“I WANT to thank all the people of Sedgefield (little cheer), Bishop Auckland (bigger cheer), Stockton South (bigger cheer), Darlington (bigger cheer still), where my ancestors come from, it turns out…”

So said Boris Johnson when he arrived in Sedgefield on Saturday to celebrate his party’s remarkable election win.

At the start of the election campaign, on the first of his three visits to the Tees Valley, the priest of St Cuthbert’s Church in Darlington, Matthew Firth, presented the Prime Minister with a copy of the church records which show that his great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas John Johnson, was born in the town and baptised in the church on December 19, 1813.

His parents were Hannah and Walter Johnson, of Darlington, and Mr Johnson was described as a “bread baker”.

Families with “Johnson” as their surname had been in Darlington since at least the 16th Century and it is fairly common in the town – the sub-curate who scribed the entry was James Johnson, who doesn’t seem to be a relative.

The next entry relating to Thomas Johnson is his marriage, which took place in Masham church, on September 2, 1837, to Mary Raper, who ran a draper’s shop in the town. Thomas was also in this line of business, and they moved first to Ripon and then to East Witton.

Thomas died in 1858, aged 42, and it looks as if Mary, and her two-year-old daughter Margaret Hannah, moved back to Darlington, presumably to be with her family-in-law.

Margaret grew up and married a Swissman, Francis Brun. Their daughter, Winnifred, married a Turkish journalist, Ali Kemal, whom she’d met in Switzerland. However, she died in 1909 giving birth to their second child, Osman Wilfred Kemal.

The children moved to Wimbledon to grow up with their granny, Margaret, as Ali returned to Turkey, where he remarried (in 1922, he was kidnapped, counter-kidnapped and then lynched and hanged from a tree).

During the First World War, Margaret must have felt that having a Turkish surname was not good for her charges. She chose her Darlingtonian maiden name, Johnson, for them, and so Osman Wilfred Kemal began going by the name of Wilfred Johnson.

Wilfred’s son was Stanley, an MEP who is most famous for his time in the jungle on I’m A Celebrity, and his son, of course, is Boris – a Prime Minister who bears the surname of a Darlington bread baker.

MANY thanks for all your involvement in Memories in 2019. Apologies that due to an unhealthy combination of an election, holidays and a very heavy cold, we are in reduced format, as we will be next week, but we will be restored to full fitness in 2020. All the best…