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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)



CHRISTOPHER PETTY and his wife Jane are ancestors twice over. Jack is descended from their eldest son William and a younger son Anthony.

We do not know the names of Christopher’s parents, though we do know that his paternal grandparents were John Petty and Alice Moone. They farmed at the Stedehouse in Storiths early in the 16th century. Alice was the sister of the last prior of Bolton Abbey.[1]

Christopher Petty died in 1612. We know of him mostly through his will. The age of his children’s marriages suggest that they were born around the 1590s. This would give a possible birth date for Christopher around the 1560s, early in Queen Elizabeth’s reign, or even before that. Neither the registers for Skipton nor for Bolton Abbey go back that far.

There were Pettys farming in the Bolton Abbey area as far back as 1473.

Since both Christopher and his grandparents farmed in Storiths, we may assume that his father did too, and that this was where Christopher was born. His father is likely to have been a tenant farmer on the Bolton Abbey estate.

Storiths is a hamlet without a church. It stands on the hillside across the River Wharfe from Bolton Abbey. The former priory church was still used for worship and served as the nearest church for Storiths. It was then a chapelry within Skipton parish. Bolton Abbey lies 5 miles east of Skipton, and Storiths is a mile east of the village. [2] It is highly likely that Christopher and his siblings were baptised there.

We know from his will that Christopher had at least one younger brother, Henry.



JANE. We know of her only through Christopher’s will. We do not know her maiden name


We have no details of when and where Christopher and Jane married. 

Gillian Waters, who has done a great deal of research into this family, credits the couple with at least three sons.

William Petyt was the eldest son of Christopher Petyt of Storithes. He had at least two brothers, Christopher and Anthony. He may also have had a younger brother Henry Petty.” [3]

She offers no evidence for Anthony’s birth, but this may have come from Christopher’s will, which she only quotes in part.

A Geni family tree links Christopher with both Hazlewood and Storiths. Hazlewood is a twin hamlet to Storiths, a mile further east.

Christopher and Jane lived most of their lives in the long reign of Queen Elizabeth I. She succeeded to the throne in 1558, with the hope of bringing Protestants and Catholics together after the extremism of her siblings, Protestant Edward and Catholic Mary. But the hostility of Catholic France and Spain, and the Pope’s excommunication of her, licensing her assassination, led her to greater persecution of Roman Catholics.

We do not know for certain where the Pettys stood on religion. Christopher’s uncle, Prior Richard Moone, took a diplomatic, rather than a defiant, attitude to handing Bolton Abbey over to the crown. It is likely that the Pettys, like most English people, accepted the mainstream Protestantism of the day brought in by Henry VIII’s Reformation in the 1530s. Christopher’s bequest to Bolton Priory church would seem to confirm this.

James I acceded to the throne in 1603. The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 attempted to assassinate the entire government, from the king down. As a result, Roman Catholics came under even greater persecution than before.


Describing a walk from Bolton Bridge to Hazlewood and Storiths, Mike Priestley writes: “Storiths, the twin village to Hazlewood, was a busier place. There were plenty of cars in the car park opposite the Buffers Cafe, in the farmhouse built in the early 1600s by Christopher Petty, father of William and Sylvester Petty (later Petyt) who both went on to have successful careers as lawyers.” [4]

Priestley is slightly mistaken. William and Sylvester were grandsons of Christopher, through his eldest son William.

Other sources give the date for the farmhouse as the mid-17th century.

Back o’ th’  Hill Farm and café


Gillian Waters adds: “Christopher Pettie of ‘Storisse in the parish of Skipton’ died on 24 June 1612 and his will was proved on 18 April 1616. This Christopher Petty is described as a husbandman. Christopher Petty may also have worked for the Cliffords of Skipton castle as a Christopher Petty is recorded as living at Skipton castle in 1595… It would appear that his son William Petyt was of the yeomanry rather than lesser gentry stock as in the grant of arms to his son William Petyt in 1658 he is described as ‘beinge borne of good and honest parentage’. This would fit the description of Christopher Petty as a husbandman…

“In his will Christopher mentions his brother Henry Petty, to whom he gives one cow, a jacket, a doublet and a pair of breeches. He left three shillings and four pence to repair Bolton Church and desired to be buried in the churchyard of ‘Bolton in Chammond’.

“His wife Jane he left well provided for, giving her a third of the corn grain and straw tythe from Storithes, and a third part of profit from lands called Ungain. She was also given the right to stay in her home for her natural life, paying a third of all rents payable. The other two thirds of the tythe and profits from Ungain were to go to Christopher’s son Christopher. Christopher also benefited by gaining a messuage or tenement in Storithes that his father had bought from John Moon.”

John Moon is likely to be of the same family as Christopher’s grandmother Alice.

Ungain Field opposite Bolton Abbey



Ungain, by the River Wharfe, with Waterfall Bridge in the distance [5]


If you leave Bolton Abbey by Waterfall Bridge over the River Wharfe, the pool on your left above the falls is Ungain Deep. The meadow alongside it, opposite the abbey, is Ungain. A narrow footpath, flanked by low stone walls, leads straight up the hillside to the hamlet of Storiths.

Ungain means “difficult of access”.

His will underlines the fact that Christopher did not own his farm. He is only able to bequeath its income.

Even today, most of the land in Storiths is owned by the Bolton Abbey estate. The Pettys would have been tenants of the abbey, much of whose land came into the hands of the Clifford family of Skipton Castle after the Dissolution.

 Waters continues: “Christopher’s son William seems to be the eldest of the two sons as he is made executor of the will with his mother Jane Petty. He appears to inherit the leases associated with the tenement and messuage of Storithes.

“The supervisor of Christopher’s will was a Thomas Petty ‘my good friend’. He also witnessed the will…. Another witness is Robert Petty.”

Waters argues that these may be the Pettys of Embsay Kirk, a few miles west.

There is no mention here of the third son Anthony. He was probably in his early twenties then.

We do not have information on Jane Petty’s death.


Christopher and Jane’s eldest son William Petyt was also said to be ‘of Storithes’. He was probably a yeoman farmer.

“He had an adulterous liaison resulting in a daughter, and then married twice. His second wife, Mary Petty of Embsay had previously been married to Stephen Catterson. The Cattersons are also among our Skipton ancestors.

“The couple moved from Storithes to Skipton, where they took up residence in what is now the Red Lion Inn, which may have been part of Mary’s dower land.
“They had a large family, of whom the most notable were their sons William and Sylvester. Both became lawyers and died without issue. Skipton benefited greatly from their charitable bequests. The family line was passed down through the youngest child, Isabell, who married Francys Catterson.
   “The second son, Christopher, married Elizabeth Birkbeck of Orton in Westmoreland. He became master of Orton Old Hall, which the Petty family bought from the Birkbecks in the 17th century. Their second daughter Mary was left £5 in the will of William Petyt of London, son of William Petyt of Storithes, and £10 in the will of his brother Sylvester Petyt. Their son Christopher was left £50 by both William Petyt of London and Sylvester Petyt for his education. He trained to be a lawyer like his cousins.
   “The third son Anthony Pettie married Mary Jowett of Keighley. He farmed at Cawder House, just south of Skipton.”

Our Petyt line descends through both William’s daughter Isabell and Anthony’s son John.


[1] Dawson, William Harbutt,, History of Skipton. 1882
[2] http://www.bgwaters.co.uk/petyt4.htm
[3] http://www.bgwaters.co.uk/petyt2.htm
[4] http://www.thetelegraphandargus.co.uk/leisure/taleisurewalks/791055.Bolton_Bridge/
[5] http://www.boltonabbey.synario.co.uk/gallery/bolton-abbey-033




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