London Man's Claim that Might Succeed
£20 For Birthright
Camberwell can offer Mr Perkins, the American inheritance specialist whose successes in tracing missing heirs to estates has been announced in The Evening News, an absorbing problem worthy of his powers.
It concerns the Jermy millions, and the son of a man who spent a lifetime in fruitless effort to prove his title to these vast estates and now carries on the prosaic business of bottle manufacturer in Church Street, Camberwell.
"My father, Mr John Jermy Larner, believed that he was the rightful heir to property worth millions," said Mr Larner to an Evening News representative, "but the documents on which he relied have been lost."
"They were entrusted to a solicitor with a view to prosecuting the claim, but the solicitor soon afterwards fell ill and died at Brighton. After his death the documents could not be found."
Mr Larner, junior, has made extensive enquiries but with so many links in the chain missing he has given up the puzzle, preferring, like a sensible man to proceed with his own business rather than embark on the doubtful sea of litigation.
Relics of the Fight
He nevertheless preserves for reference a parcel of souvenirs of his father's activities in searching church registers, interviewing old inhabitants and delving into the centuries-old roots of the family trees of Jermy and Larner.
It is doubtful if even Mr Perkins with all his skill could make much of these relics (some of which are mere empty envelopes from which important papers are missing), but Mr Larner is quite willing to let him try if he desires.
The story of the Jermy millions really goes back to the thirties of last century and the troubles at Stanfield Hall, near Wymondham, the ancient manor where once lived the ill-fated Amy Robsare who married Dudley, Earl of Leicester.
The hall came to one William Jermy in the eighteenth century and when he died without leaving a son it passed to Isaac Preston, his wife's brother, and subsequent Prestons, who took the name of Jermy.
But it was alleged that a certain Francis Jermy, of North Walsham, and one John Jermy, of Yarmouth, who had good claims to the estate, were induced to part with their interests for a "mess of pottage."
For example, John, said to have been the real heir but an illiterate man, actually parted with his reversionary interest for a sum of £20, though the estate extended to about 12 parishes.
Held for a Day
Thomas Jermy, son of the man who had sold his interest for £20, declined to abide by such a bargain, and he and his cousin, one John Larner, tried to seize the hall by force in 1838.
Larner stopped an auction sale at the hall and with a party of assistants held it for a day until driven out by a bailiff named Rush with a strong force of labourers.
Later Larner laid siege to the hall again with a London attorney named Wingfield and 80 or 90 supporters from surrounding villages.
Soldiers were called out and Larner and all his army were arrested as rioters and sent to prison, Larner for three months.
Isaac Jermy, son of the Rev. George Preston, then reigned at the hall.
Rush, the bailiff, so far was on the side of Isaac Jermy, but in the forties he transferred his support to Larner and Tom Jermy, with whom he had meetings in London. Rush claimed to have information which could help these claimants.
In return they were to put him in possession of one of the farms.
Then occurred (in 1848) the crime of Stanfield Hall, which is recorded among the celebrated murder trials of the last century. Rush invaded the hall one night and shot Isaac Jermy and Isaac's son because of a dispute over money matters.
A cool scoundrel, Rush was convicted chiefly on the evidence of Emily Sandford, his children's governess, with whom he had carried on an intrigue. He was hanged publicly in Norwich, telling the hangman at the last moment to put the rope higher, as it did not go easy, and not to be in a hurry.
A daughter of the murdered Mr Jermy inherited the property and though there were frequent threats of litigation, it did not materialise.
As time went on witnesses died and threads in the skein became lost, and all of the skill of the late Mr John Jermy Larner of Camberwell could not pull them together again.
"My father considered he should have inherited about £3,000,000" said Mr Larner, junior in relating the main facts of the tale, "but he died a poor man, and I always think he would have been far better off to have left the idea of the Jermy claim alone."
"My father's mother rode as a girl in a donkey cart to Stanfield Hall and saw the battle there. She was very strongly convinced of the rights of the Larners, as next of kin of the Jermys. My father, however, parted with documents to solicitors which never came back again, and I can make nothing of what he has left behind."
Ref: The Evening News, 2 September 1922