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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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ROGER WATSON. Roger Watson of Thorlby was the father of Anne Watson, baptised in Skipton in 1615. A search for his own baptism has produced only the following in the Skipton area.

Baptism. St Mary the Virgin, Thornton in Craven
1585 Oct 25 Roger Watson son of Rich Watson.

At first this looks promising. The village of Thornton in Craven is only six miles from the township of Thorlby, which was then in Skipton parish.
But further research shows that Roger Watson of Thorlby was married in 1594. This would give him a probable birth date around 1570.  It is likely that his baptism is in a register now lost.

Since he brought up his family in Skipton, we might think that he was probably born there. The Skipton baptism records only go back to 1592. There are, however, very few other Watsons in Skipton at this time. It does not look like a long-established family. Roger may well have come from one of the villages around Skipton.

He grew up in the last decades of Queen Elizabeth’s reign.


In 1593 Roger Watson of Thorlby in the parish of Skipton obtained a licence to marry Ellen Ellis of Baroldswick in either Barnoldswick or Skipton. Barnoldswick is now in Lancashire, but was then in the West Riding of Yorkshire. Until the arrival of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal it was a small village.

The wedding took place the following year at St Mary le Ghyll, Barnoldswick.

Marriage. St Mary le Ghyll, Barnoldswick.
1594 Apr 1  Roger Watson and Hellyne Ellis

What happened after that is not entirely clear. The baptisms for children of Roger Watson in Skipton do not begin until 1603. Nor have any been found in Barnoldswick.

There is one entry in 1599 in the parish register of Carleton in Craven, a village 2 miles south of Thorlby. It is for the christening of an unnamed child of Roger Watson of Thorlby in the parish of Skipton. The last two words are difficult to read, but they may indicate that the child died at birth.

The following year there is a burial in the nearby church of Marton in Craven.
Burial. Marton in Craven.
1600  Watson wife of Roger Watson of W M.

No first name is given. W M appears to mean West Marton.

This could be the death of Ellen, but this should be treated with caution. All other references are to Roger Watson of Thorlby.

 No burial has been found elsewhere for Ellen Watson, but this is not conclusive.

It may be that she died and Roger remarried. No such second marriage has been found, but at this early date, that too is inconclusive. A burial in Skipton in 1640 suggests that his wife’s name was Anne.


The baptisms at Holy Trinity, Skipton, for the children of Roger Watson begin in 1603. This was the year that saw the last of the Tudor dynasty, with the death of Elizabeth I. She was succeeded by the first Stuart king of England, James I, who was already James VI of Scotland. He was the son of Mary Queen of Scots.

We know of four daughters for this family.
Baptisms. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1603 Jun 19 Margret d of Roger Watson of Thorlby.
1610 Jan 19  Agnes. Agnes lived only two years. She was buried on 7 Oct 1612.
1613 Aug 3 Elizabeth daughter of Roger Watson of Thorlby. Elizabeth survived only 7 months and was buried on 9 Mar 1613/4.
1615 June 3 Anne daughter of Roger Watson of Thorlby.

At this time, Thorlby did not have its own parish church. Church attendance was compulsory and the Watsons would have made the journey of two miles or so to Holy Trinity in Skipton.

Cottage, Thorlby


Although we cannot be sure whether Roger was born in Thorlby, he raised his family there. Thorlby is a rural township which was then in the parish of Skipton. The cottage pictured is not as old as that lived in by the Watsons in Stuart times, but it shows the outlook they would have had.

We have no information about Roger’s occupation, but he may well have been involved in farming.


Roger’s death has not been found, but if Anne was his second wife, then it was probably between 1615 and 1640. If so, then he did not live to see the Civil War of the 1640s.

His wife’s burial may be the following.
Burial. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1640 Dec 11 Anne Watsone of Thorlbie widdow

We have found no other Watson man in Thorlby who could be her husband.

It remains inconclusive whether the children’s mother was Ellen or Anne.




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