Union man may have become a Lord

Vanessa Lord
Vanessa Lord

LAST week, we told how Hartlepool woman Vanessa Lord had traced her family tree and found an unusual development.

It appears that her family’s name changed from Lambert to Lord some time between 1860 and 1866.

But why? She continues the story today.

WHAT on earth would possess a family to change their name.

It was the burning question for Vanessa Lord and one which has two possible answers.

The background to it all concerns her ancestor, her great-great grandfather Robert Lambert.

The 1851 census showed him to be living in Lancaster yet in later years he was listed as Robert Lord.

Vanessa said: “Although I don’t yet know for certain, I have discovered two possible explanations.

“Robert Lambert was a stoker of a steam engine at a cotton mill in 1861.

“As a stoker, he would have been very fit and in his early 30s when the Lancashire cotton famine began. This went on until 1864, caused by the American Civil War which blocked the cotton getting to England.

“There was lots of trade union action and workers had to work longer for less money. Many of the mills closed which put most people out of work and destitute.

“Then there were riots in Stalybridge in March 1863, only 15 miles away from where the family lived.

“It is possible that Robert Lambert was a unionist who got deeply involved in these riots and had to flee Lancashire for safety with his family, hence the name change. Unionists from all over the area had been involved in these riots. Eighty were arrested and one man even killed.”

That’s one possibility.

Vanessa explained the other.

“The other possibility is that a destitute and desperate Robert Lambert spent time in prison.

“Again I can’t be certain that this is my ancestor but I did find a conviction for a Robert Lambert in 1864.

“He had been sentenced to four years penal servitude for stealing two watches from a jeweller’s shop in Lancashire, along with an accomplice. He was transferred from Lancaster to Wakefield prison to serve his sentence.

“I could find no other details apart from his name and age (which was correct); I even contacted both Lancaster and Wakefield prisons without any luck.

“If this was my ancestor, he couldn’t have served the full sentence as his wife (now called Lord) gave birth to a baby girl in 1866 at Middlesbrough.

“Maybe he escaped or I suppose there could be another possible reason.”

But the blanks in her research only drive Vanessa on further.

She said: “I have been researching my family tree for more than 20 years and, in addition to Lambert and Lord, I am researching other family names including McCrone, Walker, Beedle, Marsdon, Kelly, Grudgfield, Salkeld, Peacock, Mayman and Tomlinson.

“If any of your readers are researching these family names, I would be happy to share or exchange information.”

Can you help?

If you can shed any more light on the subject, contact Chris Cordner by writing to him at New Clarence House, Wesley Square, Hartlepool, TS24 8BX, via email to chris.cordner@northeast-press.co.uk, or by calling (01429) 239377