A breakthrough in my family history research

Alan Cordner
Alan Cordner
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CHRIS CORDNER is on a quest to find out more about his ancestors.

Last week, he reported on the frustrations of hitting a stumbling block. Try as he might, he could not back further than the barest details on his great-great grandparents.

The answer came from an unexpected source.

Here is his latest report.

HAIR-TEARING. Nailbiting. The sort of struggle that makes you want to scream – loudly.

Geneaology is every one of those and more.

I had found my great-grandfather William Cordner in the 1901 Census, a 24-year-old coalminer and a single man, boarding with a family at Pegswood, two miles east of Morpeth in Northumberland.

But why couldn’t I find William’s parents? What was I doing wrong? I’d searched Censuses until I was dreaming about them.

I knew William’s father was called John Cordner but none of the North-East men answering to that name fitted the bill.

Just when my quest threatened to shudder to a complete halt, a solution arrived.

Cue semi-retired Alan Cordner, 69, of Worksop and formerly a West Monkseaton and North Shields man. I found him during an trawl of the internet.

Alan has investigated the Cordner ancestry for more than 30 years. He’d hit the same hurdle as me and got past it. Result!

In a twist of fate, Alan has also spent much of his working life in the media.

He still does occasional shifts as a supervisory technical director with Sky, in the same building as one of Hartlepool’s finest, Jeff Stelling.

Alan said: “I’ve known him to say hello to for years”.

So what was the problem with my ancestry quest, I asked? Alan explained it all.

The handwritten records of the John Cordner I was searching for, had been interpreted in the 1871 Census ever so slightly wrongly. John had become a Cordwer. A mix-up between an N and a W. It was as simple as that.

I was back on track and indebted to Alan.

His findings also showed my great-great grandfather John was a John Thomas William Cordner, a coal agent born in Penshaw (or Pensher and even Painshaw as the archives had him) and living at Mainsforth Terrace, in Bishopwearmouth.

He was married to his 24-year-old wife, Mary and my great granddad William was a bouncing four-year-old toddler.

• had once more stopped the hair-tearing (just as well really with my receding hairline) and was punching the air with delight again.

• Alan would love to hear from anyone who can help him with more details on William Armstrong from the 1800s who was married to Eleanor Gibson from Lemington, Newcastle upon Tyne, and who had children called John Armstrong, James Armstrong, Sarah Elizabeth Armstrong, Mary J Armstrong and Margaret Armstrong.

Anyone who can help can contact Alan by email at alan.cordner@sky.com