'Stormont Clan' seeks to uncover roots

ALMOST a decade ago, comedian Dave Gorman travelled the world to find people who share his name.

His travelogue-turned Arthurian quest got him the hit TV show Are You Dave Gorman?

Gorman got his idea when he noticed that a football manager shared his name.

Now John Stormont has had a similar notion – sort of.

He was inspired to search for namesakes after someone contacted him on the social networking website Facebook.

The message said: "You and I have the same name, isn't that funny?"

But unlike Gorman, John is making life slightly easier by not limiting his hunt to fellow John Stormonts.

Anyone with Stormont as their surname can join his Facebook group, the Stormont Clan.

He aims to recruit a Stormont army while tracing the history of the name.

And one day he hopes to organise a reunion – on the steps of Stormont.

In February, John, who grew up in Yorkshire, used Facebook to issue the call to everyone who shares his surname to join the 'Stormont Clan'.

He's already signed up 122 members to the tribe, which now has its own logo and family crest.

He said: "It just came to me as a way to reach out and connect.

"In just a few days, I had 50 people with the surname sign up to my Stormont Clan. It gives you a real sense of belonging.”

The new Stormont army has enlisted students, soldiers and a huge range of professionals from across the globe, including Australia, America, Canada, England and Scotland.

They have posted pictures of themselves pointing to Stormont Street signs across the globe.

But even though Northern Ireland holds the world’s most famous Stormonts, not one person from the Province has joined.

Maybe it’s because in the last phone book issued for the whole of Ulster, there is not one listing for the surname.

And the name search website, Yournotme.com, claims there are only 174 Stormonts across the UK.

John said: “The rarity of the name in Northern Ireland, despite Stormont Estate being there, is the reason I want a real-life reunion there.

“Hopefully it will draw any Stormonts there are in the Province out of the woodwork.”

The origin of the name Stormont is uncertain.

Various linguistic theories claim a Scandanavian, French or Medieval derivation, while historical records place it in Scotland.

Mystery also surrounds the naming of our own Stormont Estate.

Some claim it is derived from a Viking or Scottish name – others say the site was once referred to as Storm-Mount to describe its exposed location on the south-west face of the Holywood Hills.

The latter would seem more probable, as historians say an area called Stormont less than 30 miles from the city of Perth in Scotland got its name from the Viking or Scandinavian words ‘stor’, meaning big or strong, and ‘mont’, meaning hill or mouth.

Either way, the uncertainty has spurred John on to use his mission to trace his family roots.

“I have Stormonts going back on my dad’s side, and I’d like to know once and for all where we come from,” he said.

So far the group has discovered a Stormont tradition to call first born males William John Stormont, which has happened for the past five generations in some cases.

There is also a discussion board on the website which found that since initial emigration from Ireland around the 1700s, Stormonts now live as far afield as Princeton Indiana, Southwest Michigan and Cedarville, Ohio.

The Stormont Clan page also has a link to another group – “Never Met a Stormont I Wasn’t Related To” - which aims to trace distant relations.

To find the tribe, log onto http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=127001140633, or search for “Stormont Clan” on Facebook.