A Boughton House tour guide who taught himself to type to transcribe hundreds of 18th-century letters has had his work published in a history book on Northamptonshire.
Historian Alan Toseland began his pursuit of the county’s past when he stumbled on a box of letters dating back to 1702.
The book was officially launched at Boughton House, near Geddington, this afternoon (Wednesday, July 10).
Mr Toseland approached the late Duke of Buccleuch to inform him of his findings and was given the opportunity to go through the Estate’s archives of letters sent from the time of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu.
Taking almost five years, and after teaching himself to type, he began the painstaking task of transcribing each of the 450 letters describing life at Boughton and the surrounding areas from 1709 to 1739.
The letters illustrate some of the interests of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu from genealogy of his own family and his keenness to reassert some of his ancestral rights, all the way to his financial problems.
“I’m delighted that my years of transcribing these wonderful letters have finally come to fruition, resulting in a book that gives a fascinating insight into what life was like in the early eighteenth century,” Mr Toseland said. “It’s been a labour of love and I would like to thank many people for their support throughout this long journey, particularly the Duke and her Grace for their continued encouragement.”
The Duke of Buccluech described the culmination of the project as hugely exciting, adding: “This is possible entirely because of the passion and wisdom accumulated over decades by one remarkable man, Alan Toseland.”
The book has been published and edited by the Northamptonshire Record Society. The Society, which was set up in 1920, preserves and publishes the records of the county, with 46 volumes published to date.