This parish covers an area of 1,940 acres, which are assessed at £1,987; gross rental, £2,211; and contained in 1891 a population of 248. The inhabitants are chiefly employed in agriculture, and reside in the village of the same name, about 2½ miles S.W. of Cockermouth. The principal landowners are the Earl of Lonsdale; Robert Benn, Esq.; W. Williamson, Esq., Allonby; J. Harris, Esq., Calthwaite Hall; Robinson Mitchell, Esq., High Dyke; Major Brougham; J.H. Jefferson, Esq., St. Helens; and J.W. Rothery. Eaglesfield is comprised within Derwent ward and petty sessional division; the deanery and county court district of Cockermouth and Workington; the poor law union and rural district of Cockermouth; and the electoral division of Brigham.
The Manor of Eaglesfield was at a very early date, in the possession of a family who assumed the local name, one of whom was confessor to Queen Philippa, Consort of Edward III, and founder of Queen's College, Oxford. The manorial rights now belong to Lord Leconfield. The land is principally copyhold, or tenancy subject to a fine of two years' value, at the death of either lord or tenant. The Manor Courts are held at Cockermouth Castle. The Commons were enclosed in 1818, and the inhabitants participate, conjointly with those of Blindbothel, in the school in that village. A paved Roman way, seven yards in width, leading from north to south, has been discovered in different places in this district; and in removing the surface for the purpose of quarrying the limestone which abounds here, several human bones, teeth, and instruments of war have been found from time to time, at a place called Endlaw, from which circumstance it is supposed to be the site of a Roman station. This road may be traced at intervals through the intermediate parishes between Papcastle and Millom.
Eaglesfield unites with Mosser in matters ecclesiastical, and a new and commodious church has been erected between the two places, with a vicarage adjacent. In the village is a Wesleyan Chapel, a small stone building, raised in 1845, at a cost of £120; and in the vicinity the Friends have a Meeting House and burial ground, the former bearing the date of 1711, the latter 1693. This chapel is now only used on the occasion of a funeral.
There is an excellent bed of limestone in the township about 60 feet thick, and extending over many acres. it is worked at the Hotchberry Quarries, which afford employment to about 40 men. The output averages from 200 to 300 tons per day, which is all used in the iron furnaces of the district. The quarries lie about 1½ miles from the nearest railway station, and from 30 to 40 horses are constantly employed in carting the limestone to the trucks.
CHARITY. - Henry Fletcher, of Green, in 1730, gave a rent charge of £2 a year to the poor, payable out of his estate at Lowfield, in Lorton.
BIOGRAPHY. - In the village of Eaglesfield was born, in the year 1766, John Dalton, who, from humble circumstances, became one of the most eminent of mathematicians, meteorologists, and natural philosophers of this or any other country. His early education was received at the village school of Brigham; and even in his youth he gave signs of the searching and powerful intellect which he afterwards developed. At the age of ten he constructed an almanac, and at thirteen he commenced teaching a school on his own account, in an outbuilding adjoining his mother's cottage. In his fifteenth year he removed to Kendal, having obtained the situation of usher in a school of which his cousin was proprietor. Here he applied himself assiduously to the study of mathematics and natural philosophy, and in 1788 he commenced to keep a record of his daily observations of meteorological phenomena, a practice which he continued to the end of his life. In 1793 he was appointed professor of mathematics and natural philosophy in the New College, Manchester, a position which he held until the removal of that institution to York, in 1799. He continued, however, to reside in Manchester, where he employed himself in teaching and lecturing on chemistry, and his other favourite subjects. He was a constant contributor to the "Ladies' Diary," "The Transactions of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society," and other scientific journals. In 1808 he startled the scientific world by the publication of his "New System of Physical Philosophy," in which he first developed the Atomic theory. "This was one of the most important contributions that had yet been made to the science of chemistry. By it the constituents of any article could be regulated with perfect accuracy, and the knowledge of chemical combinations reduced to an amazing degree of simplicity and certainty." The Royal Society awarded him their gold medal; the University of Oxford conferred upon him the title of D.C.L., and Edinburgh the degree of L.L.D. William IV granted him a pension of £150, which in 1836 was raised to £300; and his Manchester friends subscribed £2,000 for a statue. The work was executed by Chantrey and is now in the entrance hall of the Royal Institution of that city. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society, and was also a member of several other learned societies. He died at Manchester, in 1814. Above the doorway of the house in which he was born, a stone has been placed by public subscription, inscribed thus:- "John Dalton, D.C.L., L.L.D. The discoverer of the Atomic Theory was born here September 5th, 1766. Died at Manchester July 27th, 1847."
Moorland Close is an ancient-looking farmhouse, erected more than two centuries ago, when the farmsteads of the two counties were so constructed as to afford protection against the moss troopers from over the border. Here was born about the year 1753 Fletcher Christian, a name which has obtained a lasting notoriety by its connection with the Mutiny of the Bounty. Fletcher's father was a substantial yeoman; but the son was of an adventurous spirit, and after finishing his education at the Free Grammar School at Cockermouth, he chose the sea for a profession. Quick and intelligent, young Fletcher soon attained the position of chief mate of the Bounty, then commanded by Captain Bligh. When returning from Tahiti to the West Indies, a part of the crew, headed by Christian, provoked by the imperious, overbearing, and often tyrannical conduct of Bligh, mutinied against his authority. The captain and eighteen of the crew were forced into one of the ship's boats and cast adrift on the trackless ocean, with few provisions, and without sextant or chart by which to steer their course. Bligh and his Companions, after enduring many hardships, reached the land, having sailed 3,600 miles. The mutineers sailed back to Tahiti, where some of the crow remained; but Christian, fearing pursuit, with six of his companions and their Tahitan wives, accompanied also by eighteen natives, quitted the island, and sailed for Pitcairn, a small island in the Pacific Ocean. Quarrels afterwards occurred between the Tahitans and the Englishmen, and in one of these Christian perished. The little colony thus founded was first discovered in 1808 by an American vessel. Their numbers having increased too much for so small an island, they were removed, in 1857, to the larger and more productive island of Norfolk, belonging to the colony of New South Wales.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman