IT went on for years.
Vanessa Lord spent year after year trying to research her family tree particularly on her great grandfather John Lord, with no luck at all.
She knew that he was born in Preston, in Lancashire, in around 1860. That much was listed in the 1881 Census.
He was the son of Robert Lord born circa 1830 at Preston and Henrietta born 1828 at Scotland.
But Vanessa, of Castleton Road, Seaton Carew, said: “Although I had the names and approximate ages of John’s siblings, I couldn’t find any trace of this family in the earlier Lancashire censuses.”
There was another stumbling block, said Vanessa, 58.
“My search for a birth certificate for John Lord was proving fruitless.”
And then came the hallelujah moment. And it showed that her descendants could not easily be found – because they changed their surname!
“My breakthrough came when I decided to order the birth certificate of John’s youngest sibling Henrietta Lord,” said Vanessa, a former paramedic.
The birth certificate showed Henrietta was born in Middlesbrough in 1866. The certificate also showed that the maiden name of John Lord’s mother was Henrietta McCrone.
“I then looked up the marriages in Lancashire and found the marriage of Henrietta McCrone in 1848 at Lancaster to a Robert Lambert,” said Vanessa.
“For some time, I assumed that Robert Lambert had died and Henrietta must have later married my Robert Lord.
“I looked to see if I could find a death for Robert Lambert or a second marriage for Henrietta but couldn’t find anything.
“Then, I found the Lambert family on the 1851 census living in Lancaster and realised that Robert Lambert and Robert Lord were the same person, as all his details on the 1851 census were identical and too much of a coincidence.”
But Vanessa, who took early retirement from her career as a paramedic and became a mobile hairdresser for the elderly, wanted more proof.
She knew that Robert had a daughter Sarah Ann born in 1850.
She said: “To back up my findings, I checked later Censuses plus the marriage of his eldest daughter Sarah Ann Lord to George Green at Middlesbrough in 1869.
“On all these documents, she was described as the daughter of Robert, not his stepdaughter.
“My persistence had paid off and that is how I discovered that my surname would have been Lambert instead of Lord had it not been changed sometime between 1860 and 1866.”
But Vanessa was not finished. She wanted to know why the family name had changed.
But that’s a story for next week.