Hundreds of Irish people stand to inherit millions of British pounds according to the British Treasury, which keeps a list of unclaimed estates. The largest unclaimed case is that of an Irish woman who left an estate worth $12.3 million in London.
If someone dies leaving no obvious next-of-kin, their estate automatically defaults to the British Government. This happens about 2,000 times a year, the Irish Post in London reports. In 2012 the British Government calculated that they had collected $51.1 million in unclaimed inheritance.
Within the British Treasury Department is the Bona Vacantia list, which includes over 10,500 unclaimed estates. The list includes hundreds of Irish who died between 1997 and 2012. The names include Brennans, Connollys, Fitzgeralds, Murphys, Kellys, O’Briens and more from all across Britain.
The online list is updated weekly but no values are included to dissuade would be claimants from hoax claims. However the treasury only deals with estates of over $775 and many of these estates include bank savings, life insurance policies, and real estate.
Three teams from the London law firm Fraser & Fraser, who specialize in probate research, repatriated $6.6 million to Ireland during the 18-month period leading to 2011. Currently they have an unclaimed case valued at $69,700 under the name of Michael Delaney, a 70-year-old bachelor who died in Luton, Bedfordshire, in 2000.
Fraser & Fraser told the Post that in the past ten years they have dealt with $15.5 million in Irish cases.
One such case was that of Michael Moran. He died in London, aged 84, with an estate of $464,935. He was born in Westport, County Mayo, in 1922. He died intestate, in Windsor, London, in 2007. Fraser & Fraser used his local parish records, in Mayo, to find his heirs and his estate was distributed.
Heir hunting, as with genealogy research in Ireland, can sometimes be a little tricky due to the fact that some public records were destroyed in the early 1900s or the fact that many Irish did not register their marriages or birth while the country was under British rule.
Peter Birchwood, senior partner of Celtic Research, based in Wales, has also been locating missing heirs for 40 years. He deals with three Irish cases per week but never knows how much the estate is worth.
He told the Post of a recent case involving a man called Victor Anthony Jones, who died in Runcorn, Cheshire, with an estate of $263,504.
Birchwood explained, “Mr Jones’ mother was from Co. Cork.
“Hers was a large family, descended from John Holland, headmaster of the Ballinaspittle National School. It took us a long time to find the Holland family. The Jones side was a lot easier, but after research in Ireland, Scotland, Canada, the US and South America we managed to find them all.”
He continued, “A large percentage died unmarried, joined religious orders or just did not have children. This estate was worth about £170,000 and has now been distributed to all of the heirs.”
Bona Vacantia reports that every years 12,000 people died in Britain without a will.
Check out the list below. Perhaps you could be related to one of these Irish folks.
However before you act you must be able to provide evidence of a blood relationship in the form of birth, marriage and death certificates, along with evidence of their identity.
Here’s the Bona Vacantia list:
- John Sean O’Meara, a bachelor, aged 84 years who died in Lewisham, London, in April 2012
- Mary Riordan, a spinster, aged 84 years, who died in Chelsea, London, in November 2007
- John Watson, a bachelor, aged 82 years, who died in Plaistow, London, in October 2012
- Eugene Fitzpatrick, a widower, aged 88 years, who died in Brighouse, West Yorkshire, in February 2007
-Nora Linahan, a spinster, aged 68, died in Huntingdon, in October 2012
- James Emmett O’Reilly, whose marital status is unknown, aged 58 years, who died in Harrow, Middlesex in April 1989
- Maureen Lock, aged 75 years, who died in Basildon, Essex, in November 2012
- Anthony McDonagh, a widower, aged 89 years, who died in Halifax, West Yorkshire in February 2008
-Denis Shortiss, whose marital status is unknown, aged 81 years who died in Northolt, Middlesex, in November 2012
- Patrick Joseph Russell a widower, aged 81 years, who died in Islington, London, in January 2012
- Patrick Joseph Hendrick, a bachelor, aged 78 years, who died in Islington, London, in April 2012
-Michael O’Donnell, aged 45 years, who died in Gillingham, Kent, in June 2003
- William Berkeley, a bachelor, aged 93 years, died in Brighton, East Sussex, in August 2012
- James O’Reaghan, known as John Joe, aged 71 years, died in Stafford, Staffordshire, in January 2013
- Michael Duffy a bachelor, aged 74 years, born in Wicklow, who died in Tooting, London in October 2003
- Micheal Ryan, a widower, born in Tipperary who died in Burton Upon- Trent in January 2013
For more details go to www.bonavacantia.gov.uk.
* Originally published in 2013.