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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)



RICHARD HEELIS. We have identified the most likely father of William Heelis, yeoman of Skibeden, as Richard Heelis of Draughton, another township in Skipton parish.

Richard was the youngest son of William Heelis of Draughton and his wife Maude. He was a late child of this marriage, born in 1621, towards the end of the reign of the first Stuart king James I.

Baptism. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1621 Nov 4. Richarde the sonne of Wm Helesse.

Draughton was then a hamlet, 3 miles east of Skipton, above the River Wharfe.

Belief in witchcraft was common then. Witch stones (river pebble with a hole in them) were belived to ward them off. Even recently there was at least one house in Draughton with a witch hanging by the front door.

Richard’s son William became a yeoman farmer. It is likely that Richard was also one. His father died in 1637 and Richard may have taken on a tenancy then.

He was 20  in 1642 when the Civil War broke out. The Cliffords of Skipton Castle, who owned many of the tenanted farms in the area, were stoutly Royalist. Tenants were marched away to fight for King Charles, regardless of their personal loyalties. A young man like Richard might well have fought on the Royalist side. This may be why he did not marry until he was around 30.

Civil War Re-enactment, Skipton Castle  [1]

We do not have a record of Richard’s first marriage, but we know from the burial register that his wife’s name was Jane.

From the baptism register we assume that they must have married in the early 1650s. This was the start of the Commonwealth republic following the civil war. Marriages were recorded by a civil registrar and may not show up in the parish register.

Jane bore him three children. Their births are recorded, but not their baptisms,

Births. Skipton.
1653/4 Feb 23 Elizabeth the daughter of Richard Helyes of Draughton
1656 Mar 27   Richard the son of Richard Heelis of Draughton.
1658/9  Mar 9   William the sonne of Richard Heelis of Draughton.
Ten days after his birth, on Mar 19, Jane the wife of Richard Heles of Draughton was buried at Holy Trinity, Skipton.
The baby William was buried the following month on 14 Apr 1659.

Richard remarried to Ann. Again, we do not have a record of their marriage, so we do not know her maiden name

Another six children were born. Following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, the Skipton register returned to recording baptisms, rather than births.

Baptisms. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1662 Jun 20   Jann.
Jann was buried two months later on 22 Aug.
1663 Jul 19   Anne
1665 Apr 4   Margritt
1666 Oct 28  William son of Richard Heelis of Draughton
Another child of Richard Heelllis of Draughton was buried on 31 Mar 1668, unbaptised. It must have died before or at its birth, since emergency baptisms were carried out by lay people if the baby was not expected to live.
1670/1 Jan 2   Tomazin

On 30 Sep 1666, Elizabeth Heelis of Draughton was buried. Richard’s eldest daughter would have been 13 at the time. We should expect her to have been recorded as his child. This may be an older Elizabeth.

Eighteen years later Richard’s wife Ann died.

Burial. Skipton.
1684 May 1  Ann ye wife of Richard Heellis of Draughton

We have not found Richard’s burial, but it must have happened after 1684.


[1]Skipton Castle – What to do. https://www.goyorkshire.com/app/cache/images/11824919_1083281421699646_5171028634410853877_n-1465389736-iopts-1000×600-cropped-scaled.jpg