This parish is triangular in form, and comprises an area of about 2,889 acres in Derwent ward and petty sessional division; Cockermouth union and rural district; deanery of Maryport; Cockermouth and Workington county court district; and county council electoral division of Dearham. The land is fertile, having in general a light loamy or gravelly soil, which produces an early and excellent crop of wheat, barley, oats, etc. Coal is worked to a considerable extent within the parish, large quantities of it being used in the furnaces of the district, or shipped at Maryport for Ireland. The parish contains 3,000 acres of ratable land, which, together with the buildings, are assessed at about £7,202, and has a population of 1,100.
CANONBY township covers an area of 1,093 acres. Its ratable value and population are returned in the parish. The inhabitants reside principally in the small village of Canonby, which is situated close to the sea, and near the main road from Maryport to Allonby.
Hutchinson, in his History of Cumberland, tells us that the manor of Crosby, or Cross Canonby, was a demesne of Allerdale, and continued to be held by the lords of that honour, until the reign of Henry VIII, when it was transferred to the Crown by the sixth Earl of Northumberland. In the 37th year of that king's reign, it was granted to Richard Bridges and John Knight, who sold it to Gabriel Highmore. It came at length to the Porters, of Weary Hall, in which family it continued for several generations, until one of them enfranchised the manor, and sold it to the tenants, who are now all freeholders. The principal landowners are - J. Hall, Esq., Keswick; the Trustees of the late L.F.B. Dykes, H. Richmond, and R.B. Brockbank.
The Church, dedicated to St. John, is an ancient structure, and was given by Alan, second lord of Allerdale, with a carucate of land, to the prior and convent of Carlisle. It underwent a very general restoration in 1880, at a cost of about £1,000, raised by subscription; and at the same time the chancel was restored by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, at a cost of £250. A new altar has been recently erected, the gift of Henry Williamson, Esq., Solway villa, Crosby. An old font, of great antiquity, is still preserved in the church. The tithes were commuted in 1844, for £308 1s. 9d. The living is now worth £275 a year, and is in the gift of the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle, as the successors of the Augustinian Canons, whose convent was suppressed by Henry VIII, and is held by the Rev. H.J. Marsh. The latter part of the name of the parish - Canonby - i.e., the town belonging to the Canons, plainly shows us that in the past there was here a small convent of Canons, an offshoot no doubt from the house at Carlisle; and from the prefix - Cross, originally Crosby, but abbreviated to Cross when the latter township and Canonby were formed into one parish, we may infer the former existence of that emblem of man's redemption, erected by the Irish missionaries who spread the light of faith among our Saxon forefathers in this part of our island.
The Cemetery, covering six acres, is situated on the main road from Maryport to Allonby. There are two mortuary chapels, one appropriated to the Church of England, and the other to the Dissenters.
Cross Canonby Hall, now a farmstead, and the property of Mrs. Dykes, is a very ancient building, supposed to have been a monastery or college of canons, in the early days of its existence. On its restoration in 1857, a stone bearing the date 1167 was discovered in the fireplace.
Canonby House is a fine mansion fronting the sea, the residence of H. Richmond, Esq.
BIRKBY. - This township contains 871 acres, inhabited by a population of about 85, who reside chiefly in the village of Birkby, and are employed in the cultivation of the land.
The Manor of Birkby is parcel of the barony of Allerdale, belonging to Lord Leconfield, It was a portion of the grant of Henry, Earl of Northumberland, to Thomas Wharton, controller of his household, and was held on the yearly payment of 6s. The Dean and Chapter of Carlisle have a manor here, which formerly belonged to the priory of that town, to which it was given by Alan, lord of Allerdale, but it is now annexed to the manor of Lorton. The principal landowners are the Trustees of the late F.L.B. Dykes, Esq.; John Clark, Mrs. Francis Beeby, and Cuthbert Cuthbertson.
The commons, containing upwards of 64 acres, were enclosed in 1853. The village of Birkby is pleasantly situated on the main road from Maryport to Carlisle, about two miles E. by N. from the former place. Ellen Bank, the seat and property of Mrs. John Ritson, is a fine structure in the Elizabethan style, erected in 1850. Birkby Lodge, The Retreat, and Birkley House are other fine mansions in this township.
The Birkby Fire Brick Works and Colliery, worked by Messrs. Steele and Beveridge, of Maryport, is situated near Dearham Bridge Station, on the Maryport and Cleator Railway, and gives employment to about forty hands. The coal is obtained from a drift, no pit having been sunk.
CROSBY. - This township comprises 1,041 acres, inhabited by nearly 1,000 people. The ratable value is returned in the parish. Agriculture and mining are the principal occupations of the inhabitants. The first pit was sunk in 1856, by Messrs. Cooke, Nicholson & Co., and subsequently two others, but only one of the three is now being worked. The Bullgill and Dearham Bridge Railway Stations are both in this township, the latter being the nearest to the village.
The Manor of Crosby formerly belonged to the Earls of Northumberland; it afterwards came to the Porters, of Weary Hall, one of whom sold the manorial privileges to the landowners, the chief of whom is R.B. Brockbank, Esq. A branch of the Osmotherleys was long located here, one of whom, William, was twice High Sheriff and also M.P. for the County, in the reign of the unfortunate Richard II. The family name has long been extinct, but their descendants, through the female line, are still found in the Reays and the Laws, one of whom became first Earl of Ellenborough.
The commons were enclosed in 1853, when two acres were allotted to the poor. The village is pleasantly situated on the Maryport and Carlisle roads, about 3 miles E.N.E of the former place, and from its elevated position commands an extensive view of the sea and opposite shores of the Solway. A national school was erected here in 1861, but has since been enlarged, and is now attended by about 180 children. The Primitive Methodist Chapel, built by public subscription in 1863 at a cost of £230, is a small building, capable of accommodating 150 worshippers. A chapel school, belonging to the same denomination, was built in 1885 in Crosby village, with seating accommodation for about 300. The village also possesses a Reading Room and Library, established in 1872.
Moor Park, a handsome and capacious residence belonging to Mr. Joseph Collins, is in this township. Solway Villa, a fine squarely-built mansion, standing in tastefully laid-out grounds, is in the occupancy of H. Williamson, Esq.
The termination of the names Crosby and Birkby, point them out as having been two of the early Danish settlements in this county; the villages founded by the Danes have generally the terminal by, a Scandinavian word signifying dwelling, and therefore town; hence Crosby, the dwellings near the Cross; and Birkby, the town among beech trees.
CHARITY. - Mr. J. Nicholson, in 1818, left £415 13s. 9d., three per cent. consols, the interest of which, amounting to £12 9s. 4d. per annum, is divided in the proportion of two-thirds to the schoolmaster of Crosby, for the education of 20 children of the townships of Crosby and Birkby; and one-third to poor widows of Maryport.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman