Author Topic: Help! Probate disputes and court records.  (Read 1751 times)

Offline Etty81

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Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« on: Sunday 19 February 17 19:14 GMT (UK) »
Hi there everyone,
I'm hoping someone out there might be able to help me out with some advice as I have come to a total dead end with the probate of my Great great grandfather William Thomas Martin b.  Egglesliffe 1874, d. 18 Jun 1918 Stockton, probate granted 30 Jan 1928.

He passed away without leaving a will, meaning his wife Harriet Earle received the letters of administration and was entitled to the majority of his estate according to the rules of intestate. William also left behind two children Florence Emily Martin and William Thomas Martin (my great grandfather) who would have been Harriet's step children.

Almost 10 years later, Harriet formerly relinquished the letters of administration and the right to her late husbands estate in favour of her step children Florence and William. The family have a couple of explanations as to why she did this and why she waited 10 years to so but I'm struggling to find any real explanation.

The first is that Florence Martin disputed the probate which would have taken time and prolonged the process. The second is that the solicitor in charge of the estate embezzled a large part of it, leaving a fraction of the original amount left. My grandmother seems to think his surname was Britton and he was sent to prison for this offence.

Can anyone tell me how I might go about researching what really happened? I've tried newspaper records but without much success. Would there be any sort of civil dispute records which might hold some answers or court transcripts? Any suggestions very welcome as I am banging my head against a brick wall now!

Thanks in advance guys.

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Offline mazi

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #1 on: Sunday 19 February 17 21:04 GMT (UK) »
You most likely are aware of this but prior to the 1925 act the rules of intestacy were by no means clear, and the right of the eldest son to inherit  "land" was still in force,

I cannot see a grant of letters of admin for Williams estate in 1918, 1919 or 1920, maybe his wife did not actually apply, just carried on living in the house, there are many examples of this, until the house needs to be sold, then it becomes necessary.

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Offline Girl Guide

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #2 on: Sunday 19 February 17 22:27 GMT (UK) »
You have obviously found that William's children eventually got administration at Durham on 30th January 1928.  Not much left by then was there.....

Have you made any attempt to get the administration papers at all?  Not sure what they are supposed to say as I have never seen one.

Have you tried to find any newspaper articles about the embezzlement by the solicitor or any records at all about the embezzlement?
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Offline mazi

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #3 on: Monday 20 February 17 10:02 GMT (UK) »
I see the children were aged 16 and 14 when their father died, so any inheritance they were due would have been held in trust until they were 21,  but if no admin. was ever granted it does seem possible that Harriett asked a solicitor to sort things out, he may have been less than diligent in his duties.

I think newspaper reports of the embezzlement are the only chance you have, but without a date to go on it could be hard work.

Others more experienced than I have said that spending 10 on the admin. will tell you no more, as it merely says the same as on the probate search.

Mike


Offline Etty81

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #4 on: Monday 20 February 17 10:53 GMT (UK) »
Thanks so much for your interest guys. It is a bit of a tricky one. I think you're right about finding newspaper reports. My grandma (William Martin Jnr's daughter) seems to think that the solicitor's name was Brittan and she went to school with his granddaughter Majorie Brittan knowing full well her relative had defrauded the family. It makes sense that the funds would have been held in trust due to the children being so young but it's certainly starting to look like there was a dispute involving Harriet and Florence. My grandma told me that her dad William was very much 'live and let live' so was unlikely to have raised a complaint himself and he actually got on with his step mother quite well.
I'll try the newspaper records again and see if anything pops up. I'm currently using the British Newspaper Archive online but does anyone have any tips of searching newspapers?
Thanks so much again for your help. 
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Online BumbleB

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #5 on: Monday 20 February 17 11:26 GMT (UK) »
My apologies for this, but I'm confused when you say that embezzlement of a large amount of the estate took place.  :-\

I haven't looked at any other census, but 1911 shows William Thomas as a Foundry Labourer, living in Winston Street, Stockton - number of rooms = 4 - with wife and 3 children.  Street view on Google Maps shows Winston Street as a street of terraced houses.
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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #6 on: Monday 20 February 17 11:33 GMT (UK) »
Any way you could trace the solicitor's full name via his granddaughter Marjorie?  Did all this take place in Stockton?

When was your grandma at school with Marjorie and where?
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Offline Etty81

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #7 on: Monday 20 February 17 11:41 GMT (UK) »
You're quite right, it does. I suspect from the 1911 census he was working on the Middlesbrough Transporter Bridge. Having said that, his death certificate (1918) records his occupation as Master Greengrocer and the family are living at 6 St Cuthberts Street which looks to have been a 'step up' from Winston Street. I'm told by the family that he had his own store although I admit I don't have any hard evidence for this. I'm also told that the 234 8s was a 'fraction' of what the estate was originally but I don't know where to look for the original value of the estate when he passed away.

I've had look for a Majorie Brittan on ancestry and have found one born in Yorkshire but not convinced its the right lady. It's a bit difficult as I'm not sure how her surname would be spelt? Everyone involved was living in Stockton at the time although Harriet did eventually end up in Middlesbrough living with her brother William and nephew Walter on the 1939 electoral register. It looks as though she didn't end up benefitting from her late husband's estate at all. I'm not sure where to look for the solicitor's full name. Had a quick stab at googling solicitors in Stockton around the time but without much joy  :(

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Re: Help! Probate disputes and court records.
« Reply #8 on: Monday 20 February 17 11:42 GMT (UK) »
1901 William is living in Ewbank Street - General Labourer.

Transcriptions and NBI are merely finding aids.  They are NOT a substitute for original record entries.
Remember - "They'll be found when they want to be found" !!!
If you don't ask the question, you won't get an answer.
He/she who never made a mistake, never made anything.
Archbell - anywhere, any date
Kendall - WRY
Milner - WRY
Appleyard - WRY