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Russell Crowe Reveals He’s Related to the Last Man Ever Beheaded in England

Samantha Franco
Photo Credit: Gabriel Kuchta / Getty Images
Photo Credit: Gabriel Kuchta / Getty Images

New Zealand actor Russell Crowe has reached some fascinating conclusions about his family heritage. He shared his discovery on social media, telling fans how he is directly linked to the last man beheaded in England. Not only that, Crowe finally determined how he is linked to Italy.

Crowe’s exploring his heritage

Headshot of Russell Crowe.
Actor Russell Crowe, October 22, 2018, in New York City. (Photo Credit: Michael Loccisano / Getty Images)

Russell Crowe is delving into his family heritage to try and discover exactly where his ancestors came from. In his research, he was surprised to discover that he is “directly” connected to Simon Fraser, 11th Lord Lovat, and a “devious” Jacobite through his father’s mother. He was able to learn this by tracing his relatives to John Frazer, who came to New Zealand (where Crowe was born) in 1841.

He shared this discovery on X (formerly Twitter), explaining in detail his connection to Fraser. “He’s quite the character. The Old Fox they used to call him,” Crowe wrote. Fraser was the last man to be executed at the Tower of London in 1747. He was 80 years old and was found guilty of high treason after being condemned by the House of Lords for his Jacobite sympathies. “Seems his Machiavellian ways caught up to him,” Crowe wrote.

Fraser’s execution

Portrait of Simon Fraser.
Simon Fraser ‘the Fox’, 11th Lord Lovat. (Photo Credit: Godfrey Kneller / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)

Not only does Fraser hold the title of the last beheading in England, but his execution established its own lasting legacy as well. The execution was expected to be quite the public display, so King George II had additional temporary stands erected for the extra spectators expected to attend. However, they were not very structurally sound and actually collapsed, killing around nine people.

Legend says that Fraser, who was told about the accident while he was on the chopping block, was amused knowing that members of the gentry had died. “Being told this just before he was put to death made him laugh. He was still laughing when the blade struck his neck,” Crowe said. Many say that this is how the phrase “laughing his head off” came to be coined.

Other connections

Russell Crowe in 'Gladiator'.
Russell Crowe in a scene from the film, Gladiator (2000). (Photo Credit: Universal / Getty Images)

Crowe has a plethora of other familial connections that come from all over the world. These include Norwegian, Scottish, and Māori. He also discovered that he has Italian connections outside of his fictional connection after starring in the 2000 film, Gladiator. “I’ve been on the hunt to track down my Italian forebears for quite some time,” Crowe wrote. “Folkloric family tales and misspelling had seen me travel on a number of wrong tracks.”

“Turns out my great great great grandfather, on my mother’s side, who travelled to NZ in 1864, was Luigi Ghezzi. Born in 1829 in Ascoli Piceno, Marche, the son of Augestine and Annunziata born in Parma. Luigi had been working in Argentina, took a boat to India, was shipwrecked, and ended up in Cape Town. While there he met and married Mary Ann Curtain and they migrated to NZ,” Crowe explained.

Read more: The Tragic Off-Camera Lives of the Cast of ‘Gilligan’s Island’

Crowe is excited about the discovery, saying, “It’s so cool to finally find out the Italian connection, and that as much of Italy as I’ve seen, it’s to places I’ve never been. Looks like there’s an adventure ahead.”

Samantha Franco

Samantha Franco is a Freelance Content Writer who received her Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Guelph, and her Master of Arts degree in history from the University of Western Ontario. Her research focused on Victorian, medical, and epidemiological history with a focus on childhood diseases. Stepping away from her academic career, Samantha previously worked as a Heritage Researcher and now writes content for multiple sites covering an array of historical topics.

In her spare time, Samantha enjoys reading, knitting, and hanging out with her dog, Chowder!