This is an extensive parish in Allerdale-below-Derwent ward and petty sessional division; the rural district, poor law union, deanery, and county court district of Wigton; and the county council electoral division of Caldbeck. It is bounded by the parishes of Ireby, Torpenhow, Allhallows, Westward, and Uldale. The area comprised within the limits measures about 8,290 acres, the ratable value of which is land, £4,727; buildings, £2,248. The population in 1891 numbered 936, most of whom are engaged in agriculture, though both coal and lime are found in considerable abundance. Copper was formerly wrought here, but the mine eventually became unremunerative, and the working was discontinued. There are now no dependent townships; Bolton Highside and Bolton Lowside, the old townships, were formed into one parish in 1886, under the title of Boltons. There are several small hamlets, viz: Bolton Wood, Newlands, Thornthwaite Close, Low Houses, and Mealgate.1 The river Waver rises in Catland Fell,2 a lofty eminence in the parish, which commands extensive views of the Solway Firth, the Scottish hills, and the country around Carlisle.
The Manor of Bolton was anciently a dependent on the barony of Allerdale, until it was given by Alan, lord of Allerdale, to Gospatric, his illegitimate brother, whose posterity assumed the name of Bassenthwaite. From them it passed to the Lascelles, Mowbrays, Nevilles, Percys, then to the Earl of Egremont, and has descended through General Wyndham to Lord Leconfield, who owns the manorial rights and privileges. A few of the farms have been enfranchised, the rest are customary, paying rents, heriots, and a tenpenny fine. For the permission to keep a bull, boar, and stallion, all tenants pay to the lord of the manor 6 pecks, 16 quarts of corn, more or less. The principal landowners are Lord Leconfield, S.P. Forster, Esq., William Parkin-Moore, Esq.; Messrs. Lindow, Cleator; Walter Scott, Newcastle-on-Tyne; Thomas Addison, Esq., John Parkin, Esq., Joseph Harris, Esq., Jonathan Welch, John Sword, Miss Wilson, William Hodgson, Thomas H. Brockbank, Esq., John Studholme, John Johnstone, Messrs. Harrison, Mrs. Young, C.H. Railton, Esq., E.H. Banks, Esq., etc., etc.
Bolton Gate is a pleasant village in this township, six miles S. by W. of Wigton. The Church, which is situated here, is an ancient fabric, dedicated to All Saints. Local folk lore attributes its erection to the supernatural. According to the legend, the imps that waited on the commands of Michael Scott, the wizard, built this church in one night. Michael died about the year 1291, and the first recorded notice of the church is dated 1294. Scott was a celebrated learned Scotchman, whose knowledge of chemistry and other sciences led him to be regarded as a man in league with the Evil One. In the King's Book the living was valued at £19 18s. 4d., but it is now worth £221, and is held by the Rev. John Ewbank, B.A. The advowson was formerly attached to the manor, but in the reign of Elizabeth it came into the possession of the Porters, of Weary Hall, and now belongs to the Earl of Lonsdale. The tithes were commuted in 1844 for £437 11s. 4d.
The Parochial School was built in 1854, at a cost of £600, and is attended by about 80 children. It is endowed with the interest of £500 (about £13 a year), left by the late T. Moore, of Mealsgate. £5 a year is also received from Betton's Charity.
The Manor of Newbiggin, which in Catholic times belonged to the prior and Convent of Carlisle, is now vested in the Dean and chapter.
The Wesleyan Chapel, first erected in 1820, at a cost of £100, was rebuilt in 1881, at a cost of £300, raised by subscription. The land for which was given by Wilfrid Lawson, Esq., Bolton Low House.
Weary Hall, the ancient seat of the Porters, lies in this parish, and was the birthplace of George Porter, an eminent civilian, and thirty years doctor and professor of civil law, at Queen's College, Cambridge. The walls of this ancient building are nearly five feet in thickness. Over the front door is inscribed 15 J.C: J.C. 76. One of the largest moats in existence surrounds the hall, which is said by some, to have been the sleeping place of the unfortunate Queen of Scots on one occasion. The old Roman road ran through a corner of the parish, and some historians assert that one of their chief stations was situated near here. The hall is now only a farmhouse, as also is Thackthwaite Hall. Kill How, a mansion near Bolton Gate, is the property of S.P. Forster, Esq.
CHARITIES. - Scott's. - The interest of this bequest amounts to about 12s. a year, and is given to poor widows in the parish.
Thomas Moore, yeoman, of Mealsgate, left a sum of money, the interest to be divided among the poor. It is distributed in amounts of 5s., 10s., 15s., and 20s.
BIOGRAPHY. - At Mealsgate in this township was born in 1807 George Moore, one of the most successful of England's merchant princes, whose name is known for his many acts of philanthropy from John O'Groat's House to Land's End. His father was a small yeoman, or "statesman," whose land had been owned by the family for several generations. George, the second son, was sent to learn the drapery business at Wigton, and after a short apprenticeship he went to London in 1825, arriving in the metropolis, it is said, with a single half-crown in his pocket. He obtained a situation in the establishment of Flint, Ray, Nicholson & Co., one of the leading houses of London. His attention to his duties and engaging manners procured for him rapid promotion, and in 1825 [sic] he was admitted a partner in the large and wealthy firm of Groucock, Copestake & Co., lace manufacturers. Much of the subsequent success of the firm was due to the energy and business capabilities of Mr. Moore. Their commercial operations were conducted on a most gigantic scale; they had factories in Nottingham, Manchester, Glasgow, Paris, and New York, besides numerous branch houses. Ninety clerks and three hundred shopmen were required in their various establishments, and the large sum of £100,000 per annum was paid for working expenses. Success attended the speculations of the firm, and Mr. Moore accumulated an immense fortune. He inherited deep religious feelings and broad benevolent sympathies, and would not permit the race for wealth to engross his whole soul to the exclusion of every generous sentiment. Out of the riches kind providence had showered upon him he was ever ready to help the struggling and needy, or to lend his aid to any movement that had for its object the spread of religion or the improvement of the working classes. He was in every sense of the word a practical philanthropist, and as such his name will go down to future generations. "He had a large share in founding the 'Commercial Travellers' Orphan School'; the 'Royal Hospital for Incurables'; and 'The British Home for Incurables'; a special branch of the 'Female Mission among Fallen Women'; the 'Little Boys' Home'; the 'Field Lane Ragged Schools'; and many other charities. He also for many years, with the co-operation of another gentleman, made the experiment of a private 'Reformatory for Thieves' at Brixton, he likewise built a Church and Schools at Somers Town, in 1869, on finding that these were in a very neglected condition."
Mr. Moore never lost his interest in his native county, and about 1867 he purchased the Whitehall estate, about a quarter of a mile from his native village, and took up his residence there. He beheld with consternation the immorality which was rampant among the Cumbrian peasantry, and he exerted all his energies for the reformation of this vice. He has largely assisted in the establishment of schools and scholarships in the county, and subscribed liberally towards the endowment of poor benefices. Although foremost in every movement for the benefit of mankind, he never courted public distinctions, and in 1844, when elected to the shrievalty of London, he paid the fine of £500 rather than serve the office. He twice declined the aldermanic gown, and refused every invitation to seek parliamentary honours. He was a leading member in many important committees; and in conjunction with Colonel Stuart Wortley was appointed to dispense the funds subscribed in this country, among the starving and impoverished inhabitants after the capitulation of Paris. In recognition of the great services rendered, the French Government conferred upon him the Cross of the Legion of Honour. In 1871 he was prevailed upon to accept the office of Sheriff of his native county. He was twice married: his first wife, the daughter of Mr. Ray, one of his first employers in London, died in 1858. In 1861 he again entered the bonds of matrimony, but by neither wife was there any issue. He died 21st Nov., 1876, and was buried in the Mausoleum of All hallows Church, beside the remains of his first wife.
A beautiful marble tablet to his memory has been placed in Carlisle Cathedral, on which is a well-executed figure of his bust in profile out in high relief; and beneath is the following inscription :-
In Memory of George Moore,
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
1. Now Mealsgate.
2. Now Catlands Hill.
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman