Harry’s hurdles in family tree research

Harry Hurst.
Harry Hurst.
Have your say

WHAT do Joanna Lumley, Hartlepool and a Berlin jockey club have in common?

The answer is each of them have links to a family tree researcher.

Hartlepool man Harry Hurst has a real passion for genealogy and unearthed some material he never expected to uncover.

Chris Cordner explains.

IT’S been five years since Harry Hurst began looking into his ancestry.

In the years that followed, history has come to life. It has unearthed a possible link between Harry’s grandfather, one of Britain’s best loved actresses, and the sport of kings.

But first, a bit about Harry.

The 82-year-old is originally from Portsmouth, then Scotland and latterly Hartlepool. His own working career is a story in itself.

He is a former ICI worker who also spent time in the Merchant Navy.

At other points in his life, he taught at a training school in Malaysia and worked at Heysham power station. He took early retirement in 1983.

With his wife Edith, 75, as his aid and companion in research, he now considers genealogy a passion.

Father-of-three and grandfather-of-one Harry said another genealogist’s research, which was all about the Wingate area, “got him going” on his own family tree began to take shape.

He now has a huge list of recorded ancestors stretching back to 1758. He has found out the maternal side of his family, with surnames of Bowden and Sodey or Sody, originated from Cornwall.

Six generations of maternal ancestry show Harry’s great-great-great-great grandmother was called Ann, and her surname was possibly Carter.

Moving forward, his great-great-great grandmother was Isabella Couch, his great-great grandmother was Isabella Teague, his great grandmother was Catherine Bowden, and his grandmother was Mary Sodey, who married Thomas Morton.

But one of the quirkier aspects of his findings related to Harry’s grandfather.

Henry Thomas Hurst lived from 1873 to 1942. Harry has scant details about his background but research shows he may have been a Cockney, possibly born in Henley.

But what Harry does know is that he was a jockey - and a jockey with an unusual claim to fame.

He was invited by a Captain Lumley to go to Berlin. When he got there, in 1894, he was invited to become a member of the Berlin Jockey Club. Little more is known about the reasons for the invite.

But Harry said: “The Captain Lumley who was involved is, we think, the great grandfather of Joanna Lumley.”

Later evidence shows Henry was living in Scotland in 1901, having retired there when his career as a jockey came to an end. But Henry did keep up his links with the equine trade.

He is believed to have become an ostler (someone who is employed to look after horses) and later a horse trainer.

He and died in 1942. Harry has obtained his death certificate which shows he died of myocarditis (an inflammation of the heart muscle).

Can anyone else shed more light on Henry and the jockey club? If so, give us a call.

Contact Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377 or email chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk