Sharon Osbourne got a whole new perspective on the family she’s long avowed to have hated during Wednesday’s episode of the BBC’s Who Do You Think You Are?
The Talk co-host broke down during her episode of the series after learning that the women in her past lived truly tragic lives, which Osbourne said gave her a more compassionate understanding of her mother, from whom she was long estranged ahead of her death in 1999.
Osbourne’s story will be shared on September 4. Since the episode won’t be available on American television, The Herald News learned the fate of Osbourne’s ancestors from local historian Stefani Koorey.
Koorey, along with Fall River Historical Society, assisted Osbourne, wife of rock legend Ozzy Osbourne and a cohost on “The Talk,” in her search for city ancestors at the request of the show.
Koorey said she learned that Osbourne’s great-grandmother Hannah “Annie” O’Donnell was born in Fall River Aug. 17, 1868.
Fall River wasn’t kind to Osbourne’s family.
“It’s a heartbreaking story,” Koorey said.
The O’Donnells worked in local mills, having come to America for a better life.
Koorey found records of Catherine toiling at Troy Manufacturing, formerly located on Troy Street.
She said she was able to locate old mill records and death certificates by poring through paper files and books, and searching microfilm at the historical society and Fall River Public Library to learn the truth about Osbourne’s family.
Osbourne’s great-great-grandparents, the O’Donnells, had seven children and were apparently quite poor. They lost most of their children within just a few months of their births.
Catherine died by the age of 40 on March 3, 1880, of consumption while living in the almshouse, a poor house that stood where Cardinal Medeiros Towers stands today. She is buried at St. Mary’s Cemetery in the South End.
“They led a horrible life here,” Koorey said of the family, citing “mill conditions” and the family’s “abject poverty,” not to mention illness and death.
Thomas O’Donnell eventually left the city, and the United States, and headed to England with his two remaining children, Hannah “Annie” and James.
It’s lucky for Osbourne that “Annie” survived. She went on to have a son James, who married Osbourne’s grandmother Dolly. Osbourne’s mother Hope was their child.
Sadly for Osbourne, she had difficulties with her mother growing up, but also learned some facts about her past that may have been similarly heartbreaking.
According to a story in The Mirror online, Osbourne learned that her mom was caught shoplifting at the age of 12 with her own mother.
The Mirror said that Hope and Dolly were jailed for two nights for stealing stockings and other items in Brixton, South London, in 1929. Osbourne’s mom Hope told the police that she would take the blame if they let her “mommy” go.
Sharon Osbourne told The Mirror her mother and grandmother must have been shoplifting out of “desperation” and had lived in poverty.
Though she didn’t attend her mother’s funeral, Sharon Osbourne said she has since forgiven her mother for her difficult childhood, but cut her out of her life, along with her dad and brother, to “save herself” according to an article in You.