This is a major branch of the Kelsall tree. It originated in Cheshire and then was established in Wyersdale, Lancashire at the end of the 17th Century. There are many trees on Ancestry that connect to John Kelsall and Elizabeth Cragg. At least one branch later migrated to Utah. Over several years I have been in contact with a number of people researching this branch, including Terry Kelsall, Annette Nelson, George and Pete Adamson, Alan Moss Collier, Guy M. Kelsall, Tom Kelsall, Denise Browning, Joanne Whittaker.

A descendant of this family, George Kelsall of Preston was killed on the Somme in 1917.

The history of these families in Wyersdale was researched by Julia Beedon in articles published in The Over-Wyre Historical Journal Volumes IV to VI, 1986-91. Locations of Quernmore and Wyresdale in northern Lancashire are shown below.


The early history from Julia Beedon is reproduced below.

For some three hundred years the family name Kelsall has been present within the Wyresdale, Quernmore, Dolphinholme, Bleasdale and Garstang areas.  For a considerable part of this period the family maintained strong links with the Society of Friends, the Quakers, and appear they have been one of the original Quaker families in North Lancashire.  From studying the family history of the Kelsalls it is apparent that the common ancestor of all Kelsalls known in this area was one Joseph Kelsall who was born in 1684 in the Covent Garden area of London. How he eventually came to settle in the Quernmore area is a rather interesting and complex story.

Joseph Kelsall’s father, John, was born in July 1650 near to the Delamere Forest in Cheshire.  His family probably originated from the nearby village of Kelsall from which the surname is derived.  John Kelsall was married twice, his first marriage to Hannah Leftwith of Staploe in Cheshire took place in 1680 but she died soon after giving birth to her only son, John in 1681.  The baby only lived for eleven days. John’s second wife was Elizabeth Cragg (born 21 December 1660), the fourth child of Thomas Cragg and his wife Jennet (nee Townson) and a great-granddaughter of John Cragg, the first curate of Wyresdale Chapel.

There is no clear evidence of how John Kelsall met Elizabeth Cragg, but he may have been one of those Quakers who were approved travelling preachers. If so, he may have met members of the Cragg family whilst visiting Friends in Wyresdale. Elizabeth’s mother, Jennet, had married Thomas Thompson, a Quaker in 1671 following the death of her first husband in 1668. John and Elizabeth Kelsall made their home in the Covent Garden area of London where John carried on a business as a tailor.  They had two sons, John, born 8 September 1683, and Joseph, born 9 September 1684 (5). Sadly the boys’ father died only one month after Joseph’s birth, 5 October 1684, and on 28 November 1685 the brothers were orphaned with the death of Elizabeth Kelsall from fever.

John and Elizabeth Kelsall were probably buried in the Quaker Burial. This Burial Ground was rediscovered in 1892 during building excavations and was reported in the Friends’ Newspaper and the London Press at that time. It appeared that the land had been used as a Quaker Burial Ground between  1675 and 1757 when the lease ran out and had subsequently been covered by a dense mass of buildings. Tthe Society of Friends was allowed to remove all the bones and over 500 skulls for re-interment at the Friends’ Burial Ground at Isleworth in Middlesex. There was nothing found on the Long Acre site that indicated the identity of any of the Friends whose graves had thus been disturbed, but there was speculation that they would have included those of John Kelsall and both his wives.

The orphaned brothers appear to have remained in the care of a nursemaid from the time of their mother’s death until news of their situation reached their grandmother, Jennet ‘Cragg’ in 1687. Jennet travelled alone to London from her home at Rooten Brook Farm in Quernmore near Lancaster.  She took charge of her young grandchildren bringing them back with her to Rooten Brook riding in panniers on the side of her horse. Jennet was 54 years of age at this time and the journey was certainly an extraordinary one for a person of her age and the fact that she undertook her journey alone.

The two Kelsall brothers were brought up at Rooten Brook where it became evident that John tended to be the more scholarly whilst James preferred the life of a farmer.  John was sent to schools at Abbeystead and Lancaster and to the Quaker Schools at Yealand and Penketh near Warrington (one of the ‘Dissenting Academies’).  On completing his education John became a schoolmaster at Dolobran in Wales before moving to work in Coalbrookdale in Shropshire.  Then, as a clerk to the famous Quaker ironmaster, Abraham Darby, he moved to Dolgellau in Merionethshire. He married Susanna Davies and they had a family of four girls and six boys. John was said to have had some injury or deformity to his foot which left him slightly lame for most of his life.

Further generations of the family in Lancashire are provided by Julia Beedon reproduced below.

Information from Denise Browning as well as Colin Richardson (obtained originally from Guy Kelsall and Steven France) provides that John Kelsall b 1593 or 1594 was the son of John Kellsowe and Alice Reade. This John Kellsowe was the son of Hugh Kelsall “of Eaton”, Cheshire, buried 10 Mar 1609. Other records online indicate that Hugh was born about 1540. (I have seen note that Eaton is near Kelsall; in fact the Eaton that I am aware of is near Congleton about 30 miles from Kelsall.) I have not independently found these birth, marriage, death records – but there certainly Kelsall families in the vicinity of Eaton in the 16th Century, notably at Gawsworth.

Quaker Family Beedon