The Manors of: Thornton, Clayton, Scholemoor, Breary
At the time of the Domesday Book , Thornton and Clayton were sub-manors of Bolton Manor near Eccleshill. [See Midgley of Bradford]
Following the "Dissolution of the Monasteries"
 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.
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.
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 Carr[e] (probably Carr House, ENE of Headley Hall).
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.
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.
THE MANOR OF THORNTON
John James  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.
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..
His son John junior [b~1590, d~1642] was schooled at Bingley
and entered St. John's College, Cambridge in 1647 aged 21.
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
as in similar Achievements of the Midgley family branches
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. Edward was living in 1577 when he was a juror and had a son John, still living in 1672. 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 worksto 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
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 notmentioned 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
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 [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 1764 Mary died and the manor passed to her 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
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.
Thus Midgley Priestley, stone Merchant and local Wesleyan preacher
was born ~ 1828 in Allerton [West Bradford near the Haworth -Wilsden Road]
HORTON AND SCHOLEMOOR NR. BRADFORD
Burke's General Armory for Midgley of Scholemoor, Bradford is given as:
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].
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
* 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.
John Watson in his History of Halifax , 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.
THE MANOR OF CLAYTON
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]
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
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
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.
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..
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:
Copyright © Tim Midgley, 2000, revised 11th May 2021.
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