Aikton Parish

  > Extends about five miles in length, from N. to S. and two in breadth from E. to W. is bounded on the N. by Bowness, on the S. by Thursby, on the E. by Orton and Kirk Bampton parishes, and on the W. by the river Wampool. It contains 6156 acres, including roads, rivers, &c., or according to the Parliamentary return, 5270, valued at 5174. Its rateable value is 3845 13s. 10d., and its population in 1841 was 802 souls. The soil varies from a strong clay to a mixture of loam and gravel, but in the north-west parts it is marshy, where the lands are low and level.

Aikton, (villa quercum) is a corruption of Oaktown, and its manor was anciently the property of the Morvills, who had a seat here. It subsequently belonged to the Colvills, and the Radcliffes, and was afterwards sold by Sir John Savage, Knight, in the reign of Henry VI to the lord Thomas Dacre, who reunited it to the ancient barony of Burgh, from which it was "divided by the partition of Sir Hugh Morvill's daughter, in the time of king John." It contains the four townships of Aikton, Biglands and Gamblesby, Wampool, and Wiggonby.

Aikton, is a small scattered village, pleasantly situated on a gentle acclivity, four miles N. by E. of Wigton, and nine miles W. by S. of Carlisle. Its township contains 800 acres, rated at 1069 12s. 2d., belonging to several owners, most of whom are residents. The Church, dedicated to St. Andrew, stands about a mile E. from the village, and is a rectory in the patronage of the earl of Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Revd. Samuel James Goodenough, M. A., who has for his curate the Rev. John Wallace. The living is valued in the king's books at 14 13s. 2d. and was returned by the commissioners as of the average annual value of 546, but is now worth upwards of 600 per annum. The tithes were commuted in 1833, for a yearly rent charge of 493 12s. 1d., of which 5 12s. 1d. belong to certain land owners, and the remainder, (together with 95A. 21 P. of glebe let for 113 a year) to the rector, whose occasional residence is Aikton Hall, a good mansion, near the church. Population in 1841, 318.

Biglands and Gamblesby1, two small hamlets on the banks of the Wampool, the former 3 and the latter 3 miles N. of Wigton, and 1 mile W. and S.W. of Aikton, form a joint township, and anciently constituted a manor of the barony of Burgh, which was granted to one Brewer, by one of the lords of that barony. It was divided by female issue into moieties, one of which was sold to the tenants, and the other was purchased by lord Dacre, by whom it was reunited to the barony. The township, which also includes the small hamlet of Drunleaning2, about one mile S. of Aikton, contains upwards of 1000 acres, rated at 722 18s. 10d. Biglands belongs chiefly to Messrs. John Barnes, Simeon Cowper, George Brown, Joseph Hall, and Robert Matthews, the two latter being resident yeomen. Gamblesby, or Gamelsby, is all the property of resident yeomen, except one farm, which belongs to Mr. Jeremiah Smith, of Standing Stone; and Drunleaning is the property of Messrs. Joseph Addison, and Jonathan Edgar, the latter of whom resides at Allonby. Population in 1841, 187.

Wampool township comprises the small hamlets of Laithes, 3 miles N.W., Whitrigg Lees, 3 miles N.W., and Wampool, 2 miles W.N.W. of Aikton, on the E. bank of the river from which it has its name, and from 5 to 7 miles N. of Wigton. It contains 1020 acres, rated at 692 8s. 10d., mostly belonging to Sir Wm. Brisco3, Bart., Messrs. J. S. Laythes, Thomas Hodgson, E. C. Knubley, J. Lawson, and John Barnes. Wampool was another inferior manor, and was formerly held by the Bruns, who took the local name of Wathampole. "It afterwards came to the Warwicks, who sold it out to the tenants, now holding their lands as freeholders of the barony of Burgh." Laithes was part of the demesne of Whitrigg, and was possessed by the family of Laithes, from near the time of the Conquest, till the reign of Elizabeth, when Adam de Laithes sold the lands to the tenants.* Population in 1841, 107.

Wiggonby township contains about 2330 acres, of the rateable value of 1360 13s. 10d. Besides the many resident yeomen here, Sir W. Brisco, Bart., Mrs. Reed, Thomas Ismay, Joseph Todd, and the trustees of the Grammar School, have estates in the township, which contains the village of Wiggonby, 2 miles E. by S. of Aikton, and 4 miles N.N.E. of Wigton, and the hamlet of Thornby, 1 S.E. of Aikton. Near Downhall, about one mile S.E. from Aikton is a square platform, sixty yards in length and breadth, surrounded with a deep ditch. According to Mr. Denton's M.S., this was the principal seat of Johan de Morvill, (daughter of one of the co-heirs of Sir Hugh de Morvill) and her husband, Sir Richard Gernon; and it is traditionally said to have been the residence of the notorious Sir Hugh de Morvill4 himself. When the present buildings were being erected, in 1826, a portion of the old drawbridge was found. It has been called Downhall ever since the old mansion was burnt by the Scots, and is now the property and residence of Mr. John Hodgson.

Wiggonby Grammar School is endowed with 175 15s. per annum, arising from 139A. 1R. 38P. (now let for 110 a year) and other property left by Margaret Hodgson, in 1792. The master has 70 a year, with a good house and garden, containing 1A. 1R. 19P. All the children of the parish, from eight to twenty-one years of age, whose parents' property does not exceed 20 a year, are admitted free; children of parents within the parishes of Beaumont and Burgh, not possessed of a real estate of 12 per annum; and those of the name of Hodgson from any part of the world, are entitled to free instruction here. The scholars are supplied with books and paper, and all the poorer ones, except illegitimate children, receive at the end of each year, 1 worth of clothing. It is under the management of nine trustees, and when their number is reduced to two, these appoint the original number, and then retire. The Rev. Wm. Hodgson, D.D., a native of Oughterby, who is now master of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, received the rudiments of his education at this school. The population of the township in 1841 was 190.

* Hutchinson.


Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847



1. Gamblesby is now referred to as Gamelsby.
2. Drunleaning is now Drumleaning.
3. The reference to Sir Wm. (William) Brisco must be an error; he is frequently referred to as Sir Wastel Brisco elsewhere in the directory.
4. Tradition has it that Sir Hugh de Morvill achieved his notoriety as one of the assassins of St. Thomas Becket. (Who will rid me of this turbulent priest ? - attributed to Henry II). The forward to a Victorian reprint of Denton's manuscript (see Denton's entry in the Worthies of Cumberland) cites this as a typical example of sloppy history perpetuated by a succession of authors, and maintains that it was Sir Hugh's grandson involved in the murder.

19 June 2015


Steve Bulman