Skeleton in Britney Spears' family closet





She is the former teenage pop sensation from Louisiana better known for her painful divorce and erratic behaviour than her music. But as America’s tarnished pop princess Britney Spears celebrated a triumphant comeback, sweeping the board at the MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday night, details emerged of a secret scandal buried in her family history that would have overshadowed even her well-publicised personal troubles.

Last week The Times traced the 26-year old singer’s ancestry back to Tottenham in North London where her great grandparents, George Anthony Portell and Lillian Esther Lewis, appear to have been living in sin before they were married - a major scandal back in the 1920s.

According to Parish records George, the son of a newsagent, and Lillian, daughter of a lighting inspector named James Lewis, were married on July 29, 1923 - the same day and at the same church, St John's Church in Tottenham, as Lillian’s sister Rose Florence Lewis. However, they gave the same home address on their marriage certificate, indicating they were already living together.

The insight into Spears’ background is just one of several extraordinary pieces of family history buried in the depths of the London Metropolitan Archives. That history will soon be available to internet users across the world at the mere tap of a mouse, under a plan to place the records of more than 77 million people online in one of the largest archiving projects ever attempted.

Laurence Ward, head of digital resources at the archives told The Times: “This is a goldmine that people have been waiting to get their hands on. It will allow them to find out more about history’s personalities, but also allow them to found out about their place in London’s history.”



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