This ancestral journey was one of the most interesting and rewarding accomplishments of my life! I dug through old photos and letters and started the creep back in time to my furthest ancestor Thomas Rushworth 1590. I say that like it was easy, it was not! I spent one month researching a family tree that wasn't even mine, after finding the name of a great uncle on the back of an old photograph. If you have ever tried to complete your own family tree, I'm sure that you empathise.
After writing away to Keighley Library, who were most helpful by the way, I found an old court manor roll dating to the late 16th Century. There he was, Thomas Rushworth, Great Grandfather x 10! Yes the name was spelt differently and that confused me, but then I realised that he probably couldn't read or write, so somebody else would have written his name based on his Yorkshire dialect.
Thomas Rushworth was a 'copyholder' to the then Lord of Haworth Manor, Lord Birkhead. Finding a very old Haworth map, I was able to identify the lands belonging to the manor and could identify, within a few hundred metres, the land to which he probably held the copyhold. There was a very good chance that this copyhold was near a place called Hall Green, Haworth.
Copyhold tenure was a form of customary tenure of land common in England from the Middle Ages. The land was held according to the custom of the manor, and the mode of landholding took its name from the fact that the 'title deed' received by the tenant was a copy of the relevant entry in the manorial court roll. A tenant who held land in this way was legally known as a copyholder and
in exchange, would provide works and services to the lord.
I had the man, the time, where he lived, and his social standing, but who was he, what was his life like? Now, I know what you are thinking, the novel is just a family tree, blah...blah...blah! No, it is not! I wanted to provide a story which was historically accurate, extremely descriptive and with the way it is written, 'paint a realistic, literary picture which quite easily places you amidst the tale'. There is intrigue, mystery, twists and turns, love, death and skulduggery. The novel was written using the accent and dialect of Yorkshire at the time which adds to the ambience; however, be forwarned as nothing is sacred and the story is told truthfully with no holds barred.
Somebody once asked me if I could go back in time, which century would I go to, I replied the 16th Century to see what life would have been like for my forefathers. I suppose writing this story is essentially providing a platform for me to go back in time. So join me, if you like or don't and that's okay too, remember I started this ambition for my children not to sell novels. There you have it, the birth of 'Skulduggery'!
Paul Rushworth-Brown is the author of three novels:
Skulduggery- An exciting, mysterious, fictional and historically accurate adventure pulls no punches about the life and hardships of peasant farmers living on the moors of Yorkshire in 1590.
"Was excellent reading . I intended to read it over the next week but once I started I could NOT put it down . Really enjoyed it !"
Winter of Red- Come on this historic journey, which twists, turns and surprises until the very end. If you like history, adventure and intrigue with a dash of spirited love, then you will be engrossed by this tale of a peasant family unexpectedly getting caught up in the ravages of the English Civil War in 1642.
"A fictional, historical novel about a loving peasant family caught up in a 1642 shocking Civil War. Humour, romance, adventure and excitement are here to enjoy. A great story.
"Dream of Courage- Soon to be released!
The much anticipated story of the Rushworth family and their journey out of poverty.
King Charles has been executed and England becomes a Republic under the leadership of Oliver Cromwell. Highwaymen, thief-takers, pirates and broggers tell
the story in this mysterious and bone chilling historical thriller.