Family of Irishman who died in Birmingham last month found

John Joseph Gill (86) had no contact with any surviving relatives for 50 years

Relatives of an Irishman who died in Birmingham a month ago have been found.

John Joseph Gill (86) died on November 25th. His last known address was Whitehouse Common Road in Sutton Coldfield. Ten days after his death Birmingham City Council issued a public appeal for information, but it had been unsuccessful in tracing any family despite a couple of appeals.

Relatives of Mr Gill have now been traced by Erin Research, an Irish firm of international probate genealogists who specialise in tracing beneficiaries and unknown next-of-kin.

There was much confusion about Mr Gill following Birmingham City Council’s public appeal, which gave erroneous information that had been sourced from him when he was still alive.


He was born on August 30th not August 31st, 1936 in Delvin, Co Westmeath, not Co Roscommon as he told the council. He had seven siblings not nine. Neither did he have any children though he claimed to have four. He was also unmarried.

The case was taken up on a pro-bono basis by Erin Research who have traced his relatives to the UK and the US. Probate genealogist Padraic Grennan said Mr Gill has been estranged from his family for 50 years. He has been in residential care in Birmingham for the last 14 years and his only visitor in that time was a Catholic priest.

Mr Gill has two surviving siblings, a brother in Canada and a sister in New York. He has a nephew living in New York and there are a niece and nephew of a deceased sister living in the UK, one in London and the other in Birmingham.

Mr Grennan said Mr Gill’s niece, who lives near Birmingham, was not aware that her uncle lived nearby.

“We were able to put the family tree together once we located his birth certificate,” he said. “You can imagine what happens. One goes to Canada and the other to the UK, and they might never speak again.”

Birmingham City Council funerals and protection of property officer Ian Coxhead said he has now submitted paperwork to get the death certificate issued.

He will speak to the family of getting the funeral progressed. “He asked to be buried,” Mr Coxhead said.

He said the level of interest in Mr Gill’s identity had been unprecedented. “We have had a lot of offers of assistance. It was refreshing to have had the contact we have had from people,” he said.

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times