Karl Marx died poor; Darwin, Dickens richer

Karl Marx died poor; Darwin, Dickens richer

Though the German-born philosopher would be worth 23,000 pounds in today's money, Marx's estate pales into insignificance alongside other famous names, according a website which has published the wills of six million people from 1861 to 1941, Daily Mail reported.

Darwin left an estate worth 13 million pounds in today's money and the Victorian era author Charles Dickens was worth equivalent of 7.1 million pound by the time he died.

The names are among the six million English and Welsh wills published online and the total worth of the 6,079,000 estates catalogued tops 20 billion pounds in today's money, the Mail said.

Socialist figurehead Marx, who died in 1883 and is buried in London's Highgate Cemetery, left the sum to his youngest daughter Eleanor, the records show.

Others included in the Ancestry.co.uk index are numerous famous names such as once-rich polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton, who died in 1922 leaving an estate of just 556 pounds (20,000 pounds today). He lost his fortune in failed money-making schemes while allegedly trying to recapture the adventure of his youth.

Darwin, who left a personal estate worth 146,911 pounds - around 13 million pounds today - when he died in 1882. John Cadbury, the 'King of Chocolate', died with a estate of 43,773 pounds, around 4.2 million pounds today, when he died in 1889.

Charles Dickens died leaving "effects under 80,000 pounds" - around 7.1 million pounds today - when he died in 1870, and Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle left behind the equivilent of 3 million pounds, the paper said citing the website list.

Ancestry.co.uk international content director Dan Jones said: "I think it's good for Karl Marx's legacy that he only had 250 pounds - if he had had any more it would probably have undermined his ideology!

"Darwin fared well - he was a successful publisher, with the 'Origin of the Species' being one of the most widely distributed books.

"The story of Shackleton is also interesting, because his estate could have been so much greater - everything we have learned about him comes across.

"And Charles Dickens' estate shows the popularity of his work when he was alive. These records give us an insight into their social standing."

Individual entries may also reveal details about the fate of the deceased. For instance, Edward John Smith, captain of the Titanic, explains that he was "lost at sea" - the same as the listings of first-class passengers Benjamin Guggenheim and John Astor, and the ship's builder Thomas Andrews.

Jones said: "The probate calendar books provide countless new leads for family historians to explore as they move beyond being about family members to long-gone fortunes, mysterious beneficiaries and valuable objects - all with connections back to our ancestors just waiting to be explored.

"Anyone able to find an ancestor in the probate calendar books will be able to find out a great deal about how their ancestor lived, what they bequeathed and to whom, meaning we will be able to find out so much more about what their lives would have been like."

"All wills and administrations were proved in England and Wales however the places of death vary enormously and include more than 107,000 people who died in Scotland, around 20,000 in France and 18,000 in the USA," he added.

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