A historical sports club was struggling to survive. But one thing they did have…was land. The board of trustees came to the decision to save the club by selling some land to a developer. A supermarket in fact.
However, things were not as simple as they believed it would be. After instructing conveyancing solicitors and checking the deeds to the land, it was found that there was a small pocket of land within the large patch that was simply not theirs to sell.
Think of a patchwork quilt with many squares. At one time each square of land was owned by someone different, but over the years the squares changed hands legally or illegally, (gambling saw many change hands!) or were simply adopted until it was believed that one person (or one sports club in this case) owned the whole quilt. Without the say-so of the legal owner of this remaining square- the sale hung in the balance – and so did the future of the centuries-old local club.
The solicitors for the club needed to trace the owners and consulted a private investigator, who then realised this took someone far more accustomed to historical research rather than the here and now.
Sometimes you have to go back to go forwards!
So, we were instructed as Genealogists. And given the details of the person last named on the deeds for that pocket of land. We then had to construct a family tree for this person, using old documents and verifying every detail from 2 different sources each step of the way to make sure it was watertight and admissible in law.
Once we had constructed the family tree we then had to verify the names, dates of birth, and current addresses of the current potential legal owners, before handing all this information back over to the private investigation firm. From here they would have received further instruction from the solicitor as to how to proceed, and between them, they would have contacted the people concerned.
In this case, we were not required to contact any of these people directly and we dealt only with the investigator. We were never made aware of the outcome and nor would we be. Our role was simply to do what we do- solve mysteries!
We found this case particularly interesting because it had a bit of everything we love – a deep dive back in time, some modern investigation in the here and now, and a few trips to a dusty old archive in a library. It helped that the library was in a beautiful part of the country, which facilitated an afternoon sitting on a park eating shop-bought sandwiches, whilst pouring over our notes. And saying what we always say…. ”Where are you????”
It usually rains!