Bootle Town and Parish

  > Bootle is a neat and well built, but very small town, pleasantly situate about two miles from the ocean, six miles S. by E. of Ravenglass, eight miles W. of Broughton, in Lancashire, and twenty-four miles S.S.E. of Whitehaven. Its parish, which forms part of the seigniory of Millom, extends about six miles along the coast from Whitbeck to the mouth of the Esk, near Waberthwaite, and is about two miles in breadth. It contains 696 souls, and 3839 rateable acres of land, exclusive of the fell, which comprises about 1100 acres of undivided common. The rateable value of the parish is 3547, and the principal land owners are Capt. Isaac Shaw, R. N., Mr. E. W. Wakefield, Mr. Edmund Tyson, Mr. John Smith, the Messrs. Pickthall, and the Grice family, besides several other resident yeomen. The market, which was held on Wednesday, pursuant to a grant made to John de Huddleston, in 1347, and afterwards on Saturday, has been discontinued for many years, but fairs for cattle, horses, and sheep, are held on the 26th of April, and 24th of September, and for the hiring of servants, on the Friday before Whitsuntide, and the Friday before the 11th of November. The market cross is surrounded by steps, and has four shields at the base of the shaft, one of which is charged with the arms of the Huddlestons, formerly lords of Millom. The soil in the vicinity of the town is very fertile, and the parish is remarkable for the longevity of its inhabitants. The Church is dedicated to St. Michael, and is an ancient structure, but was extensively repaired in 1837, when north and south transepts were added to the plain original fabric, which consisted of a nave and chancel. The entrance is by a porch at the west end, which is surmounted by a bell turret, with two bells. The interior is neatly pewed, and all the late improvements have been made in good taste. The font is a capacious marble basin of an octagonal form, having in each square two shields, with the following inscription in text hand :-

In nomine patris & filii & spirit' sancti.

The expence of enlarging the church was raised by the liberal subscription of the inhabitants, aided by 100 from the earl of Lonsdale, and a donation of 84 from the society for building and enlarging churches. A brass plate on the south wall of the chancel bears the effigy of Sir Hugh Askew, who, as the inscription says, was knighted at the battle of Musselburgh, in 1547, and died in 1562. The church was given to Saint Mary's Abbey, York, by Godardus Dapifer, or "Godard the Sewer1," the second lord of Millom. The living is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 19 17s. 3d. and was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at 70 2s. 2d., being then in the patronage of Robert Pennington, Esq. It was afterwards in the gift of lord Muncaster, who sold it to Mr. Wakefield, from whom the advowson was purchased by the earl of Lonsdale. The benefice is now worth 525 per annum, the tithes being partly paid in kind, but mostly according to an agreement made with the rector several years ago; for although there has been a commutation, the parishioners have not as yet agreed to the apportionment. The Rev. Alexander Scott is the present incumbent.

Here is a dissenting place of worship, which was built in 1780, by Mr. Jos. Whitridge, a native of the parish, and a member of lady Huntingdon's connection, for the use of which he erected this chapel, and endowed it with 1000 vested in trustees, who have since placed it in the hands of the Independents. The edifice will seat nearly 250 hearers, and their minister is the Rev. Jas. Hamilton. The Old School, at Hycemoor, is endowed with nearly 21 a year, arising from several bequests, among which are 200 given by a Mr. Singleton, 50 given by the Rev. Richd. Hutton, B. D. the rector, who died in 1704, and several other benefactions. The sum of 416 11s. is vested in the harbour of Whitehaven. The old school house which was built by the inhabitants many years ago, has just been sold to the proprietors of the Whitehaven and Furness Junction Railway, which passes through the lower side of this parish, and a new one, two stories high, is now (1847) being erected contiguous, and when completed it is intended to have a boys' and girls' school separate. The master educates gratuitously for the endowment, six children of this parish, and also children from the three estates of Middleton Place, Whitestone2, and Kinmont in Corney parish, and from the estate of Annaside, in the parish of Whitbeck. The present master is Mr. Samuel Bardsley, who seems to conduct the school in a very efficient manner. In 1830, a commodious school house for boys and girls was erected in the town, chiefly at the expense of Capt. Shaw. Mr. Alexander Robb is the master of this school; and in the same building is a branch of the Whitehaven Savings' Bank. A lodge of the United Order of Odd Fellows is held at the Sun Inn, in this town.

Bootle Union is divided into two districts, viz. Bootle district and Muncaster district, the former comprising Bootle, Corney, Millom, Ulpha, Whicham, and Whitbeck, of which Mr. Joseph Irven is relieving officer; and the latter, Birker and Austwaite3, Drigg and Carleton, Eskdale and Wasdale, Irton with Santon, Muncaster, and Maberthwaite4, of which Mr. William Mossop is relieving officer. There are four ex-officio and sixteen guardians elected, viz. two for Bootle, two for Millom, two for Muncaster, two for Irton with Santon, and one for each of the other places. John Lewthwaite, Esqr. is chairman to the Union, and J. P. Myers, Esqr., of Broughton-in-Furness, clerk to the Board of Guardians, who meet on Friday, at the King's Head Inn, Bootle. Mrs. Wilson is matron of the Bootle Workhouse, and Matthew Tyson is master of Millom Workhouse, the former of which is only capable of containing about thirty, and the latter about forty paupers. The population of the Union in 1841, was 5516. Petty Sessions are held at the King's Head Inn every Friday, and the sitting magistrates are the Rev. Alex. Scott, capt. Isaac Shaw, R. N., Joseph Burrow, Esq., and Robert Postlethwaite, Esq.: J. P. Myers, Esq. is their clerk. The interest of the ancient poor stock of 20 which had been annually distributed amongst the indigent of the parish on St. Thomas' day, has not been paid since the new poor law came into operation; but the interest of 50 (Ann Hodgson's bequest) is still paid to the poor who do not receive parochial relief.

Bootle, or as it was anciently written, Butle, Bothill, or Botyll, is supposed by some to be derived "from the beacon* on the top of the hill above the town, which was fired upon the discovery of any ships upon the Irish sea, which might threaten an invasion, by the watchmen, who lay in booths by the beacon," and who were paid for this service by an assessment called sea-wake. Many of the rude weapons and tools of the early inhabitants of Britain have been discovered in this neighbourhood; and here was anciently a mansion belonging to the Copelands, who resided in this parish till the reign of Edward III when they removed to Furness.

Seaton Nunnery, or, as it was then called, the "Nunnery of Leakly, in Seaton," of which a few fragments still remain, near Seaton Hall, now a farm house, was founded for Benedictine nuns, and dedicated to St. Leonard. The time of its foundation is supposed to have been about the commencement of the thirteenth century, but the precise date has not been ascertained. It was given to the abbey of Holme Cultram by Gunild, daughter of Henry de Boyvill, fourth lord of Millom. Henry, duke of Lancaster, afterwards king Henry IV, granted the hospital of St. Leonard's, in Lancaster, as an aid to this nunnery; but it was dissolved in the 32nd of Henry VIII (1541) when its revenues were valued, according to Speed, at 13 17s. 4d., or, according to Dugdale, at 12 12s. 6d. Its site was granted to Sir Hugh Askew, knight, to hold of the king in capite, by the service of the twentieth part of one knight's fee, and a yearly rent of 9s. 2d. Sir Hugh settled it upon his wife, who carried it in marriage to her second husband, one of the Penningtons, of Muncaster. It is now the property of E. W. Wakefield, Esq. of Kendal by purchase of Lord Muncaster. Esk-Meols5, at the northern extremity of this parish belongs to Mrs. Ann Falcon and Lord Muncaster, and is remarkable for containing a large rabbit warren. There are on this estate the remains of an entrenchment, in which Roman altars and coins have been found, and is said to have been "one of the smaller stations constructed for the defence of the coast in that remote corner."

Monk Force6, on the west side of Black Combe, is a manor which belonged to Furness Abbey, till the dissolution, when it was sold out. Scrogger-bar, which lies west of the above, is another manor, now united to Millom lordship. On the coast, in this parish, is a small inlet of the sea, called Selkers Bay7 where, it is said, are seen, in calm weather, the sunken remains of several vessels or gallies, which tradition says "were sunk and left there on some invasion of the Romans."

It is a matter of surprise that tourists do not more generally visit the town of Bootle, surrounded as it is by such varied and interesting scenery, having in its vicinity the sea, and the lofty eminences of the forest of Copeland; among which is Black Combe, whose summit commands a most extensive and panoramic view of the sea and land, enlivened by numerous vessels sailing to and from the ports of Cumberland. Although the elevation of this mountain is not so great as many of its neighbouring giants, still it is said by the late Colonel Mudge, to command a more extensive view than any other point in Britain. "Ireland he saw from it more than once, but not when the sun was above the horizon." It is also said that fourteen counties of England and Scotland can be seen from it; and on a clear day, Talk-on-the-Hill, in Staffordshire, can be distinguished at a distance of 100 miles. "The base of the mountain being on the sea shore, the prospect from its summit abounds with great variety. The sublime ocean occupies half the circumference; rising from its surface on the south are seen Peel Castle8 and the Isle of Walney. The Isle of Man is a conspicuous object on the west." On this mountain is a curiosity, supposed to have been the crater of a volcano. At a place called Swallow Hurst9, some very neat and curious improvements, not unworthy of notice, have been made by Mr. James Pickthall, now of Carleton Hall. Revd. Myles Cooper, a native of Bootle, published a volume of poems in 1761.

* "All the ancient altars found in Ireland, now distinguished by the name of Cromlechs, or Sloping Stones, were originally called Bothal, or the house of God; and they seem to be of the same species as those mentioned in the book of Genesis, called by the Hebrews, Bethel, which has the same signification as the Irish, Bothal." Beuford's Druidism Revived. Betullo, a city in Spain, mentioned by Pomponius is derived from Beth-el, the house of God; and it is possible that Bootle may have the same derivation.


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




1. "Godard the Sewer" - sewer was a personal servant, or butler. In the days when deliberate poisoning was seen as a risk for the aristocracy, this was a powerful position.
2. Whitestone is now Whitestones.
3. Austwaite should be Austhwaite.
4. Maberthwaite should be Waberthwaite.
5. Esk-Meols is now Eskmeals.
6. Monk Force must be what is now called Monk Foss.
7. Selkers Bay is now Selker Bay.
8. Peel Castle - now Piel Castle.
9. Swallow Hurst is now Swallowhurst Hall.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman