John Wrightson of Stokesley

Thanks to  Thomas Leonard Wrightson 

[Photo Gallery]

Great-grandfather John was reputedly a good woodworker and made furniture for his
home. Some chests of drawers were in the house at Middleton Tyas as late as 1992.
It is perhaps fair to wonder why he abandoned his cart repair business. (See 1861
census. ) I would guess, knowing the state of North Yorkshire farming at that time
and North Yorkshire farmers, that it was bad debts. With seven or eight mouths to
feed, the regular wages of a gamekeeper would seem attractive. After promotion to
Bailiff, however, (see 1871 census) he left Mill Hill Farm in Deighton, presumably
amicably as he was presented with an inscribed silver coffee/tea service!
On first moving to Middleton Tyas, John and his family lived in *Rose Bank, a large
house now demolished and rebuilt. After his promotion to Estate Bailiff (Manager)
the family moved to *Forrester's Hall, an even larger house in the village. This also
served as the estate office. After retiring he lived in *Rose Cottage with his daughter
Mary Ann, who never married. I have been unable to find out when he retired, but it
was about 1908 when he was over eighty. He was a keen gardener who planted trees
along the church drive and he attempted to produce a black pansy. (His love of
gardening has shown itself in several of his descendants. )
There are stories about him of which the following will serve as an example. One day
Sarah said to him, "John, there is no food for the children, what shall I do?" "Do not
worry my dear" he replied, "the Lord will provide. II Later as she went to get coals,
there in the coal-shed was a brace of rabbits and a half sack of potatoes -the Lord had
The usual picture of John is of a hardworking, churchgoing family man, whose hobby
was gardening, but is this totally true? Some incidents seem to indicate that he could
be difficult. With the exception of Mary Ann, all his children took work away from
home. Thomas William was a journeyman, Francis left (allegedly after a series of
rows), Watson moved to Elsecar, Jane and Caroline to service jobs, Frederick first
went to Basingstoke, then to Thombury, Charles to sea and John to Loftus. This is
possibly not indicative of strong family bonding. I suspect that he could be somewhat
irascible and hence better avoided. Like many Victorians he did encourage the sons
to seek work other than on the land, but the daughters were sent to domestic
situations. He was undoubtedly a complex character, with fine judgement and, I
think, a sense of  humour, but he did not like being thwarted.
The photo of the Parish Council shows John to have been shorter than average.

TL W August 1996