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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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WILLIAM HOUGHTON. We have traced our Houghtons back to the marriage of William Houghton to Grace Whittaker of Padiham in 1578.

This would give William an estimated birth date in the early 1550s, but the Padiham registers only go back to 1573

William is not the first Houghton to appear in them. He is the seventh of that name in the short period from 1573-78. He seems to come from a well-established family.

The year before William’s marriage, there is another wedding between John Houghton and Emma Clayton. It is possible that John is William’s brother, though by no means certain.

He was probably born in the turbulent decade that saw the death of Henry VIII, the short reign of the boy-king Edward V1, with its swing to more extreme Protestantism, the even shorter reign of his half-sister Mary, who took the county back to Roman Catholicism, with many executions of its opponents, and the accession of Henry’s other daughter Elizabeth in 1558.


We know from his will that William became a husbandman, farming on a small scale. It is likely that his father was too.


GRACE WHITTAKER. There are even more Whittakers in the early St Leonard’s registers. Grace’s marriage is the twelfth between 1573 and 1578. Her family too had evidently been in the parish for a considerable time.

Padiham is a small town on the River Calder in Lancashire, 3 miles west of Burnley. Before the Industrial Revolution, it was chiefly a market town, serving the area around Pendle Hill.

Early records show the baptisms of nine Whitaker children in Whalley between 1552 and 1571. Grace’s is the third. The dates are consistent with their being a single family.

The earliest ones do not name the father, let alone the mother. The last two, Thomas in 1566 and Elizabeth in 1571, are the children of Jacob or James Whitaker. James would have been written Jacobus in Latin. We have not found his marriage, so we cannot say whether it was early enough for him to be the father of Grace.

Marriage. St Leonard, Padiham.
1578 Dec 5  Willamus Houghton et Gracia Whittaker

 The couple had seven children baptised at St Leonard’s.
Baptisms. St Leonard, Padiham.
1581/2 Feb 22  Robtus (Robert)
1583 Dec 24  Ema
Emma was buried on 12 Mar 1583/4, less than 3 months after her birth.
1585 May 27  Maria (Mary)
1587/8 Mar 17  Johnis (John)
1590 Jun 18  Nicholaus (Nicholas)
1593 Apr 11  Thomas
1596 Jul 10  An unnamed daughter. It may be that the register is illegible at that point.


A leading family in the area were the Shuttleworths, originally of Hapton, south of Padiham. In the 14th century they constructed a square pele tower (watchtower) between Padiham and Burnley. This became one of their residences. At the start of the 17th century they added two more floors to the pele tower and built a late-Elizabethan mansion, Gawthorpe Hall, around it. The foundation stone was laid on 26 Aug 1600.

The accounts of the Shuttleworth family for August 1600 show the following payment:

William Houghton of Padiham, for getting of stone, viz uppon Padhiham more, iii score and v yerdes (at iiis the yerde)  xvjs iiid; xj score and viij yerdes of frie-stone at Rycliffe (at ijd qr the yerde) xlijs ixd; xxxviij loudes of wall ston at ijd the loud v s iiijd.”[1]

There were no other William Houghtons in Padiham at this time.

William was a husbandman, not a quarryman. He was paid for carrying the stone from the quarry to the building site. He evidently had a horse and cart.

There are no other such payments to other men for stone in August. The Shuttleworths would have had their own carts and drivers, which would not appear in the accounts. But William carried some of the first stones to be used on the new Gawthorpe Hall. He may even have transported the foundation stone.


Gawthorpe Hall [2]


In 1601 we find the following:

Burial. St Leonard, Padiham.
1600/1 Jan 1  Robertus Howghton filius Willmi Howghton de Padiham.

William and Grace’s eldest son was aged nearly 20 when he died.


In 1617 both William Houghton and John Houghton are listed among the 28 copyhold tenants holding tenements in Padiham from Whalley Abbey. Another tenant was Lawrence Whitaker, who would have been a relative of Grace.[3] In the mid-16th century we have a Lawrence Whittaker, gent, of High Whittaker in Padiham.


William died in 1629.
Burial. St Leonard, Padiham.
1629 Oct 28  Gulielmus Houghton de Padiham

On 12 Oct 1889 the Weekly Standard and Express  of Blackburn carried the following article:

“Below we print brief abstracts of a number of Wills of persons bearing the surname of Hoghton who died at various dates during the seventeenth century. They were either junior members of their generations of the principal line of the Hoghtons of Hoghton Tower, near Blackburn, or were representatives of minor collateral branches of that stock. These latter, in estate and social standing, were not above the rank of lesser gentry or yeoman…

“1629 26 Oct. Will of WILLIAM HOUGTON, of Padiham, Husbandman. Mentions Testator’s wife Grace, and sons Nicholas and Thomas. Appoints his son, Nicholas Houghton, Executor. The will was proved 18 Jan 1629.”

William’s will provides for his debts and funeral expenses to be paid, and the remainder of his estate to be divided into three parts, one each for his wife Grace and his sons Nicholas and Thomas. He makes the older surviving son, Nicholas, his executor. There are small bequests to Bryan Shuttleworth and Henry Cunliffe, each of 3s 4d. They may perhaps be servants.


As is usual, William begins by commending his soul to God, but he uses interesting language:
“to … the mercie of Jesus Christ my Saviour to be one of his elect and chosen children.”
This suggests a leaning towards the Calvinism of some Dissenters, who held that some Christians were of the “elect”.

William Whitaker, born in Holme, south of Burnley in 1548, was a noted Calvinist theologian of the Anglican church. Grace may well have come from the same family,

There is no mention of his second son John, who may have died. There is a burial in 1614 for “Johnes Howghton” which may be his. Since he would then have been 33, there would have been no reason to mention his father’s name.

Hoghton Tower, mentioned in the newspaper article, was a fortified manor house  SW of Blackburn, home to the Hoghton family. William would have been descended from a minor branch of that family.

The will was witnessed by Miles Whittaker, who was doubtless a relation of Grace.


Grace died three and a half years later.

Burial. St Leonard, Padiham.
1631 Apr 25  Gracia Houghtone uxor Willi Houghtone de Padiham

Usually, if a woman dies after her husband, she is recorded simply as “Widow”, but here we are given William’s name.




[1] Shuttleworth Family, John Harland. The House and Farm Accounts of the Shuttleworths of Gawthorpe Hall, in the County of Lancaster, at Smithils and Gawthorpe, from September 1582 to October 1621. 1858.
https://books.google.co.uk › books

[2] http://grimshaworigin.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/GawthorpeHall1.jpg
[3] Victoria County History. Lancaster. Vol 6. https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/lancs/vol6/pp492-496





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