Holding out for a war hero

Michael O'Mahoney
Michael O'Mahoney

A researcher has renewed his appeal for help to trace the Hartlepool family of a hero.

Michael O’Mahoney, a farmer in Leicestershire, is still hoping to find out more about Robert Stewart, a Hartlepool man who became a hero in the Relief of Ladysmith in 1899.

Robert was a member of the crew of HMS Powerful which was ordered to South Africa where the town of Ladysmith, held by British troops, was besieged by Boers.

HMS Powerful’s hauled a cannon 189 miles from Durban to Ladysmith, unloaded the gun under rifle fire and a deluge of shells from the Boers, and then relieved Ladysmith.

The ship and its crew returned to Portsmouth Harbour to a hero’s welcome and to a message of praise from Queen Victoria.

Mr O’Mahoney’s, a farmer, originally from Ireland and now from Lutterworth in Leicestershire, became the owner of Robert Stewart’s medal when he bought it at a military fair.

His research shows that Robert Stewart was originally born in Irving, Scotland, but moved to the North East with his family when he was a baby.

His father Thomas was a foreman in a Hartlepool blast furnace and was 43 in 1891, according to that year’s Census.

Thomas’ wife, and Robert’s mother, was Mary who was 50 in 1891.

Apart from that, little else is known about Robert and his life and Mr O’Mahoney would like help from Mail readers to find out more.

Those who can should contact Chris Cordner by calling (01429) 239377, emailing chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk, or writing to Chris Cordner, Hartlepool Mail, New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX.

• UP to 30 people at a time use Hartlepool’s Tracing Your Ancestors service at the Central Library which runs each Wednesday from 10am to noon.

Help is available from the friendly staff to help people research their family tree.

Anyone wanting more information can contact the library’s reference section on (01429) 242909.