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Peter Rowsthorn’s convict past

Monday, September 07, 2015

“I’m very excited because I was hoping to have a convict and I got one!”- Peter Rowsthorn


Actor and comedian Peter Rowsthorn, best known as Brett Craig in the hit series Kath & Kim, discovers not one, but three colourful convicts in his family tree.


 In the new series of Who Do You Think You Are? Peter sets out to uncover what crimes his first Australian ancestors committed to get themselves sent to the penal colony and discovers the grandfather he never knew – unlocking the secrets around his mysterious death.

Peter starts his journey in Wollombi in the Hunter Valley. Peter knows most convicts were transported for petty crimes but is hopeful his own ancestor’s crimes were “a bit more jazzy”.However with the help of historians Peter learns his three times Great Grandfather Jonathon Turner’s first offence was stealing tea cakes, and his second stealing shoes. But it wasn’t all petty crimes for Jonathon Peter learns he was charged with highway robbery when he got to Australia. Jonathon’s marriage certificate allows Peter to trace his family line back even further to the tragic story of his four times Great Grandmother Margaret Brandon and her struggle as a pregnant widow sent to Australia for stealing printed cotton to the value of three shillings and her marriage to former convict Joseph Wood.

Having traced his ancestry back 200 years, Peter turns his attention to a long held family mystery. Peter’s father Peter Rowsthorn Snr was just four years old when his father Sydney Hollis failed to come home from work, and was told he had died of a heart attack. Peter knows
his Nanna burnt everything to do with his Grandfather and the topic was off limits. Peter sets off to discover the truth about the Grandfather he never knew, finding hand written notes written before his death.


The new connection to his grandfather sees Peter pondering whether to change his surname to better reflect his real heritage.

Season seven of Who Do You Think You Are? stars Geoffrey Rush, Toni Collette, Luke Nguyen, David Wenham, Dawn Fraser, Greig Pickhaver (HG Nelson) and Ray Martin. Who Do You Think You Are? is produced by Artemis International and Serendipity Productions for SBS.

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For more information, contact Jessica Parry (02) 9430 3786 || 0428 767 836

  1. jessica.parry@sbs.com.au