Sharon Osbourne uncovered a string of family tragedies while researching her ancestry on Who Do You Think You Are?
The London-born music manager and former X Factor judge discovered a surprising link to the United States during an appearance on the BBC’s genealogy documentary series.
Mother-of-three Osbourne, who divides her time between the UK and Los Angeles with rock star husband Ozzy, discovered her great grandmother, Annie O’Donnell, was born in America in 1868.
Annie’s Irish father and English mother emigrated, escaping famine and poverty.
However, what they found in the city of Fall River, Massachusetts, was worse than what they left behind.
The family, including Annie and her five siblings, lived in squalid conditions while their parents worked in a cotton mill.
Conditions in the mill were poor and the US had fewer worker protection laws than the UK.
Five of the O’Donnell’s six children died under the age of three, with only Annie surviving.
Mary, Osbourne’s great great grandmother, died at the age of 35 from tuberculosis.
An emotional Osbourne said: “They come over here, they give up their lives, they give up their families, and come to another land for a better life and they get here and it’s just a hell hole, a horrible existence for young people who were enticed here then trapped, basically.”
The 66-year-old added: “Complete nightmare.” Shortly after Mary’s death, Annie and her father moved back to England.
Osbourne said: “I just hope she found some happiness when she moved back to the north of England.
“All these women in the family suffered, all of them. But they didn’t give up, and I don’t, really. I must’ve inherited that from Annie.”
She added: “I’m proud that my family came from nothing”
The episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featuring Osbourne will air on BBC One on September 2.