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Family claims properties it held deeds to were sold

A photograph of Grace Oates, great great grandmother of Velda Franco who gave evidence at the Commission of Inquiry yesterday. She is pictured with her husband John Oates (Photograph supplied)

A company owned by former Premier and businessman Sir John Swan advertised several properties for sale that a family held the deeds to, the Commission of Inquiry in land losses was told yesterday.

It was claimed that Sir John’s real estate business, John W Swan, placed newspaper adverts for prime Pembroke real estate that were alleged yesterday to have belonged to Velda Franco’s great-great grandmother, Grace Oates.

Ms Franco told the inquiry: “At the time they shouldn’t have been advertised as our family still held the deeds for them.”

Ms Franco was giving evidence to the commission with her brother Hugh Hollis and Cecilia Lynne Cann, her aunt.

She made submission about seven properties in Pembroke from Boss’s Cove to Spanish Point and Mill Creek and one quarter of an acre of land in the Tulo Lane area that she insisted had been owned by her family.

The properties advertised by Sir John’s company only made up a proportion of the total number.

Ms Franco set out in her evidence who the original owners of the properties were claimed that the present occupants were not the legal owners.

The inquiry heard that one of the properties, 11 Boss’s Cove Road, is for sale.

Ms Franco wrote in a letter to the commission last year: “I am Velda Franco submitting information on behalf of living and deceased family members for the injustice we have all suffered.

“My great grandmother and grandmother fought to their death to have the properties back.

“I grew up listening to stories from my great grandmother and grandmother about how these properties belonged to us and they were hoping that one day during their lifetime – now they have passed – we would have ownership.”

The family put together a 268-page presentation titled Our Family Legacy that outlined its history back to the 1750s.

The document listed Ms Franco’s fifth great grandfather as Samuel Wood, a slave owner, landowner, privateer and shipbuilder who had a child, Julius “Bulla” Wood, with a slave.

It documented that Julius Wood was freed in 1827 and was a “skilled fisherman”.

He had three children, including Richard Wood who owned property at Plaice’s Point, Pembroke and whose second wife was Ann Amelia Wood – the mother of Grace Oates.

Mr Hollis said: “We have put in a lot of effort to retaining some of the properties we felt were incorrectly taken from us.

“My grandmother Margaret Genevieve Hollis did a lot of research – she represented the family in court proceedings and documented a lot of things in relation to the property.

“On behalf of our ancestors, we feel it is important to follow through on what they started and get some results.”

The family was asked what its position was on houses in the Boss’s Cove and Tulo Lane areas, now owned by other people.

Mr Hollis said: “I think it has always been a goal of our ancestors to have a rightful claim to the property.”

He added the family wanted a ruling that the land and property was legally theirs and to stake some claim to it.

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Published February 06, 2021 at 8:45 am (Updated February 08, 2021 at 10:48 am)

Family claims properties it held deeds to were sold

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