Alex Scott Tearfully Discovers Her Family Owned Slaves

by : Emily Brown on : 16 Oct 2021 15:20
Alex Scott Tearfully Discovers Her Family Owned SlavesBBC/Alamy

Football Focus host Alex Scott was left in tears when she discovered her ancestors owned slaves, as she looked into her family history for BBC One’s Who Do You Think You Are?

The 18th series of the BBC show kicked off this week, with comedian Josh Widdecombe, Dame Judi Dench and Scott among those going on journeys to learn about their ancestry.


Scott’s episode sees her learn her four-times-great-grandfather, Robert Francis Coombs, was a slave owner who kept more than two dozen people at his property in Jamaica between 1817 and 1832.

Speaking to the historian who made the revelation, Scott says: ‘In my family line – this doesn’t sound right coming out of my mouth – but Robert Francis Coombs owned people?’

The presenter learns that it was not unusual for free people of colour to own slaves, and that her ancestor would have received preferential treatment due to his light skin.


In response to the news, she comments: ‘In terms of explaining my emotions behind it, I suppose it goes against everything that I stand for, who I am.’ Scott later admits she was ‘very aware’ they might delve into the topic of slavery, but was convinced she’d be learning about her family ‘as slaves, not the other side, as the slave owners’, Express reports.

Scott also discovered her four-times-great-grandfather had two children with one of the women he owned, Eleanor Frances Henry, and became emotional as she says the news is ‘hard to take in’.

Alex Scott (Alamy)Alamy

She continued: ‘That ownership of a human life is so wrong. I don’t think that stories are told a lot about Black people owning slaves. People hide their past because maybe they see it as something that people will frown upon if they tell true stories. But I will never be ashamed of my history because it’s made me the person I am today.’


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Scott’s father walked out on her family when she was eight years old, but she remained close to her nan Philicita, who lived in London’s East End after moving from Jamaica in 1946.

Alex Scott’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? is set to air on Tuesday, October 26. at 9.00pm on BBC One.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University and went on to contribute to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming Senior Journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news, trending stories and longer form features.

Topics: Film and TV, Now, Racism, slavery


  1. Express

    ‘Goes against everything I stand for’ Alex Scott in tears as she learns family history