Two entitled relatives found out the truth about their family when they inherited part of the estate of the late Edward Sidney Burridge.

As featured in the popular BBC One daytime TV show, Heir Hunters, this Finders International case was a tough one to crack, as the team had no birth certificate for Edward, who died in 2016 at the age of 89.

Edward had been a widower with no known next of kin. He had lived his entire life in London and had worked as window cleaner.

1939 register

Finding sisters and brothers when you don’t have a birth certificate to start with is tricky, but the team discovered a 1939 register for the Burridge family, and that Edward’s original surname was Pearce.

He was born illegitimately, and his mother later married and had a second son, which was when Edward’s name changed to Burridge. His half-brother Francis had passed away too, but had two children.

The Finders team called a potential heir—the daughter of Francis—but she confirmed this was a different family. They quickly found the correct family and discovered that Edward’s mother had been one of 12, with at least four of her siblings sadly dying without living descendants.

Café Royal

A maternal aunt was a woman called Dorothy, who married restaurant waiter Alfonso Pianca, who worked at the famous Cafe Royal in Regent Street, London as a maitre d’.

Located in the heart of London’s West End, the Café Royal is a historic and iconic establishment. Its origins can be traced back to 1865, when its was established by the French wine merchant, Daniel Nicholas Thévenon.

Initially, the Café Royal was a simple café that served refreshments to the shoppers and workers who frequented Regent Street. However, as London grew into a major commercial and cultural centre, the Café Royal expanded its offerings to include fine dining, live entertainment, and a variety of social events.

Popular with writers

It was a popular gathering place for writers, artists and other creative types. Famous patrons included Oscar Wilde, Virginia Woolf, and Winston Churchill, among others. The Café Royal was also renowned for its wine cellar, which housed an impressive collection of rare and vintage wines.

Today, it remains a popular destination for visitors and locals alike, offering a unique blend of history, luxury, and contemporary style.

Dorothy and Alfonso had just one child who had died but who had married and had two sons. One was Andrew Pianca, first cousin once removed to the deceased, and another first cousin one removed called Stephen Izzard.

Neither man was aware of the other and they met up as a result of Finders’ inquiries. They discovered the many aunts and uncles they never knew of, and while the estate value was low, it was a privilege to unite the two men and uncover this unique story.


Finders International identifies and traces heirs to estates, property, and assets worldwide. For further information on our probate research services, please contact us via our contact page, email: [email protected] or telephone: +44 (0) 20 7490 4935