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Julia Roberts discovers she isn’t actually Julia ‘Roberts’

Daisy Phillipson

| Last updated 

Julia Roberts discovers she isn’t actually Julia ‘Roberts’

Julia Roberts just found out that she's not actually Julia 'Roberts' and it's no surprise that her mind was blown by the revelation.


The Pretty Woman star bravely took part in Ancestry's latest season of Finding Your Roots, a series in which Dr Henry Louis Gates Jr uses genealogical detective work and cutting-edge DNA analysis to guide influential guests through the branches of their family trees.

In an episode which aired last week, Roberts - if we can still call her that - was introduced to a world she knew nothing about.


As Gates explains: "The story begins with her great grandfather, John Roberts, and with his mother, a woman named Rhoda Suttle."

When asked about the name, Roberts admits she's never even heard of it, although she does joke that 'subtle', a play on the name Suttle, isn't a word that's ever been used to describe her family.

The doctor then urges her to turn the page in the 1880 census for Douglas County, Georgia, where she's shown her great grandfather, full name John Pendleton Roberts.

At the time he was just a toddler and living under the care of his mother, full name Rhoda Suttle Roberts, alongside his three brothers.


But Gates points out that the father is missing.

Dr Henry Gates Jr uncovered some secrets about Roberts' family tree. Credit: Ancestry/YouTube
Dr Henry Gates Jr uncovered some secrets about Roberts' family tree. Credit: Ancestry/YouTube

He says: "Digging into Georgia's County archives, we discovered that sometime in the 1850s, Rhoda married a man named Willis Roberts.

"Julia carries Willis' last name. But Willis passed away in 1864, over a decade before Rhoda gave birth to Julia's great grandfather, John, leading to an inescapable conclusion."


Speaking to the Hollywood star, he explains: "Willis Roberts could not possibly be your great, great grandfather. He was dead."

Understandably perplexed, she asks the ancestry expert: "But am I not a Roberts?"

In short, it doesn't look like it.

After scouring Douglas County records looking for any record that named John's father, they found nothing.


And since the county didn't issue birth certificates and marriage certificates didn't name parents at the time, the experts turned to a different tool: DNA.

"Julia and one of her father's first cousins, a fellow descendant of John Roberts, both agreed to take DNA tests," says Gates.

"We then compared their results to people in publicly available databases, searching for matches, hoping to identify John's father through the DNA of his descendants.

"In the end, we found a cluster of matches that tie Julia and her cousin to one man."


And that man was Henry MacDonald Mitchell Jr.

After reading out the name, Roberts asks: "So we're Mitchells?" To which Gates replies: "You're Julia Mitchell."

Introducing Julia Mitchell. Credit: Ancestry/YouTube
Introducing Julia Mitchell. Credit: Ancestry/YouTube

And if that weren't mind-blowing enough, the research led to another shocking discovery that may just have uncovered a dark family secret.

You see, when John was two, his biological father - Mr Mitchell - was listed as living with his wife at the time, a woman named Sarah. And he lived just a few miles from Rhoda.

What's more, Rhoda lived not far from Mitchell's widowed mother - so perhaps he was sneaking off for a cheeky affair with Rhoda while pretending he was visiting his mum.

Who knew the 1800s were so scandalous?

As for the Notting Hill star, although she admits it's an 'unexpected turn', she still prefers the name Roberts. So it's not looking like she'll be changing to Julia Mitchell anytime soon.

Featured Image Credit: YouTube/Ancestry

Topics: Sex and Relationships, Parenting, TV and Film, Celebrity

Daisy Phillipson
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