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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For most of her life,
Muriel Gill lived in the northern seaside town of Blackpool.
Today, the heir hunters are getting to grips
with her complex family tree.
We could be going down to another generation.
So, we could be ending up signing half of Lancashire up on this estate.
And they make an extraordinary discovery.
You see that and you think, can it be true?
Two brothers die on the same day when they're different ages,
just, to me, it just seems like something that just doesn't happen.
It's going to be a busy day for the heir hunters
with two challenging cases to crack.
Today, we learn about one of
the world's most successful collaborations
in motorcar history.
Charles Rolls, Henry Royce.
Two very different characters,
and they formed this relationship that would become Rolls-Royce.
And the heir hunters uncover
the glamorous magic of Blackpool in the 1950s.
When you think that the ladies who were in the box office
were selling 6,000 tickets a night throughout the summer,
it was quite amazing, really.
Plus, how you could be entitled to inherit an unclaimed estate.
Could a fortune be heading your way?
In London, all hands are on deck to solve an urgent case
at heir hunting firm Fraser & Fraser.
The details have just come in via a private referral
and are being handled by senior case manager Dave Slee.
Muriel Gill is the deceased.
She died last month in Blackpool,
so in March 2014...in Blackpool.
Because Muriel died so recently,
this could prove to be a difficult case for Dave.
Initially, I was a bit sceptical about researching the matter
because it's not been referred to the Duchy of Lancaster
who would deal with all intestacies of people dying,
obviously, in Lancashire.
I don't know why they haven't referred the matter
that had come out in a wash.
Dave is concerned that the case hasn't been referred
because it's not of any value.
But he's taking a leap of faith
and putting a big team onto the research.
At the moment, my main consideration,
let's find heirs, and worry about that later on.
Muriel Gill was born in Rawtenstall,
a small town in the Rossendale Valley, in Lancashire.
Known to her friends as Rita,
her friendly manner made her stand out from the crowd.
Rita was very, what you call, warm personality.
Very bubbly, outgoing.
Loved the work, loved music, loved life, really.
That's what I'd say about Rita.
She absolutely loved life, every minute of it.
At a very early age, Muriel developed a passion for music.
She fell in love with the accordion
and would play it for anyone who would listen.
Rita was a very accomplished accordionist.
And she could do it supporting herself,
play for other people, play for dancing, play for anything.
If you heard Rita, you'd think, what a great player,
what a lovely sound.
After moving to Blackpool in her younger days,
and living there happily for most of her life,
she left a lasting impression on everyone she met.
She was a very jolly person and...
she was what I call...
..a mummy-type of lady,
because she was always smiling
and she was always very nice to say hello to or good evening to.
She was an attractive lady
and she had quite a few friends
that used to go to the house to visit her.
Very sweet person.
And...I'm sorry I didn't get to know her better over the years.
Sadly, Muriel passed away on 23rd March 2013
at the nearby Haddon Court nursing home,
where she'd lived for the last two years.
In the office, case manager Dave Slee is beginning the search
for heirs to her estate.
In doing so, he's taking a calculated risk.
Right, where am I?
It transpires that she did own a property
which was sold just prior to her death for 95,000,
would indicate that the majority of those funds
are probably still intact.
So, it's, from our point of view, makes sense to work this estate.
It's seeming more and more likely to Dave
that the case could be of high value,
and as a result, the threat of competition is ever present.
Let me have a quick word with Charlie...
The team have to move quickly,
so Dave sends out his travelling researcher
to make enquiries on the ground.
Hello, Charlie. Sorry to trouble you.
Um, just to give you an update, really.
The, there's two certificates been ordered ready for you to pick up.
Do you know when they're...?
You can pick them up before 4.30, so OK.
With the travelling researcher out on the road,
the team in the office get to work.
And it's not long before they start making progress.
Muriel, the deceased...
Maiden name was Marshall.
She was married to an Arthur Gill
and...Mr Gill died prior to the deceased
and they had no issue.
Muriel Marshall married Arthur Gill in January 1952
in Haslingden, Lancashire.
The team's next job is to search for
any brothers and sisters Muriel may have had.
Muriel born in 1929 in Lancashire
and she looks to be the only child of a William and Nellie Elmer.
We don't believe that there is any near kin.
So, the deceased had no brothers and sisters
or nieces and nephews.
And though she was married, she had no children herself.
Without any children or siblings to inherit,
the search now has to move up a generation
to look for aunts or uncles
on both the mother's and father's side of the tree.
OK, at the moment...
I have both Jess and Joseph looking at this estate.
They're trying to identify heirs on the maternal family
because that's the better of the two names.
Muriel's parents were Nellie Elmer and William Marshall.
As Elmer is an unusual name,
the team are hoping to locate records on that family more quickly.
Could we just have a look to see...
how many births there are of Elmers in Haslingden post '11.
With a bit more digging,
the team quickly track down a record of the family on the 1911 census.
On the census, it appears...
that she has at least two other siblings.
So, there's two maternal...
Er, one maternal aunt, one maternal uncle to the deceased.
Er, we're trying to establish if there are any other,
what we would call top line,
any other maternal aunts and uncles.
As the team continue searching for aunts and uncles
on Muriel's mother's side of the tree,
Dave gets some news back from his
travelling researcher in Blackpool.
He's just undertaken the enquiry at the deceased's former property.
He's had no joy there
but he will go back and talk to some of the neighbours,
who, I understand, did know the deceased.
The team are getting closer to speaking to people
who knew Muriel first-hand.
And with the family tree coming together,
things are looking promising.
It looks like there's value...
and on the face of it,
it looks like there'll probably be heirs.
More than likely cousins or the children of cousins.
And it doesn't take long before
the team manage to track down contact details
for their first potential beneficiary.
So, Jess has been a superstar.
She's found the first heirs.
So, as we suspected,
the closest heirs to the deceased are first cousins
and, so far, we've identified maternal first cousins.
The team have established that Muriel's maternal grandparents,
Edward Elmer and Grace Elizabeth Hartley
married in 1875.
They went on to have three children,
including Muriel's mother, Nellie.
Records show that both Annie
and Albert had one child each.
And the team have located
one of them.
Dave gets straight on the phone to update the agent on the road.
All right, well, we've got a maternal first cousin.
Um, there's still a lot of work to do.
Um...but, um, I'll give you that information...
If Matthew is an heir,
then Dave must make contact as soon as possible,
and before the competition.
So he sends researcher Charlie to his home address.
What time span does it take from you to get from Blackpool to Rossendale?
Without breaking the speed limit.
With the travelling researcher now on his way to visit him,
Dave puts a call in to the potential heir.
I'm trying to trace a gentleman by the name of Matthew Hudson
who would've been born in 1934,
the son of Matthew Hudson and an Annie Elmer.
Dave confirms that Matthew is in fact Muriel's first cousin,
and he wastes no time in making arrangements to meet him.
Our aim now is to locate all the beneficiaries,
you being one of them, Mr Hudson.
So, my colleague that'll come along to see you today,
his name's Charles Lemon.
All right, thank you so much for your time, sir.
Thank you, nice speaking to you. Bye-bye, bye-bye.
Locating an heir so quickly is a great result for Dave and the team.
His information has really helped me finish,
well, most of the research on the maternal family.
So, this might be a nice little estate
that...we've stolen under the nose of competition.
But it's still touch and go whether
Dave's hunch that Muriel owned her property
will prove to be correct.
We initially thought that there may have been an estate
because, of course, um...
it appeared that Muriel might have owned the property.
An heir hunter's work can sometimes reveal
the most extraordinary twists and turns of fate.
Although case manager Ryan didn't know it at the start,
his work on the estate of Alec Fisher
would do exactly that.
Alec's case was privately referred
to London-based heir hunting firm Finders in May 2011,
and was being managed by Ryan Gregory.
Initially, when the case came into us,
it looked like a pretty straightforward case.
We had a name, we had a date of death,
so it didn't look anything out of the ordinary.
The value of the case was unknown to Ryan at that point,
and he had very little information to work with.
To begin with, we didn't have any documentation,
we didn't have a death certificate.
All we knew is Alec's name, his date of death
and his last known address,
so that was the starting point for our research.
Alec Fisher lived in the railway town of Crewe, in Cheshire.
Having been born there in April 1931,
he went on to work for the Crewe Railway Company,
one of the town's largest employers.
Sadly, no photos of Alec survive.
Alec started on the railway in 1945,
just after the war,
and I started in 1954, just nine years later.
Well, over that period,
I think me and Alec were on the railway between us around 40 years.
Alec worked as a train driver,
and passionate about his job,
he was a popular character in the railway community.
He was pleasurable, he wasn't a miserable person.
Er, did quite a lot of reading, railway books.
But, other than that, very smart
and enjoyed life as he liked it.
Terrance remained friends with Alec for most of his life.
In his 70s, Alec moved into a nursing home.
Terrance visited him there regularly
and the two often shared tales of their time on the railways.
My lasting memory of Alec Fisher was
just before we went on holiday abroad.
Sitting outside the CLS care home in Manor Way
in his wheelchair
and he's out of Old Holborn,
rolling a cigarette.
Happy as lamb, Larry the lamb.
Sadly, Alec Fisher passed away on 11th October 2010.
He didn't leave a will and had no known close kin,
and his estate laid unclaimed for a number of months.
The first step for Ryan was to locate Alec on the electoral roll.
This would hopefully show if he had shared his last address
with anyone else.
It's important for us to see whether the deceased was living with anyone
because there may be a close relative,
somebody that may have some information,
or more importantly, it's important for us to find out
whether anybody has a prior claim to the estate.
Ryan and the team were able to trace Alec back
to an address in Crewe,
where he had lived before he moved into the nursing home.
Until about 1989, Alec was registered as living with an Ada Fisher.
Until about 2006, he was there with a George Fisher.
Ada Fisher had dropped off the electoral roll in the late '80s,
and a quick search of the death indexes
confirmed that she had in fact passed away.
We knew she was of an age that she could have been his mother,
so we could put that supposition together.
With relations of George Fisher,
he was on the electoral roll much later, until about 2006.
He was living with Alec, so, I mean,
we kind of thought that he may be a brother of the deceased.
The team put a call in to Alec's nursing home,
who confirmed that George Fisher was indeed Alec's brother.
They also told them that George had passed away,
and when the team continued to look into his death,
they uncovered some unbelievable information.
We were astonished to find out that actually
it appears as though he died on the same day as Alec.
I mean, you see that and you think, can it be true?
Is the information correct?
Two brothers die on the same day when they're different ages
just, to me, it just seems like something that just doesn't happen.
But, incredibly, it wasn't just the date of death they shared.
They both ended up dying in the same hospital on different wings,
and I believe that they really even, to the time that they passed away,
didn't really have a physical connection with one another.
But it does make you think about, you know,
some more kind of deeper mysteries when something like that happens.
It seemed that both Alec and his brother George passed away
on the very same day in the very same hospital
but died of different causes.
As this turn of events seemed so unlikely,
Ryan put in a call to the Treasury Solicitor.
They were able to confirm George's death along with Alec's,
and they also confirmed that both brothers had in fact died
without leaving a will.
What made things more extraordinary
was that the brothers hadn't spoken for years,
and Alec had opened up to old friend and colleague Terrance
about it during a visit.
The first time he asked me to find his brother George...
..I didn't know why Alec wanted to find his brother George.
You know, I hadn't been in contact with him for a few years
and I didn't know the reason why he wanted to get in contact.
Terrance spent 12 months trying to track down George,
contacting every nursing home in the area.
Little did he know that when the two brothers passed away,
they were closer than they had been in years.
When Alec's funeral had ended,
the vicar asked Terrance if he could stay on and attend the next one.
The brother George...come now...
..in the hearse...so we did that.
Before the funeral, we had no idea that brother George had died,
who I'd been looking for for all this last 12 month.
And it was a complete shock.
It was yet another twist in an already remarkable story.
By the end of day one,
we had gone from looking into the case of Alec Fisher
to looking into the case of two brothers,
Alec and George Fisher,
who both died on exactly the same day.
And the similarities kept on coming.
A search through the marriage indexes confirmed that
both of the brothers were bachelors
and neither had any children of their own.
So the team's next job was to see if they had
any other brothers, sisters, nieces or nephews that could inherit.
We found a marriage entry for the deceased's parents,
Thomas Fisher and Ada Smith.
Thomas Fisher and Ada Smith married on 19th July 1930.
At the time, Alec's father Thomas was employed as
a carriage cleaner on the railways.
If you lived in the Crewe area in the 1900s,
the railways were a popular career choice.
Crewe is home to one of
the most historic railway stations in the world,
and it provided work for generations of families.
The main reason that railways was established in Crewe
is the fact that it was an ideal place geographly
because, um, you could get from Crewe down North Wales coast.
You get to the North up to Glasgow
and you could also get to Manchester and Liverpool.
A few years later, in 1840, Crewe Railway Works was built,
which was one of Britain's largest engineering facilities at the time.
Originally, there was about 10,000 men worked in Crewe Works.
And in there, they built steam engines from scratch.
Right from the wheels, the boilers,
the wheels, the emulsion, the tenders,
everything was built in Crewe Works.
So, they started off with the basic metal...
Um...and ended up with a steam locomotive.
It seems that working on the railways was a family tradition.
Alec's grandfather joined the railways as a carriage examiner.
The carriage examiner was commonly known as a wheel tapper.
And he used to have a hammer with a long handle.
If you tapped the wheels with a hammer and it rang like a bell,
that meant that the wheel's OK.
When Alec joined the railways,
he held the more sought-after position of a train driver.
Alec would've been conscious of his family history,
Alec's father had also followed the family footsteps
and worked on the railway.
As the railways boomed,
generations of families enjoyed a long and secure career
during the time of the steam engine.
Crewe Works, as it was, in the early days,
where you got 10,000 men,
has now been reduced to 300 or 400 men.
It's disappeared over the years
because they don't make steam engines any more.
Electrification changed the industry dramatically,
but the town of Crewe will always be known for the railways.
The team had found that Alec's father Thomas and mother Ada
had no other children apart from Alec and George.
So their search was now focused on tracking down
aunts, uncles and cousins the brothers may have had.
Using the 1911 census, they discovered that
there was one aunt on their father's side, Gwendolyn.
Gwendolyn Fisher marries a gentleman called Percy Beastle.
Beastle is quite a rare-occurring surname,
so we were able to quite quickly and easily find that
they just had one daughter.
This daughter was the only paternal heir that the team could find
on the father's side of the tree.
With the paternal side wrapped up,
it was time to take a look at his mother's.
We had to go over and do the maternal side, which is Smith, so...
Not easy by any stretch of the imagination.
Every year in Britain,
thousands of people get a welcome knock on the door
from the heir hunters,
who bring news of an unexpected inheritance.
You tend to sort of think to yourself,
"Well, I'm not sure if this is real or not."
So, it was quite a surprise.
But there are still thousands of unsolved cases
on the Treasury Solicitor's Bona Vocantia list,
where heirs need to be found.
Could you be one of them?
Today, we've got details of two states on the list
that are yet to be claimed.
The first case is Margaret Christine Weedy,
who died on 8th June 2002
in Camden, London.
She was also known as Tina
and was born on 11th May 1923
in the Republic of Ireland.
Her maiden name was Meely.
Her unusual married name of Weedy
has the highest concentration in North Wales and Newcastle upon Tyne.
Does her name mean anything to you?
Could you be the beneficiary they're looking for?
Next, 91-year-old Kenneth Kitchener Lear.
Kenneth was born in Ashburton, Devon,
on 27th June 1916.
He died in the same county in Teignmouth
on 9th January 2009,
and it isn't known if he ever married.
Whilst the name Lear is rarely found in the UK,
Kitchener is a strong British surname
originating from Lancashire.
Do the names Lear or Kitchener mean anything to you?
If you know anything that could help solve
the cases of Margaret Christine Weedy
or Kenneth Kitchener Lear,
then you would need to make a claim on their estate
via the Treasury Solicitor's Office.
Perhaps you could be the next of kin.
If so, you could have thousands of pounds coming your way.
Heir hunting firm Fraser & Fraser are hot on the heels
of heirs to the estate of Muriel Gill.
While she remains a mystery to the team,
in the 1960s, Muriel was adored by thousands of fans
to whom she was better known as Rita.
Rita and her husband, known as Reed & Delroy,
were a superb musical act.
They both played concertinas,
they both played accordions.
She was a brilliant accordion player.
And of course, at that particular time,
there was a lot of accordionists in the country.
Rita was always a very, very beautiful lady,
and it was a superb act.
You couldn't not like Rita
because of the material they produced
and her bubbling personality.
Rita and Arthur were almost a permanent fixture
in the seaside town of Blackpool in the '50s and '60s,
where they performed in front of thousands.
In Blackpool, the beaches were full of deckchairs all the time,
you couldn't move on the beaches.
There was that many people here.
Blackpool was referred to as Lancashire's playground.
When mills and factories closed down for their summer breaks,
the workers headed in their thousands to Blackpool
to let loose for their two-week holiday.
The reason Blackpool was so popular in the '50s and 60s,
it was one of the very few towns in the country that had 12 theatres.
Also, the Pleasure Beach and the Tower Circus.
It was just a wonderful place to be on holiday.
And the first thing people did when they arrived
was head to the box office
and booked their seats for the week in advance.
When you think that the ladies who were in the box office
were selling 6,000 tickets a night throughout the summer,
it was quite amazing, really.
Well, of course, they had about 12 stage shows in those times,
12 live stage shows.
Each with an orchestra, full orchestra.
And, so, you had quite a lot of musicians.
Delroy and Reed were one of the day's most popular double acts.
They worked perfectly together on stage,
and their relationship was even stronger off it.
They were both extremely friendly and devoted to each other
and they had this lovely zest for living which was infectious.
If you ever saw them work,
they had a great infection about their...and affection.
Peter first worked with them in 1974,
and remembers their reputation for being consummate professionals.
You know, they were almost indispensable.
This was a time when you had a lot of acts around,
a lot of instrumental acts,
apart from the singers and the comics.
But they were top of the tree.
Rita, I think, was the most jovial person really I've ever known.
She was always full of life.
Very...seasoned professional is what you could call her.
Arthur retired many years before Rita,
but she carried on performing
and remained a popular fixture on the Blackpool music scene.
I miss her personality and I miss her company.
Acts like that are very hard to find today
because there is no-one doing it any more.
In the office, David and the team are busy
trying to track down heirs on Muriel's father's side of the tree.
We need to research the Marshall side now.
That's where the work gets that little bit harder.
Could be 10 or 20 on the paternal, we don't know.
Or there could be none all.
Dave sets the team to work,
and it soon becomes clear that
they're going to have their work cut out.
The guys have been really busy with the paternal side and...
it looks enormous.
There's lots of aunts and uncles on the father's family, so...
We've gone from what looked like a relatively easy job
and finishing it really quickly
to a job that looks like it's going to take several,
it could take several days to finish now, so...
That changes the complexion somewhat.
Muriel's paternal grandparents were John Marshall and Annie Trickett.
They married in 1895 in Burnley, Lancashire,
and the team find entries for all of their children on the 1911 census.
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven...
Yeah, there's at least eight brothers and sisters
to the deceased's father.
So, we have to account for each of those.
It's a huge task, as the majority of Muriel's aunts and uncles
were born during the early 1900s.
We could be going down to another generation,
so we could be ending up
signing half of Lancashire up on this estate.
Determined to make contact with the heirs before the competition,
the team quickly get cracking, and search for any surviving cousins.
-Have you got anything to her?
-We can't find a death.
-Have you got a birth for them?
Yeah, it's June '38, Haslingden.
Man power prevails again,
for Dave and the team think they've traced their first heir
on Muriel's father's side of the family.
She might not be home. I'll give her a call anyway and see.
-Don't do anything more on that then, Joe.
Muriel's father William had eight siblings
and the team have tracked down
children of one of his younger
sisters - Violet May.
She had five children with her
husband Wilfred Riley.
Although three of them
had died in infancy,
two of her daughters
were still alive
and would be heirs
to Muriel's estate.
We're trying to trace the next of kin of a lady who died last month
by the name of Muriel Gill.
And that you're the daughter of Violet May Riley,
whose maiden name was Marshall.
Well, that's good,
I can breathe a sigh of relief cos we have got the right family.
It's a great result for Dave
as heirs can be the best source of research,
saving the team hours of work.
She's given me quite a lot of information.
There's still a number of avenues we need to pursue.
Trying to trace other heirs, but it's all coming together nicely now,
so I'm very pleased with the research up to now.
One of the many heirs David and the team have tracked down
is Matthew Hudson,
a cousin of Muriel's on her mother's side.
Matthew and Muriel were close when they were growing up,
and he was always in awe of her glittering showbiz career.
When she got dressed up for the stage, she was glamorous.
It was just what she was meant to be.
And it was just wonderful to see her there.
It was entertaining.
Yeah, she was different. She broke the mould.
Muriel's career took off
when she and her husband Arthur joined forces in her teenage years
and they remained a double act until Arthur passed away in 2006.
When Arthur died, she, it really, upset her.
I remember one or two telephone calls I had with her
and she felt very lonely
and she found it very difficult.
And I knew she had friends in Blackpool,
but I didn't know who they were,
and I couldn't make contact, so I lost touch completely.
After two years without any contact,
it was the heir hunters who finally informed Matthew
of his cousin's death.
When heir hunters contacted me and told me about Muriel...
..in some respects, I was very sad.
Like put an ending to a story, really.
I felt very sad about it
and...but it helped me a lot to know what had happened.
Matthew has enjoyed reliving tales of his cousin's sparkling career.
It was just what she wanted to do...
and that was it.
It was everything to her was to perform.
I think she had a wonderful life
and she really enjoyed it.
After speaking to heirs,
Dave and the team have been able to track down many more beneficiaries,
and both sides of the tree are almost complete.
We've now found heirs as far away as Australia,
and as it stands, at the moment,
we're exceeding 10 or 12 heirs.
It's probably going to be 20, maybe 30 heirs entitled maximum.
Er, but we've got to try and trace them all.
That birth, definitely priority.
That's finished, that's finished...
That, we know about, she's confirmed that.
Good, brilliant. Well done, guys. Good work.
Cracking a complex family tree so quickly
means it's been a successful day for Dave and the team.
But even after all their hard work,
the question of how much Muriel's estate is actually worth
Dave has been given the number of a close friend of Muriel's
who may have the answer he's looking for.
Good afternoon. I'm trying to trace a gentleman by the name of Jack.
Now, the lady I spoke to earlier said to me
that you knew Mrs Gill very well
and had dealt with her affairs.
She was under the impression that
even though Mrs Gill owned the property,
which has, which was since sold...
It was Mrs Gill's house, I believe.
It wasn't? Ah.
No. Oh, I see. So it wasn't their property.
No, because what we're trying to establish, sir, is
did Mrs Gill die leaving any estate whatsoever?
It's a crushing blow for Dave.
He was working on the assumption that
Muriel's case hadn't been passed on to the Duchy for administration
because she had died only very recently.
Instead, it turns out that it's because the case had no value.
Thanks once again for all your help.
Really appreciate it. Nice speaking to you.
Bye-bye now, bye-bye.
From our point of view, it's disappointing.
The deceased didn't own her property.
She's died...probably intestate,
but not leaving any estate.
So I've got to go around now mopping it up,
and just telling everyone that,
unfortunately, they're not going to be entitled.
The heir hunters only make money once they've signed up an heir,
and agreed a fee which is taken from the final estate value.
If you'd have seen today,
we've had, I've had staff all afternoon working it.
We've been really busy doing that. Stops us doing other work.
To find out there's no estate, but hey-ho,
that's, you know, that's the nature of the beast.
You know, next estate might have value in it.
That's how we work.
What may have been a disastrous case for Dave
hasn't been so bad for the family.
When heir hunters told me that she'd died
without any money being available,
didn't worry me.
I wasn't expecting any,
and it at least put a closure to things.
It made me think about my own relatives.
The family that we've got,
and that we need to keep in touch
and just not let everything just fade away.
It's an experience that has helped Matthew reconnect with the family
and relive cherished memories of his inspirational cousin.
As I said before, she just changed when she got performing.
It was her.
And as she used to say, well,
she's memorised over 200 tunes and music
and she'd just sit down and play.
Alec Fisher died on the exact same day as his brother George.
As well as being a train driver on the Crewe railway,
his death certificate revealed that he had also worked for
one of the towns other major employees, Rolls-Royce.
At the beginning of the 20th century,
the car industry in Britain was booming.
Mass production was taking off in France and America,
and in the UK, two entrepreneurs joined forces
to create a global brand that's still going strong today.
Charles Rolls, Henry Royce.
Two very different characters.
Charles Rolls, born into aristocracy.
He was younger than Royce,
he was an engineering fanatic.
An extraordinary character with a passion for speed.
Henry Royce was a self-made gentleman,
an engineering genius.
And they met on 4th May 1904
at the Midland Hotel in Manchester.
Fully documented, we even know what they ate,
and they immediately recognised in each other what they'd been seeking.
And they formed this relationship that would become Rolls-Royce.
The pair wasted no time in showcasing
their first official Rolls-Royce motorcar.
The first Rolls-Royce was a 10 horsepower
but immediately caught the world's attention
for its quality and its attention to detail.
And then, later that year,
Rolls-Royce, in 1904, showed a range of different cars
at the Paris Motor Salon.
The two entrepreneurs officially formed Rolls-Royce Limited in 1906,
and chose Derby as their first location
for its car production factory.
During the history of Rolls-Royce, there have been six homes.
Today, you're at the home of Rolls-Royce
at Goodwood, in West Sussex, the sixth home.
But, Rolls-Royce started in Manchester
and, of course, Crewe was a large part of the company's heritage.
The Crewe factory was in production for almost 50 years from 1946,
and it's likely that Alec retired from there.
Someone like Alec might have been a craftsman,
he might have been an assembly line worker
involved somewhere in the production process.
But he would have understood, whatever job he did at Rolls-Royce,
that he had to perform at his very best
to generate the best car in the world.
The Crewe factory was originally built
to build aircraft engines in 1938.
After the end of World War II,
the factory began to produce some of the world's most famous motorcars,
the Phantom and the Silver Cloud.
One of the differences that Alec would've seen in the '50s and '60s
was the production environment.
Here today, you see a spotless environment.
It's very clean, very organised and very ordered,
and I'm sure that would've been a little different
in the 1950s and '60s.
But ultimately, it's the same quality of handcraftsmanship
that he would have had to been highly trained
to have understood exactly what the car should be built to,
the quality standards it should be built to.
Today, Rolls-Royce produce around 20 cars a day,
and last year they sold 3,500 cars worldwide.
A record for the most cars ever sold in one year.
Alec would've been, I'm sure, enormously proud
to have worked at Rolls-Royce.
It would have said something about him.
It would've given him perhaps a little bit of social standing.
But it certainly would've said he's doing a great job.
Back at Finders, Ryan and the team were ready
to start searching for heirs on Alec's mother's side,
but they ran into a very common problem.
His mother was Ada Smith,
and she had Britain's most widely held surname.
That's every genealogist's nightmare
and you know, even before looking into a Smith family,
that it's going to be quite tricky,
quite time-consuming and quite expensive.
After trawling through many records,
they finally track down the right family.
So, on the Smith side, on the maternal side of the family,
there was ten aunts and uncles of the deceased.
Alec and George's grandparents,
Samuel Smith and Leah Riley,
married in 1907.
They went on to have 11 children,
one of whom was George and Alec's mother Ada.
The team then had to painstakingly search death indexes
to locate records for each of her brothers and sisters.
Four of them actually died as children.
One uncle died a bachelor,
one aunt died without issue.
Next, they had to trace any children
those remaining aunts and uncles may have had,
for they would be heirs to the estates.
It turns out it was quite a lengthy process
to try and find beneficiaries,
but we managed to find everybody.
In total, there were 13 heirs to Alec and George's estates.
One from their father's side of the tree
and 12 from their mother Ada's side.
One of the first heirs to be informed of their inheritance
was Peter Smith.
I didn't know of that side of the family,
so I just thought they'd mixed me up and got the wrong person
and it wasn't till later, when we did a bit of digging,
that found out it was actually my uncles.
Peter believed that he knew all the members of his close family,
but had never come across the names Alec or George Fisher.
It turns out that George and Alec were actually
my oldest auntie's sons,
so it was my dad's nephews.
It was strange to hear about uncles that you never knew about.
I asked them if I could have a copy of the tree as they had it
and they sent me one
and I found out that the family was far more extensive
than I even knew.
Thinking about his uncles did stir up
some old memories for Peter.
The only thing I really remember is the house itself,
that, because it was easy for me to get to,
I could just walk through the back yard into the back door
and straight into the kitchen.
TANNOY: The next arrival at Platform 5...
And it seems the railway connection runs right through
both sides of the family.
My dad actually worked in the railway works,
working on the bogeys, from what I remember,
which is actually part of the structure
that holds the wheels together.
I'm sure all the uncles that I knew all did work in the railways,
and it was assumed that the majority of people...lived in Crewe
either worked at the Works or Rolls-Royce.
The case wasn't only a revelation for Peter.
For Ryan and the team, it's certainly one
they won't forget in a hurry.
It's this story of the two brothers that passed away
in the same hospital on the same day, and it is unique,
and, like I say, I don't think it's ever going to happen again.
As well as being unique, this was a challenging case for Ryan.
We managed to find everybody.
Everybody signed commission agreements with us,
so on that side of things, it was a good case.
It feels very nice to have accomplished that feat, really,
if you like, of trying to find that many Smith heirs.
And the good news for those 13 heirs
is that the estates combined total
was a lot higher than anyone had expected.
We didn't know how much their estate was worth.
It then turned into two estates, and we found out, towards the end,
that George's estate was worth about £34,000
and Alec's estate was worth about £280,000.
But for heir Peter, it had been about much more than the money.
It was a little bit sad to find out someone had actually passed away.
And I suppose even more sad because I didn't even know they existed.
To be honest, the money's...not significant in...
Actually, I feel guilty excepting it,
because it's from someone I never knew.
The importance of this really is down to
finding out a little bit more about family.
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.