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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 my own as (1)


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There were Redferns in the civil parish of Alstonefield at least as early as the 1500s. [1]

In 1666 one Redfern, at least, had a house of some value.

Hearth Tax (1666) records for Totmanslow Hundred:
Under Alstonfield Constablewick, Fawfieldhead:
Robert Referne – Two Hearthes Chargeable;

and listed as ‘not being Chargeable according to the Act’, Thomas Redferne and Edward Redferne. These presumably had insufficient income to be taxed.

Fawfieldhead is in the Peak District  of Staffordshire, 4 mile SE of Flash where we find our Redferns in the 19th century.

Under Leek Constablewick:  ‘not chargeable …’ is John Redferne.


As so often with this side of the family, the Redferns had a history of non-conformity.

1678, Sep 1: William Clowes, Elizabeth Nadin, Edward Redfearn, Francis Nadin, Eliz. Walker, Jo. Ellisson, Tho. Brunt, de Bank top; Ric. Redfearn, de Flash.

Then again, in the ARCHDEACON’S COURT
1680, Apr 25: Tho. Launt, Allstonfield; Anne Redferne, Geo. Redferne, Tho. Redferne, Penelope Wood.

These dates are in the reign of Charles II, in the Restoration period after Oliver Cromwell’s Commonwealth. The Puritans had been particularly keen to root out Roman Catholicism, since they believed the Catholic Church wished to regain control of Britain. Charles, though an Anglican, was sympathetic to Catholicism. Any law which gave greater freedom to Catholics was also likely to benefit Protestant Dissenters. In 1672, Charles issued the Declaration of Indulgence, suspending by royal prerogative all penal laws against Roman Catholic recusants and Protestant dissenters. But the following year Parliament forced him to assent to the Test Act, requiring all holders of civil and military office to take the Anglican sacraments. It may have been the refusal to do this which led to the excommunications, and with it the loss of some civil rights.


Edward Redfern of Warslow was buried at Alstonfield 16 Jan 1684/5. Warslow is just under 4 miles S of Fawfieldhead.


Register/Rent Rolls
1750/1770 Flash Bottom     John Redfern was the occupier.

Flash stands high up in the hills south of Buxton. Flash Bottom looks like a farm just to the east of the road that goes south from the village, at the corner where it turns sharp west towards Quarnford.


Monumental inscriptions:
Here lieth the body of John Redfern of the Flash Bottom who died on ????? the 27th 1755 aged 78.

In memory of John Redfern late of Flash Bottom who departed this life December 28th 1799 aged 70 years.
Also John Redfern son of the above who died May 28th 1793 aged 31 years.

Also sons of the last named John Redfern who died in their infancy.
Also Sarah widow of the first named John Redfern died Jan. 12th 1815 aged 78

There is a wonderful description of them in a booklet on Methodism in Flash:

‘In the late 1770’s a middle aged couple, James and Sarah Redfern, kept a shop in Flash. A simple hearted, earnest Methodist, James held meetings around the door of his house and walked up Oliver Hill each morning to pray. Later on, when the Society expanded, he became a class leader. His memorial, a table-top one, can be found beside the wall between the Church and the farm.’


‘Sacred to the memory of James Redfern, who departed this life March 30th, 1799, aged 69years.
Mortals, survey this silent spot
Of all mankind the certain lot!
Here lies one good without pretence
With reason blest, and common sense.
Of manners sweet, averse to ill,
Studious to learn his master’s will,
Moveless endur’d affliction’s rod
Till his freed soul returned to God.
High in the fields of endless day
To Jesus pours the founding lay

Also Sarah, his wife, died March 5th 1810 aged 78 years.’

‘A house in Quarnford registered for protestant dissenters by Thomas Redfern in 1772 was evidently for Methodists, estimated by the curate in 1773 as numbering c. 40.  The meeting place was probably at Flash, where a Methodist chapel was built in 1784. A Methodist society there had c. 60 members that year and more than 90 by 1790.  Sunday services were held fortnightly in 1798 and weekly in 1802.  As other Methodist societies were established in neighbouring villages the size of the society at Flash declined, and by 1803 it numbered 56.  It remained the largest in the area, however, and the chapel was rebuilt for Wesleyan Methodists in 1821.  On Census Sunday 1851 the attendance was 80 in the afternoon, besides Sunday school children, and 180 in the evening.  Closed in 1974,  the chapel was later converted into a house.’[2]



n 1851 the family of William and Harriett Redfern were living at Back o’th Cross, Quarnford. Back o’th Cross is very near to the village of Flash. If you turn off the Leek to Ashbourne road towards Flash Village you will eventually come to the church on the left hand side. The road then forks. You can either bear left with the main street or go straight ahead along the little street or back road. This is where would the Methodist chapel was, and something called the ‘old chapel house’.

The minor road that leads east past the chapel down a long steep hill is known as Back oth Cross.

The baptism of William Redfern in 1800-1 has not been found in Quarnford parish church, or elsewhere in Staffordshire. It may have taken place at the Methodist chapel, where Redferns played a prominent part.

At the beginning of the 19th century, when William was born, there were two Redfern families with major farms.

1800-1810 Flash Bottom     John Redfern,  45 acres.
                    Greens                Elias Redfern, 37 acres.

In the half century preceding his birth there were a number of Redfern families having children baptised in Quarnford parish church. Unusually for this time, the Quarnford register tell us where they were living.[3]

Daniel and Martha, Hollins Clough
Robert and Sarah, ?Broron Brook
James and Sarah, Flash Head
Thomas and Ann, Whicken Clough
John and Sarah, Flash Bottom
Elias and Mary, Heifers Bottom
Thomas and Ann, Knotbury
Elias and Mary, Greens
Thomas and Mary, Greens
Elias and Elizabeth, Greens
Thomas and Ann, of or near Greens
Elizabeth, Brandside
James and Elizabeth, Cockett/Coquett Knowl
Thomas and Sarah, Knotbury
Richard and Jane, Flash
Richard and Jane, Wolfedge
James and Elizabeth, Borckin
James and Elizabeth, Turn Edge
Mary, Greens
Sarah, Flash
Richard and Jane, Overedge
James and Elizabeth, Thorn Edge
William and Elizabeth, ?Turnstone Edge
James and Betty, Turn edge
John and Keziah, Flash Bottom
Martha, Back of Cross

In the 19th century Wiliam and Harriet Redfern were at times said to be living at Greens, at the foot of the hill known as Back oth Cross.[4] They may be descended from Elias and Mary, Thomas and Mary, or Elias and Elizabeth.



[1] Early records, monumental inscriptions and some local information from Mark Priestley
[2] Alstonefield: Quarnford. A History of the County of Stafford. Vol 7: Leek and the Moorlands.
[3] Quarnford parish registers, Findmypast.
[4] Censuses. Findmypast.




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