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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Nicola Methven

DJ Dev Griffin uncovers saucy 122-year-old family secret on Who Do You Think You Are?

DJ Dev Griffin has found out a saucy secret about his grandparents… they were kicked out of their church in Jamaica for “fornication”.

The former Strictly star also learned his gran was banned from services for going to a dance at the age of 20.

Ex-Radio 1 host Dev visits Mount Mariah in St Annes, Jamaica, for an episode of Who Do You Think You Are?

The 37-year-old was shown records in the church where grandparents Annie and Joshua Riley attended. The pastor reveals evidence of their “fornication” was the impending birth of their first child Alpheus, who came along one month after their expulsion in 1901. Dev’s dad Rodney was born later.

Dev is told by the pastor: “This was quite common. They didn’t have the money for a wedding so they’d settle for shacking up.”

Dev with Diane on Strictly in 2019 (BBC/Guy Levy)
Great uncle Patrick (Gerry and Annette McDonnell)

Happily, the couple were allowed back in the church later that year and eventually got married in 1907. Joshua even became a Deacon. Dev says: “It’s kind of a happy ending.”

In St Annes he meets his newly discovered auntie Viveine. Dev, whose mum Maggie came to London from Ireland in the 50s as a child and had elocution sessions to change her accent, confesses he knows very little about his background on either side.

At the start of the show he says: “If you’re black, people assume you grow up knowing everything about black culture, Jamaican culture, but that wasn’t the case. I don’t think I feel Irish or Jamaican.”

Dad Rodney with twins (Devin Griffin)

But he reveals making the programme has had a huge impact on him. He adds: “I’ve gone most of my life not really knowing my dad. It’s helped me get inside my dad’s head a little bit.”

Dev, who took part in the 2019 Strictly with partner Diane Buswell, also discovers his maternal great grandad and great uncle were involved in Ireland’s fight for independence in the early 20th century.

The Heart Radio DJ, brought up in London with three siblings – including twin sister Hazel – by single mum Maggie, had not visited the Emerald Isle until now.

Maggie and Hazel as kids (Devin Griffin)

Great uncle Patrick Weafer marched to Dublin for the Easter Rising in 1916, and ended up in a gunfight on the rooftops.

At the end of his journey, Dev says: “I feel I can confidently say I am Irish and Jamaican now. Maybe for the first time, I truly belong somewhere.”

* Who Do You Think You Are? BBC1, Thursday, 9pm.

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