Ed Balls discovers his Norfolk family history on Who Do You Think You Are?

Ed Balls featured on Tuesday night's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on BBC One.

Ed Balls featured on Tuesday night's episode of Who Do You Think You Are? on BBC One. - Credit: BBC/Wall to Wall Media Ltd/Stephen Perry

Former Norwich City chairman Ed Balls was told how his ancestor was arrested on suspicion of stealing a sheep on an episode of 'Who Do You Think You Are?'.

Mr Balls appeared on the BBC One programme on Tuesday evening in which he found his four times great-grandfather Christopher Green had been accused of destroying threshing machines and stealing a sheep.

He was imprisoned in Norwich Castle. 

In the 1820s, labourers were angry about the introduction of threshing machines because they lost traditional winter threshing work due to the cheaper and more efficient horse-powered machinery.

Mr Balls heard how these machines were often destroyed in Norfolk and it became impossible for farmers to insure them.

Later in the programme, he visited the Norwich Guildhall where he discovered his relative had been found not guilty of all charges.

"My mum would have been proud to know that he was a good man," Mr Balls said.

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Prior to filming the programme, the 54-year-old said he had assumed his ancestors had always lived in Norfolk.

Mr Balls was born in Norwich and spent his early years in Bawburgh before moving to Nottingham when he was eight.

"I know very little about my family history but I thought that we had always lived in Norfolk through the generations," he said.

He visited Norwich to speak to his dad Mike and uncle John to find out about his father's side of the family.

"We all have a certain look, build and strength so I've always assumed we're from a fundamentally Norfolk farming stock," said Mr Balls.

"We're solid Norfolk Anglo-Saxon agricultural workers."

The former shadow chancellor found out his three times great-grandfather William Dunbar was a surgeon on Lord Nelson's famous HMS Victory warship and he travelled to Portsmouth to find out more. 

Following the episode Mr Balls tweeted: "Well that was a rollercoaster of a #WhoDoYouThinkYouAre. I think my Mum would be proud of our ancestor, my 4 times great grandfather, Christopher Green.

"He escaped the gallows and died in the workhouse, but struggled all his life to improve the lot of Norfolk's working people."

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