A WOULD-BE author with civic links to Hartlepool is keen to hear from anyone with a connection to his family.
Michael Godfrey Bell is carrying out research on his great-great-grandfather, Thomas Robinson, who was born in 1830 in Yorkshire and rose to be a successful merchant and became the sixth Mayor of West Hartlepool in 1892.
Dad-of-two Michael, who lives in Hastings, East Sussex, wants to find out as much information as possible on his ancestry, to publish it in a book next year.
Former East Sussex County Councillor Michael said: “Next year I will be publishing a book about my family, with a major section devoted to the Robinson and Furness families, which will celebrate their role in the development of West Hartlepool. “I would like to include details of as many of their descendants as possible.”
Thomas was the third son of Thomas Robinson senior, a blacksmith, and Mary Ann Atkinson.
His brothers were Atkinson, Robert, William, George and Samuel.
Shortly after Thomas’ birth, the family moved to Haverton Hill, near Billingham.
Thomas, who at one point lived in Houghton House, which was to later become Foggy Furze library, which was demolished last month, started his working career as a broker’s clerk, probably in the shipbuilding industry in Middlesbrough, where he and his family were living in 1851.
He married Alice Houghton, a farmer’s daughter from Lancashire, in 1854 in Bingley, Yorkshire.
At the time of his marriage, records show he lived in Seaton Carew and was an ironsmith.
At the time of the birth of his first child, Thomas and Alice were living in Scarborough Street, West Hartlepool and Thomas was a sailmaker.
His became a provisions merchant and by 1891, when his sons had joined the business, it became known as Thomas Robinson & Sons of West Hartlepool and Hull, a major importer of foreign produce.
In 1885, Thomas bought the advowson, or rights to appoint clergymen, to All Saints Church, Stranton, and at the time, his address was Glaisdale, Whitby.
During the 1890s, he was responsible for providing three of the stained glass windows in Stranton Church and a further window was dedicated to his grandson, Reginald Bennett who was killed in the First World War.
Thomas died in 1907 in Egton, near Whitby, at the home of his daughter, Esther. His other children were Charles Houghton Robinson, Edith Mary Robinson (married to the Reverend Bennett of All Saints, Stranton), Edward Osborne Robinson, Constance Robinson, Thomas Alexander Robinson, Alice Ada Robinson, Esther P Robinson and Bessie Robinson.
Charles Houghton Robinson and Constance Robinson both married into the wealthy Furness family.
Houghton Robinson, the son of Charles Houghton Robinson and Averill Furness, and his wife Vera, emigrated to New Zealand during the 1920s.
Margaret Hedley, who runs the Past Uncovered family history research company, alongside Wheatley Hill History Club, is helping Michael’s research.
Anyone who thinks they have links to Thomas Robinson can get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or ringing 07977546332.