I have been researching family history now for about 20 years. I have done my own tree and four others, as well as assisting many individuals to develop their trees or get over brick walls - particularly through the Todmorden Family History Group which I set up and ran for about five years.

Most often it is the same story of births, marriages, deaths, where people live, their occupations, etc., but every now and then you come across an interesting character or branch rather like Who Do You Think You Are? For example, in one particular tree I discovered that the person's five times great grandfather was a famous French chef who cooked for the aristocracy in London and produced one of the first cook books.

I decided to set up this page so that I can share some of the more interesting stories with you and any other projects I am involved with.

In my own tree I discovered the Sutton family on my patriarchal side. I found they lived in Dent, Cumbria (it was West Yorkshire at the time) so contacted Sedbergh History Society to see if they knew anything. To my surprise I was informed my four times great grandfather, one Richard Sutton, was a local legend and, some would argue, a role model for Emily Brontë's Heathcliff. Thus began a fascinating journey.

I then researched his son, William, who emigrated to Canada in 1850, followed by his son, William John Sutton whose story was even more fascinating. I acquired that much information I wrote a book about it: Will Sutton, the Forgotten Trail Breaker of Vancouver Island. You can access the book (for the time being) under Publications.


27th March 2021
I recently met a young metal detectorist who told me about some Roman finds in Millom. He also said that other detectorists had found Roman artefacts. I set up a Facebook private group which now includes local metal detectorists, local historians, an archaeologist and various other people interested in the Romans. I searched the internet and found quite a bit of material suggesting there was a Roman presence in Millom (19th and early 20th centuries) but then came a lot more historians who rejected these suggestions. Anyway, to cut a long story short, I found quite a bit on the internet, added information provided by local detecctorist/historian Duanne Farren and wrote the attached paper Roman Millom. This has been distributed to members of Duddon Valley Local History Group and a 15 minute video made which has been put up on You Tube: Roman Millom.

SAMUEL GATES (1765-1821)

In another tree I discovered my partner's five times great grandfather was a travelling methodist preacher who had been converted by John Wesley when he was sixteen years old - that led to a fascinating journey around England to places where his children were born where he was 'stationed' as a preacher. He was actually stationed in Todmorden for a while and preached not only at St Mary's but also at the octagonal church in Heptonstall. I gave a talk about Samuel at Heptonstall Methodist church.