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PRONI records uncovers Heiress of Seskinore

Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) has used its’ records to uncover a lost heiress to the McClintock estate in Seskinore, Co Tyrone.

Xenia Lewis who is currently living in Australia, recently visited her mother’s grave in Seskinore and has also met up with a half brother that she didn’t know existed.

Head of Public Services at PRONI, Heather Stanley said: “The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland has played a pivotal role in piecing together the past so that this amazing story of a lost heiress could come to light. PRONI has catalogued, stored and maintained the numerous documents that allowed these blood relatives to be united after 70 years.”

The story unfolded after Alex Watson, a researcher from Scotland contacted PRONI in an attempt to trace Pat Joynson Wreford’s father.  PRONI’s  cataloguing and indexing system allowed Pat to find his father’s will, which in turn led Pat to his new half sister, Xenia.

Xenia was orphaned at the age of four and guardianship of the child fell to family acquaintances who emigrated and didn’t return to Northern Ireland until now. Throughout her life Xenia remained completely unaware of her inheritance and connections to the McClintock family.

To help piece together the gaps in Xenia’s life, staff at PRONI were able to produce three generations of wills from Xenia’s family and also a considerable number of photographs, scrapbooks and other documents.  

Heather concluded: “The world in which we live is growing smaller, helped in part by availability of the internet.  Earlier this year PRONI launched its’ new website which includes a wills database and enables people all over the world to  identify  documents held by PRONI – this service will be enhanced later this year with the launch of the electronic Catalogue for Northern Ireland [eCATNI].  PRONI will also be moving to new accommodation in 2010 and this investment demonstrates the commitment to the work of PRONI across its range of statutory functions.

Notes to Editors:

  1. A glimpse into Xenia’s story can be seen on Family Focus, BBC NI on Thursday 3 July 08.
  2. Further details about Xenia and her story can be found by logging on to www.mcclintockofseskinore.co.uk
  3. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure Press Office Tel (028) 9025 8901 or email press.office@dcalni.gov.uk Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.