Richard Sykes, gent.

was the father of HENRY  SIKES  (SYKES), gent. of Hunslet Hall (1601-1656) and the 8th great-grandfather of ELIZABETH ANN JOHNSON (1875-1948), mother of WILLIAM HENRY FLUEN (1906-1969).

He was born c. 1567 in Leeds being the son of RICHARD SYKES OF KIRKGATE, Leeds and SIBELL REAME.

RICHARD SYKES, gent. married Elizabeth Mawson at St Peter's, Leeds on 30. Jan 1594, and had children:
(1)   John Sykes christened 08. Dec 1593, will proved at York 04. Nov. 1622 & Dorothy Bynns, daughter of Edward Bynns of Horbury co. York
(2)   Mary Sykes christened 01. Feb 1595, will 18. Aug 1667 & John Barnard, Esq., mayor of Hull near York
(3)   William Sykes (1598-1599)
(4)   HENRY Sykes (SiKES), gent.  christened 25. Mar 1601, died 1656 &

(5)   Richard Sykes christened in Leeds on 24. July 1603, died 10. Jan 1652 in Clerkenwell, London; rector of Kirkheaton & Grace Stock, daughter of Alexander Stock, rector of Kirkheaton
(6)   William Sykes christened in Leeds on 10. Feb 1605, died 1652 as prisoner at York Castle (leader of rebellion against payment of tithes in Knottingley);
joint proprietor of the manor of Leeds & Grace Jenkinson, daughter of Josias Jenkinson of Leeds; her husband divised his manors of Oswaldwick and Pocklington co. York and half of the manor of Kirkmerrington to her
(7)   James Sykes christened in Leeds on 25. Oct 1608, died 30. Oct 1608
(8)   Elizabeth
Sykes christened in Leeds on 25. Oct 1608 & John Taylor of York, merchant
(9)   Sybil
Sykes christened in Leeds on 23. Jun 1611, died 19. Aug 1668 & William Dobson, Esq., mayor of Hull near York
(10)  Rebecca
Sykes christened in Leeds on 04. Sept 1614

RICHARD SYKES, gent. was esteemed one of the most eminent cloth merchants in Yorkshire respectively Leeds. He built at first this house on Briggate no. 56 in Leeds (picture), and purchased jointly with others the manor of Leeds of the crown in 1625. Besides he is said to have built the workhouse in 1630, which was later for many years employed as a hospital for the reception of the aged poor.
: The drawing
shows one of the oldest buildings, on no. 56 Briggate in Leeds, in 1884. It was built in 1613 by Richard Sykes. "In seventeenth century Leeds the houses of the rich and the poor existed side by side. The cottages of the poor were found in the yards and courts behind the houses of the richer occupants. A survey of 1628 reported on the houses in Briggate: 'The houses on both sides thereof are verie thicke and close compacted together, being ancient meane and lowe built; and generalie all of Tymber; though they have stone quarries frequent in the towne, and about it, only some of the richer sorts of the Inhabitants have their houses more large and capacious: yet all lowe and straitened on their backsides. The wealthy merchants built themselves fine houses – like Richard Sykes' house on Briggate, and Red Hall, built by Thomas Metcalf just off the Headrow. A timber-framed house, built about 1600 in Lambert's Yard, is still there to day. Information about the way that these houses were furnished is given in the wills of the occupants. For example William Dixon, who lived on Kirkgate and died in 1663, left a detailed inventory of the items in his house. In the parlour were: 'Two stand beeds and beeding and hingings at the side of one beed belongin to the same with one foot cheist. One cubbord, one saffe, three cheists, one trunke. One coverlette and eleven peces of puter. Fower quishings. Fower paire of sheets 5 pillabeares. The poor have left little behind them to tell us how they lived in the 17th century. We have to turn to documents like the Hearth Tax Returns to find out how many poor people there were. For part of the seventeenth century people had to pay the hearth tax according to the number of hearths they had in their houses. The tax was 2shillings per hearth. The 1664 and 1672 hearth tax returns for Leeds tell us that about two fifths of householders, only had one hearth, and would have been living close to subsistence level. They were the labourers, servants, journeymen and poor widows, like Widdow Edmundson, who was named in the hearth tax returns. A further two fifths of householders had two or three hearths, and could afford to live in greater comfort; they were the craftsmen, shopkeepers and clothiers of the town. The remaining one fifth of households had four or more hearths and were the wealthy clothiers, merchants, retailers, clergymen, professional men, landowners and gentry. They possessed varying degrees of wealth; John Cloudesley of Briggate had 8 hearths, and probably lived in considerable affluence. Some people were exempted from paying the tax and also from church and poor rates, because they were too poor, and did not own enough property to qualify as tax payers. It was necessary, for the dignity and good name of the town for the leading townsmen to find ways of looking after the poor. A poor rate was levied on the inhabitants, and distributed by the Parish overseers of the poor. In 1662 the corporation devised a scheme to prevent begging, and to assess the poor law on a regular basis. The town was divided into 6 wards, each having an alderman to supervise the parish overseers. Another way of providing funds for poor relief was through charitable bequests and donations. A Committee of Pious Uses was set up in 1620 to oversee the administration of the charities, and to make sure none of the money was misappropriated. The committee consisted of the vicar and twelve of the town's leading inhabitants. The documents relating to the town's charities were kept in 'a strong chest in the vestry of Parish Church, locked with Three Strong Locks, one of the keys to remain with the Vicar of Leeds the other Two with the Committee.' A chest like this is still in the vestry today. The measures for providing for the poor were totally inadequate and became increasingly expensive for the wealthier townspeople of Leeds. It was thought that the cause of poverty was idleness, and that if people were forced to work then there would be no more poverty. So in 1636-7 the mayor, Richard Sykes, and other members of the corporation built a house to be used as 'a common Work-house soe commonly called a House of Correction for the Reliefe and setting on Worke the Poor of the said Parish of Leedes.' The new workhouse was built on the site of the old free school at the junction of Lady Lane with what is now North Street. It did not end poverty in the town, nor did the inhabitants earn enough money to support the workhouse and care for the poor. Many of them were too old or ill to work, and there were younger people and children who were unable to find employment to keep them out of the workhouse. In 1662 William Morris, was appointed as master of the workhouse to make sure that the inmates were 'set on Work'. His efforts failed, and Thoresby*, writing in 1715 (drawing shows the workhouse in that year) says that the building was used as 'a hospital for the aged poor', as well as a workhouse where 'poor boys and girls are taught to scrible, a new invention whereby the different colours in the dyed wool are delicately mixed.' (Scribbling was a stage in the manufacture of woollen cloth.)"

RICHARD SYKES, gent. (1568-1645) became an Alderman of Leeds in 1629 (and 1636) having been a key figure in the campaign for the granting of Leeds' Charter of Incorporation on 13th July 1626 by King Charles I.
NOTE: Leeds' inhabitants petitioned Charles I for a charter of incorporation, which was granted in 1626. "The charter was the work of a small group of local men who dominated the new corperation as they had dominated the public life of Leeds for a generation: Skelton, Hilary, Cooke, Sykes, Harrison, Hopton, Marshall, Casson, Metcalf; all these men and their families, most of them first or second generation incomers, were prominent in Leeds during the seventeenth century." The new charter incorporated the entire parish, including all eleven townships, as the Borough of Leeds. The charter, premising that Leeds in the County of York was an ancient and populous town, whose inhabitants were well acquainted with the Art and Mystery of making Woollen Cloths, set up a governing body of one Alderman, nine Burgesses, and twenty Assistants. But the privilege for some years was a limited one: the Crown reserved to itself the rights of appointment to any of the thirty vacancies which might occur by death: popular election did not come for some time. Eighteen years after the granting of the charter of incorporation, Leeds joined with other towns in the neighbourhood in a Memorial to the King wherein he was besought to settle his differences with the rebellious Parliament. Of this no notice was taken, and in the earlier stages of the Civil War the town was garrisoned for the Royal cause under Sir William Savile.

left on his death a vast personal fortune. He was buried in the Chancel of the parish Church of Leeds, near where his eldest son John Sykes was buried. Monument inscriptions from the interior of St. Peter's in Leeds include,"Richard Sykes, alderman, 27 March 1645, Wife Elizabeth died some months before."

Will of RICHARD SYKES of Leeds, Gent., 14 April 1641
To be bur. in Chancel of the psh. Church of Leeds, near where his eldest son John Sykes was buried. To his wife Elizab. & to dau. Mary, w. of Mr John Bernard, Aid. of Hull, & Sibil, w. of Wm Dobson of Hull, Merch*.
Son Richard Sykes, parson of Kirk Heaton ; had bought lands at Mear Sykes of John & James Sykes.
To son Henry Sykes of Hunslet Hall, Gent., which Hunslet Hall was portion of the large landed property bequeathed by this will.
To son Richard lands at Dewsbury and at Kirk Smeaton, with the advowson of the Rectory, now held by Mr Alexander Stocks.
Youngest son William Sykes, To grandchild Richard Sykes, son & hr-app. of my son Henry Sykes, To son Wm S. the remainder of 99 years in 1/9 of the Manor of Leeds, & the reversion of it.
To grandchild Eliz. Sykes, dau. of my son John S., decd, to dau. Sibil & her child £10 each. Grandchild Eliz. Taylor £40.
To Eliz., dau. of my eldest son John Sykes, decd, £5.
To Mary, w. of my son Henry, & Grace, w. of my son Richard, & Grace, w. of my son William, each 40 shillings.
Sister Alice Jackson & her dau. ea. 20.?.
To coz. Eliz. Thompson 20s. Coz. Wm Moore, lecturer of Leeds, 405.
To Will. Sykes, John S., & James S., ea. 105.
To my poor kinsman Alexander Reame a suit of apparel. Wife Executrix. She has almost everything for her life. In a codicil he names Richard, John, William, Joseph, Daniel, Hannah, & Sarah Sykes, children of his son Will. Sykes, & making his son Richard S. & son-in-law John Barnard & Will. Dobson Ex3. Proved at Westminster 16 Feb. 1653.

The father of Richard Sykes, RICHARD SYKES OF KIRKGATE, was one of the sons of WILLIAM SYKES OF  FLOCKTON (
still living 1576 in Leeds) and Anne Morris, daughter of Castillian Morris, Esq. being also parents of:
1.   James Sykes, eldest son and heir (buried at St. Peter's Church I at Leeds on whit Monday May 27, 1577); he was married and had issue: William, Richard and James Sykes of Leeds mentioned in William's last will of 1576 (Genuki, Leeds, Leeds Wills). Arthur M. Sykes, Jr. wrote in his book about the Sykes family: "James, who died May 25, 1577, eldest son William, whose son James moved into Staffordshire. James had sons, James of March Lane and George of Kirkgate (buried at Leeds 1610)" ... "George had only one son George of Drighling, who was progenitor of the London branch. The James of March Lane had a son George, James and Nathaniel who were in Leek, Stafford County, England where records were not kept until 1634."
2.   William Sykes was
married to Alice Austhorpe being probably parents of John Sykes of Wath-upon-Deame near Rotherham.
3.   probably Robert, pre-deceased
4.   Edmund Sykes,
a Catholic martyr, who got hanged drawn and quartered at York Castle in 1587.
NOTE: "Edmund Sykes was born at Leeds, in Yorkshire, and educated in the English College, then residing in Rhemes to have been made priest the 21st of February 1581, and sent upon the mission the 5th of June the same year.
Working in Yorkshire, his health broke down. Arthur Webster, an apostate Catholic, took advantage of his illness to betray him, and he was committed to the York Kidcot by the Council of the North. He consented once to be present at a Protestant service; but he refused to repeat the act and remained a prisoner. After confinement for about six months, he was again brought before the Council and sentenced to banishment. On 23 August 1585, he was transferred to Hull Castle, and within a week shipped beyond the seas. He made his way to Rome, where he was entertained at the English College, for nine days from 15 April 1586. He wanted to atone for his lapse by the pilgrimage, and he also entertained some thoughts of entering a religious order. He decided that it was God's will that he should return to the English mission, and reaching Reims on 10 June, he left again for England on 16 June. After about six months he was betrayed by his brother, to whose house in Wath he had resorted, and was sent a close prisoner to York Castle by the Council. Of this second imprisonment thus writes Dr. Champney, in the manuscript annals of Queen Elizabeth preserved in Doway College: "Edmund Sykes, born of honest parents in the town of Leeds, priest of the College of Douay, after some years fruitfully employed in the vineyards of the Lord, being apprehended, was thrust into a most strait and very troublesome prison, in which, by the experience of sufferings, he acquired the virtue of patience and learned to die. For he endured most grievous conflicts, not only from the world and the flesh, but also from the prince of darkness himself. For the other Catholics, who were kept prisoners in the same gaol, though not in the same room, heard in his room a noise as it were of one that was disputing and contending with him, whom he rebuked and rejected with contempt; and when afterwards they asked him what was the matter, he told them, That the devil had been there to trouble and molest him, and to tempt and urge him to renounce his religion. Afterwards being brought to the bar, and arraigned for high treason, for being made priest, and returning into England, and there remaining, contrary to the statute, he acknowledged the matter of fact [of his being made priest, &c.,] but absolutely denied there was any guilt or treason in the case. He had sentence to die, according to which he was hanged, bowelled, and quartered at York March 23." Edmund Sykes was beatified** 400 years later, in 1987 by Pope John Paul II.
5.   Margaret Sykes
6.  Agnes Sykes

RICHARD SYKES OF KIRKGATE helped his father to build up the business in the cloth trade. He married 10. Jun 1561 SIBELL REAME, daughter of Robert Reame and Grace Casson, and had children:
1.   Agnes Sykes married William Hargreave on 05. Nov 1583; she had perhaps a different mother
2.   Alice Sykes married to Mr. Jackson
3.   Anne Sykes married to Robert Greathead
4.   RICHARD SYKES, gent. (c. 1568-1645)
married to Elizabeth Mawson
5.   John Sykes married to Barbara
6.   James Sykes of
Headrow, Leeds (died 09. Oct 1637; buried two days later at St Peter's)
7.   Elizabeth Sykes
8.   Marie Sykes christened 24. July 1575 at St Peter's, Leeds

RICHARD and SIBELL (Reame) SYKES died not much after their youngest daughter's birth, and each left a will (GENUKI Leeds: Leeds Wills by Jack Parry, 2009):
I.   "Will of Richard Sykes, of Kirkgate in Leeds, clothier [Vol. 20, Fol. 118], Dated 17 October 1576; proved 4 November 1576. Body to be buried in parish churchyeard of Leeds, nere unto my mother and two bretheren. To Sibbell, my wyfe, and her assigns, my close called Longlandes, with appts. lying in the feildes of Knostrop in Leeds, in my occupation, paying yearly and for the reast of the lands contained in the lease of the premises, unto the lordship of the same, 16s. 8d. The rest of my tackes and leases to be divided into three parts: one to the said Sibell, my wife, the other two to be equally divided amongst my seaxe [six] children: - Alice S., Agnes S., James S., John S., Elizabeth S., and Marie S. To the church of Leeds, 3s. 4d. Towards reparing the highwayes, 3s. 4d. To the poure, 20s. To every one of my god-children, 4d. To every one of my household servants, 6d. To my sister Agnes, one black whye. To Robert Killingeworth, my yealow lether jerkine. I release my sister Margaret of the some of 35s. 4d. which she doth owe me; and my brother James S. of 13s. 4d. which he doth owe me, and I give him other 13s. 4d.
To my brother Edmunde S., my best jacket dublet and hose, and 20s. in money.
To my father Sykes, all my part of the waynegeare that is betwixt him and me, also one payre of russet shepcolor hose.
To my father-in-law John Casson, my best jacket but one. Residue to be divided equally amonges my three sons: James, Richard and John S. Wife Sibell, executor.
Supervisors: - John Rame, Thomas Reame, William Earle, and the said Edmund Sykes.
Witnesses: - John Cowper, Gilbert Cowper, James Sykes, eldest, Edward Calbeck, Lawrence Awstroppe, the saide Thomas Reame and Edmunde Sykes, with others."

II.   "Will of Sibell Sykes, of Kirkgate, Leeds, widow of Richard S., clothier of Kirkgate, [Reg. Test. 20, Fol. 135]. Dated 28 October 1576; proved 19 January 1577.
My four daughters, Alice, Anne, Elizabeth and Mary S., to have their filial portions made up to 40£. a pece.
To son James S., so much of my goods as every one of my said daughters shall have to make up their portions.
To my two bretheren, Thomas Reame and John R., one milke cow, and pasturage for same in Longlandes.
Mother Grace Casson, my worsskirtle of worsett, my best sylke hatt, with my cuppe, best frocke, a kirchife, one Rayle, neckicher, smocke, lyne sheet with black seame, two sheets with a whyt Brygge seame, two towlls, one wrought with black and the other with yalowe.
Alice S., my daughter, my best gowne, my belte, my sleves of damask, &c.
Daughter Anne S., one pair silver crokes, one buttrie in the parler.
Brother John Reame, felt hatt.
Brother Thomas R., one shirt with a black edge in the ruffe.
Alice Reame, my brother Thomas Reame's wife, my side-saddle. Household servants, 5d. each.
Brothers' and Sisters' children, 5s. each.
To maynteyning the charter belonging to the town and parish of Leeds, 10s. Poor, 20s.
Brother John Reame wife, one smocke, kirchife, raile, pattlett, and worsett apron.
Sister Grace, one reade petticoat with a lace down the breste, a kirchife, and a Raile.
To my maid Jane, one petticote with a grogram overbodie, and one smocke, &c.
Residue be equally divided among my seven children: James, Richard, John, Alice, Anne, Elizabeth, and Marie S.
Twenty nobles, or 40£. to my bretheren, John and Thomas Reame, to the education of my youngest children.
J.R. and T.R. executors. Witnesses: - Lawrence Austroppe, Edmund Sykes, Thomas Steade, Simone
Hodgesone, Henry Hodgesone, George Hill, with others."

Leeds Bridge, 1849
(Briggate, Leeds from the collections of Leeds Library)

Since Sykes derived from a fairly common Yorkshire word, it had been assumed that there would be multiply unrelated branches of the Sykes family. But Bryan Sykes, a geneticist at the University of Oxford in England, did a Y chromosome DNA study of males in England with the surname Sykes. According to Dr. Sykes only one DNA signature was common among the Sykes, which means there was one common ancestor. According to an article in the New York Times, 09. Apr 2000 on the DNA study done by Bryan Sykes the "first Sykeses on record lived in the 13th century in Flockton, Slaithwaite and Saddleworth, three village close to Huddersfield". Huddersfield is about five miles from Adwalton where the first known Sykes ancestors in the Land family were living in the late 1700s. The article further says the Sykes ancestors n the 14th century were "Quite a rough lot - always being fined for cutting down trees and stealing sheep".

George Redmonds, an expert on Yorkshire surnames, says of the name Sykes: "From 'syke' which was a stream or ditch, often serving as a boundary. The word gave rise to many minor placenames and the surname must have several Yorkshire origins. Locally there were families in Flockton and Saddleworth, although it was in Slaithwaite that Sykes became particularly prolific. It has no obvious origin there and the link in this case may by with Saddleworth. It is noticeable that the name occurs in both Austonley and Marsden in the early 1400s."

The family of RICHARD SYKES, gent. (1568-1645) is said by the "Herald's Visitation of 1665," to be descended from the Sykes family of Syke's Dyke in Cumberland. WILLIAM SYKES, a cadet of this family, it is said, migrated to Leeds in the 16th century, and there, as a clothier, he amassed considerable wealth. It is, however, more probable that this WILLIAM  SYKES was of the family named Del Sykes, which was settled at Flockton, in the parish of Thornhill. Following early records for the Sykes family are existing: 
>   "William del Sicke acquired land at Flockton temp Henry II. (fl. 1154-1189)
>   Agnes del Sicke acquired the "Estecroft" adjoining the land of William, at Flockton, about 1270
, Sir John Horbry being principal witness to the transfer."
>   John del Syke, of Flockton, 1308 paid yearly annuity of 2 shilling, 4 pence to Henry, Earl of Wakefield who witnesses a charter at Thornhill in 1319.
>   Michael del Syke, on St. Bartholomew's Day 1345, was conveyed ancestral lands by his father, John, of Flockton."
>   Robert del Syke, on the 31st of May 1417, witnessed a transfer of lands, now part on the Manor of Shelley, immediately contiguous to the Syke in Kirkburton.

1.   ROBERT SYKES, of Flockton, was a retainer of Sir John Nevill, of Chevitt, in 1526.
2.   ROBERT SYKES, of Flockton, son of Robert, left two sons (one named JOHN after the Nevilles of Liveredge and Chevitt) in 1549"
3.   JOHN SYKES, of Flockton, conveyed tenements and lands there, with remainder to his eldest son Charles and to second son WILLIAM SYKES in 1550.

4.   WILLIAM SYKES, second son of JOHN OF FLOCKTON***, was living in Leeds in 1576. He was married to Anne Morris, daughter of Castillian Morris, Esq. being the parents of RICHARD  SYKES OF KIRKGATE.

* Ralph Thoresby (1658-1725) was an antiquarian, who was born in Leeds and is widely credited with being the first historian of that city.
Recognition accorded by the Catholic Church of a dead person's entrance into Heaven and capacity to intercede on behalf of individuals who pray in his or her name.
*** According to
George Poulson and William Dade WILLIAM SYKES shall have been the son of Richard Sykes of Sykes Dyke near Carlisle, Cumberland.

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