books and reviews

Picture of book cover

War Memorials in the Churches Of Leeds - Inscriptions and Details - Compiler Margaret Ford, YAHS Family History Section, 2010, ISBN 978 1 903564 46 2; 60 pages, soft cover, A5 format.

This is the second book produced by Margaret Ford and her friends to help Family Historians who are searching for details from Leeds War Memorials.

Included in this volume are memorials from St. Anne's Roman Catholic Cathedral, Leeds Parish Church of St Peter, St John's Briggate, Holy Trinity Boar Lane, and the Unitarian Chapel of Mill Hill in City Square.

Some memorials have proved difficult to locate and others can be overlooked by the casual researcher.  An instance of this is in the thirty one names recorded on the backs of chairs in the Lady Chapel of Leeds Parish Church.

Margaret Ford's first publication listed the details of those who gave their lives in the First and Second World Wars that are recorded on the official war memorials located in the cemeteries of Leeds

The book is available from the Family History Section bookstall at meetings or from our publications page on this site. The book costs £4.50 UK and £5.00 by airmail.


The collection of documents and information supporting this book on Leeds's  Memorial Inscriptions has been placed in the Leeds City Central Library, Local Studies Department by the generosity of Mrs. Margaret Ford in December 2015.



Tracing Your Ancestors in County Records - by Stuart A Raymond

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781473833630
Price £14.99 (£11.99 direct from P&S at the time of writing)


For a relatively short book, this publication packs an enormous amount of information into its pages. The chapters address various aspects of local life, explain many occupations and terminology, and explain the different courts and their jurisdictions over the centuries with brief, but always pertinent, descriptions of the scope of each and how these have changed or disappeared from century to century. Each chapter refers the reader to the various documents generally available to consult, what their general content is and shows how they can be used. There are further reading lists added at the end of each chapter and, where pertinent, publications worth consulting for specific counties. Sprinkled throughout are snippets of information, such as: informers reporting to Quarter Sessions, the building of a cottage on less than four acres of land; and did you know that itinerant sellers of corn, fish, butter and cheese were known as ‘badgers’?

Specific chapters include those on Quarter Sessions; Paupers, Vagrants and Lunatics; and Religion; as well as addressing the roles of Sheriffs, Lord Lieutenants and Justices of the Peace. Coroners’ records, trades and occupations, and other local government bodies are also dealt with in individual chapters.

This is an ideal book to ‘dip into’ for specific information when required. Reading it all through for review I found I was getting information overload. This is not a criticism. The book contains a vast amount of detail on county records, many of which I am sure, a great number of readers will not have been aware and which will be of enormous use to family and local history researchers alike.

Included is a section of Notes to all the chapters, followed by three short indices of place names, personal names and a subject index. There are also many black and white illustrations.

This is a fascinating book that helps the reader understand the construction of society in the past and how it operated and is well worth the price for the amount of knowledge contained within its pages.

Reviewed by Angela Blaydon, member of TNA Friends book reviewers; Family & Community Historical Research Society; West Surrey, Suffolk, Berkshire, and Bristol and Avon FHSs

August 2016

[This Review published by permission of the Federation of Family History Societies]


Historical Research Using British Newspapers
by Denise Bates

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781473859005
Price £12.99 (£10.39 from Pen & Sword at the time of reviewing)

This book provides a general guide to using old newspapers along with practical advice on how to interpret the information collected for research.

Newspapers have now been around for more than three hundred and fifty years in Britain. The book begins with a brief history of the development of newspapers which have become such an integral part of society. But who will want to make use of such a book?

Those interested in political, economic, social and family history can find much that is relevant.

Denise Bates used old newspapers when researching for her first two books Pit Lasses and Breach of Promise to Marry. She shows how to prepare for research and how to find relevant material. For those wishing to take a more academic approach Denise has advice on how to collect data and how to collate it and interpret it. Methods include the use of Spreadsheets. Denise suggests you do not have to be an IT expert but with practise a researcher can make good use of databases and spreadsheets, however it is up to the individual how to use and interpret the information they collect.

Digitisation of many newspapers is one of the most recent and exciting resources for family historians in the twenty first century. It speeds up the researcher’s work and can be a useful tool when used along with other Sources.

National newspapers such as The Times, The Guardian and The Observer are free to use from major public libraries. Many libraries also offer access to The British Newspaper Archive or Find My Past. Local or regional papers may also be accessible on microfilm at local libraries or from digitised versions on-line.

Family historians will find newspapers useful for the birth, marriage and death columns and perhaps discovering the part an ancestor played in society whether as an upright member or even disreputable one!

There are extensive appendices that include world wide websites, advice on how to publish the results of research and further reading lists for those who want to delve deeper into a subject. The inclusion of case studies demonstrating how others have used newspapers to aid their research and locate information not found elsewhere is a valuable addition.

As a family historian I found the chapter on Finding Material in On-line Newspapers the most useful. For those requiring guidance from an academic perspective the book has a great deal to offer.

Reviewed by Ron Pullan: Secretary of the Wakefield & District Family History Society

September 2016

[This Review published by permission of the Federation of Family History Societies]


Tracing History through Title Deeds by Dr N Alcock

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978 1 52670 345 3
Price £14.99

This is an excellent book for newcomers or those who have researched title deeds before. They are by far the most numerous surviving records but least known or used. One single deed might supply clues to family relationships to be found nowhere else. 

As Dr Alcock says in his introduction this paperback is a direct successor to his previous book ‘Old Title Deeds’.   He refers to the development of the use by researchers of computers, laptops and tablets and the enhanced availability of online catalogues, since his previous book was published.

That book has been my ‘bible’ when it came to trying to understand and interpret title deeds. This new book will supersede it! It seeks to answer three questions in 199 pages –with an additional 18 page index. Why use deeds and what do they contain? Where are they located? How can their ‘evidence be extracted’. The latter chapter goes into detail by using examples –photographic and transcriptions – explaining the various types of deeds used by lawyers over the centuries, their wording and form. It demystifies much of the format and terminology enabling the reader to understand what was previously incomprehensible. 

The 4 appendices are very useful especially the flowcharts on pages 165-167 to enable one to appreciate what type of document is being researched.  If I have any criticism it is that these flowcharts, which are immensely useful, together with some of the examples, are printed in very small font and I found it very hard to read them without a magnifying glass!

So if you ever wondered what a quitclaim looked like or where to find a final concord and what it signified or what an indenture was this book will explain and more besides!  Highly recommended!

Reviewed by David Lambert

January 2018


[This Review published by permission of the Federation of Family History Societies]


Tracing your Georgian Ancestors 1714-1837 by John Wintrip

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781526704221
Price £14.99


This new book by John Wintrip is essentially an overview of sources that can be used to trace your ancestors in the Georgian era.  This spans the years 1714, the death of Queen Anne, the last Stuart monarch and the succession of King George I, to 1837, the death of King William IV and the accession of Queen Victoria and the start of Civil Registration.

It is a great starting point for researchers new to this era of research, putting the era into context of wider events in the UK and the world, and the types of records available. 

The book is in sections describing and discussing the historical context of and available records for the different overarching topics.  The hierarchy of the government, parish and church to enable the reader to understand how communities worked in this era, and the records such as registers of baptisms, marriages and burials, Vestry, Churchwardens and Overseers records, Tithes, pew rents and well as Probate, Marriage Licences, Bishops Transcripts. Nonconformity, i.e. any other religious persuasion apart from Church of England, such as Presbyterians, Independents, Baptists, Quakers, Methodists and Roman Catholics; Education, from parish schools to Universities and Employment with a discussion on selected occupations, from the Clergy and Customs and Excise officer to Servants and Innkeepers.  Military service, be it Army, Navy, Royal Marines or Local Militia and the Poor Law. Settlement and Removal is succinctly discussed as is Parish Apprenticeship and Bastardy records. Land and Property, with description of types of records available at the National Archives, ownership and occupation of land and the history and records of Enclosure. Law and Order, discussing criminal courts, punishments, Debtors and Equity Courts.  The records and history of immigration and emigration as well as migration are also discussed.  Social Status and Prosperity was the section which was I felt was an amalgam of everything that didn’t comfortably fit in any other section - Class, Titles, Monetary values, inheritance, Pedigrees and Family Histories, Changes of Surname, Memorial Inscriptions and Freemasonry, all of which may prove to be part of your family history research journey. There is excellent use of references throughout the text to internet and book sources that will prompt the reader to investigate further. The last section contains useful and practical advice on how to do research properly, discussing family reconstitution, research tools and archive sources versus those that are internet based.

There is a timeline, a very useful glossary and an excellent bibliography and index.  A book full of useful snippets for the beginner as well as the more experienced family historian.

Reviewed by John & Jane Tunesi of Liongam – Hertfordshire FHS

May 2018


[This Review published by permission of the Federation of Family History Societies]


Tracing Your Ancestors Through the Equity Courts
by Susan Moore

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 9781473891661
Price £14.99

One of many family history books by Publisher “Pen & Sword”, printed clearly. The author is experienced in researching such historical records via The National Archives (TNA).  She states the subject “Equity Courts” is one that many overlook when tracing ancestors.  The period that she has researched (with the generous help of her students visiting TNA on her behalf) is 1500 – 1876.  The book has six chapters including one on sample cases and one case study on a Jane Austen connection.  At the back of the book there are the usual Glossary, Index and Bibliography for this subject.  Although Wales Equity Courts are not kept at the TNA it is useful that all other Equity records are there (together with the map room records).  She notes that the records recite history and relationships of many generations which can clarify many queries and also add spice to the characters.

The background of Equity Courts began with the monarchs centuries ago who were responsible for disputes, which then evolved into the Kings deferring responsibility to a Lord Chancellor, Admiral, Marshalls.  Inns of Court were set up through the country – they have many names such as “Star Chamber” which dealt more with violent disputes.  Before 1733 records are likely to be written in Latin.  The reader would need to study the book before attempting a visit to the TNA for such records for their ancestors as it gives many examples and advice on the process.

Reviewed by Valerie A Taylor on behalf of Malvern Family History Society

 January 2019


[This Review published by permission of the Federation of Family History Societies]


Tracing Your Roman Catholic Ancestors - by Stuart A. Raymond

Published by: Pen & Sword
ISBN: 978-15267-166-82
Price £14.99

Stuart Raymond is a prolific writer on local and family history subjects. Given that Pen and Sword Books have previously published his "Tracing Your Church of England Ancestors" and his "Tracing Your Nonconformist Ancestors", it was absolutely no surprise when “Tracing Your Roman Catholic Ancestors” came to my attention !

The author opens with a brief historical account of Roman Catholicism from the sixteenth century onwards, before considering the various sources that are available for the researcher to utilise. He helpfully guides the reader through the use of both records of the sacraments - baptisms, first communicants, confirmations and marriages - and burials. Equally, Mr Raymond considers what we can learn about our Catholic ancestors from the records of central government, from Quarter Sessions’ records and from the records of the Church of England, with parish registers and ecclesiastical courts’ records both being considered at some length.

In the chapter on “Schools, Colleges and Seminaries”, the archives of the Continental seminaries in locations such as Lisbon, Madrid, Paris and Rome are analysed. However, this is exceptional. The author’s focus is on Roman Catholics - both parishioners and clergy - who were resident in England. This might disappoint those readers with extensive Irish ancestry, but it is a pragmatic approach that keeps the text to a reasonable size.

This volume comprises of some 240 pages and is presented in a laminated soft cover. The text is indexed both by subject and separately by personal names, whilst the author fully documents his sources in an appendix. The author’s words are illustrated using monochrome photographs. Mr Raymond has chosen not to include a bibliography, but suggested further reading is mentioned throughout the text, and is particularly scheduled in a chapter entitled “Preliminaries to Research”. This details a wide range of relevant books, websites, archives and institutions for the convenience of the family historian.

Meanwhile, the title is also available in electronic - “Kindle” and “ePub” - formats, via its publisher’s website:

Reviewed by Paul Gaskell, Oxfordshire Record Society

January 2019

[This Review published by permission of the Federation of Family History Societies]



Page last updated 6th March 2019