Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Best Slade Plans Often Go Awry

When Sir Benjamin Slade announced last December that he would give his Somerset mansion to whichever Slade most closely matched his DNA profile, he didn't realize how many Slades would crawl out of the woodwork.

'I've had 10,019 letters from Slades living all over the world and the variety has been amazing: there is an Indian man in a Delhi jail who claims my great-great-grandfather had a fling with his mother during the Indian mutiny, and two black women in America who claim to be relations,' says the 59-year-old baronet. 'There are even families in Australia, who probably come from an ancestor who fled there in 1820 because he was unable to pay the upkeep of the 22 children he had fathered back home in Devon.'
So now Sir Benjamin is digging up his oldest known ancestor—Walter Atte Slade, dead since 1120—in hopes of collecting some additional DNA and winnowing the field down to one lucky cousin. Naturally, the outcome will be decided on television.
The television series, to be screened later this year, will move the 20 families who pass initial genealogy tests into Maunsel House with Slade. Each week, Slade, a genealogist and a DNA specialist will confer to nominate a family for eviction, until a single heir remains. [Link]

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