This parish is situated in Derwent ward and petty sessional division; county court district and deanery of Cockermouth and Workington; and forms the head of a union, rural district, and division for the election of a member of the county council. According to the Local Government Act of 1894, Cockermouth elects twelve members of the Urban District Council. As is the case with several other places in the county the area of the civil and of the ecclesiastical parish is not coextensive, the former covers only 2,424 acres, while the latter has an extent of about 5,685 acres. The gross estimated rental is £22,418, and ratable value £19,040. The parish is bounded on the north by the Derwent, on the west by Brigham, on the south by Embleton and Lorton, and on the east by Bassenthwaite Lake.
Cockermouth gives name to one of the great feudal divisions of the county, and the title of baron to the earls of Egremont. At the Conquest, Cumberland was held by the King of Scotland; but the assistance afforded to the discontented Saxons by Malcolm and the Cumbrians, brought the Normans into the county. Its subjugation, however, was not a matter of easy accomplishment. Aided by the physical features of the district, and inspired by the love of freedom begotten of the mountain air, the Cumbrians maintained their independence under their Saxon chiefs until the reign of Rufus or Henry I. The latter King gave to Ranulph de Meschines, one of the bold spirits who had accompanied the Conqueror from Normandy, the earldom of Carleol or Carlisle, which probably included the whole of the county. Out of this immense grant, Ranulph conveyed to his brother, William de Meschines, that portion lying between the Derwent and the Duddon, then called the barony of Copeland. William divided his grant into two parts, and gave that lying between the Derwent and Cocker to Waltheof, son of Gospatric, Earl of Dunbar, which was henceforth known as the honour or barony of Cockermouth. This honour descended through Ochtred, sister and heiress of Waltheof, to her son, Fitz-Duncan, nephew of the King of Scotland, and by his marriage with the heiress of the barony of Copeland, united in his own person the two baronies. Fitz-Duncan's son, the "Boy of Egremont," being drowned at Strid in Wharfedale, the barony passed by marriage of his sister Cicely to William de Fortibus, who was one of the signatories of the Magna Charta. The honour of Cockermouth descended through the Lucys, the Multons, the Percys, the Seymours, the Wyndhams, to the present owner, Lord Leconfield.
COCKERMOUTH CASTLE, the ancient baronial residence of the lords of Allerdale, crowns the summit of a hill at the confluence of the rivers Derwent and Cocker. Now partly in ruins, its ivy-mantled walls, from their elevated position, form one of the most picturesque objects in the neighbourhood. It is said to have been erected by Waltheof, the first lord of Allerdale, soon after the Conquest, whither he removed from Papcastle. The castle was probably rebuilt during the Edwardian period, as there is no feature in the present building which points to an earlier age. It is a fine specimen of the strongholds erected by the feudal lords of the middle ages, and in bygone days was evidently a fortress of great strength. Its massive walls, which are upwards of 600 yards in compass, form an irregular square, and were formerly surrounded by a deep moat; the arched entrance being defended by a strong gate, portcullis, and drawbridge. The gateway tower is ornamented with the arms of the Umfrevilles, Multons, Lucys, Percys, and Nevills; which arrangement of arms points out the age of this part of the fortress. On each side of the gateway, leading to the interior and more ancient court, is a square arched dungeon, capable of holding from 40 to 50 persons, and having in the crown of the arch a round opening, through which the unfortunate captives were lowered into its gloomy cavity. The S.W. front, many vestiges of which still remain, stood on the brink of the precipice, above the rivers. Here was the large square tower which contained the state apartments, the entrance to which was through a wide semi-circular piazza, lighted by several large windows. This tower, which is evidently the most ancient part of the building, has under it a spacious vault, 30 feet square, lighted by a small grated window, and approached by a descent of twelve steps from the inner area; being supported by groined and intersecting arches, springing from an octagonal centre pillar. Hutchinson supposes this vault was anciently used as the retreat of the family and repository of their jewels in time of danger. This castle was owned during the Commonwealth troubles by the Earl of Northumberland, a strong Parliamentarian, and in 1648, the Cumbrian Royalists, taking advantage of the absence of the Roundhead forces from the whole country, except the garrison at Cockermouth, laid seige to the castle. The seige lasted for two months, during which time the western portion was dismantled; it has since lain in ruins, except the court and gate houses, with two adjoining rooms. The present owner is Lord Leconfield, nephew of the Hon. Percy Wyndham, who has occasionally resided there.
The ancient borough and market town of Cockermouth occupies a beautiful and advantageous situation, in the heart of a most picturesque and highly cultivated country, on the south side of the river Derwent, and at the mouth of the Cocker, whence its name is derived, 8 miles E. of Workington, 7 miles S.E. of Maryport, 14 N.E. of Whitehaven, 27 miles S.W. by W. of Carlisle, and about 305 N.W. of London. Camden, who visited Cockermouth in 1582, describes it as "a populous well-trading market town, neatly built, but of a low situation between two hills, upon one of which is the church, and upon the other over against it (which is evidently artificial), a very strong castle." Bishop Nicolson, who wrote in 1685, tells us "the houses are built of stone, and slated mostly with blue slate; they comprise two streets, one above the Cocker, in which is the Moot Hall, Market House, Corn Market, and Shambles." The town remained much in the same condition, as described by Dr. Nicolson, until the year 1820, when the inhabitants arose from their lethargy, and an era of improvement was inaugurated. In that year a handsome bridge, consisting of two arches, and 270 feet in length, was thrown across the Derwent, at a cost of £3,000; and in 1828 the old Cocker bridge was replaced by the present one, on a more extensive scale, at a cost of £2,600. The old Moot Hall gave place to the present Market Hall buildings, erected by subscription at a cost of £1,300, raised in shares of £26 each; the old wooden Shambles disappeared altogether, and a row of thatched houses, which then stood in Main Street, are now occupied by good modern shops. This town is not only one of the prettiest, but considered to be the healthiest in Lakeland; it has excellent water, and good sanitary arrangements.
Cockermouth does not appear to have played a very prominent part in the history of the Middle Ages. Its proximity to the borderland of the two counties rendered it liable to the unwelcome visit of the Scottish marauders, who frequently made raids into the northern parts, driving away the cattle and burning the villages. Whilst the manor and castle were held by William de Fortibus, who possessed in right of his wife, Henry III, in 1221, ordered the castle to be besieged and destroyed to the very foundations. The cause which led to this summary proceeding on the part of the king, was the opposition he encountered from Fortibus when on a tour through the country, inspecting the various royal castles. It is not known whether the command was carried out in its entirety or not, but there are indications in the western tower of its having been built in the 14th century upon the foundations of an older one. The unruly baron, it would appear, afterwards submitted to the royal authority, for in the same year he obtained a charter for a market at Cockermouth. Freebooting expeditions were not confined solely to the Scottish side of the border. In 1268 Isabel, widow of Thomas de Fortibus, makes "complaint against Roger de Lancaster, Richard de Fleming, and others that vi et armis, they had come to her castle at Cockermouth, and seized and carried away a goshawk, three doves, and consumed her goods to the amount of 40 marks."
The manor and castle were for a short time in the possession of Piers de Gaveston, the favourite of the weakminded Edward II, and after the murder of Gaveston, the honour of Cockermouth was conveyed to Anthony de Lucy, in recognition of his gallant conduct in the capture of the rebellious Earl of Carlisle, Andrew de Hercla, in 1322. For a few years previous and subsequent to this date, there were troublous times for the Cumbrians. The Scotch, under their leaders, Sir William Wallace and his friend David Brigham, Bruce, and the Black Douglas, made frequent incursions into the county, and though several attempts were made on Cockermouth castle, they were never successful.
One of the most interesting events in the past history of Cockermouth is the short stay there of Mary, Queen of Scots, after her unfortunate flight from Scotland to seek the protection of her cousin, Queen Elizabeth. Mary, with sixteen faithful followers, fled from the battlefield of Langside, and, after three days' flight, landed at Workington on the 16th of May, 1568. Sir Henry Curwen received the royal refugee, and conducted her to his hall, where she spent the night. Next day she set forth with her small band, accompanied by her kind host. She was lodged in Cockermouth Hall, then the residence of Henry Fletcher, a wealthy merchant. So precipitate had the flight of Mary been, that her wardrobe was very scantily furnished, indeed, she says in a letter to Elizabeth: "I am in a pitiable condition, not only for a Queen, but even, for a gentlewoman, having nothing in the world but the clothes in which I escaped." Lady Curwen, it is said, supplied the Queen and her maids with change of linen; and at Cockermouth the princely merchant, in whose house she was to be lodged, pitying her deplorable condition, presented her with 13 ells of rich crimson velvet, to make a robe becoming her royal dignity. This act of kindness to the unfortunate Mary did not pass unrequited by her son, James I, who conferred the honour of knighthood upon the family. The Old Hall was a large quadrangular building, a considerable portion of which is still standing, and has been converted into modern shops and dwellings. A room is pointed out as the one in which Mary spent the night. Next morning Mary set out for Carlisle, cherishing the fond hope that she was now a free agent in the territory of a sympathising sister Queen; but this allusion was soon to vanish - she was in the toils of a wily, crafty, and jealous woman, jealous alike of her personal beauty and accomplishments, and of her superior right to the English throne. Her imprisonment for eighteen long years, the plots that were formed to release her, her intrigues with the conspirators, and her execution, by the command of Elizabeth, at Fotheringay Castle, in 1587, are matters of general history.
CHURCHES AND CHAPELS.
Cockermouth Church was originally a chapel-of-ease to the mother church of Brigham, in which only certain religious rites could be administered. It is now a vicarage and independent parish for all ecclesiastical purposes. The Earl of Lonsdale is patron of the living and impropriator of the tithes. The benefice was returned to the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty as worth £26 13s. 4d., which was paid by the patron and impropriator, and £8 from surplice fees. The living was augmented in 1798 with £200, given by Mr. Baines, and in 1811 by a further sum of £1,000, received from Parliament. It is now worth £235 per annum, with a lectureship of £100, paid by Lord Lonsdale, and is held by the Rev. William Hasell Parker, M.A. A peculiar custom was formerly followed at this church, viz., the ringing of the bell for the space of five minutes during the dark quarter of the year from All Hallow E'en to Candlemas. It was called the "Evening bell." The following is a condensed account from Askew's Guide to Cockermouth. It seems there are two slightly different versions of the origin; one account attributes it to a man, and the other, a more recent version, concedes the honour to a lady, who bore, according to tradition, the unaristocratic name of Betty Waif. The lady had been overtaken by darkness, and lost her way. After vainly endeavouring to regain the lost path, she sat down to rest by the way. The welcome sound of the church bells struck upon her ear, and by proceeding in the direction from which the sound came, she was enabled to reach her home in safety. As a thank-offering for her deliverance, she left £2 per annum for the ringing of the bell nightly during the winter quarter. The endowment has long been lost. Adjacent to the church is the handsome building, known as the Church Rooms, consisting of large hall, with classrooms and every modern convenience, erected in 1896-7. This structure was designed by Mr. George Dale Oliver, F.R.I.B.A., and built of white Brigham freestone, at a cost of £1,654. Of this sum £500 was the gift of Joseph Bowerbank, Esq.
Christ Church is a large edifice in Sullart Street, erected in 1863-5, at a cost of £4,000. A brass plate on the chancel wall bears the following inscription:-
"This Church was erected chiefly by the means and entirely by the exertions of the Rev. H.B.L. Puxley, assistant curate of Cockermouth. A.D. 1865."
It is a plain Gothic structure, consisting of nave, chancel, and west tower, carrying four small pinnacles. The accommodation is greatly increased by spacious galleries, supported on iron pillars. In 1882, a beautiful stained-glass window was inserted in the east end to the memory of Dr. H. Dodgson, by public subscription, and a fine marble mural tablet was erected by the Volunteers to commemorate his captaincy of the 8th V.B. Border Regiment. In the south side of the chancel is a window of many colours, to the memory of Mr. Robinson Mitchell, erected by his relatives. The organ was provided by a legacy of £500, left by Mr. Anthony Atkinson, to whose memory a mural tablet has been placed in the church. The living is a perpetual curacy, formed out of the ancient parishes of Brigham and Bridekirk, in the patronage of certain trustees, and worth about £200, with a handsome vicarage, built in 1872. The present pastor is the Rev. Henry J. Palmer, M.A. The district allotted to the church forms a consolidated chapelry, containing about 1,100 acres and 3,661 inhabitants. The church has sitting accommodation for 950 persons, and all the seats in the middle are free. There are a Sunday School and Mission Room attached, the erection of which cost £1,000.
The Catholic Church, dedicated to St. Joseph, is a neat Gothic edifice, erected in 1856, from the designs of the late T. Gibson, Esq., Newcastle. It will accommodate about 400 worshippers, and cost £1,400. A presbytery has been built with money provided by the late Philip Howard, Esq., of Corby Castle, as executor of the late Lady Throgmorton. Previous to the erection of this church, the Catholics for many years had only a room over a stable in the Sun Inn Yard, in which to perform the sacred rites of their religion, and in this room many notable personages of the Catholic body were accustomed to hear Mass while visiting the neighbouring lakes, the exiled members of the family of the last French monarch being amongst the number. The Rev. James Smith is the present priest.
The Congregational Chapel is a handsome Gothic edifice, in Main Street, erected in 1850, at a cost of £2,200. It contains about 500 sittings. The old chapel, built in 1735, stands behind the new one, and is used as a Sunday school. A few years ago it was entirely refitted and refloored at a cost of £500. The Independents, or Congregationalists, were formed into a church in Cockermouth as early as 1651. Their first minister was the Rev. George Larkham, who held the pastorate for 49 years. During the Cromwellian Ascendancy he filled the pulpit in All Saints' Church; but after the collapse of the Protectorate and the restoration of Charles II, he suffered three years' imprisonment in York Castle as a conscientious Dissenter, through the operation of the Five Mile and Conventicle Acts.
The Primitive Methodist Chapel, in New Street, was built in 1845, as the National Schools. The building was purchased in 1885, and refurnished as a chapel at a cost of about £1,300. There is accommodation for about 400 persons. The Sunday school is attached. The old chapel is now used by the Salvation Army.
The Wesleyan Chapel, in Market Street, was built in 1841, at a cost of £1,800. It is a plain but substantial stone building, containing 850 sittings, of which 250 are free. A lamp, in commemoration of the Diamond Jubilee of the late Queen, 1837-1897, was placed over the entrance in the latter year.
The Friends' Meeting House, in Kirkgate, has been in existence some 150 to 200 years. It was enlarged many years ago and finally rebuilt in 1885 at a cost of about £1,200. It is a good stone building, with seating accommodation for about 200 persons. There is a small burial ground attached.
All Saints National School, in Kirkgate, is a substantial stone building, erected about 30 years ago on a site presented by Lord Leconfield. The cost of building was about £2,000. Two classrooms were added in 1896 at a further outlay of £200.
The Catholic School, Crown Street, is at present closed; the children attend the Board School.
The Free Grammar School formerly stood on the site now occupied by All Saints' Church Rooms. It was built in 1676, but there must have been an older foundation, for in 1555, Henry Fletcher, the vicar of Towne Malling, left "four score pounds to the Free Grammar School of Cockermouth." The endowments of the school amount to about £25 yearly, of which £10 are paid out of the tithes of the chapelry, 6s. 8d. from Embleton, and the remainder arises from rent charges on certain leasehold tenements in the town, dividends on stock, etc. The building, becoming very dilapidated, was sold by the Charity Commissioners to the vicar and churchwardens of All Saints' Church in 1895, and the endowment goes to the last master during his lifetime.
The Wordsworth Institute, in Main Street, established in 1882, is now used by the Urban District Council for technical instruction classes.
The Mechanics' Institute, with excellent library attached, was established by subscription in 1845. In 1899 the Trustees presented the books, nearly 5,000 volumes (1,000 of which were the munificent bequest of the late General Benson, of Hasness, in Buttermere, who also enriched the institution with a legacy of £100) to the Urban District Council, who have adopted the Free Libraries Act, and carry on the institution as a library and museum. There is a fine collection of stuffed birds, presented to the institute by J.W. Harris, Esq.
The Industrial School was erected in 1881, and opened by the Home Secretary, Sir William Harcourt, on the 29th October in that year. The buildings are of brick, with freestone facings. The site occupies the whole of Grayson's Closes at the junction of Strawberry House Lane and Lorton Road, and the grounds around the school have been beautified by some well laid-out shrubberies. The whole expenses incurred in the purchase of the ground and the erection of the buildings were defrayed by a county rate, and its maintenance is from the same source, aided by Government grant. The premises will accommodate 150 boys, who must be from the county of Cumberland. The children are trained to habits of industry, and are taught some handicraft or other, by which they may afterwards earn an honest living. The school is under the management of a committee of county councillors.
The Gentlemen's Newsroom is held in the Savings' Bank Buildings. The annual subscription is one guinea, but membership is restricted to those persons who obtain nomination and are elected at the subsequent ballot.
THE WIDOWS' HOSPITAL is a small building in Kirkgate, founded and endowed by the Rev. Thomas Leathes, rector of Plumbland. By his will, dated April 8th, 1760, he leaves £100 for the use of six poor widows, or other unmarried women, above 60 years of age, and also the house in Kirkgate for their residence. The testator's daughter, Elizabeth Winder, increased the endowment by a legacy of £50. The founder's legacy, with other money, was invested in the purchase of £1,447 7s. 3d. three per cent. consols. The dividends arising from this stock are given in equal portions of £5 4s. to each of the six poor women. The house, having very limited accommodation, is occupied by an old man, who pays 2s. 6d. per week rent, which is divided among the widows.
THE STATUE OF THE EARL OF MAYO. - In the centre of the spacious main street, at its widest part, stands the statue of Earl Mayo, who represented the borough of Cockermouth over eleven years, namely, from March, 1857, to September, 1868. The statue is 9ft. in height, carved from a solid block of Sicilian marble. It represents Lord Mayo clothed in his robes as Viceroy of India, the long robe or cloak falling from his shoulders in effective masses of drapery. The left hand rests on the hip, the right holding a scroll emblematic of the statesman. The statue is declared to be a remarkably good likeness of the distinguished statesman, who was a noble-looking finely-proportioned man. It stands on a pedestal 12 feet in height, the whole being surrounded by iron palisading. The cost of the work, which was executed by Messrs. W. and T. Wills, sculptors, of London, was 800 guineas, the amount being raised by public subscription. The statue was unveiled on the 19th August, 1875, by Lord Napier, in the presence of several thousands of people, including members of both Houses of the Legislature, and a large number of the magistracy and gentry of the county.
His Excellency, the Right Hon. Richard Southwell Bourke, sixth Earl of Mayo, was born on the 21st February, 1822. Until about five years before his death he was popularly known by his courtesy title as Lord Naas, under which name for upwards of twenty years he occupied a seat in the House of Commons. During the course of his Parliamentary career he represented three constituencies. Entering the House in the August of 1847 as M.P. for Kildare, he retained that seat until the March of 1852. He was then returned for Coleraine, for which he sat exactly five years, until the March of 1857, when he was returned among the English members for Cockermouth. It was while, as Lord Naas, he was still sitting for Cockermouth, upon the death of his father on the 12th August, 1867, he succeeded to the earldom of Mayo. He was throughout life an earnest and consistent Conservative. He was Chief Secretary for Ireland in the Derby and Disraeli administrations in 1852, 1858-9, and again in 1866-8. In the early winter of 1868 he was gazetted Governor-General of India, and fulfilled the duties of the office with great energy and prudence. He married the Hon. Blanche Julia Wyndham, the third surviving daughter of the first Lord Leconfield, on the 31st October, 1849; and by her he had seven children, six of whom survived him. Earl Mayo was assassinated at Port Blair, a penal settlement in the Andaman Islands, by Shere Ali, a convict, on the 8th of February, 1872. He was on a visit of inspection to the place, and when returning along the pier, in the evening, on his way to the ship, the assassin sprung out of the darkness, rushed through the escort, and stabbed the Viceroy twice in the back. He expired while on his way to the vessel. The Indian Government granted an annual pension of £1,000 to the Countess, and £20,000 to the children, and £1,000 a year was added to Lady Mayo's pension by the unanimous vote of Parliament on the 22nd July, 1872.
THE WORDSWORTH MEMORIAL FOUNTAIN. - The 7th of April, 1896, was a memorable day to the inhabitants of Cockermouth and district, for it was marked by an event which will stand out prominent in the annals of that town, viz., the unveiling of the Wordsworth Memorial Fountain, a tribute of honour to Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy, who first saw the light of day in the Manor House, which stands in the old-fashioned Main Street. It is only a simple fountain, a granite basin surmounted by the bronze figure of a child pouring forth the crystal stream - a fitting memorial to the poet whose infancy and childhood have become the immemorial pride of Cockermouth; and as his sister Dorothy helped him on to his success, so may she participate in his glory.
THE WAUGH MEMORIAL CLOCK was erected by public subscription to the memory of the last representative of the ancient borough. It stands in Main Street, and bears the following inscription:- "In memory of Edward Waugh, Esq., the last representative in Parliament of the ancient Borough of Cockermouth. Erected by subscription, 1893."
GOVERNMENT OF THE TOWN AND PUBLIC OFFICES.
The person in whom the manorial government of the town is vested is called the Bailiff, who is chosen yearly, by a jury of burgesses, at the court leet held within a month after Michaelmas by the lord of the manor, Lord Leconfield. Another manorial court for the "five towns," with Eaglesfield and Derwent Fells, within the honour of Cockermouth, is held at Easter, at which presentments of nuisances, &c., are tried. In 1864 a Local Board of Health was formed, with the object of improving the sanitary condition of the town. For this purpose an extensive system of sewerage has been carried out, and the town has been supplied with an abundant store of excellent water, at a cost of £22,000.
The Urban District Council, formed in 1894, consists of twelve members. The town is clean, has a very low death-rate, and an almost total immunity from zymotic sickness.
The County Police Station, in Main Street, was erected in 1894 on the site of an older one built in 1855. It is a good substantial building, containing superintendent's dwelling-house and office, a charge room, two exercise yards, weights and measures' rooms, &c. Adjoining is the Court House. The police force consists of one superintendent, two inspectors, five sergeants, and twenty-five constables.
POOR LAW UNION. - Cockermouth forms the basis of one of the Poor Law Unions of the county. It is divided into four sub-districts - Cockermouth, Maryport, Workington, and Keswick - comprising 170,073 acres, of the ratable value of £313,448; and containing 71,494 inhabitants. The following shows the population and ratable value of the fifty-one parishes and townships forming the union:-
The Union Workhouse in Sullart Street was erected in 1840, and with the additions and alterations, has cost about £4,000. The number of inmates, at present, is 190, of whom 110 are male and 71 female adults, and 9 children. Most of the latter are at the Union schools at Flimby.
The Cemetery, on the Lorton Road, about a quarter of a mile from the town, was opened in June, 1856, and consecrated by the Bishop of Carlisle, September following. It comprises an area of upwards of five acres, and has two mortuary chapels in the Early English style of architecture. The total cost, including the curator's residence, was £2,800.
MARKET HALL, MARKETS, FAIRS. - There are few towns in Cumberland that possessed a Market Charter at so early a date as Cockermouth. This, as we have seen elsewhere, was obtained by William de Fortibus, in 1221. The Market Hall is a large and conveniently arranged structure, erected in 1835-8 at a total cost of £5,190. The money was raised by subscription, 124 shares of £25 each, to which the Earl of Egremont added £2,000. The interest upon this sum, £50, is appropriated towards the relief of tradesmen in the decline of life, residing within the borough. Mitchell's Auction Co., Ltd., hold their weekly sales in the Agricultural Hall, Station Street. The Cockermouth Farmers' Auction Co., Ltd., hold weekly sales of cattle, sheep, etc., on Mondays, in their premises in Station Street. Monday is the chief market day. Fairs are held on the 3rd Friday in February for horses; the 1st Wednesday after April 16th for cattle and horses; the 3rd Wednesday in October for horses and cattle; and the Hiring Fairs at Whitsuntide and Martinmas.
The Public Hall was erected in 1874 by a Limited Liability Co., at a cost of £3,000, in shares of £1 each. The hall will seat about 800 persons, and is used by the Good Templars and other temperance societies. No intoxicating liquors are allowed to be sold on the premises. The Royal Assembly Rooms, for concerts, lectures, etc., will hold about 1,000 persons. The Drill Hall, in St. Helens Street, was erected in 1886, chiefly through the exertions of E.L. Waugh, Esq., and members of the family. It is the headquarters of the L. Company, 1st C.R.V.
The site for the Public Park was presented to the town in 1894, by the late Mrs. Harris, of Papcastle. It extends over 13 acres, and is pleasantly situated close to the Railway Station. During the year 1899, the Urban District Council rented a small field in St. Helens Street, as a Recreation Ground for the people dwelling in the upper part of the town.
The MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES of the town consist of flax and woollen mills and agricultural implement making. The Derwent Flax Mills of J. Harris and Sons, Ltd., were erected in 1834, greatly enlarged in 1847, and again in 1855. All kinds of sewing and embroidery threads are manufactured, and recently the weaving of linen and other fabrics has been introduced. At the Ruby Bank Woollen Mill, the property of Mr. George Tinker, are manufactured blankets, coverings, plaiding, tweeds, skirting, and collar checks.
The ATLAS SWEET MILL, Jubilee Row, is carried on by Messrs. A. & H. Rea, wholesale confectioners, who employ a number of young people of both sexes. Cooper Bros., chemists, Market Place, have recently added a new industry to the town, viz., the manufacture in their laboratories of Stern's pumiline preparations. Jennings' Bros., Ltd., employ about 100 hands at the Castle Brewery, and Armstrong's about 60 at their Timber Saw Mills. Some years ago the hat manufacture formed the most important local industry, and was a source of great wealth to the town. So extensive was this trade, as carried on by Mr. Wilson, that about 4,000 hats were turned out weekly from his establishment. The old mill has long since been converted into shops and offices.
The GAS WORKS were built in 1834, and acquired by the town in 1888. The capital is about £20,000. The works comprise two gas-holders, having a capacity of 81,000 and 18,000 cubic feet respectively. The streets are lighted by 172 lamps.
Cockermouth was the first town in England illuminated by electricity.
Cockermouth was disfranchised on its own petition, and not until 1640, when Charles I restored the franchise to this and several other towns was it again represented in the great council of the nation. Previous to the Reform Bill of 1832 the election was by the inhabitants who held their property on burgage tenure; these numbered only 305; but for a long time previous to the passing of this Act the borough was not contested. The Earl of Lonsdale, in order to bring the election within his own power, purchased most of the burgage tenements, and his nominee was consequently always elected. A predecessor of the present Earl was so extensive a proprietor and patron of boroughs that he returned nine members regularly to every Parliament, who were facetiously named "Lord Lonsdale's nine-pins." One of the members who represented Cockermouth having made a very extravagant speech in the House of Commons was answered by Mr. Burke in a vein of the happiest sarcasm, which elicited from the House loud and continued cheers. Mr. Fox, entering the House as Mr. Burke was sitting down, inquired of Sheridan what was the cheering? "O, nothing of consequence," replied Sheridan, "only Burke has knocked down one of Lord Lonsdale's ninepins." Until 1868 Cockermouth was privileged with two representatives, but by the provisions of the Reform Act, which came into force in that year, one member was withdrawn. At the Redistribution of Seats Bill in 1885 the Borough was disfranchised, and now gives its name to the division, which returned at the last election J.S. Randles, Esq.
The following list contains the names of Cockermouth while a Parliamentary borough.
CHARITIES. - Poor Stock. - Various bequests, dating as far back as 1669, have been made to the poor of Cockermouth. Whether any of the donations have been lost is not known, it appears however, that in 1784 the whole of the stock then belonging to the poor was £427 12s. 7d.; that sum was then laid out, with other charity money, in the funds, and now forms part of a sum of £1,447 7s. 3d. stock, three per cent. consols. Out of the dividend of that stock, £17 is annually distributed on St. Thomas's Day, by the chapel wardens and overseers.
Joseph Glaister, by will dated 2nd January, 1773, left the sum of 50s. yearly to the poor. This was secured upon a Maryport harbour ticket of £200.
Bread Money. - Barbara Relph in 1725 left £50; Richard Baynes in 1771 left £100; Miss Hudson in 1842 £50, and in 1849 another £50. The interest of the above sums (£13) is to be distributed every Sunday in bread among the poor persons frequenting the church.
The Widows' Hospital. - See former page.
Mrs. Deborah Ritson, about the year 1800 left £94, the interest of which was to be divided among poor widows in sums of not more than 2s. 6d. each.
Miss Leathes in 1851 left £100 vested in the public funds towards the support of six poor widows in the alms-houses.
Robinson Mitchell in 1888 left the sum of £500, the interest (£13 17s. 4d.) to be divided among 15 poor widows over 60 years old, residing in the parish of Christ Church, and not in receipt of parochial relief.
The several other charities are included in the £1,335 6s. 11½d. parish stock mentioned above.
BIOGRAPHIES. - Of the many eminent men whom Cumberland claims as her own not one has achieved a more world-wide reputation, or whose name will live longer in the memory of future generations, than Wordsworth. Wherever the English language is spoken, from "torrid zone to icy pole," there the poetry of Wordsworth is known and read. The poet was born at Cockermouth on the 7th April, 1770. His father was an attorney, and law agent to Sir James Lowther, afterwards Earl of Lonsdale. His early school life was spent at Cockermouth, or with his mother's relations at Penrith. In his ninth year he was sent to Hawkshead School, where, he tells us in his autobiography, "one of the ushers taught him more Latin in a fortnight than he had learnt the two preceding years at Cockermouth." Let us hope for the reputation's sake of his early teachers, that when the poet wrote the above he was but using the license which everyone concedes to poetry. It was while at this school he wrote his first verses, in obedience to a task imposed upon him by his master.
In 1787 he entered St. John's College, Cambridge, of which his uncle, Dr. Cookson, had been a fellow, and in 1791 he obtained his B.A. degree. He was at this period an enthusiastic republican; and whilst on a tour through France, about the time of the Revolution, he was only prevented from precipitating himself into the struggle by his speedy return to England in 1792, just before the execution of Louis XVI. He took up his abode in the south of England, and, in conjunction with his friend, Raisley Calvert, a Cumberland gentleman, he commenced elaborating a scheme for the publication of a periodical, The Philanthropist, devoted to the advocacy of republican opinions. The scheme came to nought. Wordsworth's pecuniary resources at this time were very limited, and it was necessary that he should qualify himself for some profession which would render him independent of the charity of his relatives. He purposed studying for the law, proposing to support himself in the interim by writing political articles for the newspaper press.
At this time his friend, Raisley Calvert, died, bequeathing to him £900, that he might cultivate his poetical talents. He relinquished the idea of studying for the law, and devoted himself entirely to poetry. He removed to a rural retreat in Dorsetshire, and soon produced his poem, "Salisbury Plain; or, Guilt and Sorrow." His next work was a tragedy, called "The Borderers," which the managers of Covent Garden Theatre unhesitatingly rejected.
In 1797 he made the acquaintance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The two became fast friends, and in 1798 "Lyrical Ballads," the work of their joint pens, was published, for the copyright of which Wordsworth received 30 guineas. The poems made no impression on the public, though the first piece was Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner." The publisher lost by the the work, and presented the copyright to the authors.
After a tour in Germany, Wordsworth took up his residence at Grasmere. Here also lived, or visited, Coleridge, Southey, De Quincey, Professor Wilson, and other kindred spirits, and to this congregation of poetic talent, Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, applied in derision the epithet of "Lake School." Wordsworth and his friends struggled on against the adverse criticisms of the Review, and the indifference of an apathetic public, until 1813, when the genius of the Lake poets began to be recognised. In this year he received the appointment of Distributor of Stamps in the County of Westmorland. The duties of the office were light, and could be discharged by deputy, and the salary £500 a year.
His first elaborate work, the "Excursion," was published in 1814, of which Jeffrey wrote, "This will never do." "The White Doe of Rylstone," founded on a tradition of Bolton Abbey, followed. "Peter Bell," the "Waggoner," "Sonnets on the River Duddon," "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," and "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent," were next published.
In 1844 he received a pension of £300, and the following year was appointed poet laureate on the death of Southey. He died on the 23rd April, 1850, at Rydal Mount, where he had resided for many years. His mortal remains lie in the churchyard of Grasmere, near those of his children, and his friend Hartley Coleridge. After his death, was published "The Prelude," an autobiographical poem, written forty-five years previously.
Various and contradictory are the opinions of writers, as to the place Wordsworth shall hold in the roll of fame. By his admiring friends he has been unduly lauded and placed in the topmost storey of the poetic temple, along with Shakespeare and Milton; by others his poems have been unjustly criticised, and depreciated below their true worth. "He lived for the art of poesy, and that art was entire mistress of his thoughts, ever centred upon nature, recognising from time to time the tiniest and tenderest forms of life, or the ministrations and dispositions of men, or dwelling with a seer's eye on the everlasting hills and the great heavenward of the universe. Probably his forte lay in investing the minutest details of nature with an atmosphere of sentiment peculiarly his own."
The Rev. Fearon Fallows, another son of genius, was also born at Cockermouth, in the year 1788. His father was a hand-loom weaver, at which trade young Fallows worked until his twentieth year. His extraordinary mathematical abilities displayed themselves very early in life, and even at the age of five years he astonished his father by his powers of calculation. He held for a time the mastership of Plumbland School, but a sum of money having been subscribed by the clergy and gentry of the neighbourhood to enable him to matriculate, he proceeded to St. John's College, Cambridge, where he had for his fellow-students Lord Palmerston, Sir John Herschell [sic], and Professor Playfair. He quitted college with his M.A. degree, and soon after received the appointment of Astronomer Royal at the Cape of Good Hope, where he died at the early age of 43 years.
John Walker, M.D., "the great apostle and martyr in the cause of vaccination," was born at Cockermouth, in 1759, and received the principal part of his education at the Grammar School in this town. He was the son of a smith, and for five years followed his father's business, after which his restless spirit directed itself to the art of engraving, and, in 1798, he removed to Dublin, and his performance in Walker's Magazine, for 1780, 1781, 1782, and 1783, shew to what an excellence he had attained in that art. He afterwards kept a school in Dublin, and published a Geography and Universal Gazetteer. In 1797, he visited the continent, and, in 1799, obtained the degree of Doctor of Medicine, at the celebrated University of Leyden. He, in company with Dr. Marshall, introduced the cow pock at several places in the Levant; and on his return, settled in London, where he obtained an extensive practice, and was most indefatigable in his exertions at the vaccine stations. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and having dispensed the blessings of the discovery to almost every part of the habitable globe, died June 23rd, 1830.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman