Arnold/Goldston Heir Hunters


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Arnold/Goldston

Series following the work of probate researchers. The team endeavour to crack a new treasury case before a rival firm gets there first.


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Today, the Heir Hunters endeavour to crack

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a case before the competition gets there first.

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PHONE RINGS

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We're a firm of heir hunters and we're actually looking into the

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Butler family tree...

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..has picked yourself up as a possible beneficiary.

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If you recognise those as your parents, please do give me a

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call back and we can go into some further detail.

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While another team discover a family secret hidden for centuries.

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Our Baltic agent came up with a police report.

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Tracing the past can lead to an incredible future.

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When I found that out, it's a case of, wow!

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In London, heir hunting firm Finders are working on a new case

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this morning from the government's Bona Vacantia list.

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It's the estate of the late Hedley Henry Arnold.

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According to the Treasury's listed details,

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he's also known as Eddie. Although Hedley was married to a lady

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named Gladys, they didn't have any children.

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Hedley himself appears to have been an only child.

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His mother was fairly old when she married, so it was unlikely,

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anyway, that he was going to have very many siblings, if any.

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We were very close, as great friends.

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And I used to speak to him every Sunday,

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on the telephone, every week.

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Hedley Arnold was born in Dorchester, Dorset, on 5th April,

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1925, and worked in a factory

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where he met his future wife, Gladys.

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She was keen on gardening.

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I think...Hedley kind of grew into that himself.

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Their living room was a garden and

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they just loved it in the garden.

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He later worked as a caretaker at the local school.

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In the community, Eddie was well-liked

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because people used to come up and talk to him.

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He wouldn't talk to them, they would come up to him to talk to him

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because he's that sort of person.

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He'd do anything for anyone.

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As a caring and compassionate member of the local community,

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Hedley is remembered with affection.

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A very warm-hearted man.

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No-one had a bad word to say against him at all.

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I've never heard anyone talk of Hedley in a bad way.

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Everyone thought he was a lovely person.

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Once you got to know him...

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..you would have a friend for life.

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Hedley Arnold passed away on July 20, 2015, aged 90.

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I sit there sometimes,

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on a Sunday,

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and suddenly thought,

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"The phone's not rung."

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And I said, "Stupid, it's not going to ring any more."

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But the team need to find Hedley's family fast,

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because today, they've got competition.

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It's actually the only advertised estate this morning,

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so we are expecting it to be incredibly competitive.

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There's a few key skills you need as an heir hunter.

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It's all very fast-paced, I think leads to the necessity of being

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able to think laterally and do a few different things at the same time.

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I think without that skill you could easily get swamped in the research

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that you do, particularly when you're up against other companies.

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Travelling researcher, Stuart, is on standby,

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ready to gather information on the ground that may lead to heirs.

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You just must never give up because you'll always find them in the end.

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And the team have already made quick progress,

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establishing who Hedley's family are.

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What does it look like, Coxy?

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It doesn't look like, I think it's

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-probably going to die out.

-Ah. Oh, no.

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So, Amy Cox has been looking at the Arnold side, the paternal side.

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She thinks there are probably four stems, three of those four

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have completely died out without any living descendants.

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So, we're not looking at many, if any, beneficiaries on that side.

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So, Amy and Ryan have moved on to

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Hedley's mother's side

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and found his grandparents,

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Henry Meech and Esther Billet.

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They had nine children,

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four of whom died as infants.

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Ryan is looking at a further stem

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and I have one to look at as well.

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With all but two of Hedley's aunts' and uncles' lines having

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no living offspring, Amy is tracing Fanny Meech, Hedley's aunt.

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Fanny married Edward Woolfries,

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and had two children, Hilda and Ethel.

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But as the team look into Hedley's cousin Hilda,

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they hit a problem.

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Hilda, it's looking as though she's married a couple of times,

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had children with her first husband

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who is looking as though he's probably a colonel

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in the British Army. And they travelled

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back and forth between Bombay, having children as they went.

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One country that some people don't always think to look in is India.

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Now, there was a large period of British history,

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obviously with the empire.

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We weren't particularly surprised to find events happening in India

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given that there was a military serving personnel in the family.

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During the 1930s, Hilda travelled to India with her husband, Emile,

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where he was serving in the British Indian Army.

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At this time, India was still a colony of the United Kingdom,

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known historically as the British Raj.

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The British had established

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themselves in India through

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he East India Company several

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centuries before,

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but India had become very important to the British,

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both as a strategic bastion,

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located where it is in south-east Asia.

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But also in terms of trade and the spices

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and the foods and the textiles which came from that country.

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To many people, India was the jewel of the British Empire.

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The British Indian Army was a locally enlisted force,

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with British commanding officers and Indian soldiers.

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Emile served with the Royal Tank Corps in India during the 1930s.

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The British Indian Army did not have any armoured car

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or very few artillery regiments.

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These armoured cars were unusual at this time and, therefore,

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Emile was no doubt a very valuable asset working in India at the time.

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Of course, for those who joined the British Indian Army,

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then it became much more likely that their wives

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and dependents would follow them out there.

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There were married quarters provided.

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Life in India was incredibly different to life back home

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for the British families.

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For Hilda, you know, coming from rural Dorchester,

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going out to India, as I said, with the vibrancy of Indian society,

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she would be able to go out to the local markets,

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where there'll be a range of vegetables

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and fruits which she would never have experienced in England.

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You know, it was a very comfortable and privileged

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existence for most people in India, most British people in India.

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Certainly way above the standards that they could expect

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back home in England.

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However, following the Second World War,

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there was a growing momentum for Indian independence.

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For the British personnel serving in India,

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most seem to have become aware of the fact that Indian

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independence was going to become a question of when, not if.

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That meant that their lifestyles were being challenged

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and threatened and that they faced a very uncertain future

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because they would have to return to the United Kingdom.

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Emile would have found that his promotional prospects would

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have ceased. Certainly, his career was effectively over

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and we know that he definitely came back to the United Kingdom,

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whether on leave or permanently in 1946.

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While Amy can trace the family's return to England,

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she can't work out if Hilda and Emile's children are still alive.

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When people are born abroad,

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it makes searching for their records particularly difficult.

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So, I'm just having a play around with the English records and,

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also, we have access to some overseas records.

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And some of those are Armed Forces records

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and some of the Bombay baptism and marriage records,

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which it looks as though it's probably where they were based.

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While Amy digs deeper, Ryan is tracing another

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aunt of Hedley's to see if she had any children.

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The line of Rose Meech is

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on the maternal side of the family,

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so she would have been a maternal aunt of the deceased.

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She married Charles George Butler in 1905.

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By 1911, she'd had two children.

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Beyond 1911, she had two more.

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Initial research is hopeful.

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I've just found a marriage for one of Rose's daughters,

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Margaret Louise, or Louisa, Butler. She married William Blandamer,

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so I'm hoping there may be some children to that marriage

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and, fingers crossed, a beneficiary.

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But Ryan's hunt leads nowhere.

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Finally, Amy has a breakthrough with one of

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Hilda and Emile's daughters.

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I think I may have found Jean.

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She would be a maternal cousin once removed.

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So I'm going to try a number that's coming up for her.

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She's not in touch with either of her sisters.

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Last she knew of them, they were alive, but she's not sure.

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And when Amy does manage to find one of Jean's sisters through

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the electoral roll...

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Hello, could I speak to Mrs June Shinn, please?

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Hello, Mrs Shinn. I wonder if you can help me.

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..it's a disappointing conversation.

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Do you remember their names?

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No? OK.

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I just found June, the youngest sister. I called her.

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It seems as though she has been contacted by another company.

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So, it's as competitive as we thought.

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And to up the stakes even more, Ryan has discovered there

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may now be living heirs on Rose Meech's line after all.

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It's up to the team on the road now to pull in the victory.

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-There's you, there.

-And my sister and middle sister.

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-Middle sister.

-And June, yes.

-And June that I've met. That's Hedley.

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Deceased, you knew.

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Yes, I knew him.

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Then we all used to come over when my dad was away.

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-My dad was in the army.

-Yes.

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-And he was living in India most of the time.

-What, your dad?

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-Well, yes, because he was in the army.

-Oh.

-And he used to come back,

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and he only got six months' leave every couple of years.

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And we'd come over then to see.

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That's why I don't know much about these people.

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-You might see them, then, when you came home.

-I might see them but...

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-Were you born in India then?

-No, I wasn't, but one sister was.

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-June was, wasn't she?

-June was born in India.

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And when did you come back to here then, do you think?

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-1947...

-1947...

-..wasn't it?

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-..when India got their independence.

-Oh, yeah.

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Bye, Jean. Bye, Richard.

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Bye, bye, bye.

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Everything's sort of dovetailed into place

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and the office will be more than pleased that we've got

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everything sorted out on the beneficiary side.

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But as the heir hunters do one last check,

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it seems the battle is not totally won.

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The good news for us is that we managed to trace the three

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daughters of Hilda Elizabeth Woolfries.

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They all signed paperwork so in terms of that

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section of the family tree, a really good result.

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But the team didn't make it to the other beneficiaries

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on both the maternal and paternal side in time.

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It is the nature of the business that numerous companies

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work on these type of cases, and that's the way it goes.

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Basil Goldston, a computer operator, was born on January 8, 1926,

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in South Shields, Durham,

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but lived most of his life in Edmonton, north London.

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With no photographs or close family remaining,

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it's tricky to get a sense of his life.

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But Henry Jacobs, a member of the local Jewish community,

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is able to paint a picture.

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Basil's father was

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the Reverend Goldstein in the

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South Shields Jewish community.

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I think it's true to say that it would've had a significant

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bearing on his upbringing.

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He certainly would have been very familiar with all the rituals

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and all the ways of Jewish life.

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Records show Basil married Rosina Shine in 1962.

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The normal thing in those days

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for a Jewish couple would be to be

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married within a synagogue.

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And if he was living in Dalston,

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the local synagogue would have been United Synagogue.

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But it seems this marriage did not last

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and Basil remained in Edmonton alone until the end of his life.

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When Basil passed away on April 5, 1993,

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the case went up on the Government Legal Department's

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Bona Vacantia list but no heirs were found.

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..and maybe order up a check on the father's name.

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The case remained unsolved for over 14 years until, in 2007,

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the team from Celtic Research decided to see

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if they could crack it and finally find the heirs to Basil's estate.

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The company is run by father and son,

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Peter and Hector Birchwood,

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and their team is based all around the UK.

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We estimated that the value would be around £60,000.

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At that point, we thought it would be compelling enough for any heirs,

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if we could find any, to be able to receive this amount.

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An only child himself, Basil had died a bachelor without any

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children, so the team moved back a generation to look for his parents.

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Basil's birth certificate shows the Goldston spelling,

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but his parents had originally been known as Goldstein.

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His mother was Minnie Saltzberg

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and his father was Isaac Joseph Goldston.

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Isaac appeared to be a Jewish minister.

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Their marriage certificate showed their wedding had

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taken place in Spitalfields, East London,

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where they may have lived.

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It also revealed the name of Minnie's father.

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His name was Benjamin, otherwise, Barnett Saltzberg.

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It didn't give us a profession but we were able to find him and

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through subsequent research, through the census.

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And through his death record in 1922,

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we found out that he was a rabbinical doctor

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and a schoolmaster.

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Any living relatives would be found through his aunts and uncles

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and their children,

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so the team also needed to find his maternal grandmother.

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But the trail now went cold.

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The next step, really,

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is trying to locate the marriage of the mother's parents

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to identify what kind of siblings she had.

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We weren't able to find any marriage.

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We weren't really able to find any birth for the mother either,

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or for any of her siblings.

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The censuses indicated to us that she had other family and,

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through further research, we found that they came from Russia.

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During the 19th and 20th century,

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approximately 3,000,000 Jews fled Russia during the pogroms -

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violent riots aimed at massacring their community.

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A pogrom is a

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sustained attack on a

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community of Jewish people.

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The trigger for this was the assassination of Tsar Alexander II,

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for which some blamed the Jews.

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I think, in general, there was some anti-Jewish feeling anyway.

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Competition for land, competition for jobs within the economy,

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and perhaps, just that inherent subliminal feeling that we

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Jews were strange and different from the indigenous population.

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Persecution took all sorts of forms.

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I mean, at its worst, they were violent and resulted in fatalities.

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Property was destroyed, Jews were expelled from their villages,

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they were reduced to poverty on many occasions.

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It was just a violent assault on their way of life.

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In one particular pogrom, 2,000 Jews were killed.

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Many went to the United States, but up to 100,000 came to the UK.

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They were very much an integrated community. They needed each other.

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The majority of Jews that came to the UK would have been quite poor.

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Some, literally, arrived with their clothes on their back,

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you know, a few coins in their pocket.

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It's likely Basil's grandfather would have played a central role

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within this community.

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As a religious man, as a rabbi, as a Hebrew teacher, he would have

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been very much a central point, a pivotal point for the community.

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As an educated man and obviously, clearly,

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a highly intelligent man, he may have been more receptive

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and more capable of learning English quickly,

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which literally was a foreign language.

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Very, very different from the language that immigrants spoke.

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So he would have understood any kind of bureaucracy that they faced,

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he would have, perhaps,

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been able to write letters on behalf of the community.

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And perhaps it was this which led to the meeting of Basil's parents.

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It's possible that Minnie, as the daughter of a rabbi,

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daughter of a very religious man, it would have been anathema

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for her to marry anybody other than a fellow religious Jew.

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Therefore, it's quite likely that she met Isaac, her intended,

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maybe through her father,

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through the fact that he was a Hebrew teacher.

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Intrigued by what he had discovered,

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and determined not to give up, Hector passed the case to north west

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regional case manager, Saul Marks, who specialises in Jewish genealogy.

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The next thing I did was look in The Jewish Chronicle

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for death notices for Basil's parents.

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I was really pleased to find that Basil had placed death notices

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for both his parents and the one for Minnie actually referred

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to her as a daughter of the late Dr Barnett Saltzberg.

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So the fact it had used the words "a daughter" said that,

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clearly, there was more than one.

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So I knew I was looking for at least one sister that Minnie may have had.

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Spurred on by new information, Saul dug deeper.

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One of my final options,

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in trying to find anything about the Saltzberg family, was to post

0:20:160:20:20

a notice on an online discussion group for Jewish genealogy,

0:20:200:20:24

just to see if anybody out there had ever heard of Dr Barnett Saltzberg.

0:20:240:20:28

But with no response, Saul moved on to the paternal side of the family.

0:20:280:20:34

Records proved that Basil's

0:20:340:20:37

paternal grandparents were

0:20:370:20:38

Morris Goldstein and Katie Powak.

0:20:380:20:41

They had six children, including

0:20:410:20:43

Isaac, Basil's father.

0:20:430:20:45

Sadly, three children died in infancy,

0:20:460:20:49

leaving two potential heirs.

0:20:490:20:51

The 1911 census returned for the Goldstein family

0:20:510:20:54

showed that Isaac, Basil's father,

0:20:540:20:56

had two brothers who were still alive.

0:20:560:20:58

They were Barnett and Sam.

0:20:580:21:00

But further searching threw up death certificates for both men,

0:21:000:21:04

which established they had died as bachelors too.

0:21:040:21:06

It really was very frustrating to feel that this was one we were just

0:21:060:21:09

going to have to resign ourselves

0:21:090:21:10

to the fact that we were not going to solve.

0:21:100:21:13

The case gathered dust for a further four years.

0:21:130:21:16

Until, out of nowhere, Saul received a message from California.

0:21:170:21:22

One day in the summer of 2013, I got an e-mail in my inbox,

0:21:220:21:26

out of the blue, from a gentleman who actually said

0:21:260:21:30

he was the great-grandson of Dr Barnett Saltzberg.

0:21:300:21:34

He had seen my post, my shot in the dark,

0:21:340:21:38

online, and he thought he might be able to help me.

0:21:380:21:41

And I was just thrilled.

0:21:410:21:43

After all these years, could they

0:21:440:21:46

have finally solved the mystery of Basil Goldston?

0:21:460:21:50

This is the e-mail that I got from the gentleman in California.

0:21:500:21:53

And he says, "Barnett Saltzberg

0:21:530:21:55

"was my great-grandfather.

0:21:550:21:57

"I do know about his wife and other children.

0:21:570:21:59

"Perhaps you would like to discuss this further? Best regards."

0:21:590:22:02

I mean, after four years of nothing,

0:22:020:22:05

and having closed the case, just to

0:22:050:22:08

pick this out of the blue, it makes your hair stand up, to be honest.

0:22:080:22:12

Could this e-mail give Saul the missing links needed to

0:22:120:22:15

pick up the case once more?

0:22:150:22:17

The gentleman in California was able to actually give us

0:22:180:22:21

names of his cousins who were descended from Janie Saltzberg,

0:22:210:22:25

who was the Leeds branch of the family.

0:22:250:22:28

And that enabled us, then, to start contacting the heirs.

0:22:280:22:32

From the descendants of Basil's four aunts and uncles, the hunt

0:22:320:22:35

had now revealed seven heirs, including Colin Stone, in Leeds.

0:22:350:22:40

I knew of Basil Goldston, but I didn't know much about him

0:22:410:22:45

and I'd never met him.

0:22:450:22:47

Knowing about the Jewish side of the family,

0:22:470:22:49

I believe is very, very important.

0:22:490:22:52

It's a very interesting family story

0:22:520:22:54

that is clouded in shadows.

0:22:540:22:57

So, to actually understand what happened in the past,

0:22:570:23:00

and understanding that will help to understand where we are now.

0:23:000:23:04

So today, Colin is meeting Saul to find out

0:23:050:23:08

more about what the team have uncovered.

0:23:080:23:12

You are down here, and your brother, of course.

0:23:120:23:17

So this is your late mother, Dorothy,

0:23:170:23:20

and your grandmother, Janie.

0:23:200:23:23

And you can see, these are Janie's brothers and sisters,

0:23:230:23:25

the Saltzbergs, and this is Minnie, who was Basil's mother.

0:23:250:23:31

I know that it was actually after my great-grandmother

0:23:310:23:34

passed away in childbirth, that's what promoted

0:23:340:23:37

Benzion to up and leave sticks

0:23:370:23:39

because he always wanted to be a doctor.

0:23:390:23:41

-Ah.

-So, it was his wife's death that inspired him to leave...

0:23:410:23:46

at the time. And he wanted to study medicine

0:23:460:23:50

and help people that were in the same situation that he was.

0:23:500:23:53

Oh, I see. I didn't realise that was all connected.

0:23:530:23:55

Fantastic. Well, that's a very noble thing to do.

0:23:550:23:59

And in the course of their research to prove the case to the

0:23:590:24:02

Government Legal Department,

0:24:020:24:03

the Celtic team uncovered a family secret about Basil's uncle Nathan.

0:24:030:24:07

-Our Baltic agent came up with a police report...

-Wow!

0:24:100:24:15

..in Russian, which showed that Nathan had got into some trouble

0:24:150:24:19

with the law, politically.

0:24:190:24:20

It's fascinating to, actually,

0:24:200:24:22

to look at this

0:24:220:24:23

and see what was going on in that

0:24:230:24:26

time in the politics of that region.

0:24:260:24:29

And obviously, your ancestors were

0:24:290:24:32

caught up in that.

0:24:320:24:33

Stunned by the dramatic revelation that his great-uncle had been

0:24:340:24:38

arrested over 100 years ago,

0:24:380:24:41

Colin is keen to find out more

0:24:410:24:44

and is on his way to Lancaster University

0:24:440:24:46

to meet Russian expert Professor Michael Hughes.

0:24:460:24:49

Very pleased to meet you. Please sit down.

0:24:490:24:52

What we have here, Colin, is a copy in Russian of a police file

0:24:520:24:58

and it's about the arrest of, I think, your great-uncle Nathan

0:24:580:25:02

for attending a revolutionary meeting in a wood on the outskirts

0:25:020:25:07

of Vilnius, in modern-day Lithuania.

0:25:070:25:10

And what the file tells us is that

0:25:100:25:13

he was attending a meeting in what is called the Bund.

0:25:130:25:16

The Bund was a radical Jewish Socialist organisation

0:25:160:25:21

which was formed in 1897

0:25:210:25:23

and for a few years, was probably the most important

0:25:230:25:26

socialist organisation in Russia.

0:25:260:25:29

Of course, with the pogroms that took place

0:25:290:25:32

after the 1905 revolution,

0:25:320:25:34

that actually triggered a big response among a lot

0:25:340:25:38

of the Jewish communities and the Bund in particular became

0:25:380:25:41

interested in what it called self-defence.

0:25:410:25:43

So, originally, when it was set up,

0:25:430:25:46

the Bund was really a kind of Marxist workers' party.

0:25:460:25:50

But after 1905, the Bund became much more concerned

0:25:500:25:54

with protecting Russian Jews who continued to be persecuted.

0:25:540:25:57

What I think is very striking is that your great-uncle was clearly

0:25:570:26:01

involved in an organisation and interested in ideas.

0:26:010:26:05

That was seen as subversive.

0:26:050:26:07

What we do know, and we don't know a huge amount from the files,

0:26:070:26:11

is that he's taken away after that meeting, he's interviewed, and he's

0:26:110:26:16

then put under something that the Russians call preventative measures.

0:26:160:26:21

I think he was probably seen as someone you had to keep an eye on.

0:26:210:26:24

It is fascinating.

0:26:240:26:26

I never met Abe and Nathan

0:26:260:26:28

but it is a fascinating story to think that all those years ago,

0:26:280:26:33

they were so active in changing, trying to change people's lives.

0:26:330:26:36

-But it must initially have been terrifying for him.

-I bet it was.

0:26:360:26:40

And among the various revolutionary groups, their kind of nightmare

0:26:400:26:43

was being arrested by the secret police.

0:26:430:26:46

What actually comes out of it that is quite fascinating

0:26:460:26:50

is how our family all believe in social justice and socialism.

0:26:500:26:54

So we've inherited that without even knowing him, so that seems to

0:26:540:26:58

have been the story of the family down the lines, caring for others.

0:26:580:27:03

The Russian police file played a crucial role in proving this

0:27:040:27:08

case to the Government Legal Department

0:27:080:27:10

and finally distributing Basil's estate to his relatives.

0:27:100:27:14

But for Colin, it's been an unbelievable journey into his

0:27:140:27:18

own past and the triumphant rescue of a story nearly lost for ever.

0:27:180:27:23

Money's not been important at all

0:27:230:27:25

and for that reason when we inherited the money,

0:27:250:27:27

we donated it to the charity that my wife and I founded

0:27:270:27:30

because that's more important to us.

0:27:300:27:33

What has been important is finding out who our family have been.

0:27:330:27:37

Heir hunting, or people who are genealogists,

0:27:390:27:43

are often people who like enigmas,

0:27:430:27:45

who like to resolve unsolved puzzles.

0:27:450:27:49

So our job is really to crack safe open.

0:27:490:27:51

We have a very small family anyway, so to know something

0:27:520:27:55

about the history is...

0:27:550:27:58

brings a lot of things together.

0:27:580:28:01

Today the competition is on as Heir Hunters endeavour to crack a new treasury case before a rival firm gets there first. With family lines leading nowhere, the team's research takes an interesting tack when records lead to India and the family of a Colonel in the British Raj.

In London another team attempts to crack a case that has gathered dust on the Bona Vacantia list for almost six years. Missing records and persecution lead to London's Jewish quarter in the early 1900s and the tale of a family separated. A surprised heir discovers a hidden secret about an uncle and learns how personal family letters were used to prove the case to the government.