The Kelsall Family of Audley

The following is extracted from The Kelsall Family of Audley published in the Audley Historian, Number 5. The connection to Audley was originally obtained from the family history of Richard Kelsall found in the LDS Ancestral File submitted by John McNamara of Queensland, Australia. John kindly sent me copies of materials he had obtained from Stella Meaton of Crewe, including George Kelsall’s petition and pedigree charts. In preparing the original article I was indebted to Pat Spode, Robert Speake and Stan Brassington of the  Audley & District Family History Society for obtaining and translating wills from Lichfield and for translating additional wills I had obtained from Chester. I also obtained assistance from many others including: Helen Kelsall Wilson, Margaret Pember, Ian Bailey, Robert Mayer, Ian Bloor, Joan Dobson, and David Kelsall. Full references are provided in the original article.

The Kelsall family tree in Audley prior to about 1720 is largely derived from the “ Kelsall Pedigrees”, a manuscript held by the Staffordshire Record Office. Information on later generations is obtained from a set of pedigrees used by George Kelsall in 1833 in connection with his claim for the estate of his grandfather, Richard Kelsall and from the history of Audley published by Richard Parrott in 1733.

The original Kelsall Pedigrees includes hundreds of family trees and this introduction.  “An alphabetical genealogy of all the persons which are in any whitt a near neighbour unto me as far I know or can get information of”. The original manuscript is delicate and not available for open inspection. This author commissioned a transcript of the sections relating to the Kelsall name in 1999. The Audley Family History Society holds hand-drawn copies of some of the pedigrees relating to Audley Parish, but their holdings do not include any Kelsall families. . According to Parrott, William Kelsall of Hall o’ Wood compiled the Kelsall Pedigrees between 1680 and 1690. In the Kelsall sections the latest dates written in the original hand are from 1711 while dates starting in 1714 appear in a different hand. William Kelsall died in 1720.

James Kelsall of Audley, Staffordshire (died 1583)

The Kelsall family in Audley was established by James Kelsall who “came forth of Cheshire”. According to Lysons’ Magna Britannia James was related to the Kelsall family of Bradshaw Hall in Cheadle.

The earliest mention of James Kelsall is his place on the Muster Roll of 1539. The Muster Roll was a list of 95 men who could be called to arms to help suppress a rising in the reign of Henry VIII. James is listed as possessing “a bill and a peir of splentes” (i.e. a 5 or 6-foot staff topped with a hook and spear head, and splints for tying broken bones).

According to the Kelsall PedigreesJames came to Audley and married Agnes and had by her Ellen who married John Smith of Park Lane…Then he buried Agnes his wife November 20 and married Joan Short he being 87 years old February 27 both 1563…”  Continuing from the pedigrees, “James was buried at Audley, August 29, 1583 being 107 years old”.

To the present author this longevity is not credible. At 107, James would surely have been one of the oldest people alive anywhere on earth; moreover he would been 93 when his son John was born in 1569! Nonetheless this ancestry has been reproduced in many online trees.




The Audley registers show two sons born to James, William (1565) identified as Vicar of Audley and John (1569). John’s will made in 1630 identifies him as a “nealer” (nail maker) and makes bequests to children, James, John, Anne and Joanne. John’s descendants may be traced through the wills of James and John and via the pedigrees and Audley registers.

William Kelsall (1565-1649), Vicar of Audley

Inscriptions at Audley Church show that William Kelsall was Vicar of Audley from 1592 (when he succeeded his father-in-law, Andrew Beech) to 1619, and in 1646 when he was ejected by the Parliamentary Committee together with his son, John, who was also his curate. The following entry appears in the Audley registers at the bottom of the page for baptisms in 1646:

St, James Audley (courtesy Brian Audley)

St, James Audley
(courtesy Brian Audley)

“Here William Kelsall and his curare John Kelsall were sequestrated and ejected for adhering to the King Charles I and King Charles II returning to his throne John Kelsall returned to his vicarage August 9th, 1660”

William’s baptism (January 11, 1565), and marriage to Ann (September 21, 1592), daughter of Andrew Beech (clericus, Audley) are recorded in the Audley registers. The following note also appears in the Audley registers: “April 3, 1646 – ends the handwriting of William Kelsall…He died in exile and was buried at Audley 1653”. William’s will was prepared on June 8, 1649 and the inventory refers to “William Kelsall, vicar of Audley, late deceased, taken August 16, 1649”.

William Kelsall’s will identifies three sons, William, John and Richard, and a daughter Margery who married Gabriell Smith. The inventory amounts to almost £21, the largest items being £5 for two young cows, £4 for his clothes, £2 for bedsteads, £2 for vessels of brass and £1 for one large swine. William’s son, John, succeeded his father as Vicar of Audley after the Civil War. John’s 1668 will refers to his two deceased wives (Margaret Brook and Elizabeth Haworth), and children John and Mary (who married Thomas Vernon). His inventory, not including property, amounted to £424, equivalent to over £30,000 in today’s terms; this included £160 in books, worth over £11,000 today.

Richard Kelsall of Balterley (1606-1683) and Dorothy Booth

William’s younger surviving son, Richard, was born in 1606 and married Dorothy Booth on June 10, 1628. Richard was a shoemaker. Most of what is known of Richard and his son Richard concerns the Hall o’ Wood estate.  This estate included a splendid Elizabethan manor house which has been restored and still stands near Balterley about 2 miles west of Audley near the A52 Audley to Nantwich road. According to a brochure prepared recently for sale of the property, the house was built in 1557 for Judge George Wood of Chester. From Speake’s history of Betley, we see from the Hearth Tax of 1666 that Hall o’ Wood was occupied by Mrs. Wood and was charged for six hearths. Richard Kelsall occupied another house at Balterley also with six hearths. It appears that Richard Kelsall became the first Kelsall to own Hall o’ Wood sometime between 1666 and 1681 when he prepared his will. After Richard Kelsall (1606-1683), Hall o’Wood passed down off the author’s direct line, first to William (1641-1720) the compiler of the Kelsall Pedigrees. The interesting history of Hall o’ Wood culminated in a lawsuit in the 1830’s.

Gravestone of Richard Kelsall at Audley

Gravestone of Richard Kelsall at Audley

Richard and Dorothy Kelsall’s deaths are recorded on reasonably well preserved gravestones set in the path in Audley churchyard. The inscriptions read:

“Here lyeth the body of Richard Kelsall of Hallmerend who dyed the 29th day of April 1683”

“Here lyeth the body of Dorothy Kelsall of Halmerend who dyed 24 Jan and buryed the 27th 1687”

Richard Kelsall’s will was prepared in 1681 two years before his death. The will leaves “the Hall of Wood and all lands, tenements…. appertaining with ..” to his son William, and makes bequests to his wife Dorothy, son Richard,  and grandchildren Smith, Mary, Ann and Sarah Childe, and Elizabeth Poole. The value of the inventory, not including any property, was £158.15s.

Dorothy Kelsall’s will was prepared November 17, 1686 a little over two months before her death. Her bequests were to her older son, William, younger son, Richard and grandchildren Sarah Kelsall, Ann Kelsall, Elizabeth Pool, Mary___, Smith Child, William Kelsall and Richard Kelsall. (John Kelsall on the author’s direct line was not born until 1688.) Dorothy’s will includes the following: “My will and mind is that the chest in the higher parlour shall be an heireloom to them that shall enjoy Halmerend House, and if any goods in the house are unbequeathed my will and mind is my son Richard shall have them.”  The house itself is not included in the will, presumably because it would have passed automatically to son Richard. Dorothy’s estate was inventoried at £206.10s, of which £165 was in bills bonds and obligations. Each grandchild was given between £10 and £30.

Parrott contains the following passage describing Richard Kelsall’s interest in coal mining.

“The next house on the south Halmerend Lane that is free land, did formerly belonge to one Mr. Cooke of Drayton, and about 70 years since [i.e. c. 1663] one John Viggers (nicknamed Thumper Viggers) bought it of Mr. Cooke. Viggers came out of Shropshire, from Rockardine.) He was a ground collier and became partner with one Richard Kelsall his neighbour in coalworkes under the Bretts in a piece of land called Scothay, where he got his money.”

Also, from the will of John Viggars of Halmerend (1594 – 1666/7), dated September 1, 1666:

And I give and bequeath unto John Viggars and Nicholas Viggars, my kinsmen, all tithe, chyme and interest in the coal mine or coal mines which Richard Kelsall, Edward Stubbs and I hold from the Mr. William Sneyd and Mr. Edward Brett the Younger

Thus, the Kelsall family was involved in coal mining from before 1666. The Richard named in the will is presumed to be Richard (1606 – 1683) since his son Richard would have been only 16 in 1666.   Richard Kelsall of Halmerend (1650-1718) and Catherine Sherratt (1648-1723). As related by Parrott, this Richard inherited Halmerend while his brother William inherited Hall o’ Wood. Richard married Catherine Sherratt and had 3 sons, Richard, William and John, at least one daughter, Anne (who married William Moore), and possibly another daughter Mary.

Richard’s epitaph appears on the same flagstone at Audley Church as that of his father:

“Richard son of the above written Richard Kelsall was also interred Feb 17th Ano Dom 1718 ano etat 68”

 The will of “Richard Kelsall of Halmerend, Yeoman” was prepared on the 14th January 1718. His bequests were to his sons, Richard, William and John, his daughter Anne Moore, John’s sons Richard and William, and his wife Catherine. Richard’s inventory taken 18th February 1718 amounted to £100. 9s, including £85 in money and bonds. Possessions are listed for the following rooms: the parlour, buttery, chamber over the parlour, and the shoppe. (One of the witnesses to the will was Joseph Berks. Richard’s grandson, Richard would marry Mary Birks.)

Catherine’s epitaph is also on the flagstone at Audley Church:

“Catherine wife of the above lait Richard Kelsall was likewise interred April the 18th Ano Dom 1723 ano etat 74”

Catherine’s will was prepared in 1722. Her bequests were to her sons, John and William, and daughter Anne Moores. The only grandchild mentioned is William “the son of my deceased son, Richard”. Her inventory taken April 17th 1723 amounted to £32.12s. 9d, and included £17 in money.

John Kelsall of Halmerend (1688-1746)

John Kelsall was occupying Halmerend in 1733 at the time of Parrott’s survey. The Kelsall Pedigrees show John Kelsall married Hannah Henbury while his brother Richard married Hannah Machin. Records available on line from Cheshire parish registers and marriage bonds show that John Kelsall of Audley married Hannah Henbury of Wybunbury in March 1712.

Gravestone of John Kelsall at Audley

Gravestone of John Kelsall at Audley

The burials of both John and Hannah are recorded on inscriptions at Audley Church:

“Here lyeth the body of John Kelsall of Hallmerend who was interred April 29th 1746 aged 58”

“Hannah the wife of John Kelsall was here interred Dec 1 1764 a.63”

John’s will was prepared April 6th 1746. He makes bequests to his wife Hannah, sons John, William and Richard, and daughters Sarah Kelsall and Hannah Green. The will makes cash bequests totaling £135 but Richard receives only a long table, cupboard and “flying Gun”. By comparison, John and Sarah as joint executors received £40 and £60 respectively. As the eldest son Richard would have inherited the house automatically.

The Move to Flintshire; Richard Kelsall (1713-1780) and Mary Birks

Richard Kelsall was born in 1713 in Audley, Staffordshire and was buried at Hawarden Parish Church in Flintshire on February 14, 1780. Mary Birks was born in Newcastle under Lyme and died in 1791 in Pentrobin (Buckley), Hawarden Parish. Richard and Mary were married at Newcastle under Lyme January 19, 1734.

Richard and Mary had 11 children, Richard, William, Mary, John, Joseph, George, Nancy, Sarah, Hannah, Ann and Robert born between 1736 and 1762. The first 7 children up to and including Nancy in 1750 were apparently born in Audley, and the last three in Mold Parish, Flintshire, probably in Bistre in present-day Buckley. The Mold Parish registers list three Kelsall baptisms from the period, all with father and mother Richard and Mary: Hannah baptised May 19, 1755; Robert, July 1, 1758; and Sarah, April 25, 1762. This would mean that the family must have moved between 1750 and 1755. In 1758 Richard Kelsall was occupying land “by Sandycroft” at Burntwood in Buckley.

Most of the children are known to have died in Hawarden parish, but some connections with Staffordshire were retained.

Richard, the oldest child born in 1736, married Sarah Shore in Madeley, Staffordshire in 1755. According to one of George Kelsall’s pedigrees, Richard died in Neston in 1764. One of his children, Thomas married Mary Edwards in Stoke in 1778 and had several children in Stoke.

Joseph born in 1746 stayed in Staffordshire (or returned) and married Sarah Mountford at Wolstanton in 1772.  Joseph and Sarah have many descendants in Hanley.

Richard and Mary’s ninth child, Robert Kelsall was baptised at Bistre July 1,1758 and died in May 1820. He is described in the Hawarden registers as a machine man collier. Mary Jones was born in Hawarden parish in about 1765 and was still alive at the time of the 1851 census aged 86. The Hawarden registers include 7 children of Robert and Mary, and examination of later census records suggests two more. The history of the Kelsall family in Buckley is posted here.