Arthuret Parish

  > Is about seven miles long and four broad, being bounded on the west, north, and east by the parish of Kirk-Andrews1, and lying between the rivers Esk, Line, and Liddel2. The soil of about half the parish consists of a fine deep blackish loam, in some parts intermixed with sand, especially near the river Line, capable of producing all kinds of grain, clover, grass, and that invaluable esculent, potatoes, to the greatest perfection; and is in general a level tract, well enclosed with quicksets3, and in the highest state of cultivation. The interior of the parish is a good light soil, and that part which was formerly an extensive waste, has been brought to a tolerable state of productiveness by the late and present proprietor of the Netherby estate - which comprises nearly the whole of this parish and that of Kirk-Andrews, and which has been changed, by Robert Graham, D.D., who died in 1782, from a sterile and unprofitable tract, to a rich, fertile, and beautiful demesne. By his improvements the rent was more than quadrupled, and the wealth of the tenants increased in a much greater proportion; and, what was still better, he saw them, as it were, metamorphosed, from an ignorant, quarrelsome, and disorderly rabble, into an intelligent, peaceable, regular, and respectable class of men; and since 1819 the agriculture of both Arthuret and Kirk-Andrews-upon-Esk has been still further improved, the extensive estates of Sir J. G. R. Graham having nearly all undergone a complete drainage; and the farm houses are very commodious and well-constructed dwellings. The woods and plantations are now in a thriving and luxuriant state. The parish, which produces red and white freestone, comprises 17390 acres of land, and its rateable value is 8383. It is divided into the four townships of Brackenhill, Lineside, Longtown, and Netherby, which, in 1841, contained 2859 inhabitants: here are plenty of hares, partridges, pheasants, &c. It includes part of the ancient parish of Easton, which has long been annexed to it, and Kirk-Andrews, and, in 1624, was stated as being bounded on the N., N.W., and N.E. by Scotland, on the E. by Bewcastle, Stapleton, and Kirklinton, and on the S. and S.W. by the river Levin and parts of the parishes of Rockliff4 and Kirklinton. The parish of Kirk-Andrews was severed from Arthuret by the letters patent of Charles I.

The Parish Church, dedicated to St. Michael5, stands on a beautiful eminence, near the rectory house, in the township of, and about arthuret.jpg (19158 bytes)half-a-mile S. from Longtown. "It is presumed," says Hutchinson, "this point of land was called Arthur's Head6, a name now corrupted to Arthuret, and engrafted on the parish." The present Gothic fabric was built in 1609, "by the help of a charity brief," but the persons employed in the building absconding with a considerable part of the money, the tower was left unfinished till about the year 1690, when it was completed, through the exertions of the Rev. Hugh Todd, who possessed the living from 1688 to 1728. It consists of a nave, side aisles, chancel, and tower. In 1750 it was new roofed, flagged, and slated, by the hon. Mary Graham. "It appears," says Hutchinson, "to have been part of the possessions of the abbey of Jedburgh, in Scotland; but by whom it was granted thereto doth not appear. It is presumed that Arthuret was given to this Scotch abbey whilst the county of Cumberland was under that crown. It was seized by king Edward III on the principles that the abbot of Jedburgh was in rebellion." The benefice is a rectory (valued in the king's books at 1 2s. 1d.), in the patronage of Sir James Graham, Bart., and in the incumbency of the Rev. William Graham, M.A., for whom the Rev. H. Griffin, B.A., officiates. It was certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the arthuret_cross.jpg (23170 bytes)average annual value of 687. "In the church yard is a rude cross,7 with a pierced capital, in the form and figure of the cross of the knights of Malta; and it is probable it was erected by one of that order." Near to this place lie, it is supposed, the remains of poor Archy Armstrong, jester to James I and Charles I; "and, by accident suitable to his profession, the day of his funeral was the 1st of April." He long shot his bolt with great applause, but was at length banished from court and degraded, by having his motley coat pulled over his head, for presuming to vent his wit on archbishop Laud, of Canterbury, after that haughty prelate had failed to introduce the liturgy into Scotland. It is said by some that he was a native of this parish. There is also in the church yard a monumental inscription to lieut. William Graham, who served the crown of England in the reigns of Elizabeth, James, Charles I and II, and died, A.D. 1657, in the 97th year of his age. The rectory house was built in 1765, at a cost of 300, by the Rev. Mr. Usher, the then rector, on the site of the old one, which was erected about the year 1680.

Longtown is a small but pleasant market town, situate on the banks of the river Esk, near its confluence with the Liddel, over which is a stone bridge, 9 miles N. of Carlisle, 20 miles N.E of Wigton, and 308 N.N.W. from London, on the mail road to Edinburgh. It has a very respectable appearance; the streets are spacious and regular, the houses built in the modern style; and its situation is exceedingly salubrious. The market day is Thursday, but the business done is very trifling. A horse fair is held on the Thursday before Whitsuntide, but the cattle fair, formerly held on the Thursday before September 30th, has been for some time discontinued. In 1841 the township contained 1990 inhabitants, upwards of 200 of whom are weavers in the employ of the Carlisle manufacturers. The town stands on the south bank of the Esk, and on the west side of the Netherby estate, which is held on a tenure of building leases, and has been raised to its present state by the liberality of Dr. Graham, grandfather to Sir James. Longtown has suffered much by the opening of the Glasgow road in 1819, but now that an Act of Parliament has been obtained for a branch line from the Caledonian Railway to this town and Connobie8, in Scotland, and, as it is intended to apply for another Act to connect this with the Newcastle and Carlisle Railway, at Milton Station, near Brampton, it is understood the proprietor of the Netherby estate purposes, at no distant period, giving every encouragement to the establishment of manufactures in the town and neighbourhood. By the construction of these lines coal and lime of the very best quality can be supplied with great facility to extensive districts, both of England and Scotland. Dr. Graham also directed his attention to the education of his tenants' children, for which purpose he erected schools in this and the surrounding townships. There are now four schools in this parish, and four in Kirk-Andrews, endowed with 40 a year, left by lady Widdrinton, and secured upon the lands at Burnfoot, of which sum the school in the Moot hall, in this town, receives 8, and the schools in the other townships of the parish 4 each, per annum. Here is also a female school, supported by lady Graham and the rector, in which 18 poor girls are taught and partly clothed. The places of worship in the town are - a Presbyterian Chapel, built in 1800, and now under the ministry of the Rev. John Inverarity, and a neat chapel belonging to the United Presbyterians, erected in 1834, and now under the pastoral care of the Rev. Peter Carruthers. Here is a lodge of Freemasons, one of Foresters, and two other Friendly societies; but it is somewhat remarkable that though the parish contains upwards of 2850 inhabitants, there never yet has been a resident attorney in the town.

Longevity - 1845, a woman died at a place called Peth9, near this town, at the advanced age of 100 years; in 1816, another female died in the neighbourhood aged 99 years and 9 months; and, in the same year, 40 individuals died in this district, whose united ages amounted to 3314 years, being an average of nearly 83 years each.

The Workhouse for the Longtown Union stands about two miles east of the town, and was built in 1837, at a cost of 3000, adjoining the old one, which was erected in 1821. It is a large and convenient edifice, of hewn stone, capable of accommodating 150 paupers, but the average number of in-door paupers, during the year 1847, was only about 60, and the number of out-door recipients, in the same year, averaged about 100. The Union comprises the following parishes and townships, viz., Arthuret, Bellbank, Bewcastle, Hethersgill, Kirk-Andrews (Middle), Kirk-Andrews (Nether), Kirk-Andrews (Moat), Kirklinton (Middle), Nichol Forest, Scaleby, Solport, Stapleton, Trough, and Westlington. It is governed by a board of twenty-one guardians, to whom Mr. Richard Graham is chairman; Mr. T. H. Hodgson, solicitor, clerk; Mr. William Graham, of Nether-house, surgeon to the house, and medical officer to the lower district; Mr. James Garvie, medical officer to the upper district; Mr. Jas. Hope, relieving officer for the upper district; Mr. Joseph Lamonby, relieving officer for the lower district; Mr. Joseph and Mrs. Routledge, master and matron; Mr. Thomas Slater, schoolmaster; and the Rev. John Wannop, of Nichol Forest, chaplain. The right Hon. Sir J. Graham allows 2s. 6d. per week for the purpose of supplying the aged inmates with the luxury of tobacco and snuff. The rateable value of Longtown is 3432 2s. 10d.

Brackenhill township extends from three to five miles E.N.E. of Longtown, on the north side of the river Line. It contains 373 inhabitants, and its rateable value is 1942 18s. 3d. Sir James Graham is the principal land owner, but R. E. W .P. Standish, Esq., of Fairley castle, Berks.10, has an estate here, on which is an embattled tower, bearing date 1584. It adjoins the Brackenhill farm house, and is kept in excellent repair by Mr. Standish. At Chapel Flosh, near the farm called Chapel-town, there was formerly an oratory, denominated the Chapel of Sollom (Solway), "in which, in the year 1343, a league between the Scotch and English, about fixing the limits of both kingdoms, was, in a solemn manner, sworn to and confirmed by commissioners appointed for that purpose."

The small hamlet of Easton, anciently the capital of the parish, is situate in this township, and here stands the school already mentioned.

Lineside township lies on the banks of the Line, and contains only 24 houses and 128 inhabitants, with a few dispersed dwellings, about two miles S.S.E. of Longtown. Its rateable value is 1278 16s.

Netherby township extends from one to four miles N.N.E. of Longtown, and contains 368 souls and the small hamlets of Hallburn and Slealands, with several dispersed dwellings, and Netherby Hall, the splendid seat of the right hon. Sir James R. G. Graham, Bart., M.P., the lord and owner of the great barony of Liddel. This elegant mansion stands on a slight eminence, in a beautiful park, surrounded by rich meadows, woods, and shrubberies, and commands extensive prospects, to the S. and S.W., over fertile plains dotted with hamlets and neat cottages. This superb mansion (together with the pleasure grounds) has been greatly improved by its present owner. It is erected on the site of a Roman station11, where many curious pieces of antiquity have been found, several of which are preserved at the mansion. The word by12 means a habitation; "thus," says Mr. Horsley, "there are three camps, or stations, with this termination, not very remote from one another - Netherby, Middleby, and Overby." The present building was chiefly erected by Dr. Robert Graham, who, while levelling the ground contiguous to the house, discovered a large quantity of Roman remains. The house is elegantly furnished, and the gardens and pleasure grounds are laid out with great taste and judgment; the library contains an excellent collection of valuable works.

Liddel barony, which comprehends both this parish and that of Kirk-Andrews-upon-Esk, "was one of the allotments," says Hutchinson, "made by Ralph de Meschines13 to his descendants, and was by him granted to Turgent Brundey - said to be a Fleming; king Henry I afterwards confirmed the same. It appears that this barony was a member of the honour of Dunstanburgh, in the county of Northumberland." In the reign of king John it was the property of the Stutevilles, to one of whom (William) that king gave the command of Northumberland, Cumberland, and Westmorland, with the supreme government of all their castles. Nichol Forest, within this barony, is said to have derived its name from Nicholas de Stuteville, whose heiress (Joan) carried the family estates, in the reign of Henry III, to Hugh de Wake, lord of Wake. Male issue also failing, the heiress, Margaret, married Edward Plantagenet, earl of Kent, third son of Edward I, whose only issue was Joan, who married Edward, the Black Prince, father of Richard II, "by which means," continues Hutchinson, "some historians allege, this barony became vested in the crown; and others say king Edward III, by purchase from the earl of Kent, obtained it." These possessions appear to have remained with the crown till James I, in the first year of his reign, granted the forest of Nichol, with the manors of Arthuret, Lyddal, and Radlington, to Geo. Clifford, earl of Cumberland, to be held of the crown in capite, under a rent of 100, and the twentieth part of one knight's fee. In this grant, it is expressed, that the premises were parcel of the honour of Dunstanburgh, and duchy of Lancaster. All the Debateable lands14, together with the advowson of the church of Kirk-Andrews, were granted by the same monarch in the eighth year of his reign (1610) to Francis, earl of Cumberland, under the yearly fee farm rent of 150. These lands are described as being bounded by the Solway Sands towards the south, the river Sark towards the west, the Scotch Dyke towards the north, and the Esk river towards the east; containing 2895 acres of meadow and arable land, called Known Grounds; 400 acres of marsh land, 2635 acres of pasture, and 1470 acres of mossy grounds - in the whole, 5400 acres." Francis, earl of Cumberland, sold these territories to Sir Richard Graham, and this sale was confirmed by king Charles I, by letters patent of the 11th of July, in the 4th year of his reign; wherein he was exonerated from one half part of the rent of Nichol Forest, and two thirds of the rent of the Debateable lands, the two rents being reduced to 50 each." These possessions still remain in the family of Graham. The descent of this family is from John, second son of Malice, earl of Monteith, whose mother was a Stuart, and, in her own right, countess of Monteith. This John Grahme, or Graham, "from his expertness in the business of the borders, was surnamed John with the bright sword. On some disgust he withdrew himself from the service of the crown of Scotland, with many of his retainers, and settled in the English borders in the reign of king Henry IV." In 1641, Sir Richard, the purchaser of this barony, was created a baronet, and was so severely wounded at the battle of Edgehill15 that he lay all night amongst the dead. In 1680, his son, Sir Richard, was created viscount Preston of Scotland, and was several times ambassador at the court of France. He was subsequently secretary of state to James II, in whose cause he was convicted of treason, at the Revolution of 1688, but, through the intercession of his friends, was pardoned, and died at Nunnington, in Yorkshire, in 1695, when he was succeeded by his son Edward, as viscount Preston, who died in 1709. The next viscount Preston was Charles, who died without issue in 1739 when the title became extinct, and the estates passed to Catherine and Mary, his father's two sisters. The latter of these died, unmarried, in 1753, and the former was married to William, lord Widdrington, whom she survived, but died in 1757, having devised this barony to her cousin, the Rev. Robert Graham, D.D., whose son and successor, the late Sir James Graham, was created a baronet in 1782. His eldest son, the present right hon. Sir James R. G. Graham, Bart., M.P., was born June 1st, 1792, and is consequently now (Dec. 1847) in the 56th year of his age. On the banks of the river Liddel, in the Moat township, parish of Kirk-Andrews, are the remains of an immense tower, or border fortress, called Liddel Strength. They stand on the summit of a frightful precipice, and present the appearance of a great mount, covering about five acres, surrounded by a moat. This tower was taken by William, king of Scotland, in the commencement of his campaign, and was the scene of the most savage cruelty and unremitting revenge, committed by king David, who strangled the two sons of Sir Walter Selby, the governor, in the presence of their father, his unhappy captive, whom he ordered to be beheaded. In front of these ruins is Connobie holme, in Scotland, where, as the immortal bard sings,

"There was racing and chasing on Connobie lea,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er could they see."16

The rateable value of Netherby township is 1929 4s.


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




1. The parish of Kirk-Andrews is properly Kirkandrews-on-Esk, to distinguish it from Kirkandrews-upon-Eden.
2. The river Line is now rendered Lyne, and the Liddel is properly the Liddel Water.
3. "quicksets" - thorn hedges.
4. Rockliff is, of course, Rockcliffe.
5. The church at Arthuret is dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels (according to the present-day church sign).
6. The derivation of Arthuret from Arthur's Head is erroneous. Bulmer (1901) derives Arderyd from "Prospect hill", and there is a small hill a short distance from the church which may have been used as a viewing point for the battle which took place here about the year 573, when Gwenddolau, leader of a British (Celtic) tribe, was killed. According to ancient sources, the loss of Gwenddolau, his master, is said to have driven Merlin mad.
7. The "rude cross" is regarded by Pevsner as of Norman date.
8. Connobie - this must be Canonbie, 4 or 5 miles to the north, and just over the Scottish border.
9. Peth no longer possesses any houses, but its site lies about a mile north of Longtown.
10. Berks - i.e. Berkshire, in southern England.
11. The Roman Station, Castra Exploatorum, was one of a number of forts beyond Hadrian's Wall.
12. The Norse by as a termination to a place-name, is usually taken to mean village or settlement. Its occurs very commonly in Cumbria.
13. Ralph de Meschines - surely Ranulph de Meschines, mentioned frequently elsewhere in the directory.
14. The Debateable lands were precisely that, a parcel of land argued and fought over by the English and Scots for many years.
15. Edgehill was one of the key battles of the English Civil War.
16. A correspondent has advised me that the couplet "There was racing and chasing on Connobie lea, But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er could they see," is from Sir Walter Scott's "Marmion", which was first published in 1808. Interestingly, the text available on-line (see quotes it as follows -
"There was racing and chasing, on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne'er did they see."
Whether this textual amendment was made by Scott himself subsequent to its quotation in the 1847 directory, or is simply an error, I don't know. Any Scott scholars out there?

The Blacklock or Blaylock family of clockmakers, which originated in Carlisle but moved to Longtown, is celebrated by John Blaylock at

Photos Steve Bulman.

19 June 2015


Steve Bulman