This is another small parish, being about two miles in length, and three-quarters in breadth, and containing about 2,000 acres, assessed at £3,951 10s. Population 573. The gross rental is about £4,718. It lies on the south side of the river Ellen, between Dearham. and Torpenhow, and is comprehended in one manor and township. The first recorded possessor of Gilcrux is Waltheof, lord of Allerdale, who granted it to Lyulph, from whom it passed by the marriage of an heiress to the Bonnekill family. One of the Bonnekills gave it to the Abbot and Convent of Calder, reserving, however, the right of presentation to the bishop of the diocese. After the dissolution of the monastery, it was granted by Philip and Mary to Alexander Armstrong, and his male heirs, under the condition of providing five horses, well caparisoned, whenever summoned, within the county of Cumberland. It appears to have subsequently reverted to the Crown, for Elizabeth, in the 17th year of her reign, conveyed to John Soukey and Percival Gunson, all the messuages, lands, tenements, water mill, rent, reversions, and services, with appurtenances in Gilcrux aforesaid, to be held as of the manor of East Greenwich. The manor came subsequently into the possession of the Dykes family, and is now owned by the Exors. of L.F.B. Dykes, Esq.; the other principal landowners are William. H. Hall, Esq., Mrs. Smith, John Conaway, William Ogilvie, Mrs. Fearon, Rev. J.C. Pigott (glebe), Matthew Smith, John Green, John Wilson, Joseph Hall, etc. The following custom is observed in the manor:- On the death of the lord or change of tenant, a 20d. customary fine is paid.
The parish is comprised within the ward and petty sessional division of Derwent; the deanery of Maryport; the union and rural district of Cockermouth; the county court district of Cockermouth and Workington; and the county council electoral division of Dearham. Several seams or bands of coal lie beneath the surface, but two only are sufficiently thick to admit of working; these are called the "Yard Band" and the "Metal Band," of an average thickness of 2 feet 10 inches. At the colliery, called the Ellen Pit, worked by the Bullgill Colliery Co., Ltd., employment is found for about 250 hands; output about 200 tons per day.
Gilcruz or Gilcruix village is about 5½ miles E. of Maryport, and 6 north of Cockermouth, and has evidently been so named from the presence of one of the numerous crosses erected by the first Christian missionaries when preaching the gospel in these parts. The district around is remarkable for the number and excellence of its springs, and in the village almost every house has its own spring, whose united waters form a considerable stream. In a field to the east of the village are two springs about forty or fifty yards apart, the one of fresh and the other of salt water, the latter having medicinal properties. The inhabitants have bestowed on the salt spring the name of "Tommy Tack," in allusion to the taste of the liquid. The origin of these numerous springs is usually ascribed to the geological formation of the district. The great dyke which crosses the county passes by the low side of the village, and prevents the further passage of the water, which is thus forced to rise to the surface.
The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, is an ancient-looking structure, pleasantly situated on rising ground on the eastern side of the village. Like the majority of our country churches, the date of its erection has not been preserved; but the list of its vicars can be traced back, though in a broken line, to John Lestoson, who held the incumbency in 1331. Previous to its appropriation to the Abbey of Calder, as related in the descent of the manor, the benefice was rectorial, but it thence became vicarial, and has remained so since. About the latter part of the 14th century, the Bishop of Carlisle, patron of the living by the reservation of the grantor, found it necessary to define the sources from which the income of the vicar should be derived. By this decision a suitable endowment was secured to the vicar, consisting of the mansion house opposite to the church, with the lands arable, meadow, and pasture, in the fields of Gilcrux, half of the tithe of hay, and all the tithes of wool, lamb, mill, fishings, and oblations, with the whole altarage and other profits, except only the corn tithes; and that the Abbey and Convent of Calder shall pay moreover to the vicar four marks yearly. The vicar to bear all charges, ordinary and extraordinary, except the repair of the chancel." In the King's Book the living was valued at £5 14s. 2d., and to the Governors of Queen's Anne's Bounty it was returned at £22 16s. 4d. It is now worth £120, and is in the gift of the Bishop of Carlisle. The tithes were commuted in 1844 for a yearly payment of £32 16s. 9d., of which sum £10 10s. is payable to the vicar. The remainder of the income is derived from the rent of 75 acres of glebe, which are let together with the old parsonage house, also from annual payments by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.
The church is small, affording accommodation for 150 persons. The interior was restored in 1878, at a cost of £500; and in 1888 a new vestry was added. The incumbency is held by the Rev. John Cornell Pigott. The vicarage was completed in 1884, at a cost of £1,400, raised by the vicar in voluntary contributions. It is a commodious residence, the site of which, about three-quarters of an acre, was given by Miss Beck, of Ellen Bank.
The Parish School is endowed with £22 a year, arising from the interest of £800 left by John Tordoff, in 1799, for the education of 24 poor children; and the testator further directed that the schoolmaster should accept no presents from the children educated upon this charity. The school, a mixed one, was entirely rebuilt in 1865, at a cost of about £700, raised by subscription, and is attended by about 93 children.
Ellen Hall, an old ruined building near the river Ellen, is now converted into a farmstead and corn mill.
The Wesleyan Chapel was built in the year 1875, at a cost of about £400, raised by subscription, and is supposed to occupy the spot whereon their zealous founder, John Wesley, once stood and preached in his earnest, impassioned manner to the wondering villagers.
Gilcrux was the birthplace of Joseph Jackson, a philosopher and mineralogist of considerable ability. His theories attracted attention a hundred years ago; but his speculations were often extravagant, and his attempt to disprove the Newtonian theory was an utter failure. He died at Bordeaux in 1789, while on his way home from Spain, whither he had gone to open a colliery in Andalusia.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman