About Me

I am a 60+ Yorkshireman living in Leeds, England.  I am retired, married to Jayne and have two grown up children and three granddaughters and one grandson.

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).


My Blog

I decided to write a blog to record details of my family history and my efforts to trace my ancestors.  I know not everyone is interested in family history and that includes members of my own family.  For some people life is about now and where you are going.  I agree with that but for me knowing how I got here and what came before is fascinating.

I don’t expect to find that I am related to money, to royalty or that my family made (and lost) a fortune.  I have however found some interesting facts and stories about some of the people in my family tree.  I want to use my blog to tell 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th century stories in a 21st century way.

If you find my blog interesting or even if you don’t I welcome your comments and stories about your own family history research.  If by some remote chance that you think we might be related you need to know that I am not rich, I am not famous and there are no family heirlooms with your name on.



    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


  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.


  6. Hi Mike,

    I am a 73 year old retiree living in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. Besides family, I also share your first name, “Mike”.

    We are related through the SKELDINGs. My maternal grandmother is Clara Allison Smith SKELDING (b. 15 Sep 1892 in Cowdenbeath, Fife, Scotland). In the 1901 census she and her parents are in Lye, Worcestershire, England, but they returned to Cowdenbeath before 1905. She married my maternal grandfather, Peter FIMISTER, of Cowdenbeath on 11 May 1915, and my late mother, Clara Ann Smith FIMISTER, was born 1922.

    I knew little about my family history until I started researching in the 90s, and my mother was not particularly interested in passing-on what little she knew. So, here is some more of what I have learned. Of course it may all be wrong…

    Parents of Clara Allison Smith SKELDING: John Thomas SKELDING b. Oct 1865 Lye, Worcestershire, England & Clara Ann SMITH b. Apr 1868 Stourbridge, Worcestershire.

    Parents of John Thomas SKELDING: David SKELDING b. abt. 1845 England & Eliza(beth?) J TAYLOR b. abt 1845 Kingswinford, Staffordshire, England.

    All 3 generations died in Scotland.

    I am curious to know if this fits with any information you might have.
    Regards, Mike Blamire


    1. Hello Michael thank you for looking at my blog and commenting. I don’t have your ancestors in our family tree. I suspect they will related to my wife in some way but maybe from a different branch of the family – not one I have documented yet. Best of luck with your research and kind regards. – Mike


    1. Hello Damian thanks for your looking at my blog and for your comment. Unfortunately I don’t a photo showing the Old Post Office at Austwick. I have previously found postcards of Austwick on eBay and bought from there – so if you haven’t looked already it’s worth a try.


  7. Hi Mike
    I am the great grandaughter of Arthur Lockington. (My grandmother was Florence his daughter). I went with some of my family to an unveiling of a memorial plaque for the fallen from Samuelsons Iron Works on Monday by the mayor of Middlesbrough. 76 workers from the Newport Ironworks who failed to return from the WW1 are named on the plaque and Arthur Lockington is one of them. The plaque had been found in a state of disrepair and it has been renovated so it can go back on display in the foyer of an organisation called TWI. They have done the renovation and it looks top class, a really good tribute to those who gave up so much. If you’re interested in hearing more about the memorial plaque email me and I will send you the links to the press coverage that there has been about it. I am just starting to research my family so finding your blog has been really interesting. I guess me and your wife are distantly related.


    1. Hi Andrea – thanks for your comment about Arthur Lockington. Apologies for delay in responding. I have neglected my blog recently! I would love to have more details about the memorial plaque. You and my wife are 3rd cousins 1x removed. Best wishes.


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