John Paget Figg-Hoblyn

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John Paget Figg-Hoblyn Ph.D (Biological science) (January 25, 1926 – June 12, 2011)[1] was a university professor, and taxonomist. He came to public attention when a BBC documentary was broadcast about the search for him in 1994, after he had failed to claim an inheritance which included Fir Hill Manor.

Inheritance dispute[edit]

John Figg-Hoblyn came to public attention in 1994, when the BBC broadcast a documentary about him.[2][3] In 1965 his father had bequeathed him a 1000-acre estate and the ruins of a manor house, Fir Hill Manor, in Cornwall, England.[1] According to the Official Solicitor, John failed to take up the inheritance.[1][3] The Official Solicitor was appointed in 1972 to manage the estate for John Figg-Hoblyn in the 1970s when they lost contact with him.[3]

The BBC documentary discovered Figg-Hoblyn was living in a caravan park in California, United States,[3] where he and his sister, Peggy, were following a low-key lifestyle trading in organic produce.[1] John was something of a naturalist and lived a simple life. He worked for the government as a marine biologist as well as taught at Stanford University and San Jose State University.[1] The BBC subsequently lost contact with him.[3]

In 2007 the next-in-line to inherit the estate as the eldest male, John Westropp Figg-Hoblyn, put out a call to find John Paget Figg-Hoblyn before the inheritance which included Fir Hill Manor was lost.[3][4]

John Paget Figg-Hoblyn died in a nursing home on 12 June 2011 at the age of 85.[1] The estate was reportedly divided between his surviving sisters, with John Westropp Figg-Hoblyn receiving a much smaller sum.[1] The Fir Hill Woods were sold to Charles Hoblyn, a distant cousin[4], and the Figg-Hoblyn's are retaining an historical cottage.

Academic career[edit]

Figg-Hoblyn was educated at Stanford University, California, United States.[citation needed] His doctorate dissertation in entomology was titled Morphology of the Head and Foregut of Neomachilis Halophilus which was published in 1977 by the Dept. of Biological Sciences.[citation needed] In 1953, he described a unique species of jewel beetle that he had discovered, which was given the name Acmaeodera nanbrownae. This name is now classified as a junior synonym for Acmaeodera vanduzeei.[5] Dr. Figg-Hoblyn used to have a lab at Stanford University,[citation needed] and taught at San Jose State University.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Duell, Mark (14 March 2013). "How a £5m, 3,000-acre estate fell into ruin after its American heir left property abandoned for 40 years". Daily Mail. Retrieved 28 March 2013. 
  2. ^ "The Curse of Fir Hill Manor". British Film Institute. Retrieved 6 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Mystery over heir to £5m fortune". BBC News. 25 February 2007. 
  4. ^ Heir refuses to claim £5m estate, Daily Telegraph, 22 February 2007. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  5. ^ "ITIS Standard Report Page: Acmaeodera nanbrownae". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved 24 April 2013. 
  6. ^ "Bizarre family saga reaches a settlement". Cornish Guardian. 13 March 2013. Retrieved 24 April 2013.