Greatrex/Dick-Larkam Heir Hunters


Greatrex/Dick-Larkam

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Heir Hunters spend their lives tracking down the families of people who died without leaving a will.

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They hand over thousands to long-lost relatives who had no idea they were in line for a windfall.

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Could they be knocking at your door?

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On today's programme - the Heir Hunters uncover

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the heart-breaking story of a family separated for over 30 years.

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If he was alive, I'd probably walk past him on the street and not even know who he was.

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And the tale of an 18th-century sea captain, who changed the lives of thousands of young children.

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Walking each day to his business in London, he past dung hills along

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the way, on which he noticed there were the bodies of discarded babies.

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Some of them still alive.

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Plus, how you may be entitled to inherit some of the unclaimed estates held by the Treasury.

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Could thousands of pounds be heading your way?

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The vast majority of people in the UK don't make a will.

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If the authorities can't find any obvious relatives,

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the money they leave behind goes straight to the Government.

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Last year, a staggering £18 million went to the Treasury in unclaimed estates.

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That's where the Heir Hunters step in.

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Over 30 companies make it their job to track down the rightful heirs to this money.

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As they take a commission, it's a lucrative business.

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Last year alone, they returned over £6.5 million to the rightful heirs.

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Fraser and Fraser is one of the oldest firms of heir hunters in Britain.

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It's run by Andrew, Charles and Neil Fraser.

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George R Galloway.

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Who's got the marriages?

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Their team have been reuniting heirs with unexpected windfalls for over 30 years.

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Since they began, they've assisted 50,000 heirs,

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who've inherited a whopping sum of over £100 million.

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It's 7am. The team at Fraser and Fraser are scouring the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates,

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which was published this morning.

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I'm on the ball this morning.

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We've got something in Northwood.

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One name is very unusual and has taken their interest. But they've no idea

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if there is any value to the case.

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We could have a look at this estate of Peter William Greatrex.

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Based down in Norwood, and at the moment, I can't find an address for him.

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I've got no idea whether it's worth £1 million or worth £5,000.

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Peter Greatrex died in North London on 29th September, 2008 at the age of 57.

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Originally from Birmingham, he'd worked for Severn Trent Water for most of his career.

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A colleague who worked with Peter for many years was Bill Scribbins.

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I always found Peter a very applicable guy to get on with.

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He was very, very...always turned out smart.

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Always wanted the best of everything.

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He worked hard and with dedication to get that.

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But no, he was a generally nice guy.

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I'm sad to hear the news that he'd passed away, to be perfectly honest.

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As the authorities have been unable to find any family

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for Peter Greatrex, his estate is unclaimed and held by the Treasury.

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-Right, Northwood.

-Case manager Marcus Herbert takes on the investigation.

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It's an unusual enough name. I think it could stand out.

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As they don't know whether Peter had a property, they can't estimate

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the value of the estate to know whether it's a case worth working.

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Not knowing where Peter lived creates other problems too.

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Without an address, we can't do inquiries with all the neighbours and things,

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which is the basic stuff that we do to start with.

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A lot of people who distance themselves from their family or don't have any family,

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the closest people to them will be neighbours who pop their head round the door and see how they are.

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The information they get from neighbours is usually what kick-starts an investigation.

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The team are currently stumped for leads. To get the address,

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they must get their hands on the death certificate.

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This is where the team of travelling Heir Hunters comes in. Across the country

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are a network of senior researchers, who are ready to go wherever the hunt takes them.

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They collect the vital birth, death and marriage certificates,

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and interview people who knew the deceased, as they hunt for clues.

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But their most important job is finding and signing up heirs.

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Ewart Lindsay has been one of Fraser's senior researchers for over 12 years.

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Based near London, he's off to the Hillingdon register office to get more leads on Peter Greatrex.

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Greatrex. It's an unusual name.

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That makes our research slightly easier.

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It's just, in terms of research, it's just good, you know.

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As Ewart heads off to collect the death certificate, the office hunt for birth records.

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While the unusual name means there aren't too many

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Peter Greatrexes to search through,

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all the ones they found are coming up around Birmingham, not London, where he died.

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But if they're not to miss anything, their research must be thorough.

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I'm doing it slowly, because the name's Greatrex.

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There are variations.

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It makes sense to just quickly run through the variation names as well,

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so you're not having to do the search twice, just in case.

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As Dave and Marcus try to piece together parts of the family jigsaw,

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they still have no idea if the case is of any value.

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Ewart Lindsay is on the road at the moment. He's going to get the death

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of Peter Greatrex from Hillingdon Register Office.

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From that, that will confirm the date of birth, which we know anyway.

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But that will also tell us, hopefully, where he lived.

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Hopefully, in a 26 room-mansion worth about 6 million quid and then we'll be laughing.

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Not quite a mansion, but Ewart does have interesting news about where Peter lived.

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-As we know, he died on 29th September, 2008.

-Yeah.

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He was a project manager.

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-Yeah.

-Ahh!

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He was of 26...

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-Yes?

-..Grazebrook Croft.

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That's Birmingham, West Midlands.

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How come he died in Hillingdon?

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That's very strange! Very strange.

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Armed with the address, the office make quick work of establishing

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that he did not in fact own his own property.

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But whilst that usually means his estate won't be very large,

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something else has caught their eye - his occupation.

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What he project managed, I don't know. But that might explain why he was down in London,

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when on the death, his address was given as one up in Birmingham.

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But the fact he's a project manager for something indicates that he had a fairly good job.

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In fact, Peter was responsible for managing major water projects.

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One of his most important was undertaken with colleague Bill Scribbins.

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We were both selected to go out with Anneka Rice on the Romanian challenge appeal.

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I did, I think I did, four trips out to Romania with Peter.

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Peter was leading the projects at the time,

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with us ably supporting him.

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In 1990, they helped to renovate

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a dilapidated orphanage, home to 600 neglected children.

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Peter led the team of plumbers.

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-Where? Which way?

-There! There!

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This way? OK.

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This is Raul, who's deaf and dumb. By using Raul and his knowledge,

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he's been able to show us the water system for the building outside.

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Without his help, we wouldn't be able to find a lot of them.

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He really, really slung his heart and soul into that.

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He really wanted to change the conditions for the children out there.

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THEY SING

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You know, to put everything together as we did, and as Peter put together

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the organisational things that we needed was actually a massive task

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on its own, you know.

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Peter's good job leads the Heir Hunters to believe that even though he may not have owned his own home,

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it's likely he was well paid,

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so may well have had savings or investments.

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But they have no way of confirming their suspicions.

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Pursuing the case is a bit of a gamble.

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They don't know whether it will be profitable for the company or not.

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It's not a decision Marcus can make alone.

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The only thing I think there could be money in, he was described on the death as a project manager.

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-It's up to you. It's your call, mate.

-Project manager?

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It could mean anything, couldn't it? Do you wanna go for it? We might as well.

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They won't know the actual value till they put in a claim.

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But from the little information they have, it seems like a good bet.

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He had a good job, by the sounds of it. We think there's a bit of money in it. We're going to go for it.

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The team can now really hit the research.

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I'm just going back from '51 back to see if I can find a marriage.

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One of the first things is to establish who his parents are, in order to find out

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if they had any other children, who would be brothers and sisters to the deceased.

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Bingo, I think I've got it. There we go. Here we are.

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The father's name. We know the mother's maiden name is McKenna.

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The district is Birmingham.

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This is just the reference details.

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We're gonna order the certificate and we know it's in March 1943.

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I just need to find that information.

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But not all the information they need in is their databases.

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Now they have the names of the parents, Dave needs to look elsewhere for more clues.

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Dave is hoping to find a will for one of Peter Greatrex's parents.

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Just round the corner is the principal probate registry, which has a record of all the wills

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and letters of administration for every estate administered in England and Wales since 1858.

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More often than not, these documents will name all the children,

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so it could be a short cut to Peter's brothers and sisters.

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Right, I've just obtained the letters of administration on the estate of William Arthur...

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Greatrex, who is the father of the deceased.

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The information is the letters of administration were taken out by both the deceased,

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Peter William Greatrex and his sister, Mrs Shirley Doris Riley.

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Peter's father's will has been a great help in getting the family tree started.

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Peter's parents, William Greatrex and Doreen McKenna had three other children,

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Arthur, Shirley and Doreen.

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Arthur died as an infant, but it seems Shirley had a son, Peter,

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who'd be a nephew to the deceased.

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But Marcus is cautious about rushing ahead and contacting him, as he may not end up being an heir.

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He may be a nephew, but the team haven't yet ruled out closer family.

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The deceased himself, Peter William Greatrex, could've had children.

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We may not be looking at his brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces.

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We might be looking closer than that.

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Only if they find and sign up the right heirs will the case actually be worth anything to the company.

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Marcus's hunch about closer family looks like it may be well-founded.

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Possible kids before the marriage of the deceased and his wife.

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He's not sure if he's actually found some kids, or it's a coincidence.

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He's just trying to sort it out now.

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Your guess is as good as mine.

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But there's a long way to go to sort this case out,

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as the children and the marriage are about to make the family tree a whole lot more complicated.

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If he didn't divorce her, we need to find her.

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Piecing together separated families is the daily work of the Heir Hunters.

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But when they came across the case of Julia Dick-Larkam, they were to uncover a tragic family history.

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It sounds horrendous, but he gave away four daughters

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and walked away and started another life without thinking about them.

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In June 1999, the name of Julia Dick-Larkam

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appeared on the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates.

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Julia died alone in 1998, aged 83.

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She outlived her husband by 25 years.

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And they'd never had children.

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She didn't leave a will, but she did leave a house in Brent, North London

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as part of an estate worth around £180,000.

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Case manager David Pacifico took up the challenge of trying to trace any living heirs.

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We thought very much it was a very good case.

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Firstly, because of the value, which is estimated at £180,000.

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Number two, the name Dick-Larkam.

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Although a married name, her maiden name was shown as Marklove.

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It was a name we could research into, hopefully quite quickly.

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But for all of his 38 years of genealogical experience,

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as he began work on the case, things weren't quite as he'd anticipated.

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According to her death, her maiden name was Marklove. Therefore, we assumed, as in 99% of cases,

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that was her maiden name and the name under which she was born.

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But we, nonetheless, didn't find a birth under Marklove.

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Although it was the maiden name given on her marriage certificate,

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David couldn't find a full birth certificate for a Julia Marklove,

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which was very unusual and raised his suspicions about this name.

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We searched for the birth of Julia Marklove, but couldn't find it

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and this is when we had real doubts whether or not it was the name she was born under.

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Then we contacted the General Register Office, in Southport,

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who identified the birth from a special register

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and found out that she was given a new identity by the Thomas Coram Foundation.

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Julia Marklove was in fact born Grace Constance Carvell.

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But because she was illegitimate, she'd been given away at birth,

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and taken in by a charity dedicated to bringing up unwanted and abandoned babies.

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The Foundling Hospital, in London, dates back to 1739.

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Horrified by the poverty on London's streets, philanthropist Thomas Coram

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set up the Thomas Coram Foundation, England's oldest children's charity.

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Our founder was a sea captain. And on retiring, or so he thought,

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to Rotherhithe

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and walking each day to his business in London, he passed dung hills along the way,

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on which he noticed there were the bodies of discarded babies.

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Some of them still alive.

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There was no provision at all for discarded children, foundlings.

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He decided, as a one-man effort, to do something about it.

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It took 17 years of campaigning by Thomas Coram

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before George II granted a royal charter

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for the establishment of a foundling hospital, with the first foundlings being admitted in 1741.

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But the hospital couldn't take every child that, in desperation, was brought in.

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So they set up a harsh system of admission.

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Women would line up with their infants and they would be...

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passed to one of two queues - the girl's queue, the boy's queue.

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They'd dip their hand into a bag and if they drew out a black ball,

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they were sent away.

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If they drew out a white ball, the child was admitted, subject to a medical inspection.

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If they pulled out a red ball, they were put on a provisional list,

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which, should one of the white ball babies fail the medical,

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a red ball might take its place.

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It was, quite literally, a lottery.

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Even for the lucky mothers like Amy Carvell, saying goodbye to their children was still not easy.

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Often, as a parting gesture, they'd wrap modest knick-knacks in their baby's clothes as mementos.

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These items might be little labels, little hearts.

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A padlock, a key, a coin.

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We call them tokens today, but when they're actually noted

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in the minutes, they are called "remarkable things."

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These objects were pinned in to what is called the billet, which essentially, was the admission form

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on which the child's sex, general health and the items of clothing

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that the mother had actually provided with her baby were recorded

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and we have them on display here,

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and I challenge anybody to walk past them

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without thinking that each one of these represents a ruptured life.

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Whilst it would have been heart-breaking to give up a child,

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in 1915, Grace's desperate mother, Amy,

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would have been grateful when her baby was accepted.

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On arrival at the foundling hospital, Grace Carvell would have been baptised.

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There was a sense that the child was literally being saved.

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A new name was given to bring a new beginning

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and extinguish their past life.

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Grace's name was changed to Julia Marklove.

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In the hunt to find heirs to Julia's estate, David Pacifico

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had now uncovered her sad beginnings as a foundling and, crucially for him, her real birth name.

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Now, he could move the research forward.

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Once we knew the person was taken in by the Thomas Coram Foundation

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and therefore given a new identity, we contacted

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the foundation and spoke to a very nice lady there, who went through

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the records and informed us she was born as Grace Constance Carvell,

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on 9th April 1915, which ties up exactly to the date of birth

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shown on the death certificate...

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..and where she was born as well.

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And who she was the daughter of. In this case, Amy Isabel Carvell, which looked like an illegitimate birth.

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From records kept at the foundling hospital, it seems Julia's father had disappeared, leaving her mother,

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Amy, aged 20, with a baby and no prospect of marriage.

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It was then that Julia's ties to her family were severed, as she became a foundling.

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It looks like she was admitted to the foundation on 27th May, 1915,

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which is only when she was only about a month or so old.

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Julia went on to spend her whole childhood

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in the care of the hospital, not leaving until she was 14.

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Like Julia, John Caldecott also spent the first 14 years of his life at the foundling hospital.

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By the time he was admitted, in 1936, it had moved to Berkhamsted.

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He remembers what it was like to be a foundling.

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That gives you the feeling of rejection,

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which is difficult to explain,

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but it does tend to stay with you for many years.

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His mother lost her job in a laundry and couldn't face bringing up her baby in a work house,

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so just like Julia's mother, her only option was to hand her child over to the hospital.

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We have to understand that even in the 1700s, right the way to the late '40s,

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early '50s, for a girl to have a baby

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when she was not married was a dreadful thing

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and it was a stigma, not only on the mother, but also on the child.

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And it is that stigma that stuck with the children in the foundling hospital.

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We didn't know who our parents were.

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We knew that we'd been given away, and this is where part of the guilt comes from,

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that it was our fault that we were,

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as we were, in the foundling hospital.

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The regime was strict and life at the hospital was far from luxurious.

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I always feel that we were hungry. We never seemed to have enough food.

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Perhaps that's no different from children in normal life.

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So... We were cared for.

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We were clothed. The clothes were of a good quality.

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What was missing, of course, was the family love.

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There was no family love, and we...

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we knew that we had no families.

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The children quite often used to dream of their parents coming,

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or their mother, in particular, coming and collecting them, but of course, it very rarely happened.

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Julia's mother, sadly, never came back for her.

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But it was through Amy Carvell that David Pacifico hoped to find living heirs.

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It was necessary to try and identify whether or not her mother had any other children.

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In other words, brothers or sisters or half-brothers and sisters to the deceased.

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That was the next important step.

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Do me a favour, can you find this marriage? Grace Carvell

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to a William George Dick-Larkam.

0:23:000:23:02

Finding out her mother's name was key to unlocking the family tree.

0:23:020:23:07

The information given helped us greatly to, sort of, get on to the family, because we could then

0:23:070:23:13

identify the birth and from that identify, whether the mother had any other children.

0:23:130:23:19

Amy Carvell was the mother of Julia Marklove, born as Grace Carvell.

0:23:190:23:24

She had had a child, Audrey, two years prior to Julia.

0:23:240:23:29

Six years after giving Julia up to the hospital, Amy had a relationship

0:23:290:23:34

with Harry Kynman-Baker and had two further children,

0:23:340:23:37

June and Kathleen, so Julia in fact had three sisters.

0:23:370:23:42

June's daughter, Nina,

0:23:420:23:44

a niece to Julia and a living heir,

0:23:440:23:46

was tracked down. It was then a case

0:23:460:23:48

of breaking the news.

0:23:480:23:50

It's a case, like some others I've dealt with, where...

0:23:500:23:54

you're telling somebody that their mother, or grandmother,

0:23:540:23:57

had another child that they weren't aware of.

0:23:570:24:01

You know, it obviously changes their whole view of the family,

0:24:010:24:06

and suddenly, the history is changed.

0:24:060:24:08

Nina Atkin was one of five heirs that the team eventually found.

0:24:080:24:14

She not only got a share of Julia's £180,000 estate,

0:24:140:24:18

but also discovered the life of an aunt she never knew she'd had.

0:24:180:24:22

After visiting her aunt's home,

0:24:220:24:24

Nina found an intriguing bit of paper that revealed that Julia had,

0:24:240:24:29

during her life, been trying to track down her mother, Amy Carvell.

0:24:290:24:34

It was interesting that in the house, just in the kitchen drawer,

0:24:340:24:38

was this list, with a note from her friend, called Peggy.

0:24:380:24:41

She said, "I thought you might like to have these, not too many, love Peggy."

0:24:410:24:44

And a list of Carvells, with their addresses and telephone numbers.

0:24:440:24:49

There is some writing next to one of them. So we don't know if she tried to phone them or contact them.

0:24:490:24:54

Was she trying to find her mother, or did she think she had siblings?

0:24:540:24:57

Did she know she was one of four?

0:24:570:25:00

Thank you.

0:25:010:25:03

Today, she's visiting the Coram Foundation to find out if her aunt,

0:25:030:25:07

Julia, had ever managed to make contact with Amy Carvell, her birth mother, and Nina's grandmother.

0:25:070:25:13

In 1987, that would be the first time she was told her original name.

0:25:130:25:18

She didn't make any comment about that, that anybody could remember?

0:25:180:25:22

No. By that stage, she was Julia, that was who she was.

0:25:220:25:27

So that was the first time she would have been told that she was Grace Constance Carvell.

0:25:270:25:33

But, obviously, she was interested in the Carvell

0:25:330:25:36

and tried to find out whether there might be some Carvells she was related to.

0:25:360:25:40

It looks as though she might have been in...

0:25:400:25:42

Yes. She's looking in the North London area, the West London area.

0:25:420:25:49

It looks like this is very different handwriting to this. So...

0:25:490:25:54

-I just imagine that Grace perhaps wrote these in.

-That's possible.

0:25:540:25:58

But that wasn't the first time the Coram Foundation and Julia

0:25:580:26:02

had been in contact regarding the identity of her mother.

0:26:020:26:05

What she was told after that, I've got the letter she was sent in 1953.

0:26:050:26:10

"Dear Miss Marklove," because she was Julia Marklove to us.

0:26:100:26:14

"It's nearly a year since you applied for information about your mother and I'm writing to tell you the results

0:26:140:26:18

"of our enquiries, which I am afraid have proved fruitless."

0:26:180:26:21

"Our representative, who made enquiries, did succeed in tracing

0:26:210:26:24

"the fact that your mother married in 1919, when she was 25 years old,

0:26:240:26:29

"but all further enquiries to find her under her married name have, I regret to say, been unsuccessful.

0:26:290:26:33

"Our representative did succeed, however, in tracing a relative of your mother,

0:26:330:26:38

"but he said he'd not seen her, or heard from her, since 1928.

0:26:380:26:43

"He had no idea of her present whereabouts and thought

0:26:430:26:45

"she might even be abroad."

0:26:450:26:47

Julia's last visit to the Coram Foundation in search of her family

0:26:470:26:52

was in 1987, three years after her mother had died.

0:26:520:26:57

Incredibly, Julia wasn't the only one of her family to have been sent to an institution.

0:27:000:27:05

Nina's mother, June,

0:27:050:27:07

was one of Amy's two later daughters with Harry Kynman-Baker.

0:27:070:27:10

Both June and Kathleen were sent to a Barnardo's home,

0:27:100:27:14

aged seven and two, when their father died.

0:27:140:27:17

When we heard there were two other sisters,

0:27:170:27:21

I automatically thought it was a similar scenario, something had happened

0:27:210:27:25

to their father, and Amy found herself in a similar situation twice in her life.

0:27:250:27:31

It seems that Julia's mother, Amy Carvell, had given up all four of her children.

0:27:310:27:38

It's very difficult, when there is no benefit system, to be able to bring your children up,

0:27:380:27:44

you know?

0:27:440:27:45

How would she have managed?

0:27:450:27:49

It sounds horrendous that you gave away four daughters

0:27:490:27:53

and walked away and started another life without thinking about them.

0:27:530:27:57

But we don't know that.

0:27:570:27:59

And I'm not going to judge.

0:27:590:28:02

I can't judge.

0:28:030:28:06

Although Julia Marklove had been given away as a child and had had

0:28:060:28:10

sad and humble beginnings, it seems her later life was very different.

0:28:100:28:15

Nina visited her aunt Julia's house shortly after finding out about her death.

0:28:150:28:20

It was a lovely house, backed on to a school.

0:28:200:28:24

And although the house had been stripped, there are lists of

0:28:240:28:28

what was in her house and things that had come from all over the world,

0:28:280:28:33

from Russia, from Japan, from China.

0:28:330:28:36

It would have been lovely to see the furniture.

0:28:360:28:39

But there was a diary that she had hand written that I found,

0:28:390:28:43

and a fur coat and little bits of some jewellery left,

0:28:430:28:47

and the diary is about a cruise that leaves Southampton

0:28:470:28:51

and goes to Cairo and the Bay of Biscay and Ceylon,

0:28:510:28:56

and all the things that she did while she was on that cruise.

0:28:560:29:01

She's having a lovely time.

0:29:010:29:03

She had a great life.

0:29:030:29:05

A very harrowing beginning, but what a great end.

0:29:050:29:08

For every case that is solved, there are still thousands that stubbornly remain a mystery.

0:29:170:29:21

Currently, over 3,000 names drawn from across the country are on the Treasury's unsolved case list.

0:29:210:29:28

Their assets will be kept for up to 30 years, in the hope that eventually,

0:29:310:29:35

someone will remember and come forward to claim their inheritance.

0:29:350:29:39

With estates valued from £5,000 to millions of pounds, the rightful heirs are out there somewhere.

0:29:410:29:47

Today, we've got two cases Heir Hunters have failed to solve.

0:29:470:29:51

Could you be the key?

0:29:510:29:53

Could you be in line for a payout?

0:29:530:29:56

Rita Kathleen Bartley of Selby, North Yorkshire, passed away on 15th November, 2005.

0:30:000:30:07

In the search to find her heirs, all leads have come to nothing.

0:30:070:30:11

Do you know anything about her?

0:30:110:30:13

Could you be a long-lost relation?

0:30:130:30:16

Sylvia May Cherrett died in Barking, Essex, on 22nd September, 2005.

0:30:160:30:21

Does her name mean anything to you?

0:30:210:30:24

Could she be your long-lost aunt, or cousin?

0:30:240:30:26

Could you be the one person entitled to her legacy?

0:30:260:30:30

With the estates of Sylvia Cherrett and Rita Bartley and hundreds of others laying unclaimed every year,

0:30:320:30:37

only new information from you can help their money reach entitled family members.

0:30:370:30:42

Unclaimed estates, which appear on the Treasury's list, often end up

0:30:500:30:54

being inherited by distant family, who didn't really know the deceased.

0:30:540:30:59

Usually, close family, such as wives and children, are either aware of

0:30:590:31:03

the death or have been easily found by the authorities. But not always.

0:31:030:31:08

Sometimes close family are, sadly, not close at all.

0:31:080:31:12

-You can pick her up from '79 onwards.

-Yep.

0:31:120:31:17

That will sort those two out.

0:31:170:31:19

Since this morning, the team have been investigating the estate of

0:31:190:31:23

project manager Peter Greatrex, who died on 29th September, 2008.

0:31:230:31:29

My abiding memories of Peter is he was genuine,

0:31:290:31:32

he wanted to help people, erm,

0:31:320:31:36

genuine in all that he did. He wanted to do his best out in Romania.

0:31:360:31:40

Definitely wanted to do his best for the children out there and for the poor people out there.

0:31:400:31:45

And I think generally in his job, he wanted to please people, you know?

0:31:450:31:50

So that will always be a lasting memory of Peter for me.

0:31:500:31:53

The team don't know how much the estate is worth, but as Peter had a good job,

0:31:530:31:58

they're taking a chance on pursuing the case. For most of the morning,

0:31:580:32:02

they thought the family tree was straightforward, but they've just discovered

0:32:020:32:06

that Peter had been married and may have had children, which will change everything.

0:32:060:32:11

Possible kids before the marriage of the deceased and his wife, but he's not sure whether

0:32:110:32:17

he's found some kids, or it's just a coincidence! He's just trying to sort it out now.

0:32:170:32:21

Your guess is as good as mine!

0:32:210:32:23

My thoughts on this is...

0:32:240:32:27

we don't know whether they're divorced or not.

0:32:270:32:30

So we don't know what the value is. If they're not divorced,

0:32:300:32:34

we'll have to sign her and that daughter up, aren't we?

0:32:340:32:37

The daughter may not be entitled if it's a modest estate, then it will just be the wife.

0:32:370:32:42

If there's no divorce. That's my thought. Yeah.

0:32:420:32:45

They'd previously established

0:32:450:32:47

that Peter had a brother,

0:32:470:32:48

two sisters

0:32:480:32:49

and at least one nephew,

0:32:490:32:51

all of whom, if living,

0:32:510:32:52

could have been potential heirs.

0:32:520:32:55

But they've now discovered that

0:32:550:32:57

Peter married a Shirley Hanson,

0:32:570:32:59

who, it appears, is alive and living in Birmingham.

0:32:590:33:03

As a spouse, she would have the greatest entitlement,

0:33:030:33:06

but if they're divorced,

0:33:060:33:07

she has none. If together, they had any children,

0:33:070:33:11

which is now looking likely,

0:33:110:33:13

they would also be heirs.

0:33:130:33:14

Trying to work all this out is testing their skills to the maximum.

0:33:140:33:18

We're going to get Bob Barrett to go over and see if he can make contact

0:33:180:33:22

with the family, the wife/ex-wife of the deceased, plus the daughter

0:33:220:33:29

and two sons, brackets - possibly adopted sons. I can't be bothered with this, this is too complicated.

0:33:290:33:36

As Marcus doesn't have a phone number for Shirley Greatrex,

0:33:370:33:41

he asks travelling Heir Hunter and ex-police officer Bob Barrett to go to Birmingham and visit her address.

0:33:410:33:47

As he heads up the motorway, Bob tries to get his head

0:33:470:33:50

around the family, as everything rests on this meeting.

0:33:500:33:53

The first thing I'm going to need to do when I see Mrs Greatrex

0:33:540:33:58

is find out whether or not she was divorced from her husband.

0:33:580:34:05

Because if she was divorced from her husband, then she won't inherit anything,

0:34:050:34:10

and her daughter will be inheriting. I'm also going to need to establish

0:34:100:34:16

whether or not the two children she had by a previous marriage

0:34:160:34:19

were adopted by our deceased, Mr Greatrex.

0:34:190:34:24

As an adopted person, you assume the same rights as a blood relative.

0:34:240:34:29

Peter Greatrex's wife, Shirley,

0:34:310:34:33

has at least three children - Anthony, Steven and Samantha.

0:34:330:34:38

The two boys, born prior to Shirley and Peter's marriage,

0:34:380:34:42

have taken the name Greatrex, so may have been adopted.

0:34:420:34:45

Samantha, born just after the marriage,

0:34:450:34:48

looks to be their only child together.

0:34:480:34:51

Close-kin cases which involve wives and children aren't very common.

0:34:510:34:57

Most of the time, we're dealing with far more distant relatives,

0:34:570:35:02

cousins, or cousins once removed.

0:35:020:35:06

It's not rare to deal with a closer relative, but it's a bit more unusual.

0:35:060:35:11

You can't help wondering why...

0:35:110:35:14

why people lose touch. Why would a father and daughter lose touch?

0:35:140:35:20

You wonder, why doesn't she know that her father's died?

0:35:200:35:23

So... It's a bit sad, really, that families lose touch.

0:35:230:35:30

What Shirley can tell Bob about the family relationships will change the inheritance significantly.

0:35:330:35:39

There's a possibility of four heirs,

0:35:390:35:43

or three heirs, or one heir.

0:35:430:35:47

So, it's a bit of suck it and see, really.

0:35:470:35:51

The nephew they found earlier in the day will now not be entitled.

0:35:530:35:57

But who is depends on whether there were adoptions or a divorce.

0:35:570:36:02

-Hello, Mrs Greatrex?

-Yes, it is.

0:36:040:36:06

My name is Bob Barrett. I'm from a firm called Fraser and Fraser.

0:36:060:36:09

We're probate researchers. We trace people that we think are heirs

0:36:090:36:13

to money that's been left by people who've died without leaving a will.

0:36:130:36:17

-Can I get a few details from you?

-Certainly.

-Thanks ever so much.

0:36:170:36:20

The heirs to Peter Greatrex's estate are hopefully about to be revealed.

0:36:240:36:29

Now I know that Mr and Mrs Greatrex divorced in 1979, 1980, thereabouts.

0:36:320:36:39

I also know that...

0:36:390:36:42

Mr Greatrex never adopted his wife's two children by a previous marriage.

0:36:420:36:50

So there is only...

0:36:500:36:52

..one heir to Mr Greatrex's estate, which is his daughter, Samantha.

0:36:530:36:59

As is often the way, it just takes one visit to the right person

0:36:590:37:04

to quickly solve what had seemed like quite a complicated case.

0:37:040:37:08

It's a nice result. We've been running around on this one all day.

0:37:100:37:13

And finally, we've got it down to the person

0:37:130:37:17

that we know is entitled, which is - not blowing me own trumpet here - but it's the person I expected would be.

0:37:170:37:24

But whilst it's good news to have found an heir to Peter Greatrex's estate,

0:37:260:37:30

hearing about her dad's death has been difficult for Samantha.

0:37:300:37:34

Peter Greatrex divorced Samantha's mum when Sam was only a baby.

0:37:340:37:38

Now in her 30s,

0:37:380:37:40

and with a family of her own, sadly, she has only seen him twice since.

0:37:400:37:45

I wasn't quite sure what to feel.

0:37:450:37:48

I know that he's my father, but I know nothing about him.

0:37:480:37:52

So it was strange that there was a loss. I felt a loss.

0:37:520:37:57

It was a loss for somebody that I've never known.

0:37:570:38:01

So although you've lost somebody who was a part of you,

0:38:010:38:06

you know nothing about them, and...

0:38:060:38:10

that's quite difficult.

0:38:100:38:12

I always thought I'd get the chance to at least say goodbye.

0:38:140:38:21

That sounds a bit strange,

0:38:210:38:24

saying goodbye to somebody that you don't know.

0:38:240:38:27

Regardless of whatever happened, that's my father,

0:38:270:38:32

and, erm...

0:38:320:38:35

I'm a part of him.

0:38:350:38:36

Problem is, the old pipe work...

0:38:410:38:43

One of the only memories she has of him

0:38:430:38:46

comes from a fluke glimpse

0:38:460:38:48

on a television programme.

0:38:480:38:50

I don't know whether I was reading a magazine.

0:38:500:38:52

I wasn't really paying attention to the programme, and then I heard this voice,

0:38:520:38:57

and something made me look up at the TV, and when I looked, my mum says, "That's your dad."

0:38:570:39:03

When I looked, it was my dad, and it was like, "Well, what's he doing on the telly?"

0:39:030:39:09

Then I took notice and saw what it was about.

0:39:090:39:13

As a teenager, I was quite angry.

0:39:130:39:15

I thought, "What's he doing over there, helping kids

0:39:150:39:19

"that don't belong to him, when he couldn't be bothered to help me?"

0:39:190:39:24

As an adult, I realise it was a really good thing that he was doing.

0:39:240:39:28

Samantha's mother has given her the few pictures she has of Peter.

0:39:290:39:34

The recent news has got Samantha thinking about

0:39:350:39:38

her relationship with her dad.

0:39:380:39:40

It's sad really, isn't it?

0:39:420:39:46

And the fact that there's not one picture of me with him,

0:39:460:39:50

not one, that's sad.

0:39:500:39:53

And these are from years ago, like 30-odd years ago.

0:39:550:40:01

So, you know...

0:40:010:40:03

If he was alive, I'd probably walk past him on the street and not even know who he was.

0:40:080:40:15

That's a sad fact.

0:40:150:40:18

But Samantha will now inherit

0:40:210:40:23

all the estate her dad left behind,

0:40:230:40:26

which amounts to around £6,000.

0:40:260:40:29

The first thing I have to do is put a memorial in place for my dad.

0:40:330:40:39

I'm not sure what that will be,

0:40:390:40:42

but that's the first thing that I have to do.

0:40:420:40:46

And then, after that, who knows?

0:40:460:40:50

I don't know.

0:40:500:40:51

I haven't thought about it really.

0:40:510:40:54

I just know that I need to put a memorial in place for him.

0:40:540:40:59

Cremated at the Lodge Hill Cemetery, near Birmingham,

0:41:050:41:08

Samantha goes to pay her respects to her dad.

0:41:080:41:11

I just feel that it's something... I need to come here.

0:41:140:41:17

I needed to come here to see.

0:41:170:41:19

I just...

0:41:260:41:28

It's just something I had to do.

0:41:300:41:33

And I've done it now.

0:41:330:41:35

Coming here, it's strengthened my beliefs in being a parent,

0:41:410:41:46

that being there and seeing my kids grow is one of the most

0:41:460:41:51

precious things in the world, and it also makes me thankful to my mum

0:41:510:41:57

for sticking around and putting up with my behaviour

0:41:570:41:59

as a child growing up.

0:41:590:42:01

She, in turn, gets the joys of now being a grandmother...

0:42:010:42:05

..which is something that my father not only missed out on my life,

0:42:070:42:11

but he also missed out on my children's lives too.

0:42:110:42:14

I'm glad that I know where he is.

0:42:180:42:22

For the first time in my life, I actually know where my father is.

0:42:220:42:26

I can come here when I choose to come here

0:42:280:42:30

and spend as little, or as much time here, as I wish to.

0:42:300:42:35

And, erm, he's there.

0:42:350:42:38

If you would like advice about building a family tree,

0:42:440:42:47

or making a will, go to bbc.co.uk.

0:42:470:42:51

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0:43:030:43:07

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0:43:070:43:10

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