A Canadian with Aussie links

John Robinson
John Robinson

HE may live in Canada and have his roots in Hartlepool.

But John Robinson’s family tree research has uncovered connections in Australia. And not just any connections either. They’re links which go right to the top of the Australian hierarchy.

His grandmother, Ellen Kell, had a brother called William Thomas Shorthouse who, in 1901, worked as a barman in Throston.

He married a Hartlepool girl called Charlotte Russell at Holy Trinity Church, in Throston, in 1902. William and Charlotte’s daughter, Hilda, was born in 1905.

The happy couple lived in Arch Street, in Throston, yet just two years after becoming parents, Charlotte died.

John said: “Tom did re-marry.

“He served in the Durham Light Infantry during the First World War and died in 1967 in Newcastle.” He was still a bartender. I never found out why Tom chose his profession,” said a puzzled John.

“His family were strong Methodists and supporters of the temperance movement.”

In the 1950s, Hilda emigrated to Australia where she got a job as a lady-in-waiting to the wife of Sir William Slim, the Governor General of Australia from 1953 to 1959.

John said: “She moved with them between Kiriibili House, in Sydney, and Government House, Canberra.”

It’s the sort of link which makes genealogy a worthwhile exercise.

Nearer to home, John recalled his memories of Hartlepool.

“Ellen’s sister Minnie Craggs lived in Hartlepool, near the Middleton Ferry, on the sea wall,” he said.

“We often went to the Fish and Block Sands during the war years. It was quite a thrill to take the Trackless from Church Street to St Hilda’s to play on the beach. For a treat, we would go to The Haven, a British restaurant for dinner.

“A visit was also made to aunt Minnie’s for a cup of tea and a chat.”

Next week, our final look at John’s history concentrates on the man known as Teacake Freddie.