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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)



THOMAS HARRISON the younger was the only son of Thomas Harrison and Susanna Smythson of Skipton.

Baptism. Holy Trinity, Skipton
1684 Sep 28 Thomas ye sonne of Thomas Harrison of Stirton. [1]

It was his mother’s second marriage. Thomas grew up with an older half-sister and three half-brothers. Both his parents were from farming families in the townships of Thorlby and Stirton, whose hamlets lie on the road running NW from Skipton to Gargrave.

Thomas’s father was already 46 when his only son was born.


Some of the houses in Stirton today were originally farmhouses. They were built of millstone grit and the local Flasby Red stone. An old earthworks nearby may have been used as a cockpit. Tarn House, now a country inn, was originally a manor house, built in the 1650s.

Tarn House, Stirton [2]



MARGARET OLDFIELD.  Margaret was the daughter of Jonathan/John Oldfield, formerly of Halifax, and Ann Drake of Skipton.

Baptism. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1683 Dec 16  Margrit ye daughter of John Ouldfeild of Thorlby..

Margaret was the seventh of nine children.

She was brought up in the rural township of Thorlby, where we also find the Harrisons.


Thomas Harrison married Margaret Oldfeild in Skipton on 1 Oct 1712. Both were of this parish. Thomas was 28 when he married and Margaret 29..

Their family farm was at Thorlby. Seven children were born there. At all of their baptisms Thomas is said to be a farmer of Thorlby.

Baptisms. Holy Trinity, Skipton
1713 July 12  Susanna
1714/5 Jan 5  Thomas
1718 Dec 29  William
1721/2  Jan 16  Mary.

723  May 30 John .
On 1723 Sep 3 one-year-old Mary was buried
1725 Jun 1  Christopher .

Christopher lived only 3 years. He was buried on 21 July 1728. Less than a month later another son was born and named after the dead boy.

1728  Aug 4  Christopher 

Daniel Defoe, touring the country, wrote in 1724 of Skipton:

” We soon enter’d Craven, which is a very hilly and craggy Country, as the Name signifies; for Craven comes from this British word Craig, a Rock. But, however unpleasant, we proceeded farther North-west, and arrived at Skipton, a good, well-built Town encompassed with Hills on every Side. The Market is well frequented and supplied. Here is a large handsome Church, and a good Grammar-school ; to which one Mr. Petyt, who had been Principal of Bernard’s Inn, London, gave a considerable Parcel of Books, and likewise erected a good Library in the Church. We were agreeably surprised to find so handsome a Town, and such good Accommodations, in so mountainous a Country.”


Thomas died in 1742 at the age of 57.

Burial. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1741/2  Feb 23  Thomas Harrison Yeoman of Thorlby.

The word “yeoman” has been inserted into the original entry. This is the first time we have had it used about any of the Harrisons. He has previously been called a “farmer”.

Yeomen were farmers who owned land, freehold, leasehold or copyhold.

Thomas’s will was proved later that year.

At his marriage in 1743 to Ann Holmes of Kildwick their son Thomas is also described as a yeoman of Thorlby. As the eldest son Thomas would have taken over the family farm. This marriage is not followed by baptisms.

Meanwhile, their third son, John, moved to Manchester, where he worked as a tallow chandler.

Despite their having four surviving sons, we have found no evidence of Harrison grandsons of Thomas and Margaret born in Thorlby. Sometime in the 1750s or 60s their grandson Thomas, came from his birthplace in Manchester to live in Thorlby. He may well have been needed to take over the Harrison farm. He became a farmer of Thorlby, like his ancestors before him. He married Mary Petyt in Skipton in 1772.


Margaret survived the older Thomas by 33 years.

Burial. Holy Trinity, Skipton.
1775 Dec 9  Margaret Harrison widow of Thorlby

She had reached the good age of almost 82.



[1] BMDs from Findmypast
[2] https://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-o/01/f8/01/5f/tarn-house-country-inn.jpg





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