MidgleyThe Manors of: Thornton, Clayton, Scholemoor, Breary & Alwoodley 

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 acquire 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  heraldic arms greatly increased, the treasury seeking revenue and the populace seeking elitism, social recognition or otherwise. The complexity, flamboyance 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, perhaps of Iron-age.

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

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's Priory of St. Oswald was among the wealthiest in Yorkshire with an annual income of 606 pounds at the time of dissolution. Ramsden took the Scholemoor portion, Lacy the Clayton side and Midgley took Headley. 


        Upper Headley Hall and Headley Lower Hall Farm on Headley Lane, Thornton, WRY. Late 1800's.


The Upper hall was built by members of this Midgley family in the Elizabethan style. It was strongly built for defence in this isolated and elevated position with a walled garden protecting the hall from the NE winds if not marauders. The Midgleys' were lords of the manor of Headley in the 1600's and were resident here long before3. John Midgley (b. ~1520, d.1579) appears to have been born of William Midgley [b.~1540, d. 1601] a yeoman farmer of Black Carre, probably Carr House, ENE of Headley] and of Headley Hall).

"At Hedley, or Headley, there is a fine old mansion in the Elizabethan style, with large and curiously- leaded windows and oak wainscotting. The western wing bears the inscription 'Wm. Midgley, 1589' Over the porch in the eastern part (which appears to have been added to the other), 'J.M 1604'.' Headley was for several generations the residence of a branch of the Midgleys . The estate descended with a moiety of the manor of Thornton to the Stanhopes." [History of Bradford and its Parish. James, John, (1866),  pp.339-340.]
                                                                                            Headley Hall, aerial view. 
 See An Elizabethan I indenture of 1593 relating to the transfer of lands in the possession of John Midgley [senior] of Headley in Bradford dale, deputy steward for the manor of Wakefield 1539-1540.

In 1557 William's eldest son also William of Thornton [d. July 1600] is recorded as being a juror for the district, jurors were people of local standing1. This William jnr. trained in the law as a conveyancer as was his younger brother John. 
William jnr. died in the year before his father. [WCR Oct 1639-Sept. 1640, xiii, citing W. E. Preston. Headley in Bradford-dale. The Bradford Antiquary New Series, VI, (1940), pp. 95-107.]


In the west wing of Upper Headley Hall is an inscription which states "W. Midgley 1589". A later inscription, "JM 1604", over the porch possibly reflects building enlargements of the period by John Midgley senior, later deputy steward of the manor of Wakefield.
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
William junior's younger brother, John Midgley of Headley was appointed deputy steward of the manor of Wakefield in 1639, during Charles I's reign, when Baron Pontefract, Viscount Savile, was high steward for life7. At this time the manor of Wakefield was passed from the Crown of Charles I to Henry Rich, 1st earl of Holland who transferred it to Sir Gervase Clifton shortly afterwards.
Viscount Saville would have been Thomas Saville b. 1590, d ~ 1659, who was descended from the Beaufort and Paston lines and an illegitimate Saville line from Sir Henry Saville of Thornhill. This was during the time of the then lord of Wakefield, Henry Holland (Lincs.), 1st earl of Holland who had Holland House and park built in London.

John the Younger son of William Midgley of Headley Hall, like his elder brother, William, trained in the law as a conveyancer. In 1601 John succeeded to the Headley estate after the death of his father as his eldest brother had died in July 1600. In 1615 John senior was joined by his son John in his legal practice where they were principally involved in conveyancing.


By 1602 John referred to himself as a gentleman. At the same time he considerably enlarged Headley Hall, Thornton. In the year before he was appointed deputy steward he became an armiger and lord of Thornton probably having acquired considerable lands in this district. [The Bradford Antiquary, issue 4, 1989. pp. 44-52.] The enlargement of Headley Hall occurred some time around 1604 to the eastern part of the house when the date with his initials were engraved over the porch door. 


'John Midgley senior was able in the way of business to acquire lands from impecunious neighbouring gentlemen including the Vavassours, the Sherburnes, and even George Savile of Thornhill. In 1638 he bought the right of the manor of Thornton from John Watmough.' [ WCR Oct 1639-Sept. 1640, xiii, citing W.E. Preston. Headley in Bradford-dale. The Bradford AntiquaryNew Series, VI, (1940), pp. 95-107.]

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, [senior, d. 1642] 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

"When in June 1968 I paid a fleeting visit to Headley high up above a steep approach I was disappointed at the neglected condition of the premises, especially were the outbuildings in a sorry state of repair. It still bears evidence of the fine mansion, in the Elizabethan style, it was when some generations of Midgleys resided there. The western wing bears the inscription 'Wm Midgley 1589' and over the porch in the eastern part, which appears to have been added to the other, is 'J. M. 1604'. It was obviously strongly built for defence in its isolated position. Among the striking features are a massive gateway flanked by a high wall. The iron-studded entrance door is of solid black oak and the wainscoting and ceilings within are of oak. The curiously leaded windows are said to be unequalled by anything of the sort to be seen in Bradford district.
The Midgleys occupied Thornton, Headley and Scholesmoor for the best part of a century. The manor of Thornton was held by Jonas Midgley in 1703. His son William was curate at Sowerby Bridge and died there in 1706. In 1704 Jonas Dobson was the owner and occupant of Upper Headley Hall while William Midgley, the lord of the manor, lived at Lower Headley. In 1715 the whole 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. The direct line of the Midgleys of Scholesmoor closed with the death in 1730 of John Midgley, whose wife was Bathsheba. daughter of John Hollings of Crossley Hall. He lies buried inside Bradford Parish church (cathedral) and a large monument marks the place of sepulture. All the Midgleys of Headley were buried inside the church at Thornton."[Midgleyana, pp. 49-49.]


On 24th October 1599 John Lacy (snr.) of Brearley sold the manor and lordship of Midgley to Henry Farrer of Ewood Esq. and John Midgley of Headley in Bradforddale. This included the capital messuage of Brearley within the manor of Midgley, the water corn mill of Brearley Milne, 3/4 of a water corn mill and fulling mill called Brighouse Milnes and all other lands and tenements in Midgley, 'Cheswelley', Brighouse, Rastrick, Brearley, Luddenden and Hipperholme.44 In the following year John Lacy of Brearley Esq., Henry Farrer of Ewood Esq. and John Midgley of Headley, yeoman, sold the manor of Midgley to Thomas Pilkington of Nether Bradley Esq. for 200 pounds. This sale included 3/4 of the water corn mill called 'Brighouse Mill' in Brighouse etc. The document was signed by Lacy, Farrer and Midgley.45

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  [senior, d. Dec. 1642] of Headley, was appointed as deputy steward of the manor of Wakefield.
The carving over the porch at Headley Hall, Thornton -
JM 1604 -  refers to this John senior. This was the home of the family, who were lords of the manor of Thornton from 1638 to 1715.
All the Midgleys' of Headley were buried inside the church at Thornton. [Midgleyana]

Upper Headley Hall with its courtyard entrance, walling and gate is a Grade 1 listed building designated as such in 1952.


John James [1841] points out that Sawley Abbey was endowed with the manor of Thornton in 18 Henry VII [~1503] by the Lacy family. This would have been lost to the abbey 45 years later during the 'dissolution'.

During the 1500's Thornton Hall was the residence of Sir Richard Tempest, a knight  of King Henry VIII. The hall was rebuilt in 1570 but retains a fire-place in the library from an earlier building. 
The manor of Thornton itself was held by the Lacy family of Cromwell Bottom until it was sold to John Midgley senior in 16383.
This manor was retained by this family until 1715 when it was sold by Josiah Midgley together with Headley Hall, where he had resided, along with the Headley estate.

Thornton Hall is reputed to be the 'Thornfield Hall', home of Mr Rochester in Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. The Bronte's resided opposite the hall on the higher side of Thornton Road near St. James'  Church. Like Kershaw House in Midgley, a wall in the garden of Thornton Hall possesses 'bee-boles' while there are also a set of stocks dating from 1638, the year John Midgley purchased the manor of Thornton, being appointed deputy steward of the manor of Wakefield in the following year..

See photograph of Thornton Hall

Although John Midgley senior was lord of the manor of Thornton, he resided at it's capital messuage of Headley Hall. In 1641 he 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 acquired the Scholemoor lands.

See Land Transactions for Midgley of Thornton and Bradford Dale 1597-1709.

His son John junior [b~1590,  d~1642] was schooled at Bingley and entered St. John's College, Cambridge in 1647 aged 21.
About the year 1641, Susan, a daughter of John Midgley junior, married John Murgatroyd, the owner of East Riddlesden Hall, Keighley which had an annual income of 2000 pounds. Their daughter Frances Murgatroyd married William Midgley, a lawyer of Halifax who as an armiger displayed his own Midgley coat of arms [Those once painted on the ceiling of Halifax Parish Church]. This William of Halifax was the son of William Midgley, yeoman of Roebucks, Warley and Broadfold Hall, Booth [b. ~1614, bur. 1695, St. Mary's Luddenden.] William of Halifax and Frances Murgatroyd's daughter, Mary Midgley [d. 1710] married Thomas Holdsworth of Ashday, Southowram.
In 1703 the Thornton manor was held by Jonas /JosiasMidgley, Lord John junior's youngest son.
See Lady Day Hearth Tax 

 Josias' 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  
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' the curate'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

Detailed descendancy:

The earliest member to form the Midgley line of Headley, Thornton and Scholemoor that can be identified is John Midgley possibly of Northowram who married between 1516 and 1520, with an estimated birth year of ~1495. His son, also John 'of Black Carre', later of Headley, Thornton and Clayton [b.~1520, d. 1579] married Margaret.

Upon John's death his lands were divided between his two sons Edward, who took the Clayton lands and William of 'Black Carre' who took Headley, Thornton. Both brothers were yeoman farmers. In the 18th year of Queen Elizabeth I [1577], Edward Midgley of Clayton was included in the Duchy of Lancaster [Barnard's Survey] when he was a juror and had a son John, still living in 1672.

There was also a  Thomas Midgley of Clayton is recorded as doing jury duty on 2nd September 161246 but it is not known where he might fit in the Midgleys of Clayton. Either way this line seems to have terminated. 

The other brother William Midgley, yeoman farmer, like his father was sometimes referred to as 'of Black Carr[e]' by whom he was given Headley Hall, Thornton. William completed extensive works to Headley Hall by 1589, only ten years after his father's death. The completion of the construction being indicated by a date-stone in the west wing with his name.18  This states 'W. Midgley 1589'. There is a later inscription, 'JM 1604', these initials being over the porch suggesting that William's son, John ('senior', d. 1642) was responsible for further enlargements to Headley Hall. '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.'19 In 1597 William's daughter Susan, married John Sagar when estates in Rimington, Netherdale and elsewhere were conveyed to William by the Sagars.20 William deseised his son Robert, who had become a clothier of Northowram, of 'a piece of the Great Close called Great Ynge in Blackcarre in the township of Thornton containing about three acres and so much of the west end of a close called Blackcarre Edge in Blackcarre aforesaid, for £29. ' Dated 16 Feb 1597. 21

In 1599 the Richardson family of North Bierley and Tong conveyed a messuage in North Bierley to William, his sister Margaret Midgley having been married about 1572 to Nicholas Richardson of Tong.22  William senior died in 1601 and was buried at St Peter's, Bradford, on 8th October 1601 'William Midgeley of Headley, eclesia' i.e. where he was buried in the church.23   

The next lord of the manor of Thornton seated at Headley Hall in 1601 was William's son John Midgley 'senior', this was because John senior's older brother, William had died in July 1600.  In the year 1593 there had been an Elizabethan indenture made relating to the transfer of lands that was in the possession of John Midgley [senior] of Headley in Bradford dale as mentioned previously. By 1602 John senior was calling himself  'John Midgley of Headley near Thornton' a 'gentleman' rather than a yeoman for by now he had been trained as an attorney and conveyancing lawyer.25 In 1615 he was accompanied in his legal practice by his son John Midgley, junior. 24

On the 9th April 1606, after confirming John Midgley senior's title to the land an 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

In 1634 John Midgley senior claimed four messuages, a cottage, five barns, five gardens, 200 acres of land, six acres of meadow, and six acres of pasture in Manningham and    Bradford from William Lister, gentleman, and Grace his wife.26

In 1639 during King Charles I's reign (1625-1649), John Midgley senior of Headley, Thornton was appointed deputy steward for the manor of Wakefield, this was a year after he had purchased the manor of Thornton from the Lacy family and John Watmough.27  It is assumed that John Midgley senior was armigerous in 1639. In 1584/1585 he is not mentioned as an armiger in Glover's Visitation of Yorkshire as he was still in his teens. Certainly his son John, junior and succeeding generations were. In 1609 John junior had entered St John's College, Cambridge, 'Midgeley, John. Matric. pens, from St John's, Easter, 1609. One of these names, s. of John, of Headley Hall,  Yorks., Esq., was adm. at Lincoln's Inn, Feb. 20, 1610-1611.'28 However, John did not read for a degree but as the entry indicates he was admitted to Lincoln's Inn to study law. By at least 1634 John junior was calling himself a gentleman. 'John Midgley, son of John M., of Headley, Yorks, gen.'29  A later reference for his son  John [d. 1669] shows that John junior was an armiger, i.e. he displayed a coat of arms.31 John Midgley junior worked as an attorney for his father from 1315 where he took his turn writing the court rolls for the manors while John senior was deputy steward, e.g. for Bradford in the honour of Pontefract, the sub-manor of Halifax, and Wakefield. 'John Midgley junior of Headley in Ecclesia'  was buried inside the Of St. Peter's Church, Bradford.30 John junior pre-deceased his father by sev3n months42 in the same year as his father's death thus the lordship of Thornton passed to another John Midgley [b. 1625, d. 1669]  which he inherited about 1642 at his father's death. This John was schooled at Bingley until 1647 when he entered St. John's College, Cambridge at the age of twenty-one.  However, on the 13th November of the the same year he entered Lincoln's Inn. 'John Midgley, son and heir of John M., late of Bradford Dale, co. Yorks, arm(iger)., decd.' 

In 1652 'John Midgeley of Headley in Bradforddale, gentleman' This John was involved in the transfer of property in part of the 'manor of Cromwellbottom and Southowrome, with messuages at Cromwellbottom in occupation of John Shawe, Lawrence Jackson, Nicholas Stockes, John Jepson, Mary Bairstowe, widow, William Haige, John his son, [blank] Hodgson, John Illingworth, John Ambler, and Henrie Hemmingway. Also properties in Halifax and Thornton, including Leaventhorpe Hall and Leaventhorpe Mill. Dated 20th Nov 1652.32

This Lord John of Headley died at the relatively young age of about 44, his burial record for 1669 describing him as a gentleman of Headley and Thornton rather than a yeoman for in 1647 he had entered Lincoln's Inn on 13 November 1647 - "John Midgley, son and heir of John M., late of Bradford Dale, co. Yorks, arm(iger)., decd."41 This was the same Inn of Court that his father had attended.

The lordship of Thornton finally rested in John's younger brother, Josias [b. 1631, d. 1718], who inherited Headley Hall and the manor of Thornton after 1669. This suggests that there were no sons by his elder brother John, who is not known to have been married.  However, Josias married in 1666 to Ann Blundell, spinster of Padiham, Lancs., aged 24.33 Ann died about 1673 without issue. Josias then married secondly to Elizabeth ?Hunter [d. 1709]. They produced one known child, William [dvp. 1706], who eventually became a curate/ vicar of Sowerby. It is recorded that on June 1, 1709 "Mr. Midgley's wife of Headley" is recorded as being buried.8 This may have been Elizabeth nee Hunter. In the 1672 Hearth Tax a Mr Jonas Midgley of Thornton appears as the most wealthy at this time with 8 hearths. Also in Thornton in this year a Mr John Midgley or Josias Midgley had two hearths, William Midgley 2 hearths, and Michael Midgley 1 hearth.

A Martha Midgley, spinster is recorded as having died at Thornton and been buried at Halifax on September 11th 1708.8 This is probably the sister of Josias Midgley, lord of Thornton.

In 1696  Josias Midgley of Headley passed to his son William Midgley of New House in Thornton, the manor of Thornton, etc., that had lately been granted to him by the will of his deceased brother John for £70. Dated 25th Aug, 1696.34

Eventually Josias, his wife and son William sold  estate lands to a Joseph Crowther of Northowram, gentleman and others named. This included the capital messuage called Headley in Thornton, and other messuages, described; to be sold for satisfaction of Josia's debts. 

In 1703 Josias of Headley and his son William, then of Sowerby, mortgaged the lordship of the manor of Thornton with its lands to a Robert Hainsworth of Thornton, yeoman and in 1713 sold Headley Hall to John Cockcroft an attorney of Bradford, gent.35

Franklin Midgley in Midgleyana states that in  1704 Jonas Dobson was the owner and occupant of Upper Headley, while William Midgley, the vicar of Sowerby and the lord of the manor of Thornton resided at Lower Headley2.

Midgleyana also tells us that 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. Barnsley.'3  * John James 1841 says  half share of Clayton and that John Stanhope had married Barbara Cockcroft, daughter of John Cockcroft.

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 Midgley.2 Over 900 acres of moor land alone were enclosed.

Josias died in 1718 at Halifax to where he had probably moved, being buried on Christmas Eve. Thus because his son William had pre-deceased his father, the lordship reverted to Josias, thus Josias was the last Lord Midgley of the manor of Thornton.

William Midgley M.A. [b. 1672, d. 1706]  had entered Jesus College, Cambridge, in 1689 to study for the Church. His entry in Alumni Cantabrigienses reads: 'Midgley, Wiliam.  Adm.  pens, at Jesus, Dec. 26, 1689. S. of Josiah, of Yorkshire, Esq. Matric. 1690; Scholar, 1691; B.A. 1693-1694; M.A. 1698. Ord. deacon (York) May; priest, 1699. V. of Sowerby, Yorks., 1701-1706. Died May 7, 1706, aged 34.'36

It is possible that the arms of Midgley became available at this time. With the death [dvp] of William in 1706 and the sale of the manor of Thornton by his father in 1715, the arms were available to be granted to another branch of the Midgley name, that of Midgley of Breary in 1709, Catherine Middleton's predecessors.

William married Elizabeth Waterhouse in 1695. They had three children, Mary, Martha [d. 1735] who had no issue and John Midgley of Scholemoor and Horton [b~ 1675, d. 1730].  Mary pre-deceased her father in 1704 at the age of about eight. There is a record for John Midgley of Scholemoor and Horton who died in 1730, son of William vicar of Sowerby.

John Midgley of Scholesmoor and Horton, a Bradford attorney [d. 1730] married Bathsheba [b~1687, d. 1736], formerly wife of John Hollings of Crossley Hall, Bradford.38  [See Scholemoor & Horton below] John and Bathsheba had two daughters, Mary and Martha. About 1740, the Lacys of Cromwell Bottom sold the manor of Clayton to these 'two maiden ladies' named Midgley of Scholemoor for  £1000.2  In 1704 Mary had died, predeceasing her father and as John the Bradford attorney had also died the manor passed to his sister Martha who, in 1778 left it in her will to the Rev Geo Cooke of Everton and his wife Mary.

In 1798 the manor of Clayton was sold to Richard Hodgson of Whetley, who left it in his will to his niece, Sarah Jowett.2 At her death in 1840 it passed to her cousin George Baron, then to James Atkinson Jowett and then to his family who still owned the manor in 1894 when the District Council was formed. Rents were due to the lords of the manor and were paid every year at Martinmas. Most of the land however was owned by Fosters of Queensbury, Francis Sharp Powell and the Hirst Family.37

      See all, hear all say nowt'
ll, drink all, pay nowt,
     And if ever tha does owt for nowt
     Allus do it for
             -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 greengrocer.10 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 cemetery.
John Henry had at least one child, Henry Midgley , b. 1891, d. 1911.  Henry's brother was Earnest who moved to the 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


Burke's General Armory for Midgley of Scholemoor, 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.

Hugh de Stapleton had held 4 carucates in Horton during King Henry II's reign. He also possessed through hisArms of Midgley of Scholesmoor, Bradford. overlord, Robert de Lacy, 20 oxgangs in Gt. Horton, 14 in Little Horton, and 6 in Clayton. [1 ca. = 8 oxgangs;  1 oxgang = 12 acres.] Likewise at Kirkby's Inquest (~1298) Jordan de Birill (Bierley?) held 10 oxgangs in Horton. In the Nomina Villarum [1315/1316] Hugh Leaventhorpe, son of William was lord of Horton. This later passed by marriage to the Lacys of Cromwell Bottom when Alice Leaventhorpe married John Lacy Esq. [d. 1532] of Cromwell Bottom..40

 The direct line of the Midgleys' of Scholemoor/Horton7 closed with the death in 1730 of John Midgley whose wife Bathsheba, married 21st  May 1719, wife 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].
John Midgley is buried inside Bradford Parish Church and a large marble monument marks the place of sepulture.38 From the inscription [left] the Latin 'Juris et Legum' indicates that John was an attorney.

We are told by John James in 1841 that a cartouche above the inscription had at that time the arms of John Midgley of Scholemoor viz: 'Sable, two bars gemels argent on a chief argent, three caltraps sable'.39 These arms are different to those given above in Burke's General Armory in that Or (gold) is replaced by argent (silver) and are yet differenced from William his father by reverting to caltraps again rather than stars.
On the 29th August "Mrs. Midgley [Bathsheba] of Scholes-Moor" died being buried at Bradford on September 1st 1736.8

* Martha Midgley of Scholemoor [b~1722, d. 1778], who married Samuel Lister, an attorney of Little Horton, had a daughter, Elizabeth who married Henry Hemingway attorney of Boldshay Hall. Samuel's son,  Samuel married twice, firstly to Mary Midgley of Scholemoor 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 Scholemoor on the 4th November 1742. 


The cartouche below is shown with the arms of John Midgley of Scholemoor and Horton as they may have appeared to John James in 1841. Note the tyger crest, sejant guardant and below the cherub, a collection of books.



"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 [1577], p. 153 recorded that a Mr. Midgley [Probably John Midgley d. 1730] of 'Scolemore' held  an ancient folio manuscript showing from the reign of Edward I that the Horton family of Horton flourished since that time.

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

Link:Bronte Country









From Norman times some of these lands in Clayton were held by the manor of Bolton which was centred around Bradford. In  1086, Domesday Book,  it was rendered as 'Claitone' being held by Ilbert de Lacy after it had been wasted during the great 'Harrowing of the North'. From 1160 - 1316 Clayton belonged to the following lords of the manor:

1. Hugh de Stapleton, Living 1122, 1141.

2. William de Stapleton, (William de Clayton) Hugh's son. Liv. 1135, 1141, d. 1155.

3. Jordan de Birill (Bierley?).

4. Hugh de Leaventhorpe. Liv 1324.


In 1324 Hugh de Leaventhorpe granted his part to John de Bolling, who soon afterwards gained Clayton's and Birill's portions. Between 1324 and ~1624 Clayton was held in the manor of 'Bolling' [Bowling] and their successors, the Tempest's (originally of of Bracewell, Lancashire) who were followed by the Lacys of Cromwell Bottom who gained it through marriage as mentioned above.12 Barnard's Survey of 1577 shows that a John Lacy was then lord of Horton.

In 1555 John Midgley [d. 1579] of Headley, Thornton, had dealings with Sir John Tempest of Bracewell, Bowling (Bollinge) and Clayton over seven and a half acres of waste land in Clayton.13  In the following year John Midgley again had dealings with Sir John Tempest over half an acre of waste land in Clayton.14 Then again in 1560 Tempest enfeoffed John with 4 acres and one rood of waste (un-used) land in Clayton.15

John Midgley Of Headley divided his estate between his two sons, Edward who took Clayton and William who took Headley, Thornton. Edward a yeoman, appeared in  Barnard's Survey of 1577, as a juror for Clayton, at the same time as William was juror for Thornton.16  Edward and his son John obtained a quit-claim to 12 acres of land in Clayton from Henry Bannister  the elder [Bannester] of Stake, in the township of Sowerby [Sowerbye], a clothier.17 A John Midgley of Clayton was assessed for "ship money" during the Stuarts' rule. This John may have been Edward's son who was living in 1672 which would be during the reign of King Charles II [r. 1660-1685]
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
Arms of Midgley of Clayton.
                 Midgley of Clayton

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 [d. 1579] of Clayton in 'Broadfordale' marrying a Nicholas Richardson of Co. Durham who moved to Tong in Yorkshire about 1561 [3 Eliz. I]. They are shown to have had three children, Ellen, Margaret and Richard and further descendants.11  Nicholas Richardson was of Tron [Tong], North Bierley and Woodhall. [Nicholas born Co. Durham d. 1616 was he son of Alexander Richardson of Drum, Kildare, Co. Tyrone liv. 1

DOWNLOAD : Gedcom for Midgley of Headley Hall, Thornton; Scholemoor, and Horton

 .Map showing Thornton in relation to family name connexions



Entries in Ralph Thoresby's Diary for the year 1702 show that on the 12th August he was visited by 'Mr. Midgley, of Brearey [Breary, 'Brearehagh'], and some other mathematicians from the country, desirous to see collections.' On the following day, 13th August, Thoresby 'walked over the Black-moor [Black Moor]; had Haw-caster-rig and Tuninghal (or hough, rather) hill, on the left hand, and Moor-Allerton, and the Street-lane on the right; to Allingley, (in old writings, Alwoodley), whence Mr. Midgley*walked with us to Eccup Moor and Adle [Adel - site of a Roman settlement], to direct to the place where the heaps of ruins were lately discovered. After a transient view went to the mill below; discoursed John Robinson, an intelligent person, who having occasion to plough a parcel of ground he had leased of Cyril Arthington, of Arthington, Esq. lord of the soil, was the happy occasion of this discovery of a Roman town, which by the ruins seems to have been very considerable ; they have got up so many stones, though they have dug no deeper than necessity obliged to make way for the plough, that they have already built therewith two walls, one a yard high and twenty seven rood long, the other a yard and a half high and fifty-two rood long; these are rough stones the foundations of houses, many of which were three or four courses high, un-demolished, being under the surface of the ground. We took as particular a view as the present circumstances will admit of, and found fragments of urns of a very
large size ; but what is most remarkable, are the remains of two funeral monuments, one has PIENTISSIMA, very legible; another a larger inscription, D.M.S. CADIDINIAE FOII-TVNA PIA V.A.X. (vixit annos x.)* I returned by Adle to see the head, which is all that remains of a noble statue the full proportion of a man : discoursed the old man who digged it up some years ago, as also a stone with an inscription, which I could not retrieve, but hope to have these brought hither in carts the next week, with one of the little mill-stones found also amongst the ruins not far off. I viewed a Roman camp which is yet very entire: there is another somewhat less upon the said moor, and a third upon Bramhope moor, which I had not time now to survey, it turning to rain, that we were severely wet ere we reached home, but putting on warm and dry apparel, got no harm, blessed be God !'43

According to Ralph Thoresby in 1714, 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


The 'Jonathan [Midgley] of Beverley 1712' in the above pedigree was three times mayor of Beverley and probably resided at the impressive Norwood House, Norwood, Beverley  built ca.  1765 - 1770 for the attorney Jonathan Midgley. The building was used by Beverley Girls’ High School until 1996 after which it remained vacant until at least 2008 when it was listed as an unoccupied building owned by the local authority and being a heritage building at risk. Also see East Yorkshire page for Jonathan Midgley. There is a sacrament certificate for Jonathan from St. Mary's, Beverley which is held by the E.R.Y. Archive Service [QSF/182/D/11] dated ca. 1753, indicating that he died at about this time..


                   Norwood House, Beverley, 2008                 Norwood gate posts and railings, 2008.

In 2008 the gates, gate piers and railings to Norwood House were listed as Grade I, CA with its condition poor with two pairs of stone gate piers, two  pairs of gates and wrought iron railings of ca.1780 enclosing the forecourt to Norwood House. In 2008 the gates and railings were rusting. The fire damaged library was repaired, but the remainder of the building was neglected for some time but is now refurbished and renovated  as shown today:

                                           The tastefully renovated Norwood House, Beverley today.  . 

References / Sources / Links:

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. 

12.  https://e-voice.org.uk/claytonhistorygroup/historical-dates/                                                                                                                         

13. West Yorkshire Archive Service.  FER/A/475.   

14. Ibid. FER/A/476                                        

15. Ibid. FER/A/477                                                                                             

16. James, John. The History & Topography of Bradford,  p. 108                                                                                                                                                                                                       

17. West Yorkshire Archive Service.  FER/A/48   

18. Ibid. PRE1/6/7; https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1111890                                                                                    

19. James, John. The History & Topography of Bradford. p. 340                                                                                                                                                                                                

20. Yorkshire Archaeological and Historical Society.  YAS/MD335/1/1/25/12.                                                                                                                

21. West Yorkshire Archive Service  FER/A/48                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

22. West Yorkshire Archive Service  68D82/6/6/c/88.                       

23. Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1512-1812 West Yorks                                                                                                                                                               

24. Wakefield Manor Court Rolls. Vol. 01, xiii.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

 25. West Yorkshire Archive Service SpSt/4/11/66/113 .                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

26. West Yorkshire Archive Service DB66/C1/64.                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

27. Wakefield Manor Court Rolls. Vol. 01, xiii.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

28. Alumni Cantabrigienses, Venn, p. 185.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

29. Admissions Register vol 1, 1420-1799 by The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn, p. 155.                                                                                                                                                    

30. Church of England Baptisms, Marriages and Burials, 1512-1812 West Yorks.                                                                                                                                                              

 31. Admissions Register vol. 1, 1420-1799 by The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn  'John Midgley, son and heir of John M., late of Bradford Dale, co. Yorks, arm(iger)., decd.'                                                                                                                                                                                                 

32. West Yorkshire Archive Service WYC:1525/1/4/6/1/10.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 33. Clay, J. W. (ed.), Paver's Marriage Licences, vol II Y.A.S (1909), p. 98.   

34. Barnsley Archive and Local Studies Department. SpSt/64728/26. 

35. West Yorkshire Archive Service SpSt/4/11/122/5; John James, (1841), p. 338.

36. Alumni Cantabrigienses, Venn, Vol 3 part 1, page 186.

37. Clayton History Group.

38. From a Monumental Inscription in Bradford Parish Church [St. Peter's Cathedral]

39. James, John. History and Topography of Bradford. (1841), p. 331n.

40. Ibid. p. 334.

41. Admissions Register vol. 1, 1420-1799 by The Honourable Society of Lincoln's Inn 

42. John Midgley senior died in December 1642, seven months after his son, John the younger. Wakefield Manor Court Rolls. vol. 1, xiii. 

43. Ralph Thoresby's Diary. Vol. 1, (1830).

44. Y.A.S  Record Series vol. 69:  Yorkshire Deeds, vol. 5, p.19.

45. Ibid. p. 20.

46. History of Bradford and its Parish. James, John. (1866), p. 113.


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Copyright © Tim Midgley, 2000, revised 9th January 2024.
                                      During the pandemic, Jesus was walking around Yorkshire, preaching, when he saw God.  Jesus asked: What are you doing here father? God replied: 'Workin' frum 'ome lad.'