In this week’s tale of ‘this would seem implausible as a movie but it’s a true story,’ a regular Englishman is now a Lord thanks to a DNA test. Jordan Adlard has known since he was eight that his father was likely Charles Rogers, the owner of the stunning Penrose Estate in England. But it wasn’t until Rogers’ death in 2018 that a DNA test was finally performed and confirmed Adlard was Rogers’ son, which meant that he was now entitled to the huge Cornish estate worth an estimated $80 million. It’s kinda like if Downton Abbey and Maury did a crossover episode.
According to Adlard, Rogers offered to do a DNA test when the former was a child, but it never materialized. “When I was 18 I knocked on his door and asked if I could have the test and he told me to do it through the solicitors. I was 18 so had other priorities at the time,” said Adlard, who is now 31.
“I wrote more letters in my twenties but never got a reply, then three years ago I got in contact with power of attorney Philip Care. Philip said Charles didn’t want to do the test so I wrote one final letter with a DNA test kit enclosed and that was when Philip rang and told me Charles was dead.”
Following Rogers’ death, a DNA test finally confirmed that Adlard was a match and therefore the rightful heir to the 1536-acre National Trust Penrose Estate. The Rogers family gifted the estate to the National Trust in 1974 in exchange for a 1,000-year lease. We love that the English have no qualms about making leases last for 1,000 years. They have convenience stores that are older than most countries.
The estate includes 46 cottages, a café and holiday homes for tourists, a few farms, and income from the Rogers family trust, which means than Adlard, a struggling social worker, now receives a weekly cheque of $1,750, more than enough to care for Adlard, his partner Katie and their new son. We feel like 23 and Me just found their new spokesman.
After some resistance from the Rogers family (like, $80 million worth of resistance?), Adlard and his family moved into the estate, giving Adlard the chance to learn more about his father and giving us the English version of Mr. Deeds.
“I haven’t been here long and don’t know all the ins and outs but have been able to piece some of the puzzle together. Charles never actually lived in the estate. He lived in one of the estate’s farmhouses as his mum lived here so he never got the chance to inherit it,” said Adlard. “They died two weeks apart and his brother was also in line to live in the estate before him.”
Struggling with drug addiction for the past four decades, Rogers died of an overdose at age 62 while living in his car. “It’d got to the point when he gave up on himself and was living in his car instead of his house as it was such a mess,” said Adlard of his late father.
Adlard said that he believes his father was under intense family pressure to live up to expectations, which exacerbated his drug use. “There was always a pressure of him trying to match expectation. His brother was a RAF pilot and his dad a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy so he had big shoes to fill. He was under huge pressure taking it on, but he was different and a free spirit,” said Adlard. “Charles served in the Army in Northern Ireland and I think this affected him greatly along with the death of his brother Nigel from cancer who he was very close to.”
The inheritance is bittersweet, with Adlard saying that he wishes he could have known his father, who lived in the same town. “I’m now starting to get my feet under the table here. People say I’m lucky but I would trade anything to be able to go back and for Charles to know I was his son. Maybe then he might have taken a different path.”
Growing up poor in nearby estate housing, Adlard has plans on using his newfound wealth to help others, making us feel like he was the right guy to win the heritage lottery. “I don’t need to work anymore so want to set up a charity and help the Porthleven and Helston communities,” says Adlard. “I’ve been at the point of worrying about the next bill and have had a tough start in life but now I’m here I want to help people. I’m not going to forget where I’ve come from.”
We’ll take that as the silver lining to this really sad rags to riches story.