Thrill of discovery spurs on Jean

RETIRED cook Jean Dawkins, 62, loves every bit of researching her family tree – even the frustrating moments.

Since 2003, the mother of three sons and a daughter, has delved into her past.

“It’s trial and error,” said the grandmother of seven. “But it can be fascinating.

“It becomes an obsession. You do love doing it, but it can be frustrating when you don’t find out anything.

“But I have managed to glean information. And what you find is that the officials who went to people’s houses to do the Census did not always write the right names down, so you could end up looking for something completely different to what you thought you would be searching for.”

Jean encountered exactly that problem.

She traced one relation to Warwickshire in 1861 with a name apparently of Derby Melia, but it turned out to be Darby Meael, which was found to be an Irish derivation of Jeremiah. The surname, she also found out, was Irish for O’Malley.

“There are two hundred thousand of them,” said Jean.

“My great grandmother was Mary Melia which was her name before she married.”

She also traced her father’s side to Belmullet, in the north Mayo area of Ireland.

“I do the research as and when I can and get fed-up when I get nowhere. And then I think ‘right, I will try again’.”

l Are you an avid genealogist?

Would you like to share your fascinating findings with the Mail.

Give us a call and let us know more about your own personal look into history.

Contact Chris Cordner by writing to him at New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, via email to or by calling (01429) 239377.