The wife of a cult American TV star could be in line for a small unclaimed fortune after learning she is a distant descendent of a 19th Century Perthshire soldier.
The Californian mother-of-two was contacted out of the blue by a team of professional “heir hunters” who search for descendants in cases where there is no clear route for the inheritance to follow.
Diana Chappell, who is married to Sons of Anarchy actor Kim Coates, was stunned to find out she was related to the 13th Earl of Kinnoull.
The team from Finders International, which has recently opened its first Scottish office in Edinburgh, had discovered that Diana was related to Joseph Berington who died without a will in January last year.
His mother was Florence Mary Hay, the Countess of Kinnoull and widow of Archibald Fitzroy George Hay, the 13th Earl of Kinnoull who died in February 1916.
Finders – which featured in the BBC’s Heir Hunters series – said that the couple, who stayed at the 80-room Aberdalgie Castle, had four children, although two boys had died in infancy.
The surviving daughters were Lady Margaret D’arcy and Lady Elizabeth Dent who married three times.
Diana, who emigrated to Canada, was grand-daughter to Lady Dent and one of only two surviving descendants.
She told The Courier: “I always knew we had a very small family. I also knew that there were other distant family members in Britain, but I was unsure of their connection to me.
“I did know that an earl was in the family and that my grandmother was a lady, but my father had moved to Canada right after the war and he did not go back to Britain very often.”
She continued: “When I received the letter from Finders, I was very surprised and wondered who this distant relative was. I have been trying to look at family trees to figure it all out, but I find them rather confusing.
“My mother is still in Canada and I’m going up there soon and we will research this more together. It seems that there is a whole other branch to the family, where the earl title was passed down to, that I did not know of.”
Diana married Kim, who stars as Tig Trager in the hit biker drama, in the mid-1980s.
She added: “We have not received the inheritance yet and I understand it is quite small. Some of the personal belongings have been mailed to us and they include interesting old family pictures from the 1800s.
“It’s very exciting to learn about another branch of the family.”
Daniel Curran, M.D of Finders International, said if no legal heirs are traced, the money goes to the Treasury which banked more than £14 million in unclaimed inheritance last year.
A website has been set up – www.unclaimedestates.scot – which lists the names and details of Scots whose states have been unclaimed.