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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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JONATHAN/JOHN OLDFIELD. There are a number of question marks about him. We have conflicting evidence.

Margaret Oldfield married Thomas Harrison in 1712. She was 29. This makes her Margrit daughter of John Oulfeild of Thorlby, baptised in Skipton in 1683. Thorlby is a rural township to the west of Skipton.
Her oldest sibling was baptised in 1668, making a likely marriage for her parents in 1667.

Boyd’s Marriage Index gives the following:
1667 John Oldfield and Ann Drake, Skipton.

There are several other records of this marriage. In all of these, the groom’s name is given as Jonathan.

The most detailed is a transcript of their marriage licence.
1667 Jonathan Oldfield, linorius, 22,  Ilkley, and Ann Draike, spinster, 20, Skipton, either place’

This differs from the Skipton marriage register over Jonathan’s parish.
1667 April 24 Jonathan Oldfield of the parish of Hallifax and Ann Drake of Skipton.

This version is confirmed by the Bishop’s Transcript.

Jonathan’s occupation of “lanorius” is probably a mistranscription or local variant of “lanarius”, which means a wool-worker.


From the marriage licence, Jonathan should have been born in 1645-6. There is a gap in the Halifax baptismal records from 1593 – 1813. He does not appear in the Ilkley baptismal register.

We do have the following from the Bishop’s Trancscripts.
Baptism. St John the Baptst, Halifax
1640/1 Mar 21  John: Hen. Oldfield Hall

Halifax is a large parish. To save room, the Bishop’s Transcript was written in an abbreviated form. The entry means: John son of Henry Oldfield of Halifax

This is too early to be Ann Drake’s bridegroom. But we only have occasional transcripts. It is possible that this John died and another was born a few years later, or a younger son may have been named Jonathan. This, however, can be no more than speculation. In 1640 Isaac and Michael Oldfield were also having children baptised in Halifax. Either of them could be John/Jonathan’s father.


John was married in Skipton and brought up his family there, but in the marriage register he is said to be of Halifax and in the licence of Ilkley. The most likely explanation is that he had recently moved to Skipton, but had not been living there long enough for it to become his parish of settlement.


ANN DRAKE. We are clearer about Ann’s name and parish. She is consistently said to be of Skipton. The marriage licence gives her age as 20, meaning that she was born in 1646-7. We have found no  baptism for Ann in Skipton around that time.
The nearest is the following:
Baptism. Gargrave.
1649 Jun 4  An Drake d of John.

This Ann would have been 17 at the time of the marriage in 1667, three years younger than stated. She may have misrepresented her age or this may be a different girl.

On the plus side, Ann spent her married life at Thorlby, a rural township between Skipton town and Gargrave. If John had moved to Thorlby, Ann Drake of Gargrave would have had the opportunity to meet him. There were more Drakes in Gargrave than in Skipton. On the negative side, there is a burial for Ann Drake, daughter of John, in 1673, when she would have been in her twenties.

Both Ann and John/Jonathan were born during the Civil War. They spent their teenage years under Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. By the time they were married, the monarchy had been restored.

The marriage took place at Holy Trinity, Skipton, on 24 Apr 1667.


Nine children were baptised at Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1668 May 24  Mary John Oldfield of Thorlby
1670 Oct 10 John   John Oldfield of Thorleby,   bur 1679 May 15
1673 May 3 Ann  John Oldfeild of Thorlby
1675 Feb 2  Jane  John Oldffeild of Thorleby
1678  Oct 13  Richard  John Oulfeild of Thorlby,  bur 1681 Jul 22
1680  Feb 27  Elizabeth   John Oldfeild of Thorlby
1683 Dec 16  Margrit  John Ouldfeild of Thorlby
1686 Jun 13  Christopher  John Oldfeild of Thorlby
1690 May 18  Martha  John Oldfeeld of Thorlby

Only two of them died in infancy. This suggests a reasonable degree of prosperity.

Throughout these years they continued to live at Thorlby, to the west of Skipton.

The Oldfields probably lived in a stone-built house like this.[1]

John worked as a “lanorius” or wool-worker. We do not know exactly what he did. He would have been a skilled craftsman. In the days when most people worked from home, this may have been a family enterprise, with the women carding and spinning wool and the men weaving.

In 1692 we have the following baptism:
Baptism. Holy Trinity, Skipton
16 91/2 Jan 13  Abigail  daughter of Mary Oldfield begotten in fornication by John Parker.

There is no other candidate for the mother than Mary, eldest child of John and Ann.

There was another child born out of wedlock to Jane Oldfield in 1701. But she is said to be of Skipton, meaning the town, so is almost certainly Jane, daughter of Thomas Oldfield of Skipton.

Dawson’s History of Skipton tells us of the public penance Mary may have faced:[2]

“Another punishment was that of doing Penance in Church for immorality. It was a very general one in Craven in former days. In some places not only the woman who ” bore unhusbanded a mother’s name” performed penance, but her partner in guilt also.
“The form observed was severe. Upon a fixed Sunday morning the woman walked down the aisle of the church, covered all over, except the head, with a white sheet, and stood before the chancel in full view of the worshippers. Here she had to repeat a confession of guilt after the manner following : — ” Whereas, I, good people, forgetting my duty to Almighty God, have committed the detestable sin of incest with… , and thereby have justly provoked the heavy wrath of God against me, to the great danger of my soul and the evil example of others, I do earnestly repent, and am heartily sorry for the same, desiring Almighty God, for the merits of Jesus Christ, to forgive me both in this and all other my offences, and also ever hereafter so to assist me with His Holy Spirit, that I never fall into the like offence again -, and for that end and purpose, I desire you all here present to pray for me, saying. Our Fcdher, which art in heaven,” &c.
“That this custom was as common at Skipton as elsewhere, and that it was also a legal punishment, is proved by the following record, which I have come across in the transcriptions of West Riding Sessions Records contained in the Eshton Hall MSS. At the Sessions held at Skipton on the 10th of July, 1590, the justices ordered one John Ambler, of Silsden, to ” doe pennance.” Their decision is in Latin ; it directs that Ambler and his partner in guilt, ‘ Margareta Lokesby,’ of the same place, should “on Sunday, the twenty-seventh day of July, repair to their parish church, namely the chiuxh of Kildwick,” and the man should there in the presence of the people *’ submisse et obcdienter” repeat the following words : — ” I, John Ambler, here before you all good audience doe declare and confesse that I haue had a bastard begotten and borne on the bodye of this woman, Margaret Lokesby, for which I am greiued in conscience and most hartilye sorye for the same. And therf orfe I beseech you all with me to praye to the Almightye God by Christ Jesu to forgiue me this heynous sinne and neuer to laye the same to my Chardge here- after, and say the prayer which Jesu Christ hath taught, vizt., Our Father w’ch art in heauen,” &c.

“Among baptismal entries in the Skipton parish register occurs the following : —
“August 14, 1712.— Elizabeth, daughter of William Dring, and Rachael Goodgion,of Skipton. He, parish clerk, marry’d and perform’d psenance at the auterer.”
“Dring, I find, had been the parish clerk some time before. Dr. Dixon relates a case of performing penance. ” I cannot give the date,” he says, ” but it must have been at the commencement of the present centviry. A poor female, one Elizabeth Ripley, of Skirethorns, in the parish of Linton, in Craven, did penance in the parish church of Linton, and was wrapped in a white sheet ; she had a lighted candle in one hand.”

John and Ann would have had to attend this service and suffer the public shame.


Neither John nor Ann’s burial has been found.




[1] https://whichcottage.co.uk/images/yorkshire/skipton/delph-house-in-draughton-skipton.jpg
[2] Dawson, William Harbutt,, History of Skipton. 1882. https://archive.org/stream/historyofskipton00daws/historyofskipton00daws_djvu.txt




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