Who do you think you are?
Fiona Bruce

Fiona Bruce

Fiona's great-grandfather, Frederick Crouch, died in the First World War under mysterious circumstances. The family story is that Frederick failed to duck down when shells began falling nearby, despite the fact everyone else around him dived for cover. A letter, written by Frederick's widow to her son's school soon after the war, reveals the sad truth behind the story.

Another family story about Frederick is that he joined the army to escape his parents. Hoping to understand the reasons, Fiona investigates the life of Frederick's father, seemingly a highly-respected Victorian photographer. It soon becomes clear that all is not as it first appears with William Crouch, who emerges as a larger-than-life rogue and star of a celebrated court case.

Fiona next returns to the home of the Bruce family, the small Scottish fishing village of Hopeman, where her family eked out a living for generations. Documents she uncovers in the local library reveal that some of the hardships her family faced were at least a little self-inflicted

Comments

    • 1. At 10:58am on 10 Feb 2009, U13824724 wrote:

      Having watched the whole of Fiona Bruce episode of 'Who do you think you are' I am curious that no mention was made of YESMAR DNALSI having been featured in the trailers of the programme.

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    • 2. At 1:09pm on 10 Feb 2009, U13824940 wrote:

      It was very interesting for me to watch the programme last night, especially when Fiona was able to trace her Bruce line back to the village of Rathven. My maternal grandfather's ancestors are also from Rathven and I have the names Bruce and Geddes in my family tree as well as Sutherland. My maternal grandfather's surname is Farquhar. I would be interested to learn if Fiona and I are distant cousins.

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    • 3. At 2:23pm on 10 Feb 2009, U13825124 wrote:

      I was very interested in Fiona Bruce's family history, according to census records my great grandfather was born in Hopeman and my grandfather's paternal family came from Rathven. It was good to see these two places on TV as I had not had the chance to travel there.
      Unfortunately I can find little in the way of records to see if my great grandfather's mother was from that area although I know she was married in Duffus.

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    • 4. At 7:35pm on 10 Feb 2009, NOCHELSEAFAN wrote:

      I was amazed at the likeness that Fiona Bruces relation William crouch who died in WW1 has to Peter Crouch the footballer.The only difference was the moustache.They both seem to be from the same area as well.Could peter and fiona be related?

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    • 5. At 9:56pm on 10 Feb 2009, U13826230 wrote:

      I am sorting through my late aunt's papers, which contain many photos. After the programme I decided to take more notice of the photographers. I have 2 photos of my aunt and her brother taken by Fiona's great, great grandfather, William Crouch - Sackville Studio, Bexhill. I can now date them to around 1899 but I don't have any other connections with Bexhill. Any ideas anyone?

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    • 6. At 04:48am on 11 Feb 2009, U13826398 wrote:

      I looked up "cohexia" online and suspect it was a misreading/misspelling of "cachexia," a wasting typical of end-stage cancer or heart disease. (In starvation the body attempts to slow down its effects by slowing down metabolic function; in cachexia no such slowing occurs.) Whether the admissions officer of the workhouse was using the term properly, indicating that Ms Bruce's ancestor was terminally ill, or whether he was putting a gloss of obscurity on the bald fact of starvation may be a matter of interpretation.

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    • 7. At 10:00am on 11 Feb 2009, U13826230 wrote:

      Further to my earlier comment, my aunt's family moved in certain circles, the family photos were taken by well documented society photographers, her wedding photos were taken by the "Royal" photographer, Vandyk. My point is that William Crouch was obviously getting his clientele from those circles as well, so initially he did quite well before "fleeing" to Bexhill.

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    • 8. At 11:44am on 11 Feb 2009, sporophyte wrote:

      Fiona's story rang a lot of bells with me. My father was named after an uncle of his who was killed in the trenches in WW1. That uncle also went to Christ's Hospital School, but in the 1890s. I suspect that, as the programme suggested, admission was not simply open to all since my great great grandfather worked at Christ's Hospital School in the mid 19th century. The other thing is that allegedly my grandfather died of a form of malntrition in the 1930s - which seems incredible in this day and age. Mine was also the first generation of our family to have a university education.

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    • 9. At 6:35pm on 12 Feb 2009, SussexPhotoHistory wrote:

      I am the "Photo Historian" who had previously made a study of the photographer William Morris Crouch and met up with Fiona Bruce in Bexhill for the TV programme. I am particularly interested in the comment posted by Member U13826230, who has two photographs taken at William Crouch's Sackville Studio in Sea Road, Bexhill. I believe William Crouch was running a respectable business at his Bexhill studio between 1898 and January 1903 and there is evidence that he took portraits of the leading members of the Bexhill community. For instance, in 1902, George Vale, the Deputy Mayor of Bexhill, sat for his official portrait at Crouch's Sackville Studio. This portrait and further details of William Crouch's photographic career can be seen on my "Sussex PhotoHistory" website. Crouch's fraudulent activities took place during the six years before he moved to Bexhill in 1898 and in the eleven months he spent in London before his arrest at the end of 1903. His business in Bexhill between these dates was probably legitimate.
      I would like the opportunity to see the two photographs mentioned by U13826230 and would appreciate it if this Member would contact me either via the "Sussex PhotoHistory" website or the link provided on the Fiona Bruce "How We Did It" section under "Family Rogue" on the official BBC "Who Do You Think You Are" website.
      Turning to the question of why U13826230's aunt was in Bexhill. At this time (1898-1902), Bexhill was a fashionable seaside holiday resort and it was also the base for various convalescent homes - one very large one being located in Sea Road, not that far from Crouch's photographic studio.

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    • 10. At 6:52pm on 12 Feb 2009, SussexPhotoHistory wrote:

      I am the "Photo Historian" who had previously made a study of the photographer William Morris Crouch and met up with Fiona Bruce in Bexhill for the TV programme. I am particularly interested in the comment posted by Member U13826230, who has two photographs taken at William Crouch's Sackville Studio in Sea Road, Bexhill. I believe William Crouch was running a respectable business at his Bexhill studio between 1898 and January 1903 and there is evidence that he took portraits of the leading members of the Bexhill community. For instance, in 1902, George Vale, the Deputy Mayor of Bexhill, sat for his official portrait at Crouch's Sackville Studio. This portrait and further details of William Crouch's photographic career can be seen on my "Sussex PhotoHistory" website. Crouch's fraudulent activities took place during the six years before he moved to Bexhill in 1898 and in the eleven months he spent in London before his arrest at the end of 1903. His business in Bexhill between these dates was probably legitimate.
      I would like the opportunity to see the two photographs mentioned by U13826230 and would appreciate it if this Member would contact me either via the "Sussex PhotoHistory" website or the link provided on the Fiona Bruce "How We Did It" section under "Family Rogue" on the official BBC "Who Do You Think You Are" website.
      Turning to the question of why U13826230's aunt was in Bexhill. At this time (1898-1902), Bexhill was a fashionable seaside holiday resort and it was also the base for various convalescent homes - one very large one being located in Sea Road, not that far from Crouch's photographic studio.

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    • 11. At 9:45pm on 12 Feb 2009, U13829190 wrote:

      I was wondering if anyone could tell me how I can contact the National Record's Office which was mentioned? It was where Fiona got William Crouch's death certificate. I thought only Scotlands People sold these but I want to know if the National Records Office charge differently for them.

      Liked the baddie photographer story but would have liked a bit more on the women of the family who had to put up with these striving men.

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    • 12. At 4:38pm on 13 Mar 2009, U13870563 wrote:

      It was very interesting watching the programme with Fiona Bruce, i came away thinking I may be related to her as my gandmother was also a Sutherland born in 1917, either in Findochty or Buckie, but knowing that they were a fishing family. Please help me in finding out if i am correct.

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