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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)

Riley Tree



JOSHUA RILEY. In the late 18th and early 19th century the Skipton parish registers give an unusual amount of genealogical information.

At the baptisms of his children we are told that William Riley is the son of Joshua Riley late of Northowram, Taylor.

Northowram is a village 18 miles south of Skipton, on the outskirts of Halifax. We would not normally look for William’s baptism so far away.

Halifax is a substantial town on the River Calder. To the north-east, the Shibden tributary flows into this. Northowram stands on the north bank, 2½ miles out of Halifax, and Southowram on the south side.


The age we have for William at his burial puts his birth at 1759-60, though the age given for older people is not always accurate.

Before the building of St Matthew’s church in Northowram in 1913, its parish church was  St John the Baptist in the Coley district of Halifax. We find Rileys in the registers there and in the Presbyterian Heywood Chapel, founded in Northowram in 1688.

We have not found William’s baptism in either of these. There are pages of the St John’s register that are damaged, with many names illegible. William’s baptism is probably one of these.

What we do find is the following:

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

This matches exactly the information given about William’s father in the Skipton register and the date is similar. We can be confident that this is William’s father.

Research into Joshua Riley of Northowram is hampered by several factors:
The large number of Joshua Rileys in the Halifax area. There are five marriages in the 18th century before 1760.
The absence of the mother’s name from the baptismal registers, making it harder to separate families.
The number of illegible entries.

Possible candidates for Joshua’s marriage are the following:
Elland, St Mary
1739 Dec 9  Joshua Riley & Bettey (or Grace) Greenwood, of Halifax
Halifax, St John
1742  Joshua Riley, Taylor, & Martha Worrall,  North,  Spr
1759 Sep 6  Josh Riley, Taylor, & Betty Booth, Halifax

“North” in the 1742 wedding is short for Northowram. The occupation also matches William’s father. This would make William’s birth some 17 years after their marriage, but this is not impossible.

The Joshua of the 1759 wedding was also a tailor. If William’s birth was indeed in 1759, then this would make this later marriage problematic. But the ages of older people given in the burial register are not always accurate. He could have been born after Thomas, from the 1759 couple.

There are no further baptisms for children of Joshua Riley until the 1790s, but, given the state of the registers, this is not conclusive.

If the 1742 marriage is our Joshua’s, then his baptism is probably the following:

Halifax, St John.
1718 Jul 6  Joshua   David Riley  Hall (Halifax)  Cloath  (Clothier)

A clothier was someone who made or sold men’s clothing. This is very much the pattern for this family.

If we are right about Joshua’s being the baptism in 1718 to David Riley, Clothier, then he was the youngest of five, possibly, seven children. They lived, for at least a time, in Southowram, across the Shibden valley from Northowram.

We have not found the name of David Riley’s wife. She died in June 1720, when Joshua was only two. Her first name is not given.

Burial. St John the Baptist, Halifax.
1720 Jun 28  ux. David Riley   Hall  Clothier

If the marriage between Joshua Riley and Martha Worrall is the right one, then we are looking for baptisms after 1742, and in the neighbourhood of Northowram.

We have not found a baptism for Martha Worrall, who married Joshua Riley in 1742

There are four baptisms for the children of Joshua Ryley of Elland between 1740 and 1757. Elland lies to the south of Halifax, so these are less likely to be the family we are looking for.

More promising are the following:
Baptisms. St John the Baptist, Halifax.
1752 Jun 21  Hannah  Joshua Riley  Shelf
1755 Jun 15  Mally  Joshua Riley  Shelf

Shelf is the next village north of Northowram. in the Shibden Valley. In these days, few people owned their own house, and families moved between rented accommodation within a small area.

The William Riley who moved from Northowram to Skipton was a late child of this marriage, similar in age to Thomas.

On 12 Sep 1760 we have the burial of a daughter.
Burial. St John the Baptist, Halifax
1760 Sep 12  Martha  Josh Riley  Northm

We do not have Martha junior’s baptism. Like William’s, it is probably on a defective page of the register.

The family were again living in Shelf when the older Martha died.

Burial. St John, Halifax.
1792 May 31  Martha ux Joshua Riley of Shelf, Taylor
Ux is short for uxor, the Latin word for ‘wife’.

We have not found a convincing burial for this Joshua Riley.


[1] Northowram Historical Society.




Riley Tree