Martha Banister, wife of Bryan Cunningham, would have been only fifteen years old when married if she was baptised soon after birth. However, her connections are well documented by the wills of her father Henry Banister and her sister Priscilla Banister. The latter names not only her three surviving sisters and their husbands, but several aunts and uncles. Priscilla was unusually young when her will was made but her identity is confirmed both by the information in the will itself, and by a note at the end of the registered copy from John Favour, vicar of Halifax, confirming that Priscilla, daughter of Henry Banister of Midgley, was baptised on 12 January 1594.


Additional evidence of the origin of Martha Banister is in the York cause papers, where it is noted that she was taken to be married to Bryan Cunningham without the consent of her grandfather Richard Smith.[1]


The identity of the father of Henry Banister is not yet certain but he may be the Edward Banister of Yatehouse in Midgley whose will, not yet seen by me, was proved in 1587.


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1                       BANISTER.


Children of              Banister:

                2              i               HENRY BANISTER (bur 1598/99); m RUTH SMITH.

                                ii              MARGARET BANISTER; m 17 Jul 1570, Halifax, Yorkshire, WILLIAM MITCHELL.[2]

                                iii             AGNES BANISTER; m 2 May 1586, Halifax, JOHN NORTHEND.[3]

                                iv             SUSAN BANISTER, bur 14 Oct 1614, Bradford;[4] m 11 Dec 1581, Halifax, JOHN DRAKE.[5]

                                v              GEORGE BANISTER.


2          HENRY BANISTER of Yatehouse, Midgley, yeoman, was buried on 26 January 1598/99 at Halifax.[6] He married on 26 October 1584 at Halifax, RUTH SMITH,[7] daughter of Richard Smith (see here). Ruth was baptised on 26 October 1561 at Halifax and buried on 18 October 1596 at Halifax.


Children of Henry and Ruth (Smith) Banister:

                                i               MARTHA BANISTER, bap 3 Jul 1586, Halifax,[8] bur 18 Jan 1639/40, St Peter, Leeds;[9] m 1 Feb 1601/02, Monk Fryston, BRYAN CUNNINGHAM[10] (see here).

                                ii              JUDITH BANISTER, bap 1 Dec 1588, Halifax,[11] bur 16 May 1623, Halifax;[12] m 3 Jun 1605, Halifax, WILLIAM COWPER.[13]

                                iii             RUTH BANISTER, bap Oct 1590, Halifax,[14] bur 8 Nov 1596, Halifax.[15]

                                iv             SUSAN BANISTER, bap 5 Nov 1592, Halifax;[16] m Dec 1607, Clitheroe, ALEXANDER ASPINALL.[17]

                                v              PRISCILLA BANISTER, bap 12 Jan 1594/95, Halifax,[18] bur 16 Jun 1608, Bradford.[19]

[1] York cause papers (Borthwick Institute, CP.G.3057).

[2] Halifax parish registers (online at

[3] Halifax parish registers (online at

[4] Bradford parish registers (online at

[5] Halifax parish registers (online at

[6] Halifax parish registers (online at; will dated 24 Sep 1598, proved 13 Mar 1598/99 (Borthwick Institute).

[7] Halifax parish registers (online at The entry says “Henry Banyster et Ruthe Smyth sepult” (buried) but it is on a page otherwise dedicated to marriages and it is well documented that Henry Banister married a daughter of Richard Smith, the latter being named, for example, in Henry’s will as the testator’s father-in-law.

[8] Halifax parish registers (online at

[9] St Peter, Leeds, parish registers (online at; will dated 16 Dec 1639, proved Apr 1640 (Borthwick institute).

[10] Monk Fryston parish registers (online at

[11] Halifax parish registers (online at

[12] Halifax parish registers (online at; W. Paley Baildon, Baildon and the Baildons, 3 vols (Bradford and London, 1912-27), 2:260.

[13] Halifax parish registers (online at

[14] Halifax parish registers (online at

[15] Halifax parish registers (online at

[16] Halifax parish registers (online at

[17] Clitheroe bishop’s transcripts (online at

[18] Halifax parish registers (online at

[19] Bradford parish registers (online at; will dated 19 Apr 1608, proved 20 Jun 1608 (Borthwick Institute).