Susan steps up her ancestral studies

SUSAN Sharman who has travelled from Australia to Hartlepool to research her family tree
SUSAN Sharman who has travelled from Australia to Hartlepool to research her family tree
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AN Australian woman has arrived in Hartlepool as she continues her quest to find out more about her ancestors.

And in a plea to Hartlepool Mail readers, Susan Sharman, 65, hopes they can shed even more light on the dramatic role they played in the town’s biggest historical event.

The mother-of-two from Canberra on the Gold Coast is the great granddaughter of Bridget Corner (nee Scott) ,who died in the Bombardment of Hartlepool on December 16, 1914. She was living in Dock Street at the time.

Susan has now spent more than a month in the North-East and spent countless hours on research.

Susan, who formerly worked in customer relations, knows Bridget was killed outright by the German shells and her body was identified by her sister, Catherine Fidgeon.

In a cruel twist, Bridget’s husband, George Corner, was fighting with the Royal Field Artillery at the time that his own family was under attack.

Unbeknown to him, the German bombardment even had an effect on his three children, Alice, Mary and Nellie.

Half of Nellie’s left arm was blown off in the attack and all three children – now without a mother and with a father serving his country – were taken into an orphanage at Tudhoe in County Durham.

It was a sad tale which Susan is only beginning to unearth. “I searched the 1911 Census and found reference to Nellie. That little girl was only four then.

“Three years later in 1914, she lost an arm and her mother had been killed in the Bombardment. What sort of a life must that have been.”

Archives from the Northern Daily Mail showed George’s was badly affected by the war. He suffered from shellshock and the knowledge that his wife was dead and one of his children badly injured.

Susan would also like to know more about her more immediate relatives. She knows that in later life, Alice Corner married a man called Westgarth-Cuthbert in 1926.

Alice’s children included Susan’s father Frank who, it seems, was placed in St Peter’s home in Gainford, Darlington, when he was only three years old.

Yet years later in 1926, and soon after Alice married Mr Westgarth-Cuthbert, Frank was taken out of St Peter’s to be reunited with his mum.

Susan knows that Alice had links to the Tudhoe area of County Durham and that her family began its links with Australia when her dad Frank left the UK in 1948.

He met her mum Lorna on the SS Maloja. She was from Bearpark and was going to teach at Abbottsleigh Girls High School, in Sydney.

Can anyone help with more details of Bridget Corner or her children Alice, Mary and Nellie.

And are there any people in the area who share the same ancestry. Contact Chris Cordner on (01429) 239377, or email