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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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THOMAS WADDINGTON is believed to be the third son of Raynold Waddington and Margaret Parker. He was born in the second half of the 15th century, a time when the country was racked with the Wars of the Roses, as the houses of Lancaster and York vied for the throne.[1]

He came from a family of minor landed gentry in the village of Waddington, north of Clitheroe. But his grandfather had married Alice Grimshaw, from a family with much greater estates. The Waddingtons were now a more well-endowed family.

His father was a second son and had not expected to succeed to most of the family estate, but his elder brother predeceased their father without issue, leaving Raynold as the heir.

ALICE TOWNELEY was a widow when she married Thomas Waddington in 1475. We do not know her maiden name, or who her parents were. Nor do we know her date of birth, or where her family came from.

Her previous husband was John Towneley. He had had two previous wives: Isabella Butler, to whom he was married at the age of four, but whom he divorced when he was in his twenties, and Isabel Sherburne, by whom he had at least six children.

John is particularly known for having built the first Towneley Hall in the 1450s, during the reign of Henry VI. This earliest part of the hall can be seen in the South Wing of the present house. It was originally a tower house, 90 foot by 40 foot, with a basement and two floors above. There were buttresses at each corner. At the time it would have been the largest private house in Blackburnshire.

We have no precise information about the date of the marriage between Alice and John Towneley. The second Isabel Towneley must have died before 1462, because we have an indenture for that year showing that John’s wife was now Alice.

Alice took up residence as the mistress of the newly-built Towneley Hall.


Towneley Hall, South Wing[2]

n 29 Jun 1468 a letter of consorority was granted by Prior Richard and the Chapter of Durham Priory to Alice, wife of John Townley of the vill of Townlay. This was similar to another letter written the same day repaying the recipient “for the devotion of the mind and the affection of a sincere heart which he has and will have for them and their monastery of Durham, by admitting him to the spiritual brotherhood of the chapter and granting him special participation in all masses, vigils, fasts, prayers, (&c) and good works in the monastery of Durham and its dependent cells, in perpetuity, with prayers for him, just as for their other spiritual brethren, for all time after his death, once they have certain knowledge thereof.”[ii]

Clearly, Alice was a patron of the monastery. Her admission to the spiritual sisterhood of the Chapter is evidence of her piety.

A similar letter was granted to her husband John the following year, on 6 Jun 1469. Alice seems to have taken the lead in this, which John followed.

It is thus all the more surprising to find a document dated 5 February 1473/4 recording the excommunication by the Archbishop of Canterbury of Alice, late wife of John Towneley. No reason is given for this.

The grounds for excommunicating a lay person include, murder, kidnap, heresy and procuring an abortion. Most of these seem unlikely for the devout Alice. Abortion seems the most probable.

John Towneley had died in 1473. No children are recorded from this marriage. This seems surprising. Alice was clearly fertile, as her marriage to Thomas shows. John, too, had a number of children by his second wife Isabel.

We may speculate that, for some reason, John had become unable to father more children. If Alice found herself pregnant by someone else, she would want to conceal this. Or she may have become pregnant after John died, But this is pure conjecture.

In the ceremony of excommunication, a bell was tolled in the death knell, the Book of Gospels was closed, and a candle snuffed out. Hence the term “to condemn with bell, book and candle”.

Excommunication was meant to be “medicinal”, to bring the sinner to repentance and back into the fellowship of the Church.

Whatever the reason for Alice’s excommunication, it did not prevent Thomas from marrying her. Indeed, if our speculation about the reason for it are correct, then Thomas may well have been the father of her child.


Thomas and Alice are thought to have married in 1475 in Padiham.

They had at least three sons and one daughter. Thomas,.Agnes, Robert, Henry, Edward.

In 1485 the first Tudor king, Henry VII, took the throne.

In 1498 Thomas senior is recorded as Clerk for the Attorney . In the same year he was involved with leases in the family seat of Waddington and was party to the surrender of an estate in Padiham.

In 1500 there are references linking Thomas Waddington to estates in Broad Holden and Simonstone. These are both townships in Haslingden, 6 miles south of Padiham. Haslingden was the home of Thomas’s grandmother Alice Grimshaw.

In 1509 King Henry VIII succeeded his father.

In 1512 the Waddingtons’ son Thomas junior was seriously injured when a mob attacked the home of his employer John Banaster in the village of Waddington.

  1. 3. Hen. VIII. William Croydale, Thomas Wadyngton and Margaret Trope vs. Geggrey Starkey & others, Waddington, Yorks, Riot and Assault with intent to Murder. [4]

Complaint of William Croydale, Thomas Wadyngton and Margaret Trope of Wadington, Co. York. that Geoffrey Starkey of Whitewell, Co. York, Gent., Robert Adlyngton of Slaidboume, Co. York, Gent., Edmund Parker of Brusholm, Co. York, Yeoman, William Mawdesley of Slaidboume, Yeoman, and many others (named) of those Towns unlawfully and riotously assembled to the number of 140 persons and more, armed with bows and arrows, bills, spears, lances and swords and on 13th July 3 Henry VIII. came to Wadington to the dwellinghouse of John Banester, Gent. and pretended they would have slain the said John if they could have found him, but he was from home, but the said Margaret, servant to John Banester being in his house, heard great stirring of horses coming towards the gate and while she was trying to bar the gate, one of the said riotous persons attacked her with a spear and wounded her right grieviously through her arm and she cried out and make a great noise and the said Thomas Wadyngton then servant to Banestcr and William Croysdale a neighbour came to her cry .The riotous persons asked them where John Banester was and when they said ” from home,” smote them and sore wounded them and left them and Margaret lying for dead. Desire the said riotous persons may be sommoned to appear to answer the complaint.

Edmund Parker of Brusholme, one of the leaders named, was a cousin of Thomas senior through his mother Margaret Parker.

In 1517 Thomas senior was involved in the transfer of lands in Scaytcliff and Peneworth with Nicholas Rishton to his son Geoffrey Rishton. These are both in Accrington, 4 miles SW of Padiham.

The Rishton lands had belonged to Alice’s husband Sir John Towneley and Thomas held them in her right.

The Rishton surname comes from a small town between Blackburn and Accrington, close to Clayton le Moors, another Waddington family territory. In 1520 there was a land indenture concerning Rixton (or Rishton) near Haslingden.

Lands at New Hey in Huddleston, west of Haslingen, were inherited through Nicholas Rishton and Thomas Waddington’s marriage to Alice Towneley.


Thomas died about 1530. He is recorded as being of Rixton (Rishton) and Padiham. He also held lands in Burnley, Worston, Edisforth, Extwissell, all of which have connections to the Towneley and Parker families.

Worston and Edisford are close to Clitheroe. Extwistle is west of Burnley.

If Thomas and his family lived in Rishton, then it would have been in a house similar to the late 16th-century Parker’s Farmhouse there. Indeed, the name may have connections with his mother’s family. Ralph Rishton, of a similar age to Thomas, married Elizabeth Parker.

Parker’s Farmhouse, near Rishton [5]


We do not know when Alice died or whether she lived to see the Reformation of 1533. The Towneleys were fervently Catholics, and remained so after Henry VIII split with Rome. They suffered penalties as “recusants” who refused to conform to the new Church of England. Whether Alice shared these beliefs we do not know.

Their son Thomas junior married Joanna Greenacre.

Their daughter Agnes held Worston Mill in her own right. She married Ralf Dyneley. When she died in 1547 Ralf handed Worston Mill to her brothers Thomas and Robert.

Robert married twice, to Alice and to Margaret. We do not know the surnames of his wives.

Henry is said to have married Croasedal Haworth. There may be some confusion here. The surname Croasdale is particularly found in Waddington.

Edward married Elizabeth Padge and Eleanor Clayton.

Like his grandfather Robert Waddington, Thomas left his family richer by his marriage to a wife from a wealthy family.


[1] Most of this information is from Early Grimshaw Family History, anon. http://grimshaworigin.org/miscellaneous-grimshaw-individuals/early-grimshaw-family-history/
[2]  https://lancashirepast.files.wordpress.com/2018/03/dscn6083.jpg?w=616&h=462
[3] Durham Cathedral Archive: Register IV. Ref: GB-0033-DCD-Regr-4.
[4] Duchy of Lancaster Pleadings.-Vol. 20, No. 8c.
[5] © Copyright Chris Heaton and Licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.




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