William image

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)



Jack is descended from the Petty/Petyt family of Skipton in Craven twice over.

The surname occurs variously as Petty, Pettye, Pettie, Petyt. It comes from the Norman French ‘Petit’, meaning ‘small’ or ‘short’. This points to the family having Norman origins. It is a name that could have been given to a number of men, not necessarily related. There are early instances as far apart as Cornwall and Kent.

William Dawson, in his History of Skipton, has traced the ancestry of William and Sylvester Petyt, lawyers and benefactors to Skipton charities. [1] Since Jack is descended from their youngest sister Isabell, these are his ancestors too.

In the 1690, William Petyt, lawyer and politician, born in Storiths, was granted a coat of arms. It has strong similarities with the arms of John le Petit who held lands in Cornwall in 1262. Both coats of arms feature a red lion, but since William, who was Keeper of the Records at the Tower of London, played a large part in designing it, this may have been wishful thinking.



William believed he was descended from the Cornwall Petyts. They were allied to the Carminows, who claimed to be descended from King Arthur. There is also said to be an unverified marriage between Michael Petyt of Cornwall and Amicia, daughter of Thomas l’Arkdekne. In 1312 this Thomas l’Arkdekne (who is an ancestor of Jack’s wife Fay) was governor of Tintagel Castle, though a very unpopular one.

The Petyts were already in the Storiths area in the early 14th century.

It may be significant that William Petyt grew up at the Red Lion in Skipton.

William Dawson used the Herald’s Visitations of Yorkshire to trace the family line back to Henry Petty, who died early in the early 16th century and was buried at Bolton Abbey. But the Pettys were associated with the ancestral home of Storiths and Hazlewood, above Bolton Abbey, even earlier than that.

We meet them first in 1317. Gillian Waters tells us:

“On October 1317, a John le Petit and Elias his brother attacked the manor of John de Rither at Hazelwood. .. It is fairly certain that the manor mentioned is the Hazelwood near Storithes in the vicinity of Bolton Abbey.
“John de Rither, described as the King’s yeoman, held the manor of Hazelwood briefly from 1318-23 during the minority of his nephew William. The family had obviously been split by the recent tensions between the greater magnates in the run up to Henry of Lancaster’s rebellion against King Edward. John de Rither’s older brother Robert de Rither had fought against Edward II at the Battle of Boroughbridge in 1321 and had been imprisoned in York castle with various other prisoners for a fine of 400 marks in 1322. An attack on the manor of Hazelwood during John’s tenure indicates that the Petits probably sided with the rebel Henry of Lancaster.”

The Lancasters were among the rebels who sided with Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer in their bid to take the throne from the unpopular Edward II.

Waters continues: “it is perhaps significant that the damage done to the estate was, quite frankly, malicious. John and Elias Petit broke the gates and timber at Hazelwood manor, felled trees and trampled hay. It is quite likely that this action was one of retaliation in some minor feud over land, rights or boundaries… John le Petit and his brother Elias were reprimanded by the King in a writ in January 1319. It is not certain what happened to the unruly pair.” [3]

The Laund Oak, Hazlewood [4]

The Laund Oak was a magnificent old tree on the site of an ancient hunting lodge in Hazlewood, just off Storiths Lane. It blew over in 2016. It was thought to be more than 800 year old, so it would have been a mature tree in the time of our early Petits in Hazlewood and Storiths. It is reputed to be named after John Laund, Prior of Bolton, 1286-1330.

Waters believes that the Petits gained lands in Yorkshire as early as the 13th century and were based in East Yorkshire. She quotes property deeds and tax assessments in the East Riding, a Robert Petit of Pickering accompanying Eustace de Codesbache during the Scottish campaigns of Edward II, and a Richard Petit abducting Agnes de Beyghale, wife of John, at Ferrybridge. But the attack on Hazlewood manor shows that they were in West Yorkshire early in the 14th century too.

We meet them again in the 15th century. Thomas Petyt is listed as renting a cottage and two acres of land at Storiths from Bolton Priory in 1473. [5]

Also in 1473, a Richard Petty held eight acres of land and meadow at ‘Hesilwode’ [Hazlewood, a mile from Storiths] valued at 5s and another 12 acres of foreland called Wilflat worth 7s.

We cannot be certain that these were ancestors, but they would have been closely related.

Thirty-eight years later, in 1509, we have the will of Henry Petty, who is the earliest of Jack’s known ancestors of this name. He was buried at Bolton Abbey and his son John lived at Storiths. Henry is likely to have known Thomas Petyt and Richard Petty and may well have been related to them.


[1] Dawson, William Harbutt,, History of Skipton. 1882. https://archive.org/stream/historyofskipton00daws/historyofskipton00daws_djvu.txt
[2] https://mediasvc.ancestry.co.uk/image/1bfb8ae3-8897-4922-966d-d3fa14060491.jpg?Client=MCCManager&NamespaceID=1093&MaxSide=160
[3] http://www.bgwaters.co.uk/petyt11.htm
[4] https://boltonabbey.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/The-Laund-Oak-Tree-Bolton-Abbey-960.jpg
[5] http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~petyt/wsbiog.htm




Riley Tree