A GENEALOGIST with a keen interest in celebrity family trees has traced the ancestors of one of the nation’s most famous comedy performers to an area of rural Dorset.

Roy Stockdill has been looking at the family history of Ricky Gervais, star of The Office, Extras and Derek, and found that his maternal line has links to an area of the county near Dorchester in the 18th and 19 centuries.

The writer, director, actor and comedy performer is well known for his links to Reading but Mr Stockdill, from Poole, has revealed that tracing his family back a little further reveals a different geographical link.

Mr Stockdill started looking at the genealogy of well-known people for a family history magazine and penned several pieces for the website Find My Past.

He has looked into the ancestry of famous faces such as Kate Winslet, John Craven, Gabby Logan, Claire Balding and Miranda Hart and has now set up his own website, roystockdillgenealogy.com Mr Stockdill said that when it came to looking at the family history of Gervais he decided it would be easier to look at the maternal line as his father was of French Canadian origin.

He said: “I didn’t know about the Dorset links when I started.

“I knew he was born in Reading and his mother came from Reading so I thought I was going to find the whole family in Reading.

“But of course I went back and found that the great grandfather lived in Dorset.”

Mr Stockdill said Gervais’ great grandfather, Tom George House, was born in 1851 at Piddletrenthide in Dorset and moved to Reading some time between 1871 and 1878.

His father, Joseph Squibb House, was born at Ansty in 1812 and married his wife, Eliza Bollen, at All Saints Church in Piddletrenthide.

Going back further the family, including his great great great grandmother Susannah Squibb, had links to the village of Hilton near Milton Abbas in the 18th century.

Mr Stockdill said he was delighted to see Gervais’ family history linked to an area of the country that he knew and loved.

He said that he contacted Gervais via Twitter to inform him of his findings and got a response almost immediately to say that the star was ‘fascinated’ by what Mr Stockdill had discovered and thanking him for sharing it.