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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)



JOHN AIRTON. In 1649, the year in which Charles I was beheaded, John Petty married Martha Airton in Skipton.  The only plausible baptism we have found for Martha is the following:

Baptisms. St Peter’s, Rylestone.
1629 Dec 22  Martha   John Airton

There may be other baptisms in parishes whose registers do not go back that far, but there is no record of this Martha dying young or marrying anyone else. There is a strong likelihood that this is John Petty’s bride.

Rylstone Village Pond[1]

Rylestone is a village at the foot of the fells in the Yorkshire Dales, 5 miles north of Skipton.

Identifying John Airton is harder. We have a string of 15 baptisms for children of John Airton, ranging from 1608 to 1635. In most cases, the spacing is such that these could be all the offspring of one man. There is only one baptism that appears to overlap with another and there is a question mark over the date of that.

Baptisms. St Peter’s. Rylstone. Children of John Airton.
1608/?9 Jan 10  William
1609/10  Mar 4  John
1610/?11 Jan 17  Alice
1611 Dec 13  Elizabeth. She was buried on 28 Nov 1612.
1612 Oct 15  Helen. She lived only a few months and was buried in Jan 1612/13.
1613 Nov 5  Thomas
1615/16 Feb 14  Jane
1618 Nov 15  Anne. Although Anne’s baptism was in November, it is entered in the register at the end of the year, which in those days finished in March.
1618/19 Jan 17  Margaret. There is a note alongside Margaret’s baptism which is largely illegible. It begins “Ril.”
These last two baptisms are the only ones which are incompatible with the same father.
1620  Jun 11  Elizabeth. She is said to be the daughter of John Airton Bordley. This is the only case where defining information is given about the father. It is possible that other baptisms were for children of John Airton of Bordley, but no others are so identified.
1623/4 Feb 22  John
1627 Jun 17  Marie. This is the longest gap we get between baptisms, but it is still compatible with the birth pattern for an older couple.
1629 Dec 6  Martha 
1631 Aug 26  Francis. Despite the spelling, Francis is a daughter. This baptism is recorded twice: once in the Rylstone register and once in the register for Burnsall, a village 4 miles west of Rylstone. Rylestone was a chapelry of the mother church in Burnsall.
1635 Apr 19  Elizabeth. She was buried on 6 Jan 1638.

This long succession of baptisms make it probable that there were two or three John Airtons fathering children in this period, but we do not have enough information to distinguish between them. The mother’s name is not given, and only in one case is defining information added.

Martha’s baptism was the 13th in this lengthy list. We do not know how many of the others were her siblings. It there was indeed more than one John Airton, her father is likely to have been the younger/youngest of them.

We have one further  piece of information about John Airton of Bordley.[2]

There is a lease dated 18 Oct 1630 from Roger Wallocke of Newhouses in Bordley, husbandman, John Airton of Bordley and John Wallocke of Buckrose (Bucker House) in Rylstone, husbandmen, to John Garthforth of Lainger House in Bordley, yeoman, of a fourth part of a cattlegate on a great close of pasture in Bordley called the Mastells Close for 3900 years. This identifies the Bordley John Airton as a husbandman but we do know whether he was Martha’s father.

It may be that other Airtons were also husbandmen, but we cannot confirm this.


We have had no more success in identifying Martha’s mother. On 19 June 1609 there was a marriage in Kirkby Malham, 5 miles west of Rylstone, between John Airton and Jenet Anderson. A Jennet Airton was buried in Rylstone on 2 Sep 1628. If this is the same Jennet, she cannot be Martha’s mother. Since she is not said to be John Airton’s wife, the implication is that he had already died.

In 1624 York Archdiocese issued a marriage licence for John Airton and Mary Leedam. We do not know where this marriage took place.

On 25 Jun 1628, there was a marriage in Long Preston between John Airton of Gisburne and Anne Whitehead of Long Preston. This is 10 miles west of Rylstone. It is more likely that they raised their family in Gisburne in Lancashire, rather than in Rylstone, and there are a sequence of baptisms in Gisburne to confirm this.

This leaves us uncertain about the name of Martha’s mother. On 7 Jun 1636, there was a burial in Rylstone of Agnes, wife of John Airton. This could well be the right woman, but since there were probably several John Airtons in the parish, we cannot be sure.

There was a burial on 19 Feb 1639 for John Airton, but again we cannot positively identify him as Martha’s father. It seems rather an early death for the father of a girl born in 1629.

John Airton “of Bordley towne” was buried in Rylstone on 18 Oct 1645, during the Civil War.

Six years later, another John Aierton was buried on 27 Jan 1651. This seems the most likely to be Martha’s father.

In 1682 we have the burial in Rylstone of Margaret Ayrton widdow.


At some point before her wedding in 1649, Martha moved to Skipton. But this was not a family move. Her marriage is the only record for an Airton in Skipton at this time.


The likely conclusion is that John Airton lived his life in Rylstone in the 17th century. He would have seen the reigns of the early Stuart kings, and probably lived to see the Civil War of the 1640s.

We can only speculate that Margaret Ayrton, widdow, was his wife.


[1] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Village_Pond%2C_Rylstone.jpg
[2] Kirkby Malham Info: Arthur Rastrick Collection. http://www.kirkbymalham.info/KMI/malhamdale/raistrickindx.html




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