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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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JAMES FAWCETT. James was born in the remote village of Muker in Upper Swaledale. His father was Edward Fawcett and his mother Margret Metcalfe

Baptism. Muker.
1654 Nov 5  James Fawcett son of Edward Fawcett of R?

A brother George was born in 1641 and sister Mary in 1652.  There would almost certainly be other siblings between these, but the ink of the early register is badly faded, leaving many entries illegible.

We do not know his father’s occupation, but in 1681 his parents were sufficiently well-to-do to commission the first long-case clock in NE England.

He was born in the middle of the Commonwealth period after the execution of Charles I. But he would have had little memory of that. He was five when Charles’s son Charles II succeeded his father in the restored monarchy.

We have found no evidence that James married, had children baptised or was buried in Muker. Instead, he crossed Askrigg Common from Swaledale to Wensleydale and made his home in the little village of Askrigg on the River Ure. Its chief livelihood was sheep farming and the making of woollen goods, particularly knitting.

His parents appear to be living in Askrigg too when the Fawcett Clock was made for them by the pioneering Quaker clockmaker John Ogden, who had newly moved to the village. It would seem that the Fawcetts moved to Wensleydale as a family.


James married in the larger village of Aysgarth, further down the fast-flowing Ure.


JANE TENANT. The fact that the marriage took place in Aysgarth means it is likely that Jane was living there. We have found no plausible baptism for her in a 10-mile radius of the village. Her marriage is one of the earliest records for Tenant in Aysgarth.

 Marriage. Aysgarth.
1676 Apr 30  James Faucitt and Jane Tenant

We have found only two children of this marriage.

Baptisms. St. Oswald, Askrigg.
1677 Feb 27  John son of Jam. Fawcett
1688 Elizabeth

The fact that no exact date is given for Elizabeth’s baptism probably means that the register was hard to read. There may have been other baptisms between these two that are now  illegible.

The year after Elizabeth’s birth, a coalition of Whigs and Tories forced the abdication of the Catholic-leaning James II in favour of his Protestant daughter Mary and her husband William of Orange.

Quakers flourished in Wensleydale in the 17th century, including John Ogden, who made the Fawcett Clock. In Hawes, less than 5 miles west of Askrigg, a Quaker Thomas Fawcett built a cottage in 1668 with an inscription above door: ‘God being with us – who can be against us’.

The 1689 Act of Toleration gave greater freedom for such non-conformist groups to meet without persecution.

We do not yet have online access to the early Askrigg registers, but have to rely on indexes of baptisms and marriages, which may be incomplete. We do not even have an index of burials for this period.

This may explain why we have found no burial for Jane.

There are several burials for James Fawcett after the start of the burial register in 1701. One is in Aug 1706, when this James would have been 52. Several others in the 1730s would put him in his 80s.

On 10 March 1706/7 there was a burial for Jane, daughter of the unmarried Elizabeth Fawcett. James and Jane’s daughter Elizabeth would have been about 19 then.


[1] Askrigg – Things to Do Near Me | AboutBritain.com






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