Be­hind The Scenes

Es­ther ap­peared on Who Do You Think You Are? in 2008. The TV pre­sen­ter in­ves­ti­gated the life of her ma­ter­nal great grand­fa­ther Mon­tague Lev­er­son (the black sheep of the fam­ily), be­fore un­cov­er­ing the rags-to-riches story of her Rantzen an­ces­tors

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - CONTENTS -

How WDYTYA? re­searched Es­ther Rantzen’s fam­ily tree

The Times

One of the world’s old­est na­tional news­pa­pers, The

Times, has digi­tised the ma­jor­ity of its archive and made the records avail­able to sub­scribers at The archive can also be viewed for free from most li­braries, many of­fer­ing ac­cess from home to mem­bers.

We searched for Mon­tague Lev­er­son in the data­base, and came across an 1867 ar­ti­cle re­veal­ing that he was charged with fraud and later ab­sconded.


Es­ther also dis­cov­ered how her pa­ter­nal grand­fa­ther, Hyam Henry Rantzen, es­caped the Whitechapel slums thanks to her great great un­cle Bar­ney Bar­nato. Born Bar­net Isaacs in 1851, the wealthy di­a­mond mer­chant left the Rantzens a large sum of money in his will. De­tails can be found via the Na­tional Pro­bate Cal­en­dar at­bate, and the will can be or­dered dig­i­tally from the same web­site for £10.

1880 US Cen­sus

An­other source we used for track­ing Mon­tague was the 1880 US cen­sus, in which we found him liv­ing in Cal­i­for­nia. A com­plete set of de­cen­nial US cen­sus re­turns is avail­able for 1790–1940 on sub­scrip­tion sites an­ces­ and find­my­, and for free on fam­i­, while thege­neal­o­ has the 1940 US cen­sus.


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