit the property where Samuel and his family lived. It is only 30-miles from Yearwood's birth town of Montecello.
While observing the land, Haynes provides Yearwood with a last document, dated 1821. Here Samuel gave a deposition of damages occurred by the Creek Indians. In July 1778, he stated a mare was stolen from him. And between 1787-1788 his household items and stock were all stolen by the Creek's. Samuel was filing claim under the Depravation Act.
Sometime after this, Samuel moved his family to Eatonton, a few miles away. Here he stayed until his death, in 1829.
From a desperate young man, to a landowner in Georgia, Samuel Winslett had gone full-circle.
Another great Who Do You Think You Are !