About Me

I am a 50+ Yorkshireman living in Leeds, England.  I still do a proper job five days a week and am looking forward to retirement in the next three or four years.  I am married to Jayne and have two grown up children and two granddaughters.

My interests include reading, listening to music (especially Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band), going to see live music and doing family history research.  I am also an armchair sports fan and support my local football (soccer) team – Leeds United (the best team never to have won the European Cup).

As well as You Don’t Choose Your Family I have three other blogs which I write intermittently:-

Utter Drivel – a blog about everyday nonsense

Political Drivel – a blog I started after the UK general election in May 2010

Pride and Passion – a blog about Leeds United


    1. Thanks for looking and for your comment Polli. I’ve just started to try and organise all the Espley names into family trees – that’s going to take me some time!! Happy to hear from you directly by email if you want/need to get in touch.

  1. Hello! My in laws live at Espley Hall and I was just compiling some photos for them and did a search on the internet – found your blog!
    Espley is a beautiful house, it was a wedding venue until around 15/18 years ago then was sold as individual houses.
    Would be lovely to find out how your history links to the hall and surroundings – feel free to get in touch

    1. Hi Jennifer and thanks for commenting on my blog. I have no direct link to Espley Hall. My wife is an Espley and I have been researching the Espley name and of course Espley Hall and places called Espley are pf interest. Regards.

  2. Hi Mike enjoyed ( You don’t choose your family) my 3x and 4x grandfathers were both governors of the house of correction. James and Christopher Fawcett..

  3. Hi Mikey
    This weekend I googled Musgrove Mayor of Kendal and found your wonderful blog .
    My father was John Musgrove and before he died he told me as much as he knew about the Musgrove history. Such as the Musgrove Drapers in Kendal and that William had been the mayor of Kendal. I later found a coronation beaker on ebay that had been presented to WH Musgrove mayor of Kendal. It was quite by chance that I googled Musgrove mayor of Kendal and it was listed on ebay. I remember seeing an old news paper with the drapers on the front, and all the accounts for the shop which were obviously hand written. I think my mother has those in her loft. Most interestingly I recall being told that the wife of William was found as an abandoned baby on a bridge and had been named after the bridge by the nurses who took her into care. And who would have thought she would one day be married to the Mayor.
    Would love to hear from you

  4. Hi Micky,

    You have a lovely picture on your site of my Mum on the doorstep at Foredale cottages and my Dad gardening.
    Please could I be cheeky and ask to buy a copy, my dad passed away 3 years ago and I would love to have this picture.

    Kind Regards

    Catherine x

    1. Hello Catherine – thanks for looking at my blog and for commenting. You’re welcome to have a copy of the photograph. I will email it to you directly.

  5. Hello
    Just chanced upon your blog entry re the Paley family. I’m a Paley from Skipton, my Dad had mentioned that in the graveyard at Rylstone, next to the grave of James and Mary Ann, there is the grave of a Mckinley / McKinel (?) – it’s entirely co-incidental that he’s buried next to the Paleys but he’s my paternal grandmother’s (Paley, nee Udall I believe) maternal grandfather. We have visited Rylstone but, unfortunately, the graves immediately around the Paley’s look pretty much lost to time. Apparently he was originally from Glasgow but that’s all I know !
    Anyway let me know if you need me to provide any Paley links !

    1. Hello Nigel – many thanks for your looking at my blog and for your very interesting comments. I’ve looked at my family tree and I can see that we are 3rd cousins – good to meet you (at least in the virtual world)!! I didn’t know that James and Mary Anne were buried at Rysltone. We had been up to Gargrave and to Linton to look without any success. I will now get across to Ralston as soon as possible. Is there a grave with headstone there? I have your grandmother as Jessie Yewdall but haven’t done any research about her. I would welcome any information you have about the Paley’s and I am happy to share with you what information I have. Perhaps we could email each other – my email address is mikedawson1953@msn.com.

      Cheers for now.

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