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June Brown

June Brown featured in this year’s BBC series ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ is best known for her role as ‘Dot Cotton’ in the British soap EastEnders. June, one of five children to Harry and Louisa Brown was evacuated during World War II to Pontyates in Wales and was later to become a Wren.

Sadly when June was five years old her brother John died aged just fifteen days, shortly followed two years later by her sister Marise at eight years of age. Later in life June’s first husband John Garley whom she married in 1950 suffered from depression and committed suicide in 1957. She re-married in 1958 to Robert Arnold and they had six children together, unfortunately her second child, premature at birth died after only 16 days. Robert died in 2003 after a three year battle with Lewy Bodies Dementia.

June was classically trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School; she started her television career in the 1970s with small roles in various productions including Coronation Street and Doctor Who. In 1985 June was recommended for the role of Dot Cotton by cast member Leslie Grantham (Dirty Den). She has played the role from 1985-1993 and 1997-present day.

June’s 3x Great Grandfather Isaac Bitton, born in 1779 was a bare knuckle boxer, living in the East End. His father, Abraham was a migrant from Holland, after travelling to Holland she learnt of the tragic story of the family split by war. June traced his roots back to Oran which used to be controlled by the Spanish at the time of the Spanish Inquisition. Her ancestors were able to request permission to trade and so were able to stay in Oran until 1667 when the Jewish population were evicted and given eight days to leave. It is at this point that June reached the end of her research.

Occupational records are useful for tracing ancestors in specific trades; they can be used in conjunction with census records to provide an insight into your ancestor’s lives. These records including Biographia Dramatica and Who’s Who in the Theatre are included as part of the Diamond subscription.

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