The Checkweigher’s Fortune

bullionFor several weeks, the local press in 1901 ran a story looking for a particular person. The story had some urgent attention. A Gold prospector in California had suddenly died and left a massive fortune to “a male relative last seen working as a checkweigher in one of the Blantyre pits”. The name of the lucky inheritor was purposely not disclosed but the claimant was asked to “come forward, provide his name, his current employment and show his connections to America for consideration“. A checkweigher was the person responsible for checking the tonnage of produced coal. Altogether, a safer and more tolerable job than most within the mine.

It would be an understatement to say the sum was considerable. Even in 1901 it was a whopping £800,000. In today’s money, that’s an inherited sum of around £83 MILLION!! However, nobody came forward and searching though archives, it would appear the money was lodged into trust. If it did continue to compound interest, it would have been worth several hundred million by now, more if invested by the trust! The rightful claimants would still be his surviving family today (if any) that could provide proof of their entitlement, presumably by showing their ancestor worked at the pit and had family in the States. Then again, the line could have simply died and the money entitlement ending too. Even around 1900 if the lucky checkweigher had moved residence and job and never found out about this windfall and presuming he had children, there may now be tens of living relatives, or even hundreds of people who would be due equal portions of the fortune! Unfortunately though, my Blantyre family of the era never worked in the mine, but chose a safer profession of selling boots, which is perhaps where I get my entrepreneurial streak from.

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