Genealogist urges Kiwis to trace family history after Russell Crowe's shock revelation

As the holiday period comes to a close, so too does the best time to discover your heritage, genealogists say.

New Zealand-born actor Russell Crowe has taken to Twitter, having just discovered he's a direct descendent of a polarising historical figure - and you too could uncover a long-lost celebrity in your family tree.

The film star's family lineage has long been the stuff of legend for Kiwi sports fans, as Crowe was the cousin of the late New Zealand cricket star, Martin Crowe.

But the latest development has revealed the 59-year-old is also a direct descendent of a historical figure known by some as the 'Old Fox' - or one Simon Fraser.

In 1747, the Scotsman was the last person to be beheaded at the Tower of London.

Fraser, who was renowned for his feuding and changing of allegiances in the early 1700s, was portrayed by Clive Russell in the hit show Outlander.

And as Crowe pointed out, the moment of his beheading was also notable for another reason.

One of the bleachers that had been erected for people to view the execution collapsed, killing 20 people. Fraser is said to have found this quite humorous.

It's an incredible claim to fame - one that has genealogists encouraging Kiwis to go on their own paths of discovery.

"We can always find something interesting in our history," said Fiona Brooker, chief memory officer and genealogist at Memories in Time.

Brooker helps people in Aotearoa do just that, and she said there's no better time to start than now.

"A lot of us unfortunately don't get around to doing this until all the people that we should have been asking these questions of have sadly passed away," she said.

"And this time of the year is a great time to do it because we are often sitting around tables together and having meals - and it's amazing what stories suddenly come out."

Who knows - you too could have an unknown ancestor already written in the history books. Because as Crowe knows all too well: "What we do in life echoes in eternity."