William image

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 my own as (1)



WILLIAM BUCKE. William seems to have done more than any of this line to raise the status of the Buck family from tenant millers to landed yeomen.

We know from a Survey of Idle in 1584 that William Bucke was the son of John and that they were living at Idle Mills, on the River Aire in the West Riding of Yorkshire.[1]

William was having children baptised from 1575 onwards. From that we can estimate that he was born around 1550, about the time when the boy king Edward VI succeeded his father Henry VIII. We have no information about his mother.

A footnote in a printed copy of the parish registers tells us that William was renting Idle Corn Mill in 1579, in the middle of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.

BUCKE. T. and Wm. B. held of Sir Ingram Clifford, in 1579, Idel Corn Mill, at the rent of £3 6s. 5d. It has since been called after them, “Buck Mill,” Theirs was a substantial family.


Survey of the Manor of Idle, 1584

“The earliest detailed description of Idle is in the Survey made in 1584. It seems clear that this preceded a sale of the manor, for deeds from this period show the several moieties passing through various hands to create a unified result, both in the Lordship and the freehold ownership of the actual properties and closes that comprised the township. The Survey shows that one householder held lands scattered around the township: this may relate to enclosures of former strip fields, when good and bad land was divided fairly between the eligible inhabitants. Although some individual houses kept their scattered properties into the 19th century, some owners began almost immediately to sell or buy closes to create individual ‘farms’ as we would recognise them. The Buck family, for example, gradually acquired closes lying along the line of the River Aire near the Mill. All these lands continued to pay a manorial rent to the Lord, finally united in one man, Robert Clarkson, in 1629. Although he owned some land in Idle, land ownership did not go with the Lordship.”

In 1590 William was living there with his father John. It may be that in the earlier record, John’s initial has been mistakenly entered as T when the book was digitised.

At the the baptisms of his children in Calverley he is again said to be of “Idle milne”, meaning Idle Mill. Calverley was a large parish, just north-east of Bradford. It included the village of Idle, in a curve of the River Aire. William was a miller, renting a water mill on the Aire for grinding corn and a fulling mill where wooden hammers pounded woollen cloth. This double operation must have brought in a considerable income. There were many weavers of wool in Idle.

Fulling Mill   

There was a chapel of ease at Idle at least as early as 1584, to save the families of the village the long walk to Calverley. Most, and possibly all, of William’s children would have been baptised there, though they are entered in the Calverley register.

Baptisms. Calverley
1575  Jan 8      John                William Bucke               Idle
1579  7 June    Marie               William Bucke               Idle milne
1581  19 Feb   Anne               William Bucke               Idle milne
1585  26 Dec   Dorathie          William Bucke               Idle
1588  24 Nov  William           William Bucke               Idle milne
1595  28 Dec   Lawrence       William Bucke    

The year after their youngest child was born, the eldest was buried.

Burial. Calverley.
1596  6 Nov    John son of William Bucke

There is a huge file of property documents relating to William Buck of Idle. He appears first as a “milner”, an early word for “miller” and later as a “yeoman”.

In 1585, with a growing family, he buys a share in some cottages in Idle. They are occupied by a tenant, so William would add the rent to his income as a miller.

Bargain and Sale (with livery of seisin) .  3 Nov 1585 [2]

From George Duke of Cumberland and Francis Clifford esq., to William Bucke of Idle, of a moiety of cottages in Idle (rent 2s. p.a.) with appurtenances in occupation of Edward Dobson
Rent: 12d p.a. and suit of court and mill. This is further described as:

1585     3 November     Bargain and Sale: George Earl of Cumberland and his brother Francis Clifford to William Bucke of Idle, husbandman: half share in a cottage in Idle, now occupied by Edward Dobson, with the adjacent croft; together with woods and underwoods growing on the land. [3]

At first sight we wonder if William Bucke, husbandman, is the same as William Bucke, miller. A further transaction confirms that he was.

In 1589 he buys another share.

Bargain and Sale (with livery of seisin)   26 Jun 1589 [4]

From William Oglethorpe and Michael (his brother) to William Bucke, of a moiety of a moiety of cottages in Idle (rents 2s. p.a.) with crofts, commons, &c. in occupation of Edward Dobson.
Rent: 6d p.a. Further details say:

1589  26 June   William Oglethorpe and his brother Michael to William Bucke of Idle, milner: quarter share of the above property. [5]

The same year he buys lands, including woods and commons in the area of the mill.

Bargain and Sale   24 Oct 1589 [6]

From Richard Waterhouse of Idle yeoman, to William Bucke of Idle milner, of three-fourths of Milne roide (divided into four parts) and ½ an acre in Hallsteadehill, and the moiety of one part and half of all commons, wastes, &c. divided into 400 parts, in occupation of the said Richard; rent: 8d p.a. Proviso that if William Bucke may enjoy ‘all the said whole close called Mylneroide with woods and underwoods growing thereon and the moiety of one part and a half of commons’ &c. then William Bucke to stand seized of the residue of the premises to the use of Richard Waterhouse.

1589/90  16 March  Bargain and Sale: William and Michael Oglethorpe to Andrew Nedeham: quarter share of:
Water Corn Mill and Fulling Mill with 2 stocks called Idle milnes
With buildings, barns, stables
Dams, streams, goits, waters and watercourses
Soke and service of the freeholders of Idle; mulcture, profits, etc.
Croft and 2 gardens adjoining
Milne close, Thackley Ing
Woods, underwoods
Occupied by John Bucke and his son William [7]

In 1590 he is occupying Idle Mills with his father but does not own them.

Bargain and Sale   16 Mar 1590 [8]

From William Ogglethorpe of Roundhay and Michael his brother, to Andrew Nedeham of Kynnalton, of a moiety of a moiety of a watercorn mill and fulling mills called Idle Mills then in occupation of John Bucke and William his son; also of a croft and the Milne close and Thackley Ing, commons, &c.
Rent: 17s. 2d p.a.

The same year he uses the profits of the mill to buy more land.

Bargain and Sale   10 Nov 1590 [9]

From John Wayles the younger of Idle, taylor, to William Bucke of Idle milner, of 3 parts (divided into 4) of a close called Milne close and 1½ roods and 4 perches of the Stubbings woods, &c. part of a messuage in occupation of said John Wayles and his father and a moiety of one part of waste, commons, &c. in Idle, (divided into 400 parts). Proviso that if William Bucke may peaceably enjoy the whole of Milne close and part of the commons &c. John Wayles shall remain in possession of the rest of the premises.

His father John plays no part in these transactions. We can take it that he is now an old man and has left the affairs of the family to William.

1594     28 June     Bargain and Sale: Andrew Nedeham to William Bucke: quarter share of property, as above; lately occupied by John Bucke, father of William, and William; now by William Bucke alone

  [same date]     Andrew Nedeham also assigned to William Bucke the remainder of a Lease of the other quarter of the property that he had from Anthony Thorold and his wife, dated 1593; it included the description ‘one Corne Milne and one walke Mylne’ [10]

In 1594 he begins to make a breakthrough. He buys a share in the corn mill and the fulling mill, as well as land around it.

Bargain and Sale   28 Jun 1594 [11]

From Andrew Nedeham of Kynnalton to William Bucke of Idle milner, of a moiety of a moiety of a messuage and one watercorn mill and a fulling mill called Idle Mills; croft, gardens, Milne close, Thackley Ing (bought of the Ogglethorps) three-fourths of Milne roids, half of Overcloses (bought of John Sandall); Milne close, Westfield, Rye closes (in occupation of John and Robert Swayne) lately purchased from William Ramsden and Leonard Fawsett. Fee farm rent of 17s. 2d to William and Michael Oglethorp.

On the same day he acquires the lease on a quarter of both mills.

Assignment   28 Jun 1594 [12]

From Andrewe Nedeham to William Bucke of all his interest in a Lease granted for 21 years from Sir Anthony Thorold and Lady Anne, of a fourth part of a messuage in Idle and a fourth part of a corn mill and a walke mill and all appurtenances (except their part of 3 closes in occupation of John Hobson) and their part of Milne close and Thackley close.
Rent: 17s. 2d p.a.

1594  28  June     Andrew Nedeham to William Bucke: quarter share of house, mill. grounds and closes, together with the soke and suit from the tenants and freeholders of Idle. [13]

In 1600 he buys Milne Wood.

Bargain and Sale   8 May 1600 [14]

From Robert Swayne to William Bucke of Milne wood, late in occupation of the said Robert.

In 1601 we find him referred to for the first time as “yeoman”. We know he is the same as William Buck, “milner”, since in 1590 he had bought parts of Milne Close from John Wales. A yeoman was a farmer with land of his own.

Bargain and Sale   22 Dec 1601 [15]

From John Wales the younger, taylor, to William Buck, yeoman, of three-fourths of Stubbings and part of Highfield close in occupation of the said John and his father. Rent: 18d p.a. Proviso that if William Buck may peaceably enjoy the whole of Stubbings (i.e. the three parts mentioned above and the fourth part) and Milne close heretofore bought of the said John Wales, he shall stand seized to the close called Highfield to the use of the said John.

In 1605 the parish of Calverley was rocked by a shocking murder at the medieval manor house.

In April that year, the lord of the manor, Walter Calverley, murdered two of his sons, William and Walter, in a fit of madness. This inspired a Jacobean play, A Yorkshire Tragedy . Walter’s property passed to his surviving baby son.

Icabod Productions staged a revival of the play in Leeds in 2006 to mark the 400th anniversary.

 Yorkshire Tragedy

The shocking story of a 17th Century murder in Leeds is to be retold on stage in the city.
A Yorkshire Tragedy tells the true story of Walter Calverley, and how in 1605, spiralling debt, alcoholism, and despair drove him to murder his family.
   Walter Calverley married Phillipa Brooke in 1599 and the couple had three children, William, Walter and Henry.
   The marriage was plagued with financial difficulties (Walter was imprisoned in 1600 for debts and he was selling off plots of his land from around Leeds in 1601). Walter was also known to be ill and was possibly mentally unstable. On top of this it was a time of religious turmoil, many other members of the Calverley family had been fined for refusing to deny the Catholic Church.
   Walter, overwhelmed by the bleak outlook for his family and convinced he had ruined them, decided to kill his wife and sons. He murdered the two eldest boys (who were four and three years old at the time) and wounded his wife at the family home in Calverley Hall on 23rd April 1605. He was arrested and, refusing to plead, was executed (pressed to death) in August of the same year.
   The public were fascinated by the murders, a pamphlet (Two Most Unnatural Murders) was produced, and it is this pamphlet that seems to have been the basis of the play A Yorkshire Tragedy.
   Published in 1608, the title pages of the play attribute it to William Shakespeare, (then at the height of his career) although academics believe it was actually the work of another playwright, Thomas Middleton (also a successful playwright of the time). The play was first acted at the Globe Theatre.

In 1610 we find the first deed in which William Bucke is referred to as “the elder”. At 22, his eldest son, William the younger, is now an adult. William the elder is still living at Idle Mills and buying yet more land.

Bargain and Sale. 27 Sep 1610 [16]

From Christopher Thompson of Esholt (son and heir of William Thompson) Cuthbert Clifton of Westbye and Roger Bradshaw of the Haighe, co. Lancs. to William Bucke the elder of Idle Milne, of 4 closes called the Smythie closes in Idle, formerly in occupation of Richard Rookes, then of Thomas Wolphet and Abraham Hobson, which used to belong to Esholt Priory, and were bought by Henry Thompson from Stephen Holford of Allerton co.York, and John Jenkyn of London.
Also feoffment of above.

Later that year, the younger William’s name appears on a deed for the first time.

Assignment   25 Dec 1610 [17]

From James Anderton of Lostocke, to William Bucke the elder of Idle Mill and William his son, of the Smithie closes leased to him by William Thompson of Esholt for 80 years.

Quitclaim   20 Jan 1611 [18]

From William Thompson of Esholt esq. to William Bucke the elder of Idle Mill, of the Smithie closes.

As well as owning land, William is also renting property.

Bargain and Sale   23 Sep 1612 [19]

From Sir John Savile of Howley to Richard Lyllye of Thornton in Bradforddale, yeoman, of a fourth part of 2 messuages and all lands belonging in Thorpe in Idle; tenants:- Tristam Lillye (father – deceased, then of said Richard) and William Bucke (formerly John Grenehall); also a fourth part of the following closes:- Synder carre, Broome close, Two whole Ings (holeyngs), Wheat closes, Laythe croft, Scolerowe, Barre close, Netherhole, and Mickleclose – all in Thorpe.
Rent: 2s. 6d. p.a.

“Formerly John Grenehall” means that John Grenehall was a former tenant .

Deed of Covenants   2 Oct 1612 [20]

Between William Warde of Over Yeadon and William Bucke of Idle Mill (1), and William Jowett and George Booth of Idle, Joseph and Benjamin Swayne (sons of William Swayne), John Myers of Guiseley, glover, and Christopher Dunwell of Esholt, fuller, (2); reciting that (1) and (2) each held lands from Christopher Thompson, (or from his father William Thompson) of Esholt, in Guiseley, Rawden and Idle, on which 2 Fines and a Recovery had been levied or suffered, and which were in the custody of (1). Covenant to produce the deeds to (2) on request.

Lease for 60 years   20 Oct 1612 [21]

From Abraham Hobson of Idle yeoman, to William Bucke the elder of Idle Mill, of a moiety of Cockshutts in Idle; proviso that if William Bucke may peaceably enjoy a moiety of Highholme Ing, Rocliffe Ing, and Woodclose, the present lease to be void.

Feoffment   20 Oct 1612 [22]

To complete indentures of even date, from Abraham Hobson of Idle and Jennett his wife, Thomas Wolfett and Anna his wife and mother of the said Abraham, to William Bucke the elder, of a moiety of Highholme Ing, Rocliffe alias Rockcliffe Ing, and Woodclose adjoining, in Idle.

Lease   13 May 1613 [23]

From John Atkinson of Idle tanner, to Henry Roydes of Idle yeoman, of a moiety of a close called Apperley in Idle late in occupation of William Bucke which Atkinson lately purchased from Royde; Lease for 50 years to commence after the death of said Atkinson for rent of a rose, and to be void if Royde be allowed to enjoy without interruption premises called Broadynge in Idle which he purchased from Atkinson by deed of even date.

1614/5 20 March     Sir John Savile to William Bucke: quarter share of  house, mill, grounds and closes, with soke and service due (Sir John covenanted that he had not revoked the suit and service due to the Mill from several properties he had sold on in Idle). [24]

In 1615 we find William buying a further quarter of Idle Mills.

Bargain and Sale   20 Mar 1615 [25]

From Sir John Savile of Howley to William Bucke of Idle Milne, yeoman, of a fourth part of a messuage and water milne, and of one fulling milne with 2 stocks commonly called Idle Milnes, on the Ayre, with all appurtenances, and a fourth part of the Milne close and Thackley close in Idle; commons &c.
Rent: 17s. 2d p.a.

Bargain and Sale (with livery of seisin   3 Apr 1616 [26]

From Samuel Waterhouse of Idle to William Bucke of Idle Mill, of a fourth part of Milne roid which he had lately bought of Sir John Savile.

1616     24 March     Sir John Savile to Michael Field and William Field: quarter share of the Lordship of the Manor of Idle and the East Wood and West Wood except the house and mill in the tenure of William Buck  [27]

From 1620, the name of William’s younger son Lawrence begins to be associated with that of his father in property deeds. Lawrence was now 25 and William around 70. Near the end of his life, William the elder is making provision for his younger son’s future.

Bargain and Sale (with livery of seisin)   28 Mar 1620  [28]

From Judith Cage of Freetherne and John and Anthony Cage (sons) to William Bucke of Idle and Lawrence Bucke (younger son) of East Wood in Idle, in occupation of William Bucke and George Craven, cottages, &c.
Rent: 4d p.a.

Bargain and Sale   28 Mar 1620  [29]

From Judith Cage and John and Anthony Cage (sons) of Freetherne, co.Glouc. to William Bucke the elder and Lawrence (younger son) of Idle, of the Eastwood and a cottage in Idle.

1620     28 March     Bargain and Sale: Judith Cage and her sons John and Anthony to William Bucke the elder and his younger son Lawrence: the East Wood; and one Cottage adjoining the wood, occupied by George Hearson

1620     28 March     Bargain and Sale: Judith Cage and her sons John and Anthony to William Bucke the elder and his younger son Lawrence: of all that ‘Continent or lande wodde and woddy grounde … Commonly called and knowne by the name of the Estwodde’ – 120 acres; now or lately occupied by William Bucke and George Craven; and also a cottage adjoining the wood occupied by George Hearon.

Same date     Judith Cage to William Bucke the younger: half share of the house, mill, grounds and closes. [30]

“Woods were an economic property. If lands that included trees were let, the owner usually retained the right to the timber and underwood, with access to cut down and remove them. .. The East Wood had mainly oaks in varying stages of growth, together with underwood (the regularly coppiced trees). In 1584, some timber trees were ready for felling, and others were replacement saplings. Part of the underwood had 18 years growth and would be ready for use at 20 years; some of this had already been sold. [Oliver Rackham said medieval felling rotations went from 4 to 8 years; an example of a 20 year cycle at Beaulieu ‘would then have been unusually long’ – the Idle cycle may have been unusual, but not unique.”[31]]

“Buck Wood in its working life would not have had its present appearance, as there was a continuing cycle of large standard, wavers or timber trees of greater age, surrounded by coppiced or spring wood in its own cycle of up to 20 years.”

The same day, William’s elder son, William Bucke the younger, is himself buying part of Idle Mills. He is now styled as a yeoman.

Bargain and Sale   28 Mar 1620 [32]

From Judith Cage, John and Anthony Cage of Freetherne, to William Bucke the younger of Idle yeoman, of a moiety of a watercorn mill and fulling mill and moiety of Milne Close, Thackley, Woodclose, Rocliffe Ing and halfe hall yng.
Rent: 37s. 6d. p.a.
Also Bargain and Sale (with livery of seisin) of the above

1620     28 March     Bargain and Sale: Judith Cage and sons John and Anthony to William Bucke the younger; half share of the above property; occupied by William Bucke the elder and his son William Bucke the younger

In 1622, William the elder and Lawrence are selling property to other people.

Bargain and Sale    14 Feb 1622 [33]

From William Bucke of Idle Milne and Lawrence his younger son to Richard Lillie of Thornton yeoman and Elizabeth his wife, of a moiety of a messuage and appurtenances in Thorpe in tenure of Thomas Hogge and Robert Dawson, with barn, croft commons, tithes, &c.
Rent 10d. p.a.

Meanwhile, William the younger is continuing to acquire rights.

Bargain and Sale   29 Apr 1622 [34]

From William Rawson of Shipley, gent. John Midgley the elder of Headley in Bradforddale, and Trystram Kitson of Calverley (1), to William Bucke the younger of Idle, yeoman; reciting Bargain and Sale from Sir George Savile, of tithes in Thorpe, Idle and Wrose to (1); witnessed that (1) sold to (2) all tithes belonging to William Bucke’s tenement, mill, gardens, &c. and on Milne rodes, the 2 Woodcloses, the 2 Rocliffynges, the Stubbings and 2 Milnecloses on the west of the said tenement; the Milne wood or woods lying on the south of the said tenement and Halfehallynge, in Idle.
Rent: 20d p.a. – apportioned part of £3 6s. 8d.

Bargain and Sale   30 Aug 1622 [35]

From Robert Whitehead of Thorpe in Idle glover to Richard Lillye of Thorpe in Idle yeoman, of a moiety of a moiety of Broome close (3½ acres), Wheate close, Barre close and Nether-hole, a close (2a.3r.) in Mickleclose with all buildings thereon, including a messuage divided into two and in occupation of said Richard and William Bucke and Robert Vicars, with all rights of common, tithes, &c.
Rent: 1s. 2d. p.a. tithes, 2d p.a.

Sometime between Aug 1622 and Feb 1630 William the elder died. In 1626 a seat allocation for Calverley church names William Bucke, without specifying whether he is the elder or younger, so he was probably dead before then. He died in his seventies. [36]

In 1630 we find him referred to for the first time as the late William Bucke.

Bargain and Sale   22 Feb 1630 [37]

From Lawrence Bucke of Idle yeoman, to Henry Roydes of Idle yeoman, of 3 parts of a close (divided into 4) called Nether broome close (6 acres) in Thorpe and a right of way [boundaries delineated] belonging to his late father William Bucke who purchased from William Grenehall, paying 2s. p.a. to said William Grenehall and 5d to the King for tithes &c.; also a moiety of Colepitt yngs and ffaltis, but these latter to he held to the use of Bucke if Roydes be allowed to hold the other premises without disturbance.

he early Calverley registers give very little information about wives and mothers. We have a great deal of information about William, but we never learn his wife’s name.

Before he died, William had made provision for his eldest daughter.

Bargain and Sale   10 Mar 1646 [38]

Of tithes from William Wade of Idle yeoman, to Peter Sunderland of Allerton in Bradforddale and Marie his wife, daughter of William Bucke deceased, reciting that on 3 Feb. 1617/8 Sir George Savile of Thornhill leased the tithes accruing on lands, commons, &c. in Thorpe Wrose and Windell alias Windhill and Idle (except the tithes of Christopher and William Thompson); same became vested in Tristram Kitson who sold the tithes on Woodclose to Wade; William Bucke had purchased the close from Wade and it was then vested in his daughter and her husband, the said Peter Sunderland.

1637     6 September     Marriage Settlement: William Bucke to Peter Sunderland: security for an annuity on the marriage of William’s daughter Mary to Peter Sunderland:
Water Corn Mill and Fulling Mill called Idle Mills [with appurtenances]
Milneroyds, Four Smithie Closes
Two Wood Closes
Two Rocliffe yngs
Stubb ynge  [39]

We hear of William first as a young married man and a tenant miller. By the time of his death, by the diligent purchase of small parcels of property, he had risen to become a landowner and yeoman.


[1] Bradford Archives: 23D98/8/1, pp. 37 and 38; see Appendix 2
[2] WYL500/260
[3] Leeds Archives: WYL 500/260
[4] WYL500/262
[5] WYL 500/262
[6] WYL500/265
[7] Leeds Archives: WYL 500/266
[8] WYL500/266a
[9] WYL500/267a
[10] WYL 500/268 and 269
[11] WYL500/268a
[12] WYL500/269  
[13] Leeds Archives: WYL 500/268 and 269
[14] WYL500/270a
[15] WYL500/271
[16] WYL500/357
[17] WYL500/358
[18] WYL500/359a
[19] WYL500/134a 
20] WYL500/272 

[21] WYL500/273
[22] WYL500/274
[23] WYL500/137
[24] WYL 500/275
[25] WYL500/275a
[26] WYL500/276
[27] Bradford Archives: PP/Box 5/ 5, p.1 (this is from a transcript by W.B. Preston. It is not clear whether the year is 1615 or 1616)
[28] WYL500/375
[29] WYL500/277

[30][WYL 500/277 and 278
[31] Oliver Rackham, Trees and Woodland in the British Landscape: reveised edition, Phoenix Press paperback, 2001; pp. 63-64.
[32] WYL500/278a
[33] WYL500/146
[34] WYL500/279
[35] WYL500/151
[36]  WYL 500/278
[37] WYL500/164
38] WYL500/282
[39] Bradford Archives: PP/Box 5/5 (p. 39)





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