Ee By Magnum: Uncovering Tom Selleck’s Barnsley connection

He’s just as famous for his thick moustache as he is for his starring roles. But a previously unknown fact about Hollywood actor Tom Selleck is that his ancestry can be traced back to right here in Barnsley.

A team of local investigators have given Selleck’s Magnum P.I. character a run for his money by digging deeper into his family’s history and uncovering their connection to the town. And now a documentary-style film has been made to unveil their findings.

Tom Selleck: The Barnsley Connection has been written and produced by Barnsley social historian, Dave Cherry. On Yorkshire Day, Tuesday 1st August, Dave will be hosting a showing of his newest film at the Holiday Inn at Dodworth.

Dave has worked with fellow historians Jane Ainsworth and Lin Taylor to delve into Selleck’s rumoured links to Barnsley through his maternal line.

His mother Martha’s maiden name was Jagger and it was found that she descended from a mining family in Worsbrough – the village where Dave has spent all his life. In 1881, her grandfather, Thomas Jagger, emigrated from Barnsley to Pennsylvania. Thomas’ second son, Robert Jagger, was Martha’s father.

However, while researching the Jagger family history, Dave and the team found a story that was a far cry from Selleck’s stardom and wealth in America.

Around 30 Jagger men were killed in Worsbrough mining accidents, one being his third great-grandfather, also named Thomas Jagger. He was just 28 when he died in 1844 when the roof of the pit collapsed at Worsbrough Park Field Colliery. Five years before that, he lost two brothers and a nephew in a shaft accident at the same colliery.

Thomas left behind his wife Elizabeth and six young children; the couple had already lost another four children in infancy. But to further highlight the cruelty of the Victorian era, Elizabeth was evicted from her home two months after her husband’s death by the overseers of Barnsley Poor Law Union, John Spencer Stanhope of Cannon Hall and Godfrey Wentworth of Woolley Manor. They spent £10,000 in court fees to evict Elizabeth and she was relocated to Crigglestone in Wakefield.

Having been a miner for over 30 years until the pits closed, Dave, now 77, has a strong affiliation to mining history and was intrigued to learn more about the Jagger family.

Dave has worked with videographer, John Irwin, to produce the film. At the Yorkshire Day event, which has been organised in conjunction with Barnsley Rockley Rotary Club, Dave will be doing a question-and-answer session to speak candidly about his latest project.

He’s been making films since 2010 after teaching himself how to digitise old cinefilms. He’s covered several topics including the 1908 Public Hall disaster where 16 children who had gone to watch a film died in a crush at the overcrowded theatre. He has also produced a film about a Whitley bomber plane that crashed in Pogmoor during the Second World War.

Dave is also well-known for his satirical songs about Barnsley, including his legendary Stairfoot Rarndabart song that catapulted him into the public eye.

He’s amassed quite the following online, with lots of subscribers on his YouTube channel. But he’s calling on the public to join him in person at the showing to celebrate the best of Yorkshire.

As ever, all proceeds from the film will go to Barnsley Hospice, a charity that Dave has raised almost £100,000 for over the last 20 years.

The event is on Tuesday 1st August from 6.15pm at Holiday Inn, Dodworth, Barnsley S75 3JT. Tickets are £15.00 per person which includes a two-course meal. All tickets must be booked direct through the hotel at 01226 299571.