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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)

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GIDEON COWPE was the son of Gideon Cowpe senior and Alice Lyon.  He was the third of that name.

He was born in 1679, in the reign of Charles II, but the day and month of his baptism are unknown, probably because of the poor state of the register.

At the time of his birth, the family were living in Holcombe. This is a village south of Ramsbottom which was part of the large parish of Bury. The mother church was St Mary the Virgin in Bury, 4 miles to the south, but there was an ancient chapel in Holcombe, served by a curate.

Holcombe stands on the slopes of Holcombe Moor, an ancient hunting ground, with Holcombe Brook in the valley below.

Gideon was the youngest of three known children, but it is likely that there were more. There is a 5-year gap between the first baptism and the second and an 8-year gap between the second and Gideon’s birth.

Gideon’s grandfather, an older Gideon Cowpe, died when the youngest Gideon was two. He had been farming at Lumb Carr in Holcombe and it is likely that young Gideon’s father continued as a farmer.

But this third Gideon was a younger son. His elder brother, John, remained in Tottington, probably taking over the family farm. Gideon junior raised his family in the town of Bury, suggesting that he may have followed an occupation other than farming. At the time, the principal occupation in Bury was the domestic production of woollens. The Industrial Revolution had not yet reached Bury. Spinning and weaving were done by hand.


ANNE BARLOW. At the time of her marriage, Anne was living in Macclesfield in Cheshire. The wedding took place in the village of Gawsworth, 3 miles to the south. This suggests that this was the Barlow family home.

We have found two possible baptisms in the Macclesfield area.

Baptism. Astbury.
1673 Sep 29  Anna Barlow filia Ranulphi Barlow Labourer

Baptism. Northenden.
1682/3 Mar 4 Ann Barlow daughter of John Barlow.

Astbury lies 6 miles SW of Gawsworth.


Marriage. St James, Gawsworth, Cheshire

1704 Jun 4  Gideon Cowpe of Bury in Lancashire and Anne Barlow of Macclesfield were married by Licence.

The Bishops Licence has them both of the parish of Gawsworth, but this is clearly a mistake.

Bury and Macclesfield are 25 miles apart. We might have discounted this marriage, but the bride and bridegroom’s homes are explicitly stated.

We can only speculate about how they met.


The couple raised their family in Bury, during the reign of the last Stuart queen, Anne, and the Hanoverian George I..

Baptisms. St Mary the Virgin, Bury.
1704/5 born Mar 16  bapt Mar 20  Anne
1707 born May 9  bap May 10  ? daughter
1709 born Jun 10 bap Jun 16  Jon.  Abode: Bury
Jon. died aged 10 months on 22 Apr 1710. He was buried the following day.
1711 born Apr 22 bap Apr 25  Margt. Abode: Bury.
1713 bor Apr 12 bap Apr 19  Tabbatha.
1718 born Jul 23 bap Aug 6  Shusan
Susan died 9 months later, on Apr 3 1719. She was buried the following day.
The next baptism took place at St Mary, Radcliffe, just south of Bury.
1722 Aug 1  Henry.
Henry lived 3 months. He died on Nov 18 and was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Bury, on Nov 20.

Bury Market Square [1]

The present church replaces the one of Gideon and Ann’s time, but stands on the same site. It occupies a high point of the town and faces the market square. The statue of Sir Robert Peel now stands on the steps that once bore the market cross.

 Ann died on 30 Sep 1729. She was buried at St Mary the Virgin on Oct 1. She was in her 40s or 50s, depending on the date of her baptism.

On Apr 6 1729 we have the marriage at St Mary the Virgin of Gideon Coope and Margt. Smethurst.

At first sight, we might think that one of these dates is wrong and that this is a remarriage for Gideon, but it is much more likely that this is the marriage of another Gideon Cowpe, son of Jon Cowpe, born in 1705.

By now, Ann and Gideon’s older children had reached marriageable age. On 3 Feb 1734/5 Tabatha married the curate Mr William Ward at St Mary, Radcliffe, by licence

We have little information about what kind of people the Cowpes were at this stage. We do not know Gideon’s occupation. But Tabatha’s marriage to a clergyman suggests that they were of reasonably high social standing.

Gideon died on 25 July 1747, aged 68. At the time, he was living, not in Bury or one of its townships, but in neighbouring Radcliffe.

He was buried at St Mary the Virgin, Bury, on Jul 27.


[1] https://www.burytimes.co.uk/resources/images/3966320.jpg?type=article-full




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