Lies along the north side of the river Wampool, extending lengthwise about four miles, laterally about a mile and a half, and is surrounded by the parishes of Aikton, Orton, Dalston, Westward and Wigton. The soil, which consists principally of gravel with a mixture of loam, is tolerably fertile, except on the eastern side, where a cold clayey land prevails. Agriculture is the principal employment of the inhabitants. The parish lies rather low, having in some places an insufficient fall to carry off the surface water; much of the land is marshy, and extensive tracts are covered with reeds, especially on the swamp called Caldew Mires. Thursby comprises three manors, viz:- Thursby, Crofton, and Parton-with-Micklethwaite, whose united area is 3,075 acres, including 75 acres of plantation which was enclosed in 1877. The gross estimated rental is £5,998; ratable value, £5,274; and population, 548. It is comprised within the limits of Allerdale-below-Derwent ward and petty sessional division; the county council electoral division of Bowness; and the deanery, poor law union, rural and county court districts of Wigton. We have in the name of this parish an old Norse word, which has undergone very little change since the sea rovers of the north first effected a settlement in Cumberland. They are supposed to have had here a temple dedicated to Thor - the Thunder God of the Saxons - and hence the name Thor's-by. This is also the local pronunciation, and was, until recent years, also the usual mode of spelling. When these Norsemen were converted to Christianity by the preaching of Hiberno-Scotic missionaries, a Christian church arose from the ruins of the pagan temple.
The manor of Thursby was given by Alan, second son of Allerdale, to Herbert le Brun, who thereupon assumed the name of the place and styled himself de Thursby. He appears to have held the office of King's forester for a part of Inglewood. It afterwards passed to Guido Boyvill, a younger son of the Levington family; and in 1299 Sir William Boyvill was in possession. Subsequently we find the manor held by Robert de Ogle, and a century later a descendant of that family, bearing the same name, held the manor of Thursby, and the advowson of the church there, of the barony of Burgh, by knight's service. At a later period, but the date does not appear, it came by purchase to the Dacres, and was held by William Lord Dacre (1543) as parcel of the barony of Burgh, by knight's service and 25 8½ [?] cornage. It has ever since continued attached to the barony, and is now the property of Sir Musgrave Horton Brisco. The principal landowners are Christopher Martindale, Ann Faulder, Ernest A. Thompson, John Jefferson, and Isaac Fletcher.
The village of Thursby is pleasantly situated on the Carlisle and Wigton road, six miles S.W from the former, and five miles E.N.E. of the latter town.
The Church, dedicated to St. Andrew, occupies an elevated position a little left of the village. It is a beautiful structure, erected in 1846, and consists of nave, chancel, south transept, and tower, in which is a peal of six bells. The style of architecture adopted is that which prevailed in the 13th century, and is remarkable for its lightness and elegance. The funds for its erection were raised by a parochial rate of 3s. 3d. in the pound, aided by £500 left by Sir John Brisco. Two bells were given by Sir Wastel Brisco; the cost of the rest was defrayed by a separate rate. The church was renovated in 1878, when the interior fittings were rearranged. The oaken pulpit and lectern formerly in Carlisle Cathedral, were presented by the Dean and Chapter. The altar is a beautiful piece of work, executed at a cost of about £130. Part of the stone font, which stood in the old church, has been preserved in the present edifice; the shaft, which is cylindrical and quite plain, has been fitted with a new basin. The south transept or Brisco Chapel is the property of that family, several of whose members are buried here, as recorded upon the four marble monuments to their memory. In honour .of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria, a fine two-manuel organ, by Monk, of London, was placed in the church.
The old church, which the present one displaced, is said to have been erected by David I, of Scotland, to whom Cumberland at that time belonged. This was, however, most probably not the original church, but the one which superseded the old Dano-Saxon edifice, erected on the site of the Temple of Thor. The benefice was a rectory until 1469, when Sir Robert Ogle granted it to the prior and convent of Carlisle. It is now a vicarage in the patronage of the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle. The living is at present in the incumbency of the Rev. W. Golling, who was inducted in August, 1878. It is valued in the King's Book at £11 10s. 4d. There are belonging to the church 21 acres of glebe which let for £5 a year, and a plot of six acres in Baldwin Holme yields £10. The vicar, by prescription, is entitled to all the small tithes of the parish, and the great and small tithes of Parton and Micklethwaite, and Crofton and Whinnow. In 1838 the tithes were commuted for a yearly rent charge of £354, of which £150, the rectorial tithes of Thursby, belong to the Dean and Chapter. The entire income from all these sources, inclusive also of an augmentation grant of £62 per annum from the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, is £244. The parish register commences in 1649.
The vicarage house is a good residence, contiguous to the church. It has received considerable internal improvements at a cost of £500, which was chiefly defrayed by the vicar. The parochial school dates from about the year 1704, previous to which time the parish does not appear to have possessed any educational establishment. It was a small, unpretending structure, but continued to perform its useful offices until 1848, when the present building was erected. A new class-room was added, at a cost of £300, in 1876, at which time it was placed under the management of the School Board. In 1798 Thomas Tomlinson, Esq., a native of this parish, who died in America, bequeathed by will, dated 16th April of that year, the residue of his personal property, not otherwise disposed of, to the schools of Thursby, Bromfield, Uldale, and Wigton, to be divided equally among them, and to become part of the funds of the respective schools. The sum of £354 was received by this school as its share of the bequest. It was placed in the hands of Sir Wastel Brisco, who paid four per cent. (£14 3s. 4d.), for which ten poor children were taught at a small quarterage. It is now held by the Charity Commissioners, and produces £10 18s. 4d. towards the school funds. A Reading Room, and Library containing upwards of 400 volumes, were established here in 1881.
CHARITIES. - The same generous benefactor who endowed the school also bequeathed to the poor of the parish £160, which, after the payment of testamentary expenses, left £155. This money was invested, and now produces £4 7s. 8d. interest, which is distributed by the vicar and churchwardens, in conformity with the wishes of the testator. He directed, in his will, that the receipt of his bounty should in no way lessen any allowance the recipient may receive or be entitled to from the parish.
Thomas Gibson left, about the same time (1798), to the poor of this parish a legacy of £30, to be divided on the Christmas day after his death, and a further sum of £5 for ever. The testator died in 1800, but a valuation of his effects showed personal property insufficient to meet the payment of his debts and various legacies named in the will. A suit in Chancery followed against the executors, in which it was decided to apportion the estate among the claimants in proportion to their claims. A sum of £78 7s. 2d. was awarded to Thursby in fulfilment of all claims against the estate of the said Thomas Gibson. The interest of this sum, £3 0s. 4d., is distributed on the 1st of January.
Evening Hill, Moor End, and Neal House are three hamlets in this township. At the former is a beautiful mansion in the Elizabethan style, erected by the late John Knubley Wilson, Esq., and now the property and residence of Mordaunt Lawson, Esq. At Moor End was born John Studholme, who wrote a moral essay, of which the Westminster Magazine in 1779 gave this character: "The author proposes his sentiments with modesty and perspicuity. A very ingenious and philosophic piece, written both with intelligence and intelligibility; nor is there anything assuming or dogmatical in any part of it."
Crofton, from Croft, an enclosed space, and ton, a dwelling, i.e., the village or houses in the croft, is a purely agricultural district, the inhabitants of which reside in the small hamlet of Whinnow, or in dispersed dwellings.
Nothing appears to be known of the Manor until the reign of King John (1199-1216), when we find it in the possession of Sir Gilbert, son of Gilbert de Dundraw. This Sir Gilbert gave a portion of Crofton to the hospital of St. Nicholas, at Carlisle, but he attached to the gift the condition that "that land should grind at his mill at Crofton." The next family who held the manor was the de Croftons. The first of this name was Stephen de Crofton, who married Ada, daughter of the above-mentioned Sir Gilbert, and with her received the manor, and adopted de Crofton as his surname. There followed a John de Crofton, Robert de Crofton, John de Crofton, and Clement de Crofton, who died in 1369-70. He was succeeded by his son, Sir John de Crofton, whose daughter and heir married Isold Brisco, about 1390, and carried the manor to that family. From this Isold it has passed in an unbroken line to the present owner, Sir Musgrave Horton Brisco. The ancient name of this family was Birkskeugh or Birkskough, corrupted into Bruskough, that is, Birchwood, and they were so called "because their first ancestors dwelt at Birkskeugh, a place near Newbiggin, in a lordship belonging to the priory of Carlisle." From some ancient documents still in possession of the family it appears they were formerly lords of the manor of Birkskeugh or Brisco, but that Christopher, son and successor of Isold Brisco, was taken prisoner by the Scots at the burning of Wigton, and to raise the large sum required for his ransom, he was obliged to mortgage the manor of Brisco to the Prior of Carlisle. This mortgage afterwards became the subject of an arbitrament between the Prior and Christopher, when it was ordered that the Prior and his successors should continue in possession of the manor except "the capital house and best tenement" and that Christopher and his heirs should have the privilege of cutting wood and quarrying stones for building, and that the Prior should pay the said Christopher 100 marks.
Crofton Hall, the much admired seat of Sir Musgrave Horton Brisco, Bart., occupies a delightful situation on the north bank of the Wampool, about four miles E. by N. from Wigton, and one mile west from the parish church. At a little distance from the hall, rises a conical mount of considerable size, commonly called Torkin. It is clothed with wood, and is said to have been the residence of two brothers of gigantic stature ; but tradition has preserved neither the name of the couple nor the age in which they lived.
Whinnow, a hamlet in this township, is 3¼ miles E.N.E. of Wigton.
BRISCO FAMILY. - This family, as has been already stated, took their name from Birkskeugh, near Newbiggin, and the first whose name appears on record is Robert Brisco, Lord of Brisco, - Allan his son succeeded, - then followed in direct descent Jordan, - Robert (temp. Edward I)., John, - and Isold, who, by his marriage with the daughter and heir of Sir John Crofton, in the reign of Richard II, obtained the manors of Crofton, Whinnow and Dundraw. Christopher, his son, succeeded, of whom we have already spoken. He kept fourteen soldiers at Briscothorn-upon-Esk. He was succeeded by his son, Robert Brisco, who married Isabel, daughter of William Dykes, of Warthole, and had issue; Thomas, a priest; Robert, who succeeded; Isold, who fought against the Saracens, and afterwards became a hermit; Edward, from whom are descended the Briscos, of Westward and Aldenham, county Hertford; Alexander, from whom are descended the Briscos of Garwell, in Northampton, and two daughters. Robert, the second son, succeeded, and married Catharine, daughter and heiress of Clement Skelton, of Petteril Wray; and besides other issue had John Brisco, who married Janet Salkeld, of Corby, and had a son, Richard Brisco, who married a daughter of Leigh, of Frizington, and had issue two sons, Robert, who succeeded and Leonard. The latter by his marriage obtained the Coldhall estates, but after four generations this line became extinct. Robert Brisco, son of Richard, was slain at the battle of Solway Moss, and left a son, John, who married Anne, daughter of William Musgrave, Esq., of Hayton. John Brisco, son and heir of the aforesaid John, by his wife, daughter of Sir Thomas Braithwaite, of Burnshead, had sixteen children, ten sons and six daughters, of whom nine died young or unmarried. John Brisco, of Wampool, married Judith, daughter of ---- Bewley; Edward left no issue; Dorothy, married to Sir John Ponsonby, colonel of a regiment in the civil wars, who went over to Ireland with Cromwell and settled there, and was ancestor of the earls of Besborough; Mary, married the Rev. Joseph Nicholson, and was the mother of the Right Rev. William Nicholson, Bishop of Carlisle. William, the third son, succeeded. He was twice married, and had three sons by his second wife; William, who became a merchant and died without issue; Thomas, who married the widow of Major Crisp and daughter of Lancelot Fletcher, of Tallantire. John Brisco, the eldest son, succeeded, and married Mercy, daughter of William Johnston, of Kibblesworth, county Durham, and had a family of six sons and four daughters. He was succeeded by his second son, John Brisco, Esq., of Crofton, who married Catharine, daughter of Sir Richard Musgrave, of Hayton, and had issue; Richard, who died before his father; John, who succeeded to the estates; William, rector of Distington; Musgrave, a captain in the army; James, collector of customs at Beaumaris; Wastel, who became a settler in Jamaica; Ralph, who married the daughter of the Rev. Jonathan Rowland; Dorothy, married to Richard Lamplugh, Esq., of Ribton; and Catharine, married to John Holme, an attorney at Carlisle. The Rev. John Brisco, the second son, succeeded his father. He was rector of Orton and vicar of Aspatria, and married Catharine, daughter of John Hylton, of Hylton Castle, county Durham, and had issue John, Richard, an officer in the army, killed in Germany; Horton, a colonel in the service of the E.I. Company; William Musgrave, an officer in the army; James, a clergyman; and a daughter, married to Jacob Morland, Esq. John Brisco, the eldest son, succeeded. He was created a baronet, 11th July, 1782; Sir John married Caroline Alicia Fleming, whose mother was sister to Charles, the 4th Earl of Tankerville. They had issue, two sons, Wastel and Fleming John, and three daughters, Camilia Caroline, Augusta, and Emma. He died 27th December, 1805, and was succeeded by his eldest son, Sir Wastel Brisco, Baronet, Crofton Hall. He married 18th November, 1806, Miss Lester, and had issue, Robert, born 17th September, 1808, and Hylton Harvey, born 24th March, 1810. Sir Robert Brisco, Baronet, succeeded on the death of his father, in 1862. He married Anne, daughter of George Rimmington, Esq., of Tynefield House, Cumberland, and has issue, Musgrave Horton, born 11th August, 1833 ; Robert George, born 7th September, 1836; Wastel, born 26th September, 1838; Fleming, born 20th April, 1845; Arthur Hylton, born 18th September, 1847; Alfred, born 3rd April, 1851; Annie Camilla, Ada Susan, Ella, and Frances Dykes. Sir Musgrave Horton Brisco succeeded on the death of his father in 1884. He married Mary, daughter of Sir W.H. Fielden, Bart., in 1867, and has issue, Hylton, born 1871.
The Manor of Parton, which, besides Parton and Micklethwaite, includes Nealhouse in this parish, and Caldewlees in Dalston, was anciently held by a family who took their name from the place. From the Partons it passed by the marriage of a daughter and heiress to Richard Maunsel, and in the next descent it was sold by John Maunsel to Robert Mulcastre, who, in the reign of Henry III, conveyed it to Robert de Grimsdale. After four descents, the Grimsdale family terminated in a daughter, Margaret, who conveyed it, upon her marriage, to Robert de Ross, her second husband. It changed ownership twice afterwards by sale, and in 1686, it was purchased by Sir John Lowther, and has descended from him to the present Earl of Lonsdale. Fourteen years previous to this last transfer, 1762, the tenants purchased from John Denton, the then owner, for 61 years' ancient rent, about £336, freedom from all rents, fines, heriots, carriages, boon-days, duties, services, and demands whatsoever. They were also granted the liberty of cutting wood for their own use, and taking stone within their own grounds for their buildings or fences; but were required to pay yearly at Martinmas one penny rent, and to render suit of court, royalties, escheats, and all things belonging to the lordship. The village of Parton occupies a pleasant situation two miles N.N.E. of Wigton. At Micklethwaite, a hamlet two miles N. by E. of Wigton, is a Mission Room in which afternoon service is held for the benefit of those who reside a distance from the Church.
BIOGRAPHY. - Sir Thomas Bouche [sic], the eminent engineer, was a native of this parish. His father, a captain in the merchant service, resided at Thursby, where Thomas was born in 1822. The rudiments of his education were imparted to him in the school of his native village, after which he spent some years in a private seminary in Carlisle. Having made choice of a profession, at the age of seventeen he entered the service of Messrs. Lomar and Errington, civil engineers, who, being engaged in the construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway, had a branch office at Carlisle. Here he made such good use of his time that at the expiration of his apprenticeship, he was fully competent to undertake the supervision of that class of work. This was an age of railway construction; and after superintending several minor lines in the north of England, he was appointed resident engineer for the Wear Valley Railway. In 1840, he became manager and engineer of the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee line, now forming part of the North British system. The estuaries of the Forth and Tay form impediments to the continuity of this line; and here all luggage had to be unloaded and carried over the ferries in steamers. Mr. Bouch at once saw that some more expeditious plan than this must be devised. The project was beset with many difficulties, but after the expenditure of much labour, he perfected a hydraulic cradle by means of which as many as seven loaded waggons could be run on or off the deck of the steamer. Mr. Bouch's plan has now been adopted on railways, similarly circumstanced, in all parts of the world.
Quitting the service of the Edinburgh and Northern Railway Company, Mr. Bouch commenced business in the Scottish capital on his own account, as a civil engineer. Here he was eminently successful; he had won a name and reputation in the railway world, and work flowed in from all parts of the kingdom. The mere enumeration of the various lines he planned and carried through would occupy more space than we have at our disposal. Taking advantage of the increased power of traction obtained by the improvement of the locomotive, he introduced steeper gradients, and thus reduced the cutting and tunnelling which always form such expensive items in railway construction.
Mr. Bouch gave much of his time and study to the construction of light and elegant viaducts, and the many bridges which he designed remain as monuments of his success. "It was, however, as designer of the ill-fated Tay Bridge, and of the Forth Bridge, which still remain in the category of unrealised possibilities, that Mr. Bouch's name came most prominently into public notice." Viaducts over these two estuaries would complete the continuity of the line, obviate the use of the steam ferries, arid thus expedite by an hour transit along the east coast. Many eminent engineers had affirmed the feasibility of the scheme, but there were not a few who doubted the permanence of any structure erected across an estuary two miles broad, and so open to the full force of both wind and current. Many great and unforeseen difficulties occurred in the construction of the bridge, necessitating alterations in the original plan, and a considerable extension of time for its erection. The bridge was at length completed, and in May, 1878, amidst much jubilation and rejoicing, the first passenger train passed over it. Mr. Bouch received the freedom of the burgh, and the following year the honour of knighthood from Her Majesty. The collapse of the bridge and the appalling catastrophe which followed are amongst the most mournful memories of railway travelling in this country. For a year and a half it had stood the force of wind and tide, but the terrible gale of Sunday, December 28th, 1879, disclosed an unsuspected element of weakness. In the darkness of the evening, when the storm was at its height, some of the girders gave way, a breach was formed, and a passing train with all its occupants was precipitated into the Tay. The collapse of an undertaking, on which he had built the hope of his future fame, came with crushing effect upon his sensitive mind, and before a year had passed away brought him to his grave. Appalling as was the calamity, the practicability of a bridge over the Firth was fully established.
Bulmer's History & Directory Of Cumberland, 1901
19 June 2015
© Steve Bulman