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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)

Priestley Tree




GEORGE PRIESTLEY was the son of Henry Priestley, baptised in Newchurch in 1663.[1]

Baptism. St Nicholas, Newchurch. Bishop’s Transcripts.
1663 April 20   George Priestley son of Henry Priestley.

The Newchurch registers are incomplete. Here, they have been supplemented by the Bishops Transcripts, but there are still gaps.

George was born three years after the end of the Commonwealth and the restoration of the Stuart monarchy under Charles II. The new king was the son of Charles I, who was beheaded after he lost the Civil War. The Puritan reformation of the Church of England was swept away. There was greater freedom for people to enjoy themselves. But Dissenters found worshipping together could be imprisoned or transported.


There are a number of references to Henry Priestley in the 1660s and 70s. Another son of Henry Priestley was baptised four months after George, unless this is a transcription error. It is not clear how many men of that name there were.

The Bishops Transcripts do not usually give addresses; the baptism register often does. Two later baptisms are attributed to Henry Priestley of Whitewell Bottom. The fact that the adult George lived at Foxhill, a short distance above Whitewell Bottom, makes it probable that this is his father. Whitewell Bottom is probably where George grew up.

Whitewell Bottom lies in the valley of the Whitewell Brook, a little way above its confluence with the River Irwell at Waterfoot.

George appears to be the oldest child, but the uncertainty about the number of Henry Priestleys makes it difficult to know how many siblings he had.

There is a similar uncertainty about his mother. The burial in in 1674 of Ann, wife of Henry Priestley, is probably his grandmother. That of Ellin, wife of Henry Priestley, in March 1675/6 may be George’s mother. She died eight days after the birth of another son.

George would have been nearly thirteen.

His father seems to have remarried. John, son of Henry Priestley of Whitewell Bottom,  was baptised in 1676, but we do not have the exact date.


George did not marry until he was thirty-three. By this time England had had another revolution. In 1688 Charles’s brother, James II, fled the country when William of Orange, his nephew and the husband of his daughter Mary, landed in Torbay. Both Whig and Tory politicians had invited William and Mary to take over the country, fearing that James’s newborn son by his second, and Catholic, queen, would return the United Kingdom to the Catholic religion. Queen Mary II died in 1694.

Two years later George married Annes Haworth.


ANN HAWORTH. Alfred Priestley, writing in 1923, says that the Priestleys came from Haworth in Yorkshire, home of the Brontes, about 1800.[2] This is clearly wrong. It is likely that he confused the name of Annes Priestley née Haworth, with the parish of Haworth.

In fact, there were a great many Haworths in Newchurch in Rossendale. There were at least four Ann Haworths of a suitable age to marry George.

Baptisms. Newchurch.
1664 Apr 17  Anna fil Johis Howorth of Wolfendenbooth
1666 Apr 22  Ann fil John Howorth of Akerhill
1668 Oct 18 Ann fil James Haworth of Bottom
1670 Nov 3  Anne daughter of Charles Haworth of Wolfenden.

At this time, most parish registers did not give the address, unless it was necessary to distinguish between two men of the same name. Unusually, Newchurch, and some other Lancashire registers, give an address for most baptisms, but not for marriages and burials.

Since the third of these Ann Haworths lived at Bottom, presumably Whitewell Bottom, she seems the most likely to have married George. But this is no more than guesswork.


The couple married on St George’s Day.

Marriage. St Nicholas, Newchurch. Bishop’s Transcripts
1696  April 23. George Priestley and Annes Haworth.

Again, we have to rely on the Bishops Transcript to supply a gap in the marriage register.


There were five children of this marriage baptised at Newchurch.

Baptisms. Newchurch.
1696 Nov 15 John son of George Priestley de ffoxhill.
1699/1700 Jan 1  George son of George Priestley de ffoxhill.

(Until the middle of the 18th century the new calendar year started on March 25. Dates from 1st January to 24th March were counted as being in the previous year.)

1702 Jun 28  An daughter of George Priestley de ffoxhill.
1705/6 Jan 28  Robert son of George Priestley of ffoxhill, Webst’r.
1709/10 Mar 12  Henry son of George Priestley of ffoxhill.

It is not clear why George’s occupation is given at Robert’s baptism. A webster was a weaver. Priestleys had been weavers in Rossendale since at least the early 16th century.

  Fox Hill Farm [3]
on the lip of the steep valley


Fox Hill is marked on an 1840s OS map. Fox Hill Farm is about 0.3 miles NE of Whitewell Bottom on higher ground. Apparently the existing building has no date stone but is said to be ‘old’ (going back at least to the 1700s). It has since been renovated. It is mentioned in ‘The History of Lumb’ by Jenny Nuttall. [4]

The register of Newchurch shows (1705-1707) that there were the following woollen workers in the Parish.
Chamber 2                   Dean 4             Carr 2                                                      
   Small Shaw 1             Lumb 2            Brex 3
   Bank End 1                 Foxhill 1           Deerplay 2                                                                                                                                        W.W. Bottom 2           Harrow Stiles 1”


Writing about the weavers, Jenny Nuttall says:

“Some of these were their own masters, and employed servants or journeymen, and owned more than one loom… Others owning their own loom, were employed in their own home by clothiers, receiving so much a piece for the cloth which they wove from the yarn supplied to them.”

It seems as though George fell into the latter group, working on his own, unless the weavers of Whitewell Bottom came up the hill to work for him.

These farms and cottages have large windows in the upper storey, which also served as a bedroom.” She quotes the example of Meadow Head Farm in Crawshawbooth:

“The downstairs portion consisted of three large sized rooms, but with the exception of one bedroom, the whole of the second storey was taken up with the loft, which was lighted by three large windows. It was bare in the extreme, the walls being white-washed, the roof unceiled and crossed by clumsy rough-hewn rafters.”

Fox Hill Farm does not appear to be constructed along those lines and George is unlikely to have occupied a farm. He probably lived in a smaller house nearby.


The coverage for the burial register is far from complete. There is a burial for George Priestly of Dein on 31 Mar 1729. Dean is 1½ north of Fox Hill, so this is possibly the same man. His occupation has been transcribed as “Miter Hey?”, which is difficult to interpret. If this is the weaver of Fox Hill, he was nearly 66.


We have found no record for Ann’s death.



[1] BMDs from Findmypast and Lancashire Online Parish Clerks
[2] A.H. Priestley, letter of 20 Nov 1923
[3] https://cdn.fineandcountry.com/property/7/50079962/IMG_50079962_12_hd.jp
[4] https://peterfisher.smugmug.com/History/Lumb-History-of-by-Jennie/i-FqQDmm7






Priestley Tree