Something quite remarkable has happened this week, but before I tell you what it is, I am going to remind you of something I wrote back in March.

It concerns Hannah Raw, whose 19th Century sampler we have on our kitchen wall, but about whom we knew nothing for many years.

We had no idea how we came to have her sampler, which was found rolled up in a drawer at my late Nana’s house. Through the help of a mini-band of family history reader-sleuths, we managed to flesh out much of Hannah’s story, that she was born in 1825 to Matthew and Ellis Raw (nee Winspear) and was the third of seven children.

By the time she had turned 13, Hannah was an orphan and living in service. In 1850, 24-year-old Hannah married joiner John Hall and they had two children, Sarah, and Ellis, and later eight grandchildren. Hannah died in 1890 at Lealholm aged 64 and John died in 1903 aged 87.

Both are buried in the graveyard of the Church of St Thomas in Glaisdale. I was able to lay some flowers on her grave in February after tracking it down with the help of my merry band of reader-sleuths.

After several months of Hannah’s ever-evolving story, I wrote in March: “I feel it in my bones that we are not far away from tracking down the elusive living descendants of Hannah Raw!”

And guess what? It has happened – well, almost! We have found a living descendant of Hannah Raw’s family (not quite of Hannah herself, but pretty close nevertheless).

We were contacted by Carol McLee from the Cleveland Family History Society (CFHS) who, as one of our reader-sleuths, had been so helpful in being able to flesh out some of Hannah’s story. Carol had received a letter from CFHS member Jennie Sanderson who had not seen any of my columns due to the fact she lives in London.

However, being a society member, she was sent their journal in the post which contained a piece written by Carol about my appeal for descendants. I will let Jennie take it from here: “How surprised and pleased I was to find a family link and appeal in the April CFHS journal under ‘Hannah’s Story’ as my two times great-grandfather was John Raw, Hannah’s brother.”

Hannah’s brother? I nearly fell off my chair when I read that! And how serendipitous that despite living hundreds of miles away and not seeing any of my own appeals, she spotted the article in the CFHS journal, recognised the family link, and felt compelled to write to Carol, who then contacted us.

Jennie goes on to reveal the family line that descends from Hannah’s parents Ellis Winspear and Matthew Raw.

Jennie’s ancestor John Raw (spelled Roe in the birth register), was the second child of Ellis and Matthew and was born on August 6, 1823, two years before Hannah. In 1850, John married Mary Hebden, and their daughter Jane Raw married William Sanderson in 1877. William and Jane had nine children, including James Sanderson, born in 1888.

James moved to County Durham and married Jane Ann Lowes in 1915 and the couple had eight children. Their son Frederick moved to London and married Doris Eileen Smith in 1945, and they had four children, and it is one of those children who is our Jennie Sanderson.

Although not directly descended from Hannah, I am thrilled that we have at least tracked down a relative, a direct descendant of Hannah’s elder brother.

Jennie adds that she is delighted to discover that the 1835 sampler made by Hannah has survived and is in safe hands on our kitchen wall. “I wish Sarah Walker ‘good luck’ in finding descendants for Hannah, and to Sarah’s family for keeping the sampler safe for all these years, ‘thank you’.”

I am hoping to speak to Jennie in person soon (so far we have only communicated by letter), and all being well, I might one day even meet her. What would be the absolute icing on the cake would be somehow to trace someone who is directly descended from Hannah herself, and then, dear readers, I think we can say that our quest will be complete.

So if you think you have a tip, an inkling, or whatever little thing it is, no matter how small, do get in touch, either with this paper, or through my contact page at