Series following the work of probate researchers. The competition is on as Heir Hunters tackle a case just in on the government's Bona Vacantia list.
Browse content similar to Street/Clarkson. Check below for episodes and series from the same categories and more!
We need someone. It's urgent.
Heir hunters race the competition to find beneficiaries
to an unclaimed estate.
It's quite a considerable sum of money, so time is of the essence.
Family members hope to be reunited...
It would be lovely to see her again.
That would be one of my last wishes.
Glass... I think that says bottle-maker.
..while others are shocked to find new family.
My first thought was, "Wow! Is this real?"
Look for him, because we can't find the family in the 1911 census.
-Yeah, I've done that.
-Maybe just stick to marriages, 1911 up.
and London heir-hunting firm Finders are working on
a brand-new case from the government's Bona Vacantia list.
This is a case that's just come into us.
It's the estate of Shirley Diane Street.
There's just three ads on the list today,
so I would anticipate this one's going to be quite competitive.
Thank you, bye.
Shirley passed away, aged 83, on the 23rd of September, 2015,
without leaving a will.
Born in the north-east of England, she worked in London,
before retiring to the beautiful seaside town of Folkestone in Kent.
A lot of people move to Folkestone,
especially people from London are known to move to Folkestone.
Weather's always very good here and there's lots of places
for the elderly to walk along. Some really beautiful places.
In Shirley's 23 years of being here, she would have seen a very warm
and friendly town. We all get on very well.
It's a lovely, friendly, happy place to be.
In the office, the heir hunters have some initial clues,
which mean they need to check
carefully, to see if Shirley had any close family.
Shirley was married to a gentleman called
Patrick Dennis Collins-Street.
He passed away in 1994, so they'll find that,
when she married Patrick, whether they had any children together.
Shirley's case also has an extra level of urgency.
We've roughly valued the estate at £200,000.
It's quite a considerable sum of money, time is of the essence.
-Pulling this up?
With Bona Vacantia cases, we have to work very quickly.
Not only to find out whether there's any competition that maybe
would have reached the beneficiaries before we do,
we also find it helps generally to make initial contact with
the beneficiaries before anybody else who may be working on the case.
Ryan needs help, to work the case fast,
so pulls in case manager Amy Cox.
-I've got the parents...
-..and I know that she's an only child.
Amy has discovered that Shirley's parents were Clarice Wintersgill
and Herbert Charnock, who married in May 1929.
And with no siblings of Shirley to inherit,
the team need to now go back a generation
and look at her grandparents on her mother's and father's side,
to find her aunts and uncles or their children,
who would be her heirs.
Means we've got Charnock on the paternal side
and Wintersgill on the maternal side,
so I'll be nice and let Coxy choose
whichever side she wants, and then we'll see
how big each side of the family is and then we'll devise stems.
-Um, I'll take that.
With Amy researching Shirley's mother's family,
she quickly discovers Shirley's grandparents were
John Wintersgill and Hannah Smith.
And when she finds them on the census with their children, it looks
like they might have a mountain to climb, in terms of research.
-The maternal side's quite big.
-Is it? How's it looking?
Eight... Well, seven stems.
With a large family looming and seven maternal aunts and uncles
of Shirley to find, Ryan steps in to help.
-OK, so what're we going to do, how should we split this?
-Shall I take Suzanne and you take Camilla?
It's always good for us in the office to have a few people
onboard when we're researching a case, when a family tree does
get a bit out of hand, and we can divide it amongst people in the
office and also if you're stuck on a bit of research, there's someone
else that can just cast fresh eyes
over the research that you've undertaken.
You can find this one, then, because I couldn't find her.
Everyone gets roped into researching one of the seven maternal
aunts or uncles on Shirley's mother's side of the family.
Josh, I'm going to leave this with you.
This is the main tree, this is the other stem.
-Yeah, I'm thinking, leave that page up and open a new one.
Just started doing the first stem of the Wintersgill family, which is
a John Wintersgill. He died in 1964. He had two children.
John's two children were Sidney and Kathleen.
And when they check the military records,
the team discovered something interesting about Sidney.
In 1941, as Britain was about to feel the full force
of Germany on her own territory, Sidney was an RAF pilot.
This was a very much still in the early stages of World War II.
We'd been through the Battle of Britain,
but the country was now coming under prolonged aerial assault
from the Luftwaffe.
It was the Blitz.
As RAF crew in a bomber squadron, Sidney's role was vital.
The Bomber Command Offensive was really the only way that we
could strike back at the heart of Germany.
So there would have been a real sense that Britain
was fighting back,
we weren't just sitting and soaking up the punishment.
Sidney was the co-pilot in a Wellington bomber.
Sidney's job would be very demanding.
Many nights, he would be getting into his aeroplane with his crew
and flying off to raid German ports and German shipping.
He would have been physically very tired, there would have
been the constant threat of German anti-aircraft guns and the
German night fighters,
so you're constantly worrying about being shot at.
And also, when you get back to base, every time you return,
probably some of your squadron mates haven't come back.
Of course, over a long period of time, it is going to
take a psychological toll.
After facing danger so many times, one summer evening,
Sidney's luck ran out.
On the 12th August, 1941, his squadron set out from his RAF base
in Suffolk to bomb German ports.
It's very difficult to know exactly what happened that evening,
but fundamentally, the aircraft didn't come back.
The strong likelihood is that it was shot down by flak,
by anti-aircraft guns, or maybe shot down by a German night fighter.
Sidney's entire crew perished that night,
but their bravery has not been forgotten.
Sidney could be proud of the contribution he made.
He gave his life as one of 56,000 Bomber Command aircrew
who also died in that conflict.
And for much of the war, Bomber Command was the only way that
Britain could take the fight to the enemy.
Back in the office, Amy is checking if Sidney had any children
before he was killed in action.
This is Sidney's death record. That he was the son of the Reverend
John Wintersgill and Ethel A Wintersgill of Lancashire,
so we're going to take from that that he never married,
because if he had a wife, then it would have her listed there.
With Sidney's trail appearing to run to a dead end,
Suzanne's been working up the line of another uncle, Leonard.
So, we found that he passed away, married,
and that he had two children and I've just found addresses
for them and possible telephone numbers,
so I need to give them a call.
-Have you found any heirs yet?
Suzanne makes a call to the first potential heirs,
children of Leonard Wintersgill.
Yeah, he had brothers and sisters, didn't he?
I managed to speak to one of the beneficiary's husbands,
and he confirms that it was the correct family.
So, I've organised for one of our representatives to go round
and see them about 4pm today.
Meanwhile, Ryan is researching Shirley's father's
side of the family.
Her father was Herbert Arthur Charnock,
born in 1900, who Ryan thinks he's found on the 1911 census,
living with his parents and siblings.
We are left with six children on the paternal side living in 1911,
and one of those is the deceased's father, obviously.
Then, we're looking at five stems on the paternal side.
So, it is not too bad.
We just need to find out exactly what happened to each of them.
The 1911 census is one of the key census records we look at.
It has some extra information that the previous ones don't
and also, it gives us how many children the couple have had
and how many have subsequently passed away.
So, it's a snapshot of the family, but, for us, we can go and fill
in some of the gaps on the family tree just by taking a look at it.
Camilla, I might need you to just send a line for me.
But with five potential aunts and uncles of Shirley's to find,
Ryan recruits researcher Camilla to help.
Camilla's looking into the line of Jane Charnock.
Jane is not such a common first name as John, that I'm looking into.
But we're working around it.
Quite often for us, it's better if you have at least one middle name,
so we know who you are!
And something is troubling Ryan about the middle names.
I just need to go back to what we know,
because the dad was Herbert Arthur H Charnock.
I need to just figure out we've got the right census.
It would be unusual for no-one else to have middle names
and then for him to have two middle names.
-If you can go back to stage one...
..just make sure you've definitely got the right census.
Ryan suspects they might have been
looking at the wrong family entirely.
-I'll have a look as well and see if we can see anything else.
Camilla has discovered another Herbert Charnock
on a different census.
Have we got them in 1911?
This Herbert Charnock matches Shirley's father perfectly
as he has the correct two middle names.
We just found a different census entry for the deceased's father.
It's a much smaller family.
The deceased's father was one of three, instead of one of six.
We now know we're on the right track
and it should be a lot easier for us.
From the census,
they can see Shirley's grandparents were actually William Charnock
and Elizabeth Jones.
As well as Shirley's own father, Herbert Charnock,
they had two other children, Marion and Rhoda.
With precious time lost on the wrong family,
Camilla and Ryan will have split the research.
-Camilla, who do you want to look into?
-I like Rhoda.
Ryan makes short work of finding Marion Charnock.
She married Horace Hall. They had a child called Horace.
He was born in 1925, and I think he is still living.
I found out, actually, his address is sheltered accommodation
for senior citizens, so I can give them a call.
The gentleman I spoke to confirmed
that, actually, Horace has passed away.
He couldn't confirm exactly when, but he did confirm that Horace
has a son, so we need to now trace that son.
And Ryan quickly tracks down Horace's son, John Hall,
who would be Shirley's first cousin, once removed.
Hello, is that John? Hiya.
OK. There's usually a couple of companies
that look into these things.
Essentially, it will be down to you...
It appears another company has called John minutes before Ryan has.
It would be the first whiff of competition we've had in this case.
So, now it's really urgent for us
to try and get some people out to see the beneficiaries.
We need someone. It's urgent.
I don't mind sending someone if they're just a couple of hours away.
Yeah, I get that, as well.
We send out a representative to visit the person.
If someone's on holiday, we can know straightaway.
If they've recently moved, again, we can know straightaway.
Ryan finally gets visits booked in and he can breathe a sigh of relief.
We had a slight panic, because we couldn't get
anybody in Lancashire, but we're just sending someone
from a bit further afield
and everybody that's due a visit, will get a visit.
And we've made first contact with everyone
we've spoken to and we've completed
the majority of work into the family tree.
So, it's all been a really good team effort today.
All in all, the team identified ten heirs
on Shirley's mother's side of the family.
But John Hall, Shirley's cousin once removed, is the sole heir
to Shirley's estate on her father's side,
and he was shocked to find out
his small family was larger than he thought.
The day that the heir hunters got in touch with me,
it was an absolute, complete surprise.
Shirley Street is a bit of a mystery to me.
Everything that I've learnt about Shirley Street
has come from the heir hunters.
And, indeed, I wasn't even aware
that my grandmother Marion had a brother,
who Shirley is descended from.
And John is still dazed by the revelations.
The whole experience in the last
three weeks has been quite bizarre.
To think I could be inheriting some money
from someone I didn't even know existed.
And while they didn't sign all the heirs to the estate,
Brian is happy to have helped John Hall receive his inheritance.
Given that he's the sole paternal heir,
and he's due a fifth of the estate,
it's not too bad, and we'll now move forward with that information,
to ensure that everybody who's entitled will receive their share.
Thank you so much for letting me know. Bye.
In terms of research on family history,
I've not done any, whatsoever,
so I haven't actually quite got my head round it yet.
So, the more that emerges,
I think, the more fascinating the whole thing will get.
When heir hunters look into family trees,
they can uncover distressing cases of loss and separation,
tempered with heart-warming stories of generations united
by a skilled but forgotten trade.
The case of George Douglas Clarkson proved to be one such case.
He was born on the 21st of July, 1926, in Castleford, West Yorkshire,
but lived for many years in London
before retiring to Honiton, in Devon.
George Clarkson would have enjoyed living in the area.
It's a beautiful place to be.
Devon itself has the rolling hills, and it's a lovely green area.
His next-door neighbour would have been on hand, all the local people,
the farmers and the community there would have been there
to help with anything he needed.
George passed away on the 24th of November, 2004,
without a will.
But it was almost a decade until his estate was advertised
by the government as being unclaimed.
Hi, that's OK. Are you free to talk?
Case manager Richard Fryer, from heir hunting firm Hoopers,
picked up his case.
It's not unusual for a fair amount of time to lapse
between the person passing away and their estate being advertised
by the Treasury Solicitor.
It should arrive today, hopefully. OK.
But in George's case, there was an unusual circumstance
which led to his estate being advertised so long after his death.
The team discovered he'd shared his property
with a female companion.
There was no romantic involvement,
they just, we think, enjoyed each other's company.
This carried on until George's death in 2004, after which
we understand that the lady was allowed to
live in the property, as long as she maintained its upkeep.
And it was only upon her death some years later that the matter then
had to be referred to the Treasury Solicitor,
as the property was empty.
George had fully owned the property,
so there would be a substantial sum for potential heirs to inherit.
Richard got stuck into working out George's
circumstances in the later years of his life.
Although we'd had indications early on that he was a bachelor,
nevertheless, we had to check the marriage records thoroughly
and we found no trace that the deceased had ever married.
The team couldn't find any children of George's, either.
So with no immediate family to inherit, the team would now need
to find George's parents from his birth certificate,
in order to work out if he had any siblings.
George's parents were Thomas Clarkson and Alice Gilfoyle
who married on Christmas Eve, 1921, in Pontefract.
The team called in Jonathan Wright to help, one of their most
experienced researchers, who's been an heir hunter most of his life.
Fairly early on, we identified in the birth records
a brother of George Clarkson,
Johnny Clarkson, but he didn't actually survive infancy.
So, of course, it meant that chances are,
we would be looking further afield, to more distant,
extended family members.
Today, Jonathan is visiting a registry office, to pick up
records of George's grandparents
which will help them to find any aunts or uncles
who would be in line to inherit.
We found out that the maternal grandparents were
Thomas Arthur Gilfoyle, who married an Ellen in Ireland.
According to the census records,
the Gilfoyle family came over to England in the early 1900s.
Quite typically, Irish families at that particular period of time
do tend to be more likely to be on the large side.
It turned out our original assumptions were correct.
The family was sizeable, to say the least.
Thomas and Ellen Gilfoyle had a total of 11 children.
We knew at this stage that there would be a lot of work ahead of us,
so everyone every last one, however many,
would need to be found and accounted for.
Case manager Abigail Rising
was drafted in to help research the case.
This is one of the biggest family trees that I've ever had to work on.
This culminated in many, many hours of research for us.
-Is there anyone else outstanding?
-I don't think so.
As the team tackled the huge job of contacting heirs,
they looked at one of George's cousins, Catherine Taylor.
Catherine Taylor herself had been married.
She married a Denis Evans in 1936
and, in turn, had three children of her own.
Catherine passed away in 1987,
meaning her three daughters were now beneficiaries.
As the team tried to locate the three potential heirs,
their research revealed that one of them, Kathleen Evans,
had a glamorous job in the 1960s,
as a private chauffeur of luxury cars.
Kathleen and her sisters would be George's cousins, once removed,
and, therefore, heirs to his estate.
But the heir hunters couldn't find any trace of Kathleen,
and when they located her estranged sister, Marion,
they discovered a second astonishing fact about this unusual woman.
Kathleen was about 30
when I last saw her
and she telephoned me to say, where did my parents live?
I always remember because she said, "Where do YOUR parents live now?"
Not "our parents", which seemed a funny thing at the time.
Because they moved and I told her
and I think she stayed overnight that night
and the next morning, I saw her at my parents' house,
and that was the last time I ever saw her.
When you hear from a family member that someone hasn't been
seen for that long, then your heart does start to sink
and you wonder how difficult it will be to find them.
I would love to find her.
I would love to see her. I would love to contact her.
Marion and the heir hunters are hoping someone with
information about Kathleen will someday come forward.
Until then, her inheritance will remain in trust.
Right, and as far as we know, she's the only one.
Other than Kathleen and her sisters,
the team had found an incredible 74 heirs to George's £230,000 estate
on his mother's side alone.
The heir hunters started looking at George's
grandparents on his father's side,
to look for George's aunts and uncles,
with fingers crossed for a small family.
Moving over to the deceased's paternal family,
we identified the birth entry
for his father, Thomas Clarkson, in 1893.
Thomas Clarkson was the son
of Edward Israel Clarkson and Ada Smith.
But the heir hunters' hopes were drastically misplaced.
In total, including the deceased's father, they had nine children.
This is one of these rare cases where all nine children, in fact,
did live well into adulthood.
So, it looked very likely that Thomas Clarkson's eight siblings
potentially could all have married and had descendants.
And when they found the census record for George's grandfather
and uncles, the team came across a fascinating family occupation.
The 1911 census showed us that the deceased's paternal uncle,
John Clarkson, as well as his father, Thomas,
all worked in the local glassworks in Castleford.
Further discoveries on the census also revealed that
one of George's glass-making uncles had gone on to have a family.
The deceased's paternal uncle, Richard Clarkson,
was married to a Mary Shepherd.
They had a son, Richard Roland Clarkson,
who was married to an Olive Liversedge,
and they, in turn, had four children of their own,
who would be cousins, once removed, of the deceased.
One of them, Richard John Clarkson, passed away in 2001,
but he had three children, who would be heirs to George's estate.
Susan McAuley is George's first cousin, twice removed,
who was shocked when she got the call from the heir hunters.
My first thought was, "Wow! Is this real?"
Other family members had had similar phone calls.
The accents of the people who were down in London
and the phone call matched with everything, so I had no doubts
it was genuine and it was just really quite exciting.
Obviously, the first thing you tend to think of is, which you do, is,
"Ooh, how much money am I going to get?"
After that, your thought are that this relative was living
so far away, that I didn't know existed.
George Douglas was an unusual name and it got me
really interested in tracing the ancestry of the family.
The census 1911, where Edward Israel Clarkson was
eight on one of those, he's now 49.
And after some investigating,
Susan and her family have discovered a link to George's past.
Her father also worked in the glassworks of Castleford
and appears to have been the fourth generation of Clarksons to do so.
Glass founder. So we know that comes way back into our history.
His children. Glass... I think that says bottle maker.
The resemblance of the family just goes... I mean, he could be him.
-Dad could be him.
Castleford in West Yorkshire was one of the pioneering
areas of glass bottle production in the late 19th century,
which George's father, uncle and grandfather were all involved in.
Today, Susan, her sister and mother
are visiting a glassworks run by Kate Jones...
How are you doing? Welcome!
..which still follows the traditional method
Susan's great, great grandfather,
Edward Clarkson, would have recognised.
Well, we've been here 20 years
and we've been blowing glass all that time.
And we blow glass as it was made pretty much before
the Industrial Revolution.
How long does it take you to produce something like this?
Something like this?
About... Just over an hour.
Maybe more, maybe less, depending on how well things go.
Because glass-blowing, like any other process,
once you've started, you can't stop and have a cup of tea.
You've got to see it right the way through.
And now, they can actually see a glass bowl made
in the traditional method.
You can feel the heat in here, can't you?
You can feel how warm it is in here.
The glass-makers have got to make sure
they've got enough water on board.
They're wearing quite light, minimal clothing,
to keep their bodies cool.
You get a tolerance, you know. You do get a tolerance.
Basically, if you go to a dinner party,
the glass-makers could hand all the dishes round.
You go to a restaurant, they say the plate's hot,
and we're like, "Give it here!"
Yeah, Stephen's blowing a bowl.
This is the first stages of making a bowl.
-He's starting again.
-He's starting again.
The colour's on the blowing iron
and he's just gathered the glass from the furnace.
He's blocking it and shaping it with paper, to cool the outside,
so when he blows, there's some resistance
and it's cooler at the bottom of the bubble.
So when he blows, the bubble will be thicker at the bottom
and thinner at the sides,
which is where you want it for the structure of your bowl later on.
And, of course, there's one way to get it right,
and there's 1,000 ways to get it wrong.
Twiddling it round, all the time, isn't he?
Got to turn it all the time.
If you stop turning, gravity will do its thing.
-Make the sides go.
-It will just run to earth.
Reconnecting with her family's past
could open a new chapter in Susan's life.
What a rewarding day, coming to see glass being made as it was made
hundreds and hundreds of years ago.
To actually see it going into a furnace,
coming out of the furnace, molten on the end of a rod,
seeing it cooled and seeing them actually blowing the glass,
it's been absolutely amazing.
I would love to have my own furnace and blow some glass.
You never know!
Susan's also thankful for the inheritance
she's receiving from George.
I would have loved to have known
more about George Douglas Clarkson and his life.
We've actually found a photograph on the internet
of the house that he lived in
and I would love to visit that house,
to actually try to get a feeling for the person that he was.
Back in the office, the paternal side of George Clarkson's tree
was being wrapped up.
Upon finishing the paternal side of the family,
we found the total beneficiaries numbered to 16.
This meant the whole case had over 90 beneficiaries in total.
There's still the outstanding case of Kathleen Evans,
George's cousin, once removed.
For now, the search for Kathleen continues.
The competition is on as Heir Hunters tackle a case just in on the government's Bona Vacantia list. As the family tree develops, the search widens to Lancashire and uncovers a family hero who flew illustrious Wellington bombers during WWII raids.
In London, another firm tackle a tricky case, on hold for almost seven years while a personal agreement was honoured. Uncovering a huge family, the team also stumble across a mysterious family disappearance in the swinging sixties and an heir discovers more about her family's trade in the artisan world of glass blowing.