father thomas hurstBurley Meeting Report: A Priest in the Tree (Speaker Kate Hurst)

On Thursday, 1st September 2016, Kate Hurst attended the Burley Meeting and delivered her talk on A Priest in the Tree - Roman Catholic Fathers in the Hurst Family.

Kate Hurst is a Family Historian from Lancashire, whom during her research into HURST lines uncovered a number of Catholic Priests. She had always known about her Great Uncle Bill being a Priest, but was surprised to discover at least a further 7; descended from a George HURST (1703-1772). (Picture: Father Thomas Hurst (1774-1855)

Kate explained the difficulties faced when searching for Catholic Ancestors. Listing dates for key occurrences in British History; she provided background on how efforts were made to suppress Catholic beliefs and ostracise them. Kate demonstrated how she used ‘Lancashire Records’ to discover repression of Popish recusants. Using information such as the 1767 Return of Papists – A list of Catholics in each town or village.

Commencing with John and William HURST, sons of John HURST (1703-1772), she provided a potted history of how they both trained as priests in Douia College, Northern France. This included a modern day equivalent of curriculum vitae (CV) for the some of the Priests. Kate went on to show some of the unforeseen unfortunate situations that her ancestral Priests found themselves caught up in, including the French Revolution and Peninsular War. Due to the records searched she was able to uncover a very early photograph of one of her family members, a Father Thomas HURST, who was made a prisoner of war during the Peninsular War.

She also relayed the story of the rebel Priest, a William HURST, who was removed from his post in Soho, London on 13th February 1809 for “many defects and impedances”. It would appear that he soon saw the error of his ways and went on to raise and opened St. Mary’s Chapel, Westminster, London.

Kate was able to provide information on her Great Uncle Bill HURST, not only from records she had found but also from stories narrated by living relatives. These included how the families local place of worship, Our Lady’s RC Church in Lydiate, near Ormskirk, raised money to provide transport for his work with the “Mission on the Nile” in Africa. It would appear the mode of transport chosen was a motorbike!

Kate completed her talk by providing some useful tips for those wishing to pursue their catholic lines. This included sources such as ‘Lists of Recusants’ (non-conformists to Anglican Faith) and ‘Advanced Religious Directories’ (organised by the name of the town).

Kate runs a website on which she lists a number of talks she provides: http://katehurst.wixsite.com/kate-hurst-research/family-history-talks. I’m sure we’ll be booking her again in the near future.