The first programme in the latest edition of Who Do You Think You Are explored the family tree of June Brown, most famous for her role in East Enders at Dot Cotton. The programme explored her Jewish roots and the tale of Isaac Bitton, a bare-knuckle prize fighter – ‘a pugilist of considerable celebrity’. Her great-great-great grandfather. Her Jewish ancestors originated from Oran, Algeria, North Africa, when it was occupied by Spain. They were expelled by the Spanish and went to Italy, and from there to Holland.
Abraham Bitton (although the family surname had changed quite bit through the previous generations) came to London with his son Isaac to seek a new life, but before the rest of the family could follow, Abraham was separated from his wife and remaining children in Amsterdam by the Napoleonic Wars.
The research involved in the programme came from Jewish synagogue records in London, and archives in Amsterdam and Spain. Research which would involve considerable expense if one were to undertake it themselves or if one employed a genealogist. Other beneficiaries of this research will be some owners of some of the family trees on Ancestry.co.uk, as some of the information is very inaccurate before Isaac’s story.
Here’s one of the records involved in the programme which we can link to. Isaac’s widow Elizabeth appears in the 1851 census. Link to the page on Ancestry Class: HO107; Piece: 1543; Folio: 160; Page: 4;
She also appears in the 1841 and 1861 census.
Because of the new interest in the programme, FindMyPast.co.uk are offering a new promotion of 10% off subscriptions until 24 August.
Meanwhile, a description of Isaac on Google Books.
and a portrait on lookandlearn.com