For many years, I researched my family history, finding out details of direct ancestors in both my parents' families, going back into the seventeenth century. What interested me most was not their names, dates of birth etc, but what I found out about the way in which ordinary people lived.
I wrote up what I learnt about my mother's family, the Ashtons. This was published by Alan Sutton Publishing in 1995 as English Roots - a family history. My aim was to provide a clear and detailed description of everyday life, from the 1630s until the present day. English Roots examines the social and economic history of those years, as seen through the eyes of ten generations of one family. For over two centuries, the Ashtons lived in hamlets in the Derbyshire Peak District. They were small-scale farmers, but were also engaged in spinning and weaving, and lead mining. In the 1830s, during the Industrial Revolution, they moved to
English Roots covers many subjects, starting with Thomas Ashton's service in the Civil War and the persecution of Catholics during the middle of the seventeenth century. Some features, such as the barmote courts, which regulated lead mining, are peculiar to Derbyshire, but many aspects of their everyday existence mirror the lives of the vast majority of ordinary English people through the ages.
By clicking on these links, you can read the Preface, kindly written by David Hey, Professor of Local and Family History at the
Sheffield and the Introduction. You can also read my description of two cases brought by Ashtons in the barmote (lead mining) courts - An Eighteenth Century Fast Track Claim.
You can also read a selection of reviews and buy copies of English Roots by emailing me.