WDYTYA? key documents: Fearne Cotton's episode

By Rosemary Collins, 24 August 2017 - 2:38pm

Fearne Cotton used an exciting array of genealogical sources to uncover her family’s history. We take a look at some of the most important documents seen on screen…

Fearne finds out more about her great grandfather's life

Star source


Fearne uncovered the surprising twists of her ancestors’ stories through historic newspaper cuttings. The report on Evan Meredith’s arrest for conscientious objection is found in the Pioneer, a weekly socialist newspaper. It is among an extensive collection of Welsh newspapers available for free via the National Library of Wales website.

Fearne also traced the varied career of her 4x great grandfather, William Gilmour, through his local newspapers, including the Londonderry Standard and the Coleraine Chronicle. Some back issues of both these newspapers are available on the British Newspaper Archive, also accessible to Findmypast subscribers.

The Bucks Herald, where Fearne found reports of William Gilmour’s bankruptcy, is also available on these websites. If you have an ancestor who went bankrupt, the notice can be a good way of finding out useful information such as their street address.

Other key sources

Brecon Barracks records

Brecon Barracks, where Evan Meredith refused to put on an army uniform, is now home to The Regimental Museum of the Royal Welsh. Archives relating to the 24th South Wales Borderers, 41st and 69th Welsh Regiment, Monmouthshire Regiment and The Royal Regiment of Wales are available at the museum, subject to appointment and to a £30 access fee.

Carmarthen Prison archives

Evan Meredith was imprisoned at Carmarthen Prison after the war. The prison’s 1879-1922 records are now held at West Glamorgan Archive Service.

SS Great Britain logbook

Fearne found out more about William Gilmour’s time serving on the SS Great Britain during the Crimean War from the ship’s log book. The log books of the SS Great Britain are among the 67,000 items at the Brunel Institute, one of the few academic archives in the world to offer access on demand

Guardians minutes books

The 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act established a system of workhouses to provide a home for parish paupers, presided over by a locally elected Board of Guardians. William Gilmour’s later career as medical officer at Ongar Union Workhouse was recorded in guardians’ minute books. The books from 1836 to 1930 are stored at Essex Record Office, where some records are available for website subscribers on a free or pay-per-view basis. William subsequently worked at Bethnal Green Workhouse, whose Board of Guardians’ records can be found in the London Metropolitan Archives.


WDYTYA? location guide: Fearne Cotton
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5 best resources for tracing conscientious objectors
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WDYTYA? location guide: Fearne Cotton
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5 best resources for tracing conscientious objectors
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