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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 COWPE. We have traced our Cowpes back through three generations of Gideon Cowpes in the large parish of Bury in Lancashire.

The earliest of these had a child baptised in 1629, giving him a probable birth date in the early 17th century.

At the end of his life this Gideon Cowpe was farming at Lumcarr in the rural area of Tottington, north of Bury.

In the Protestation Return of 1641-2 there are two men named Cowpe in Lower Tottington: John Cowpe and Gydion Cowpe. Their names occur consecutively and, since the list is not alphabetical, this suggests they were living together.

At the same time, 1641-2, there was a lawsuit between John Greenhalgh, gent, and John Cowpe of Ashenbotham. It concerns the rent and service owed by these Cowpes to the Greenhalghs for Ashenbotham, particularly the provision of a light horse and harness for a muster when this was required.[1]

Of particular interest is one of the witnesses for the defence.


John Cowpe of Lumcarr in Tottington in the countie of Lancaster husbandman aged three score and ten years or thereabouts sworne & examined deposeth & saith as followeth:

To the first Interrogatory this Dept [Deponent] saith he knoweth the pties [parties] pf [plaintiff] & Deft [defendant].

To the second Inter this Dept saith he knoweth the manor of Tottington in the said Interr mencioned & hath knowne the same during the time of this Depts remembrance. And this Dept hath knowne John Cowpe the Defts great-grandfather and John Cowpe the Defts grandfather and Henrie Cowpe the Defts late father& saith that during this Depts remembrance the grandfather and the father of the Deft and the Deft have severally in their tymes shewed and had in readinesse a musket & furniture thereunto belonging for these lands within Tottington before his majesties Lieutenant or Deputy Ld Lieutennant for the county of Lancaster by them selves or their servants & that the said service of a musket is as much service or more as other men within the manor of Tottington doe or pforme for the like lands.

To the third Interr this Dept saith that above fourtie years since he this Dept was a servant & dwelled with John Cowpe the Defts grandfather in which service he continued for the space of about seven years and saith that during the Depts time of his said service now or att any time before or since until now of late he hath not heard of anie service done or demanded from the Defts ancestors with horse & harness to be done to the Kings majestie or the pft.


Gideon was about 40 at this time. Given their respective ages, the fact that both of them are found farming at Lumcarr, and that their names are listed together in the Protestation Return, it is almost certain that John Cowpe of Lumcarr is Gideon’s father.


John’s age in 1641-2 of “three score and ten or thereabouts gives him a birth date around 1571-2, in the first half of Elizabeth’s reign.

If Gideon was born in the early 17th century, this suggests that John married around the turn of the century, at the end of Elizabeth’s reign or the beginning of James I’s, when he was perhaps approaching thirty.

There is a marriage at St Mary the Virgin, Bury, on 28 Aug 1603 between John Cowpe and Johanna Draper. This may be John Cowpe of Lumcarr, but there were a number of men of that name in the large parish of Bury, so we cannot be sure.


We do not know if they had other children, but the fact that Gideon took over the lease on Lumcarr suggests that he was the eldest son.

 Around this time, John entered the service of John Cowpe of Ashenbotham. It is likely that these two Cowpe families were related, but we do not know how closely.

What form of service John performed is uncertain. “Servant” could mean any employee, from a bootboy to a bailiff.

In his thirties, after seven years, he left this service. He became a husbandman, farming at Lumcarr on a small scale.

Gideon’s will shows that there was a three-life lease on Lumcarr, in the names of John Cowpe, Gideon Cowpe and Elija Scholefield, John’s great-grandson. The John Cowpe here could be either Gideon’s father, or his eldest son, who predeceased him.

Lumcarr is in Holcombe Brook, just south of Ramsbottom. It was part of the very large parish of St Mary the Virgin in Bury, but had its own chapel of ease, dating from ancient times. In the 16th century, when John was born, there was no endowment for a minister. In 1552 there remained two sets of vestments, some bells and other ornaments. After this, it is thought that the chapel continued to be maintained by the inhabitants, which probably included John’s parents, but by 1634, six years before the lawsuit, it had its own curate.

It was doubtless here that John and his wife brought their children to be baptised, though they would have been entered in the register for the mother church in Bury.

In 1633 the steward of the king’s courts for Tottington held the courts in this chapel. Finding the building locked against him, he fined the churchwardens heavily.

“His majestie” referred John’s evidence was Charles I. This was immediately before the outbreak of the Civil War that ended with Charles’s execution.

John would by then have been too old to play an active part in the Civil War.


We have no information on when John Cowpe or his wife died.


[1] National Archives: DL 4/99/18 Greenhalgh v Cowpe.






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