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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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We have traced Jack Priestley’s ancestors back to Abraham Lee of Hapton, whose daughter Bridget was baptised n Padiham in 1629.

These Lees were a family of some standing. They included an attorney and a yeoman farmer. They may be descended from the de Legh family, who once held the manor of Hapton, across the River Calder from Padiham.


The earliest of this family that we know of is Michael de la Legh.

Rodney Bond has compiled the following biography for his son Gilbert del Legh.[1]

Lord Gilbert del Legh.

~1260, Gilbert de la Legh born in Lancashire, England, s/o §Michael de la Legh.

By 1284, Gilbert’s father died.

1284-1287, Abbot Hugh of Kirkstall granted to Gilbert, son of Michael de la Legh, all the land which Robert de Grange had held, for a yearly rent of 13s 4d.

1287, The monks of Kirkstall, owner of the Cliviger lands, gave them back to Henry de Lacy.

1292, Henry de Lacy gave Gilbert son of Michael de la Legh the lands lately belonging to Adam de Hargreaves.

3/10/1302, Gilbert de la Legh, son of Michael de la Legh, escheator of Blackburnshire, a steward of the lands of Henry de Lacy. [By the eventual death of Henry de Lacy, Gilbert held 140 acres in Cliviger.]

10/1303, Gilbert de Legh purchased the manor of Hapton from Thomas de Alta Ripa [Dautrey]. Gilbert also purchased the ‘Clayton’ third of the manor of Towneley. (S) IPM of Thomas de Alta Ripa, 1326, Lancaster. [Suits in court with Henry de Lacy prevented immediate livery.]

7/7/1307, Edward II succeeded Edward I as King of England.

1310-11, Gilbert and his son John attested a local deed in Hapton.

1311, Gilbert de Legh, free tenant with the largest holding of Henry de Lacy, had 140 acres and rendered 46s. 11d. yearly.

1315, Quitclaim: Gilbert de la Legh to John de la Legh my son; all my right in the tenement in Hirstwode which Oliver de Stansfeld gave to the same John and which John demised to Gilbert for a term of years. (S) UKNA.

1321, An entail by Gilbert de la Legh showing that Mariona was his daughter and was now the wife of William Middlemore.

1321, An entail by Gilbert de la Legh, son of Michael, shows Gilbert, Richard and Laurence, were brothers.

1/27/1328, Between Gilbert de la Legh, plaintiff, and Philip de Clayton and Isabella (sister of son John’s wife), his wife, deforciants of a third part of the manor of Tounley, and of a 4th part of an oxgang of land in Wursthorn [Worsthorne]. (S) Final Concords for Lancashire, Pt2, 102, no.19.

1328, Gilbert purchased the manor of Hapton from John son of Edmund Talbot.

11/18/1330,  Philip and Isabella acknowledged the said tenements to be the right of Gilbert … Isolda, late the wife of Nicholas de Tounley, held in dower of the inheritance of the said Isabella, on the day this concord was made … Gilbert gave 100 marks. (S) Final Concords for Lancashire, Pt2, 102, no.19.

7/8/1332, Charter of Geoffrey le Scrop, Kt. attested by Henry le Scrop, …, Adam de Clitheroe, …, Adam Banastre and John de Downham, kts., …, Gilbert de la Legh, … (S) Hist. of Lancaster, V6, 1911, Billington.

1333, Thomas son of Robert Dautrey claimed 2 mills and 60 acres in Hapton against Gilbert de la Legh.

1334, Gilbert and John de Legh were among the more important parishioners, when a settlement about the tithe of hay was made with the Abbot of Whalley. (S) Hist. of Lancaster, V6, 1911, Townships: Havergham Eaves.

1334, Whitacre Ford, below Ightenhill Parkthe, the place where Richard son of Richard Hicheson and others had captured and imprisoned Gilbert de la Legh, robbing him and putting him to ransom at £100.

1336, Conf: Gilbert de la Legh to Gilbert s. of John de la Legh (2954292); the manor of Hapton, with lands, etc., in Hapton, Brunlay, Clyuachre, Worsthorn, Hyrstewod, Brereclyf, Exthwysill, with the homage & service of …, except one mess. & 5 acres of land in Brereclyf to hold to Gilbert s. of John de la Legh’ the heirs of his body & of Katherine, dau. of Ric, de Baldreston, remainder to the said Katherine for her life remainder to the heirs of the body of the said Gilbert s. of John de la Legh; … remainder to John de la Legh (2954292) my son & the heirs of his body & of Cecilia, dau. of Ric. de Tounlay (5908586), now his wife. (S) UKNA.

By 1338 Gilbert died. (S) See son John, 1338.

(S) Hist. of Lancaster, V6, 1911, Cliviger, and Hapton, and Lghtenhill Park.

Family notes:

  • Gilbert had a younger brother named Adam.

Children of Gilbert and ?:

  1. John de la Legh, born ~1285 in Lancashire, England.
  2. Thomas de la Legh, born ~1287 in Lancashire, England.

1332, Thomas de la Legh held the third part of the manor of Towneley.

1372-73, Thomas de Legh granted the third part of Towneley to Gilbert de la Legh [his nephew, s/o John] on condition he founded a chantry at Burnley.

iii. Mariona de la Legh, born ~1290 in Lancashire, England.

By 1321, Mariona married William de Middlemore.


I am indebted to Bluestone Archaeology,  Hapton Heritage – A Landscape History and Village Survey, for this more detailed information.[2]

“Prior to the Norman Conquest Blackburnshire was held by 28 freemen whose holdings were referred to as manors but who may in reality have been no more than village headmen responsible for rendering all the dues owed by their vills to the manorial lords This system may have continued after the Conquest which might explain the position of local men such as John de Hapton whose daughter, Cecilia, brought a portion of the manor to one Richard de Legh in marriage in 1205.”

 In the Middle Ages the lords of Hapton were the de Lacy family. The manor was given into the hands of the Dautrey family, vassals of the de Lacys.

“In Feb. 1303-4 Thomas Dautrey tried to sell the whole manor of Hapton to Gilbert de la Legh (the first of that name to be referred to in this study) but this was not sanctioned by Henry de Lacy who declared the manor forfeit and gave it to Edmund Talbot of Bashall.

“The origins of the de la Leghs are somewhat mysterious. Gilbert de la Legh was also called Gilbert Atte Lye of Cliviger and may have although according to Whitaker the family were originally from High Legh in Cheshire. In any event Gilbert de la Legh had been the chief instaurator (stockmaster) of the vaccaries of Blackburnshire, i.e. the cattle ranches that were set up in the Forests of Rossendale, Pendle, Trawden and Accrington when they became less important as hunting grounds to the de Lacy Lords. However in 1304- 5 he was replaced; perhaps as punishment for his unauthorised attempt to acquire the manor of Hapton?”

Cliviger lies  between Burnley and Todmorden and contains the steep-sided Cliviger Gorge.

 The de Lacys had created the vaccaries in the Forest areas of east Lancashire where they used to hunt their deer

 “Unfortunately this transaction was agreed without the permission of Henry de Lacy Earl of Lincoln who, like other great Lords, would vet such acquisitions to make sure that those serving under them, like Gilbert de Legh, could not become too powerful by acquiring more land. As a result Henry de Lacy confiscated Hapton and gave it to another of his followers, Edmund Talbot of Bashall in the Ribble Valley. Gilbert de la Legh also lost his position as instaurator.

“Edmund Talbot, the new lord of Hapton, was already the Steward of the Honor of Clitheroe and in 1304 he was further rewarded when King Edward I granted him a charter of free warren (ie the right to hunt small animals but not deer) in his demesne lands of Bashall, Mitton and Hapton. This was in return for Edmund’s service to the King in the wars against the Scots and demonstrates that Edmund was high in the favour of both the King and the latter’s great friend. Henry de Lacy. However this did Edmund little good as in 1313, a few years after the deaths of the King and the Earl, he was murdered at Hapton, allegedly by Adam de Clitheroe who was in turn high in the favour of the new king Edward II.

“Whilst Edmund Talbot was high in the favour of Edward I, both the de Clitheroes and the de la Leghs prospered under his son Edward II.”

“By 1322 another Gilbert de la Legh , grandson of the above, had regained his grandfather’s position as the Instaurator of Blackburnshire and during the disturbed time following the execution of Thomas Earl of Lancaster he was kidnapped by one Wm Dautrey and held at Holbeck near Leeds until ransomed for £20.

“However in 1324 he was fined at the Colne Halmote for allowing the escape of animals from the forest of Trawden and at the Clitheroe Halmote for allowing the escape of 67 pigs which seems to suggest either dereliction of duty or evidence of the lawless times in which he lived.

“In any event in 1328 Gilbert finally succeeded in acquiring the manor of Hapton ironically by purchase from Edmund Talbot’s son John (who by now was Constable of Lincoln Castle) for 320 marks). According to Bennett in addition to the manor of Hapton, Gilbert de la Legh also held a tenancy of 140 acres in Cliviger and a cow farm at Whitehough (Barley) and held part of Extwistle. According to Whitaker the de Leghs had their Cliviger home at “The Old House” (the White House) an ancient farmstead at the foot of Castle Hill.”

 The original of the 1328 deed transferring the manor of Hapton to Gilbert de la Legh is in Burnley Musuem.

English translation:

To all those about to see or hear this writing, John son of Edmund Talbotes [gives] greeting eternally in the name of the Lord. You will have known that I have given, remised and by this my present writing, for me and my heirs, entirely quitclaimed forever to Gilbert de La Legh the whole manor of Hapton in Blakeburnshire with its appurtenances & with all right & claim which I have or had or in any way could have in the said manor with its appurtenances in part or whole, namely so that neither I, the said John, nor my heirs nor anyone in our name may be able to demand any right or claim, or lay any legal claim, in the the aforesaid manor with its appurtenances but we should be excluded entirely forever by these presents. To hold & to have the said manor to the aforesaid Gilbert & his heirs or assigns of the chief lords of that fee by the service thence owed & accustomed by right, freely, quietly, wholly, undisturbed, well & in peace, with all liberties, commons & easements by whatsoever means appertaining to the said manor without any reservation. And I truly the said John & my heirs will warrant, acquit & defend forever all the aforesaid manor with all its appurtenances as is aforesaid to the aforesaid Gilbert & his heirs or assigns against all men & women. In witness whereof to this present writing I have placed my seal (these) being witnesses Lord Richard de Swinflet, then vicar of Whalley, John de Alnetham, Adam Nowel, Adam de Bridtwisle, Richard de Whitakre, John de Symonstone, William de Bridtwisle, William de Hallestedes & many others. Given at Hapton on Wednesday next before the Feast of Palm Sunday in the second year of the reign of King Edward the third from the conquest.

 Hapton Castle is thought to have been in existence in 1328 when Gilbert de la Leigh purchased Hapton from John Talbot. It was the seat of the Lords of Hapton until the erection of Hapton Tower c.2.5km to the south east in 1510. The castle is thought to have consisted of a stone tower keep and a stout wooden palisade or stone wall enclosing a yard.

“ In 1330 John son of Simon de Altham gave a messuage in Hapton to Gilbert de la Legh (the 2nd). Other land in Bradley passed from William de Birtwisle through various hands until 1342 Joan his wife, daughter of Simon del Goodshaw and widow of Richard del Yate gave it to Gilbert de la Legh (the 3rd) and Alice his wife thus amalgamating the Bradley holdings with the other de la Legh lands in Hapton.”

“There appear to have been two medieval corn mills in Hapton which Thomas, son of Robert Dautrey, claimed against Gilbert de la Legh in 1333.”

“In 1334 Gilbert de la Legh (the 2nd) granted to Thomas de Simonstone five wagonloads of wood from the wood of Bentley in Hapton.”

“The other substantial landholding within the medieval township of Hapton was BIRTWISLE which has long been regarded as a lost settlement although the interpretation of the place-name as Old English for ‘at the junction of two streams’ prefixed by a personal name ‘Bridd’ must surely relate to the confluence of Hapton and Habergham Cloughs in the east of the township. “

“In 1354 Adam de Birtwisle settled on his daughter Joan and her husband Nicholas son of Sir Richard de Kighley certain lands in Birtwisle in the vill of Hapton which he had acquired from his brother Gilbert. However in 1379–80 Nicholas and Joan gave lands in Birtwisle to Gilbert de la Legh (the 3rd) and Alice his wife.

“In 1356 John de Lacy’s descendent Henry sold his Birtwisle holding to Gilbert de la Legh (the 3rd) and in 1361 Henry’s widow, Joan, gave her dower lands in Birtwisle to Gilbert at 25s. rent thus uniting at least part of Birtwisle with Hapton.”

“In 1388 Hapton passed to Gilbert de la Legh’s great grandson John who had married Cecily, the daughter of Richard de Towneley. John adopted Towneley as his surname and succeeded to the whole inheritance of Hapton and Towneley. From thereon Hapton and Towneley passed down through John and Cicily’s descendants until the Hapton Estate was sold off in the 1920s.”


[1] Rodney Bond  Mini Biography http://www.teachergenealogist007.com/2020/10/lord-gilbert-del-legh.html

2] http://www.haptonheritage.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/HaptonHistArchSurvey2.pdf




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