The Definitive History of the Surname STABLES in Yorkshire

Site Search by PicoSearch. Help

The Stables Families of Pontefract

The Aldermen

In the 1400s, Pontefract Castle became part of the Duchy of Lancaster and when they became Kings of England, the Castle became the most important Royal Castle in the North of England. Towards the end of the 1400s, Richard III used the castle as one of his official residences.

In the mid-1500s, Pontefract Parish Registers show the presence of a number of Stables families in Pontefract. They were gentlemen and quite important families, with significant land holdings in the area.

By 1596, William Stable, a gentlemen, had become an Alderman of Pontefract. His son Nicholas also became an alderman in around 1644. William's brother, Thomas Stable, also a gentleman, was an alderman from 1603 until his death in 1626 and a Leonard Stable was an alderman in 1666/7.

On Christmas Day 1644, parliamentary forces attempted to take control of Pontefract Castle, which was still loyal to the King. They laid siege to the Castle and Nicholas Stable, who was an alderman at this time, was besieged within the Castle. The siege ending two months later, on March 1st, 1644, when fresh Royalist forces arrived to relieve the garrison.

The Castle came under siege again in 1645, when the Royalist troops were starved into submission, and again in 1648, when the castle was re-captured by the Royalists.

Oliver Cromwell came to Pontefract in 1648 and made Knottingley his base from which to attack the castle, using the 500 barrels of gunpowder, 1800 cannon balls, six cannons and 3 mortars that he had ordered. Consequently, much of the town was destroyed, together with the parish church.

In 1649, parliament ordered that the Castle be demolished, to prevent it becoming a target for further sieges. By which time we know that Nicholas Stable was no longer an alderman. Up until this time, Pontefract had been the major trading centre in the North of England and had become one of the largest and most affluent towns in Yorkshire.


The following are extracts from the Wills of Stables Family members living in Pontefract and Knottingley in the 17th and early 18th Centuries.

Three wills between 1705 and 1723 refer to a Richard Shillitoe of Houghton, who appears to have been a very close friend of family at this time. In fact  the association between the Stables and the Shillitoe families began almost fifty years earlier (See The Shillitoe Connection for more information).

The Will of William Stables of Pontefract.
Dated January 25th, 1705.

bulletTo be buried in the same grave as his first dear wife Margaret.
bulletDwelling House, Kilns, Chambers, Barns, Stables, Outhouses, Foulsteads, etc.; 19 acres of arable land lying in several fields of Pontefract; One acre of meadows in the West field. Also six closes called Baghill. All my tithes in Blynd Hardwicke also Spittle Hardwicke unto William Stables my nephew now living with me.
bulletIf he dies before age 21 then above property to his sisters Elizabeth Stables and Ann Stables.
bulletGood friends John Dickson, Arthur Gurgrave and John Hollam of Pontefract and Mr. Richard Shillitoe of Houghton to have full power to dispose of his real estate and his nephew to be carefully provided for out of the profits.
bullet10 to each of his nephew William's sisters.
bulletTo the poor of St. Nicholas Hospital in Pontefract 20 shillings a year to be paid every Christmas to be taken from the interest on a legacy of 60 left to him by his dear father.
bulletI am indebted to Mr. Shillitoe in the sum of 100 for his security I mortgaged Baghill Closes aforesaid.
bulletUnto his sister Anna and nephew William all rights tithes and interest of the meadows arable and pasture grounds which were the lands of his mother in Whitgift and ?fleet in the County of York.
bulletElizabeth Stables sole executrix.
bulletWitnesses: Thomas Taylor, John Hollam, Richard Snowdon, John Pell.

The Will of Martin Stables of Knottingley.
Dated April 18th, 1716.

bulletTo his son Henry Stables all messuages, cottages, lands and tenements in Knottingley.
bulletTo Mary the wife of Stephen Allan 50.
bulletExecutor: his son Henry Stables.
bulletWitnesses: William Stables, Joseph Atkinson, Nathaniel Atkinson.


The Will of Leonard Stables of Pontefract
Dated October 16th, 1713

bulletAll his worldly goods to his wife Mary Stables.
bulletWitnesses: illegible.

The Will of Elizabeth Stables of Pontefract.
Dated November 30th, 1714.

bulletBody to be interred at the discretion of Mr. Richard Shillitoe of Houghton in the parish of Castleford.
bulletRichard Shillitoe to put her monies to the benefit of her sister-in-law Grace Stables.
bulletAfter the death of her sister-in-law Grace Stables the principal to go to her nephew William Stables the son of her brother Leonard and Grace Stables aforesaid.
bulletIf her nephew William dies before his mother then Grace to have it outright.
bulletRichard Shillitoe to have all reasonable charges that may be put to him concerning her debts.
bulletTo William Stables her nephew one box with silver in it and one silver Mugg and one History of the Bible in the possession of Mr. John Hollam of Pontefract her friend.
bulletTo Mary Sharpe daughter of Nathan Sharpe of Hipperholme Close one ??? now in the possession of Mr. William Mawee Cloth Dresser in Leeds.
bulletRemainder of goods and chattels to her sister-in-law Grace, who is appointed sole executrix.
bulletWitnesses: ? Langley, John Halliwell, Merry Stors

The Will of Mary Stables of Pontefract
Dated June 3rd, 1723


5 to the church.


Executor: Her nephew-in-law Richard Shillitoe of Houghton.


Witness: Elizabeth Crossley born of Radcliffe.

The Stables - Shillitoe Connection

This information was very kindly supplied by Lynn Alexander-Briggs, who is a descendant of the Stableses of Morley, near Leeds.

Richard Stables, a tanner of Tanshelf in the parish of Pontefract, had two daughters, Thomasina and Susannah (b.1629 Pontefract).

Thomasina Stables married George Shillitoe, a gentleman and one time Mayor of Pontefract, and Susannah Stables married his brother John Shillitoe in 1667.

In his Will, dated 1658, Richard Stables refers to Thomasina and George, and "their 4 children living and the child in her womb". These were Lucy (b. 1653), Gervase (b. 1656), Richard Shillitoe (b. 1658), Ann (1660-1667) and Isabel, all of whom were baptised in Featherstone.

It is believed that Thomasina and George's son, Richard Shillitoe, is the 'Richard Shillitoe of Houghton' who was mentioned in the Pontefract Stables Family Wills in the period 1705 to 1723. Richard was mentioned in his uncle John Shillitoe's Will in 1689, as being George's only child.

You can find out more about the Shillitoes on the Shillitoe Family History Web-Site.

The Will of John Stephenson of Swinefleet - Dated Jan 26, 1650.

He leaves to his daughter Dorothy, who married Leonard Stable of Pontefract, '200, to be paid by my executors when she come to age of 20 years. To my daughter Dorothie 50 more, to be paid out of my land, and if my heir pay not the same 50 when she shall come to the age of 21 years, I give her the 7 acres of land lying in Angram flatts, I purchased of Gregory Empson, to her and to her heirs for ever'.

The Will of Matthew Frank of Pontefract - Dated Sept 8th, 1658

Matthew Frank was Mayor of Pontefract in 1649 and was the son of John Frank, who was Mayor of Pontefract from 1600-1614. In his will he leaves 'William Stables, Tanshelf, 10, and my executor shall lend him 100 for three years after my decease gratis, and for five years after the said three years for 5 interest per annum, paying three score pounds to my executor'.

The Will of Nathan Drake of Pontefract - Dated Dec 2nd, 1658

In his will he leaves 'the rest of my goods and debts due unto me since 1650' to his daughters Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth married John Stables the son of Zachary Stables of Pontefract.

Send mail to Michael Chance & Andy Stables at with questions or comments about this web site.
Copyright 2004 Andy Stables
Last modified: February 08, 2014