Gill/Fisher Heir Hunters


Gill/Fisher

Series following the work of probate researchers. When two brothers die on the same day after not seeing each other for many years, a tragic tale of family separation is revealed.


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Transcript


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For most of her life,

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Muriel Gill lived in the northern seaside town of Blackpool.

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Today, the heir hunters are getting to grips

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with her complex family tree.

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We could be going down to another generation.

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So, we could be ending up signing half of Lancashire up on this estate.

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And they make an extraordinary discovery.

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You see that and you think, can it be true?

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Two brothers die on the same day when they're different ages,

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just, to me, it just seems like something that just doesn't happen.

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It's going to be a busy day for the heir hunters

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with two challenging cases to crack.

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Today, we learn about one of

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the world's most successful collaborations

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in motorcar history.

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Charles Rolls, Henry Royce.

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Two very different characters,

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and they formed this relationship that would become Rolls-Royce.

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And the heir hunters uncover

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the glamorous magic of Blackpool in the 1950s.

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When you think that the ladies who were in the box office

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were selling 6,000 tickets a night throughout the summer,

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it was quite amazing, really.

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Plus, how you could be entitled to inherit an unclaimed estate.

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Could a fortune be heading your way?

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In London, all hands are on deck to solve an urgent case

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at heir hunting firm Fraser & Fraser.

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The details have just come in via a private referral

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and are being handled by senior case manager Dave Slee.

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Muriel Gill is the deceased.

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She died last month in Blackpool,

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so in March 2014...in Blackpool.

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Because Muriel died so recently,

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this could prove to be a difficult case for Dave.

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Initially, I was a bit sceptical about researching the matter

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because it's not been referred to the Duchy of Lancaster

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who would deal with all intestacies of people dying,

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obviously, in Lancashire.

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I don't know why they haven't referred the matter

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that had come out in a wash.

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Dave is concerned that the case hasn't been referred

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because it's not of any value.

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But he's taking a leap of faith

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and putting a big team onto the research.

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At the moment, my main consideration,

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let's find heirs, and worry about that later on.

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Muriel Gill was born in Rawtenstall,

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a small town in the Rossendale Valley, in Lancashire.

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Known to her friends as Rita,

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her friendly manner made her stand out from the crowd.

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Rita was very, what you call, warm personality.

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Very bubbly, outgoing.

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Loved the work, loved music, loved life, really.

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That's what I'd say about Rita.

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She absolutely loved life, every minute of it.

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At a very early age, Muriel developed a passion for music.

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She fell in love with the accordion

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and would play it for anyone who would listen.

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Rita was a very accomplished accordionist.

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And she could do it supporting herself,

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play for other people, play for dancing, play for anything.

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If you heard Rita, you'd think, what a great player,

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what a lovely sound.

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After moving to Blackpool in her younger days,

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and living there happily for most of her life,

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she left a lasting impression on everyone she met.

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She was a very jolly person and...

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she was what I call...

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..a mummy-type of lady,

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because she was always smiling

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and she was always very nice to say hello to or good evening to.

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She was an attractive lady

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and she had quite a few friends

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that used to go to the house to visit her.

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Very sweet person.

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And...I'm sorry I didn't get to know her better over the years.

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Sadly, Muriel passed away on 23rd March 2013

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at the nearby Haddon Court nursing home,

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where she'd lived for the last two years.

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In the office, case manager Dave Slee is beginning the search

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for heirs to her estate.

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In doing so, he's taking a calculated risk.

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Right, where am I?

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It transpires that she did own a property

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which was sold just prior to her death for 95,000,

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would indicate that the majority of those funds

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are probably still intact.

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So, it's, from our point of view, makes sense to work this estate.

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It's seeming more and more likely to Dave

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that the case could be of high value,

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and as a result, the threat of competition is ever present.

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Let me have a quick word with Charlie...

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The team have to move quickly,

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so Dave sends out his travelling researcher

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to make enquiries on the ground.

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Hello, Charlie. Sorry to trouble you.

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Um, just to give you an update, really.

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The, there's two certificates been ordered ready for you to pick up.

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Do you know when they're...?

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You can pick them up before 4.30, so OK.

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With the travelling researcher out on the road,

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the team in the office get to work.

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And it's not long before they start making progress.

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Muriel, the deceased...

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Maiden name was Marshall.

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She was married to an Arthur Gill

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and...Mr Gill died prior to the deceased

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and they had no issue.

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Muriel Marshall married Arthur Gill in January 1952

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in Haslingden, Lancashire.

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The team's next job is to search for

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any brothers and sisters Muriel may have had.

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Muriel born in 1929 in Lancashire

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and she looks to be the only child of a William and Nellie Elmer.

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We don't believe that there is any near kin.

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So, the deceased had no brothers and sisters

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or nieces and nephews.

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And though she was married, she had no children herself.

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Without any children or siblings to inherit,

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the search now has to move up a generation

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to look for aunts or uncles

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on both the mother's and father's side of the tree.

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OK, at the moment...

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I have both Jess and Joseph looking at this estate.

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They're trying to identify heirs on the maternal family

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because that's the better of the two names.

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Muriel's parents were Nellie Elmer and William Marshall.

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As Elmer is an unusual name,

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the team are hoping to locate records on that family more quickly.

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Could we just have a look to see...

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how many births there are of Elmers in Haslingden post '11.

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Yeah.

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With a bit more digging,

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the team quickly track down a record of the family on the 1911 census.

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On the census, it appears...

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that she has at least two other siblings.

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So, there's two maternal...

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Er, one maternal aunt, one maternal uncle to the deceased.

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Er, we're trying to establish if there are any other,

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what we would call top line,

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any other maternal aunts and uncles.

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As the team continue searching for aunts and uncles

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on Muriel's mother's side of the tree,

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Dave gets some news back from his

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travelling researcher in Blackpool.

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He's just undertaken the enquiry at the deceased's former property.

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He's had no joy there

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but he will go back and talk to some of the neighbours,

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who, I understand, did know the deceased.

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The team are getting closer to speaking to people

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who knew Muriel first-hand.

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And with the family tree coming together,

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things are looking promising.

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It looks like there's value...

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and on the face of it,

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it looks like there'll probably be heirs.

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More than likely cousins or the children of cousins.

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And it doesn't take long before

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the team manage to track down contact details

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for their first potential beneficiary.

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So, Jess has been a superstar.

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She's found the first heirs.

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-Um...first cousin?

-Uh-huh.

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So, as we suspected,

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the closest heirs to the deceased are first cousins

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and, so far, we've identified maternal first cousins.

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The team have established that Muriel's maternal grandparents,

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Edward Elmer and Grace Elizabeth Hartley

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married in 1875.

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They went on to have three children,

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including Muriel's mother, Nellie.

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Records show that both Annie

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and Albert had one child each.

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And the team have located

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one of them.

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Dave gets straight on the phone to update the agent on the road.

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All right, well, we've got a maternal first cousin.

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Um, there's still a lot of work to do.

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Um...but, um, I'll give you that information...

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If Matthew is an heir,

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then Dave must make contact as soon as possible,

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and before the competition.

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So he sends researcher Charlie to his home address.

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What time span does it take from you to get from Blackpool to Rossendale?

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Without breaking the speed limit.

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With the travelling researcher now on his way to visit him,

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Dave puts a call in to the potential heir.

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I'm trying to trace a gentleman by the name of Matthew Hudson

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who would've been born in 1934,

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the son of Matthew Hudson and an Annie Elmer.

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Dave confirms that Matthew is in fact Muriel's first cousin,

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and he wastes no time in making arrangements to meet him.

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Our aim now is to locate all the beneficiaries,

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you being one of them, Mr Hudson.

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So, my colleague that'll come along to see you today,

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his name's Charles Lemon.

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All right, thank you so much for your time, sir.

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Thank you, nice speaking to you. Bye-bye, bye-bye.

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Locating an heir so quickly is a great result for Dave and the team.

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His information has really helped me finish,

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well, most of the research on the maternal family.

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So, this might be a nice little estate

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that...we've stolen under the nose of competition.

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But it's still touch and go whether

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Dave's hunch that Muriel owned her property

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will prove to be correct.

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We initially thought that there may have been an estate

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because, of course, um...

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it appeared that Muriel might have owned the property.

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An heir hunter's work can sometimes reveal

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the most extraordinary twists and turns of fate.

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Although case manager Ryan didn't know it at the start,

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his work on the estate of Alec Fisher

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would do exactly that.

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Alec's case was privately referred

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to London-based heir hunting firm Finders in May 2011,

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and was being managed by Ryan Gregory.

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Initially, when the case came into us,

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it looked like a pretty straightforward case.

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We had a name, we had a date of death,

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so it didn't look anything out of the ordinary.

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The value of the case was unknown to Ryan at that point,

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and he had very little information to work with.

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To begin with, we didn't have any documentation,

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we didn't have a death certificate.

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All we knew is Alec's name, his date of death

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and his last known address,

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so that was the starting point for our research.

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Alec Fisher lived in the railway town of Crewe, in Cheshire.

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Having been born there in April 1931,

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he went on to work for the Crewe Railway Company,

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one of the town's largest employers.

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Sadly, no photos of Alec survive.

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Alec started on the railway in 1945,

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just after the war,

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and I started in 1954, just nine years later.

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Well, over that period,

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I think me and Alec were on the railway between us around 40 years.

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Alec worked as a train driver,

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and passionate about his job,

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he was a popular character in the railway community.

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He was pleasurable, he wasn't a miserable person.

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Er, did quite a lot of reading, railway books.

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But, other than that, very smart

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and enjoyed life as he liked it.

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Terrance remained friends with Alec for most of his life.

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In his 70s, Alec moved into a nursing home.

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Terrance visited him there regularly

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and the two often shared tales of their time on the railways.

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My lasting memory of Alec Fisher was

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just before we went on holiday abroad.

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Sitting outside the CLS care home in Manor Way

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in his wheelchair

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and he's out of Old Holborn,

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rolling a cigarette.

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Happy as lamb, Larry the lamb.

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Sadly, Alec Fisher passed away on 11th October 2010.

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He didn't leave a will and had no known close kin,

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and his estate laid unclaimed for a number of months.

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The first step for Ryan was to locate Alec on the electoral roll.

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This would hopefully show if he had shared his last address

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with anyone else.

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It's important for us to see whether the deceased was living with anyone

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because there may be a close relative,

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somebody that may have some information,

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or more importantly, it's important for us to find out

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whether anybody has a prior claim to the estate.

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Ryan and the team were able to trace Alec back

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to an address in Crewe,

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where he had lived before he moved into the nursing home.

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Until about 1989, Alec was registered as living with an Ada Fisher.

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Until about 2006, he was there with a George Fisher.

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Ada Fisher had dropped off the electoral roll in the late '80s,

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and a quick search of the death indexes

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confirmed that she had in fact passed away.

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We knew she was of an age that she could have been his mother,

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so we could put that supposition together.

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With relations of George Fisher,

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he was on the electoral roll much later, until about 2006.

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He was living with Alec, so, I mean,

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we kind of thought that he may be a brother of the deceased.

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The team put a call in to Alec's nursing home,

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who confirmed that George Fisher was indeed Alec's brother.

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They also told them that George had passed away,

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and when the team continued to look into his death,

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they uncovered some unbelievable information.

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We were astonished to find out that actually

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it appears as though he died on the same day as Alec.

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I mean, you see that and you think, can it be true?

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Is the information correct?

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Two brothers die on the same day when they're different ages

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just, to me, it just seems like something that just doesn't happen.

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But, incredibly, it wasn't just the date of death they shared.

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They both ended up dying in the same hospital on different wings,

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and I believe that they really even, to the time that they passed away,

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didn't really have a physical connection with one another.

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But it does make you think about, you know,

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some more kind of deeper mysteries when something like that happens.

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It seemed that both Alec and his brother George passed away

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on the very same day in the very same hospital

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but died of different causes.

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As this turn of events seemed so unlikely,

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Ryan put in a call to the Treasury Solicitor.

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They were able to confirm George's death along with Alec's,

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and they also confirmed that both brothers had in fact died

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without leaving a will.

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What made things more extraordinary

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was that the brothers hadn't spoken for years,

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and Alec had opened up to old friend and colleague Terrance

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about it during a visit.

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The first time he asked me to find his brother George...

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..I didn't know why Alec wanted to find his brother George.

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You know, I hadn't been in contact with him for a few years

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and I didn't know the reason why he wanted to get in contact.

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Terrance spent 12 months trying to track down George,

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contacting every nursing home in the area.

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Little did he know that when the two brothers passed away,

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they were closer than they had been in years.

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When Alec's funeral had ended,

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the vicar asked Terrance if he could stay on and attend the next one.

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The brother George...come now...

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..in the hearse...so we did that.

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Before the funeral, we had no idea that brother George had died,

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who I'd been looking for for all this last 12 month.

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And it was a complete shock.

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It was yet another twist in an already remarkable story.

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By the end of day one,

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we had gone from looking into the case of Alec Fisher

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to looking into the case of two brothers,

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Alec and George Fisher,

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who both died on exactly the same day.

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And the similarities kept on coming.

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A search through the marriage indexes confirmed that

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both of the brothers were bachelors

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and neither had any children of their own.

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So the team's next job was to see if they had

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any other brothers, sisters, nieces or nephews that could inherit.

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We found a marriage entry for the deceased's parents,

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Thomas Fisher and Ada Smith.

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Thomas Fisher and Ada Smith married on 19th July 1930.

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At the time, Alec's father Thomas was employed as

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a carriage cleaner on the railways.

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If you lived in the Crewe area in the 1900s,

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the railways were a popular career choice.

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Crewe is home to one of

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the most historic railway stations in the world,

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and it provided work for generations of families.

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The main reason that railways was established in Crewe

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is the fact that it was an ideal place geographly

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because, um, you could get from Crewe down North Wales coast.

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You get to the North up to Glasgow

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and you could also get to Manchester and Liverpool.

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A few years later, in 1840, Crewe Railway Works was built,

0:18:060:18:10

which was one of Britain's largest engineering facilities at the time.

0:18:100:18:15

Originally, there was about 10,000 men worked in Crewe Works.

0:18:150:18:18

And in there, they built steam engines from scratch.

0:18:180:18:22

Right from the wheels, the boilers,

0:18:220:18:25

the wheels, the emulsion, the tenders,

0:18:250:18:28

everything was built in Crewe Works.

0:18:280:18:30

So, they started off with the basic metal...

0:18:300:18:33

Um...and ended up with a steam locomotive.

0:18:330:18:36

It seems that working on the railways was a family tradition.

0:18:380:18:42

Alec's grandfather joined the railways as a carriage examiner.

0:18:420:18:45

The carriage examiner was commonly known as a wheel tapper.

0:18:460:18:50

And he used to have a hammer with a long handle.

0:18:500:18:53

If you tapped the wheels with a hammer and it rang like a bell,

0:18:530:18:57

that meant that the wheel's OK.

0:18:570:18:58

When Alec joined the railways,

0:19:030:19:04

he held the more sought-after position of a train driver.

0:19:040:19:07

Alec would've been conscious of his family history,

0:19:080:19:10

being fourth-generation.

0:19:100:19:12

Alec's father had also followed the family footsteps

0:19:120:19:15

and worked on the railway.

0:19:150:19:16

As the railways boomed,

0:19:180:19:19

generations of families enjoyed a long and secure career

0:19:190:19:22

during the time of the steam engine.

0:19:220:19:25

Crewe Works, as it was, in the early days,

0:19:250:19:27

where you got 10,000 men,

0:19:270:19:29

has now been reduced to 300 or 400 men.

0:19:290:19:33

It's disappeared over the years

0:19:330:19:36

because they don't make steam engines any more.

0:19:360:19:38

Electrification changed the industry dramatically,

0:19:390:19:43

but the town of Crewe will always be known for the railways.

0:19:430:19:46

The team had found that Alec's father Thomas and mother Ada

0:19:500:19:54

had no other children apart from Alec and George.

0:19:540:19:57

So their search was now focused on tracking down

0:19:570:19:59

aunts, uncles and cousins the brothers may have had.

0:19:590:20:02

Using the 1911 census, they discovered that

0:20:020:20:05

there was one aunt on their father's side, Gwendolyn.

0:20:050:20:09

Gwendolyn Fisher marries a gentleman called Percy Beastle.

0:20:090:20:13

Beastle is quite a rare-occurring surname,

0:20:130:20:16

so we were able to quite quickly and easily find that

0:20:160:20:19

they just had one daughter.

0:20:190:20:21

This daughter was the only paternal heir that the team could find

0:20:220:20:25

on the father's side of the tree.

0:20:250:20:27

With the paternal side wrapped up,

0:20:280:20:30

it was time to take a look at his mother's.

0:20:300:20:32

We had to go over and do the maternal side, which is Smith, so...

0:20:340:20:38

Not easy by any stretch of the imagination.

0:20:380:20:41

Every year in Britain,

0:20:470:20:48

thousands of people get a welcome knock on the door

0:20:480:20:50

from the heir hunters,

0:20:500:20:52

who bring news of an unexpected inheritance.

0:20:520:20:55

You tend to sort of think to yourself,

0:20:550:20:57

"Well, I'm not sure if this is real or not."

0:20:570:20:59

So, it was quite a surprise.

0:20:590:21:01

But there are still thousands of unsolved cases

0:21:010:21:04

on the Treasury Solicitor's Bona Vocantia list,

0:21:040:21:06

where heirs need to be found.

0:21:060:21:08

Could you be one of them?

0:21:080:21:10

Today, we've got details of two states on the list

0:21:100:21:13

that are yet to be claimed.

0:21:130:21:14

The first case is Margaret Christine Weedy,

0:21:160:21:19

who died on 8th June 2002

0:21:190:21:21

in Camden, London.

0:21:210:21:23

She was also known as Tina

0:21:250:21:27

and was born on 11th May 1923

0:21:270:21:29

in the Republic of Ireland.

0:21:290:21:32

Her maiden name was Meely.

0:21:320:21:33

Her unusual married name of Weedy

0:21:350:21:37

has the highest concentration in North Wales and Newcastle upon Tyne.

0:21:370:21:41

Does her name mean anything to you?

0:21:430:21:45

Could you be the beneficiary they're looking for?

0:21:450:21:48

Next, 91-year-old Kenneth Kitchener Lear.

0:21:490:21:53

Kenneth was born in Ashburton, Devon,

0:21:530:21:55

on 27th June 1916.

0:21:550:21:58

He died in the same county in Teignmouth

0:22:000:22:03

on 9th January 2009,

0:22:030:22:05

and it isn't known if he ever married.

0:22:050:22:07

Whilst the name Lear is rarely found in the UK,

0:22:080:22:11

Kitchener is a strong British surname

0:22:110:22:13

originating from Lancashire.

0:22:130:22:15

Do the names Lear or Kitchener mean anything to you?

0:22:160:22:19

If you know anything that could help solve

0:22:210:22:23

the cases of Margaret Christine Weedy

0:22:230:22:25

or Kenneth Kitchener Lear,

0:22:250:22:27

then you would need to make a claim on their estate

0:22:270:22:29

via the Treasury Solicitor's Office.

0:22:290:22:32

Perhaps you could be the next of kin.

0:22:320:22:34

If so, you could have thousands of pounds coming your way.

0:22:340:22:37

Heir hunting firm Fraser & Fraser are hot on the heels

0:22:450:22:48

of heirs to the estate of Muriel Gill.

0:22:480:22:50

While she remains a mystery to the team,

0:22:510:22:53

in the 1960s, Muriel was adored by thousands of fans

0:22:530:22:57

to whom she was better known as Rita.

0:22:570:22:59

Rita and her husband, known as Reed & Delroy,

0:23:010:23:05

were a superb musical act.

0:23:050:23:08

They both played concertinas,

0:23:080:23:09

they both played accordions.

0:23:090:23:12

She was a brilliant accordion player.

0:23:120:23:15

And of course, at that particular time,

0:23:150:23:18

there was a lot of accordionists in the country.

0:23:180:23:21

Rita was always a very, very beautiful lady,

0:23:210:23:24

and it was a superb act.

0:23:240:23:27

You couldn't not like Rita

0:23:270:23:29

because of the material they produced

0:23:290:23:33

and her bubbling personality.

0:23:330:23:36

Rita and Arthur were almost a permanent fixture

0:23:370:23:40

in the seaside town of Blackpool in the '50s and '60s,

0:23:400:23:44

where they performed in front of thousands.

0:23:440:23:46

In Blackpool, the beaches were full of deckchairs all the time,

0:23:460:23:51

you couldn't move on the beaches.

0:23:510:23:54

There was that many people here.

0:23:540:23:56

Blackpool was referred to as Lancashire's playground.

0:23:570:24:00

When mills and factories closed down for their summer breaks,

0:24:000:24:03

the workers headed in their thousands to Blackpool

0:24:030:24:06

to let loose for their two-week holiday.

0:24:060:24:09

The reason Blackpool was so popular in the '50s and 60s,

0:24:090:24:11

it was one of the very few towns in the country that had 12 theatres.

0:24:110:24:17

Also, the Pleasure Beach and the Tower Circus.

0:24:170:24:20

It was just a wonderful place to be on holiday.

0:24:210:24:25

And the first thing people did when they arrived

0:24:250:24:27

was head to the box office

0:24:270:24:29

and booked their seats for the week in advance.

0:24:290:24:32

When you think that the ladies who were in the box office

0:24:320:24:36

were selling 6,000 tickets a night throughout the summer,

0:24:360:24:40

it was quite amazing, really.

0:24:400:24:41

Well, of course, they had about 12 stage shows in those times,

0:24:470:24:52

12 live stage shows.

0:24:520:24:53

Each with an orchestra, full orchestra.

0:24:530:24:56

And, so, you had quite a lot of musicians.

0:24:560:24:59

Delroy and Reed were one of the day's most popular double acts.

0:24:590:25:03

They worked perfectly together on stage,

0:25:030:25:05

and their relationship was even stronger off it.

0:25:050:25:09

They were both extremely friendly and devoted to each other

0:25:090:25:13

and they had this lovely zest for living which was infectious.

0:25:130:25:17

If you ever saw them work,

0:25:170:25:19

they had a great infection about their...and affection.

0:25:190:25:22

Peter first worked with them in 1974,

0:25:240:25:27

and remembers their reputation for being consummate professionals.

0:25:270:25:31

You know, they were almost indispensable.

0:25:310:25:33

This was a time when you had a lot of acts around,

0:25:330:25:36

a lot of instrumental acts,

0:25:360:25:37

apart from the singers and the comics.

0:25:370:25:40

But they were top of the tree.

0:25:400:25:42

Rita, I think, was the most jovial person really I've ever known.

0:25:440:25:48

She was always full of life.

0:25:480:25:49

Very...seasoned professional is what you could call her.

0:25:490:25:53

Arthur retired many years before Rita,

0:25:540:25:57

but she carried on performing

0:25:570:25:59

and remained a popular fixture on the Blackpool music scene.

0:25:590:26:02

I miss her personality and I miss her company.

0:26:020:26:06

Acts like that are very hard to find today

0:26:080:26:10

because there is no-one doing it any more.

0:26:100:26:13

In the office, David and the team are busy

0:26:170:26:19

trying to track down heirs on Muriel's father's side of the tree.

0:26:190:26:23

We need to research the Marshall side now.

0:26:230:26:26

That's where the work gets that little bit harder.

0:26:260:26:29

Could be 10 or 20 on the paternal, we don't know.

0:26:290:26:32

Or there could be none all.

0:26:320:26:34

Dave sets the team to work,

0:26:340:26:36

and it soon becomes clear that

0:26:360:26:38

they're going to have their work cut out.

0:26:380:26:39

The guys have been really busy with the paternal side and...

0:26:410:26:45

it looks enormous.

0:26:450:26:47

There's lots of aunts and uncles on the father's family, so...

0:26:470:26:51

We've gone from what looked like a relatively easy job

0:26:510:26:54

and finishing it really quickly

0:26:540:26:56

to a job that looks like it's going to take several,

0:26:560:26:59

it could take several days to finish now, so...

0:26:590:27:02

That changes the complexion somewhat.

0:27:020:27:05

Muriel's paternal grandparents were John Marshall and Annie Trickett.

0:27:050:27:09

They married in 1895 in Burnley, Lancashire,

0:27:090:27:13

and the team find entries for all of their children on the 1911 census.

0:27:130:27:17

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven...

0:27:180:27:22

eight.

0:27:220:27:23

Yeah, there's at least eight brothers and sisters

0:27:260:27:28

to the deceased's father.

0:27:280:27:31

So, we have to account for each of those.

0:27:310:27:33

It's a huge task, as the majority of Muriel's aunts and uncles

0:27:330:27:37

were born during the early 1900s.

0:27:370:27:40

We could be going down to another generation,

0:27:400:27:43

so we could be ending up

0:27:430:27:44

signing half of Lancashire up on this estate.

0:27:440:27:47

Determined to make contact with the heirs before the competition,

0:27:470:27:50

the team quickly get cracking, and search for any surviving cousins.

0:27:500:27:55

-Have you got anything to her?

-We can't find a death.

0:27:550:27:57

-Have you got a birth for them?

-Hang on.

0:27:570:28:00

Yeah, it's June '38, Haslingden.

0:28:000:28:02

Man power prevails again,

0:28:040:28:06

for Dave and the team think they've traced their first heir

0:28:060:28:09

on Muriel's father's side of the family.

0:28:090:28:12

She might not be home. I'll give her a call anyway and see.

0:28:120:28:15

-Don't do anything more on that then, Joe.

-OK.

0:28:150:28:17

Muriel's father William had eight siblings

0:28:180:28:21

and the team have tracked down

0:28:210:28:22

children of one of his younger

0:28:220:28:24

sisters - Violet May.

0:28:240:28:25

She had five children with her

0:28:250:28:27

husband Wilfred Riley.

0:28:270:28:29

Although three of them

0:28:290:28:30

had died in infancy,

0:28:300:28:31

two of her daughters

0:28:310:28:33

were still alive

0:28:330:28:34

and would be heirs

0:28:340:28:35

to Muriel's estate.

0:28:350:28:36

We're trying to trace the next of kin of a lady who died last month

0:28:360:28:41

by the name of Muriel Gill.

0:28:410:28:43

And that you're the daughter of Violet May Riley,

0:28:440:28:48

whose maiden name was Marshall.

0:28:480:28:50

Well, that's good,

0:28:500:28:51

I can breathe a sigh of relief cos we have got the right family.

0:28:510:28:55

It's a great result for Dave

0:28:550:28:57

as heirs can be the best source of research,

0:28:570:28:59

saving the team hours of work.

0:28:590:29:02

She's given me quite a lot of information.

0:29:020:29:04

There's still a number of avenues we need to pursue.

0:29:040:29:08

Trying to trace other heirs, but it's all coming together nicely now,

0:29:080:29:12

so I'm very pleased with the research up to now.

0:29:120:29:14

One of the many heirs David and the team have tracked down

0:29:170:29:20

is Matthew Hudson,

0:29:200:29:21

a cousin of Muriel's on her mother's side.

0:29:210:29:23

Matthew and Muriel were close when they were growing up,

0:29:250:29:27

and he was always in awe of her glittering showbiz career.

0:29:270:29:31

When she got dressed up for the stage, she was glamorous.

0:29:310:29:34

It was just what she was meant to be.

0:29:340:29:36

And it was just wonderful to see her there.

0:29:380:29:43

It was entertaining.

0:29:430:29:44

Yeah, she was different. She broke the mould.

0:29:440:29:47

Muriel's career took off

0:29:490:29:51

when she and her husband Arthur joined forces in her teenage years

0:29:510:29:55

and they remained a double act until Arthur passed away in 2006.

0:29:550:29:59

When Arthur died, she, it really, upset her.

0:30:000:30:03

I remember one or two telephone calls I had with her

0:30:040:30:07

and she felt very lonely

0:30:070:30:09

and she found it very difficult.

0:30:090:30:12

And I knew she had friends in Blackpool,

0:30:120:30:15

but I didn't know who they were,

0:30:150:30:18

and I couldn't make contact, so I lost touch completely.

0:30:180:30:21

After two years without any contact,

0:30:230:30:25

it was the heir hunters who finally informed Matthew

0:30:250:30:27

of his cousin's death.

0:30:270:30:29

When heir hunters contacted me and told me about Muriel...

0:30:290:30:33

..in some respects, I was very sad.

0:30:350:30:38

Like put an ending to a story, really.

0:30:380:30:41

I felt very sad about it

0:30:410:30:43

and...but it helped me a lot to know what had happened.

0:30:430:30:47

Matthew has enjoyed reliving tales of his cousin's sparkling career.

0:30:490:30:53

It was just what she wanted to do...

0:30:540:30:57

and that was it.

0:30:570:30:58

It was everything to her was to perform.

0:30:580:31:01

I think she had a wonderful life

0:31:020:31:04

and she really enjoyed it.

0:31:040:31:06

After speaking to heirs,

0:31:090:31:10

Dave and the team have been able to track down many more beneficiaries,

0:31:100:31:14

and both sides of the tree are almost complete.

0:31:140:31:17

We've now found heirs as far away as Australia,

0:31:180:31:21

and as it stands, at the moment,

0:31:210:31:23

we're exceeding 10 or 12 heirs.

0:31:230:31:26

It's probably going to be 20, maybe 30 heirs entitled maximum.

0:31:260:31:31

Er, but we've got to try and trace them all.

0:31:310:31:34

That birth, definitely priority.

0:31:340:31:36

That's finished, that's finished...

0:31:360:31:39

That, we know about, she's confirmed that.

0:31:390:31:42

Good, brilliant. Well done, guys. Good work.

0:31:440:31:46

Cracking a complex family tree so quickly

0:31:490:31:51

means it's been a successful day for Dave and the team.

0:31:510:31:54

But even after all their hard work,

0:31:540:31:56

the question of how much Muriel's estate is actually worth

0:31:560:31:59

remains unanswered.

0:31:590:32:01

Dave has been given the number of a close friend of Muriel's

0:32:020:32:05

who may have the answer he's looking for.

0:32:050:32:07

Good afternoon. I'm trying to trace a gentleman by the name of Jack.

0:32:080:32:12

Now, the lady I spoke to earlier said to me

0:32:120:32:15

that you knew Mrs Gill very well

0:32:150:32:18

and had dealt with her affairs.

0:32:180:32:20

She was under the impression that

0:32:200:32:22

even though Mrs Gill owned the property,

0:32:220:32:25

which has, which was since sold...

0:32:250:32:28

It was Mrs Gill's house, I believe.

0:32:280:32:31

It wasn't? Ah.

0:32:310:32:32

No. Oh, I see. So it wasn't their property.

0:32:340:32:38

No, because what we're trying to establish, sir, is

0:32:380:32:41

did Mrs Gill die leaving any estate whatsoever?

0:32:410:32:45

No.

0:32:460:32:48

No estate.

0:32:480:32:49

It's a crushing blow for Dave.

0:32:510:32:53

He was working on the assumption that

0:32:530:32:55

Muriel's case hadn't been passed on to the Duchy for administration

0:32:550:32:58

because she had died only very recently.

0:32:580:33:01

Instead, it turns out that it's because the case had no value.

0:33:010:33:05

Thanks once again for all your help.

0:33:050:33:06

Really appreciate it. Nice speaking to you.

0:33:060:33:08

Bye-bye now, bye-bye.

0:33:080:33:09

From our point of view, it's disappointing.

0:33:120:33:13

The deceased didn't own her property.

0:33:130:33:16

She's died...probably intestate,

0:33:160:33:20

but not leaving any estate.

0:33:200:33:21

So I've got to go around now mopping it up,

0:33:220:33:24

and just telling everyone that,

0:33:240:33:26

unfortunately, they're not going to be entitled.

0:33:260:33:29

The heir hunters only make money once they've signed up an heir,

0:33:290:33:32

and agreed a fee which is taken from the final estate value.

0:33:320:33:35

If you'd have seen today,

0:33:360:33:38

we've had, I've had staff all afternoon working it.

0:33:380:33:41

We've been really busy doing that. Stops us doing other work.

0:33:410:33:44

To find out there's no estate, but hey-ho,

0:33:440:33:47

that's, you know, that's the nature of the beast.

0:33:470:33:49

You know, next estate might have value in it.

0:33:490:33:52

That's how we work.

0:33:520:33:54

What may have been a disastrous case for Dave

0:33:550:33:58

hasn't been so bad for the family.

0:33:580:34:00

When heir hunters told me that she'd died

0:34:010:34:04

without any money being available,

0:34:040:34:06

didn't worry me.

0:34:060:34:07

I wasn't expecting any,

0:34:070:34:09

and it at least put a closure to things.

0:34:090:34:12

It made me think about my own relatives.

0:34:120:34:16

The family that we've got,

0:34:160:34:18

and that we need to keep in touch

0:34:180:34:21

and just not let everything just fade away.

0:34:210:34:25

It's an experience that has helped Matthew reconnect with the family

0:34:250:34:29

and relive cherished memories of his inspirational cousin.

0:34:290:34:32

As I said before, she just changed when she got performing.

0:34:320:34:36

It was her.

0:34:360:34:38

And as she used to say, well,

0:34:380:34:39

she's memorised over 200 tunes and music

0:34:390:34:44

and she'd just sit down and play.

0:34:440:34:45

Wonderful gift.

0:34:470:34:48

Alec Fisher died on the exact same day as his brother George.

0:34:550:34:59

As well as being a train driver on the Crewe railway,

0:34:590:35:02

his death certificate revealed that he had also worked for

0:35:020:35:05

one of the towns other major employees, Rolls-Royce.

0:35:050:35:08

At the beginning of the 20th century,

0:35:120:35:14

the car industry in Britain was booming.

0:35:140:35:17

Mass production was taking off in France and America,

0:35:170:35:20

and in the UK, two entrepreneurs joined forces

0:35:200:35:23

to create a global brand that's still going strong today.

0:35:230:35:27

Charles Rolls, Henry Royce.

0:35:270:35:30

Two very different characters.

0:35:300:35:32

Charles Rolls, born into aristocracy.

0:35:320:35:34

He was younger than Royce,

0:35:340:35:36

he was an engineering fanatic.

0:35:360:35:39

An extraordinary character with a passion for speed.

0:35:390:35:43

Henry Royce was a self-made gentleman,

0:35:430:35:45

an engineering genius.

0:35:450:35:47

And they met on 4th May 1904

0:35:470:35:50

at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.

0:35:500:35:52

Fully documented, we even know what they ate,

0:35:520:35:54

and they immediately recognised in each other what they'd been seeking.

0:35:540:35:59

And they formed this relationship that would become Rolls-Royce.

0:35:590:36:03

The pair wasted no time in showcasing

0:36:050:36:07

their first official Rolls-Royce motorcar.

0:36:070:36:10

The first Rolls-Royce was a 10 horsepower

0:36:110:36:14

but immediately caught the world's attention

0:36:140:36:16

for its quality and its attention to detail.

0:36:160:36:19

And then, later that year,

0:36:190:36:21

Rolls-Royce, in 1904, showed a range of different cars

0:36:210:36:24

at the Paris Motor Salon.

0:36:240:36:26

The two entrepreneurs officially formed Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906,

0:36:270:36:32

and chose Derby as their first location

0:36:320:36:34

for its car production factory.

0:36:340:36:36

During the history of Rolls-Royce, there have been six homes.

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Today, you're at the home of Rolls-Royce

0:36:420:36:44

at Goodwood, in West Sussex, the sixth home.

0:36:440:36:47

But, Rolls-Royce started in Manchester

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and, of course, Crewe was a large part of the company's heritage.

0:36:490:36:53

The Crewe factory was in production for almost 50 years from 1946,

0:36:540:36:59

and it's likely that Alec retired from there.

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Someone like Alec might have been a craftsman,

0:37:030:37:05

he might have been an assembly line worker

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involved somewhere in the production process.

0:37:070:37:10

But he would have understood, whatever job he did at Rolls-Royce,

0:37:100:37:13

that he had to perform at his very best

0:37:130:37:15

to generate the best car in the world.

0:37:150:37:17

The Crewe factory was originally built

0:37:190:37:21

to build aircraft engines in 1938.

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After the end of World War II,

0:37:240:37:26

the factory began to produce some of the world's most famous motorcars,

0:37:260:37:30

the Phantom and the Silver Cloud.

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One of the differences that Alec would've seen in the '50s and '60s

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was the production environment.

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Here today, you see a spotless environment.

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It's very clean, very organised and very ordered,

0:37:420:37:45

and I'm sure that would've been a little different

0:37:450:37:47

in the 1950s and '60s.

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But ultimately, it's the same quality of handcraftsmanship

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that he would have had to been highly trained

0:37:530:37:56

to have understood exactly what the car should be built to,

0:37:560:37:59

the quality standards it should be built to.

0:37:590:38:01

Today, Rolls-Royce produce around 20 cars a day,

0:38:030:38:06

and last year they sold 3,500 cars worldwide.

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A record for the most cars ever sold in one year.

0:38:100:38:13

Alec would've been, I'm sure, enormously proud

0:38:160:38:19

to have worked at Rolls-Royce.

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It would have said something about him.

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It would've given him perhaps a little bit of social standing.

0:38:220:38:25

But it certainly would've said he's doing a great job.

0:38:250:38:28

Back at Finders, Ryan and the team were ready

0:38:330:38:36

to start searching for heirs on Alec's mother's side,

0:38:360:38:39

but they ran into a very common problem.

0:38:390:38:41

His mother was Ada Smith,

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and she had Britain's most widely held surname.

0:38:430:38:46

That's every genealogist's nightmare

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and you know, even before looking into a Smith family,

0:38:480:38:51

that it's going to be quite tricky,

0:38:510:38:53

quite time-consuming and quite expensive.

0:38:530:38:55

After trawling through many records,

0:38:560:38:59

they finally track down the right family.

0:38:590:39:02

So, on the Smith side, on the maternal side of the family,

0:39:020:39:05

there was ten aunts and uncles of the deceased.

0:39:050:39:09

Alec and George's grandparents,

0:39:090:39:12

Samuel Smith and Leah Riley,

0:39:120:39:14

married in 1907.

0:39:140:39:16

They went on to have 11 children,

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one of whom was George and Alec's mother Ada.

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The team then had to painstakingly search death indexes

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to locate records for each of her brothers and sisters.

0:39:240:39:27

Four of them actually died as children.

0:39:270:39:30

One uncle died a bachelor,

0:39:300:39:33

one aunt died without issue.

0:39:330:39:36

Next, they had to trace any children

0:39:360:39:38

those remaining aunts and uncles may have had,

0:39:380:39:40

for they would be heirs to the estates.

0:39:400:39:43

It turns out it was quite a lengthy process

0:39:430:39:46

to try and find beneficiaries,

0:39:460:39:47

but we managed to find everybody.

0:39:470:39:49

In total, there were 13 heirs to Alec and George's estates.

0:39:500:39:54

One from their father's side of the tree

0:39:540:39:56

and 12 from their mother Ada's side.

0:39:560:39:58

One of the first heirs to be informed of their inheritance

0:40:020:40:05

was Peter Smith.

0:40:050:40:06

I didn't know of that side of the family,

0:40:060:40:09

so I just thought they'd mixed me up and got the wrong person

0:40:090:40:13

and it wasn't till later, when we did a bit of digging,

0:40:130:40:16

that found out it was actually my uncles.

0:40:160:40:19

Peter believed that he knew all the members of his close family,

0:40:190:40:23

but had never come across the names Alec or George Fisher.

0:40:230:40:26

It turns out that George and Alec were actually

0:40:270:40:30

my oldest auntie's sons,

0:40:300:40:32

so it was my dad's nephews.

0:40:320:40:35

It was strange to hear about uncles that you never knew about.

0:40:360:40:40

I asked them if I could have a copy of the tree as they had it

0:40:400:40:44

and they sent me one

0:40:440:40:46

and I found out that the family was far more extensive

0:40:460:40:49

than I even knew.

0:40:490:40:51

Thinking about his uncles did stir up

0:40:520:40:55

some old memories for Peter.

0:40:550:40:56

The only thing I really remember is the house itself,

0:40:580:41:01

that, because it was easy for me to get to,

0:41:010:41:04

I could just walk through the back yard into the back door

0:41:040:41:06

and straight into the kitchen.

0:41:060:41:08

TANNOY: The next arrival at Platform 5...

0:41:080:41:10

And it seems the railway connection runs right through

0:41:100:41:12

both sides of the family.

0:41:120:41:15

My dad actually worked in the railway works,

0:41:150:41:18

working on the bogeys, from what I remember,

0:41:180:41:20

which is actually part of the structure

0:41:200:41:23

that holds the wheels together.

0:41:230:41:25

I'm sure all the uncles that I knew all did work in the railways,

0:41:250:41:29

and it was assumed that the majority of people...lived in Crewe

0:41:290:41:34

either worked at the Works or Rolls-Royce.

0:41:340:41:37

The case wasn't only a revelation for Peter.

0:41:400:41:42

For Ryan and the team, it's certainly one

0:41:420:41:45

they won't forget in a hurry.

0:41:450:41:47

It's this story of the two brothers that passed away

0:41:470:41:51

in the same hospital on the same day, and it is unique,

0:41:510:41:53

and, like I say, I don't think it's ever going to happen again.

0:41:530:41:56

As well as being unique, this was a challenging case for Ryan.

0:41:580:42:02

We managed to find everybody.

0:42:030:42:04

Everybody signed commission agreements with us,

0:42:040:42:07

so on that side of things, it was a good case.

0:42:070:42:09

It feels very nice to have accomplished that feat, really,

0:42:090:42:15

if you like, of trying to find that many Smith heirs.

0:42:150:42:18

And the good news for those 13 heirs

0:42:190:42:21

is that the estates combined total

0:42:210:42:23

was a lot higher than anyone had expected.

0:42:230:42:26

We didn't know how much their estate was worth.

0:42:260:42:29

It then turned into two estates, and we found out, towards the end,

0:42:290:42:31

that George's estate was worth about £34,000

0:42:310:42:36

and Alec's estate was worth about £280,000.

0:42:360:42:40

But for heir Peter, it had been about much more than the money.

0:42:420:42:45

It was a little bit sad to find out someone had actually passed away.

0:42:470:42:50

And I suppose even more sad because I didn't even know they existed.

0:42:500:42:55

To be honest, the money's...not significant in...

0:42:550:43:00

Actually, I feel guilty excepting it,

0:43:000:43:03

because it's from someone I never knew.

0:43:030:43:06

The importance of this really is down to

0:43:060:43:09

finding out a little bit more about family.

0:43:090:43:11

One firm investigates the case of a famous Blackpool accordion player. A child prodigy, she went on to perform at sell-out gigs in the seaside town's hotspots. When two brothers die on the same day in the same hospital after not seeing each other for many years, a tragic tale of family separation is revealed. The case also explores the history of Rolls-Royce and the Crewe railways.

Plus details of unclaimed estates where heirs still needs to be found.


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