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HEIR LINE'S STORIES IN THE NEWS

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Keen historian Michael J. Rochford set up Heir Line Ltd. in 2009 along with his wife, Caroline.  Together they run a thriving family history business with a growing reputation across the globe for being at the top of their profession.


Michael has received praise from clients from around the world, who tell him his work is second to none.  It was through his genealogy work that he became interested in writing, and hopes to pen future novels and non-fiction history books based upon his rummages through the annals of history.


He is currently working on his third local history title, a follow-up based on his book about the history of Nostell Priory, West Yorkshire, for Pen & Sword.


Keep checking back for updates!


There is an ever-growing media interest in Ancestry by Heir Line’s brilliant family history stories.  Read recent newspaper articles or wander through our vaults of archived news, features and book reviews from 2011/2012 and 2013/2014!

ABOUT MICHAEL

MORE BOOKS!

Have you ever wondered about the secrets and lies that lay tangled among the knarred old branches of your family tree?  Some trees, I’m pleased to say, have relatively few; they have sturdy roots and strong branches that reach high into the sky, taking you on a journey into the clouds as you follow their every twist and turn.  Others, however, are riddled with them; they grow from the branches like sour apples; forbidden fruit that hold momentous consequences for those foolhardy enough to pick them.


***


In 2010 Michael was approached by Paul Beetham, a Leeds businessman whose late mother had kept many secrets hidden from her family, and he needed Heir Line’s assistance to unravel the mysteries in his mother’s past.  


Born Patricia McManus, Paul’s mother had come to Yorkshire from Australia as a war bride in 1946. When quizzed by her children about her family history, she claimed to have immigrated to Perth from her native Ireland with her wealthy parents, and even had a picture of their hired help: a black lady in a floral skirt.


However, after noticing her passport had been doctored, and discovering a birth certificate the family thought lost, Michael was able to piece the puzzle back together.  As the weeks passed and more and more clues were uncovered, Michael soon began to realise he’d stumbled upon something quite unique, as bit by bit he unfurled Paul’s incredible ancestry like a rich tapestry that had been locked away in a forgotten drawer.


The black lady in the photograph was in fact Patricia’s mixed-race mother, born out of wedlock to an Aboriginal woman and a powerful white settler who owned extensive lands and indentured natives in Western Australia.  Patricia’s story turned out to be a tale of love, loss, adventure and discovery spanning four generations, three centuries and two continents, with plenty of secrets and lies thrown in for good measure.


With Paul’s blessing, Michael has turned this astonishing family saga into a spell-binding historical novel, which is currently in the hands of a London-based literary agency who praised the manuscript for its compelling narrative.


With the help of various organisations in both the UK and WA, (including the Department of Aboriginal Affairs, the West Australian Genealogical Society and the Australian Centre of Indigenous History, as well as information gleaned from an array of primary source material such as archived newspapers, the diaries of Paul’s ancestors and first hand accounts of the descendants of characters in the book), Michael has made the story as historically accurate as possible.  He left no stone unturned, and even consulted Sally Morgan, the author of the best-selling book My Place, who was similarly brought up never knowing about her own Aboriginal heritage.






WORKING TITLE:

Following the Songlines


BY:

Michael J. Rochford, Heir Line’s genealogist, and Paul Beetham, local entrepreneur


GENRE:

Historical fiction, based on a true story


CURRENT STATUS:

In discussion with potential publishers.


MICHAEL SAYS:

The detail in my account is a result of the time and funds I was given to research this particular story and I am very keen to have it told as a piece of historical fiction.  Depicting real stories and events in this way is the reason why the likes of Wolf Hall have proved so popular.  There are literally hundreds, thousands perhaps, of accounts of Tudor England (I own several myself!) but these books are generally unappealing to a mainstream audience.  However, as a work of fiction, Hilary Mantel has brought the same characters from the reference books to life, making them accessible to many more readers than would pick up any of the textbooks.  I want the same exposure for Following the Songlines as I feel it is what Paul's story deserves.

TITLE:

Wakefield Then and Now


SUBTITLE:

Extraordinary Tales from the Merrie City


BY:

Michael J. Rochford


PUBLISHER:

Pen & Sword


DATE OF PUBLICATION:

September 2016


FORMAT:

Illustrated paperback, in black and white


RRP:

£14.99


WHERE TO BUY:

Amazon

Rickaro Books, Horbury

Waterstones, Wakefield

Wakefield Cathedral bookshop

Pen & Sword's online shop

Other local stores


MICHAEL'S FAVOURITE LOCAL STORY:

The day in the early 19th century when a dare-devil aeronaut was due to make a flight over Wakefield in his shiny new balloon, but falling ill, he sent his nervous younger brother to complete the task on his behalf.  Unfortunately, the stoic sibling was unfamiliar with the controls and pulled the wrong lever at a vital moment, sending him and the balloon crashing to the ground!  Find out if he made it out alive!

The escaping bear who’d had enough of being a Victorian showpiece; tragedy narrowly averted over the skies of Wakefield when a balloonist lost control in 1827; secret passages and hidden relics; and dark tales of determined village ghosts are among many enchanting stories told within the pages of Wakefield Then and Now: Extraordinary Tales from the Merrie City.


In this fascinating book about his home city, Michael J. Rochford has gathered dozens of intriguing accounts from the annals of Wakefield folklore, presenting a quirky and insightful historical tour. Captivating images from times long forgotten in the form of early photographs, topographical drawings and romanticised paintings bring the stories to life before your eyes, as modern photographs contrast how things were with how the proud city appears today.


So, take a step into the past and journey through Wakefield, learning about Robert Hood and his wife Matilda; the town’s beloved Cliff Tree; the first public railway; boggarts; haunted mansions and much more…


Michael was born in the old Manygates maternity hospital in Wakefield and went to school, college and university in the city.  In 2010 he married Caroline, a local girl, at Wakefield Cathedral.  Her ancestors have long lived in the area, even having a now long-demolished street (Hargrave Square) named after them.  


Michael has always had an interest in local history but it wasn’t until he decided to pursue a career in genealogy that his passion for the long forgotten stories of the ‘Merrie City’ was really stirred.  Over the last few years he has amassed a huge collection of books and pamphlets on Wakefield, some hundreds of years old.  The tales told within the pages of these rare publications deserve a modern audience lest they are forgotten to history, which is why he set about writing this quirky and charming book.






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"Escaped bears, out-of-control hot air balloons and tales of secret passages - this book has it all. Rochford's enthusiasm for his home city is evident in this book which combines folklore and lively stories with fascinating historical detail. Wakefield Then & Now paints an intriguing picture of changing cityscape that you'll want to explore too."

- Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine, November 2016



"Terrific local colour and interest for people from the area. Brilliant."

- Books Monthly magazine, November 2016

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As long ago as the twelfth century, St. Oswald's Priory at Nostell, near Pontefract, was home to canons of the order of St Augustine, and until it was dissolved during the reign of Henry VIII it was one of the wealthiest priories in the country.


In secular times, a grand house on the site was home to the Gargrave family, whose rapid rise had seen Sir Thomas Gargrave attain the offices of Speaker in the House of Commons and High Sheriff of Yorkshire during the days of Queen Elizabeth I. But within a couple of generations the family was ruined. Sir Thomas's grandson and namesake, into whose hands Nostell had come, was executed in 1595 for committing murder by poisoning, a deed shrouded in mystery and misinformation for centuries until now.


In 1654, Nostell became the property of the Winn family, who were soon made baronets by Charles II, having shown him great support during the Civil Wars.


The following century, Sir Rowland Winn, 4th Baronet of Nostell, began work on a brand new, magnificent Palladian house, known today as Nostell Priory, in honour of the medieval canons who had once worshipped on the site. His descendants would cede the title, but in 1885, another Rowland Winn of Nostell, who was Conservative MP for North Lincolnshire, was made Baron St Oswald following his party's election success.


Featuring stories about the formidable Swiss wife of the 5th Baronet, whose daughter ran away with the local baker, grand political rallies, secret marriages, and even murder, Tales From the Big House: Nostell Priory offers the reader an exciting tour-de-force through some of the history of the site, and the owners and their servants who made this great house their home.

TITLE:

Tales from the Big House: Nostell Priory


SUBTITLE:

900 Years of its History and People


BY:

Michael J. Rochford


PUBLISHER:

Pen & Sword


DATE OF PUBLICATION:

July 2018


FORMAT:

Illustrated paperback, in black and white


RRP:

£14.99


WHERE TO BUY:

Amazon

Rickaro Books, Horbury

Waterstones

Pen & Sword's online shop

Other local stores

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~ HEIR LINE LTD ~



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History Books by Author Michael J. Rochford