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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)

Bray Tree



ISAAC ANNINGSON became a master mariner, sailing his ship out of Whitby. But he did not come of a seafaring family. His father Gilbert Anningson was a yeoman farmer.

He was born in the reign of the first Stuart king, James I.

Baptism. Whitby.
1619 Oct 31  Isaac Anningson son of Gilbert Anningson.

 He was the fifth of six known children. The first that we know of was born in 1609. The registers for Whitby go back to 1608, so there may have been siblings born before that.

His parents’ marriage probably took place before the registers start. We do not know his mother’s name.

She died before Isaac was ten, though we do not have the date of her burial. In 1629 his father married again to Maudlein Couper. Maudlein was probably a widow herself.

Isaac grew up in his father’s substantial farmhouse, which boasted a parlour, bedchambers, wainscotting and a moulded plaster ceiling.

Two years after his father’s death, his landlord and “loving friend and neighbour” William Cleaveland also died. In his will he mentions land “occupied by Isaac Anningson in Ruswarp”. At his death, Isaac owned land and houses there, and left a bequest to the poor of Ruswarp. This may be where his father had farmed, and where Isaac grew up. If so, then it was close to where Alice lived. Her home was a farm in Larpool, on a bend in the River Esk south of Whitby; Ruswarp is on a hill on the other side of the river.

Whitby stands at the mouth of the River Esk, on the east coast of Yorkshire. Above it stand the ruins of Whitby Abbey, and the church of St Mary, where Isaac was baptised. It was a small fishing village until the Elizabethan period, when the discovery of alum and the start of mining turned it into a busy commercial port.

Both Isaac and his elder brother Joseph became ship’s captains, instead of following their father as farmers. They were taking advantage of Whitby’s new prosperity as a trading port. We presume they learned their seamanship by serving on board ships from the time they were boys.

Isaac would just have come to manhood when the Civil War broke out in 1642. We do not know whether he served in the war, but he was probably not yet married, and would have been prime material for recruiting. There are hints in his father’s will that Gilbert Anningson had Puritan leanings, and would have supported Parliament. The principal landowner of Whitby, Sir Hugh Cholmeley, began as a Parliamentarian, but switched his allegiance. The town in general was at first Royalist, turning later to the Parliamentarian cause.

We do not have a record of Isaac and Alice’s wedding, but it was sometime during the war of the 1640s.


ALICE NOBLE. We do not have a register entry for her marriage giving her maiden name, but Isaac’s will names “my brother” Henry Noble the Younger as one of its supervisors. “Brother” here means brother-in-law.

This leads us to the will of Henry Noble the Elder, yeoman of Larepoole in Whitby. Among its beneficiaries are “my daughter Alice Anningson” and four Anningson grandchildren, whom we know to be Isaac’s children.

Before her marriage she was therefore Alice Noble.

We have not found a baptism for Alice, but she is probably Allison, a diminutive of Alice.

Baptism. Whitby.
1619/20 Feb 3  Allison daughter of Henry Noble.

Alice was the fourth of the seven children whose baptisms we have. There is a burial of a daughter of Henry Noble, indicating that there was at least one other.

Like Isaac, she was a yeoman’s child. Her father farmed in Larpool. This rural part of the parish lay just over a mile south of Whitby town, upstream from the port.

Henry Noble was, if anything, more well-to-do than Isaac’s father. He owned houses in Whitby.

Her family followed much the same pattern as Isaac’s, with her brother Robert becoming a ship’s captain, though it seems that two other brothers stayed in farming.


During the Commonwealth period of the 1650s there was a civil registration of births. They, the baptismal records, do not always survive. We have a mixture of records for Isaac and Alice’s children.

Baptism. Whitby.
1648 Jun 11  Elizabeth

Births. Whitby.
1654 Jun 8 Alce
Alce died the following year. She was buried on 26 Dec 1655, aged eighteen months.
1656 Mar 6  Mary
1659 Feb 13  Isaac

We know from family wills that there were two other children, a son Gregory and a daughter Anne. Both were born before their grandfather Anningson’s death in Dec 1655.

In his will, Gilbert Anningson left some specific bequests. Of his remaining estatE, one third went to his widow, with the rest divided equally between his children Elizabeth, Joseph and Isaac.

There are substantial bequests to his grandchildren, with his dwelling house going to Isaac’s son Gregory after the death of Gilbert’s wife.

John Lockwood of Larrpoole, Whitby, was Alice’s brother-in-law. His will, dated 1655, says that he owns an eighth share of the ship Constant, master Isaack Anningson.[1] Alice’s father also owned an eighth share.

Alice’s brother Robert was captain of the Margaret.

Isaac’s brother Joseph was then master of the Alice, named after his wife.

In the late 17th century, a Joseph Anningson was master of the “cat” Happy Return of Whitby. He was on a passage from Newcastle when he lost his anchors and cable. Captain F Hosier of the Winchelsea at the Nore lent him some. He reported that Anningson would return the others to Deptford. The cat was then lying at Wapping Old Stairs.[2]

This may be the kind of ship that Isaac sailed in and the sort of trade he plied.

Whitby cats and fishing boats [3]

 Whitby Cats were employed in the coal trade between the ports of the north-east coast of Britain and the Thames. They had a narrow stern, projecting quarters and a deep waist. There was no figurehead, and the prow was usually snub-nosed and vertical, or square to the water. Their flat bottoms made them suitable for navigating shallow waters and meant that they did not tip over when the tide was out.

 The couple raised their children during the Republican Commonwealth of the 1650s. This was a joyless period, when many pastimes were forbidden and the celebration of Christmas was banned.

Things changed in 1660, when Cromwell’s son was deposed and the monarchy was restored under Charles II.

The following year brought tragedy to the Anningson family. We have two burials for Isaac Anningson in 1661. Their two-year-old son died in June, and Isaac senior was buried on Christmas Day.

Burials. Whitby.
1661 Jun 4  Isaac son of Isaac Annigson
1661 Dec 25  Isaac Aninson

 He was 43.

He made his will as “Isaac Anningson of Whitby in the County of York Master & Mariner”.

The term “of Whitby” means that he lived in the town, not in one of the rural suburbs.

He left his daughter Elizabeth £120 and £10 worth of household goods.

To his only surviving son Gregory he left all his lands and houses in Ruswarp, plus £40.

To Anne he left two other houses and £40.

The youngest daughter Mary received another house plus £60.

The children were to receive their legacies when they reached the age of 21 or married, whichever happened first.

To “my deare and loveing wife Alce Anningson” he leaves his dwelling house, with all the household goods, except where otherwise assigned. He bequeaths her his lands in Sleights for her lifetime, to pass to Gregorye after her death. Sleights is a village, then in the parish of Whitby, 3 miles from Whitby town and SW of Ruswarp. It lies either side of the River Esk, and is reached by a steep hill from Ruswarp. He also gives her “all my Shipping” and the rest of his possessions, moveable and immoveable.

The phrase “all my shipping” is tantalising. We should love to know what ships, or shares in ships, he owned.

He gives his “brothers” Joseph Anningson of Whitby and Henry Noble the Younger of Larpoole ten shillings each and makes them supervisors of his will to assist his executrix. Joseph was his brother and fellow ship’s captain. Henry was his brother-in-law.

To the poor of Whitby he leaves 30 shillings and to the poor of Ruswarp 10 shillings.

If Alice should be pregnant when he dies, then he wishes that child to be given a legacy deducted from the other children’s portions, as his executrix and supervisors shall think fit.

If any of his children die before receiving their bequests, then one third of their legacy shall go to Alice, and the rest be divided equally between the remaining children.

He makes Alice his executrix,


Alice was left to bring up this young family, though doubtless other relatives helped. Isaac left her comfortably off, so she did not suffer the poverty that befell some widows.

Five years later, Alice’s father Henry Noble made his will in December 1667. He left Alice a quarter share in his “household goods, bedding, pewter, brasse and wood vessels”, and a twenty-shilling gold piece. Her children Gregory, Elizabeth, Mary and Anne each received five pounds.

His eighth share in the Constant of Whitby, which Isaac had captained in 1655, went to Alice’s brother Henry. The master mariner was now George Browne.

Alice lived another eighteen years.

Burial. Whitby.
1680 May 30  Alice Annison wid.

She was 60.

[1] http://www.davekinggenealogy.co.uk/probate/personalnames/PNamesPCCwills1655.html
[2] National Archives. ADM 06/489/312
[3] HubPages. Heritage – 30: Whitby Cats and Yorkshire Cobles.





Bray Tree