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The shy four who may soon be rich August 1971


Thomas Melhuish signed away his family's inheritance for 200 years.  Now the time is up and four people wait anxiously for the result of their claim to the estate, worth nearly £300,000.

The four claim to be the sole survivors of about 400 claimants to the Melhuish estate in North Devon.  Three live in Britain and one in Australia, but solcitor Mr Claude Richardson who is representing them says he is 'under strict instructions' not to reveal their identity.

Thomas Melhuish was a trustee in 1770 when the Melhuish 700 acreas were leased - for 200 years - to obtain ready cash.  Today the estate includes more than 100 leasehold houses at Northam and Appledore, part of a golf course and Northam Burrows, a local beauty spot.

Mr Andrew Gardner, clerk to Northam Council said:  'This latest news from the solicitors acting for the four claimants could change everything.

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