The Stables Families of Pontefract
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 Martin Stables of
|To his son Henry Stables all messuages, cottages, lands and tenements in Knottingley.|
|To Mary the wife of Stephen Allan £50.|
|Executor: his son Henry Stables.|
|Witnesses: William Stables, Joseph Atkinson, Nathaniel Atkinson.|
|All his worldly goods to his wife Mary Stables.|
|Body to be interred at the discretion of Mr. Richard Shillitoe of Houghton in the parish of Castleford.|
|Richard Shillitoe to put her monies to the benefit of her sister-in-law Grace Stables.|
|After 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.|
|If her nephew William dies before his mother then Grace to have it outright.|
|Richard Shillitoe to have all reasonable charges that may be put to him concerning her debts.|
|To 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.|
|To Mary Sharpe daughter of Nathan Sharpe of Hipperholme Close one ??? now in the possession of Mr. William Mawee Cloth Dresser in Leeds.|
|Remainder of goods and chattels to her sister-in-law Grace, who is appointed sole executrix.|
|Witnesses: ? Langley, John Halliwell, Merry Stors|
£5 to the church.
Executor: Her nephew-in-law Richard Shillitoe of Houghton.
Witness: Elizabeth Crossley born of Radcliffe.
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.
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'.
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.