Generation - Mary Heelis
Anthony Petyt’s wife Mary Heelis was
christened on 17 August 1737 in Skipton. Mary was the second youngest of eleven children
born to Edward Heelis and Leah Catterson.
had four sisters; Grace aged seventeen, Leah, aged twelve, Ann,
aged six, and Margaret who was only two years old when Mary was
born. As her father was a yeoman farmer of Skibeden,
her mother Leah may have left some of Mary’s care to her older sisters
Grace and Leah. These sisters may also have cared for Mary’s brothers
Stephen, aged seven, and Sylvester, aged four. Her three eldest brothers, William, John, and
Thomas, would probably have been involved in helping their father
around the smallholding, rather than childcare. Her youngest sister Elizabeth arrived when Mary
was two years old, and these two sisters with Margaret, being so
near in age would probably have been very close.
five of Mary's brothers were apprenticed by the Petyt Trust set
up by Mary's great-great-uncle Sylvester Petyt. In 1736 her eldest
brother fifteen-year-old William, was apprenticed with his grandfather
Stephen Catterson to learn Husbandry. Two years later Mary's brother
John was apprenticed at the age of fifteen to his uncle John Heelis,
Tallow Chandler in Skipton, Thomas was apprenticed in Broughton
with Robert Lepton, Scrivener in 1741. Stephen was apprenticed to
Edmund Gundry, Butcher and Farmer in 1744 and Sylvester was apprenticed
in 1750 to William Maude, Ironmonger.
Mary was ten years old her brother Thomas Heelis had already married,
christened his first daughter Sarah, and Mary had become an aunt. Thomas Heelis married three times in all, his
second wife being Anna Alcock. The Alcock’s were a landed Skipton family, and
lived for a time at Aireville House in Skipton, the site of modern
Aireville School. The Alcocks were also renowned lawyers in the
area of Skipton. Thomas Heelis may have met Anna Heelis through
his own training as a lawyer, or through Heelis and Alcock family
connections. I have yet to ascertain where Thomas Heelis
trained as a lawyer, but it is highly probable that he may have
trained in the Inner or Middle Temple in London. By the 1760s, Thomas Heelis was living at Skipton
Castle as the Steward of the Castle, and may have been employed
by the Lord of Skipton Castle. In the 1760s, the Lords of Skipton Castle were
the Earls of Thanet, and it may be possible to elicit more
information from the records kept at Chatsworth House about the
precise role of a Steward of Skipton Castle in the mid eighteenth
century. Thomas may have had the role due to his profession as an
attorney. However, Thomas also held lands of his own, probably inherited
from his father Edward Heelis. In 1764 and 1765, he leased Waller Mill and
Little Stirton bank to a William Walsh. Between April and July 1765 Thomas Heelis and
his family moved to Appleby Castle, probably to continue
work as a Steward for the Earls of Thanet there. On 3 July of that
year he leased land named the Cockpit Lane, barns, two orchards
and two messuages to a David Hall of Settle, schoolmaster. He seems to have remained in Appleby in 1774
and in that year transferred a farm at Stirton and Embsay, along
with a barnyard in Newmarket Street, to his brother John Heelis. However, he still retained some property in
Skipton, as in 1771 he was liable for ten pounds, eleven shillings
and four pence for a window assessment. This property must have been fairly substantial
and had plenty of light.
year later, before Mary Heelis was eleven years old, Mary’s older
sister, Leah, married Samuel Jennings in Gargrave on 7 October 1749. As far as I know, Leah was the first of the
Heelis sisters to marry. At the age of twenty-four, Leah was of
the right age to marry for middling yeomanry, but she would have
been classified as a spinster in the strata of higher county gentry.
Mary and Leah’s oldest sister Grace would have been nearly thirty
by this time and by the standards of middling, lower or higher gentry
would have been viewed as too old to marry. As I have not found
a marriage for Grace, it would appear that she had spent most of
her years caring for her younger siblings and had effectively given
up her opportunity to be married. Leah’s husband, Samuel Jennings,
was a mason and descended of a lesser branch of the Jennings family
of Ripon . This marriage may show that the
status of the Heelis family was of the lesser yeomanry.
1750, when Mary was about twelve years old, her eighteen-year-old
sister Anne married Thomas Whitham. Thomas was a Labourer, probably an agricultural
labourer. Extremely wealthy yeomanry would not have countenanced
such a marriage, so it is possible to conclude that the Heelis family
was only just in the yeoman strata of local Skipton society. However,
Thomas may have been the son of another smallholder, working as
a labourer to gain a living whilst waiting to take up his place
in his own farm. It is interesting to note that a George Whitham
rented a property on the North of Newmarket Street from a John Heelis
in 1751. This may be the father of Thomas Whitham or
his brother. It is possible that Mary’s sister Anne and her husband
started their married life in this property.
1753 when Mary Heelis was about fifteen years old, she lost her
older sister Margaret Heelis. Margaret died on 14 November 1753
aged eighteen. This must have been a great blow to Mary.
eldest brother William does not seem to marry in Skipton. By 1778,
William had moved to Bolton in the Moors where he was a butcher. In that year, William and his younger brother
John have inherited their father’s estates as ‘heirs in common’.
This seems a little strange, as the eldest son, it would appear
that William should have inherited the bulk of his fathers’ estates.
However, as William was the only son to have moved so far from Skipton,
he may have been estranged from his family. Or William may have
left the family home to carve a different career for himself. Whatever
the reason, William’s removal from the family home had meant that
his younger brother John had taken on the full brunt of work on
the family estates. It was perhaps for this reason that William
and John were made joint heirs in their father’s will. Initially,
John had worked as a mason, but appears to have taken over the farm
in Skibeden in the 1760s. As well as being a ‘Grazier’, John Heelis later
also became Steward of Skipton Castle in 1801, following in his
younger brother Thomas’s footsteps. He appears to have married twice. His little
sister Mary would probably have attended John’s first marriage as
an unmarried girl, and his second, in 1760, as a married lady. John Heelis was buried in Skipton Parish Church
on 23 March 1801, and his wife Sarah in May 1800. There are flagstones
in the church in memory of Sarah and John Heelis of Skipton Castle. John and Sarah’s son Theodore Heelis
became a wealthy man in Skipton and owned a tenement at the corner
of the High Street and Newmarket Street. In a sketch of the High Street in 1830, the
tenement is clearly shown as an imposing Georgian three-story building
with sash windows. This indicates that Theodore was a successful
and wealthy man.
brother Sylvester Heelis had set up as a Hardware man with his own
business by the time he was in his early twenties. At present, it is not clear whether he had his
own business or whether he was employed. It is also not certain
what kinds of goods he would have sold. A search of the business
directories for the mid eighteenth century may reveal more information.
It is possible that Sylvester also farmed as on 6 July 1772 a Sylvester
Heelis, yeoman was elected Parish Clerk for Skipton.Sylvester Heelis married Elizabeth Doidgson in
Keighley in 1753. Sylvester Heelis died on 22 December 1782 aged
49, and was buried in Holy Trinity Church Skipton. His wife Elizabeth was also buried in the same
grave on the 29 August 1780. There appears to have been a close
relationship between Sylvester Heelis and his brother John’s children
as two of these children, John and Leah, were also buried in the
daughter Margaret married James Moorhouse and their family later
emigated to New Zealand.
Margaret and James Moorhouse had a large family of eight children,
but only four daughters, Sarah, Mar
Mary and Grace and one son John survived.
married Thomas Kennedy Newton, a Cotton Manufacturer from Manchester,
in Gargrave in 1828.
Grace and Thomas's only son Thomas
James Kennedy Newton emigated to New Zealand and founded several
businesses in Napier in New Zealand.
James Kennedy Newton arrived in Dunedin, New Zealand in 1849.
Three years later in 1851 Thomas had moved to the Hawkes Bay, settling
in the 'town' of Napier.
He started several businesses in the area supplying both wholesale
and retail supplie. His first business was in Onepoto Gully which
was practically shingle at the time
Thomas bought grain from the Maoris and had two ships engaged in
this trade. He was a partner of Mr. Douglas in the Te Mahanga run
and as also in business with Mr. Alexander and Mr. Alexander Brown
and Mr. Irvine
He also purchased several large lots of land on which the City of
Napier now stands, and was a member of the Provincial council
Thomas married Margaret Craig on 7 May 1856, having already established
himself in several businesses
and Margaret had a large family of eleven children
Margaret died on 15 November, 1906, in Kawhia, Waikato, New Zealand
She was living on the farm of her two son's, Theodore and Charles
at Oparau, Kawhia which was pioneered by her son's, including over
2,500 acres of prime land. Thomas died ten years before her on 2
the age of eighteen, Mary Heelis married Anthony Petyt and proceeded
to bear him seven children. Mary Heelis, died on 15 November 1790,
aged 53 and was buried in Holy Trinity Church in Skipton.