Midgley The Manors of: Headley, Thornton, Scholesmoor, Breary Alwoodley & Clayton

At the time of the Domesday Book [1086], Thornton and Clayton were sub-manors of Bolton Manor  near Eccleshill. [See Midgley of Bradford]

Following the "Dissolution of the Monasteries" [1538] much land became available to local landowners and entrepreneurs. As they prospered some were able to aquire separate manors and became minor gentry between Calderdale and Airedale.
The monasteries had held many of the pedigrees to this time which were now deposited in the Royal College of Arms in London.
After this time the number of Arms greatly increased in number, the treasury seeking revenue and the populace seeking elitism, social recognition or otherwise. The complexity, flambouyance and variety of Arms of Achievement also increased, following Henry VIII's leading example.
See: The Midgley Arms and Crests

From the 1200's Nostell Priory, nr. Barnsley, held land in Headley and at this time there was an oblique reference to a fortified site here.

Three enterprising individuals, Midgley of Northowram, Lacy of Cromwell Bottom and Ramsden of Longley jointly obtained possession  of an area including Thornton Township formerly belonging to the Augustinian Priory of Nostell. Nostell [or St. Oswald] was among the wealthiest in Yorkshire with an annual income of 606 pounds. Ramsden took the Scholesmoor portion, Lacy the Clayton side and Midgley, Headley.

Headley is the main hamlet of Thornton & consists of Upper and Lower Headley. It may be the oldest settled area in the district as many funeral urns of Iron-age British origin have been found here. Originally some of these lands were also held by the manor of Bolton in present day Lancashire.

Headley Hall
The Hall is now a farm, having been built by members of this Midgley family in the Elizabethan style. It was strongly built for defence in this isolated position. The Midgleys' were lords of the manor of Headley in the 1600's and were resident here long before3.
In 1557 William Midgley of Thornton is recorded as being a juror for the district, jurors were people of local standing1.

 See An Elizabethan I indenture of 1593 relating to the transfer of lands in the possession of John Midgley of Headley in Bradford dale.

In the west wing is an inscription which states "W. Midgley 1589". A later inscription, "JM 1604", over the porch possibly reflects building enlargements of the period.
Among the prominent features are a massive gateway flanked by a stone wall. The iron studded entrance door is of solid black oak.
There is much old woodwork, particularly in the upper rooms where many are panelled with oak on the ceiling with oak wainscoting. The curiously leaded windows are said to be unequalled by anything of the sort to be seen in the Bradford District.
This Midgley family were mentioned in two military surveys, one in the time of Henry VIII and the other in James I's day.2
John Midgley of Headley was appointed deputy steward of the Wakefield Manor in 1639, during Charles I's reign, whilst Baron Pontefract, Viscount Savile, was high steward for life7.
On June 1, 1709 "Mr. Midgley's wife of Headley" is recorded as being buried8.
Mr. William Midgley near Bradford was buried on the 17th February 17148
Later "Mr. Midgley late of Headley Hall" is recorded as having died in Halifax, buried 24th December, 17188.

From documents found at Carr House Farm, Shelf were found the following9:
" 5 October 1600 Forty acres of land to be enclosed  .........an indenture made between the Rt. Hon. Gilbert, Earl of Shrewsbury, of Thornhill and Edward Savile Esq., of  the one part and John Midgley of Headley Bradford Dale, yeoman, of the other part. It concerns 40 acres of land to be taken in and enclosed of the waste or common of Shelf ... in any place or places now  lying open and not enclosed within these bounders following, that is to say between the water or brook dividing the township of Shelf and the parish of Bradford called Blackshaw Brook alias Howden Brook on the east and north part, the town or lordship of Northowram on the west part and the town or lordship of Hipperholme on the south part...
Landowners were careful to guard their mineral rights and the Saviles retained the liberty for sinking, forming and making pits for digging and getting of the same, coals, and necessary, sufficient and reasonable ways and passages ... to and from the said pits...
For his part John Midgley had to make an immediate payment of £72 and an annual rental payment of 13s. 4d. 'by even portions' at the Feast of Pentecost and St Martin the Bishop in winter.4 He also had to attend the Court Baron of Sir George Savile in the manor of
The Saviles were a powerful and wealthy family with homes at Rufford Abbey in Nottinghamshire and in London, although Thornhill Hall, near Dewsbury, was their chief residence during this period. Sir George Savile died in 1614 and there is a splendid monument to him, his wife Ann, and his son George, in Thornhill Parish Church. From 1639, at least, Shelf, as part of the huge manor of Wakefield, came under the jurisdiction of the Saviles, for in that year Thomas, Baron Pontefract, Viscount Savile, was granted office of high steward for life. In that year, too, John Midgley of Headley (probably the above John Midgley), was appointed deputy steward.
The carving over the porch at Headley Hall, Thornton -
JM 1604 - may also refer to him. This was the home of the family, who were lords of the manor of Thornton from  about 1638 to 1715.
9 April 1606 After confirming John Midgley's title to the land this
indenture describes the enclosures, as follows:

Enclosure\ Area   acres  roods  perches
Medley Field  0
or Rishebedd
(at head of
Medley Field) 

Brackonhill (or
(on south side
of Standege) 
10  0
The Meanfield  0
Parcel of
ground for
Parcel of
ground for
and others 
Gileshill  0
south-west of
3.5  0

Thornton Manor itself was held by Lacy until it was sold to John Midgley in 16182 although another source says 16383.
In 16383 The Manor of Thornton nearby was purchased by a local Midgley family (John Midgley's family2)  and retained by them until 1715 when it was sold by Josiah Midgley together with Headley Hall where he resided along with the Headley estate.
See photograph of Thornton Hall
John Midgley was Lord of the Manor of Thornton,  and in 1641 bought a 'little estate with messuage for 180 pounds2. John was also described as  a "gentleman of Headley" and Lord of the Manor of Thornton in the Court rules of Old Bradford in 16382 when he also aquired the Scholesmoor lands.
See Land Transactions for Midgley of Thornton and Bradford Dale 1597-1709.

Burke's General Armory for Midgley of Scholesmoor, Bradford is given as:

Arms- Sable, two bars gemel Or and on a chief of the second, three caltraps of the first.
   Crest- Heraldic tiger sejant, holding a caltrap between the paws.

Arms of Midgley of Scholesmoor, Bradford. His son John was schooled at Bingley and entered St. John's College, Cambridge in 1647 aged 21.
About 1641 a daughter of John Midgley married John Murgatroyd, the owner of East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley which had an annual income of 2000 pounds.
The Thornton Manor was held by Jonas Midgley in 1703.
See Lady Day Hearth Tax  His son, William Midgley M.A. of Headley was a curate at Sowerby Bridge, dying there 10th May 1706, aged about 60 of the "palsie" [paralysis]8. A Martha Midgley, spinster is recorded as having died at Thornton and buried at Halifax on September 11th 17088.
According to an inscription in Halifax Parish Church2, cut in a bluestone with a raised border, painted over* and fixed to the north wall of Rokeby Chapel is William's Achievement viz:

  Arms- Three bars and in chief three mullets (five pointed stars)
                                   Crest- heraldic tiger, sejant.
                                                                    * No colours determined but probably follow gold and sable
                                                                    as in similar Achievements of the Midgley family branches

In 1704 Jonas Dobson was the owner and occupant of Upper Headley, while William Midgley, the lord of the Manor, lived at Lower Headley2.

In 1715 the whole of the Headley Estate together with the manor of Thornton was sold by Josias Midgley to John Cockcroft, a Bradford attorney who had married Ann Ferrand.  "In 1746 Cockcroft sold it in two portions, one half with Headley to John Stanhope and the other to the Hortons"2.
This is confirmed and added to by: "In 1746 a half share in Thornton manor including Headley was purchased by a John Stanhope. Later the manor went to Walter Spencer- Stanhope of Cannon Hall, Cawthorne nr. Barnsley3".
Following the enclosure acts  which enclosed the moors and wastelands in 1771 the manor was dispersed. Records show that one of the largest freeholders of an enclosure allotment was made to a Miss Midgley2.
Over 900 acres of moorland alone were enclosed.
      See All, Hear All Say Nowt'
      Eat All, Drink All, Pay Nowt,
     And if ever tha does owt for nowt
     Allus do it for Thisen.
             -A Yorkshireman's advice to his son.

By 1800 there were only 23 dwellings in the township of Thornton and three of these were taverns!
Thornton is also known for its association with the Bronte family.Patrick Bronte lived here in 1815 before obtaining a more secure curacy at Haworth 3.
In 1838 William White recorded a Joseph Midgley as a boot and shoemaker resident in Thornton and Thomas Midgley as a greengrocer10.
See text file of Midgley of Thornton, 1881 census and I.G.I.
Francis Midgley married Mary Swain at Thornton [date unknown], at least one child, John Henry born 1858 U.S.A, died U.S.A. [date unknown]. John Henry Midgley married Isabella Simpson b. 1859 d. 1928 bur. Undercliff cemetary.
John Henry had at least one child, Henry Midgley , b. 1891, d. 1911.  Henry's brother was Earnest who moved to U.S.A., died U.S.A. 1952.
See emigrants to U.S.A.
More details contact- Derek Midgley

Methodism in Thornton
'After [1805], the [Wesleyan Methodist] Society seems to have died out and no trace is found till Abraham Midgley, a local preacher from the Halifax circuit, came to reside in the neighbourhood of Thornton. … A godly, zealous man, he continued [William Butterfield’s] labours as a local preacher, and continued to raise a Society Class at Thornton. ..by slow prayerful effort a class was established… meeting for some time in the house of the leader, Ab Midgley, and for about twelve months they were joined to the Illingworth Moor Society which belonged to Halifax. … After a time Abraham proposed holding preaching services in various houses. The day being fixed for the Sunday following, Abraham Midgley preached in the morning. Invitations were given by the members to their neighbours. Outdoor preaching took place in a lane during the summer months and shortly the friends were on the lookout for some room where services could be held. In 1815, Wm Spence built at Mount Pleasant three double-houses. The upper storey was made into a very comfortable room and taken for 10 years. A chapel was built and opened in 1825…
My successor in leadership was Mr Midgley Priestley, a local preacher who in the year 1885 stands second on the list given in the plan. This Mr Priestley is a descendant of the Abraham Midgley so honourably connected with the ‘First Class Meeting’ held in Thornton. He will be great great grandson and it is very gratifying to look back at the connection of this family with Methodist history in Thornton." - “Methodism in Thornton” by John Craven, 1885.

Information concerning Methodism and Methodist baptisms, marriages and burials in Thornton can be obtained at Brian Jones' site.

Abraham Midgley is Julia'a great grandfather's gg grandfather through Midgley Priestley's brother Henry. Midgley Priestley appears in the 1881 census:
Dwelling:    5 School Ridge
    Census Place:    Thornton In Bradford, York, England
    Source:    FHL Film 1342069     PRO Ref RG11    Piece 4468    Folio 128    Page 9
    Marr    Age    Sex    Birthplace
Midgley PRIESTLEY    W    53     M    Allerton, York, England
    Rel:    Head
    Occ:    Stone Mer (Local Preacher Wes)
Anne E. PRIESTLEY    U    20     F    Allerton, York, England
    Rel:    Daur
Jonathan PRIESTLEY    U    19     M    Allerton, York, England
    Rel:    Son
    Occ:    Scholar
Albert W. PRIESTLEY    U    15     M    Allerton, York, England
    Rel:    Son
    Occ:    Scholar
Mary PRIESTLEY    W    78     F    Allerton, York, England
    Rel:    Mother

Thus Midgley Priestley, stone Merchant and local Wesleyan preacher was born ~ 1828 in Allerton [West Bradford near the Haworth -Wilsden Road]
If you have any information concerning Abraham Midgley, the Wesleyan preacher at Thornton, please contact Julia
Contact: Julia Scott

Scholesmoor & Horton, Bradford.
The direct line of the Midgleys' of Scholesmoor/Horton7 closed with the death in 1730 of John Midgley whose wife was Bathsheba married 24th May 1719, daughter of John Hollings of Crossley Hall, Bradford. John's daughter, Martha* married Samuel Lister [d. 1752] 30th December 17077[presumably Martha was from a previous marriage of John's].
John Midgley is buried inside Bradford Parish Church [Cathedral] and a large monument marks the place of sepulture.
On the 29th August "Mrs. Midgley of Scholes-Moor" died being buried at Bradford on September 1st 17368.
All the Midgleys' of Headley were buried inside the church at Thornton.

* Martha Midgley of Scholesmoor, who married Samuel Lister, had a daughter, Elizabeth who married Henry Hemingway attorney of Boldshay Hall, Samuel's son,  Samuel married twice, firstly to Mary Midgley of Scholesmoor and secondly to Dorothy Lister of Shipley, his cousin. Neither union produced any children. In his will Samuel devised his estate to Samuel Lister Esq., Gentleman of Horton6. There is a register entry for Samuel Lister of Little Horton married to Mary Midgley of Scolemoor on the 4th November 1742.
The 1851 census for Horton shows the following:

Edward Smith, head of household, Wool Comber, 35 years old, born  Burnley, Lancs., married to Alice Smith (nee Midgley?) Wool Comber, aged 34 born Yorkshire. Children:
William  MIDGLEY Smith,14 years apprentice born Yorkshire
Thomas  Franklin Smith, 13 years works at factory, born Yorkshire.
Sideney Smith 11 years born Yorkshire.
Sarah Jane Smith, aged 5 years, born Yorkshire.
Earnest Charles Smith aged 1 year born Yorkshire.

The Midgleys' occupied Thornton, Headley and Scholesmmor for the best part of a century.

"In peace there's nothing so becomes a man,
As modest stillness and humility;
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger"
-Shakespeare, Henry V Act III, scene I

John Watson in his History of Halifax p. 153 recorded that a Mr. Midgley of 'Scolemore' held  an ancient folio manuscript showing from the reign of Edward I that the Horton family of Horton flourished since that time.

Link:Bronte Country

Arms of Midgley of Clayton. Clayton
The Manor of Clayton was sold by the Lacys' of Cromwell Bottom to two maiden ladies named Midgley of Scholesmoor for 1000 pounds2
Burke's General Armory and Thoresby's Topography both give the Arms and Crest for the "Midgeleys'' of Clayton viz:
Arms- Sable, two bars gemel Or and on a chief of the second, three caltraps of the first4
And Sable, two bars gemells Or, on a chief of the second, three caltrops of the first5.
                             Crest-Two keys in saltaire Az* wards down4

The crossed keys with their wards pointing down may indicate a profession as keeper of a water mill, a "House of Correction" or a workhouse. See Midgley's who ran a workhouse at Keighley.

Dugdale provides a pedigree showing Margaret Midgley daughter of John Midgley of Clayton in 'Broadfordale' marrying a Nicholas Richardson of Co. Durham who moved to Tong in Yorkshire about 1551 [3 Eliz. I]. They are shown to have had three children, Ellen, Margaret and Richard and further descendants.11

A John Midgley of Clayton was assessed for "ship money" during the Stuarts' rule.

In the 1500's Margaret Midgley daughter of John Midgley of Clayton married Nicholas Richardson of Tron, North Bierley and Woodhall. [Nicholas born Co. Durham d. 1616 was he son of Alexander Richardson of Drum, Kildare, Co. Tyrone liv. 1618.]

The Manor of Clayton was sold to Richard Hodgson in 1798 who devised it to his niece, Sarah Jowett2.

                                                     .Map showing Thornton in relation to family name connexions

Midgley of Alwoodley
It was Edward Midgley of Midgley near Halifax who was the progenitor of the Breary, and Alwoodley lines of descent of this family of Midgley.
Edward's grandson, John had a younger son, Thomas I whose son is known as Samuel I Midgley of Alwoodley Hall.. His sons were Samuel II Midgley of Alwoodley  b. 1712 and Dr. Robert  Midgley M.D. of London. Alwoodley descended to Samuel III Midgley who later became resident at Harewood.
Samuel III's sons, were John and Thomas II Midgley. Thomas II was resident at Harewood and afterwards Cookridge Hall. Thomas's sons were Samuel 'of the Crown Office' and Thomas III of Cookridge Hall. The latter had a son Thomas I Midgley.5

Midgley pedigree 1
Midgley pedigree 2

1. Barnard's Survey, 1577.
2. Midgleyana, John Franklin Midgley
3. Thornton in Times Past.  Alan Whitworth, Countryside Publications, Chorley, Lancs.1987.
4. Burke's General Armory
5. The History of Leeds or The Topography of the Town and Parish of Leedes and parts adjacent. [Ducatus Leodiensis] originally by Ralph Thoresby [1714] pp 21-22
6. Cudworth William, Noted Bradford Lawyers, Jour. Bradford Hist. & Antiquarian Soc. Vol.1 1938.
7. Dickenson's Register - marriages.
8. Dickenson's Register - burials.
9. The Bradford Antiquary, the Journal of the Bradford Historical and Antiquarian Society, 1989  issue 3, pp. 44-52.
10.White, William, History, Gazette and Directory of the West Riding of Yorkshire, 1838.
11. Dugdale, William. Visitation of Yorkshire, 1665, p. 50.

Home HOME                                                                     .Midgley Memorabilia

Copyright © Tim Midgley, 2000, revised 9th January 2018.