Michelle Keegan has made an incredible discovery after starring in Who Do You Think You Are? While filming the BBC show, the actress found out that her great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Kirwan was a suffragette in Manchester, and that Elizabeth's daughter Norah had her birth registered by none other than Emmeline Pankhurst. Emmeline, the leader of the Suffragette movement, worked as a local registrar and was well-known within the community.
In a teaser clip for the series, Michelle is seen leafing through different documents, including her great-grandmother Norah's birth certificate, which is signed by 'E Pankhurst'. She also discovers that her great-great-grandmother Elizabeth was listed as a suffragist in the 1911 census.
Michelle's great-great-grandmother Elizabeth Kirwan was a suffragette
Michelle has shared her pride in her ancestry, telling What's On TV: "I couldn't believe it. I was proud. On the 1911 census, it had 'suffragist' as her occupation and her husband John would have written that down. The fact that he supported her was huge. Then seeing her name on the voting list was brilliant. I also learned that everyone in Elizabeth's community in Manchester would go to her for help. I knew I was from a line of very strong women!"
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In the episode, which airs next Wednesday, the Our Girl actress also discovers that her ancestor Giacomo Parodi hails from Italy. Giacomo moved from Genoa to Gibraltar in the eighteenth century; Michelle paid an "emotional" visit to the church in Genoa where he was baptised.
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"I presumed we had come from Spain to Gibraltar so to find out we were from Italy was a shock – but a nice one!" said Michelle, adding: "When I was younger, because of my olive skin, people said, 'Where are you from?' and now I know I've got Italian heritage."