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It’s a Brucie Bonus with the new series of WDYTYA

Published on 22 Jul 2010 17:00 : who do you think you are : 0 comments : 1928 views

The new series of Who Do You Think You Are launched this week with an exciting line up of celebrities, the first being Bruce Forsyth.

The desire to search for his ancestors began when Bruce Forsyth received a letter from a lady studying genealogy in America and thought she and Bruce shared the same relative, Joseph Forsyth Johnson.

The show demonstrated speaking to relatives first can help guide you in the right direction. Bruce's cousin kept a diary from a relative, Christina, which revealed information about Bruce Forsyth's great grandfather's travels. It was revealed not only did he live in the UK but he also lived in USA.

To find out the validity of Christina's diary Bruce Forsyth trawled through the 1880 census records. The 1881 census records revealed Joseph's wife and children lived in a different part of the UK to Joseph. The image below show's his wife; Elizabeth worked as a housekeeper whilst living in Cheshire:

Later censuses revealed the family then move to London where Joseph was based, but again he was not present in the records, which suggests his first wife lived as a single parent for many years. The 1891 census record below also demonstrates Christina, who wrote the diary was Joseph's daughter.

These census records state their occupations at the time, thus providing Bruce Forsyth with an understanding of the lifestyle Joseph's family led in the 1800's and this led to new discoveries about his great grandfather.

Bruce Forsyth's search also proved the value and importance of using BMD records. Whilst in the US, a birth certificated revealed his great grandfather had a child in New York with another woman - all this was established from just one birth record and it also confirmed any suspicions he had about his great grandfather being a bigamist.

Bruce Forsyth struggled to find a death certificate for his great grandfather, so decided to search USA directories and newspapers for clues. Bruce Forsyth eventually found an obituary detailing Joseph's death which led to him finding the death record.

What can we learn from this episode is the wealth of information stored within census and BMD records. The show also provided some great tips to help overcome any difficulties experienced when searching for ancestors, such as using different spellings to find your ancestors and expanding on year of birth searches as oppose to just searching the exact year. A particular favourite from the show was; if you can't find what you're looking for in the records its worth searching other historical documents first and then going back to the records.

We hope this helps you with your family tree search.

Have fun finding your family tree.