Magistrate Paul pieces together 700 years of family history for new book

Paul Helm of German Lane, Charnock Richard, with his book he has researched for four years and traces his family back to the 1300s
Paul Helm of German Lane, Charnock Richard, with his book he has researched for four years and traces his family back to the 1300s
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A Chorley magistrate who spent five years painstakingly researching his family tree has published his own book.

Paul Helmn, a former podiatrist, and now a Justice of the Peace for Lancashire, spent years researching 625 names, 168 marriages, and 21 generations.

With various hiccups along the way, including a computer glitch which meant he lost a lot of work, Paul has now recorded his family history stretching back almost 700 years.

Paul, who lives in Charnock Richard with wife Blanche, said the process was a labour of love and helped him feel closer to his ancestors.

The adventure started in 2008 with a call from a cousin who wanted some information about their great-grandfather.

Not wanting to stop there, Paul decided to delve deeper.

He said: “I did some research and I couldn’t find what we were looking for, but I went further back instead.

“I thought I would try to find out exactly where we came from.

“In a family you get lots of rumours. Your gran says she came in on a boat, or whatever, but I wanted to find out for sure.

“I rejoined the Lancashire County Record office, in Bow Lane, Preston, and after several years we got to where we started from, in Chipping.

“I traced the family name and got back to 1304.”

Paul’s research has thrown up a number of interesting ancestors, including Thomas Helme, was summoned to be knighted by King Charles. Thomas refused to accept the knighthood, and was fined £10.

There was also Father Germaine Helme, who is reputed to have been the last Catholic priest incarcerated in the dungeon at Lancaster Castle. Father Germaine died at the castle, in what was suspected to be a poison plot.

Paul said: “This was in the days where if you weren’t a Catholic you were hounded out.

“They took them to Lancaster Castle and, so they say, he was the last person to die in Lancaster Castle.”

For 500 years the family centred around Chipping, Goosnargh and Dutton.

For much of the periods researched the family name stayed in Lancashire, but Paul’s research also took him to Cumbria, Merseyside and beyond.

One of the sadder stories Paul came across in his research was that of his paternal great-grandfather, Thomas, who was committed to a lunatic asylum after being struck by lightening.

Paul said: “His wife bore him nine children and then he left her. After a couple of years she had him committed to Lancaster Lunatic Asylum.

“He was there a few weeks and then he escaped back home to Blackpool.

“He was caught and recommitted and then he died.

“He ended up in a pauper’s grave.”

Paul says he hopes his venture might encourage other people to delve deeper into their past.

He said: “I don’t know anything about the publishing business so when I finished I wrote to several publishers up and down the country.

“The replies I got were they were interested but it would cost a lot of money. So I decided to publish it myself.

“I’m glad I did, not jut for me, but for future generations.”