Trac­ing Your Leeds An­ces­tors

By Rachel Bellerby byb Max Arthur

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( Pen & Sword, 192 pages, £14.99) 4.99) An­other vol­umee from the pro­lificc fam­ily his­tory pub­lisher Pen & Sword is al­ways wel­come, but this one needed a much stronger edi­to­rial in­put. Its struc­ture is con­fus­ing – for in­stance, the tech­ni­cal de­tails of re­sources for ex­plor­ing the two world wars ap­pear in the gen­eral chap­ter on the his­tory of the city, and ‘great es­tates’ make a sur­prise ap­pear­ance in the middle of ‘trade and in­dus­try’.

There is too much rep­e­ti­tion (the West Rid­ing Registry of Deeds is de­scribed twice in the same chap­ter, and the Mid­dle­ton Rail­way is cov­ered in some de­tail no fewer than five times). There’s a whole sec­tion on the York­shire Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal So­ci­ety’s ar­chives and li­brary, which is com­pletely out of date – it closed in Oc­to­ber 2014 and is be­ing moved to the univer­sity. There are also quite a few ty­po­graph­i­cal er­rors; for ex­am­ple, Round­hay Park is mostly spelled ‘Roun­day’, while ‘ bap­tisms’ and ‘ buri­als’ are usu­ally in­cor­rectly de­scribed as ‘ births’ and ‘ deaths’. All this – and there are many other ex­am­ples – is a great shame, as po­ten­tially the book has much to of­fer and has a lot of valu­able con­tent. It’s just not re­ally up to scratch, though if you have Leeds an­ces­tors you might still feel it’s worth buy­ing.

Alan Crosby is an hon­orary

re­search fel­low at Lan­caster

and Liverpool univer­si­ties

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