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24 September 2014
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Who Do You Think You Are?
Moira Stuart

Who Do You Think You Are?



Moira Stuart


Elegant newsreader Moira Stuart was born and brought up in Britain, but has spent a lifetime trying to answer the question, 'But where are you from?'


"I couldn't give a definitive answer," she says. "I am a true mongrel - and proud of it."


In fact Stuart is far from being the first member of her family to make their mark here.


"I come from a long line of outsiders - they have been invading this joint for generations," she laughs. "But was the reaction to them hostile? Were they treated as exotic strangers - or were they ignored?"


Stuart's mother Marjorie came to Britain in 1935 and attended a Catholic boarding school.


"She trained as a nurse during the war and met and married Harold Stuart," Stuart explains.


But her parents divorced when she was only ten months old.


Her mother Marjorie recalls: "Harold and I were used to high living with servants but during the war there was the stress of rationing and making a living and our relationship couldn't survive."


It is to Scotland Stuart turns to track down her grandmother, Clara - a pioneering medical student in Edinburgh, where she met and married Edgar Gordon.


"I met Clara very briefly before she died and the strongest impression is that she was very kind, but remote; gorgeously elegant, but distant.


"She must have been pretty near to being the first female medical student," says Stuart proudly. "But she never completed her studies - he graduated, but she didn't. They call it love!"


Further back, Stuart's great-grandfather came to Britain from Dominica in 1899 to study law, but she learned he was so poor as a child that he would walk over a mile barefoot to school.


"He made a speech at the pan-African Conference and was definitely a mover and a shaker for the good of those around him."


But slavery is the common root of Stuart's family tree and she discovers one of the reasons why her ancestors were more privileged than others.


"There is a rage within me and a guilt that my family were closer to the big house," she admits.


"It seems the ultimate indignity that there should be a hierarchy in something as disgusting as slavery. It will be some time before the echoes and shouts of slavery will fade."


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