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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 BRAY was 72 when he died in the small village of Beelsby on 2 Mar 1815. This gives him a birth date of 1742-3. The Beelsby parish register has no baptisms, marriages or burials for 1741, 42 or 43, showing how small a parish this was. There is, however, a baptism that fits very well in Covenham St Bartholomew, about 9 miles SE.[1]

On 21 Oct 1742 Robert Bray, son of  John Bray and Mary Darnell was baptised there.

Covenham St Bartholomew is a village on the eastern edge of the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Robert was the youngest of three children. There had been a previous child named Robert, born the year before. He presumably died in infancy. That left Robert with an older sister Jane.


MARY FOX. We know from the age at which she died that Mary was born in 1747 or the beginning of 1748. Again, there is no baptism for her in Beelsby. It has not yet been found in another parish.


There were a small number of Fox entries in the registers before their marriage, but Robert appears to be the first Bray in the parish.


Both were ‘of this parish’ when they married in 1771. Robert had moved from Covenham St Bartholomew long enough before this to acquire settlement rights in Beelsby.


The village of Beelsby is known for its legend that there is a stone in the middle of a local farm, called Molly Briar’s Stone. At midnight on the 21st of June each year, the ghost of a maiden is seen sitting on the stone milking a white cow.[2]

The couple were married in Beelsby on 26 Dec 1771. Robert’s occupation is given as a builder. The witnesses at the wedding were Francis North and Benjamin Kemmington, tailor.

Both groom and bride sign with a X.

When their first two children were baptised, Robert’s occupation is given as a labourer.


They had four known children.

Sarah was baptised in Beelsby 11 Nov 1772.
Jane on 20 Feb 1775.
Robert on 2 Dec 1779.
George on 20 Mar 1783

Beelsby Top  


In the early 1800s Robert Bray witnesses four marriages. He signs with a cross.


They lived through the reigns of four Hanoverian kings, and in Mary’s case five, the Jacobite uprisings, the loss of the American colonies and the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars.


Robert senior was buried on 2 Mar 1815. He was 72. This was the year Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo.

Mary lived considerably longer. She was buried in Beelsby on 4 Feb 1833, aged 85.


Robert junior became a farmer at Frodingham in Lincolnshire and married Elizabeth Lockwood. He died of pneumonia in 1851.

George became a cattle dealer in Caistor.



[1] Genealogical information from Lincolnshire Parish Registers on Findmypast.
[2] wikipedia






Bray Tree