A nine year labour of love for Peter

Peter Cartwright
Peter Cartwright
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PETER Cartwright admits to spending up to six hours a time when he researches his family tree.

And for the 59-year-old, it is time well spent as he has got back 270 years into his ancestry - with stories of poverty, the agricultural revolution and racing with bags of cement adding to the interest.

Chris Cordner reports.

IT’S nine years since Peter Cartwright decided to look at his ancestry.

The spur was the passing of his grandfather Jack Corbett on his maternal side. Jack was 76 when he passed away in 1998 and Peter, of Loyalty Road in Hartlepool, said: “He was from a family of Irishmen who were working in the shipyards”.

He wanted to find out more and admitted: “Once you start, it becomes very addictive”.

Peter, a dad-of-three and grandfather-of-three, added: “I have gone through my family tree and got back to 1742. I have made contact with branches of the family in New South Wales in Australia and often I will be on with this research until the early hours.”

Peter, a gas fitter and who is married to Shirley, 57, was triggered by Jack’s memory and it led him to Hugh Corbett. Hugh, born in 1814 in Garvaghy, County Down, is as far back as his maternal side will take him.

Northern Irish records are scarce to find as many were destroyed.

What Peter has learned is that Hugh had four children, all with lives which were devastated by the potato famines.

That’s what prompted one of the sons, William Hugh who was born in 1866 to first move to Belfast to work as a boilermaker in the shipyards, and then leave Ireland to go to West Hartlepool in 1874.

The family settled in Outram Street, just off Scarborough Street South near the Tips in 1881.

William’s life was one of parenthood mixed with tragedy.

He married his first wife Mary Jane Crowe in 1865 and had a son William Wynn in 1884. Sadly both mother and son died in childbirth.

A year later, he married Mary Ellen Cowley and fathered 13 children. Five of them died.

Peter tells us: “He had the nickname of The Major because of his handlebar moustache”.

Onw of the children to William Hugh and Mary Ellen was John Henry Corbett, born in 1906 and the grandfather of Peter.

Twenty four years later, John married Eva Bell and the couple moved to Thomas Street. That same year, Peter’s mother Margaret was born, followed by William Peter, then Peter William and Marie.

Another war baby Jack would soon follow who later joined the Coldstream Guards. He had quite a story to tell, said Peter.

“Jack worked at the steelworks as a brickies labourer and, for bets, used to race each other carrying a bag of cement under each arm.

“Because he always won, the other lads upped the stake and asked him to carry an extra bag which he did, on top of his neck, and still took their money.”

We will have more from Peter and his ancestry next week.