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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 my own as (1)



JOHN BUCKE. The Buckes do not appear in the taxation records for Calverley parish in West Yorkshire in 1545. The earliest information we have of the Bucks of Buck Mill comes from a footnote in a printed book of the parish registers. [1]

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.

Eleven years later, John Bucke and his son William are occupying the mill. It is possible that the J has been wrongly represented as T in the digitisation of the book. We can assume that John, like his son, was a miller.

The place-name Idle probably relates to the Old English term Idel meaning an empty place, an uncultivated area. This description is echoed in a surveyof the Manor of Idle in 1583-4 by the Earl of Cumberland, where the Manor is portrayed as containing mostly uncultivated land and woodland, with some quarries for wall stones and slates. According to the survey plan Idle lordship comprised the nucleated settlements of Idle, Thorpe, Wrose, and Windhill. Open fields were situated immediately south and west of Idle with Thackley Common, and the East and West Woods to the north. Idle Mill, comprising a water corn mill and fulling mill with 2 stocks, stood on the south bank of the River Aire, the river forming the northern bounds of the lordship

Idle Mills, later called Buck Mill, was the manorial Water Corn and Fulling Mill. Around it is Buck Wood. The Bucks occupied it from the middle of 16th century until 1744. They originally held it on a Copyhold lease.

“Copyhold was a form of land tenure for land held from a lord of the manor, originally for agricultural labour, but since Tudor times for monetary payment. The term copyhold is used because the land could only be transferred by surrender to the lord and the admission of a new tenant, which admission was recorded in the Manor Rolls and a copy given to the tenant.
  A copyhold lease was normally granted for the lives of three named persons.
   Rents were normally fixed by custom, and the lord of the manor could not increase them. He could however demand an increased fine on a change of tenancy. But in practice it seems the lord of the manor had little redress if the tenant refused to agree to an increase in his fine.
   Tenants were indeed in a strong position. They had no absolute right of inheritance after a grant of copyhold had expired. But when one life dropped, the tenant might offer to surrender the remaining portion of his grant in return for another that incorporated a replacement life or lives. In effect, if a tenant continued to pay his rents and fines, and to meet his other obligations, he enjoyed what amounted to hereditary tenure.
   However, with Copyhold, there is a catch. Normally, a Copyhold can be willed to a descendant, usually a son (but in some cases a wife or daughter)…. and it is possible for a surviving spouse to remain the holder of the copyhold. But on her death, the property *reverts* back to the ownership of the Manor.” [2]


“The succesive Lords of the Manor did not live in Idle, but held it as part of their estates.  They received income from manorial rents, but from the end of the 16th century any property they actually owned had been purchased by them at different times.
   The Plumpton family lived at Plumpton near Spofforth. Following an inheritance dispute, and through marriages, in 1584 half of the manor was held by George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, and a quarter each by Sir Anthony Thorold and his wife, and William Reyner and his wife. From this time, the various moieties passed through different hands until the whole manor was purchased by Robert Clarkson in 1629. The Clarksons sold it to Sir Walter Calverley of Esholt Hall in 1714.”

Calverley was a large parish just north-east of Bradford. It contained several smaller villages, including Idle. This lies where the River Aire makes a loop northwards. Only a few ruins of Idle Mills survive, but there is still a track leading down to the river called Buck Mill Lane. This leads across the 19th century canal to the River Aire. There is now a footbridge over the river. In the Bucks’ time:

“There was no vehicular access from Buck Mill over the river to Baildon, and the only track was up the hill to Thackley. There were, however, stepping stones near Buck Mill, and the possibility of fording the river to cross to Baildon when the water was not too high or strong. It was not until 1889 that the present footbridge was constructed.”

1584  Survey of Idle: Idle Mills held by John Bucke and his son William as successors to Richard Rookes:
House [messuage or tenement] near the River Aire
one Water Corn Mill and one Fulling Mill with 2 stocks standing on the water (with mulcture and profits and service to the mill)
two gardens and a  croft adjoining
Milne Close (2 acres)
Rocliffe Inge (a meadow) and the Wood Closes (2 acres 16 perches)
Thackley Inge (1 acre 1 rood 5 perches)
Long Lands (½ acre) [3]

It would appear from this that John and William were the first Bucks to work Idle Mills. They ground corn and fulled cloth. They did not own the mills, but were renting them from the lord of the manor. William is described elsewhere as a “milner” or miller. The two mills would have been a considerably profitable concern. Idle was known as a cloth-producing village.

Fulling is the process by which woollen cloth is pounded to make it thicker and stronger. It was traditionally soaked in stale human urine. Fullers would pay people to fill pots with it. In ancient times the cloth was then trampled underfoot. In a water-powered fulling mill like the Bucks’, the mill-wheel drove large wooden hammers which beat the cloth.

From 1589 onwards, there is a large file of documents relating to property in Idle which concern the Bucks.

Bargain and Sale  16 Mar 1590 [4]

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.

Andrew Nedeham was buying a quarter share of the following:

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.  [5]

John appears to have married before 1550.  William was having children of his own baptised at least as early as 1575, so he was probably born around 1550.

This suggests that John himself was born in the early part of the 16th century, under Henry VIII. He lived through the reigns of Edward VI and Mary, and well into that of Elizabeth I.

We have no information about John’s wife or his other children, unless the T. Bucke of the tax record is not a mistranscription but a son Thomas.

John died between 16 March 1590 and 28 June 1594.

1594 28 June. Bargain and Sale:

Andrew Nedeham to William Bucke: quartershare 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’

William was using the income from the mills to buy a share in the mills themselves, and small amounts of property around them in the area now known as Buck Wood. In the next generation after John we see the Bucks make the transition from tenant millers to landed yeomen.



[1] Samuel Margerison, The registers of the parish of Calverley in the West Riding of the county of York. Bradford 1880. www.archive.org.
[2] Genuki. Cornwall.
[3] Bradford Archives: 23D98/8/1, pp. 37 and 38; see Appendix 2
[4] National Archives: A2A: WYL500/266a
[5] Leeds Archives: WYL 500/266




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