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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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JHON HAMSON. The Redcliffe registers begin in 1557, the year before Elizabeth I succeeded her sister Mary to the throne of England.

It is another thirty years before the Hamsons first make an appearance in the register.

Marriage. St Mary, Radcliffe.
1586 May 23  Jhonn Hamson and Doryty Shusmyth.

There is no evidence of an extended family of Hamsons in the 16th century, so Jhon appears to be a newcomer to the parish.

There are baptisms for John Hamson in Leigh, 10 miles away, in 1563 and 1566. The father’s name is not given. There were also a considerable number of Hamsons in Manchester, 6 miles south.  But he may have been born in a parish whose registers do not go back that far.


DORYTY SHUSMYTH. Doryty, on the other hand, is a member of an extensive family going back to the start of the Radcliffe registers.

We would expect her to have been born around 1560, but we have found no baptism for her in Radcliffe (or elsewhere). She may have been born in a nearby parish whose registers begin later, the entry may no longer be legible, or she may have been born before 1557. There were also Shusmyths in nearby Leigh at this time.


Radcliffe stands at the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Roch. It takes its name from a red cliff on the opposite bank of the Irwell. It lies north of Manchester and south of Bury.

It is about the time of Jhon  and Doryty’s marriage that the registers start to show the sort of small town Radcliffe was. In the few instances where occupations are given there is an emphasis on textiles. We find occupations such as woollen webster (weaver), linen webster and whitster (bleacher). We are not told Jhon’s trade, but those of his descendants whose occupations we know were weavers.

A prominent feature of Radcliffe is the ruins of Radcliffe Tower. This was built in the early fifteenth century as an addition to the manor house, Radcliffe Hall.

Radcliffe Tower and manor house [1]

In 1592, six years after the Hamsons’ marriage, Henry Stanley, Earl of Derby imprisoned a group of recusant widows in the tower. Recusants were Catholics who refused to conform to the Church of England.

Elizabeth I’s sister “Bloody Mary” had swung the country back to Catholicism. When Elizabeth succeeded to the throne, she tried at first to make the country tolerant of both Protestants and Catholics. But war with Spain, the Pope’s excommunication of her, and his incitement to assassinate her, moved England towards hardline Protestantism. Catholics were persecuted, as Protestants had been under Mary.


We know of five children from the Hamsons’ marriage.

Baptisms. St Mary, Radcliffe.
1586 Nov 6  George
Doryty must have been three months pregnant at the time of her marriage. This was not unusual. At that time it was not considered particularly shameful, as long as the couple were married by the time the baby was born.
1588/9 Jan 14  William
1596/7 Mar 13  Jane.
The long gap between these two leads us to assume that there were other children whose baptisms have been lost. One of these may be Adam, who appears in the 1641 Protestation Return for Radcliffe.
1600 Jul 13  Doryty
1603/4 Jan 22  Thomas

On 17 Nov 1610, we have the burial of the “wyfe of Johnn Hamson”. No first name is given.

Their youngest child was only seven. It is likely that some of the extended Shusmyth family stepped in to help.

John himself was buried on 1 Jun 1614.

They were probably in their fifties when they died.


They did not live to see their grandchildren.

George had three known children – John 1616, Anne 1621, George 1626.

William – Doryty 1617, Richard 1620, James 1625

Jane died unmarried  in Feb 1624, probably in childbirth. A “basely begotten child” of Jane Hamson was buried the following month.

We do not know what happened to Doryty junior.

Thomas married either Mary Bowcar in 1632 or Anne Holland in 1635, and raised a family in Radcliffe..


[1] https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a4/Radcliffe_tower_engraving.png/220px-Radcliffe_tower_engraving.png





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