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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, and some go back 30 generations. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)


Bray Tree




ROBERT BONES.  Robert Bones’ death certificate gives his age as 59 when he died in December 1848. This means he was born around 1789.

The 1841 census notes that he was not born in Lincolnshire, though he was living there then. The fact that he was married in Kingston upon Hull suggests that he may have been from East Yorkshire, although the main clusters of this unusual surname are to the south of Lincolnshire, so it is also possible that he came from Cambridgeshire.


He called his eldest daughter Sophia. There is a baptism for Sophia Bones at St Andrew the Great in Cambridge on 3 July 1787. The parents were Jon and Mary Bones. But the only Robert Bones born in Cambridge around this time was in 1783, son of William and Amy. This should have made him 55, not 50, in the 1841 census, where ages were rounded down to the nearest 5.


There is a possible baptism in Chatham.

Bap. 1 Apr 1789, Robert, son of James & Susanna Bone, Chatham, Kent

No death has been found for Robert Bones in Chatham.

Bur. 4 Nov 1804, James Bone, Chatham


There were Bones who were also cordwainers in Durham.


He served in the West Kent Militia, so may have been born in that county. The muster of the second regiment WKM from 1803 included a number of men who had been prisoners of war in France and some volunteers from Gloucestershire, as well as Kent volunteers.


“When hostilities were resumed after the Peace of Amiens, the regiment was ordered to raise a second battalion at Ashford, Kent. Most of the men were volunteers from the Militia but they also received men enrolled under the Defence Act, in the county of Gloucester. This battalion served as a home unit during the war, most of the time quartered at Eastbourne and Pevensey.

The second battalion was disbanded at Chatham on 24th October 1814 (The 1st Battalion returned from France and was quartered in Ireland. They were sent to Jamaica in 1819 where they remained until 1827).” [edited]


It would be necessary to examine the parish registers of Chatham to see if Robert Bone survived and to look for any further information on this family.

No deaths have been found for Robert Bone/s in Kent in the years following 1789.

There was a marriage for Robert Bone to Elizabeth Lewis on 17 May 1807 in Lewisham, Kent. The surname may be significant. If this is James and Susanna’s son, he would have been 18.

I have found no burial for Elizabeth between then and 1811, when our Robert married Mary Dent.



MARY DENT was the daughter of William Dent and Elizabeth Hoyroy. She was born in Broughton, a village near Scunthorpe in Lincolnshire, in 1794-5.


The most likely marriage of Robert Bones is to Mary Dent in Saint Mary, Kingston Upon Hull on 6 May 1811. Marriages across the Rivers were common and many Lincolnshire/Yorkshire connections were made by people travelling across the Humber on the ferries for entertainment. It strengthens the likelihood of Robert being from Yorkshire.

At the time of their marriage both were living at Hull St Mary Lowgate

Frances, a descendent of Ann Bones, the younger daughter, says:

‘Robert was a Private in the West Kent Militia. He was stationed in Hull and possibly detached to do duty in Brigg area. He married Mary Dent from Broughton in Hull because his regiment were stationed there. Their first child William was born in Leeds in 1812 because the regiment was moved there and she must have gone with him when she was 7/8 months pregnant. (Presumably she walked behind the regiment)

He was still in the West Kent Militia in 1814, then became a cordwainer (shoe maker) in Broughton. I think he was from Chatham in Kent and joined the Militia in Maidstone (more research needed) I want to know if he was at Waterloo but no results so far.’

I’m told that the Robert BONES and Mary DENT who married at St Mary’s Hull 6 May 1811 were both listed ‘of this parish’ in the register (not certain, I haven’t seen it). It was also quite common for couples to marry across the river between Brigg and Hull. Remember also that there was almost daily trade between Chatham and Hull by boat, up the coast, the roads were awful, it was the only way things moved about.

I am tracing an oral history from our family which says that we have an ancestor Drummer Bones who fought at Waterloo. It’s not Joseph Bones of Billinghay …but Robert Bones was a soldier. My line of the family lived in Kirton In Lindsey and then moved to Woodhouse, South Yorkshire. I myself live in North Devon, so we are have moved all over the place! I am following a lead which suggests that Robert’s father was from Plymouth … Possibly also military.

Their first child appears to have been born in Leeds and baptised in a Methodist chapel.

Born. 24 Jun 1812 } William, son of Robert & Mary Bones, Oxford Place, formerly Albion
Bap.  27 Aug 1812}  Street Wesleyan, Leeds, Yorkshire)


It is very possible that this 1811 marriage in Hull refers to Robert and Mary Bones of Broughton and that they moved first to Leeds, where their first son William was born, before moving to Broughton.


At the time of the baptism of their first daughter in Broughton in 1814, Robert’s occupation was given as “Private in the West Kent Militia”.   After 1814 his occupation was cordwainer/shoemaker which suggests he underwent an apprenticeship before he joined the Militia.


Sometime between 1812 and 1814 they moved to Broughton, Mary’s birthplace. The West Kent Militia had been re-embodied in 1803 for the Napoleonic Wars, but disembodied in 1814.


There they had eight children baptised in Broughton between 1817 and 1836.


Sophia, 13 April 1817
Elizabeth, 17 December 1819
Elizabeth, 8 January 1821
Hannah, 27 November 1823
Robert, 29 August 1826
James, 6 March 1831
Joseph and Ann, 17 July 1836

The 1841 census shows that Joseph and Ann were not twins. Ann had been born two years earlier.


At the marriage of his daughter Sophia in 1838 Robert’s occupation is given as labourer.


1841 Census. Broughton, Lincs.

Robert Bones  50        Labr     No
Mary Bones     45                    Yes
James                  10                    Yes
Ann                      7                      Yes
Joseph                 5                      Yes

Five years later, we have a certificate for Hannah’s marriage to Joseph Bramley. She gives her father’s occupation as parish clerk. This is a surprising change for a labourer. Mary became a postmistress. It is possible that she helped Robert with the clerical side of the job.

Robert was buried in Broughton on 6 December 1848.


Three years later we find Mary as the keeper of the post office in Broughton. The children have left home and she is supplementing her income by taking in a lodger.

1851 Census. Broughton.


Mary Bones

Richard Helsey







Keeper of post office

Master, Boot & Shoemaker




The 1855 Post Office Directory shows Mary as sub-postmistress in Broughton. She remained the village postmistress until two years before her death.
In the next census she is living alone.

1861 Census. Broughton 

Mary Bones Head Widow 66 Postmistress Broughton


1871 Census. Wressal House, Broughton.

Mary Bones Head   78   Lincs

Nothing is known of Wressal House. It may have been a tenement house with multiple occupation.


Mary died in 1871 at the age of 79.


In the 1881 census their son Robert, at 53, is living at ‘Gooseberry’, Ripon, and working as an agricultural labourer. He is married, with one daughter at home. James seems to be married to Maria, and is also an agricultural labourer. They are living at Scawby, Lincolnshire, with five sons. There is no sign of Joseph.


Elizabeth lived to 100 and died around 1920.





Bray Tree