In one of the most shocking moments of the episode, Danny Dyer discovers that his great great grandmother, Mary Ann Buttivant, was convicted of concealing a birth at the age of just 17.
The secret emerges as Danny searches the Crime, Prisons & Punishment (1770-1935) collection on Findmypast and finds an entry for Mary Ann in the After-Trial Calendar of Prisoners for the Central Criminal Court (Old Bailey). The original documents are held in series CRIM 9 at The National Archives, Kew.
According to Who Do You Think You Are? TV series genealogist Laura Berry, this was one of the most crucial discoveries of the research process.
“[The record] was really key to unearthing a lot more information about Mary Ann Buttivant’s ‘criminal’ past,” she told Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine. “It gave us a summary of her crime, alluding to the fact it took place in London, and that it involved the death of a child.”
The entry led the researchers to an indictment record (held in series CRIM 4 at The National Archives – seen when Danny visits the Bishopsgate Institute), which, in turn, helped them locate detailed birth and death records for Mary Ann’s baby.
English and Welsh birth, marriage and death certificates can currently be ordered from the General Register Office, with a pilot project enabling researchers to access digital copies of certain civil registration records running until Wednesday 30 November.
Other key sources
Workhouse admission and discharge registers
Early in the episode, Professor David Green reveals that Danny’s 3x great grandparents – Albert and Ann Buttivant – spent several stints inside Mile End Workhouse. Although the scene is filmed at Tower Hamlets Local History Library & Archives, the workhouse admission and discharge registers that Danny sees are actually held by London Metropolitan Archives. A large number of the records have been digitised and can be searched on Ancestry.
Papers from the Committee for Compounding with Delinquents
After visiting Oxford to learn about Robert Gosnold’s activities during the English Civil War, Danny travels to Suffolk to learn what happened to his ancestor after he had been forced to surrender. He is then shown records from the Committee for Compounding with Delinquents, held by The National Archives in series SP 23. These are accessible digitally via a subscription to the State Papers Online service.
The College of Arms in London holds an extensive archive of records, including pedigree rolls, which allowed the researchers to trace the connection between Danny’s Tudor ‘gateway’ ancestors and his 22x great grandfather, Edward III. Don’t miss our full guide on how to discover whether you’re descended from royalty.