My name is Jane Roberts. I live in Batley, West Yorkshire, the former “Shoddy Capital” of the world.

Ever since I can remember I’ve had an interest in the past. So it was inevitable that, once I left sixth form, I went on to read Modern History at Liverpool University.

After graduating, I worked in the civil service. My first role had a large military history component, based around ceremonial clothing contracts and Trooping the Colour. My subsequent job, as a policy manager, involved a significant amount of planning, coordinating, research and writing. Throughout it all, I retained my love of history.

My interest in genealogy developed after hearing tales from my uncle about my grandmother’s brother who was killed in a childhood motorcar accident in 1910. I started seriously researching my family tree in 2004, fitting it in between family, work and supporting my Rugby League team, Huddersfield Giants.

My family history is predominantly West Yorkshire based, with a significant County Mayo connection. It’s a working-class family. But family history isn’t only about the rich and the famous. It’s about everyday lives. Every family has a story to tell. It’s a case of discovering that story. And no matter how much time I spend on researching my family there is always more to discover!

I have not limited myself to researching my own family history. On a local level my first major personal project was War Memorial based. Since childhood I have been fascinated by the First World War Memorial at Batley St Mary of the Angels RC church. This resulted in me spending around three years finding out about the men behind the 76 names. I printed a sell-out booklet based on this research to raise funds which I split between the Church and The Royal British Legion. The parish in World War One and Two is now the subject of my One-Place Study.

More recently I reviewed the research and wrote the short biographies of 78 men named on Dewsbury War Memorial who died in 1916 for the Dewsbury Sacrifices WW1 Commemoration Project.

In terms of broader family and local history, I was on the committee of Batley History Group for two years. In October 2018 through to January 2021 I took on the role of editor for the Huddersfield and District Family History Society members’ quarterly ‘Journal.’ I also wrote a regular family history column in ‘Down Your Way’ Yorkshire memories and nostalgia magazine.

I have a one-name study, Aveyard, registered with the Guild of One-Name Studies. The email contact for this is aveyard@one-name.org

In September 2018 my first book was published. The Greatest Sacrifice – Fallen Heroes of the Northern Union is about Rugby League players who lost their lives in the Great War. More information can be found here.

I have copies of the book, which can be signed if required. I can also drop off locally. If so the cost is £13.50. Post within the UK increases the cost to £14.50. Payment can be made either by Bank Transfer, cheque, or for local drop offs cash.

If you require additional details I can be contacted at: pasttopresentgenealogy@btinternet.com

With England Rugby League Stars Tom & George Burgess after they were presented with copies of the book at The Imperial War Museum (North)

With England Rugby League Stars Tom & George Burgess after they were presented with copies of the book at The Imperial War Museum (North)

In 2016 I completed the Family History Skills and Strategies (Intermediate) Certificate Course, jointly awarded Pharos Tutors and the Society of Genealogists, passing with a Distinction. With an average of 90% I received the highest overall mark of students graduating that year. In the autumn of 2018 I completed their two-year Family History Skills and Strategies (Advanced) Distance Learning Course, again achieving a Distinction with the highest mark for the year.

In September 2017 I became an AGRA Associate (Association of Genealogists and Researchers in Archives). My AGRA profile can be found here.

That year I took a momentous step: I left my civil service career to pursue full-time my passion for family and local history research. This includes helping others with their genealogical journeys, undertaking private research and providing advice and mentoring services.  For more details see my research services and fees page.

I also undertake talks for Family and Local History Societies. Details of my current talks can be found here.

This blog will be based largely around my family history research and those associated with my local town. I hope you enjoy it.


Email: pasttopresentgenealogy@btinternet.com
Facebook: PastToPresentGenealogy

19 responses to “About

  1. A great site Jane!!! I saw it in Shoddy Matters today

  2. My maiden name was wallis my date of birth26.4.68 think I lived at back Richmond street.my mum’s maiden name was Edwina wrigglesworth she was from thornhill.her mum’s maiden name was Ann Auty.

  3. Are you on FB or Twitter? I thought you were but now I can’t find you. May not be getting the handle right?

  4. Hi Jane, Amos Hallas is also my great-great-grandfather. I also have a Liverpool History degree and am about to start my PhD in History, probably basing my work on Yorkshire textile mills due to my genealogical research. Contact me!


  5. Hi Jane!

    My name is Nancy Burnett and I am also a descendant of the Robert Burnett born about 1771 in your articles. I have been fascinated with your articles about Stephen, etc.

    You can contact me at my email if you want to speak with a distant cousin who is also researching the same branch of the Burnetts.


  6. Stewart Hardman

    Just found this site, while doing a search for my relative Pc William Peet, killed on duty, his brother Harry, is my Great Grandfather. I have been researching my tree now for well over 10 years, and knew of various sites, the Police one, and the Coroners Report on Ancestry, which when reading makes the hairs stand on the back of my neck, and really brings the whole thing to life. So when I find other sites like yours as well, I will have to pass onto family members as well.

    • Hi Stewart
      I’m from Batley and, besides my own family history, I research bits and pieces of local history too. The story of PC William Peet intersected with my family history as some of my ancestors were part of the Irish community. The newspapers reported regular incidents and New Street was a particular focus for them. The Coroner’s notebook report is particularly detailed and doesn’t make for easy reading, but it paints a vivid picture of the incident. I did wonder what became of your ancestor’s family. So thank you for getting in touch.

  7. I just read (and loved!) your post on your ancestor William Gavan. Found it while looking for info on my ancestors who were also from Mayo and worked in the Batley mills in the 1850s to late 1880s. You actually made their lives come alive. Thank you!

    • Hi Jane
      Glad you enjoyed the posts and thank you for letting me know.
      I love researching the history and lives of ordinary people of Batley, as it helps put my ancestors in context.
      Over the summer I’m hoping to write some more posts about the Batley Irish community in the 19th century. Just need to get my next formal genealogy assessment out of the way!

  8. Good afternoon from the States! I just wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Sunshine Blogger Award.

    I truly enjoy reading your genealogy blog. Your research tips and words of wisdom are spot on. Well done, Jane!

  9. Debbie Stirk [nee Grimshaw]

    Hi, Looked at your website, where I found your very interesting article on Joseph Womack’s coal mining accident..I am indirectly related to Henry & Sarah Livsesy, My 2x grt grandmother’s sister of Frances Livesey who married John Grimshaw.Love your site & Thank you for sharing.
    Cheers, Debbie

  10. hii ! I looked at your website for an hw about silk industry & child labour, it helped me a lot! thank you so much, you did such a great job!
    greetings from France,
    Julia 17y.

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