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COURT RECORDS both in the form of litigation and conveyance have provided us with much historical evidence of early Murgatroyd family relationships and property deals.
Bill (W.B.) Murgatroyd, trained as a solicitor, has been able to decipher these early records and provides an insight into the life of and times of Murgatroyds in the 17th century.
The story of the Boon Hen has already been told (Wealth) and is a light hearted action occasioned mainly by the obstinacy of James d.1653 about traditions. There are other civil actions mentioned in the late 16th and early 17th centuries that regard road maintenance, restraining savage dogs and small debts which one would accept as part of life. For example about 1583 at a court held in Sowerby we read::
"and William Md. Lord's tenant and sworn surrendered into the Lord's hand 1 acre and 1 rood with the buildings thereon in Crawelshaes now in the tenure of Ed. Maude of Crawelshaes."

In 1688 a baronets income was
to be 880 per annum

Edward III costumes...

In the heady days of 1642, James Murgatroyd was a wealthy merchant with an income of above 2,000 per annum and a son John d.1662 with his own income of over 500 per annum. Yet within a few years John is involved in debt and he died in 1662 leaving his estate in a muddle (Riddlesden Hall). I wonder whether like the Sunderlands of Coley Hall, he was more than a Royalist supporter. Could he have served in the Royalist Army? Assuming he came to the Hall in 1642, it was barely a year later that his father James was defending himself when besieged at Murgatroyd (23rd October 1649) when he held out against thirty-nine armed Roundheads.

The Murgatroyd family had a duty to defend the Monarch as is shown in the Will of John's grandfather James who died in 1601. In his Will he mentions 'all my armour and weapons which I have for Her Majesty's Service'. This testator must have been liable to serve the Queen or to fit out a man to do this service. The armour and weapons must have been his own to have been left by Will. Perhaps the same passed to James and then to his son John. John would have been of the right age and James would have been rather old for service. The Sunderlands formed a mounted armed force and marched to Aldwelton Moor. They would have passed close to East Riddlesden Hall, we shall never know whether they picked up their relative John on the way. It proved a Royalist victory but woe betide the local victors in the years which followed.

Various Court records:
---- a highway in Warley betwn Holmhouse Bridge and Blanckehome Lane belonging to JAMES MD--- which is not yet a-mended. Therefore we amerce them in 3s 4p for every week since the last day of November last past.

James, Henry, Thomas Md.
v. King Samuel and vx. Mary, John Learoid, Joseph Dixon and
Michael Robt Hold

James Murgatroyd d.1653 was by any standard extremely wealthy and he fought a number of money and property claims in his lifetime. On his death and for the next nearly fifty years there were various litigation's concerning the property at East Riddlesden and other money bonds both with others and between family, until in the end all was lost at Riddlesden and the remaining Murgatroyds retired to the Warley area. Even the house of Murgatroyd was lost in the end, not through litigation but marriage and became knows as 'The Hollins'
Chancery record.C9/28/126..22MAY1663
HENRY of Midgley gent,
SUSAN of Riddlesden (widow) and relict of JOHN
JOHN of Luddenden (son)
v.. SAMUEL King and Bailiff

Whereas Susan and John the son are exors of the will of JOHN decd whereas in 1656 he was bound to S.King in the sum of 80. 292.8s.was paid in 1659. In 1661 King issued a writ out of Westminster with 1000 surety (Henry and Thomas) for John appearing. In 1662 goods of John Md. Seized..220 cows, 2 oxen, 1 bull, 5 geldings...value of 220-----and agreement betn King and John but within a few days thereafter John died and had appointed Susan and John his exors who duly proved the sd will under the Prerogative Court of York and claimed 203.15s.6d. was overpaid.
The answer of S.King and judgement were unfortunately too obscured to read
Actions by and against one Samuel King:
It is interesting to note that James's d.1653 sister, Grace, married a Samuel Kinge. In 1650 James and others are involved in a money suit against Samuel King (the son?) wife Mary and a John Leoroid. No result was recorded. But King must have been close to the family as in 1656 John d.1662 had entered into some bond or obligation to King of the penal sum of 80 . This was called in 1659 and John or his representative had paid an amount of 292.8s. In 1661 King had issued a writ on John claiming 544 of which only 292 had been paid. In June 1662 he had sent the bailiff in to seize goods for the outstanding amount; 220 cattle, 2 oxen, 1 bull and 5 geldings of total value 220. John died in 1662 and then in 1663 Johns executors, Susan his wife, Henry and Thomas his brothers claimed 203 from King as overpayment of the bond. No final result was recorded.
Part of the tree of Murgatroyd::

 James === Mary Lacy 
 b.1575 | m.1605      
 d.1653 |
  |                 |       |       |
 John === Susan  Henry   James   Thomas
bc.1607| m.1639 bc.1609 d.1670 of Kershaw
 d.1662|         d.1699          bc.1616
[of Riddlesden]  [of Oatsroyd]
  |                |       |        | 
 James == Eliz.   John    William  Thomas
 b.1640 | d.1671  b.1645  b.1647   b.1649
 d.1672 |         d.1666  d.1669   d.1669
  b.1661 married James Oates in 1679... 

Summary of Chancery records::
[C10/99/132] -1665
v. Henry, James, John, Thomas
- parcel of manor, Wakefield
[B106/56/50] - 1669
John vx.Annie
v. Symonds
- N.Walsham copyhold of a manor, Norfolk
[C10/122/76] - 1671
v. Henry,Lister&vx.,Richard Hartley&vx
- Riddlesden manor
[C6/208/57] - 1671 - ditto
[C6/202/56] - 1672
Henry, Thomas
v. Hitch, Thomas Md
- money 300, York
[B220/527/97] - 1672
Henry (Midgley) v. John
- money, York
[C9/121/45] - 1673
Lister v. Md.
[B220/527/99] - 1673
Thomas v. Oldfield
- Warley, York
[B220/527/100] - 1674
- Thomas, John v. Denbeigh
- Keighley, York
[B220/527/101] - 1674
Thomas v. Wadsworth
- Wakefield copyhold of manor, York
[C10/130/50] - 1677
Thomas v. H Wadsworth
- money
[C10/133/87] - 1678
John,Nicholas, Midgley
v. Edmund Turner
- in Midgley
[B220/527/98] - 1679
Henry, Thomas v. Spencer
- apprenticeship, York
[C6/559/48] - 1679
Henry v. Spencer - York
[C7/228/55] - 1696
Henry v. Starkie
- Wadsworth, Morton, Bingley at York

Bill Murgatroyds summary of the East Riddlesden litigation's.

1. John d.1662 moved into East Riddlesden Hall after his marriage to Susan Midgley (licence 1639). He had a Family of three sons and two daughters soon thereafter. He inherited extensive estates being the First son and. heir of James of Murgatroyd. By 1643 rents would probably be difficult to collect and his expenses would be mounting. He had two Water Mills on his estate but trade would be bad due to the War.

2.As a declared Royalist he would be out of tune with the population around. His Father James
by 1643 was defending himself and his wife Mary and for a time lost control of the house, Murgatroyd to the Roundheads.

3. John had a sister called Grace. She married Nicholas Starkie. Nicholas died in 1643 - the beginning of the War. He was blown up at Houhton Tower. Mary and her son Edmund came to live at the Hall.

4.The failure to get the Will of James d.1653 proved, until 1663 (due to the closure of the York Registry) meant that John was never clear about his title. As he died in 1662 he did not have the opportunity to take up his appointment as an Executor.
He left many debts but nevertheless his goods and chattels were valued at 508. 19. 4d. He was not mentioned in his father's Will (except as Executor). This has caused historians to conclude that he was cut out. I do not accept this as he would not have been made First Executor. I think it more likely that James vested him
'inter vivos' and set him up well before his own Will and death. He inherited Murgatroyd, as well as East Riddlesden Hall, and his mother Mary continued to live there. We know from the Rev Oliver Heywood that she lived there at Christmas 1672.

5. John's second son, also named John d.1666 died only three years after his Father. This must have caused a great upset. His first son James d.1671 lived at Murgatroyd and the second son at Riddlesden. A younger brother, William, d.1669 who was also at Riddlesden died three years later in 1669. This was the end of the male line of father John at Riddlesden.
Before making his Will, indeed only shortly before, John the son made a very complicated arrangement with Thomas Parkinson, a wealthy gentleman of Leeds. He was to marry the daughter and heiress, Annie. In exchange Parkinson advanced him a considerable sum. John could not perform - as he died. What a surprise, Annie then married the dreaded Edmund Starkie who was John's cousin and successor at East Riddlesden Hall and the builder of the Starkie wing. I suspect Starkie, who was obviously wealthy had also advanced money to the family of John's mother Mary, If we jump a Few years to 1696 we find Henry of Oatsroyd suing Edmund in respect of all the estates left after all the sales by the youngest son,Thomas. Edmund must by this time have claimed the East Riddlesden estates and I think he would have been still living there. The spate of deaths of the Murgatroyds of Riddlesden put a burden on the Midgley branch of the family, Thomas and the widow of James, Elizabeth. This burden passed also to James' only child and heiress called Sussannah. However Edmund Starkie won the day and obtained the Manor and Estate. The Starkie wing he built (1692) is now reduced to a facade, the rear and body having fallen into disrepair and demolished. The Murgatroyd building looks as though it will survive for a thousand years.

6. Sussannah the only child of James lived on at Murgatroyd with her husband James Oates of Landshead, Northowram, whom she married on the 21st January 1679 , seven years after her father had died. Oates was another wealthy gentleman and he adopted the Murgatroyd coat of arms. This appears in a Memorial in the nave of the Parish Church of St Mary Luddenden the arms being within a 'lozenge' to indicate they came from the female or distaff side.

7. We still have to explain William the third brother. He was indeed a trial. To have to put a son out to become an apprentice was no doubt a reflection of the dilemma which at the time faced father John. He probably had no choice as he surveyed the family fortunes a year or so before he died. William in turn died very young in 1669 (1st November) i.e. whilst his elder brother James d.1672 was still alive. Whether or not it was true that brother John d.1666 aided and abetted by uncle Thomas Uncle (Kershaw House), took over the Riddlesden Manor and deprived William of his portion, William was only a minor and certainly could do nothing about it (he was abroad for much of the time). His eight years of apprenticeship to Nathaniel Spencer was a disaster. Probably the latter was a rogue and he obtained a Bond from both Henry and Thomas, who were foolish enough to stand surety for their nephew; William. Spencer vented his wrath on these two and pursued them unmercifully through the Courts and eventually having them both arrested and made to serve four years and six years respectively in York prison (both were released in l676), I calculate that William died at about the age of twenty years. He certainly made a large dent in the Murgatroyd family fortunes.

8. The last sad fact which needs to be examined is the mortgage of the Riddlesden estates by Henry and Thomas in their joint effort to stave off the fate which awaited them both. This was dated the 8th December 1668 and was probably an attempt to appease the Mortgagee, Nathaniel Spencer. This was an abortive attempt but did not affect the aims of Edmund Starkie and in view of the latter`s success in claiming the entire estate it looks as though they purported to mortgage something they did not own.
A final summing up before we leave East Riddlesden Hall.. The Murgatroyds struggled against the effect of the civil war in which they started on the wrong side. They became isolated in their mansion and no doubt fined heavily. Legal costs must have weighed them down and the misfortunes of William were the last straw. Susan (or Sussannah to give her the full name), safe with her wealthy husband at Murgatroyd (which he promptly re-named The Hollins) must have reflected that she was well out of it after all...

1997 R.D.Murgatroyd.
Updated-February, 2002