*BlogTour: Guest Post* The Irish Inheritance by M J Lee (@WriterMJLee)

The Irish Inheritance Cover LARGE EBOOK.jpg“June 8, 1921. Ireland.
A British Officer is shot dead on a remote hillside south of Dublin.

November 22, 2015. United Kingdom.
Former police detective, Jayne Sinclair, now working as a genealogical investigator, receives a phone call from an adopted American billionaire asking her to discover the identity of his real father.

How are the two events linked?

Jayne Sinclair has only three clues to help her: a photocopied birth certificate, a stolen book and an old photograph. And it soon becomes apparent somebody else is on the trail of the mystery. A killer who will stop at nothing to prevent Jayne discovering the secret hidden in the past
The Irish Inheritance takes us through the Easter Rising of 1916 and the Irish War of Independence, combining a search for the truth of the past with all the tension of a modern-day thriller.

It is the first in a series of novels featuring Jayne Sinclair, genealogical detective.”

Today I am one of three blogs participating in The Irish Inheritance blog tour.  I am a huge fan of author M J Lee’s Inspector Danilov series (click here to read my review of City of Shadows), so I can’t wait to get my teeth into this new series.

I am delighted to share a guest post with you today.  Martin has written a fascinating piece on family secrets.  Over to you Martin…



All families have secrets. It’s one of those truisms that is undoubtedly true.

You only have to watch the mesmerising revelations on Who do you think you are? or The Will  to see that the deeper we dig into our families the more secrets we will find. Hidden by old aunties, buried in old photographs, or simply hushed up by drawing a curtain over the past.

My own family secret was not that common. My grandfathers fought on opposing sides during the Irish Civil War. One was a member of the Free State Army whilst the other was a Captain in the IRA. I often wonder whether they ever met.

Below you’ll find a chart of the most common family secrets in Britain today. By the way, I think Yorkshire has far more secrets than any other region, they are just less willing to admit it than most. It’s the classic Yorkshire belief of ‘Don’t say nowt to nobody.’


Family secrets are a wonderful source for novelists, particularly people such as myself who write Genealogical Mysteries. Through the techniques of the genealogical researcher, secrets can be discovered, tales told, and the past revealed in a way that no other mystery can match.

In my latest novel, the Irish Inheritance, the detective, Jayne Sinclair, uses genealogical sources to discover the real parents of an American billionaire, adopted when he was just four years old. All she has to help her are an old library book, an adoption certificate and a photograph. But these few objects lead her on a chase through time all the way back to the Easter Rising of 1916, revealing a saga of murder, mystery, greed and despair. Her employer’s family has a whole host of secrets, the greatest which is hidden until the very end of the book.

What’s your family secret? Is there something exciting, strange or forbidden in your past?

One reader has already told me the story of her family. It will form the basis of the second Jayne Sinclair genealogical mystery appearing at the end of 2016.

I’d love to hear other stories. All will be kept confidential of course. Just drop me a line at the website below.

In the meantime, good luck with your genealogical searches, but be careful what you find. Some family secrets want to stay buried.

Martin Lee is the author of three previous historical crime novels. This book is the first time he has managed to combine two of his passions – crime and genealogy – into one novel. It is also the first in a new genealogical mystery series featuring the investigator, Jayne Sinclair.

He can be contacted at www.writermjlee.com, on Facebook at writermjlee and on twitter at @writermjlee. He’s nothing if not original with his names.


Thank you for such an interesting post, Martin.  My dad has been tracing our family tree for some time now so I’ll have a word with him and see what he has discovered (if anything!).

The Irish Inheritance by M J Lee was published in the UK on 15th June 2016 and is available in paperback and eBook formats | amazon.co.uk | amazon.com | Goodreads |

Smith & Sons (11)


Martin has spent most of his adult life writing in one form or another. As a University researcher in history, he wrote pages of notes on reams of obscure topics. As a social worker with Vietnamese refugees, he wrote memoranda. And, as the creative director of an advertising agency, he has written print and press ads, tv commercials, short films and innumerable backs of cornflake packets and hotel websites.
He has spent 25 years of his life working outside the North of England. In London, Hong Kong, Taipei, Singapore, Bangkok and Shanghai, winning awards from Cannes, One Show, D&AD, New York and London Festivals, and the United Nations.
Whilst working in Shanghai, he loved walking through the old quarter of that amazing city, developing the idea behind a series of crime novels featuring Inspector Pyotr Danilov, set in 1920s and 30s.
When he’s not writing, he splits his time between the UK and Asia, taking pleasure in playing with his daughter, practicing downhill ironing, single-handedly solving the problem of the French wine lake and wishing he were George Clooney.

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15 thoughts on “*BlogTour: Guest Post* The Irish Inheritance by M J Lee (@WriterMJLee)

  1. Great post! I found lots of these family secrets when I researched my family though no links to royalty yet! One of my great great great grandmothers was in prison on the night of a census. I’d love to know why – I suspect drunk and disorderly! – but frustratingly have never been able to find out!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joanne, if it’s England, the prison registers are online. Unfortunately, you have to pay but you can check first before you do so at findmypast.com. If you want , I can do a quick search for you. I’ll need her name, place where she was living and the date of the census she missed.

      If your ggg gm was Irish, she will have been tried at one of the Magistrates Courts. The records are online too. I’ve got a great grandfather who was up quite a few times for D&D. So it goes.

      Hope it helps and glad you liked the post.


      Martin Lee (M J Lee)

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks Martin that’s kind of you to offer. Actually, I might a slight mistake in my post. She was described as a prisoner but I think she was in the cells at the local police station rather than in prison. Haven’t been able to find anything in searches of local newspapers of the time so I think it was probably something very minor. She was called Sarah Owens nee Geddes and it was the 1861 Scotland census in Charlotte Street, South Leith, Edinburgh. She died in 1864 in the poorhouse where her cause death was given as ‘disease of the brain and epilepsy’. Sounds like she had a hard life. Still haven’t found any hidden fortunes in my family, just tales of woe!

        Liked by 1 person

    • I think you’re right, Joanne. She was in the Charlotte Street police jail with about seven other people. Here’s the transcript for her.

      Sarah Owens

      Laborer’s Wife
      Leith, Midlothian, Scotland

      It seems husband Thomas was at home with his the two children, Thomas Jnr, born in 1858 and Abigael, aged 8. She was perhaps his stepdaughter as Thomas and Sarah were only married on 29 December 1857. If I have the right person, he was described as coming from Lerwick in the Hebrides and was a coal hewer.

      Here’s their wedding certificate.

      First name(s)
      Last name
      Marriage year
      Marriage date
      29 Dec 1857
      Marriage place
      Spouse’s first name(s)
      Spouse’s last name

      (As Thomas Jnr was born in 1858, it was probably a shotgun wedding. But I don’t know the birthdate so not sure)

      Here are Sarah’s parents;

      First name(s)
      Last name
      Birth year
      Birth place
      North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland
      Baptism year

      Baptism date

      Baptism place
      Father’s first name(s)
      Father’s last name
      Mother’s first name(s)
      Mother’s last name
      North Leith, Midlothian, Scotland
      North Leith

      Hope this helps. No real skeletons, but Sarah was a sad case and was only 32 when she passed away.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You may just have given me another puzzle to solve Martin. According to her death record, Abigail Owens’ parents were these two but I haven’t found an exact date of birth for her which I do for her brothers. Maybe because she wasn’t Abigail Owens at birth? Thomas was born in Feb 1958 so it wouldn’t make sense for his parents to have had a child all those years earlier and not get married when they seem to have gone a bit shotgun over him. Must look next time I go to the records office! Maybe a whole line of my tree (the Owens part I’m guessing) isn’t mine after all as Abigail was my Gt Gt Grandmother! Thanks for doing that bit research – very kind.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Looks like you may have found your family secret, Joanne. Records are a bit scratchy but you might want to check parish registers for birth records. Also, if she was a member of a kirk, she may have applied to them to get maintenance from the father. The church will keep records of all such applications. Good luck with the research!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Emma,

    Thanks for hosting me today, I had a blast writing the post. There are so many wonderful discoveries to make in family history, a whole library of novels to write.

    Thanks once again,



    Liked by 2 people

  3. Great post! I love genealogy and had a lot of fun researching both my own and my uncle (by marriage)’s trees a few years ago. I found a couple of secrets that didn’t seem like huge deals to me – a couple of illegitimate births and a direct ancestor who died in the Poorhouse. But when I told my aged mother, she was horrified! However, we also found a mystery man, the only record of whom is as ‘father’ on a birth certificate – he never married the mother. Because of his unusual name we came to the conclusion he must have been a Cornish sailor, many of whom regularly visited that part of Scotland at the time. He’s now known to us all as the Cornish smuggler (or occasionally our own Pirate of Penzance). I hope I never find out he was a bank clerk or something boring like that… 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • If you have the name of the father and the place, date of the birth and name of the offspring, I can do a quick search for you, Fictionfan, but if you’d rather not know, some things are better left as they are.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s very kind of you, Martin! But, haha, our Cornish smuggler is sadly our most interesting ancestor, even if he is semi-mythical – I reckon my young cousins would disown me if I accidentally ‘killed’ their pirate forebear! His name was John Eslick, apparently, father of Agnes O’Brien’s son, John. I haven’t got the paperwork to hand but it was all around the 1850s if I remember rightly. The reason we decided he must be Cornish is because the surname appears to be very much restricted to that area. I was never able to trace him as having been in Scotland at any of the subsequent censuses, and Agnes lived on the Solway Firth, where apparently Cornish ships often stopped off. And, poor little Agnes, I got the impression from the names and lack of legitimate fathers of her various offspring that she was… ahem… no better than she should have been… 😉 I am intrigued to know more, but it’s probably better to let sleeping dogs lie… thanks, though, for the kind offer! 😀


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