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Today a team of Heir Hunters are searching for the beneficiaries
to an unclaimed estate worth a quarter of a million pounds.
They're looking for long-lost relatives who have no idea they're in line for a windfall.
Could they be knocking at your door?
-On today's programme...
-It's a matter of time then. It's a race.
The Heir Hunters pull out all the stops to trace the relatives of a decorated military hero.
He probably saved our lives.
And the death of a Brighton woman reveals a fascinating tale of immigrant life in London's East End.
It was a hubbub. People calling out in Yiddish, in broken English.
Really chaotic but I would imagine very, very exciting.
Plus - how you may be entitled to inherit some of the unclaimed estates held by the Treasury.
Could thousand of pounds be heading your way?
Every year in the UK, an estimated 300,000 people die without leaving a will.
If no relatives are found, then any money that's left behind will go to the Government.
Last year, they made £12 million from unclaimed estates.
That's where the Heir Hunters come in.
They make it their business to track down missing relatives and help them claim their rightful inheritance.
I bring about a change so that the rightful assets
go to the rightful family members and not to the state.
This morning, at the offices of Heir Hunters Fraser & Fraser,
the Treasury's weekly list of unclaimed estates is just in.
At first glance, there don't seem to be any obvious high-value cases
but partner Neil Fraser has got a good feeling about an intriguing outsider.
We're going to have a look at the case of Brian Simon Birch.
Slightly strange, slightly unusual in that its place of death says Malta.
Brian Simon Birch died on 21st September 2008
in hospital on the island of Malta, just off the south coast of Italy.
Brian was known by his middle name, Simon, to his friends.
Simon was very upright, tall, receding hairline,
He never ever made any contact to anybody
so it wasn't until he actually moved in above our flat
that we got to know Simon.
Simon was a very military person.
Everything about him was organised, everything had to be done under a certain regime.
Six o'clock every morning,
the door would open and he'd put his washing on the line on the roof
and then at 7.20am, he always passed my front door to take his rubbish to the skip.
I could take you from six in the morning to six at night exactly where he was, each day.
In the office, Neil starts the investigation
by asking an independent agent in Malta to get hold of Brian's death certificate.
This will contain information vital to the search and until it arrives,
all they can do is start sifting through the scores of Brian Simon Birches that show up on the records.
The case of Birch, the chap dies I assume on holiday in Valetta in Malta,
so certainly the death record there.
There's only one Brian Birch on the telephone or on the electoral roll immediately.
Tony thinks he's found a home number for the deceased in England
so he gets straight on the phone to see if he can speak to a relative.
Hello. Sorry to trouble you.
Hello, Mr Birch. Sorry to trouble you so early, sir.
Tony wasn't expecting Mr Birch himself to pick up the phone.
Clearly he's got the wrong family.
And did they explain that they were trying to trace the next of kin of Brian Birch, who's died recently?
And it seems this Mr Birch has already been contacted by rival heir-hunting firms.
Like Neil, they must think this could be a valuable case.
So if Frasers are going to get ahead of the competition, they need to step up a gear.
Case Manager Dave Slee has got his team searching through
UK birth and marriage records for any mention of a Brian S Birch.
We know there's three births and we've eliminated one so far.
Because we've got two possible marriages, Birch to Smith,
so Emily's working one marriage and me and Jo are working the other.
On this one, we've got one heir at the moment and I don't know how Emily is getting on
but one of the two could be right, or neither. We don't know yet.
It's a frustrating start. So far none of their leads is paying off.
But senior researcher Alan comes on board and he's seen a case like this before.
I had a job where the beneficiaries had moved to Malta 20 years ago.
Have we got a Malta phone book?
-I had a job in Malta...
-Have a look on the internet.
-Tony spoke to somebody...
-He could've been living there for years.
-That's what I'm saying.
If Brian did live on Malta, it's likely he retired there, which means he may have owned a property.
And on the densely populated islands of Malta and Gozo, the average apartment sells for £200,000.
Suddenly, this case is looking much more interesting.
Let's do that in the library.
See what we can get on that.
Over their 70-year history, Frasers have built up an amazingly comprehensive library
of directories, which can make all the difference when it comes to cracking unusual cases.
Everything we've done so far on this Birch case is wrong.
There's three births in this country of a Brian S and they've all been ruled out.
What we have got is a single record of a Brian Simon Birch,
Captain Brian Simon Birch
of the Royal Transport Corps getting an MBE in 1976.
Could this Brian Simon Birch, who received an MBE, be one and the same as the deceased?
Alan checks another source to see what other information they can find.
Born on 17th December 1937.
-Royal Corps for Transport...
-Royal Transport. That's him then, isn't it?
It looks very promising and now they have a birth date to work with. It's the break they needed.
But there's another reason that Neil's delighted.
If he is a MBE captain, he will have a reasonable pension.
This is the first real indication they could be dealing with
a substantial estate but Neil still doesn't know how much it's actually worth.
I'm hoping that maybe up to 20, 40, £50,000 of cash asset and then maybe a property on top of that.
In the meantime, we've ticked the box that says it's worth something.
We now just have to find the family and worry about how much it's worth at a later date.
Captain Birch MBE of the Royal Corps for Transport was a qualified skipper
of Landing Craft Tanks or LCTs, which were used to move troops and heavy equipment to remote places.
Major Ted Prewer served under Simon in the '70s and remembers him as an exemplary and inspiring leader.
Simon was a very confident and very competent ship's captain
and everything he did was measured and he did everything very calmly.
Simon's ability to keep a cool head in a crisis
was seriously tested during a routine voyage from the UK to Norway.
We left Harwich in October 1974 and the weather forecast was good.
Unfortunately, the weather changed dramatically.
We were confronted with 40-foot waves and we were literally chugging up
to the crest of a wave and down into the trough.
They were that large.
And you were in grave danger of capsizing.
One of the warrant officers cited that it was the first time
that he'd ever seen a seaman getting down on his knees and praying.
Simon decided to take shelter.
He manoeuvred the craft at a point that he considered was safe
to ensure that the vessel didn't broach
and it was his competence and experience that saved our lives.
Later that same year, the Ministry of Defence called on Simon
to help them demonstrate the LCTs to the Iranian navy.
His expertise led to several being sold and he was duly rewarded with an MBE.
Back in the office, after a difficult start, case manager Dave Slee
is now working under the assumption that the deceased is Captain Birch.
If he is, then they've identified his parents as Samuel Birch and Edith Parfitt.
Hello, good morning. I'm sorry to trouble you. My name's David Slee.
I'm trying to trace a family in connection with an unclaimed estate.
Early research has thrown up a Raymond Evans from Wales,
the widower of a possible sister of the deceased.
Am I right in believing that your wife had a brother called Brian Birch?
So she never had a brother called Brian?
He was in the Army? So...
Although he'd got the relationship wrong,
it looks like he's got the right family
and Raymond is full of information about Captain Birch.
Apparently he was an only child who had no children of his own
but his father, Samuel, was one of 13 children.
However, the important question remains unanswered.
There's still no hard proof that this Captain Birch is actually the deceased.
Nothing to link Malta to this captain at the moment.
I've got another guy to phone. I'll write this tree up.
It's not 100% sure that this is the right one but...
Dave has got the number of a possible cousin, who's also in Wales.
Mr Birch? Sorry to trouble you, Sir.
If he is Brian's first cousin, then he would also be the first heir.
You had a cousin called Brian Birch?
He lived in Gozo?
Bingo. All their hunches have come good.
Time to mobilise the troops.
Ewart Lindsay is one of the company's senior researchers on the road.
His job is to get to the heirs and sign them up before the competition does.
I've got a colleague actually going to be in Wales today trying to see as many family members as possible
and I'd like to make an appointment for him to pop along and see you and any other family members he can.
It looks this case will be based around Newport in South Wales and that there will be a lot of heirs,
so Neil sends Bob Barratt off there as well.
Good luck, mate.
It's a bold move because they still don't have much concrete information to go on
but Neil's determined to stay ahead of the competition on this one.
Dave has managed to confirm that Brian's grandparents,
William and Mary, did indeed have 13 children.
They've already found two heirs
but the chances are, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
A lot of work to do. A massive family.
I've started bringing more people into this now.
This is the valuable job we're working this week.
Neil thinks that with a potential property valued at £200,000 and a healthy pension,
this estate could be worth up to a quarter of a million pounds.
Which means it's almost certain that most of their rivals will be onto the case as well.
He desperately needs to stay ahead and the only way to ensure that
is to gamble more and more resources and hope it pays off.
Oh, no. Why?
A single act by an independent agent threatens to undo all their hard work.
Agent, don't do this!
While some investigations unfold very quickly and dramatically,
others, like the case of Marilyn Kutner, are harder nuts to crack
and require all the Heir Hunters' skills and tenacity.
Marilyn's name appeared on the Treasury's list of unclaimed estates
in July 2008 and was picked up by Celtic Research's Hector Birchwood,
who set out to see if he could find any rightful heirs to her £12,000 estate.
We don't really have much to go on.
As usual, we had a date of death, a place of death and we had some names for the deceased.
Marilyn Kutner died alone in her Brighton flat, aged just 59.
She left no will and not even a photograph survives of her.
Friend and neighbour Christine Toms, who lived in a flat beneath Marilyn's,
knew her for over 20 years and remembers her fondly.
A happy, cheerful lady.
She always had a good word for everybody.
I know she used to like going out a lot with her friends.
A glamorous woman, Marilyn took great pride in her appearance.
Oh, she was very attractive. She used to have fair hair with blonde highlights.
Very pretty, very nicely made up. Lovely clothes.
Marilyn lived in the top-floor flat of the seaside tower block with her mother, Blanche.
Her and her mother used to sunbathe up on the penthouse all day long
and they were brown as berries and they absolutely loved it.
Mother and daughter had an extremely close relationship.
They were sort of more like sisters than mother and daughter and her mother done everything for her.
When Blanche died ten years ago, Marilyn found it increasingly difficult to face life on her own.
She never went out after her mother died.
Before her mother died, she had her girlfriends and her boyfriends.
So I don't know, she never went out.
So sad, to see her go downhill.
Celtic Research is owned and run by Hector and his father, Peter Birchwood.
Together, they have over 40 years' experience of tracing the beneficiaries of unclaimed estates.
But this case would test Hector's heir-hunting powers to the limit.
The name Kutner indicated to me it would definitely be European,
possibly Jewish, so my initial impression was that it was going to go to one of our agents in Europe
and we were probably going to be able to find heirs, if any,
in Israel, Canada, the US, South Africa, possibly the United Kingdom.
Like any case, the first goal was to try and identify the birth of the deceased.
She was born in 1949 and we were able to, from that birth, identify who her parents were.
Marilyn's parents were Aaron Kutner and Blanche Koenigsberg.
A little bit of investigation into Blanche's family yielded some unexpected results.
The deceased's mother was born in the UK, a bit to my surprise.
On top of that, her parents were also married in the UK
so her mother, her father, her grandparents,
all had events occurring here in the United Kingdom and then we found out that she had no other siblings.
So as far as I was concerned,
very, very quickly, the maternal side was dead without issue.
As Marilyn's mother's family wasn't going to supply any heirs,
Hector turned his attention to the family of her father, Aaron Kutner.
He found a birth certificate for Aaron that showed he was born in Whitechapel in 1915
and listed his parents as Emanuel Kutner and Annie Horowitz.
So Hector went to the 1911 census to see what he could find.
At first, he drew a blank.
We weren't able to find the name of Kutner so we assumed that perhaps
maybe he wasn't in the United Kingdom during the 1911 census.
But then he made a fascinating discovery.
Emanuel Kutner in the census is listed as Mandel Kutner, not Emanuel.
That's an acceptable change in his name.
Mandel Kutner would've been his Jewish name, to which he's known to God and other Jews.
Emanuel would've been his gentile name.
Little did Hector know that this was only the first confusion of this kind
that his investigation would throw up.
But he did make an important discovery that finally uncovered the origins of the Kutner family.
Both Mandel and Annie were Russian residents and citizens.
It seems that Annie Horowitz and Emanuel Kutner
were part of the massive wave of immigration
that came over from what is now Lithuania at the end of the 19th century,
fleeing prejudice and persecution in their own country.
Jews were confined to an area of western Russia
called the Pale of Settlement.
Within this area, which stretched from the Black Sea
to the Baltic Sea, Jews had to live in designated towns.
They were not allowed to own businesses, land, farms.
They were largely reduced to destitution.
This was a deliberate act by the Russian government
to persecute and punish Jews basically for being Jews.
Two million Jews left Eastern Europe between 1881 and 1914
and 120,000 of them settled in the UK.
But it seems that Annie and Mandel didn't make the journey together.
She came over separately with a young son from an earlier marriage.
For immigrants like Marilyn's grandparents, London was a daunting prospect.
But in the East End, they were lucky to find a safety net
of organisations, set up by wealthy, established Jewish families.
Behind me is the Soup Kitchen for the Jewish Poor.
Institutions like this were essential to the welfare of Jewish people and you would come here,
you'd get a meal, you'd get the basic essentials of life.
It was like a miniature welfare state that existed in the East End, created by local people.
Many of the immigrants were skilled tailors and dressmakers
and used these trades to earn a living in their adopted country.
Marilyn's grandmother, Annie Horowitz, spent the few coins that she possessed
on setting herself up on a stall in the market on Petticoat Lane,
which by the late-19th century was already an established centre for the rag trade.
Jewish immigrants pour in to here from Eastern Europe
and they open up their own little businesses and stalls
in Petticoat Lane, selling clothing, beigels and chola, herrings,
but it was a hubbub, people calling out in Yiddish, in broken English.
Really chaotic but I would imagine very, very exciting.
Within six months of coming to the UK, Annie had met and married
Aaron's father, Mandel Kutner, a fellow Jewish immigrant and Hebrew teacher.
But Hector couldn't find any sign of any other children from that marriage.
They would have been Marilyn's aunts and uncles
and their children could be the beneficiaries of her £12,000 estate.
His only option was to compile a list of every Kutner or Horowitz birth in Whitechapel since 1906
and here, he came up against another challenge.
How you spell Horovich or Horowitz is a difficult task,
mainly because Yiddish doesn't have any vowels
and so when somebody's writing down that name,
they have to apply our system of using vowels
to make the same phonetic sound which would be used in Yiddish.
So we found that the mothers' maiden names given on the index varied quite significantly.
Coming up, Hector goes searching for a needle in a haystack.
He changed his name to something similar to Kutner, maybe or Coates or Kutz,
and he married someone by the name of Jean.
And the hunt for Brian Birch's heirs hots up.
Keep Bob on the way down there and have three of them.
Let's bombard it tonight.
Heir Hunters solve thousands of cases a year,
ensuring that millions of pounds are paid out to rightful heirs.
But not every case can be cracked.
The Treasury has a list of over 2,000 estates that have baffled the Heir Hunters and remain unclaimed.
These estates stay on the list for up to 30 years
and each one could be worth anything from £5,000 to many millions.
Today, we're focusing on three names from the list.
Are they relatives of yours?
Could you be in line for an unexpected windfall?
Murdoch McRae Urquhart died in Felixstowe
on 5th January 2004 aged 75.
The Urquharts are a Scottish clan based round Loch Ness, so he may have come from there.
If no heirs of his are found, his money will go to the Government.
Did you know Joan Mildred Clare Greenslade,
who died in Epsom, Surrey aged 86?
So far, no-one has come forward to claim her estate either.
Or what about Fredrick Thomas Caleb Bache,
who died on 29th September 2004 in Stourbridge in the West Midlands?
Fredrik's mother's name was Woolridge
and Bache, while sounding German, is actually an old English name.
His estate is also unclaimed.
If the names Murdoch Urquhart, Joan Greenslade or Thomas Bache mean anything to you,
or someone you know, you could have a fortune coming your way.
Back on the case of Marilyn Kutner and her £12,000 estate.
Heir Hunter Hector Birchwood had been battling against the odds
to find any siblings for her father, Aaron.
The problem lay in the variations in the spelling of her grandmother Annie Horowitz's surname.
But eventually, after an exhaustive search,
he discovered four potentials - one sister and three brothers.
While tracing the descendants of one of the brothers, Reuben Kutner, Hector managed to speak
to some relations who gave him some vital information.
All they could tell me was that they knew he'd changed his name.
He changed his name to something similar to Kutner,
maybe or Coates or Kutz, and he married someone by the name of Jean.
And they were sure that he had a daughter called Sharon.
That's all I had to go on.
Deciding to change your name sounds like a drastic step
but for many Jews living in England in the early 20th century, it was a necessary decision.
They would anglicise their names because they didn't want to sound foreign - and they weren't foreign.
They'd been born in this country, they spoke proper English,
they were educated, but they didn't want to stand out as foreigners.
Having faced persecution abroad, the Jews were now confronted with prejudice in their adopted country.
At the outbreak of the First World War, things got worse.
A lot of these Jewish immigrants had Germanic sounding names
and indeed there were riots in the East End of London,
where English people would throw bricks through windows of shops
which had German-sounding names, but of course they weren't Germans, they were Jewish.
Hector and his team were now up against their third name-based conundrum on this case.
This time, he had the nightmarish task of trying to find all the marriages for somebody
with a surname that sounded a bit like Kutner or Kutz, who had married a Jean.
We made a particularly long list of these potential marriages
and then worked those marriages down to see if one of them yielded
a daughter by the name of Sharon.
Eventually, by a process of elimination, one of them did.
Hector found a marriage in the 1940s of a Reginald Irwin Coates
and a Jean or Jenny Tash, who'd shortened her name from Tashinski.
All Hector needed now was positive proof that Reginald and Reuben were the same person.
We found Reginald Erwin's death and his date of birth matched the date of birth that we had
for Ruben Kutner and once we were able to speak to his daughter, then we knew we had the right man.
His daughter, Sharon Coates was Marilyn's first cousin and the heir Hector had been looking for.
My father became Reginald Irwin Coates.
He did that some time before the Second World War.
I think it was just really so it sounded more English, to fit in with other people better.
So it wasn't showing the immigrant status.
Sharon had met her cousin Marilyn a few times when she was a young girl,
but since then they'd completely lost touch.
I don't know anything about Marilyn's life, really.
I suspect she moved to Brighton with her parents but I don't really know that for sure.
I didn't have very much contact with any of the relations on my father's side very often.
Just a few family occasions.
She may well have been there but I don't particularly remember her.
Sharon turned out to be one of six heirs to Marilyn's £12,000 estate.
It was very strange, actually, inheriting from someone who I really didn't know existed.
Very odd indeed.
But it did have the advantage that I got back in touch with my cousins.
Being contacted by Hector has given Sharon a chance to reflect on her extraordinary family history.
I really would like to know more about my father's family.
It would be quite nice, just because, as I get older, I think more about family.
Immigrant families like the Kutners were determined to lose their foreigner status.
But, in the process, they lost touch with each other.
Marilyn may have died alone but, because of her, this is one family that has been reunited.
Heir Hunters Fraser & Fraser have been investigating the case
of Brian Simon Birch MBE, who died aged 71 on the island of Malta.
His lasting memory will always be, as I say,
outside St Paul's Bar or the Electro Bar.
When we some good sessions, good times.
Simon was very dry.
He would make something funny out of any serious incident.
He always could come out with a comment that would make you laugh.
Before he retired to enjoy ex-pat life, Simon was a captain
in the British Army whose courage and skill was much admired.
I was very pleased for Simon,
because his MBE was thoroughly deserved.
He had done an outstanding job and he was recognised for it.
The company have gambled a huge amount of people and resources
trying to stay ahead of the competition on this case
because they believe that his estate could be worth up to £250,000.
I'm pretty pleased with where we are.
We're certainly in pole position.
But I think we're quite a long way ahead of the pack, as well.
Brian's father Sam had 12 brothers and sisters.
So far, the team have found the heirs from three stems and they just keep on coming.
She has seven children that's going to be entitled.
So, a busy old day for the secretary.
But all that's about to change.
Neil's received a piece of paper that's shattered their lead
and handed over their advantage to the competition.
So, they're going to have that now, aren't they?
The independent agent in Malta has finally faxed over Brian's death certificate.
But Fraser's didn't have an exclusive deal with him,
so he's also sent it to several of their competitors.
If the rival companies were struggling to identify
the right Birch family before, they won't be now.
Oh, agent, don't do this.
Any advantage Fraser's had has been wiped out.
Well, it's a matter of time now, isn't it? It's a race.
After this setback, Neil and Dave Slee meet for crisis talks in the library.
The biggest concern is the West Country stuff.
If that's not being covered, then you've got...
I've just taken him off Tony.
Then keep Bob on the way down there and have three of them.
Let's bombard it tonight, get as many people seen tonight in Wales.
As well as Ewart and Bob Barratt, they're also sending senior researcher Bob Smith down
to join them, to make sure that as soon as an heir is discovered,
a Fraser's representative is on their doorstep to sign them up.
And Neil's taking no chances in the office either.
I think, pretty much, most of the guys in the company are on this job at the moment.
While Dave Slee and his team continue to chase down more and more Birch heirs,
case manager Frances Brett has been brought on to kickstart the maternal Parfitt side of the tree.
And straight away, she runs into a roadblock.
I think there's a little bit of a dilemma as to how people fit into the family.
Allan has been searching through online records and databases for information about the Parfitts.
The deceased mother had a brother and a sister,
according to the 1911 census.
So, obviously, it could be possible there are children born
after the 1911 census that we haven't identified yet.
Brian's mother, Edith, had a sister, Elizabeth, and a brother, Frederick.
Their mother was Annie Parfitt.
But there's no record of a father, which raises the question of illegitimacy.
If they are illegitimate, then under English and Welsh law, they would only be half brothers and sisters
and their descendants would be half-blood nieces and nephews.
But the Parfitts may still have a stronger claim than Brian's father's family, the Birches,
because half-blood nieces and nephews have a greater entitlement than full-blood cousins.
We are going to need some certificates.
But in the meantime, we will work it out and see what we find out.
But until those certificates arrive, Frances and her team can't afford to drop the ball.
They must keep tracking down potential Parfitt heirs
if they're going to stay ahead of the competition.
150 miles away in Cwmbran, South Wales, Ewart is gearing up to make a major breakthrough.
He has taken charge of one particular stem of the Birch family tree,
the descendants of Fred Birch, Brian's uncle.
He's about to meet with heirs John and Dawn Evans who, along with their
brother, Steven, are the children of Raymond Evans and Julie Birch, who was Brian Birch's first cousin.
Hi, Mr Evans. Ewart Lindsay from Fraser & Fraser. How are you? You're John, aren't you?
-Yes, I am.
What's happened is that there is a second cousin who has passed
on without leaving a will. OK?
I don't think you probably... You wouldn't know who the deceased is?
-Not really, no.
-I don't think you ever met him.
-Did you know him?
I met him a few times.
To his father's funeral, to his mum's funeral.
Ewart talks them through how they can go about making a claim on their relative's estate.
Anything your mother would have got from the estate will then get divided up between the three of you.
-Thank you very much.
After Ewart leaves, the family try to take in the impact of what they've just been told.
I was a little bit shocked, when I heard.
-It seems a bit strange.
-Never met him at all.
It's all a little bit surreal.
Well, it's nice to think that, although we didn't meet him,
that we are getting some sort of benefit from it.
But it would have been nicer to have met him, I suppose.
It's the end of a long day for the Heir Hunters.
Ewart's had a great result, signing up two heirs in one visit.
But this is only one stem out of 13.
There's still a long way to go.
He heads off to join fellow operatives Bob Barratt
and Bob Smith at their hotel before starting all over again tomorrow.
The next day dawns bright and early in Wales.
The two Bobs are comparing notes on the heirs
they managed to sign up yesterday and the task ahead of them today.
I tried ringing you this morning, you know that?
Yeah, he was out for a run, I expect.
No, I've been speaking to my heir. I've got a 10:30 appointment this morning.
Back in London, Dave Slee is already hard at work.
Good man, thanks very much. Bye. Take care. Have a nice weekend. Bye-bye.
Now it's just a question of tying up the loose ends of the Birch side of the investigation.
And it's been quite an operation.
There are at least...
18 first cousins alive,
with the possibility of two more, the Australian descendants.
And 10 cousins once removed.
Although there's still no sign of any competition,
the team need to sign up as many heirs as possible on this case.
Their commission needs to cover the costs of the resources they've spent on it.
Meanwhile, the question mark hanging over the legitimacy of the maternal
Parfitt side of the family is still troubling Neil.
I'm thinking that they're all illegit?
She was in a relationship, and just didn't married.
Was there any of them?
-She just didn't get married and knocked out a whole family.
So we should do a search between 11 and 21 at least, in the same district.
If the whole maternal side are illegitimate,
that means the company won't have to chase around trying to sign them up, which would be great news for Neil.
At last, the all-important Parfitt birth certificates have arrived.
We've got the births, they're "no father shown" on there.
Thomas was the father of the girls that were
having these illegitimate children, so she's just given grandad's name.
Sure enough, Edith Parfitt's birth certificate does not show a father,
which means her parents cannot have been married.
But on her marriage certificate she puts her grandfather's name,
Thomas Parfitt, where her father's name should be.
People didn't want to leave a blank on their marriage certificate
and quite often, gave the name of their grandfather
as being that of their dad,
which is exactly what Edith did when she married Samuel Erasmus Birch in 1937.
Mr Barrett, Neil.
Just to tell you, mate, that mother's side is illegit, so it doesn't look like there's going
to be any beneficiaries on that, so all you've got to do is those trees with the three of you. Bye.
It's a great result for the heir hunters.
The maternal side has been discounted.
The final heirs on the paternal side are being signed up and the competition never even got close.
Neil took a gamble and it paid off but he's not resting on his laurels.
This is really just the start.
We've got people to see, contracts still to get and then obviously all
the paperwork which goes with them, to put all their case together.
But really, that's going to take us a month, two months.
That's still only just the tip of the iceberg.
The legal system in England and Wales takes about 12 months to conclude.
In Malta, we've had a warning it's going to be nearer two years.
Certainly, we're going to have done all this work and not get paid for that for about two years or so.
Down in Wales, Ewart has got one final heir to visit.
Hello, Mrs Stevens? Hi. Ewart Lindsay from Fraser & Fraser.
Lynda Stevens is the only member of the Fred Birch stem that Ewatt hasn't yet seen.
She's Raymond Evans's sister-in-law, and aunt to John and Dawn.
Unlike her niece and nephew, she has a clear memory of her cousin.
Brian was always away in the army.
-Once he joined the army, you know, then we didn't see a lot of him.
I seen him more when I was younger, because my father kept pigeons
with Uncle Sam and our dad used to take me out to the pigeon loft and that.
-Brian was there then.
-I hope you do get enough to go on a nice cruise.
A cruise, or some ice cream down the seaside!
Nice meeting you.
Lynda is left behind to mull over the amazing events of the last 24 hours.
It's a real shocker. It has really opened up cupboards, if you know what I mean. Family history.
So surprising is the family.
You know, the size of the family, and you don't even realise that they're there.
And what of the man who, albeit unwittingly, brought all this about?
He was quite nice looking. Well, I thought he was anyway.
He always reminded me of my father.
You would have thought he would have made a will, but then
who was he going to leave it to? You know?
He most probably wouldn't even have thought about it.
In his military life, Simon showed great courage and expertise.
In retirement, he was the archetypal Englishman abroad
and if his funeral was anything to go by, a much-missed friend.
It was a really, really nice service.
It was in the open air
and a very, very good turnout.
Simon was just a very, very private man.
Once you got to know him, he'd always be very friendly and very kind to you.
If you would like advice about building your family tree or making a will, go to...
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