Some Great Genealogical Frauds

Copyright © 2002 T. Mark James

Throughout the history of genealogy, there have been fraudsters who have preyed upon the dreams of the innocent. From the little blue-haired ladies who long to be accepted by the Daughters of the American Revolution or the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, to the vanity of those who want to find royal blood in their veins, there is always an unscrupulous “researcher” at hand who will provide — for a price — any desired genealogy.


This site is devoted to some examples of a spectacular form of genealogical fraud that was particularly rife in the late 1800s: claims of inheritance to great estates. The story always went something like this: Lord William Crudleigh died in 1767, leaving no heirs and no will. By British law, his massive estate must go to his closest cousins, but these seem to have emigrated to America some time ago, and — guess what! — you are one of their descendants! For a minor investment of a few thousand dollars (necessary, you will understand, to pay for the required genealogical research and legal documentation, plus, of course, my travel expenses to London where I shall have to retain a barrister to prosecute your case), you will soon claim your rightful share of the Crudleigh estate. Your share alone is worth several million dollars. Now isn’t that worth the investment of a few paltry thousand?


Click on the links below to learn about several examples of estate inheritance fraud:



See also the following links about various kinds of genealogical fraud:




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