London Group Newsletter :
Vol 18: 4 October 2017
You’ve probably already heard that there has been a re-branding and the unwieldy Birmingham & Midland Society for Geneaology & Heraldry has been replaced by Midland Ancestors. Next year’s programme is complete and Dave has already several speakers booked for 2019. If you are interested in making a weekend of the away day next July please let Dave know.
After the meeting we’ll have a chat about DNA again so please have your stories and questions ready. It’s really looking more positive than Dave had anticipated and the data bases are expanding rapidly. There is now a Midland Ancestors group and they are on Facebook. This is “Midland Ancestors DNA Special Interest Group” and is being moderated by Mike Fisher who is a very knowledgeable DNA researcher.
7th October meeting (SOG: 11.00 -13.00)
Sandy Robertson – “Birmingham’s oldest business, Webster and Horsfall– it’s history and the project to save its records for family historians”
Alexander Robertson , known as Sandy, was born in Croydon in South London. He studied fine art under Bridget Riley and Allen Jones and textile design under Enid Marx at Croydon, before joining the Army in 1964. He was commissioned into the Royal Army Ordnance Corps and served in Germany and the UK. Since leaving the Army he has had a varied career in both the Public and Private sector. From 1969 to 1976 he was an Assistant Governor in The English Prison Service serving in Dartmoor and Wormwood Scrubs Prisons as well as service as English Governor at both The Maze and Magilligan Prisons in Northern Ireland. In 1976 he joined Webster and Horsfall as a Production Manager in their fine wire department and ever since has taken a keen interest in the history of the Company which celebrates its 300th Anniversary in 2020. In 1989 he became a full-time fundraiser for the arts, particularly Birmingham Royal Ballet during its move from Sadler’s Wells. He retired in 2005 and now devotes his time to the development of the Webster and Horsfall Archives, Family History and Calligraphy. Today we will hear about their history which starts in Shropshire and Deritend, a merger that combined the two names and about the work now being undertaken in classifying the documents of the company. Interestingly some that were feared lost were found in an attic at the works and others are being rescued from Scotland! The company is famed for the first transatlantic cables – the first snapped hence the second – and items such as piano wire.
2018-9 Meetings (11.00-13.00)
Doors open 10.00, coffee, tea and biscuits available 10.15 -11.00
13th Jan 2018 (TNA) – Sharon Hintze – “Birmingham Entrepreneurs and the families they married into”
7th April 2018 (SOG) – Michael Pearson – “The Black Country in World War One”
7th July 2018 (Away day) – Stourbridge Glass-making – a talk and visit. this also includes the option of a to Dudley St John’s Church on Sunday 8th July
6th October 2018 (SOG) – Chris Heather – “Tracing Railway Ancestors”
12th January 2019 – TBC
6th April 2019 – Barbara Griffiths – “Interpreting your DNA findings”
5th July 2019 – TBC
5th October 2019 – Richard Churchley “Every common’s gone and traps are set to kill: Enclosure in the English Midlands”
The Society of Genealogists (SOG), 14 Charterhouse Buildings, Goswell Road, London, EC1M 7BA in the Lecture Room on the Ground Floor
Nearest tube Barbican (Circle/Hammersmith & City/ Metropolitan) turn left, then left again at the traffic lights with Clerkenwell Rd or Farringdon left, left, right onto Clerkenwell Rd and right again at the traffic lights with Goswell Rd.
Kirsty Gray – “Heir Hunting: the real deal”
The talk covered the actual story of heir tracing and the process behind it, along the way debunking some myths and correcting some pieces of information seen on the TV programme (especially repeats) that are no longer factually correct.
Starting at the beginning, someone dies without leaving a will (maybe)and has assets of some sort (over £500). No next of kin are known or can be located. Then someone refers the case to the Government Legal Department (GLD), who advertises the deceased estate via the undone estate ‘Bona Vacantia’ list. There are about 12,000 estates currently listed and an update is released everyday sometime between 08:00-17:00. Anyone can download it. But just because the name appears on this list doesn’t mean there isn’t a will.
After looking at who is entitled to make a claim, Kirsty then explained that anyone could file a claim, but if the estate has a lot of beneficiaries it is better to leave it to a probate genealogist or solictor. There are a lot of comparies that do this, from large companies down to one ‘man’ bands. A lot of companies will put the names up on their website, but might not have done any research on them.
Once they have unpicked the errors on the list and decided which case/s they are going to research (if the deceased’s name is on the land registry then there is obviously value in the estate), it is a case of all hands on deck, but it is not a race. The key is to locate the heirs (ideally with telephone numbers) so they can ensure their research is correct and offer their services to make a claim and administrate the estate. Their letter will state the name of the deceased and their birth and death years. They work for a percentage commission basis which is all inclusive.
To put in a claim, they have to legally prove who people are so don’t be surpized to be asked for both name and address identity. But they don’t need documentation from all beneficaries, as they only need to send it to the GLD for one entitled heir. They will also draw up a rudimentary family tree to explain the connections and have to provide all the BMD certificates to prove all the steps. Then it is a case of waiting. The GLD have to review all the documents provided and the returned claim documents. If the claim is successful they will then be directed to the referrer, only then will they find out more details about the estate. For new cases they usually hear back within a week but older cases take much longer. A name can stay on the list for 30 years, then the money goes to the government, but after 12 years the GLD doesn’t have to accept a claim.
To finalise the estate, all the beneficiaries have to be located. They don’t all have to claim their entitlement if they don’t want to, but they have to engage and make their wishes known. Some cases can have several companies representing the heirs but only one company can be the Administrator of the estate. Referred assets can literally mean anything. Often there is a house to clear, they keep everything related to the family for the heirs to decide what to do with, but not all firms do this. Every single case is different and has its own story. Kirsty finished with several case stories.
So if you do receive a phone call or letter through the door, check out the company (how long they have been in business), their fees (are solicitors fees extra) and ask questions (who’s estate is it – if they don’t say). You don’t have to go with the first company who contacts you.