Sybil's letter from the family archive gave the name of Frederick's father and his profession. It also mentioned that as children, Frederick and his brother had been so unhappy that they ran away from home. Fiona hoped that by finding out a little bit more about William she might uncover why the boys left home.
To build up a timeline of the family, Fiona looked up a series of census records from 1881 to 1901.
The 1901 census revealed that William had moved from London and set up his photographic business in Bexhill-on-Sea in Sussex. The census also showed that William had no family living with him.
To find out more about the business, Fiona visited the Brighton History Centre, which houses the trade directories for the county of Sussex. Fiona discovered that his photographic studio, at Sea Road in Bexhill, consistently appeared in the directories between 1899 and 1903.
The Brighton History Centre put us in touch with David Simkin, a local specialist historian.
David met Fiona at the site of William's former photographic studio, which is now a pub called the Royal Sovereign. David managed to obtain an impressive collection of William's cartes de visite and cabinet cards (photographic calling cards).
The collection not only included photographic cards from the Bexhill studio but also cards taken from earlier London premises in New Bond Street and Regent Street.
The British Library holds copies of the specialist journal, the British Journal of Photography. We made an appointment for Fiona to view the journals to see if she could find out anything further about her great-great-grandfather after he left Bexhill in 1904.
Fiona found two references to William Morris Crouch, both from 1904. These gave full details of William's trial for fraud, listing the people he had defrauded. He was sentenced to prison for five months. The trial caused such a scandal it was reported in The Times.
To try and find out what happened to William Morris Crouch at the end of his life we ordered a copy of his death certificate. This revealed that he lived another three years after he was released from prison, dying in 1907 in Edinburgh.
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