VERA Noble perfectly summed up the joy and the frustration of genealogy in one sentence.
“Researching your family tree is one of those things that is really enjoyable but you do find that you set out to do only 15 minutes of it and, two hours later, you are still there.”
It’s a hobby and a passion where patience is a virtue.
Thankfully, Vera and her fellow researcher, daughter Clair Noble, have patience in abundance.
And in their short era as genealogists they have searched back to the late 1700s – to 1778 on Vera’s maternal side to an ancestor called Elizabeth Martin who was born that year. Martin was her married name after she wed David Martin, born in 1780.
“I don’t know Elizabeth’s maiden name.” said Vera.
The paintstaking studies have shown Vera and Clair that their family has links to areas including Kent, Hertfordshire and Wales and more locally to Lancashire, Scarborough and Whitby.
There’s a common denominator between them all.
“All our past relatives came from big families,” said Vera. “And I grew up in a big family myself.” Vera loves the fact that she has a partner in genealogy in her daughter.
“It is great that we can do the library sessions, but we can also do the research at home.
“The rewarding part of it is when you make a connection and you realise that the person you have been researching is the right one. It is a great feeling because it opens more doors to your past.”
There is scandal and intrigue in the family as well.
Vera explained: “It seems as if we come originally from Kent, but one of the family had a baby at 16 and she was sent away in disgrace. We think that is why we ended up here. There was one of our family born in Kent and the rest were born up here in the 1850s.”
Vera, 68, who lives in the Duke Street area of Hartlepool, is mum to Julie Corser, 48, Paul Noble, 44, and Clair Noble, 34.
She knows that her father, Francis William Bennett, who was originally from Liverpool, was a general in the Royal Artillery and married a woman called Vera Evans.
Once his military career was over, her dad went on to become a worker on railway lines and Vera said: “My mam used to say ‘that’s where your dad used to work’. He was a greaser on the railway.”
Her parents married in 1942 at St Aidan’s Church and Vera was born the next August.
She said: “In the war, people never knew how long they were going to be alive for and they just thought ‘let’s get married’. I know that my dad was 25 years old when he got married.
“I was seven or eight when they divorced.”
She also knows that her dad manned the guns at the Heugh Gun Battery during the Second World War. “If we were over there, my mam would point it out.”
Further back in time, Vera knows that her dad’s mother was called Agnes Cruse who lived from 1917 to 1972.
She also knows that her dad married again in 1958 and that he had another daughter the next year.
“My mam got married again and she became Stonehouse. She died in 2002.”
Vera’s family history search started in January. She said: “We just started collecting lots of names and lots of places. It was something I had fancied doing for a long time.
“I had been looking after my grandkids, but they are all at school. I saw the Family roots column in the Hartlepool Mail and I said to Clair ‘if I go will you come with me’.
“We started going along to the Trace Your Ancestors service at the Central Library. Clair sets up the computer, I go through the paperwork and between us, we see how far we can get.
“We are trying to look into it further. We are trying to go back as far as we can.”
If, like Vera, you are researching your family tree, why not share your findings with us?
Contact Chris Cordner by writing to him at New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (01429) 239377.