A Canadian man in pursuit of his eminent ancestor’s life in 18th century Herefordshire has discovered a monument to him... inside a broom cupboard.

Jean-Pierre Knight, who lives in French-speaking Quebec, was thrilled to find a memorial to his forebear in St Mary’s Church at Kington.

His enthusiasm was undimmed to see that due to modern additions in church, the marble tablet remembering Thomas Knight, an attorney and Under Sheriff of the county who died in 1804, now lies perfectly preserved but out of sight, sharing space with the vacuum cleaner.

Mr Knight has been busy finding out more about his forbears who lived at Kington, Pembridge and Marston.

This quest has revealed that the son of his illustrious ancestor, also Thomas Knight, left Kington to seek his fortune with the Hudson’s Bay Company trading in furs.

Thomas Knight senior – records show that the name passed down through a number of generations – was baptised in St Mary’s in 1734, married Mary Taylor at Kington in 1759, and went on to become a prominent local figure. His name appears in Richard Parry’s well-thumbed book, The History of Kington.

“I believe my branch of the family is extinct in this country,” said Jean-Pierre, who was delighted to find his ancestor’s plaque in the church.

His earliest records of the Knight family go back to Thomas Knight who lived in Pembridge, whose grandson is recalled on the church plaque at Kington.

“I’ve found records of his son who left Kington and worked for the Hudson’s Bay Company,” he said. Far from his Herefordshire roots, young Thomas Knight is recorded living in East Maine.

Vicar at Kington, the Rev Ben Griffiths said there was nothing unusual about the plaque being out of sight.

“It’s still there and intact,” he explained.

“When Jean-Pierre contacted me, he knew it was behind a closet.”

Mr Griffiths said he was “quite relieved” to find the marble was not in a precarious location above the chancel arches.