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We Can Thank an Ancestor of Sir Ian McKellen for the Concept of Weekends

We Can Thank an Ancestor of Sir Ian McKellen for the Concept of Weekends

It turns out that we owe a huge thank you to Sir Ian McKellen for more than just his hand in liberating Middle Earth from the ever-watching eye of Sauron. Well – his ancestors at least – because it seems his great-great-grandfather helped invent the concept of the weekend.

As a recent article in The Telegraph explains, McKellen’s great-great-grandpa had his hand in convincing factory owners in the mid-1800s to consider letting workers out earlier on Saturdays and effectively creating (at least part of) the weekend as we know it. This discovery of McKellen’s ancestor,  Robert Lowes, comes from the actor’s appearance on the BBC documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? (similar to the U.S. series) where notable actors get to explore their ancestry.

Documents were found that show Lowes pushed to allow workers a bit of a break from the then-standard and completely brutal 14 hour, 6 days a week workweeks. The show uncovered proof that McKellen’s G-G-Grand Pops succeeded according to a document dated November 10th, 1843 that stated factories, banks, and other businesses in Manchester would close up shop and allow workers to go home at one-o-clock every Saturday afternoon. This news, as you can imagine, spread throughout the country and was adopted by other companies over time, effectively making it standard operating procedure to allow workers time to rest from their arduous work schedules.

There are moments in either version of Who Do You Think You Are? that become fairly emotional for the subject exploring their family history, and we cannot wait to see the look on Sir Ian’s face when he learns part of his family is responsible for something so many of us look forward to.

Sir Ian McKellen’s episode will air January 25th on the BBC and, for those without that access, chances are clips will eventually be available via the Who Do You Think You Are? YouTube Channel.

Do you have any interesting family history? Let’s discuss in the comments below!

Image: New Line Cinema

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