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Jack Priestley’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from Jack’s as (1)

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FRANCIS DICKINSON was the son of Richard Dickinson baptised in Whitby on 3 Aug 1663, soon after the Restoration of the Monarchy.

His mother was Jane Biggin of Fylingdales, just south of Whitby.

Francis was the second of four sons.

His father was a husbandman, farming on a small scale.

The family lived at Whitby Laithes, south of Whitby Abbey along the cliffs above the North Sea.  A grassy track, the Monk’s Causeway, leads from the Abbey south towards Robin Hood’s Bay. About a mile and a half along this is a hamlet of three houses. This is Whitby Laithes.

Francis became a farmer like his father.


ANN ANNISON. We do not have a record of their marriage, but we know from the burial register that Francis’s wife was Ann.

We learn more about her from a dispute over pews in Whitby church.[1] In a deposition of 1794, William Skinner said that:

“Mary, Elizabeth & Ann Annison were sisters, and Ann was his great grandmother on his Mother’s side, and states that their children and descendants have constantly sat in the pew up to the present time. He knows John Hunter who is a bookseller in the town, and pays rates. JH married a daughter of Mrs Ann Wilson, widow, who is the daughter of Mrs Harrison, who was the daughter of Ann Annison and Francis Dickinson.”

Mrs Harrison was their daughter Mary, who married Thomas Harrison.

Families of sufficient income customarily purchased or rented a pew. Here the accusation is that others have been using the pew traditionally occupied by descendants of the Annisons.

Today, St Mary’s church at Whitby is remarkable for its unusual box pews, bearing the names of the families who sat in them. Others were reserved for “Strangers” or marked “Free” for the poor. These were installed in the 18th century, but there is a reference in the dispute to the pew having been occupied in 1688.

Although we do not have Ann’s baptism, we know from the names of her sisters and the wills of her father and grandfathers that she was the daughter of Isaac Anningson and Alice Noble.

Her father was a master mariner, and probably away for long periods, carrying coal from the north-west to London. Her mother was the daughter of a yeoman.

Her paternal grandfather Gilbert Anningson, also a yeoman, died in Dec 1655. He left his house, which was a substantial one, to his second wife, and after her death to Ann’s brother Gregory. Elizabeth and Ann received £3.10s each.

Elizabeth was born in 1648. There was a sister Alce born in 1654 who died in infancy. Ann’s birth is likely to be between these two.

Another sister, Mary, was born the following year and a brother Isaac in 1659.

Ann and her siblings spent their childhood in the joyless days of the Puritan Commonwealth. Things changed markedly in 1660, with the accession of the dissolute Charles II, who had at least 14 illegitimate children. But the following year brought tragedy to the Anningson family. Isaac junior died in June, and Isaac senior in December. He was buried on Christmas Day.

In his will, he left Ann “all that housing where now dwelleth Harold Hutchinson and Ralph Coates”, presumably at least two cottages. Also the sum of £40. This was at a time when the average labourer’s wage was around £35 a year. Ann was to receive these at the age of 21 or when she married, whichever was the sooner.

Many families fell into poverty when the breadwinner died. It is evident that the Anningsons were left comfortably off. Both the Anningsons and the Nobles were people of substance. Both Ann’s father and one of her uncles were captains of ships. Later, the Anningson sisters were sufficiently well off to have their own pew.

Five years after her father’s death, Ann’s maternal grandfather Henry Noble died. He left £20 to be divided equally between Ann and her three siblings.


We do not have a date for the marriage between Francis Dickinson and Ann Annison. We should expect it to be in the late 1680s, but if we are correct about Mary Dickinson being their daughter, then it must have been earlier.

There are a number of baptisms for the children of Francis Dickinson.

Baptisms. St Mary the Virgin, Whitby.
1681/2 Mar 12   Alice   Whitby
1683/4 Mar 30   Mary   Whitby
1686 Sep 12   Ann   Whitby
Ann died the following year. She was buried on 5 Nov 1687.
1688 Sep 30   George  Whitby
On 8 Oct 1688 we have the burial of George son of Francis Dickinson Mr ?H Marriner  Whitby
The designation “Mr ?H Marriner” follows several names.
1691 July 26  Richard   Whitby
1691 Oct 27   Francis   Whitby
1693 Aug 20   Elizabeth   Whitby
Elizabeth was buried on 31 Aug 1693
1695/6 Jan 19   Margarit   Whitby
1696/7 Feb 14  John   Whitby Laithes
1697 Jul 4  John   Whitby
1699 Oct 8  Rebeckah   Whitby
1700 Jun 23  George  Whitby Laithes

From the overlapping dates, there  to be two Francis Dickinsons raising children in Whitby from the 1680s onward. The mother’s name is not recorded, so it is hard to distinguish them.

One of them was a mariner. It is tempting to think that all the children whose abode is Whitby were the mariner’s children, and that our Francis Dickinson fathered only those children whose abode was Whitby Laithes. This solves the problem of the two Johns, but not that of Richard and Francis junior, who were baptised within three months of each other.

It may be that Francis and Ann lived within the town boundary for the early part of their marriage.


Francis’s father died in Mar 1693. He left Francis 20s, “in full of his filial part and share of my estate having already preferred him in the world.”

It would appear from this that Richard Dickinson had helped Francis to set himself up with a farm during his father’s lifetime. The rest of the estate was therefore shared between Francis’s mother and his elder brother, John, who had probably remained on the family farm.


Most of the inhabitants of Whitby would have had to climb the 199 steps to St Mary’s church, just below the ruined abbey, but for the Dickinsons at Whitby Laithes it would have been a level walk across the cliffs.

Whitby harbour, church and abbey[2]

 On 6 May 1705 there is the burial of Francis Dickinson of Whitby. This is probably the mariner. The farmer Francis Dickinson lived another 35 years.

We have two more burials.

Burials. St Mary the Virgin, Whitby
28 May 1717  John son of Francis Dickinson of Whitby Laithes
1731 Jan 23  Ann wife of Francis Dickinson  Whitby Laithes.

Ann was probably in her sixties.

At his death, Francis was no longer living in Whitby Laithes, but in Knipe Howe, just to the south and closer to the shore. We know that his son Francis junior had recently moved to Knipe Howe. It is likely that Francis senior had gone to live with him in his declining years.

Burial. St Mary the Virgin, Whitby
1740/1 Mar 18  Francis Dickinson  Farmer   Knipehow

He was 77 when he died.


[1] CP.I.2418/2423 Pew Dispute, Whitby 1793-5.
[2] English Heritage






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