Researchers Discover Star of Popular Movie Franchise Is Related to an Accused 16th-Century English Witch
PROVO, UT–(Marketwire – July 30, 2009) – Actress Emma Watson, who plays an exceptionally talented witch and the best friend of Harry Potter in the blockbuster Harry Potter series, has a real-life connection to her role as Hermione. According to the family history research experts at Ancestry.com, English records show Watson’s distant relative was Joan Playle of Essex County, England, a 16th-century English woman convicted of witchcraft in 1592.
While the details around Playle’s conviction remain a mystery, records indicate she was unmarried, which could have led to the accusation of being a witch. During the Elizabethan era, women who were poor, old, widowed, single or otherwise unprotected were those most often at risk for such accusations. Based on the Ancestry.com research, it appears Playle was not executed for her alleged crimes, but she was excommunicated from the Church of England and was one of only 270 known individuals accused of and tried for witchcraft in all of England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.
“Researching your family’s past can have just as many twists and turns as a movie blockbuster, and this was exciting research to delve into for our team,” said Anastasia Tyler, a genealogist at Ancestry.com. “It’s not every day we’re able to trace the branches of a family tree back to 16th-century witch trials. Combine that with a celebrity connection to Emma Watson and the fact that she plays a witch in Harry Potter… you couldn’t script it any better.”
Research also revealed Playle was convicted in the parish of Great Waltham in Essex County, a town approximately 50 miles northeast of London and about 100 miles from Oxfordshire, where Watson grew up.
Magical Cast-Mate Family Trees
The family history experts at Ancestry.com conjured up even more magic in Harry Potter cast-mates’ family trees:
-- Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter) -- Although Radcliffe isn't related to
princes or wizards, his family does hail from Ireland, which is magic
enough in its own right. He descends from bakers and plumbers and grocers,
respectable occupations the Dursleys would likely be proud to have in their
family. -- Rupert Grint (Ronald Weasley) -- Grint's family was employed in a
truly "Muggle" brand of "defense against the dark arts," with two of his
2nd great-grandfathers and one of his 3rd great-grandfathers working in the
Royal Small Arms Factory in London as a "barrel turner," "sight filer" and
"gun smith" respectively. -- Helena Bonham Carter (Belatrix Lestrange) -- Bonham Carter is the
cast's true "half-blooded prince," as she descends from a long line of
nobility. Her great-grandfather Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford
and Asquith, served as Liberal Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from
1908 through 1916, and her 3rd great-grandfather Sir John Carter III
received the honor of knighthood from His Majesty King George III. --
JK Rowling -- Interestingly, the author's own family tree lacks the c
harms and enchantments of her books. Her 2nd great-grandfather Henry John
Holland worked for several years as a "car man." And in 1841, her 4th great-
grandfather John Robson was a "tea dealer."
To find out what magic your family tree might hold, visit www.ancestry.com.
Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online resource for family history and has digitized and put online over 4 billion records over the past twelve years. Ancestry users have created over ten million family trees containing over one billion profiles. Ancestry.com has local Web sites directed at nine countries, and more than 8 million unique visitors spent more than 5 million hours on an Ancestry Web site in May 2009 (comScore Media Metrix, Worldwide). For more information on Ancestry.com and its other family history resources, visit http://corporate.ancestry.com.