The Warrilows of Paynsley

There are many long-established family-names in this district, whose members have formed the warp & weft of the history of Draycott-in-the-Moors – the Vavasours, the Shelleys, the Perrys, the Bostocks and so on.
Another one of these is the Warrilow family, and there has been some recent research on them – which we have now pulled together here.

Though the Warrilows were not rich, they are very old, were rebels of a sort, …and they stored hidden treasure…!
But they are also rooted here. In the 1891 census, Staffordshire had the highest population of Warrilow families of any county.

Disappeared hamlet

The Warrilows have a long history round here (perhaps as long as the Draycott family, which itself goes back to Norman times).
In fact, in his book on the history of Draycott, Matthew Pointon reminds us that in medieval times, there was a hamlet called Warelow here, part of the manor of Paynsley (i.e. in southern Cresswell).  We don’t know where it was though, and whatever settlement that was there is now gone of course.

We also know there were Warrilows round here then because another of our local historians Lev Wood found one in an old tax record. He tells us: “Adam Warrilow was living in the vicinity of Draycott in 1327, where he paid 2 shillings in tax for the Scottish War Levy.  And Adam is still there in 1332 paying the same in the Subsidy Roll.” (See these rolls at the bottom of this page).

But in the 16th century, misfortune hit this family.
Basically, King Henry VIII decided Catholicism was no longer to be the state religion, and anybody who decided to keep the ‘old faith’ would suffer.
As we know, the lords of the manor here, the Draycotts, were fiercely Catholic, and indeed, they did suffer, mostly through large taxation and ‘exclusion’ from public life. (See: the story of Anthony Draycott).
The Warrilows however, it seems, decided to stick with their lords; and they did not convert to the new Anglican religion, but stayed with the old Catholic faith.

The seventeenth century

The local Warrilows pop up again with mention of a John Warrilow in Draycott, dated 1607. And also, in the 1666 Hearth Tax, several families by the name of ‘Worriloe’ are recorded as living in the parish. (Spelling was often erratic up until modern times!)

The word ‘Warelow’ also gets a mention in a brass plate which can be seen in St Margaret’s Church to this day.

Tickeridge inscription at St Margaret's Church

Tickeridge inscription – as recorded by NADFAS historians

The old plate remembers Thomas Tickeridge who “departed this life at Warelow House in ye parish of Draycott” in 1658.
Warelow House no longer exists, but we do know that Thomas also lived at Paynsley Hall (in southern Cresswell) for a time, so, presumably, this house was one of the smaller houses on the Paynsley manor… and had clearly got its name from the Warrilows.

More ominously, Warrilows figure in 1641, when an official count of recusants (old Catholics) was made (with Philip Draycott at the top of the list).
This was not a list you wanted to be on.  By this time, most people had converted to Anglicanism and Catholics were regarded very suspiciously – almost as potential terrorists – so the list of recusants was small, only twenty-six long for the whole parish. But among these names was… John Warrilow.

Catholic centre

By the seventeenth century, the connection between the Warrilows and Cresswell gets even stronger.

We know there was a Joseph Warrilow (died 1764) who lived at ‘Leeshouses’ in Cresswell. (Leese House Farm still exists today – and has an interesting story of its own – see article).
It is this Joseph who is one of the characters in a story of treasure – see this story further down this page!

Paynsley 1880 survey map

The 1880 map of southern Cresswell. In the top left is Rookery Farm (mistakenly called Leese House Farm), just down from that is Leesehouses,  and in the bottom right is Paynsley Hall & Farm. The thick grey line is the main railway. (Double-click this image to enlarge it)

Remember that the land in Cresswell round Paynsley was all part of the estate of the aristocratic Langdales (and then the Stourtons), who had succeeded to it when the Draycotts had died out – so the Warrilows would have been tenant farmers to them. And the Stourtons were also Catholic.
So, interestingly, Leese House becomes a sort of semi-secret centre for Roman Catholics. By this time (the mid eighteenth century) Catholics are just about tolerated, though still not allowed to practise openly or hold public office.

Hidden treasure

By the early nineteenth century the Warrilows are also farming from a site 100 yards from Leese House – at Rookery Farm. (There is nothing left of this today except a cattle-shed behind Rookery Crescent in Cresswell). However, in 1846 a startling discovery is made at Rookery Farm: hidden treasure!

During repairs to the farm, a recess inside the chimney is uncovered and in it is an oak chest. This chest contains valuable church silver and some ancient priestly vestments.
It turns out that, back during the Reformation of the sixteenth century, royal officers were ransacking churches for anything valuable, so the Draycott Catholic faithful at St Margaret’s had secretly taken away such things and hidden them – probably in a chest at Paynsley Hall to start with.
However, when Paynsley Hall is sold in 1751, the local Catholic priest takes the chest with him to Rookery Farm; and asks Joseph Warrilow, a good Catholic, to hide it.

After the chest is found, the silver and vestments are given to the Catholic community at Leese House, but the chest itself is returned to St Margaret’s, where it can be seen to this day.

Old chest at St Margaret's

Old chest – now returned to St Margaret’s where it can be seen today

The farming Warrilows leave

The tenancy to Rookery Farm stays with the Warrilows; and another Joseph farms there until 1863, when his son John takes over – at which time Joseph and his wife retire to Eccleshall (near Stafford).  It’s possible too that the family then resided at Leeshouses which was on the farm estate.
But there, sadly, the story of the farming connection apparently ends. John and his wife Ann die young, in 1871, and their orphaned children go to Eccleshall to be with their grandparents.

Warrilow grave, CresswellHowever, other local Warrilows of course do go on.
Their steadfastness in the Catholic faith is seen in the Warrilow gravestones at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Cresswell (which was built in 1829, shortly after Catholics were granted freedom of worship in this country) – Elizabeth Warrilow’s gravestone (see right) is dated 1889, and William Warrilow, who died in 1901, is one of the last of the family-name to be buried there.

Further down this page, see lots of comments on this article. If you too have comments, please scroll down and use the message box at the bottom of the page.

++ References
If you want to walk to see the sites of Rookery Farm, Leese House and Paynsley Hall, a public footpath connects them all. See Cresswell Footpath.
You can see the 1880 map more clearly by clicking here.
The survey of St Margaret’s Church carried out by NADFAS is available to buy. See St Margaret’s publications
More Warrilows can be found in the ‘Draycott Parish Registers 1669-1900’ publication.
Fourteenth Century taxation rolls are pictured below –  thanks to Lev Wood for finding them.  (Adam Warrilow is listed here, but his name is spelt Warylowe) Draycott roll 1327

15 responses to “The Warrilows of Paynsley

  1. Warrilow's/Perry's

    I’m wondering if anyone can help with the Warrilow’s/Perry’s – I have a Hannah Perry (believed to be 5th great grand-aunt) daughter of John Perry of Breach Farm (Totmonslow?) and named as Hannah the wife of Joseph Warrilow (her siblings were John Perry and Mary the wife of William Fowler).
    I’ve located two baptisms for children at the Catholic Chapel in Cresswell, namely John (baptised 25 Aug 1799) and Thomas (baptised 24 May 1801).
    The only marriage I can locate at the moment for Joseph Warrilow/Hannah Perry is on 3 Jun 1798 at Whitmore. The marriage date does seem to fit with Hannah still being a Perry which she is recorded as, as a sponsor at the baptism of her niece Mary Fowler in 1786 and of course the subsequent baptisms of John and Thomas.
    I’m going around in circles at the moment with both her father John and husband Joseph so any assistance would be gratefully received!
    Jan Bennett


  2. In the course of tracking my Warrilow ancestors of Leeshouses (who were staunch Catholics) in Cresswell, I found that the Joseph Warrilow who died in 1764 was a Catholic Priest educated at Douai Catholic College in France, born in 1680 at Draycott,and ordained in 1702.
    As mentioned in a previous thread he lived in London, which is where he passed away.
    Also there is a William Warrilow, born 1738 at Draycott and studied at Douai before preaching in Newcastle Upon Tyne up to his death in 1807.
    On another note, i have studied the Draycott parish registers and have found about 60 burial records for the Warrilows, the majority listed as “popish” and buried on the northside (of the church). However there are no gravestones visible in the churchyard which is unusual.
    David Gregson

    ++ REPLY from Website Editor
    Hi David. As you say, Catholics were buried on the northside of the church, especially after the Reformation of the 1600s. The northside was traditionally the ‘less favoured’ point in a churchyard.
    One reason that there are few signs of Catholics buried here is that they were buried on the extreme northside, which later was developed as the church car park! The Catholics lie under the car park believe it or not.


    • Buried under car park

      REPLY from Website Editor
      Hi David. As you say, Catholics were buried on the northside of the church, especially after the Reformation of the 1600s. The northside was traditionally the ‘less favoured’ point in a churchyard.
      One reason that there are few signs of Catholics buried here is that they were buried on the extreme northside, which later was developed as the church car park! The Catholics lie under the car park believe it or not. Whether this was a deliberate act of anti-Catholic bias is hard to know.


    • Age for church car-park?

      Are there any memorial inscription records for this part of the churchyard prior to the carpark being laid down? Any idea of when the carpark was first in use?
      David Gregson


      • Local historian Matt Pointon has given us the details…

        Matt says…: The answer is that I cannot give a precise date as to when the car-park was built, but I can explain what happened.
        Catholics were buried on that site until around 1830. This ceased when the Rev. C. Sneyd Kynnersley (Anglican Rector) built the first official school in the parish on the site. The school opened in 1839 but the rector sadly passed away only two years later aged but 29. This school was itself replaced, across the lane, by a new National School in 1850 – the building that is now St. Margaret’s Church Hall – and the original-school building (a painting of which can be seen in the St. Margaret’s guidebook) – became a private cottage. This house was demolished in the 1970s but the plaque celebrating the school’s founding and the capstone with the date on it are both preserved at the back of St. Margaret’s.
        My guess is that the land was converted into a car park for the church soon afterwards, with most folk unaware of the land’s previous history as a cemetery. Certainly, by the time that I was a kid in Draycott in the early 1980s, it was a long-established car park.


  3. Another local family with Catholic connections were the Howe family of Leigh and Tenford
    stephen howe


  4. Thankyou to this website for the article! Always love hearing about the Warrilow connection.
    My 4x Grandparents were John Warrilow 1799 & Ann Wood, children Mary, William, Joseph, George, Jane, Harriet, John, Teresa and Mary Ann. My 3x Grandmother Mary Warrilow married Robert Fairbanks. I have John born 1799 to parents John and Ann but that’s as far as I get, major brick wall!
    Would love to hear from anyone connected to this family or have any further information.
    Nari Fairbanks



    • Lees Howses, Draycott, 1603

      I am working on a project for Staffordshire record office involving Church Court records.
      I have come across the names of John Worriloe the elder, age 78, and John Worriloe the younger, age 43, recorded as living in Lees Howses, Draycott in 1603. They were both witnesses in a tithe dispute on document reference B/C/5/1603/. This may be of interest to your Australian correspondent.
      Pete Gurney


  5. More Warrilows

    Has anyone connected the Warrillows of Draycott to the Warrillows of Brewood/Moseley/Bushbury in south Staffs?
    The furthest i go back to is Francis Warrillow 1753 – 1826. He died leaving £600 and is mentioned as a regular Catholic for decades. See:

    On another track I am looking at the family tree of J.R.R Tolkien’s wife who traces her family back to the Warrilows of Stone. Is there any connection there?
    Marie Griffiths


    • Francis Warrilow is mentioned in the will of Joseph Warrilow alias Horton, the Catholic Priest who lived in London til his death in 1764 aged about 90. Apparently Francis is the great nephew of this Joseph.
      So I would say the Wolverhampton Warrilows are descended from the ancient Warrilow line at Draycott.
      David Gregson


  6. Joseph Warrilow x 2

    I have a copy of a will for Joseph Warrilow (alias Horton) who died 1764, who lived at Leeshouses (Draycott) and had lived at Standon, Herts and St George’s parish in Middlesex. His estate is shared between the families of his brothers, William of Leeshouses and Thomas of Moseley. A copy is available to purchase on the National Archives website.

    Unfortunately I have not managed to pin down William’s family to my own Warrilow ancestors (yet!). I suspect that my Joseph (1758 to 1829) is the 18th century Joseph’s great nephew but Catholic church records don’t start until 1780 in Cresswell, so there is a “brick wall” at the moment.
    I am the gggg grandson of Joseph Warrilow who died in 1829. His grandson John took over the farm upon his marriage to Ann Lovatt. Joseph and Olive nee Bowers and their other children moved to Eccleshall.
    Sadly as we know, John and Ann died young leaving their 3 children orphaned in 1871. The 3 including my ggrandad John were brought up by their grandmother Olive in Eccleshall.
    David Gregson


    • Is Mary related to Francis?

      A search for a Joseph Warrilow 1758-1829 (farmer at Lees Houses, Cresswell) has lead me to this site etc.
      Joseph, i believe to be my G.Grandfather x 5 . As far as i have found out he had a daughter Catherine 1789-1843 ( my G Grandmother x 4). The 1841 Census Records place Catherine at Greenwich, London. I have Catherine’s mother down as a Elizabeth Warrilow (her Father was a William Warrilow who was married to an Elizabeth). So I’ve got Warrilow’s on both sides of Catherine’s parents .
      I was just wondering if anyone can enlighten me on Joseph ‘n William etc. Catherine married Henry Woodroffe 1817 at St George the Martyr Southwark London. They had a daughter Mary Francis Woodroffe, who married a Stanton, who was related to the ‘Cecils’. I’ve seen Francis Warrilow mentioned so I’m assuming this somehow reflected in Mary’s middle name – possibly a grand parent ? Can someone tell me?
      Regards Neil


  7. John Warrilow family

    Was Teresa’s father John and her mother Ann? Brothers William, Joseph, George and sisters Harriet and Mary?
    David Warrilow


    • Leese House Warrilows

      Hi David, this sounds like my lot.
      I have a record of nine children, Teresa being one of them born 1835, to parents John and Ann. They were living at Leese House from 1841 to 1861.
      Nari Fairbanks


  8. Fairbanks & Warrilows

    My Fairbanks ancestors were from Sharpley Heath (on the road between Cresswell and Hilderstone) going back to the 1700’s. My GGG Grandfather Robert Fairbanks was married to Mary Warrilow.
    Nari Fairbanks


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