Michael Rochford

Michael Rochford2Michael J. Rochford is an internationally acclaimed genealogist. He writes for the genealogy press, being on the expert panel for Discover Your Ancestors. In 2014 he edited the successful Great Victorian Inventions written by his wife, Caroline, and also edited its 2015 follow-up Great Victorian Discoveries, both titles published by Amberley. He recently signed a contract with Pen and Sword Books to write Wakefield Then & Now: Extraordinary Tales from the Merrie City which will be published in 2016.

A native of Yorkshire with Irish blood flowing through his veins, he studied at Bretton Hall College, part of the University of Leeds. Earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2002, he was awarded a Master’s in 2004, before establishing Heir Line Ltd, a history research company, which he runs with Caroline.

In 2010 he discovered the amazing ancestry of Paul Beetham, a Leeds businessman whose late mother had kept many secrets hidden from her family. Born Patricia McManus, she’d come to Yorkshire from Australia as a war bride in 1946. When quizzed by her children about her family history, she claimed to have immigrated to Perth from her native Ireland with her wealthy parents, and even had a picture of their hired help: a black lady in a floral skirt. However, after noticing her passport had been doctored, and discovering a birth certificate the family thought lost, Michael was able to piece the puzzle back together. The black lady was in fact Pat’s mixed-race mother, born out of wedlock to an Aboriginal woman and a powerful white settler who owned extensive lands and indentured natives in Western Australia. With Paul’s blessing, Michael has turned this astonishing family saga into a spell-binding novel called Following the Songlines.

In 2012 Michael was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Volunteering Award, which sits proudly among the many military medals awarded to his ancestors who left their native Dublin to fight for freedom in France and the Middle East. Michael is currently editing Caroline’s third book, based on the memoirs of his late grandfather, a regimental sergeant major in the Coldstream Guards.