The Fraser and Fraser team investigate bachelor Gordon Stewart and are met with family tragedies. Heir hunter Lady Teviot probes into the case of Joan Mansfield.
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Heir hunters spend their lives tracking down families of people who've died without leaving 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...
Heir Hunters investigate a shockingly sad news story.
Oh, my God.
Is that rubbish at the window?!
And one family's sterling efforts to track down a great-aunt,
who disappeared from their radar 50 years ago.
She left with little notice. She put her house on the market.
She sold it fairly quickly and left.
Plus the unclaimed estates sitting dormant at the Treasury.
Are you about to inherit a fortune?
Every year in Britain, over two thirds of people die without leaving a will.
And when no heir can be found, their money goes to the Government.
Last year, the Treasury made a colossal £18 million from unclaimed assets.
Of that, only £6.5 million was ever claimed back by heirs.
Hoping to gain a commission, more than 30 probate research companies
race against one another to track down and sign up long-lost relatives entitled to inherit.
Fraser and Fraser is one of the oldest firms of heir hunters.
It's run by Andrew, Neil and Charles Fraser.
One of the areas I enjoy is the mystery element of it.
And it's being able to deal with that and bring it to a successful conclusion,
that's one of the thrills of the job, really.
They've tackled estates ranging from £5 to £500,000,
and have successfully claimed back more than £100 million for heirs.
It's 11 o'clock on Thursday morning.
As always, the team spent the early hours scouring the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates,
looking for cases that were worth working.
Unusually, there's been little of interest today, so Neil is taking a different tack.
There's just some newspaper articles at the moment about Gordon Stewart,
dying trapped in a litter maze in his own house.
Every now and then, it's worth having a little look.
Even if we happen to solve the case and don't get anything out of it,
it will be good that way.
According to the newspaper article,
Gordon Stewart, a 74-year-old bachelor
from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire,
was tragically found dead in his home,
thought to have died of dehydration.
His home was filled floor to ceiling with rubbish.
It seems he was too embarrassed to ask anyone for help or let anyone in.
He was a very quiet person, and, sadly, no photo of Gordon has been found.
Despite being private, he wasn't a hermit.
More than 40 people attended his funeral, led by Pastor Alan Harvey.
There were a number of neighbours there, who obviously knew Gordon,
had seen him in the district, riding his bicycle, had spoken to him.
The tribute that was given certainly painted the picture of a man who,
in the last years of his life was, in some ways, quite lonely,
someone who obviously was an animal lover, someone who had been very good with his hands.
I believe he'd worked in carpentry and so on, earlier on in his life,
I think someone who was, in some ways,
overwhelmed by his home situation.
His tragic end may have been shaped by events in Gordon's past.
Sadly, his brother and then his father died when he was only a child.
It left just Gordon and his mum on their own.
He seemed to have been very attached and proud of her.
They lived together until her death in 1975.
Gordon knew that his home had reached an appalling condition.
But it seems he was too paralysed by the thought of what to do.
For Fraser's, sadly, it's not an uncommon story, but they know
from long experience that there is usually an heir out there somewhere.
Why we're interested in it is because the article says he didn't have any known relatives.
That's exactly what we do.
It's just this one happens to have made the newspaper.
Although Gordon's tragic death has made the headlines,
it's too recent a case to have been passed to the Treasury's unclaimed estates division,
so all the Treasury's usual checks regarding family or beneficiaries haven't been done yet.
One of the things we have to be very, very careful with, when we get cases from almost alternative sources,
is we're picking this up before any inquiry has been made at all.
So we don't know if the deceased has left a will.
There is a danger we could do all this work and then a will turn up.
Going on instinct, and the lure of a £150,000 property, Neil is prepared to take the risk.
He's planning to send case manager Bob Smith to Gordon's home town, Aylesbury.
Fraser's employ a team of travelling heir hunters,
based all over the country, who await the call to be sent wherever the search takes them.
They follow up leads and hunches and glean as much information as they can about the deceased
by knocking on doors, hoping to track down an heir before the competition beat them to it.
Case manager Bob Smith is London-based,
making it easy to drop into the office and get details on today's unusual case.
We're going to this place as well.
Oh, my God!
Is that rubbish at the window?!
Oh, my God!
-Died of thirst?
Bob's getting the dates and details on Gordon Stewart and any family the team already know about
in order to get birth and death certificates, which will give them more information.
He appears to have a brother, Trevor F,...
..born December quarter, 1930,
-You want me to do an inquiry and pick up the death?
Love you all!
And I'll speak to you later.
But knowing the papers have already been pressing the neighbours for stories,
he won't be doing any door-to-door inquiries today.
Unfortunately, most cases the team work have an emotive story behind them.
Quite often, they're loners, people that detached themselves from family for various reasons.
Difficult to believe, to be honest, in a house, looked quite a modern house, it should have water
and all that, and apparently they die of dehydration.
Because Gordon Stewart died only a fortnight ago, the team won't be able to get a death certificate yet.
However, the newspaper article gave his age, so they've had no trouble
finding his date of birth and have been able to bypass some of their initial searches into his family.
We know that the brother died aged six.
The birth of the deceased himself, we are confident we've got the right family.
For Louisa Cox, Gordon's mother, losing Trevor and then her husband
must have been almost too much to bear.
However, the research shows that later in life, when she was 45, she did remarry.
The team now have all the immediate family members mapped out from their own records,
but they need certificates from Bob
in order to find the mother and father's parents to go further back up the tree.
Is there any chance we could pick those up today?
-Yes, you have to pay the £10 express fee. £10 on top.
Piece by piece, the certificates are helping to reveal more about the mystery of Gordon's family.
His mother's birth certificate gives the team the names of Gordon Stewart's maternal grandparents.
Louisa Jane Cox, born 8th June, 1906.
-Formally Gilder - G-I-L-D-E-R.
The marriage of the parents -
between Francis Eric Stewart
and Louisa Jane Cox, age 23.
OK, I'll speak to you soon, mate.
-All right. Cheers.
-Take care. Bye.
The certificates show a name switch for Gordon's father.
On Gordon's birth certificate, he's Eric Francis Henry.
But his marriage certificate shows him as Francis Eric.
It may cause them problems when they look for a copy of his birth,
since they'll have to do twice as many searches.
However, the certificates have given them a leap forward
on the maternal branch of Gordon's family tree.
Once Bob gave me the details for Louisa's parents, I then identified their marriage, which was in 1891.
Then we have a 1901 census.
On that census, there are aunts and uncles of the deceased.
Fingers crossed we find the descendants of these aunts and uncles.
Gordon's maternal grandparents were Albert Cox and Louisa Gilder.
The team have found seven children from their marriage, Gordon's mother, Louisa,
then John, Albert, Winifred, Lionel, James and Herbert Cox.
All Gordon's uncles and aunts.
They also know that Herbert went on to marry Emily Izzard.
They, or more likely their children, will be in line to inherit a share of Gordon's £150,000 estate.
With the help of the census, the mother's line has been exceptionally easy to trace.
Basically, the key, where we jumped from having the top generation,
the aunts and uncles to a single generation,
is solely because we found one marriage. The married name, Izzard, is easy to spot in the indexes.
The benefit of uncle Herbert Cox and Emily Izzard's marriage means within minutes of a birth search,
they found children, first cousins to Gordon and probably heirs to his estate.
We've got five possible cousins of the deceased at the moment, which is a fair amount to have.
They're born in the '20s, between 1920 and 1934.
And I've just been passed the first one alive, living in Kent.
They've only been working this case for four hours
and already, Fran is able to make plans for travelling heir hunter Dave Hadley to see a maternal heir.
Have you got a pen and paper to take some details?
But as they get closer to living relatives, team member Sara discovers another family tragedy,
concerning one of Gordon's other uncles, Albert Cox.
An old newspaper article reports him murdered in 1970.
This gives us more information on him.
The more information we can get on people like that, certainly, the more useful it is.
With so much family tragedy,
perhaps this was another reason why the local people were convinced Gordon had no relatives.
But Dave Hadley's about to prove them wrong.
He's trying to meet Gordon's first cousin, Douglas Cox.
-Hello, Mrs Cox?
I'd like to speak to Mr Douglas Cox, if I may?
-Yes, of course. Come in.
Somebody has passed away on your father's side of the family.
He didn't leave a will, and so at this stage, we're still searching for the heirs.
And from then on, I'll explain to you exactly what we can do.
We lost contact with my family years ago. Haven't we?
You didn't know much about your father's family in the first place.
They all lived Luton, Aylesbury area, so we haven't heard from them for years.
Dave's meeting serves only to further highlight how tragically easy it is for family to lose touch.
But at least Gordon's estate looks more likely now to go to his real family than the Treasury.
Well, thanks again. I'm really grateful, and it's been a pleasure meeting you. Bye-bye.
We've done really well today, considering.
We've found one aunt and uncle, who have left surviving issue,
who are first cousins of our deceased, Gordon Stewart.
The team is successfully signing up maternal cousins as heirs,
hoping to get a commission from the £150,000 estate.
So far, it's been an easy piece of detective work.
Even with a name like Stewart, there can be unforeseen problems.
It's come up as Stuart with a "U".
Oh, gosh! Oh, great(!)
Has their stream of luck run out?
Heir hunting doesn't just take the form of fast-paced searches and heavy competition.
Far removed from the rat race, in the Sussex town of Burgess Hill,
are an heir-hunting duo of a different kind.
Charles Kerr, the Lord Teviot, is a hereditary peer and works alongside his wife, Mary,
under their individual company names of Census Searches and Elliot & Whitmee.
-You've found the thing.
-I found it.
Mary and Charles prefer to work the less competitive cases, thought too small to take on by other companies,
and have a particular interest in family stories.
I think one of the nice parts is that you are able to put people
in touch with relations that they had no idea that existed
or they knew that existed but had no idea of what had happened to them in the intervening period.
Mary's work isn't just limited to the UK.
She's researched a number of estates on behalf of the Office of Public Trustee in Canada.
When someone dies in testate, they find it useful having a contact like Mary in the UK.
Very often from the Public Trustee, one gets cases with a UK background.
It's always interesting because
so many people went from different parts of the world to Alberta
that it wasn't always just run-of-the-mill UK research.
One of the cases Mary was asked to work on was that of Joan Mansfield,
a British national born in India, who died in Calgary in 1996.
She never married or had children, and she didn't make a will.
So who was entitled to her £30,000 estate?
The only information that one had right at the very beginning was that she had a brother.
And I think the brother was in New Zealand and he'd already died.
So it was really very much a question of starting from scratch.
Mary had limited information, but knew that Joan and her family
had spent most of their lives in colonial India.
She plotted the family connection she had so far on paper.
The first thing I did was a rough draft of the Mansfield tree.
And I put down Joan's birth date.
And I put down that she had a brother, that one knew about, who was called Ivan William,
and from there, the next thing one had to do was to see if she had any other siblings.
There was already a ten-year age gap between Joan and her brother, Ivan, and in order to gauge how many
further siblings there might be, Mary was looking for her parents' marriage date.
As she was with born in India,
the next port of call was to go to the British Library,
and to actually see the birth
or baptism and burial and marriage register, et cetera.
It's good news to look for events that took place actually in India
because they were very meticulous about their record-keeping.
One was able to actually find Joan's parents' marriage
because that rather gave us a window of how many other children
they might possibly have, because they were married in 1894 and Joan was not born until 1912.
In the 18-year gap between their marriage and Joan's birth,
Henry and Jane Mansfield had four other children.
The Mansfield family had been quite a long time in India,
and Joan's father was born in Madras, here,
and her mother was born in Calcutta, here.
They were far apart. They moved right up to here to be married in Ambala.
They had their five children in different places, and, in fact,
going back in one time to actually have one of their sons in Calcutta.
Then, eventually Joan, she was born in Faridpur.
Joan was the youngest of five children.
Two of her brothers, Hubert and Tyrell died in infancy,
but siblings Ivan and Phyllis both went on to marry and have children.
It was looking as if there wasn't very much because we have Phyllis, with her two daughters,
Maisie and Barbara,
and we have Ivan, with the one son, Leonard.
Maisie was actually deceased before the deceased.
Barbara, as she was entitled,
and then Leonard, he was also entitled because he was still alive.
So, out of her four brothers and sisters, we only have two surviving kin.
Mary had her heirs, Joan's nephew Leonard, and her niece Barbara.
Barbara has since died, but her daughter Anne
remembers when she and her late mother first heard the news of Aunt Joan's death.
Mother had direct communication with the people in Canada,
pieces of paper, from the Province of Alberta,
telling mother that she and her cousin Billy
were heirs and what Joan had left,
and precise lists, and the fact that they would transport it back
to this country.
Anne's mother hoped Joan's boxes of belongings would shed some light on why she'd gone to Canada.
Letters or photographs, anything to explain why she'd upped sticks
and lost touch with the family in the '50s.
Initially, she was saddened by the fact that her aunt had died
and that she knew nothing about her or her life in Canada.
Um, the boxes revealed a certain amount,
but of course, there was nothing personal.
Aunt Joan had left them her legacy and a few belongings.
But would they ever find out about
the new life she created for herself in Canada?
It was Foothills School of Nursing.
If it's the School of Nursing, perhaps she was in a teaching position.
Just why had Joan suddenly disappeared?
For every case that is solved,
there are still many that 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 the estates valued at anything from £5,000 to millions of pounds,
it's just possible you could be entitled to one of these unclaimed estates.
Stanley Harding died in the seaside town of Poole in Dorset in February 2008.
Can you help make the right connections?
Could you even be related to him and entitled to his legacy?
Vincent James Connolly died in Camden, London, in March, 2006.
Does his name stir any memories?
If no relatives can be found, his money will go to the Government, but could it be meant for you?
It's day two on the case of Gordon Stewart,
a 74-year-old bachelor from Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire.
Gordon was tragically found dead in his home, thought to have died of dehydration.
Too embarrassed to accept offers of help or let people in,
his neglected home was filled from floor to ceiling with piles of rubbish.
The shocking nature of his death hit the newspaper headlines,
but it was the words, "No next of kin"
that attracted Fraser and Fraser.
Like the genealogical detectives they are, in just a day,
they had already begun to unravel Gordon's family's tragic story
and find heirs to his £150,000 estate.
We know the brother died aged six.
The birth of the deceased himself, we're confident we've got the right family.
But with Gordon having died only two weeks ago,
Fraser's has no way of knowing whether this extremely private man had actually made a will.
They're risking a lot of man hours and money tracing cousins who may not even be heirs.
Every now and then, it's worth having a look. Even if we happen to solve the case
and don't get anything out of it.
The team have found three maternal first cousins
they believe to be entitled to Gordon's property,
all descendants of Gordon's uncle, Herbert.
Dave Hadley met one of them last night and is off to meet two more this morning,
hoping to sign them up.
I'm on my way to see Sheila and Roy, the brother and sister of Douglas,
who I saw yesterday.
They would appear to be first cousins of the deceased,
and I'm hoping they'll be able to give me a bit more information about the father's side of the family.
The cousins may have known Gordon when he was younger and could have leads to further family members.
-Hello. Sheila Kingsland?
Hello there. Thanks ever so much for seeing me.
It's a pleasure. Come in.
What can you tell me about your father's side of the family?
Did he have any brothers or sisters?
We don't know. Apparently, Dad left home because he wasn't treated very well.
-So we didn't even know our grandparents or any side of Dad's family.
I've already spoke to the brother.
So Dave comes away without any new information.
No, I can't remember.
But the team in the office don't need it, they are still uncovering maternal relations
with no trouble at all.
William Birch. Birch.
Ah, William Birch. The informant on the parents' marriage.
The parents of the deceased.
I'm looking for various Cox marriages.
I just found Winifred, E.L., in Aylesbury, which is the right initials and the right area.
So it's looking rather good.
Winifred Cox is Gordon's aunt,
and the team will immediately be looking for children from her marriage.
The ones I'm trying to find with initials are a lot easier to find,
rather than just the single names, because there are quite a few Coxes.
In a matter of minutes, they've found what they were after.
Ivor A was born 13th September 1930.
Ivor is Winifred's only child,
and Fran wants to try and line up a visit from a travelling heir hunter
to sign him up as another heir.
Hello, Mr Birch?
Good afternoon. I'm so sorry to trouble you.
But Ivor needs some convincing that it's not a hoax call.
No, no, no. It is a genuine matter.
We are looking into an estate of somebody who has passed away recently,
and we're trying to trace next of kin of that person.
Now, I'm rather hoping that you are Ivor Birch,
the son of Winifred Emily Birch, nee Cox.
Fran arranges for someone to go and sign up Ivor.
I'm afraid I've made you a six o'clock appointment in Amersham.
On the paternal side of the tree, they've had a few false starts pinning down Gordon's father
because he switched his name from Eric Francis
to Francis Eric Stewart.
This proves slightly tricky.
It looks as though he may be an only child.
Our feeling at the moment is that the grandfather is pretty old, 58 on the 1901 sensor.
So he'd be a father at the age of 59.
His wife is quite a bit younger.
But still, I don't think there'll be any more children if the research we have is correct.
So, everything is gearing on the mother's side.
They've made real progress.
But there's still the nagging thought that Gordon may have left a will, but with no way to check,
Neil thinks it's worth taking a punt on their findings.
I'm slightly more confident now that what we're doing is going to be fruitful.
The family we've spoken to so far do not know of the deceased
and they are distant enough for them not to know about this case.
The inquiries through social services and through the coroner
also indicate that they don't think there'll be a will,
and they're confident that there aren't any known family.
We've obviously proved them wrong now.
Satisfied they're working a valuable case,
they really need to concentrate on the paternal branch of the family tree
in order to make sure they've found all entitled relatives to Gordon's estate.
The information they have found on Gordon's father, Eric Francis Henry Stewart, comes from the 1901 census
and suggests he was the son of Bessie and Alexander Stewart,
a photographic artist living in Fulham.
Senior researcher Bob Barrett is at the register office
and has collected a birth certificate for him.
Right, Eric Francis Henry Stewart,
born 11th November, 1901.
Father, Alexander Henry Stewart.
He was an artist.
-Mother, Charlotte Ann Stewart.
So our census might be wrong then.
They were looking at the wrong Stewart family,
which could have enormous consequences in terms of heirs.
They not being the parents, he possibly now is not an only child,
and we need to get back to the drawing board and start from scratch.
So I'm going to get Noel onto it straight away.
The search for Gordon's next of kin
has all been relatively easy up until now.
But if Gordon's father has siblings after all,
there may be many more cousins on the paternal side of the family
they must sign up as heirs.
So they start a fresh search for Gordon's paternal grandparents' marriage.
It's come up as Stuart with a "U".
Noel's just found the marriage of the paternal grandparents of the deceased.
We know it as S-T-E-W-A-R-T.
But they seemed to marry as Stuart, S-T-U-A-R-T.
So, we're now going to have two surnames to contend with.
Two different variations.
This means they have to go back over any previous finds and double check
everything using the new spelling of Stuart. But that's not all.
So, plain Alexander.
Oh, great(!) OK.
Gordon's grandparents, Alexander and Charlotte,
have dropped their middle names too, making their search even harder.
This is not boding well.
The only concrete information they have has come from Gordon's father's birth certificate.
They know when and where Eric Francis Stewart was born
and think they have Gordon grandparents', Alexander and Charlotte's, marriage.
They check and re-check their birth and death records.
They go back to the 1901 census.
Because they're chopping and changing the surname around, it's making it difficult.
They start ordering certificates for all Alexander Stuarts dying in Fulham around the 1920s.
Thanks very much. Bye.
But still they find nothing.
I think a lot of our hunches were wrong.
We're still desperately trying to find the 1901 census for Alexander and Charlotte.
And we just can't find it.
It's as if they disappeared just in 1901.
We know where they were in 1898. We know where they were at the end of 1901.
But the beginning of 1901, we don't know where they were. Um,
so, until we find that, we're not going to get any further today.
At the end of day two, they have signed six maternal heirs,
all cousins to the deceased, Gordon Stewart.
And with time on their side,
they decide to leave their search for paternal heirs for now.
In the weeks that follow, Gordon's paternal family tree becomes no clearer,
but at his funeral, a little more about him is revealed.
He's fondly remembered as a gentle man,
highly appreciative of well-made things and very generous.
However, along with the tributes,
Fraser's also discover some startling news.
Contrary to all their inquiries, Gordon HAD left a will.
From our point of view, it looks like our journey's come to an end.
It's one of the risks we take.
This always was a risky case to have started, and this time, the gamble hasn't paid off for Fraser's.
Although there is now no money left for any family members to inherit,
the team at Fraser's did succeed in reviving some long-lost family ties,
and, in the end, despite his chaotic final years, Gordon, unlike so many people,
did the right thing - he'd taken the trouble to make a will,
so the person he really wanted to benefit from his estate will now inherit.
I think, obviously, the loss of his mother, as for anyone,
particularly for a man on his own, was a significant event.
I think then ill health and eventually having to give up work
probably impacted his life.
And certainly, the picture that was painted from the tribute was of someone who perhaps
had recognised that he wasn't coping as well as he might have done
but didn't know perhaps how quite to rectify that situation.
Several years ago, Mary, the Lady Teviot, was asked to track down
relatives of Joan Mansfield,
a British lady who had died in Canada in 1996.
Mary located two heirs to Joan's £30,000 estate,
her nephew and a niece, Barbara.
She and her daughter, Anne, were delighted to finally receive news of long-lost aunt Joan
but were left with no clues as to the reason she had suddenly emigrated to Canada.
For whatever reason, Joan cut herself off completely,
to the extent, of course, that it was the Canadian government that told my mother that she'd died.
We didn't know that either.
Although she'd found her heirs, Mary kept looking into Joan's case on behalf of Anne's late mother.
She was greatly appreciative that somebody had bothered
because she wanted to know about her aunt.
As well as Anne's mother, there was another relative
particularly interested in hearing that Mary was making inquiries about the Mansfield family.
Rosemary Webster was not an heir,
but through her grandfather, she is Joan's cousin once removed.
Rosemary has inherited a detailed family tree
and has become an amateur genealogist.
She too wants to find out what happened to Joan.
My aunt Gwen was really the one who was very interested and wrote down everything that I have on here.
She knew all her cousins quite well because she grew up with a lot of them in India.
So she wrote down everything that she remembered.
So, really, I haven't had to do a huge amount of looking for things,
but she spurred me on because there's a lot of questions here that I need to find out and ask.
Like Joan, her cousin Rosemary had also grown up in India and kept lots of film and photos of life there.
Through her research, Rosemary discovered that she
and Joan's ancestors held significant posts in the British Empire.
Great grandfather, Daniel Timothy Mills, became apothecary to the Viceroy,
which was a big thing in India.
They were all doctors in India, in the Army,
so there must be some genetic link somewhere that has been passed down.
Harry lived down in Madras, and my grandfather lived right up in the north,
but they seemed to get together occasionally and meet up.
And especially when they came back to England, they were all very close.
Maybe it's because they didn't have English friends,
because they'd all been abroad and they probably didn't know a lot of people.
The fact that my grandfather came to live two streets away
from Harry and Jane means that family must have meant quite a lot to them.
Joan left India, aged 25, and lived in England with her parents,
Harry and Jane, until her mother died in 1950.
Joan must have been in her 30s, early 30s, when I first met her.
She was ten years younger than her other sibling, so it must have been quite difficult for her
because she was kind of left to look after her parents because everybody else had flown the nest.
But I don't think she was unhappy doing that.
She was obviously contented to be at home.
But when her mother died, Joan made an apparently snap decision to go to Canada,
taking her elderly father, Harry, with her.
Perhaps another colonial adventure beckoned.
I think by the time this all happened, the family was very scattered.
They'd all gone to all four corners of the Earth.
She, basically, probably didn't have any family, which is why she went to Canada.
Joan's great-niece, Anne, was only young, but remembers what an impact it had.
She left with little notice.
She put the house on the market.
She sold it fairly quickly and left.
Much later on, I remember my grandmother, her sister, saying how awful it was that
she'd never heard a word from her sister since she went to Canada.
She didn't even know when her father died because Joan completely cut off all communication with everybody.
But today, Mary is on her way to meet Rosemary and Anne.
And she has exciting new information. She's been in contact with a genealogist in Canada
who's managed to find out all about Joan's life across the pond.
the genealogist in Calgary found she'd become a commercial producer
and a sales service writer for a year with the first television station in Calgary.
And after that, she went to work at the Foothills hospital as a registrar,
where she remained until she retired.
It's funny that she gravitated towards medicine again.
It was Foothills School of Nursing.
If it's the School of Nursing, perhaps she was in a teaching position.
I'm surprised to find that her father actually went to Canada.
He was definitely there in 1957.
Why would an 80-something gentleman live in a different country, where he didn't know anybody
and his daughter was miles away?
Well, his daughter, that was the most important thing.
After all, I think you have to remember he'd lost his wife,
he'd been in India all his life, and he was in post-war Britain,
which wasn't very jolly, to say the least.
So, probably, he decided he would have a better life in Canada
than staying in England, with a busy lady with grandchildren and a husband to look after.
Thank you very much for finding this. It's wonderful.
But that's not all.
Via a webcam, the Canadian genealogist has been able to put them directly in touch
with a close friend and neighbour of Joan's in Canada, Lauren Rendell,
finally someone who can answer all their questions and solve so much of the mystery of Joan's life.
How did you know Joan?
Well, I knew Joan in the last part of her life.
I met her when she was about 71, and we were neighbours.
I always credit Joan with getting me through a nursing degree.
She used to make sure my papers were in good order.
My oldest son is 36 now and I was asking him what he remembered most about Joan.
He said he remembered all the tales she had about the war,
and she was in the Civil Defence Corps, I believe,
and put out fires in London when they had the Blitz,
and so she would tell him tales about the war years and her experience in London.
We often wondered whether she talked about her family at all.
Did she talk about her brothers or her sister?
She sort of said that she didn't have any contact with them.
Unfortunately, she had dementia for a few years before she died.
By the time I realised that she didn't have a will, it was too late to, sort of,
ask her about family, like, she wouldn't recall, and therefore the Public Trustee took over.
They said that they did find family.
-They did. They found my mother, Barbara, who was Joan's niece, and Joan's nephew, Billy.
With the money, my mother built the conservatory that we're sitting in here in Dorset.
So Joan is still remembered.
Still remembered in both families.
-Well, she would have been very pleased with that.
-Thank you so much again, Lauren, it's been lovely talking to you.
-Thank you very much.
We'll be in touch with you.
Thank you, and you have a lovely day. Bye-bye.
For Anne and Rosemary, this connection has been so important.
To have spoken to someone who knew Joan so well has finally brought her a little closer.
I feel she's come back into the fold of the family
because we know more about her.
She's not just Joan, you know, a distant relative.
It's almost as if we know her.
It's been really good.
-She's once again part of us, isn't she?
That's a good way to put it, yes.
She's come back to us, having left.
-The best crystal jug, of course!
MARY: 'It was exciting for me to meet them both,'
and it's always nice to feel you've done a little bit of good somehow!
If it's in the course of work, it doesn't really matter.
It's just a very pleasant, happy outcome.
I'll put the kettle on, you load the dishwasher.
Mary's efforts have given Anne and Rosemary some clues as to why Joan left post-war Britain
and brought a missing family member back into the fold.
If you would like advice about building a family tree or making a will, go to bbc.co.uk.
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.
When bachelor Gordon Stewart was found dead in his Aylesbury home, the house was filled from floor to ceiling with rubbish. What events in his life led him to such a lonely end? As Fraser and Fraser investigators set to work, they discover evidence of family tragedies and maybe even murder. As the case gets more complicated, the heir hunters' worst fears look set to be realised.
Meanwhile, in leafy Sussex, heir hunter Lady Teviot probes into the case of Joan Mansfield. A British national born in India, Joan ended her days in Calgary, Canada, leaving no will, but an estate worth 30,000 pounds. It appears that Joan was part of a large family and spent her early life in colonial India. What was it that forced her to up sticks, lose contact with her brothers and sisters, and forge a new life for herself in Canada?