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)

Riley Tree



WILLIAM RILEY. We know from the baptism records of his own children in Skipton that William was the son of Joshua Riley of Northowram, Taylor (Tailor).

Northowram is a village east of Halifax in the Shibden Valley.

The present church of St Matthew is Victorian. Before that, the folk of Northowram used St John the Baptist, in the Coley district of Halifax. We have not found William’s baptism here, but in 1760 we have the following.

Baptism. St John the Baptist, Halifax.
1760 Jun 1  Thos son of Joshua Riley  Northm Taylor

This matches exactly the information about William’s father given in the Skipton register. It certainly looks very like William’s family.

William’s age at his burial would give him a birth date of 1759-60, but the ages of older people were not always accurately known.

The reason we have not found William’s baptism may be because parts of pages in the old registers become damaged or illegible. William’s baptism could be in one of these.

There are a number of baptisms for children of Joshua Riley in the years before this. It is not immediately obvious where a new family starts. In 1759 we have the marriage in Halifax of Joshua Riley and Betty Booth, both of Halifax.

More convincing is one in 1742.

Marriage. St John, Halifax.
1742 Jun 6  Joshua Riley, Taylor, Martha Worral, North, Spr.

“North” is short for Northowram, and “Spr” for Spinster.

At some point, William left Halifax and moved 18 miles north to Skipton. This was a considerable distance for this period. We do not know what motivated it. William’s son, William junior later moved a similar distance from Skipton to Burnley.


ANN BISHOP. Ann, on the contrary, was born in Skipton.

Baptism. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1761 May 31  Ann daur of Thomas Bishop, Hatter, and Sarah his wife, Skipton.

This is the occupation given for Ann’s father at the baptism of their children. Towards the end of his life, Thomas Bishop became a sexton and gravedigger.

We have not been able to find Ann’s mother’s maiden name.

Ann grew up in a family of five children, an earlier Ann having died previously. She was the third or the fourth of the surviving children.

Both their fathers were craftsmen.

William’s career ran through an unusual variety of occupations – mason, paper glazier, boatman and labourer. If it were not for the detailed family information in the baptismal register, we would have assumed that these were different William Rileys.

They married in the year of the French Revolution.

 Marriage. Skipton.
1789 Jun 22  William Riley, Mason, and Ann Bishop, Spinster. Both of this parish.
Both make their mark. X.
Witnesses: Geo Bishop, John Hall.

George Bishop is Ann’s brother.

We have the baptisms of seven children.

Baptisms. Skipton.
1790 Joshua  Born 1789 Nov 7, bapt 1790 Feb 7, son of William Riley of Skipton, Mason, son of Joshua Riley of Northowram, Taylor, and Ann Daur of Thomas Bishop of Skipton, Hatter.

The same formula is repeated in the subsequent baptisms, with differences in dates and occupation.

1791 Sarah  Born Dec 15, bapt 1792 Mar 4,  Her father’s occupation is given in one register as Mason and in another as Paper Glazier.

Sarah died on 20 Apr 1792. She was buried on Apr 22 at 4 months old at the west end of the church One register gives her father’s occupation as paper glazier, the other as labourer.

1793 Sarah  Born Feb 13, bapt Apr 21,  2nd daur,  Mason

On Apr 26 1795, the grief-stricken Rileys buried their two remaining children. The second Sarah died aged 2 on Apr 23 and Joshua on 24 Apr aged 6. Both died of smallpox, as did many others on this page of the burial register. They were buried at the west end.

Their father was a paper glazier, who put a glossy finish on sheets of paper.

The fact that the registers sometimes differ about William’s occupation may mean that he did more than one job at a time, picking up work wherever he could find it.

Four more children were born.

1796 Thomas  Born Jul 30, bapt Sep 28, 2nd son,  Paper Glazier
1798 George  Born Oct 10, bapt 1799 May 10,  3rd son,  Boatman
George, too, only lived two years. He died of ‘Hooping Cough’ on 4 Jan 1801 and was buried two days later at the west end of the church. His father was still a boatman.
1802 Joshua  Born Jul 22, bapt Dec 17,  4th son,  Boatman
1807 Elizabeth  Born Jun 2, bapt Aug 9,  3rd daur,  Lab

The Leeds-Liverpool canal opened in 1777 and William may have worked on one of the barges.

Boatmen on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal[1]

Although we do not have his baptism, we know from his second marriage that William Riley was the son of an older William Riley, and from the 1851 census that was born in Skipton in 1813-14. There were no other William Rileys raising a family in or around Skipton at this time.

A new baptism register began in 1813. The Findmypast scan of this looks as if it may not cover the whole page. If William junior’s baptism was at the top or bottom of the page, it may have been missed.

We have a burial for William senior in 1840.

Burial. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1840 Nov 15  William Riley  Skipton  Years 80.

We have not found Ann’s burial.


 [1] https://www.leedsandliverpoolcanalsociety.co.uk/boats-of-the-canal/





Riley Tree