Ruth was the youngest child of Agnes Johnstone who was the youngest child of Sarah and James Maxwell Johnstone who lived and worked at Hoar Oak Cottage at the turn of the 19th century. The Johnstones had 13 children including Agnes who was born at Hoar Oak Cottage. When Ruth died in 2010 she left a small amount of money. She had no direct descendants and had not left a will so her meagre estate became the subject of a legal search for beneficiaries – any living descendant of the 13 Johnstone children from Hoar Oak Cottage.
That search resulted in the identification of over 52 beneficiaries and became the topic of an episode of the intriguing TV programme ‘Heir Hunters’ all about Ruth and Hoar Oak Cottage. The full programme airs on TV occasionally but Flame TV, the production company, have allowed The Friends a copy to share with those who might have family links and would like to view it on CD. Please get in touch if you’d like to borrow it. The edition of the programme – which covers two family stories – is now also available as a transcript and makes an interesting read. Here is the link.
The search for Ruth’s family also resulted in some very ‘long lost’ second and third Johnstone cousins meeting up for the first time and ultimately to the setting up of the Friends of Hoar Oak Cottage to try and save the heritage and fabric of the old cottage. .
Ruth was a kind and sweet but strong willed woman who was loved and respected in her local community of Gunn in North Devon. She was a stalwart of the local church, had once been a children’s nurse, the local school’s cook and in later life the school crossing lady. We remember her with great love and affection.