Northampton man's five-year history feat published

Alan Toseland
Image caption Alan Toseland learned to type in the process of writing his book

A 77-year-old who spent five years transcribing hundreds of 18th Century letters, teaching himself to type in the process, has had them published.

Alan Toseland, "stumbled" across many of them stuffed in a box at Boughton House, in Northamptonshire, where he is a tour guide.

The 450 letters document the life of an ancestor of the current owner, the Duke of Buccleuch.

Keen historian Mr Toseland described his book as "a labour of love".

The publication - Estate Letters From The Time of John, 2nd Duke of Montagu 1709-1739 - gives what the author describes as a "fascinating insight into what life was like in the early 1700s".

'More volumes'

The letters document not only the life of Boughton House's then owner, but also how the estate was run, and events outside its confines that interested the duke.

These included detailing the trial and subsequent hanging of a local man for murder.

Mr Toseland said: "When I started looking at these, and other letters in the archives, I never thought it would come to this.

"There were too many of them and anyway, I couldn't type.

"So I joined a computer course and then taught myself to touch-type."

He added: "As a Northampton boy, born and bred, this project has combined my passion for history as well as my love for my county, and I hope people get much enjoyment from reading the stories.

"I'd like to think if time's on my side there could be more letters and more volumes in the future."

The book has been published by the Northamptonshire Record Society.

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