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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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JOHN HOUGHTON. John brought up his family in Padiham and was married in 1658. This makes it highly likely that his baptism is the following.

Baptism. St Leonard, Padiham.
1629 Apr 6  Johannis Houghton child of Nicholai Houghton de Padiha

John was the fourth of six children, an earlier John having died.

John’s grandfather was a husbandman, and John became a yeoman. We can be pretty certain that he grew up on a farm, though we do not know on what scale his father farmed.


John was 13 when the Civil War broke out in 1642. Richard Shuttleworth of Gawthorpe Hall, whose grounds extended into Padiham, was appointed colonel, leading the Parliamentarian army in the Blackburn Hundred. In the absence of a standing army, he recruited local men and trained them to use arms at Gawthorpe Hall. John may have been too young initially, though perhaps suitable duties could be found for him. When he reached his mid-teens, he would probably have been considered prime recruiting material. Lancashire was predominantly for Parliament.

The Houghtons had previous dealings with the Shuttleworths. When work began on building Gawthorpe Hall in 1600, John’s grandfather, William Houghton, was hired to cart stone from the quarries to the building site.

If John did indeed fight in the Civil War, then he may have taken part in the Battle of Read Old Bridge, halfway between Padiham and Whalley. It was fought in 1643 between the Royalist and Parliamentarian forces. The Royalist force of about 4,000 men, commanded by the Earl of Derby, had taken the village of Whalley. The Parliamentary force, numbering only about 400 men, were positioned near Read Old Bridge. As the Royalist forces approached the bridge they faced withering musket fire, causing them to retreat in confusion. The Royalists gave up Whalley; about 400 largely untrained soldiers had beaten 4,000, winning Lancashire for Parliament.


John’s father died in 1649, the year the defeated Charles I was executed. John was 20, and the only surviving son. He would have taken on considerable responsibility for his sisters.



ALICE BROMERLY. The couple married in Haslingden, a town 7 miles south of Padidham. This is likely to be where Alice was living at the time. There is only one other Bromerly entry in the Haslingden register before this, so Alice would appear to have come from elsewhere.

A possible baptism in terms of date and place is the following:
Baptism. St Mary the Virgin, Blackburn.
1632 May 21  Alice base daughter of Ralphe Bromiley.
Her mother’s name is not given.
Blackburn is 7 miles from Haslingden, so this result should be treated with caution. Her baptism may be in a register which has not survived.

The overwhelming majority of Bromileys are in Bolton. This is 10 miles south of Haslingden.
There are two baptisms there.
Baptisms. St Peter, Bolton.
1624 Nov 28  Alis Bromilee daughter of Arthur Bromilee of Breighmet
1639 Dec 26  Alice Bromiley daughter of John Bromiley of Turtonn

The first of these would have been 33 at the time of the Haslingden marriage, the second 18. These would be considerably older or younger than we would expect. Couples normally married in their mid-twenties.

However, the association with Bolton is borne out by John Houghton’s will. His estate is divided into two parts. One concerns premises in the manor of Ightenhill, adjacent to Padiham, the other relates to premises in the manor of Tottington, just north of Bolton. The latter mentions Richard and Arthur Bromiley, who are no doubt part of Alice’s family. We do not know their ages, so we cannot be sure of what their relationship was. Richard could be the son of Richard Bromyley of Breighmett, who was baptised in Bolton in 1629. If so, that would make it more likely that Alice is the daughter of Arthur Bromiley of Breighmet, baptised in 1624.

Breightmet is a township to the west of Bolton.

It is thus highly likely that Alice’s ancestors came from Bolton, but the details of her descent remain unclear.


The couple married in 1658, towards the end of the Commonwealth period.
Marrriage. St James, Haslingden
1658 Sep 14  John Houghton and Alice Bromerly.

1660 saw the end of the republican Commonwealth and the Restoration of the Monarch under Charles II, son of the executed Charles I.

It is at the start of the Restoration that the Houghtons begin their family.

They had three daughters baptised at St Leonard’s, Padiham. The date of their births, not their baptism, is recorded. This was the common practice in the Commonwealth era, but seems to have continued here after the Restoration.

Births. St Leonard, Padiham.
1660 Mar 15  Ann
1665 Dec 31  Margret
1668/9 Feb 21  Mary

There is no evidence of any of the children dying in infancy, but neither Mary nor her heirs appear in John Houghton’s will, so we assume that she died young.


1681 there is a burial at St Leonard’s of Alice wife of John Houghton of Padiham. But Alice was still alive when our John made his will at the end of the century, so this must be another woman. We have found no evidence that John married a second wife called Alice.


The couple lived on into the Glorious Revolution of 1689, which saw the Catholic-leaning James II driven into exile and replaced by his daughter Mary II and her staunchly Protestant husband William of Orange, who ruled jointly with her as William III.

Burial. St Leonard, Padiham.
1698 Dec 29  Jo. Houghton of Padiham

17th-century parish registers do not tell us people’s occupations. It is only through his will, proved on 2 May 1699, that we discover that John was a yeoman.[1]

We also learn that he is lived at Padiham Heights. This is the high ground north of Padiham.

Sabden and Padiham Heights [2]

He begins his will in the usual way, commending his soul to God and his body to be buried wherever his executors choose. He talks of his hope to be made a partaker of God’s everlasting kingdom “prepared for all ye elect people of God before ye foundation of ye world.” This is language typical of Calvinists, who believe that certain people are predestined to salvation from the beginning of creation. His grandfather William Houghton had used similar language about God’s “elect and chosen childen”. It was early for the Houghtons to be part of Dissenting congregation. Such meetings had only been allowed since the Toleration Act of 1689, under William and Mary. But their leanings would seem to be in that direction.

John’s grandfather had married Grace Whitaker, and the Whitaker name occurs many times in John’s will. William Whitaker (1548-1595), who was born in Holme south of Burnley, was a prominent Calvinistic Anglican theologian. The registers do not go back far enough to find whether Grace was related, but it seems quite likely.

For his worldly estate, John says he has surrendered to the Lady of the manor of Ightenhill two mansion houses, two barns, two gardens, one orchard and three woods. A mansion at this time could be simply a dwelling house. There are 34 falls of new improvements of the commons and waste of Padiham. A fall is a Scots measurement equal to 1/125 of an acre, so this would be just under a quarter of acre. There are also half an acre and 4 falls lying in Sabden  Bank  on the west side of the highway leading between Padiham and  Clitheroe. Also a parcel of land of the new improvements on the wastes and commons of Padiham in a place called Reddishaw containing 2 ½ acres and lying between his own lands and those of Francis Webster, with a yearly rent to the Lady of the manor of 3s 3d, now in the tenure of John Houghton, his assigns or heirs. This is to be for the use of Edmond Cockshutte and Thomas Whitaker, both yeomen of Simonstone, whom he appoints as feoffees in trust.

Thomas Whitaker of Symondstone was having children baptised at St Leonard’s, Padiham, in the early 1600s, so he was of a younger generation than John Houghton.

Sabden is a village just below Padiham Heights, at the foot of Pendle Hill. We have been unable to identify Reddishaw.

The references to improvements show that the countryside was changing, as wastes and commons were converted to farmland.

He next surrenders to the Lady of the manor of Tottington one messuage with other buildings, three closes with their appurtenances, commonly known by several names including Higherfield and Lowerfield, and a half acre adjoining the upper end of Higherfield. Also two acres and one rood of non-improved land lying along the north-west side of Hawkshaw Lane, now in the tenure of Richard Bromiley, at an annual rent of 13 ½ d to the lady of the manor, to the use of David Whitaker of Entwistle and Arthur Bromiley of Quarnton, yeomen, to stand as feoffees in trust.

Tottington is to the north of Bolton and Bury. It is a long way south of Padiham. It must have come to John Houghton through his marriage to Alice Bromerly, and this is borne out by the references to Richard and Arthur Bromiley. This makes it highly probable that Alice’s baptism is the one in Bolton for the daughter of Arthur Bromilee of Breighmet.

Entwistle is to the north of Bolton. Quarnton/Quarlton is a township 4 miles NE of the town.

The manor of Tottington includes Holcombe Brook. It is here that we find our early ancestors the Cowpes.

He leaves to Alice the house where he is living, with buildings, barn, orchard, garden, the meadow in front of the house and another meadow at the back, together with the herbage in the fields.

The remainder of the premises in the manor of Ightenhill are to be for the use of his eldest daughter Ann and her husband Denis Howarth, passing on their decease to their son John Howarth. The feoffees are to pay to his second daughter Margaret £4 yearly, with £1 for four years after his decease, and £3 yearly for four years to his granddaughters Ann and Mary Waddington, daughters of Margaret and Jeremy Waddington.

The income from the Tottington premises he bequeathes to his daughter Margaret, wife of Jeremy Waddington, and after her decease to their elder son William.

After his debts and funeral expenses have been paid he leaves his grandson John Howarth the ark (chest) and longsettle in the house (living room). The remainder of his goods and personal estate is to be divided equally between Alice and his daughters Ann and Margaret.

He nominates his son-in-law Denis Howarth and John Whittaker executors.

He signs the will with his mark H. It was common for illiterate people to learn to write the first letter of their name, without being able to supply the rest.

The will is witnessed by Myles Whitaker, Jonathan Whitehead, Thomas Whitaker, James Fielden his mark, and Richard Whitaker. John had evidently kept a close association with the family of his grandmother, Grace Whittaker. The will of his grandfather William Houghton was also witnessed by a Miles Whittaker, though not necessarily the same man.

An inventory was taken on 3 Feb 1698/9.

It shows that the Houghtons’ farmhouse consisted of a house (living room), a parlour, chambers over these ground floor rooms and a buttery. The latter would have been Alice’s domain. It does not list their contents separately.

Animals listed are one cow, a calf, a gelding and a 2-year-old filly.

The total value, including John’s purse and apparel and his husbandry goods, is £18.11.8d.

The inventory was made by Edmond Cockshutt, Hugh Whittaker, David Whitehead and Law: Ormerod.

The will was proved in 1699.


We have not found a burial for Alice.

A will of 1700 for Alice Haughton of Read widow, shows this to be a different woman.


[1] Lancashire Archives. 270A/62. Will of John Houghton Yeoman of Padiham 1699
[2] Outdooractive. https://img1.oastatic.com/img2/51149752/max/t.jpg




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