Esther Rantzen believed her family history was a story of genteel middle class respectability, but there was one story of a 'black sheep' that had always intrigued her.
Her cousin revealed the black sheep to be their great-grandfather Montague Leverson, who abandoned his family following some 'financial trouble' and fled to America. Her investigations into Montague uncovered a scandalous story of fraud, bigamy and murder.
Esther then went on to investigate the origins of her very unusual surname. As she traced her family back she was stunned to learn that her wealthy stockbroker grandfather was born in an East End slum.
Her research into the Rantzen family's rapid social rise exposed a close family connection to the diamond magnate Barney Barnato, one of richest men of the 19th century. Ultimately Esther managed to trace the origins of her name back to 18th century Warsaw.
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