VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY: Left, Stephanie George’s search for her family history resulted in her moving to Barnard Castle
VOYAGE OF DISCOVERY: Left, Stephanie George’s search for her family history resulted in her moving to Barnard Castle

MOVING across continents have proved to be a journey of discovery for a South African woman who has uncovered her family’s Teesdale roots and ties to world-famous map makers.
Stephanie George was born and brought up on the outskirts of Salisbury, in Rhodesia, [renamed Harare, Zimbabwe in 1982] the youngest of four children.
Her parents, George and Ella Arrowsmith, along with her three siblings, moved from rural Lincolnshire to the bustling African republic in the early 1950s.
She said: “Growing up I didn’t know anything about our family.
“Pop was sent out [to Rhodesia] in 1952 to set up a wood business. All my siblings were born in Boston, in Lincolnshire, but I was born in Salisbury [Rhodesia].”
The former travel industry executive added: “I first got interested in our family history in about 2005. I didn’t know much about my family as pop’s dad was killed when he was only six years old. After that he was sent away to boarding school and was farmed out to his school friends’ families on holidays so never really saw his mother.”
Ms George began her search using the internet to try to track down more information to fill in the blanks, searching through church records and census results.
She added: “My sister and I did fly over several times to the UK to try and find out more about our family. We found that the Arrowsmith family had come from Barford, near Staindrop.”
It was armed with this information that led to her relocating to Barnard Castle three years ago in the hope of being able to track down more family history.
Ms George said: “I found out my Pop’s father, James Arrowsmith, had been killed in the first week of World War I. He was in the Army and had been riding a motorcycle from Hartlepool to Seaton Carew and was involved in an accident with a trolley bus.”
Her grandfather, born in Stockton-on-Tees, was a captain in the Northern Cyclist Corp of the 5th Durham Light Infantry. Although he was killed in Hartlepool on August 11, 1914, he was on active duty and was buried with military honours at Oxbridge Lane Cemetery, in Stockton.
She added: “He had been on active duty and was considered a casualty of war, so in 2014 the Commonwealth War Grave Commission added his name to the war memorial.”
As well as finding out what happened to her grandfather Ms George has discovered her family tree was well and truly rooted in Teesdale with ancestral links to Barford, Barnard Castle, Bowes, Cockfield and Staindrop dating back to 1674. She has also uncovered two 19th century ancestors, Aaron Arrowsmith and his nephew John, were world famous cartographers.
“One of my nieces mentioned about 15 years ago there was a Mount Arrowsmith, in Canada, but I didn’t think anything of it,” she added.
“It was quite a surprise that they were named after someone in my line.”
Aaron Arrowsmith was born at Barford, and later moved to London. He was renowned as a map-maker, and along with his nephew John helped found the Geographical Society of London in 1830.
As well as a mountain being named after them, a river in Western Australia was given the name as a nod to their contribution.
She said: “Researching my family history has been a real journey of discovery for me and I feel like I have found myself.”
“It [Arrowsmith] was quite an unusual name out there and I used to get bullied at school because of my name. When I was a child, I think if I’d known our family history, I would have coped better with it.