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It’s Not My Vault


A walk through a Whitefield graveyard brought the author to a monument which linked two surnames he recognised from growing up in Newton Heath. Why, in 1855, had they been buried so far away? 

So started the journey to obtain answers to this and other questions. Not the least of those questions was “Who was Joseph Leng?” The writer traces him, his descendants and others who for long periods were present in their lives. 

Along the way discoveries ranged from arguments over public health, infantile deaths, location confusion, forbidden and ill-fated marriages, generous gifts, inheritances and bequests. There were examples of lifetime devotion and surreptitious friendship.

Following moves to London and the New Forest, finally there was life after the Second World War for the great grandchildren of Joseph Leng. The writer also uncovers the lives of servants and companions whose presence became consuming to him and whose own stories revealed unexpected connections. 

This book attempts to tell those stories and disclose the writer’s experience on their road to discovery. Surprisingly on several occasions his own path had crossed that of the people depicted in the narrative albeit at a different time. He alone seemed destined to write their stories.

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