Barbados celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow BBC

Gwyneth Paltrow

Not actually a Bajan of course, but it turns out Barbados celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow can trace her ancestors back to 19th century Bridgetown.

 

Barbados to Hollywood (via New York)

The Oscar-winning actress is descended from a white woman who was born in Barbados in 1850.

Rosamond Stout was orphaned aged only 13 and left the island five years later.

Rosamond, Gwyneth Paltrow’s great-great grandmother, sailed from Bridgetown in 1868, bound for New York.

She and her elder sister Martha were the only passengers on a commercial sailing boat, and most likely the only women on board, an adventurous thing to do at the time.

Rosamond was the daughter of Samuel Stout, a clerk at Bridgetown docks who worked for merchants importing goods to the Caribbean and exporting sugar, rum and molasses.

 

“I think it was really brave of her to leave,” Gwyneth told The BBC programme Who Do You Think You Are? “One of the things I loved in Rosamond was this wildness and this drive that she seemed to have.”

The sisters may have left because job opportunities for white women were in short supply. They would have been competing with former slaves, emancipated in 1834, who were probably willing to work for less money.

Barbados celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow

Barbados celebrity Gwyneth Paltrow walks Bathsheba beach

Struck a Chord

Rosamond’s determination and sense of adventure struck a chord with the actress. She recognised a family trait. “There’s that kind of self-belief that I feel in myself. The most meaningful thing about

our histories is what we learn from them.” Gwyneth Paltrow, an American, won an Oscar for her role in Shakespeare in Love in 1998 and has starred in the hit movies Sliding Doors and the Iron Man trilogy. She became the face of Estee Lauder in 2005.

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