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RE: [ticket2write] On your doorstep

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  • Jay Doggett
    An incredible story. Thanks for sending that along, Wings. ... From: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ticket2write@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Wings081
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 17, 2013
      An incredible story. Thanks for sending that along, Wings.
      -----Original Message-----
      From: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ticket2write@yahoogroups.com]On Behalf Of Wings081
      Sent: Saturday, March 16, 2013 6:01 PM
      To: ticket2write@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: [ticket2write] On your doorstep


      Look around you and you'll discover the basis of a good tale not very far from your own front door.
      The following is an example which was sent to me by my American brother, living in Detroit:
      Firhill is just 'up the road' from my house and quite close to a plot of ground reserved for my final resting place, at present tenanted by my late wife.(I imagine her first words when we are finally re-united
      for ever,will be: "You took your time".

      A story I started at the turn of this century gives an account of Firhill and its occupants before it fell into disrepair.

      It's Saturday night down here in Cornwall and if there's nothing on the box, I would ask you to sit back and hopefully enjoy the following;

      This estate, which I have visited many times. is near Alan's (That's me) place in Cornwall.

      The tragic American heir and Stanford-educated professor who refused to inherit a multimillion-dollar English estate for 40 years before 'dying alone and impoverished'
      • John Figg-Hoblyn, a former biology professor in California, lived a low-key existence with his sister Peggy in an RV
      John, the Stanford-educated heir was close friends with Jon Lindbergh, renowned diver and son of aviator Charles Lindbergh.

      By Louise Boyle
      The heir to a vast English estate, who refused to inherit the land despite it being worth millions, has been revealed as a talented, free-spirited college professor who lived his last days in improverished isolation.
      John Figg-Hoblyn died on June 12, 2011 aged 85 at a nursing home in California, his robust health having withered once he was confined to a nursing home.
      He had refused for more than 40 years to lay claim to Hoblyn estate in Cornwall with its enormous manor house and 300 acres worth $7.5million.
      Following years of legal wranglings over the estate's century-old will, it was finally sold this year. The proceeds, amounting to almost $4million, will be split between Mr Figg-Hoblyn's two elderly sisters Anne and Margaret in California.

      American heir: John Paget Figg-Hoblyn, pictured as a younger man. The Californian professor stood to inherit a vast English estate but ignored it and died impoverished aged 85 in a nursing home
      How the life of a Stanford University-educated ancestor of English gentry spiraled into bankruptcy and ill health, has been revealed to MailOnline by Mr Figg-Hoblyn's close friend Ron Libert.
      John was born and raised in Santa Barbara County, California with his sisters Anne and Margaret (known as Peggy).
      His father Francis was a high school principal in the area. Mr Figg-Hoblyn's mother liked to travel and lived separately from their father once the three children had grown up.

      Free spirit: John Figg-Hoblyn was educated at Stanford, loved nature and adventure stories
      As a young man, John studied at Stanford University, where he was on the track team and excelled in his major Biology.
      In the summer, he went on college expeditions to identify native fauna in regions like the Gulf of California.
      Mr Figg-Hoblyn was a close friend of the second son of aviator Charles Lindbergh.
      Jon Lindbergh was a renowned diver and a pioneer of cage diving who studied marine biology at Stanford.
      In his youth, John Figg-Hoblyn was extremely handsome but, according to Mr Libert, had no known romances and he never married.
      After gaining his Masters degree, Mr Figg-Hoblyn took up a teaching post at Stanford and later taught at San Jose University.
      Upon the death of his father in 1965, John moved into the family home in Santa Barbara with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean.
      His sister Margaret, who was around ten years younger than John, also attended Stanford University.
      On his father's instructions, John took on the care of Margaret who suffered from paranoia, according to Mr Libert, who was also her close friend. She never married or was known to have boyfriends.
      It was also at this time that Mr Figg-Hoblyn became heir to Hoblyn Estate in Cornwall but refused to sign title deeds because it is believed he did not want to pay the property's death tax.
      Margaret, known as 'Peggy', was involved in organic agriculture and established the Farmers' Market in Santa Barbara alongside her elder brother.

      Mr Libert claims that when the siblings were asked to sell their Santa Barbara home during the construction of Interstate 101, Peggy's paranoia resulted in John never being paid for the house.
      Peggy allegedly convinced John to return the check and ask for more money but the state accepted the gesture of the returned check as a donation.
      When it came to the execution of the Hoblyn Estate in England, there were further miscommunications and legal wranglings.

      The way it was: This archive photo from the 1930s shows Fir Hill manor in all its pride on the Hoblyn estate in Cornwall

      Falling down: This derelict remains of the 19th century Fir Hill manor house on the Hoblyn estate in Cornwall. The estate ran to ruin after lying uncared for over 40 years
      Around 2005, Mr Figg-Hoblyn suffered a stroke and his sister became his only carer, defying any use of Western medicine and relying on her own remedies. The brother and sister moved to the Ojai Valley in Ventura County the following year.
      Despite having suffered a stroke, Mr Figg-Hoblyn regained his robust health. The elderly siblings became famous in the region for walking the ten-mile round trip from the campgrounds they lived on to Ojai with full back-packs no matter what the weather conditions.
      Mr Libert told MailOnline: 'I met John and Margaret in late 2006 and decided to help them with their legal problems. I visited with John frequently and I would take them to church on Sundays.
      'They ended up living in an old camper and were content, having no debts and living quite simply on their combined Social Security checks of $1,400 monthly.
      'John only talked to people he felt comfortable with. He could read out loud in a strong voice and loved to read adventure stories and stories of the Old West.'
      However Mr Libert said that the fortunes of the free-spirited Mr Figg-Hoblyn changed when a relative filed a lawsuit to become John's guardian.
      Mr Libert added: 'Peggy ignored the court summons until an attorney representing the Probate Court served them personally. From that day on, their life spiraled down hill.'
      Mr Libert had a friend represent Mr Figg-Hoblyn pro bono - where a judge handed over guardianship to Bank of America, including his possession and Social Security checks.

      Fellow adventurous spirit: Stanford University graduate student Jon Lindbergh, son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, was a close friend of John Figg-Hoblyn
      His friend continued: 'It was then reported that Margaret was not taking good care of John. He was placed in a ''guest home'' subject to only approved visitors and limited outings.'
      Mr Libert alleges that his friend was drugged and punished when he tried to leave the nursing home, which he documents on his blog stopguardianabuse.org.
      When he was able to visit, Mr Libert said that the elderly Mr Figg-Hoblyn, whose health was deteriorating, would ask constantly: 'What did I do?'
      Mr Libert said: 'In essence, his inheritance killed his freedom and killed him physically and mentally. '
      Following the death of the rightful heir to Hoblyn estate two years ago, the property and vast lands once again were open to dispute.
      The next male heir - the only person who wanted to restore the estate to its former glory - has been left with a vastly reduced sum because of a change to the century-old will.
      The legal document had originally said that only a male heir could inherit the lands and 19th-century Fir Hill manor house.

      Esteemed: Mr Figg-Hoblyn excelled in his studies at Stanford University and later went on to teach at the college
      John Figgs-Hoblyn never indicated to the British High Court that he wanted to accept Hoblyn Estate after the death of his father Francis in 1965.
      However his refusal to inherit the estate, close to the village of Colan, meant it was prevented from passing to the second-in-line, his cousin and only male heir, John Westropp Figg-Hoblyn.
      The retired farmer and father-of-four from Missouri said that he wanted to live and work on the family estate. The British courts recognized Mr Westropp as a legitimate heir.
      However because of the legal impasse caused by Mr Paget's refusal to make a decision, Hoblyn Estate lay empty. Over the years, the mansion fell into disrepair after lying empty and unloved while the land and gardens became overgrown.
      Parts of the estate were sold off to pay death duties and administration costs.

      Cut out: John Westropp Figg-Hoblyn, pictured with his wife, visits the estate which he was due to inherit as the only male heir before changes to the will cut him out
      Mr Figg-Hoblyn's death allowed the destiny of the estate to be decided by a judge at the Court of Protection in London.
      An original clause which said the estate would pass to a male heir was cut out and the sale proceeds of the estate split between John Paget's next-of-kin, his elderly sisters in California.
      Only £130,000 (around $200,000) will go to the closest surviving male heir, John Westropp, their cousin.
      Britain's Official Solicitor, who deals with such property matters, tried in vain to contact John Figg-Hoblyn about his vast inheritance 30 years ago.
      In 1985, the Official Solicitor wrote: `John Paget Figg-Hoblyn, by the stroke of a pen and by meeting some other details, can take over the property.
      'Yet I do not know his address.'
      The history of Hoblyn Estate has long been marked with scandal and family tragedy.
      In 1856, William Paget Hoblyn was the first to move into Fir Hill Manor. He lived there in grandeur with his wife, son and four daughters.

      William Paget Hoblyn with three of his children, Ernest, Wilhelmin and Rosalind
      However their idyllic life came to be tainted by a bitter legal battle surrounding William Paget Hoblyn's will.
      The estate, according to legal documents drawn up by a previous owner, was intended to pass to the eldest male heir.
      However William Paget Hoblyn also wanted his daughters to share in the property.
      However Hoblyn's eldest son Ernest, a known heavy drinker, challenged the legal changes while his father was still alive.
      Ernest lost the battle against his sisters soon after his father died and shortly before his own early death.
      The Cornish estate was then thrown into turmoil. With only four Hoblyn daughters left - all spinsters and with no male heir - no one could inherit the house and lands.
      Two remained spinsters and one married but did not have children. And the fourth sister scandalized local society with her love life.
      When she was 19, she ran off to South Africa with coachman John Jones who was in his thirties and married with four sons. Rosalind soon regretted her actions.
      The Western Morning News reported in April 1882: `The unfortunate girl's story was a pitiful one. 'She wished herself back home within 24 hours of leaving, and left her swain distinguishing himself as a waiter at an hotel.'
      Her parents were on the dockside to greet her on her return to Plymouth, Devon.
      She found a more suitable partner in Thomas Richard Figg, a tea broker's son, and they married in March 1884.
      The couple moved to Canada and then to California, and their four children took the surname Figg-Hoblyn.
      Rosalind's eldest son Francis Figg-Hoblyn, a gold miner in California, was due to take over the estate on the deaths of his mother and Cornish aunts.
      In 1947, he visited the estate and invited the tenant farmers to a meeting at Colan to announce his intention of restoring the estate to its former glory.
      However Francis was annoyed that his elderly aunts had let the estate become run down. He would not sign a document saying that he was satisfied the estate and would take it on.
      He returned to California and died in 1965. The estate then passed to his eldest son John Paget where the legal wranglings continued until this year.
      Derek Luscombe, vice-chairman of Colan Parish Council said recently that he was delighted the long-running will dispute was finally settled. He said it gave a chance for the estate to be rejuvenated.
      Mr Luscombe said that just before Christmas, Charlie Hoblyn, a distant cousin of John Paget, addressed Colan Parish Council with plans to open a new campsite on part of the estate he had just bought. That plan will be subject to planning approval from Cornwall Council.
      `Most people have forgotten the estate is there because the dispute went on so long,' Mr Luscombe added. But I think locals will be pleased to know it's finally been settled.'

      Crumbling: This picture shows the stable block at Fir Hill manor on the estate in Cornwall.
      (I don't imagine the essential pictures will come through but perhaps a visit to one of the URLs below will help.)
      Have a good evening.
      As always

      Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2294037/John-Figg-Hoblyn-The-American-heir-refused-inherit-Cornwall-estate-millions-sisters.html#ixzz2NiZHVJNx
      Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter

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