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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 my own as (1)


 JOHN BUCKE was the eldest son of Lawrence Bucke of Idle and his wife Anne.

He was baptised in Calverley, the large parish which includes the village of Idle, on 16 Sept 1621. He was the first in a family of eight children, which included one other boy.

The Calverley registers give little information about wives and mothers. We only know John’s mother’s name from her burial record.

We do not know who John married.

From the dates of his children’s baptisms, it would appear that the couple were married during the Civil War between Parliamentarians and King Charles I. We have no record of which side the Buckes took. The family’s prosperity came in part from a fulling mill to process woollen cloth. The wool trade generally supported Parliament.

John had a number of children baptised in Idle. Very probably the family were using the chapel of ease there, rather than the parish church in Calverley.

1648  Feb 20            Marie          John Bucke               Idle
1650  Oct 18             An              John Bucke
It would appear that this Ann died.
1651  Nov 18           Anne           John Bucke
1653  Mar 1              Grace          John Bucke
  655  Mar 13            John           John Bucke               Idle
1658  Feb 23            Jane            John Bucke
1660  Sep 14            Lawrence    John Bucke
1663  Mar 20            Mercy         John Bucke               Idle
1666  Aug 31            Elizabeth     John Bucke               Idle
1670  Oct 19             David          John Bucke               Idle

John and his wife’s child-rearing covered a momentous period in English history. Marie was born in the second phase of the Civil War, when Royalists rose again to support the imprisoned Charles I. He was executed on 1 Jan 1649.

The next five children were born during the republican Commonwealth, established in 1649. In 1653, Oliver Cromwell was appointed Lord Protector. Cromwell died in 1658 and was succeeded by his son. But people had become disillusioned with his near-monarchical rule and the strict Puritan observances of the Commonwealth. Charles II was restored to his father’s throne in May 1660.

1665 was the year of the Great Plague, when bubonic plague swept the country.

In 1667 John Buck is listed as one of the churchwardens of Idle Chapel.

The 1660s were an interesting time for Idle Chapel. It was opened in 1470 as an outpost of the parish church of St Wilfrid’s in Calverley and rebuilt in 1630.

The non-conformist tendencies of the weavers and farmworkers of Idle resulted in the appointment in 1660 of the Reverend Thomas Smallwood as Congregational minister of the Chapel. The Act of Uniformity ousted him in 1662. The Nonconformists Memorial tells us more of  Thomas Smallwood:[1]

                       The Old Chapel, Idle                                   

IDLE (C). Mr Thomas Smallwood. Of Oxford university. Born in Cheshire. Some time chaplain to Lord Fairfax, and afterwards to Lambert in the army. He was turned out of Batly, a sequestered living, in 1660, and preached in Idle chapel till 1662. He was a man of noble, valiant, active spirit. His great delight and excellency lay in preaching convincingly for the awakening of sinners, and God marvellously blessed and prospered him. He was a moderate Congregationalist, ready to act in concert with his brethren. Upon the 5-mile-act he removed to Flanshaw Hall, near Wakefield, where he died, Nov 24, 1667, aged 60.

The Five Mile Act of 1665 forbade any Nonconforming minister to come within that distance of a corporate town, unless he first took the oath or non-resistance and expressed his willingness to make no attempt to alter the constitution of either church or state. Smallwood was not the man to accept such limitations.

He was a minister of some consequence, having served as chaplain to the Parliamentarian commander Lord Fairfax and afterwards to General Lambert.. [2]

 “It is said of him that he possessed an uncommon degree of muscular strength, and when in the army he would sometimes outbrave the soldiers, being able to take up, at arm’s length, three pikes tied together, which requires a greater strength than can be supposed without trial.
  Being a “moderate Congregationalist,” he joined the Congregational Church at Woodchurch, under the pastorate of Christopher Marshall, in 1653. About the same time he was appointed by the Committee for plundered ministers to the living of Batley, in the place of Roger Audsley, M.A., sequestered; and continued there until the Restoration, when the former vicar returned. In 1654 he was appointed an assistant commissioner for ejecting ignorant and scandalous ministers.

On July 13, 1659, at Manchester, he was one of the Independent ministers who appended his name to the Propositions for accommodation between Presbyterians and Independents.

Though a moderate in ecclesiastical matters, Smallwood played an active part in resistance to the Restoration of Charles II. An article on The Farnley Wood Plot and the Memory of the Civil Wars in Yorkshire says: [3]

The complicated conspiracies and plotting behind the Northern Risings were almost a year old before the ill-fated rebel musters occurred…. There is space here for … particular regard to the situation in the West Riding.
   The first signs of possible resistance to the Restoration were in July 1660 with the uncovering of the alleged Sowerby plot. A group of about thirty sectarian ministers, former parliamentarian officers and others met at Joshua Horton’s house at Sowerby, in Halifax parish, on 17 July. They included John Hodgson, and the local Independent ministers Jeremiah Marsden of East Arsley, Christopher Marshall of Woodkirk, Thomas Smallwood of Batley and Henry Root of Sowerby. Thomas Smallwood, formerly chaplain in Sir Thomas Fairfax’s regiment, had recently been ejected from Batley vicarage for preaching at Halifax, that `the whore of Babylon is rising and setting up! ‘.( Sir John Armitage reported the meeting to the king’s secretary, and a commission was sent to investigate, but the jury delivered a verdict of ignoramus.)

Thus Idle, and the Buckes, had a powerful and radical preacher for two years.

Another licence was granted to the Congregationalists in 1672. The chapel returned to the Anglican fold in 1689.

There are a number of property documents linking the Sunderland family to the Bucks.

1671   24 December     Will of Peter Sunderland: he devised the annuity from the ‘water Corn mill and two fulling mills called Buck Mills’ occupied by John Buck, to his wife Grace. [4]

One point of interest in this document, known only through a transcript of W.E. Preston, is that it refers to the mills as Buck Mills. It was previously known as Idle Mills.

John’s grandfather, William Bucke, miller of Idle Mills, had greatly increased the family fortunes by investing in land and property. He involved his sons in these transactions when they became adult. There is a large file of deeds in the Stansfield Muniments in the West Yorkshire Record Office, which has provided much information about this, and about other members of this family. There is no record that John’s father Lawrence did the same for his own sons, John and William.

We do, however, know from Lawrence’s will that he made over his lands and tenements to the two sons before his death. His will makes a lesser provision for his daughters, most of whom were married by then. There is one bequest each to John and William. William gets £5. John receives “three milne-stones.” John is never referred to in the parish registers as “of Idle Mills”. But the bequest of millstones shows that Lawrence was passing on to him responsibility for the family mills.

Lawrence was 79 when he died in 1673. John seems to have lived mostly in his shadow. He was 52 when his father died.

1682 5 October     Letter from Richard Shuttleworth and his wife Grace [former wife of Peter Sunderland, daughter of Lawrence Buck] to John Stanhope of Horsforth, offering to sell him the annuity coming out of Idle millnes   [5]

John was still alive in 1684, when his own son John’s youngest child was baptised, since the baby’s father is listed in the register as John Bucke junior.

There are burials in 1686, eight days apart, for Jane, wife of John Bucke of Idle, and Lawrence, son of John Bucke of Idle. But this sounds more like a woman of child-bearing age, and not the older John’s wife. Probably she is his daughter-in-law.

John’s burial is probably the following:

Burial.  Calverley.
1689  Feb 14   John Buck of Idle


[1] Edmund Calamy, ed. Samuel Palmer, The Nonconformists Memorial: Being an account of the ministers, who were ejected or silenced after the Restoration, particularly by the Act of Uniformity, Vol.2.
[2] Bryan Dale, ed. T.G. Crippen, Yorkshire Puritanism and early nonconformity: illustrated by the lives of the ejected ministers 1660, and 1662. 1909. M.Heywood.www.archive.org
[3] Andrew Hopper. “The Farnley Wood Plot and the Memory of the Civil wars in Yorkshire.” The Historical Journal, 45, 2 (2002), CUP. University of East Anglia. https://lra.le.ac.uk
[4] Bradford Archives: PP/Box 5/5 (p. 47)
[5] Bradford Archives: SpSt/5/2/13





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