Or, as it is called in ancient records, Seemurthow, and sometimes Seatmurthow, is a parish extending along the south side of the Derwent to the foot of Bassenthwaite Lake. It is comprised within Derwent ward, and petty sessional division; the deanery, and county court district of Cockermouth and the county council electoral division of Bridekirk; and the poor law union and rural district of Cockermouth. An area of 2,604 acres is embraced within its limits, rated at 2,098, with a gross rental of 2,379. The population in 1891 numbered 139.

Agriculture is the only employment of the people, who are therefore not collected in villages, but live dispersedly over the district. Setmurthy is a parcel of the manor of the five towns included in the honour of Cockermouth, and its manorial rights and privileges are accordingly vested in Lord Leconfield as baron of Cockermouth. The principal landowners are Sir W. Lawson, Bart.; the Rev. G.R. and M. Hoskins, Colonel A. Green-Thompson, John Harrison, Thomas Hartley, Joseph Fisher, and Miss Alice Alsop.

Huthwaite, or Hewthwaite, is a small manor in this township, which gave name to the family who possessed it at an early date. The manor is now held by Lieutenant-Colonel A. Green-Thompson, but the most extensive proprietor is T.A. Hoskins, Esq. Huthwaite Hall, formerly the residence of the lords of the manor, is now occupied as a farmhouse. Over the doorway is the following inscription, in quaint style and spelling :-

"John Swynburn, Esq., and Elizabeth, his wife,
Did make cost of this work in the days of their life.
Anno Domini 1581. Anno Reginae 23."

This manor passed to the Swinburns by marriage with the heiress of the Huthwaites.

The commons were enclosed in 1813, when 56 acres, called School Fell, were allotted towards the maintenance of the school, for the free education of all children in Setmurthy. This land is now let for 40 a year.

The Church, dedicated to St. Barnabas, and situated 4 miles north-east of Cockermouth, was rebuilt in 1794, at a cost of 107, subscribed by the inhabitants, and restored in 1871, when a tower and vestry were added. The living is a vicarage in the patronage of the Rev. Canon G.R. Hoskins and Mary Hoskins, value about 85, and held by the Rev. Daniel Harrison, M.A. To the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty the income was certified at 2, being the interest of 40 subscribed by the inhabitants. At this time, Hutchinson tells us, "the reader of divine service, had a precarious income; but an actual custom subsisted for several years of allowing the poor minister a whittle-gate. He was privileged to go from house to house in the chapelry, and stay a certain number of days at each place, where he was permitted to enter his whittle or knife with the rest of the people of the household, and to share the provisions prepared for the use of the family." The custom had then (1794) been so recently abolished that there were people still living who had witnessed it. There are about 30 acres of glebe belonging to the chapel. The burial-ground was consecrated for interments in 1835, by Dr. Sumner, Bishop of Chester and afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury, at which time Setmurthy formed the extreme corner of the old diocese of Chester.

The School, built in 1897 on the site of the old one, is a neat stone structure, wherein is contained every requisite that modern improvement could devise for the comfort of the children. For the erection of the school the, people are mainly indebted to the generosity of the Rev. Canon Hoskins. There is an average attendance of 31 (mixed), taught by Miss Dora Elizabeth Banks.

Higham, the residence of the Rev. Canon G.R. Hoskins, M.A., is a handsome mansion rebuilt by the late T.A. Hoskins, Esq., in 1828. It commands a pretty peep of the foot of Bassenthwaite Lake, and a magnificent view of the extensive range of hills from Sale Fell, in Wythop, to Torpenhow, embracing the Dod, Ullock, Skiddaw proper, Orthwaite Fell, and Binsa. On the estate is an object of antiquarian interest - a circle of large stones, supposed to indicate a Druids' temple, or more probably the burial place of some noteworthy personage among the Pagan Britons. Dunthwaite is the residence of John Harrison, Esq., and his son, the Rev. Daniel Harrison, M.A., vicar of this parish.

Old customs, like old ideas, often die a very lingering death; and in the rural districts of Cumberland many old-world manners and customs still survive the shock given to these antiquated forms by this twentieth century enlightenment. In the country districts around Cockermouth, the advent of a "little stranger" is an event generally celebrated by feasting, eating, and drinking; the principal feature of the feast being "rum butter," of which every visitor is expected to partake. This substance is composed of brown sugar, melted butter, and rum, and is set before every person, whether male or female, who pays a visit of welcome to the little stranger. At the christening feast whatever remains of the rum butter is then consumed.



Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman