WHAT began as a foray into family history has turned into a Latin love affair for retired lecturer Peter Hurst.
The 69-year-old Saddleworth resident started out trying to find out more about his distant Huddersfield-born ancestors but ended up translating 15 years worth of Huddersfield’s court records.
He explained: “I had a great aunt Emma who was 104.
“Before she died she told me that I had one ancestor called Theophilus Beaumont who went to America.
“After a lot of searching trying to find him I had almost given up but then the wonders of new technology came to my aid.
“The Church of the Latter Day Saints put the 1880 US census on their website and up popped the whole family living in Nebraska.”
From there Mr Hurst discovered Theophilus’ great great great grandfather Joshua Beaumont came from Netherton.
He descended on Huddersfield Library to find out more but discovered the information he needed for the period was on ancient court records – and was in Latin.
After spending some time looking at the medieval material, Mr Hurst, who hadn’t used his Latin skills since his schooldays, decided a full translation was in order.
Now after more than two years of daily visits to Huddersfield to transcribe the records by hand, his labour of love is finally complete.
Mr Hurst has now published the records – Almondbury Manor Court Rolls 1627-41 – as a book in a bid to help other local history buffs.
Almondbury Manor included the townships of Huddersfield, Meltham, Honley, Slaithwaite, South Crosland and Quick – now known as Saddleworth – and Mr Hurst’s work uncovered a number of interesting facts about crimes and land ownership in the region at the time.
He said: “Lords of the Manor were allowed to hold courts, they were heads of their areas.
“The rolls have lists of all the people appearing before the court.
“They’re mainly affrays – if people drew blood they were fined 10 shillings, otherwise it was 3/4d.
“That was a lot of money in those days.
“Also, people were long livers in Almondbury, there were plenty still alive in their 90s.”
Mr Hurst’s book also charts the history of several popular Huddersfield names such as Ramsden and Beaumont and of course, Hurst.
The book, which costs £15, is available from Mr Hurst on 01457 876947 or email@example.com.