William Staveley of Wensley, Yorkshire

The Aysgarth Staveleys are believed to descend from Francis Staveley of Wensley (later of Capplebank, West Witton) and his first wife Elizabeth, through their second son William (b. 1658).  William eventually moved to East Witton with his wife Dorothy, who is buried there.  East Witton has a long tempestuous history of Staveley inhabitants, with early quarter sessions records showing Staveleys were resident in the parish at least by 1611.  It is presumed that Francis Staveley of Capplebank, West Witton, is connected further back to the earliest East Witton Staveleys, but a concrete link has not yet been established.  Until evidence of Francis' parents or siblings is located, these early connections will remain unclear.

William did not appear to have as close an association with his father Francis as his brother Roger did.  Roger worked extensively with his father and worked most of his life on behalf of the Orde Powletts of Bolton Hall, following closely in his father's footsteps.  William however was something of a rebel compared to his brother.  He was hauled into the courts on numerous counts of recusancy, and also charged with failure to repay a debt owed to a George Ascough of East Witton.  It is known that the earliest East Witton Staveleys were devout Catholics, and locating all records of birth and marriage may not be possible. 

It is presumed that William's father Francis of Capplebank was himself a Catholic, though direct evidence of his faith has not yet been found.  However, it's clear that William maintained his Catholic faith, and was punished repeatedly for doing so.  The wife and children of Francis' grandson William were located in the Danby and West Witton Roman Catholic Registers.  This suggests that the Staveleys of West Witton and Wensley, like their counterparts in East Witton, continued to remain Catholic despite Henry VIII's Reformation of the Church.

William's connection to Bolton Hall was not as a business representative like his father or brother Roger, but merely as a tenant, leasing lands from the Orde Powletts for many years.  One of the accounts for the Bolton Hall Estate list some of the properties that William rented and this help to confirm previous suspicions this it was this William, his wife Dorothy and his children, that were inhabiting the parishes of Spennithorne, Leyburn and Thornton Steward over the years, all parishes close to East Witton.  One early account shows him as follows:

William Staveley at Harmby (near Spennithorne) renting:

Cross Leas
Hargill Close
Hargill Close Paddock
Sheep Gates on the Moor - £5

William Staveley at Leyburn renting:

West Shawle Closes
- £4.10

William married his wife Dorothy sometime around 1710 and they had at least four children:

William Staveley b. 1714 Wensley, Yorkshire
Mary Staveley b. 1715 Wensley, Yorkshire
Dorothy Staveley b. 1730 Spennithorne, Yorkshire
John Staveley b. 1730 Spennithorne, Yorkshire


William's family remained in the area until at least the 1750's.  It is thought that the last of the Staveleys permanently residing in Wensley occurred with the death of William's brother Roger in 1713.  William's son William (b. 1714) was baptized the following year in Wensley, and married Margaret Winne in Thornton Steward on June 7, 1742.  William and Margaret's first three children have christening entries contained within the Danby and West Witton Roman Catholic Registers:

Elizabeth Stavely b. December 19, 1742 d. bef 1751 Danby and West Witton Roman Catholic Register
Ann Stavely b.January 8, 1742/43 d. bef 1762 Danby and West Witton Roman Catholic Register
Jane Stavely b. December 19, 1745   Danby and West Witton Roman Catholic Register


There is also an entry for Mrs. Margaret Stavely on December 15, 1742, just a few days before the entry for their eldest daughter Elizabeth.

The remainder of William and Margaret's children were christened in Spennithorne and East Witton.

William Staveley b. February 12, 1747/48   Spennithorne, Yorkshire
Elizabeth Staveley b. November 17, 1751   Spennithorne, Yorkshire
John Staveley b. 1753 d. May 31, 1759 East Witton, Yorkshire
Mary Staveley b. July 9, 1756   East Witton, Yorkshire
Frances Staveley b. March 25, 1759 d. May 30, 1760 East Witton, Yorkshire
George Staveley b. May 31, 1761   East Witton, Yorkshire
Ann Staveley b. 1762 d. July 3, 1773 East Witton, Yorkshire


William and Margaret's son William was born in Spennithorne in 1748 and married Mary Firby in the neighboring parish of Patrick Brompton in 1772.  This family relocated to East Witton, where other members of the family were already residing, and it is there that we continue with their story.


Author: Clare M. Staveley


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