Two years ago I visited Argentina to research for my book Seeking John Campbell. Now in less than two weeks time I will return. Not for further research but to visit places in Argentina, Peru and Chile that have always held a fascination for me.
I have up a new travel blog for the trip Grey Trails: Solo travel in retirement
If you want to follow my trip through South America you can access the blog through the link above.
The Kindle version of Seeking John Campbell is now available on Amazon for $2.99 in the USA and £1.99 in the UK.
If you live in the USA and would like a chance to win a copy of Seeking John Campbell you can enter by following this link
I will shortly set up a Giveaway for the paperback edition of Seeking John Campbell. Only USA residents can enter the draw.
In addition I plan to reduce the e-book prices in the USA and UK from 15th July.
The catalyst for my book Seeking John Campbell was my attempt to trace the living heirs of an unclaimed estate. The breakthrough came because I had a hunch that the final piece of the jigsaw would be found in a document at the The National Archives in Kew. Now five years later a hunch has solved another case.
Recently after watching an episode of the latest series of Heir Hunters I was drawn to a name that the programme broadcast, asking viewers if they may be related. The only information given was the name Oswald Warry, the date of birth 4 December 1909, and the date of death 26 June 2004.
I started to search for Warry family members at the turn of the century but there was no evidence of an Oswald being born in 1909. I then turned to the remarkable and searchable British Newspaper Archive a joint venture between the British Library and FindMyPast.com to digitise 40 million pages of old newspapers. The process has only reached 10.7 million pages so far but Oswald Warry threw up an interesting, if disturbing, entry.
In 1930 a 21 year old man, Oswald Hannay Warry, was charged with attempted murder. He had taken a four and a half month old baby from a pram and dashed it to the ground. When his case came before the court in 1931 the judge decided that he was unfit to plead and ordered him to be detained at His Majesty’s pleasure. It is possible that he remained institutionalised for the remainder of his life.
In my search for Warry family members I had unearthed a link to the name Hannay and believed that the Oswald Warry featured on Heir Hunters and Oswald Hannay Warry were one and the same. But, I was unable to find a link to his father and therefore trace any heirs to his estate through his paternal or maternal relations, as living heirs would have to come from the decendants of his aunts and uncles.
Then my lateral thinking came up with another hunch that The National Archives would provide the answer. It did, and now armed with confirmation of his father and his birth certificate I could trace living heirs. I reached over ten on the paternal side and hadn’t started on the maternal side when I was informed that the estate was less than £5000 in value. As with the first heirhunting case my drive is to solve the problem rather than to pursue a claim to the estate which in this latest case was not worthwhile and so the estate will remain in the UK government’s coffers.
I doubt that the Heir Hunters production team was aware of the attempted murder charge when they broadcast the name of Oswald Warry.
The following reviews of Seeking John Campbell have been recently published on Goodreads and Amazon.
“…excellent for anyone who likes reading real-life adventures…”
See full review by Rebecca McNutt HERE
“Written with the verve of a detective, the tenacity of an academic, and the creativity of a novelist…”
See full review by David Lankester HERE
March edition of Stamford Living reviews Seeking John Campbell and explores issues around self-publication.
See the full article at Stamford Living
A genealogical quest
Seeking John Campbell: Finding Pioneers & Patriots in the Pampas by John Daffurn
This remarkable real-life story reveals what happened when the author, amateur British genealogist John Daffurn, set himself an heir-hunting exercise that turned into a four-year obsession. The story begins in 2010 when John, on a whim, picked a random name from the Government’s Bona Vacantia list of more than 10,000 people who had died intestate, in a bid to discover why professional heir-hunters had not identified any living descendants to claim the estate. In the process of this ‘intellectual challenge’, which, as John states, is ‘a genealogical jigsaw puzzle that, even if it ended in failure, would enhance my ancestry research skills’, he uncovers the fascinating family histories of three men called John Campbell, all possible candidates for being the father of the deceased 68-year-old widow of interest, (Mary) Isabel Greig, who died on New Year’s Eve 1995. The three John Campbells’ family stories take us on a fascinating journey from Prussia and the Scottish lowlands to Argentina (where Isabel was born illegitimate), then back to Europe and the horrors of World Wars I and II. Covering the history of two families descended from the Symmetry migrants who sailed to Argentina from Leith in 1825, and a third family descended from the town’s Gibson shipbrokers, it details the impact Scottish migrants had on Argentina, and how the later world wars tore families apart. Interestingly, what started as a genealogical experiment turns into a heart-felt quest to record past lives of those lost in the mists of time, or at the very least precariously perched on the peripherals of family memory.
The research undertaken is incredible – the history and biographies are wonderfully detailed, with plenty of photographs too, to picture the individuals and places involved, along with family trees to keep you on track. The delicate process of ancestral discovery – which also contains useful research tips – is woven into a thoughtful first-person narrative that never grows tired or dull. Indeed, the final outcomes of John’s adventures are touching and not entirely expected, and are something from which we can all perhaps learn. So, did he manage to identify Isabel’s family and trace living heirs to her estate? Well now, that would be telling.
ISBN: 9780993147906. RRP £9.99 paperback, RRP £4.79 Kindle. Eptex. Available from Amazon.
The March edition of Who Do You Think You Are ? magazine is out today and contains a review in brief of Seeking John Campbell. See Here.
For anyone that missed my book signing and would like a signed copy of Seeking John Campbell please hit the book cover link below