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Heir hunters spend their lives tracking down the families of people who have died without a will.
They hand over thousands of pounds to long-lost relatives
who had no idea they were in line for a windfall.
Could they be knocking at your door?
On today's programme:
the heir hunters encounter a man who left £35,000 but spent his last 40 years sleeping rough.
I don't think he wanted any assistance, to be honest.
I think he was content in what he was doing.
And an entire office work against the clock to find heirs for a valuable estate.
It's not yet quarter past eight, so if it is the right family
and it's all correct, then that's not bad going.
And we'll have details of some of the hundreds of unclaimed estates.
Could you be in line for a windfall?
More than two-thirds of people die without leaving a will.
If they have no obvious relatives, their money goes to the government
who last year made a staggering £18 million from unclaimed estates.
That's where the heir hunters step in.
Hi, I'm Paul Matthews from Frazer and Frazer.
There are more than 30 heir hunting companies who, for a share of
the estate, make it their business to track down the rightful kin.
Last year, they claimed back £6.5 million for unsuspecting heirs
who otherwise would have gone empty-handed.
Our job is incredibly exciting.
We're tracing family trees, delving back into people's history, delving
back in time, looking at the hidden mysteries around people's families.
Frazer and Frazer are one of the UK's largest heir-hunting companies.
This morning, they've been looking over the government list of people
who have died without a will which has just been published.
And although it's only 7.15am, they're already working a case
that's grabbed their attention - that of Irene Shepherd.
They believe she owned and sold a property in Worcestershire worth an estimated £200,000.
As the sale was only four years ago, most of this money could still be in her estate.
It looks as though we've found the deceased birth and deceased parents.
We have their names. For the moment, we're just searching for their
deaths and that'll hopefully give us their dates of birth, and from that,
-we'll get up and running.
-With a case of such value, the team are working
quickly, as other companies are bound to be interested.
They know that Irene had a sister Rosie and her parents were
Charles Danks and Lily Williams, all of whom have died.
If Irene didn't have any surviving children, the office will need to
research the Danks and the Williams families to find heirs.
Irene Shepherd died in 2008 aged 87 in Redditch, Worcestershire.
Her friend and neighbour Jim Mills lived on her street and knew her for over 15 years.
Rene would be about
five foot tall,
a little dumpy person -
well, not, actually, fat or anything,
a typical little dumpy person, grey hair,
she had to use a stick to walk.
She could be a good laugh at times, I can assure you.
Irene and Jim shared a joke on the street where she lived over many years.
And he remembers her as a charismatic lady.
She didn't suffer fools gladly.
But once she got to know you, she was a real good friend.
But our most enjoyable times was when we used to walk down the road.
Something as silly as that.
We used to have a laugh and a joke.
Because Irene died without leaving a will, her estimated £200,000 estate
will all go to the Treasury unless heirs can be found.
The team already know that Irene's parents were Charles Danks and Lily Williams.
But as Williams is the third most common surname in England and Wales,
they are working on her father's family name Danks first.
They have had a lucky break using the Census as a research tool.
The Census is a national survey conducted every ten years
that provides vital heir-hunting information,
such as names, ages and genders of people living in any given address at the time of the survey.
The 1911 Census includes Irene's father's household.
So, it's really progressed very quickly because of the Census.
We've just identified as the top line
births to the aunt and uncles of the deceased on the paternal side.
Unfortunately, for us, it looks like
the grandmother has ten children.
Now, worst case scenario is they all have two children, and they have two children,
and those are the ones we find, we're suddenly up to 30-odd beneficiaries.
We'll have to see how it pans out in a few moments' time.
Such a vital tool in anyone searching family history,
that it just gives you the full details of the family without really doing a huge amount of work.
With the help of the Census, the team know that Irene's father Charles Danks had nine siblings.
Two died in infancy, but there were seven surviving brothers and sisters.
Elsie, Joseph Ann, Albert, Walter, Phyllis and Frank.
If they all had children, Irene would have had a myriad
of cousins and potential heirs, so the team have plenty of work to do.
What we're endeavouring to do is
locate the deaths for all the males.
Invariably, the females are going to be married so we're not going
to know until we find the marriages what their surnames are.
But we can go straight for the male lines.
If the team can find death records for the men in the Danks family, they can dispatch researchers
to go and pick up death certificates which will confirm their research.
In anticipation of this, case manager David is
briefing one of their travelling researchers Paul Matthews on the details of Irene's case.
Looks like we may have a valuable one in Redditch.
Irene Lilla Danks? Danks married Douglas Hague Shepard.
The office have a whole team of travelling heir hunters
who can be sent anywhere around the globe in the race to find heirs.
Being at the right place at the right time can mean getting to
a neighbour, certificate, or an heir before any of the other companies.
Being first means having the best chance of getting a commission.
As there are eight branches of the family to research,
Paul is being joined by another travelling heir hunter, Bob Barrett.
And in the office, it's furiously busy.
As Irene's estate is worth an estimated £200,000, the entire office are working on it.
They hope that they can get results in fast and beat the competition.
It's been a fairly crazy sort of hour, really, trying to pin all this case together.
We've only got the one case which we're running at the moment which has made it particularly hard,
really, because we've suddenly got all the staff in.
As you can see around us, there are 25 people in this room.
We're all working on the same case at the moment, and I've been trying to get the five minutes to
take a breath and make sure we're all working on what we should be working.
But there's no breathing time for Neil.
The team are close to finding heirs already.
Just been looking for to see if I can find current addresses
for a Brian and a Peter, and a Colin Golby.
They're all first cousins of the deceased on the father's side.
It's not yet quarter past eight,
so if it is the right family and it's all correct, then it's not bad going.
Bryan Golby is Irene's cousin through her Aunt Ann.
Ann Danks married a William Golby and had four children, one of whom was Brian.
is trying to reach Bryan. To confirm that he is an heir,
David is asking a few questions about his family.
What family, if any, did she have?
Thank you. Bye-bye.
That was a cousin.
He can't fit us in today, but we can see him tomorrow morning.
Good news. By 8.30am, they've confirmed their first heir.
Downstairs in the research room, Gareth is working on finding other members of Irene's father's family.
At the moment, because the main bulk of the research
has been done, so we've done the marriage searches, we've done
the births and death searches, so now I'm starting to look at other records that might be available.
Army records are very good usually because they give you an awful lot
of information that you don't normally have access to.
Many of Irene's uncles would have been old enough to serve
in the First World War and one of them has been difficult
to find information about, which is why Gareth is turning to the military records.
I was just looking for a little bit more information on Frank Danks, because
there's his stamp, and I've found his discharge records, discharged from the First World War.
Unfortunately, it's not telling me a huge amount of information.
Although the military records don't say why
Irene's uncle Frank was discharged, the fact that he was allowed
to leave the Army during wartime indicates that he was probably in bad mental or physical health.
Although this may not be obvious from the records, medicine on
the front line had its own set of rules,
as historian Nick Hewitt explains.
Military medicine, first and foremost, if possible, is about
turning these guys round and turning them back into soldiers and getting them back into the front line.
Now, if you've got traumatic limb removal, he's not going to go back into the front line, so the military
tend to treat first as a priority the guy who can be treated and got back into the front line.
At the other end of the scale is the guy who's not going to survive,
and that's pretty much the way that triage works today, and then it's the chap in the middle who kind of
suffers worse under military medicine because the chap in the middle is the guy who, with a lot of intense help
can be repaired, but will not make a fighting soldier again and he's not the priority for the military.
The way in which these casualties are incurred vary.
We know about them going over the top when the whistle sounds and being machine gunned, but there's a lot of
regular low-level activity on the Western front in particular.
You've got trench raiding, you've got shell fire,
and also the simple act of day-to-day living in this deeply unpleasant,
unhealthy environment also brings in...
has a lot of medical consequences for people.
There were 2.5 million casualties admitted to hospital during the war, and even those that were
lucky enough to survive may have spent the rest of their lives as the walking wounded.
One in 22 of the males in Britain at this period of time have got a conspicuous war-related injury.
That's really obvious.
If you imagine a busy high street, there's going to be an awful lot of people walking along that high street
who have something clearly related to war damage that's physically very obvious about them.
In the Army records, there are no details about the exact part Irene's
uncle Frank played in the war beyond the fact that he was discharged from the Army.
It may have had his details of his next of kin, his wife or a child,
or even sometimes they have the name of the children, how old they are.
It does vary, but this is just quite a basic discharge record.
It's not quite what I was hoping for.
At least the records indicate that Irene's uncle Frank survived the war
which means he could have had children.
But Gareth will have to dig around some more to know for sure.
It's a minor setback for the team but little do they know there are worse ones to come.
Everything we have done so far this morning on the mother's side,
and that's the best part of all five hours' research.
It's all rubbish. It's back to square one, really.
Heir hunters tend to prioritise looking at
the cases where the person who died left a property.
This way, they ensure that their commission will at least cover their costs.
So, the case of Johnny Hubbard, who was homeless, was an unusual one for the heir hunters to take on.
Johnny Hubbard died in 2006 aged 74.
He spent most of his adult life on the streets of London, and the last few years in and out of hostels.
Like many people sleeping rough, Johnny suffered from mental health problems.
But despite his apparent poverty and difficulties, he died leaving an estate of £35,000.
Mike Tringham took on Johnny's case.
He is chairman at Hooper's, one of the oldest heir hunting firms in the country.
The company rarely investigate homeless people, because they don't
often have an estate to pass on, so Johnny's case stood out.
When we got an idea of his background, his profile,
it seemed quite odd to us that someone in his circumstances
should leave quite a substantial amount of money,
and it's quite likely that he was left some money
by a relative some years ago.
If the money had come to Johnny while he was homeless,
he may never have known about it
and it would have continued to earn interest.
Whatever had happened, it would be a sizeable windfall for his heirs -
if they could be found.
We know his name is John Walter Hubbard.
He dies in Hackney.
We don't know much about him.
Born in London, we think.
-Maybe if we look up his birth, shall we?
-Yes, we'll do that.
The name Hubbard, it's quite a good name.
It's not too common, so there shouldn't be too many of them.
-There he is.
-There we go. Yes.
Seems to be born in London.
-Finsbury, which is....
-Not far from us.
Once we had identified the birth record of the deceased,
which gave us the details of his parents,
we were then able to piece together other areas of the family
and identify birth records for his brothers and sisters,
and then really it was a question of tracking them down
for seeing whether they were sill living,
whether they married,
and we did manage to do that within 24 hours.
It was a fast turn-around.
The heir hunters discovered
that Johnny's parents were John and Winifred Hubbard,
and that he was the third eldest of nine brothers and sisters.
Four of them were still alive -
Peter, Elizabeth, William and Winifred.
Because Johnny had never married or had children,
they were his nearest kin,
and were each eligible to inherit an equal share of his £35,000 estate.
Bill Hubbard was Johnny's youngest brother.
Despite being born into the same working class household,
their lives couldn't have turned out more differently.
Bill runs an established furniture business in Central London,
but a turbulent childhood
meant that things might not have turned out that way.
I could easily have turned into a gangster or a robber,
or something like that.
I was very lucky to find a vocation which I enjoy.
Bill, Johnny and their siblings grew up in Islington in London
under difficult circumstances.
Dad was a pretty violent person.
If I wanted dinner money, so, to go to school...
If you asked for it, you got a clump and if you stole it, you got a clump.
So you were sort of twixt and between what you done.
And because he was drunk, you know, always drunk,
I think what he used to work on the stall in Chapel Market,
he used to have a fishmonger's,
and basically there was a pub immediately behind the stall
and I think he used to think drinking brandy would keep him warm.
Bill's business is only a mile away from where he and Johnny grew up.
The inheritance has prompted him to revisit his childhood haunts.
This is where my dad's stall was - Jack Hubbard.
Right outside this pub.
I used to work on the stall sometimes
and my hands used to get freezing cold,
and he used to send you -
you used to get a hot peppermint drink,
you know, to warm your hands up,
and sometimes your hands would be throbbing with the cold.
Literally throbbing, you know?
The pain - you'd never felt anything like it.
Bill's family home was just around the corner from the stall.
So this is Grant Street.
And Grant Street used to go round to the right here,
and my house, approximately, looking at this...
This was Sermon Lane where the stables were.
My house was approximately
where the police station is there,
which is Tolpuddle Street Police Station.
I must say, when I left it,
it was a pretty dismal and horrible place,
so I'm quite pleased that we, you know, we survived it, really.
There you are.
Sometimes I do wander down the market now and again
just to have a little look round to see what's going on
and see if there's still stallholders who I know.
There is still a few here,
but it's changed dramatically.
And I don't miss it at all, to be honest with you.
It's a hard life for anyone, a very hard life.
The Hubbard children escaped this tough life as soon as they could.
Me earliest memories were me and Peter moving out.
I'm not sure the exact age we was, but I was quite young,
and we moved to a lodging room in Highbury New Park.
And that was the start of me being self-sufficient, really.
But for Johnny, Islington remained his home.
When I left home, he was still there.
The house was in complete disarray -
lots of windows missing and things like that.
Bill and his brother started to lose touch with one another,
even though Johnny was working less than three miles away
in Smithfield's Meat Market.
I have heard other people telling me that he worked in Smithfield,
and I think before he went into the army,
he was a pretty tough character.
And boxing would have been a natural progression
if you had come from where we come from.
Johnny had taken up a sport
heavily connected to Smithfield's Meat Market,
which was a training ground
for many professional and amateur boxers.
Dixie Dean and George Hollister were both boxers,
and together with Alfie Hills,
they worked in Smithfield Market and knew Johnny.
He was a pitcher, right?
I know that for a fact.
Pitcher is one that carries the meat into the market during the night.
Myself and Alfie, we used to hand the meat down to him,
lift it off the hooks and hand it down to them like that
on to their shoulders and they used to run it in.
I even done that myself.
When it goes in the market, they hung it up in the shop,
and then the porters started about...
Or the shopping started about four or five o'clock in the morning,
cutting it up, and the porters started,
and then they take it out to the butchers.
That's what Johnny Hubbard done.
The heavy manual labour kept the young men who worked here in fighting shape
and in turn, boxing provided an outlet for them to let off steam.
A couple of times, I was working on the market
and they used to give you what they called a run.
I used to come back and I had a friend of mine, he was a checker -
what they call a checker, on the box,
he said, "I just took a message for you, George.
"Boxing tonight at the Majestic."
I used to finish work and box on the same night.
We didn't know anything better, did we? It's like the training.
The training is all changed now.
We thought lifting up meat made us strong.
If you did it today, they'd go, "No, you've gotta turn that in, mustn't do that."
It's all different. It's a different era now, isn't it? Different ways.
But it was a confrontation outside the ring in the meat market
that would change Johnny's life for ever.
He got into a fight and was struck over the head
with disastrous consequences.
Apparently, he was having a fight with some of the other porters or whatever it is,
and the only way they stopped him was bashing him over the head.
After that, he's had all his problems.
That was it, really.
I wouldn't have thought my dad would have been any help to him,
because, you know, my dad was always drunk.
And I don't think he was very sympathetic to his illness, shall we say.
After the knock to his head, Johnny became more unstable
and he was still only in his mid-20s
when he was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for brain surgery.
He never fully recovered.
He was pretty violent.
all of us were scared of him.
I don't think he was - I think it was obviously mental problems, you know.
You didn't get hit if you didn't let him catch you!
Volatile and violent, Johnny alienated people around him.
No-one knows quite when he started sleeping rough,
but it's thought that he spent over 40 years of his life
homeless around the Square Mile in East London.
He even became known to the police as Tramp Hubbard.
I had heard, obviously, that he lived on the streets.
And it's unusual that I never come in contact with him,
because I'm always down the City of London and round that area.
The only time I did come in contact with him
was as I driving around Old Street roundabout with my daughter,
and I stopped,
got out and spoke to him.
I don't even know whether he recognised me or not,
but I knew it was him,
and I'm not sure whether he did recognise me or not.
I give him a business card
and maybe I give him some money - I think I did -
but I don't even know whether he was aware what I was doing, really.
I don't think he wanted any assistance, to be honest.
He was content in what he was doing.
Bill wouldn't see his brother again,
although he was in a hostel not far away.
The next news he had of Johnny was from the heir hunters.
They brought Johnny's £35,000 back into the family he had been estranged from for many years.
And also gave Bill the opportunity to say goodbye to his brother.
After his death, me and Betty went down to the home where he had been.
They have got a memorial garden for him, which I find quite...
It makes me wish I'd have known him.
For every case that is solved,
there are still thousands that stubbornly remain a mystery.
Currently, over 3,000 names, drawn from across the country,
are on the Treasury's unsolved case list.
Their assets will be kept for up to 30 years
in the hope that eventually someone will remember
and come forward to claim their inheritance.
With estates valued at anything from £5,000 to millions of pounds,
the rightful heirs are out there somewhere.
Lilian Collins of Dartford, Kent, died in 2003.
Does her name ring any bells?
Could you be the one person entitled to her estate?
Herbert Cecil Godfrey died in Combe Down in Bath in 1995.
The heir hunters have run out of leads.
Do you know anything about him?
Maybe he's your long-lost uncle or cousin.
Could your help get to the heirs of Lilian Collins and Herbert Godfrey
and thousands of cases just like these?
Is there a fortune out there waiting for you?
One of the names advertised
on the government list of people who have died without a will
was Irene Shepherd who left an estimated £200,000.
The entire office at Frazer and Frazer is working on her case,
and with the help of the Census,
they've already managed to find all her aunts and uncles
on her father's side, the Danks.
There's only little bits to do on two of the stems,
otherwise we may have most, if not all the addresses, which is good.
A question of contacting them all
and some people are either ex-directory or not answering,
so it's come on very well in the time we've had.
However, the researchers have to make sure they find all the heirs
before they can submit a claim to the Treasury,
and this means researching uncles and aunts on the mother's side too.
The mother's side is Williams. That's a wholly different story.
The surname is incredibly bad to research.
It looks like at the moment we've got two separate families
with a Lily Williams, born in 1899 or thereabouts from the right area.
One of them's going to be totally wrong,
one of them's going to be right.
And we won't know probably until much later, maybe not even today,
so instead of working two families as we normally would do on cousins,
we're actually working three,
one of them we're going to throw away at a later date,
so it's a bit more work for us,
but hopefully we get the right family first.
In order to crack this valuable case before the competition,
the entire office are being split into two teams.
The Danks researchers led by David and Gareth
are finishing off Irene's father's family.
The Williams team tracing the maternal side
includes Fran, David and Simon.
Fran is currently following up
one of two potential records for Irene's mother,
one in Evesham, one in Worcester.
Now, either of those two could be correct,
or she was born in a completely different county,
in which case we haven't yet identified a birth record for her.
So we're really working on a hunch at the moment and hope it will pay off.
Birth, death and marriage certificates are vital for heir hunters.
They contain all the proof needed to verify the family trees that are drawn up in the office.
Unfortunately for the team researching Irene's mother,
the certificates they need are in Ledbury Register Office
which is shut, so all their work on the Williams side is speculative.
We've got the nightmare side of the case.
We're working Williams and everyone else seems to be working Danks,
and there's quite a big difference in the two names, to be honest. A bit unfair, maybe!
While team Williams grumble about their lot, team Danks are tying up
one of the outstanding stems of their family tree.
We've got a possibility of another cousin on another branch.
There's a possibility, but it needs a phone call, and I'm going to do that now.
David has discovered that Irene's aunt Phyllis had two daughters - Judith and Victoria.
Another two potential heirs and cousins to Irene.
David is speaking to Victoria now.
At this junction, we don't know what the value of the estate is, but we believe there is a good
value to which we we believe that you're part of that family, you see?
Irene may well have known all her cousins as a child, but as her name was on the unclaimed estates list,
the sad probability is that none of them even knew of her death.
We'd like to discuss this matter in more detail, and I was wondering if
it's possible one of my colleagues to call and see you. Is that possible?
Travelling heir hunter Paul is nearest to Victoria to go and see her.
It turns out that there is certainly going to be a lot of cousins out there.
The deceased on her father's side looking at one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine.
So she had nine uncles and aunts.
We've got an appointment in half an hour, so we had better get our skates
on before one of our competitors comes knocking on the same doors.
It's only 11.00am and the Danks team
have already completed Irene's family tree on her father's side.
Charles Danks had seven adult brothers and sisters who all had children - Irene's cousins.
They and their children are eligible to inherit, making 17 heirs on this side of the family.
But team Williams, who are researching Irene's mother's family, are having a much tougher time
because they're working speculatively.
The register office in Ledbury which holds the certificates they need to crack the case is shut.
We tried different lines, and we don't know which one's correct yet.
That's why we desperately need to get some certificates to prove
which way we're going.
The Williams team have found several instances of a woman with the same
name as Irene's mother - Lily Williams.
They're trying to whittle them down by a process of elimination.
It looks, in theory, like this is wrong.
-Well, keep rolling anyway, I think, but less important on her.
Fran has just discounted one Lily Williams based in Evesham,
so Neil is pinning his hopes on a Lily Williams that Simon is working on.
So we reckon it's this one now, then?
This is the better option than the Evesham one.
Simon was trying to get out of working this family because he doesn't like it, and it's
got a horrible name, and the marriages he's got are horrible.
Everything's horrible. Trying to persuade me that the other one
is more likely and I've just told him that the other one is wrong.
Simon and the team know that Williams is the third most common name in the country
which is why it's difficult to research.
The easy solution would be to wait for the register office to open,
but the team want to solve the case before other heir hunting companies, so they're cracking on.
As well as Irene's mother, they're also looking for other Williams' that could be part of her family.
If they can find and phone a relative, however distant,
they may be able to confirm they're researching the right family.
Simon thinks he may be on to a winner, because he's found
a potential aunt - Edith Williams - who could have been Lily's sister.
Edith Williams marrying Ernest Smith in 1917.
We did a birth search of Smith to Williams sticking to the Worcester area.
It looks like there's two families having children, at the same time.
I've picked one, pretty much at random.
With any luck, this will be right, but if not, at least it's
crossed one off my massive list that I've got at the moment.
So I'll just take it up to Grimble and he can ring, hopefully.
Sometimes, heir hunting involves guesswork.
As there are two possible marriages for Edith Williams,
the fastest way of ruling one out to is to make a pot-luck phone call.
David is calling the number Simon's found for one of the families.
Hello, is that Mrs Smith?
I'm trying to trace a family in connection with an estate I'm dealing with, but unfortunately
the family names I'm dealing with are Smith and Williams.
The phone call is a long shot. Is this finally the Williams connection they've all been looking for?
What if I said the name Danks, would that ring a bell?
That doesn't ring a bell.
It's another false trail in the hunt for Irene's mother.
I didn't really expect it, to be honest,
but it's crossed one off my list.
It's not just the office who are resorting to long shots.
Bob Barrett has arrived at Worcester register office.
Even though the certificates they know they need are at nearby Ledbury which is shut,
they're now getting hold of any other potential Williams certificates in the same area.
It's not the most economical way to work, but they're hoping to get lucky.
Can I ask you about the chances of getting several certificates?
How many do you require?
Three deaths and two births.
With every lead drawing a blank, the search seems to be getting wider and wider.
We are still trying to locate the birth of the mother of the deceased.
We know now that she's called Lilian Elizabeth, so we've gone through the Lily Elizabeth births
and we're trying to match up Census from 1901
to give us an idea of family, and there's 138.
I'm not really having much luck at the moment.
Everything I touch seems to go wrong today.
With 138 Lily Elizabeth Williams to get through,
it looks like this day is never going to end for team Williams.
Everything so far has gone wrong, and I think some of the
dejected faces around here and the glum looks are because
everything we have done so far this morning on the mother's side,
and that's the best part of four or five hours of research, is all rubbish.
It's back to square one, really.
While the office pack up in the hope of a better day tomorrow,
at least their work on the Danks side is coming to fruition.
Paul Matthews is calling on an heir on the paternal side - Irene's aunt Phyllis.
Irene's aunt Phyllis had two daughters.
Victoria is one of them, and is a cousin to Irene.
Your mum was Phyllis May Danks?
-Married Horace Butt.
-Your mum had a lot of brothers and sisters?
Victoria is the youngest of Irene's cousins.
Learning of her share in Irene's £200,000 inheritance
was the first news she had heard of cousin in years.
I didn't really know what to think, to be honest.
It was out of the blue, you know?
I didn't realise I had got any relations that had got any money,
you know, to leave, or any property, or anything.
My mother was one of eight,
so it goes right back, and you just lose track, because I'm one of the
youngest ones, so it's nice to know that there are still people there.
Paul has left the paperwork in the hope that she will agree to
let the company help present her case to the Treasury
and that they'll end up earning their commission.
It's a new day at the office, and the Williams team are waiting for that vital clue
which will help them build Irene's mother's side of the family tree.
Bob Barrett is at the Ledbury register office which is now open,
to get hold of Irene's parents' marriage certificate.
The whole case hinges on what Bob will find.
Right, well, I got the marriage certificate that I was after.
As a bonus I also got a birth certificate of our deceased's mother.
And in fact, she was illegitimate, so I've got a birth of a Lily Fletcher.
Somewhere along the way,
Lily Fletcher became Lily Williams because Joseph Williams is shown
as her father on the marriage certificate.
So I'll ring these through to the office now...
..which I'm sure they are eagerly awaiting.
Without a father on Irene's mother's birth certificate,
the heir hunters can only prove a half-blood relationship with any
of Lily's brothers and sisters,
because they only know for sure who her mother is.
That means that Irene's aunts and uncles on her mother's side
would not be in line to inherit
because they're legally half brothers and sisters to her mother rather than full-blood relatives.
That's the mother's birth. No father shown.
As far as we can say, we can't prove full blood on the Williams side.
It all goes to the paternal side.
And we've got them all, so, that's that.
Although it's not the outcome they expected,
the team are pleased to have concluded the case.
They found all the heirs on Irene father's side.
Bryan Golby, Irene's cousin,
is the last to be contacted by travelling researcher Paul Matthews.
I was trying to think that
most of the children of my uncles and aunties, my cousins,
must be dead now, because I'm coming up 78, and they're older than me.
You know Frank? He had two children, Stan and Eileen,
they're both still alive. They're both in their eighties.
That's right, yes. Yeah, that's right, yeah.
All the very best. Nice to meet you.
-Take care of yourself.
-Thank you very much.
Irene's death and Paul's subsequent visit
have left Bryan to reflect on a time when the family were much closer.
I'd forgotten all about them and it's brought back memories, as I say,
my brother and I were evacuated to Redditch during the war.
We stayed in my nan and grandad's house,
but they shared the house with Auntie Phyllis,
and she and her husband lived there
with their daughters Vicky and Judy
who I understand from Paul are still alive and still live in Redditch.
I'd be interested to speak to them again because it's a long, long time.
It must be 30 years since I've seen any of them, you know?
And it's a surprise when I realise it's that long ago
that I've seen them.
Irene has provided Bryan and the 16 other heirs on the paternal side
with an unexpected windfall from her £200,000 estate.
But for her neighbour, Jim Mills,
the real reward was simply knowing her.
Nine out of ten times you met her, she was laughing and joking.
She had always got a cheery word for you.
She was just a lovely person to know,
and I think the world was a better place because of her.
If you would like advice about building a family tree or making a will, go to:
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
The heir hunters once again seek out families entitled to inherit the estates of people who have died without a will.
The Fraser and Fraser team is aiming to track down the heirs of Irene Shepard, an 87-year-old who died leaving an estate in the region of 200,000 pounds. However, finding any surviving heirs proves a tricky task and every time the team thinks it has found a hot lead, the trail runs cold. With the clock ticking down and rivals chasing the same prize, Fraser and Fraser pours ever more resources into the case. But will the gamble prove a costly failure?
Johnny Hubbard spent most of his adult life sleeping rough. But when he died aged 74, he left behind an estate of 35,000 pounds. As the team at heir hunting experts Hoopers investigates, it uncovers a harrowing story. Born and raised in Islington, it appears that Johnny had a troubled upbringing overshadowed by a violent father. With every new development the team adds to the picture of a brutal life, and then comes the discovery of a tragic incident that just might explain why Johnny spent more than 40 years on the streets and gained the nickname 'Tramp Hubbard'.