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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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 Alice Moone was the wife of John Petty of Storiths in the 16th century. Storiths is a village in North Yorkshire, across the River Wharfe from Bolton Abbey.

We do not know the names of Alice’s parents, but we know a good deal about her brother Richard, and something of her other brothers.

Richard Moone was the last prior of Bolton Abbey before the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539.

The most detailed information about the Moone family comes from Gillian Waters’ website Deep Waters.[1]

Richard’s will shows that he was born in Long Preston. This is a village 15 m west of Bolton Abbey on the River Ribble.

The Moones were a farming family.

Richard became Prior of Bolton Abbey. Despite its name, this was a priory, ruled over by a Prior, not an Abbot. The building is now known as Bolton Priory.

It was originally founded in 1120-21 at the village of Embasy, four miles west of Bolton, and just north of Skipton,. The founders were William Meschin and Cecily de Rumilly.

It was a house of Augustinian monks, whose order was founded by St Augustine of Hippo less than a century earlier. The monks wore a black cassock without a hood and a white surplice. They were known commonly as the Black Canons. They went out from the priory, acting as priests for the surrounding community.

The priory was granted land at Bolton by Cecily’s daughter Alice de Rumilly in 1155. This site by the River Wharfe was much more fertile soil. The wealth this brought in enabled the canons to greatly extend their estates.

Richard Moone of Long Preston was elected as prior in 1513, after Henry VIII had come to the throne.

The tower at the west end of the priory church was begun by Prior Richard Moone in 1520, but remained unfinished at the dissolution of the monastery in 1539. Over the entrance is an inscription: In the Yer of our Lord mvcxx, R. ) begann this fondashon on qwho sowl God have marce. Amen. The crescent after R. is a symbol of Moone.

At the time of the Dissolution there were 14 canons at Bolton, as well as Prior Richard.

Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon produced only a daughter Mary, and not the son and heir he longed for. He wanted to divorce her, or have the marriage annulled, so that he could marry Anne Boleyn in the hope that she would bear him a son. But Pope

Clement VII forbade it. Henry’s reaction was to split from the Roman Church and found a new Church of England, with himself at its head. He could now give himself permission to divorce Catherine.

He also had power over the large and wealthy collection of monastic houses in England. He expelled the nuns and monks and sold off the abbeys to greatly enrich his treasury.

Some abbots and abbesses resisted the takeover, and paid a heavy price. Richard Whiting, the last abbot of Glastonbury, was hanged, drawn and quartered on Glastonbury Tor and then beheaded. Others chose to cooperate and salvage what they could. Richard Moone was one of the latter. He won for the people around Bolton Abbey the right to continue worshipping in the nave of the Priory church of St Mary and St Cuthbert, which became their parish church under the new Church of England.

On the eve of the Dissolution, he leased out the abbey’s lands. Some went to major landowners, like the Cliffords of Skipton Castle. Among the lesser farmers who profited were members of the Moone family, or those they had married into.

His brother Edmund was tenant of a farm at Cononley, 3 miles south of Skipton. Another brother Henry farmed at Riddings, a farm on the Bolton Abbey estate, while Henry’s son John had a large farm at Hazlewood 2 m east of Bolton Abbey across the River Wharfe.

Since these tenants paid rent to the crown, their holdings were secure after the Dissolution.

One brother, William, stayed at Long Preston. He was probably the oldest, farming the family lands. At the Dissolution, his son, another Richard, was a ‘tenant at will’ there.

After the dissolution, Richard received a pension of £40 a year.

He died in 1541, two years after surrendering the priory to the king.

There are several stories about the origin of the rhyme “Hey, diddle, diddle”. One of these involves the Moone family:

‘Hey, diddle, diddle,
The cat and the fiddle.
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed to see such fun.
And the dish ran away with the spoon.’

This rhyme circulated in the Bolton Abbey area soon after the Dissolution. As well as the Moones, who held farms around the priory, another local family were the Heys. The two families were rivals over which could achieve the higher social status. Hence Hey and Moon.

The cat and the fiddle come from Cato fidelis – the faithful of the Church. Both families were devout church members. The cow jumped over the moon: The Heys were cattle farmers, and the Moones sheep farmers. The Heys had jumped further up the social ladder than the Moones. The little dog laughed: On the front of his unfinished West Tower, Prior Moone had put two buttresses, each with a stone dog on top who appears to be laughing. These were in memory of the founders William de Meschin (mes chien – my dog) and his wife Cecily de Rumilly. The dish ran away with the spoon: The Heys were traditionally the church officers responsible for collecting offerings. Thus, the alms Dish. The Moones were traditional holders of the anointing Spoon.

Bolton Abbey, West Front[2]


[1]  http://www.bgwaters.co.uk/petyt5.htm
[2] Facebook – Bolton Abbey




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