Cartmel Parish

  > Is that highly picturesque and interesting district extending from the lower reach of Windermere to the great bay of Morecambe, and projecting southward between the estuaries of the Kent and Leven, being bounded on the other sides by Westmorland. Its surface is exceedingly diversified, alternately rising into barren and rocky hills and sinking into warm and fertile valleys, whose sides are clothed with native wood. On the margin of the western sands, a peat-like incrustation has been formed, but it is rapidly disappearing under the skilful operations of the cultivator. The parish, which comprises an area of about 25,137 statute acres, is about twelve miles in length, and averages from four to five in breadth, and is divided into five chapelries and seven townships, viz.: Lower Allithwaite, Upper Allithwaite, Broughton, Cartmel-Fell, Lower Holker, Upper Holker, and Staveley, which contained, collectively, in 1841, a population of 4,924 souls. The sands between the Lancaster shore and Hesk bank,1 in this parish, are about ten miles in breadth, and have always been considered as dangerous in the approach from Lancaster to Furness, but in company with the guides who are stationed on them, few accidents occur. Levens sands, on the west side of the peninsula, are about three miles in breadth, and are fordable at low water, but the flowing tide from Morecambe covers the whole sandy plain twice a day, many feet deep in the liquid element. Mr. West conjectures that Morecambe is derived from Moreb, a haven, and Cain, white or beautiful, and that it was so called from the white rocks on the coast, which give a good effect to the scenery of the bay; whilst others assert that its proper etymology is from the British words, more, sea, and cam, crooked, bent - the crooked sea, or bent shore. Cartmel parish "is accurately described as placed between two noble estuaries, and projecting into a third, while on the north, the vast fells of Coniston rise in all the majesty of neighbouring Alps." The principal land-owners of the parish are the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Burlington, James Stockdale, Esq., Gray Rigge, Esq., Captain W.B. Bigland, R.N., G. Gibson, Esq., W. Townley, Esq., F.P.D. Astley, Esq., Thomas Ainsworth, Esq., Mrs. S. Newby, Mrs. E. Harrison, Miss Mary W. Lambert, Rev. T. Remington, and Messrs. James Birkett and William Field. The Earl of Burlington is lord of the manor of Cartmel, which comprises the whole parish.

Cartmel is a small and neat town in the townships of Lower Allithwaite and Upper Holker, seven miles E. by N. of Ulverston, fifteen miles N.N.W. of Lancaster, and two hundred and fifty-four miles N.W. by N. of London. Its name is said by some to be a compound of the two British words, garth, a ridge, a promontory or cape, and the adjective moel, which signifies bare, or bald, and, by others, the etymology of the place is derived from kert, a camp or fortification, and mell, a fell or small mountain, meaning a fortress amongst the hills. The town of Cartmel is surrounded by high hills, imparting to it the appearance of a town in Switzerland, "and the parish," says Mr. Baines, "does not inaptly, both from the simplicity of the manners of the people, and the face of the country they inhabit, represent a Swiss canton."

Camden informs us that the Britons settled here in 677, and that at this time, Egfred, king of Northumbria, granted the land and its inhabitants to the church, in the person of St. Cuthbert, but at what period a church was first erected at Cartmel is unknown, nor is the parish mentioned in the Domesday Survey, which was made by the orders of William the Conqueror, in 1081. The next mention we find made of Cartmel is in 1188, when William Mareschal the elder, Earl of Pembroke, founded a priory here for canons regular of the order of St. Augustine.

The priory, which is the principal and distinguishing ornament of Cartmel, is dedicated to the Blessed Virgin, and displaced the parish church, which stood here before the Conquest. "By the original charter," says Mr. Baines, "it was provided that this monastery should never be elevated into the dignity of an abbey." The founder prescribed the mode of electing the priors, as well as of governing the institution, and his charter concludes in these terms:- "This house I have founded for the increase of our holy religion, giving and granting to it every kind of liberty that heart can conceive or the mouth utter; and whosoever shall in any way infringe upon these immunities, or injure the said priory, may he incur the curse of God, of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and of all other saints, as well as my particular malediction." The endowment consisted of the whole manor of Cartmel, the church of Balifar, and the chapel of Balunadan,2 with its appendages; also, the town of Kinross, in Ireland, with the advowson of its church, &c.: besides which, the funds of the ancient parish church of Cartmel were all merged in its revenues; and amongst the privileges of this religious foundation, was the right of appointing a guide to conduct travellers over the sands. "In the reign of Edward III a general alteration was made in this edifice; the inserted windows are of that period, and remains of a fine painted glass, containing figures of the line of Jesse, with the name of each, have several remnants of inscriptions in the Longobardic character, which could not be later. The columns are angular, without mouldings, and the tracery of the windows approaches to the square-headed form, which was introduced early in the 15th century." When Henry VIII laid his unhallowed hands upon the property of this priory, its yearly income was valued, according to Dugdale, at £124 2s. 1d.; and, according to Speed, at £212 10s. 11d. The house then consisted of ten religious and thirty-eight lay domestics, to most of whom small annuities were allowed out of the revenues. Fortunately the edifice escaped destruction, the inhabitants being allowed to purchase it of the crown, on account of its being the parish as well as the conventual church; and this is one of the very few religious houses that did escape the general ruin which attended the dissolution. "The resources of the parishioners seem to have been exhausted by this effort, for eighty years afterwards the necessary repairs of the church were neglected, and it was hastening fast to a state of dilapidation; the refectory, chapter-house, prior's lodgings, and a number of other offices disappeared, and even the roof became insufficient to exclude the weather, when George Preston, Esq., of Holker, contracted with the parishioners, in consideration of forty marks, and as much old lead as could be spared, to re-edify the building, and to cover the greater part of it with a new roof. This timely renovation restored, though with diminished splendour, the sacred pile, and has preserved to this remote part of Lancashire, an edifice of which the inhabitants have reason to boast. The building is of excellent masonry, in the pointed style of architecture, and of a cruciform plan; the whole length 157 feet, the length of the transepts 110 feet, and the height of the walls 57 feet. The interior is handsome and spacious, and the centre is supported by four large and fine clustered pillars. The choir is beautiful, and is surrounded by stalls, twenty-six in number, whose tops and pillars are finely carved with foliage, surmounted with the instruments of the passion of the Saviour." The position of the cloister court, which was on the north side instead of the south, proves that the church was parochial as well as conventual. In the interior, the two arches of the choir on each side are perpendicular, and the triforium formerly extended round both the transepts and choir. On the north side of the proper choir is a narrow chapel, and on its south side what is called the Town Choir. The latter, which has two seats for the officiating priests, is supposed to have been anciently the parish church. The extraordinary appearance of the belfry must at once attract the attention of every beholder. It is raised upon the aides of the tower, and stands a square inscribed within a square diagonal to its base, having the angles of the one placed upon the sides of the other. It contains four bells.

"In this country," says Mr. Baines, "where every hill is a rock, and every rock a quarry of marble, the means of multiplying monuments are so much at hand, that the walls of the church are incrusted with these decorations." The most ancient of these memorials of the dead is probably a tomb to prior William de Walton, within a plain arch, on the north side of the altar, and inscribed on a beautiful slab of grey marble, in Longobardic characters,- "Hic jacet Frater Wilhelmus de Walton, prior de Cartmel." On the opposite side, under an arched canopy, is the magnificent but mutilated tomb of the Harringtons, with two recumbent figures, the one supposed to be that of Sir John Harrington, and the other that of his lady. They lie between a fine open-work arch, decorated with a variety of figures. An enclosure at the east-end of the south aisle is appropriated to the remains of owners of Holker Hall. The Biglands, Rawlinson, and other families have also monuments in the church, and as a curious specimen of the monumental poetry of a former age, we present our readers with an ancient epitaph in verse, on Etheldred Thornburgh, a descendant of an ancient family of Hampsfield Hall, near Cartmel.

"Here before lyeth interred
Eltheldred Thornburgh's corps in dust:
In lyfe and death still firmly fixed
On God to rest his stedfast trust.
Hir father, Justice Carus was;
Hir mother, Katharine his wife;
Hir husband, William Thornburgh was,
Whyle here she ledd this mortail lyfe.
The thryde of Martche, and yeare of grace
One thousand five hundred nyntie0-six,
Hir sowle departed this earthly place,
Of age nighe fortie years and six;
To whose sweet sowle is heavenlye dwelling
Our Saviour grant everlastinge rest."

The living is a perpetual curacy in the gift of the Earl of Burlington, who has also the patronage of the five chapels in the parish, and incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Remington, A.M. About twenty-eight years ago, it was augmented with a Parliamentary grant of £375 13s. 5d., now vested in the 3 per cent. government funds, and is at present worth £110 per annum. His lordship is also lessee of an allotment of land set apart in lieu of tithes, at the enclosure of the commons at the commencement of the present century3.

The Free Grammar School, at Cartmel, was originally only a parochial seminary, under the superintendence of the churchwardens and sidesmen4 of the parish, who, for a series of years, hired a master to whom they paid the interest of a few small bequests, the remainder of his salary being made up by quarterage from the scholars, except the children of poor parents, who were taught free. In 1635, the quarterage for grammarians was sixpence, and for petties, little ones, fourpence. In 1664, the master's stipend was £20. In 1674, the quarterage for grammarians was raised to 8d., but no alteration was made for the petties. In 1680, £131 10s. was invested in land for the use of the school, and in 1689, Mr. Henry Bigland, a citizen of London, but a native of this parish, bequeathed £400, which was also invested in land, in 1692. In 1711, the quarterage was raised to 1s. 6d. for Latin, and 1s. for English; but in the course of three years after, all quarterage ceased, and the school became entirely free. "Boys are admitted from all parts of the kingdom, and even from the West Indies, with a limitation, however, not to exceed twenty non-parishioners." Mr. Baines says, "it is customary for persons of property who have children at the school, to make a compliment to the master at Shrovetide, of a sum called cock-pence; and a charge per quarter is made upon the parents of those children who write and cypher, the poor as well as the rich." The present master in Mr. Paul Snowden, and his salary amounts to about £130 a year.

The Savings Bank, which was established at Cartmel in 1818, has now deposits amounting to £60,000, belonging to 320 depositors. It is open every Tuesday from 11 to 12, and is kept at Mr. William Field's, who is both treasurer and secretary.

The market, which was first held on Monday, and about 120 years ago, changed to Tuesday, is now nearly obsolete; but two ancient fairs are held here on Whitmonday, and the Monday after the 23rd of October, and for cattle on the Wednesday before Easter, and 5th of November; but there is no staple manufacture in the town. A parochial library, established here about two years ago, now consists of 250 volumes. Terms - 6d. per quarter.

We copy the following account from the Lonsdale Magazine, of a rather curious natural phenomenon connected with the valley of Cartmel, viz., two neighbouring streams, the one flowing north and the other south.

"Better than six hundred years since," said our guide, "some monks came over from another country; and, finding all this part of the kingdom covered with wood, resolved to build a monastery in some part of the forest. In their rambles they found a hill which commanded a prospect so beautiful, and so extensive, that they were quite charmed with it. They marked out a piece of ground on the summit of the hill, and were preparing to build the church, when a voice spoke to them out of the air, saying, 'Not there, but in a valley between two rivers, where the one runs north and the other south.' Astonished at this strange command, they marvelled where the valley could be; for they had never seen a valley where two rivers ran in contrary directions. They sat out to seek this singular valley, and travelled through all the north of England, but in vain. Wearied with their fruitless search, they were returning to the hill where they had heard the strange voice. In their way back, they had to cross the valley, at that time entirely covered with wood. They came at length to a small river, the stream of which ran north. They waded through it; and, in about one hundred yards, they found another, the stream of which ran south. They measured the distance between the rivers, and placed the church in the middle, upon a little island of hard ground, in the midst of a morass. The church they dedicated to St. Mary. They also built a small chapel on the hill where they had heard the voice, which they dedicated to St. Bernard. The chapel is long since destroyed, but the hill is called Mount Bernard, to this day."

Three miles south of the town is a medicinal spring, called Holy Well, long celebrated as a remedy for the stone, gout, and cutaneous complaints. The water issues from a projecting rock of limestone, called Humphrey Head, and its healing qualities occasion a considerable influx of company to Cartmel and the neighbouring villages of Flookburgh, Kent's Bank, and Grange, during the summer months. The solid contents of one pint of this water, according to Charnock's analysis, are 10 grains of sulphate of lime, 2 grains of sulphate of magnesia, and 49 grains of muriate of soda. At Pit Farm, is an intermitting spring, similar to that at Giggleswick, in Yorkshire. This effect is said to be produced by a natural compound syphon, formed in the recess of the hills from which the water flows.

ALLITHWAITE (LOWER) township comprises also a village of its own name, two miles S.S.E. of Cartmel, and the hamlets of Cartlane, two miles E.S.E., and Kent Bank, two and a half miles E.S.E. of the same town, with several dispersed dwellings, bearing different names. The rateable value of its lands and buildings, is £3948 4s. Boarbank House, the beautiful and pleasant seat of Miss Lambert, is in this township, two miles S.S.E. of Cartmel.

Near Kent Bank, resides the "Carter," as the guide who conducts travellers over the sands of this part of Morecambe Bay, has long been designated, owing to his name being Carter. His ancestors held the same necessary office during many generations. The original yearly salary was £10, but it has been long advanced to £20, and his stipend in greatly augmented by the gratuities received from the numerous travellers, whom he conducts safely over dangerous sands and shifting channels. The guides were formerly paid by the Prior of Cartmel, but are now paid from the revenues of the Queen, as Duchess of Lancaster. The traveller, when crossing these sands on a hot summer day, is strongly reminded of an Arabian march; the tracks, or roads, are defined by branches of furze stuck in, called "brogs,"1a and by poles at the edges of the channels. Under the influence of clear, cloudy, or tempestuous weather, the surrounding scenery assumes an almost endless change of effect, which, combined with the refreshing sea breeze, the easiness of motion, the loquaciousness and jocularity of the guide, renders the journey extremely agreeable, especially in fine weather. "The track is from Holker Hall to Plumpton Hall, keeping Chapel Island a little to the left; and the mind of the visitor in filled with a mixture of awe and gratitude, when, in a short time after he has traversed this estuary almost dry-shod, he beholds the waters advancing into the bay, and bearing stately vessels towards the harbour of Ulverston, over the very path which he has so recently trodden." At Kent Bank is a large and commodious inn.

ALLITHWAITE (UPPER) township contains the villages of Lindale, three miles E.N.E., and Newton,5 three miles N.E. of Cartmel, with several detached houses, some of which are neat and pleasant villas. Its rateable value is £1902 14s. Castle Head, anciently called Atterpile Castle, a remarkable isolated hill in this township, is conjectured to have been occupied by the Romans, from the discovery here of coins, ornamental utensils, and other articles of that people's workmanship. Amongst the number of miscellaneous relics found at Castle Head, about seventy years ago, were parts of a human skull, vertebrę, &c.; jaws of a large species of deer, teeth of buffaloes and other animals, tusks of a boar, rings of silver, brass, and iron; beads of blue ragstone, lead, clay, and glass; ninety-five sticas6 of Northumbrian kings, seventy-five Roman coins, iron ore, petrified bone, pebbles, &c. At the foot of this conical rock is a good mansion belonging to Mr. Robert Wright, now unoccupied. Eller Howe is another handsome mansion in this township, the seat of George Webster, Esq.; and on the summit of a hill which overlooks the mansion, is an observatory, commanding extensive and panoramic views. Height House is another pleasantly situated dwelling, the seat of George Gibson, Esq.

The Chapel at Lindale, dedicated to St. Paul, is a neat edifice, rebuilt and enlarged in 1828, at a cost of about £800, towards which the Church Building Society gave £125, and the remainder was raised by subscription. It contains about 360 sittings, of which 200 are free. The living, which is in the patronage of the Rt. Hon. the Earl of Burlington, and incumbency of the Rev. James Young, A.B., is now worth about £80 per annum, arising chiefly from lands purchased in 1762, with a grant obtained from Queen Anne's Bounty, and sums contributed by the executors of W. Stratford, L.L.D., and other benefactors.

At the hamlet of Height, is a Friends' Meeting House, established in 1677, by Mr. Lawrence Newton, who, in the following year, endowed it with about 17½ acres of land, to which about 18½ more were added at the enclosure of the common. These 36 acres are now let for £16 a year, and the money is distributed to the industrious poor of that society and others, at the discretion of ten trustees.

At Lindale is a National School, rebuilt in 1838, by subscription. A bequest of £50 left to this school some time ago, by a Mr. Fitchett, has been laid out in land for the benefit of the master, who also receives contributions from a few benevolent individuals, interested in the education of the youth of this neighbourhood. A small dole, devised by Mr. Miles Taylor, is distributed twice a year to the most destitute inhabitants, who are natives of the chapelry of Lindale. A bye post office is established both at Lindale and Newton, whence letters are despatched to Milnthorpe and Ulverston.

BROUGHTON township and chapelry contains several handsome villas, and detached houses, with the small hamlets of Aynsome, Field Broughton, and Wood Broughton, and the village of Grange,7 which is pleasantly situated on the sands, two miles E. of Cartmel; the others being from one to two miles N. and N. by E. of the same town. The rateable value of the township, which includes several pieces of land scattered through the parish, is £2845 5s.

The Chapel was enlarged about ten years ago, at a cost of about £150, of which £35 were given by the Church Building Society, and the rest raised by local subscription. It will accommodate 280 hearers, and 82 of the sittings are free and unappropriated for ever. In 1827, the living was augmented with £1000, of which £600 was a parliamentary grant; £200 was given by Thomas Newby, Esq.; £120 was left by James Crosfield, Esq.; and Lord Cavendish and the curate subscribed the remaining £80. It is now worth £67 per annum, and is possessed by the Rev. William Wilson, who has also a boarding academy adjoining the parsonage-house, at Field Broughton.

At Grange is a School, chiefly supported by Mrs. Eliz. Maude, of Blawith Cottage, widow of the late Thomas Holme Maude, Esq., who established it as a Sunday school in 1811, and as a day school in 1830.

CARTMELL FELL township is an extensive alpine region, lying between Windermere and Witherslack Beck, and stretching from four to nine miles N. of Cartmel. The rateable value of this township is £2476. The Chapel, dedicated to St. Anthony, is an ancient fabric, with a tower and two bells. It has been recently new roofed, and the east window contains a profusion of old stained glass. The curacy has received several lots of Queen Anne's Bounty, amounting in the whole to above £800, now invested in property. The Rev. Robert Blackburn Cockerton is the incumbent, and also master of the school, which has land worth about £8 a year.

HOLKER (LOWER) is a neat village, one mile and a half S.W. of Cartmel, and its township contains also the large village of Flookburgh, two miles S., the hamlet of Carke,8 2 miles S.S.E., and Holker Hall, a seat of the Right Hon. the Earl of Burlington, about two miles S.S.W. of the same town. The rateable value of the township amounts to £3942 6s. Flookburgh was anciently a market town, by charter of Edward I, but is now reduced to a village; the market, which was held on Tuesday, having merged into that of Cartmel.

The Chapel at Flookburgh was rebuilt in 1778, and greatly enlarged in 1836, at a cost of £350, of which £200 was obtained by the sale of pews in the chapel; £60 from the Incorporated Society; £50 was given by Miss Lambert, of Boarbank, and the rest was raised by local subscriptions. It is capable of seating 700 persons, and 290 of its sittings are free and unappropriated. In addition to the township of Lower Holker, the chapelry includes also the dwellings called Rosthwaite, Outerthwaite, and Boar Bank House, and contains a population of 1200 souls. In 1829, the curacy was augmented with £678 18s. 6d. of Queen Anne's Bounty, obtained through the instrumentality of the Bishop of London, the interest of which is £20 7s. 4d. The living is worth £105 per annum, and is enjoyed by the Rev. William Rigg, who is assisted by his son, the Rev. William Postlethwaite Rigg, B.A.

Holker Hall, the seat of the Right Hon. William Cavendish, Earl of Burlington, is a splendid mansion, and has been almost entirely rebuilt within the last few years. Its interior contains a valuable collection of family portraits, and other paintings, many of which are by the first masters. The surrounding pleasure grounds display great taste, and contain a variety of rare and interesting plants and trees, amongst which are Portugal laurels, of the extraordinary height of fifty feet; a cedar of Lebanon, fifty feet in
height, with a circumference of eight feet nine inches. The park, which is well-stocked with deer, stretches down Leven Sands, and the timber on the estate is of that luxuriant and mature kind, which imparts to a country its richest clothing. In the park is a tulip tree, seventy-five feet high, with a circumference, at two feet from the ground, of nine feet; and a beech tree, one hundred and two feet high, with a circumference, at six feet from the ground of twenty-two feet; an ash tree, ninety-one feet in height; an elm, ninety-seven feet; and an oak, seventy-five feet in height. The park, which extends to the deeply-indented shore, commands a view of many picturesque
objects "and the woody hills of Conishead Priory; the shipping in the port of Ulverston; the capacious bay of Morecambe to the south; and Cartmel Fell towering to the north, enrich and dignify the landscape."

This mansion was the family seat of the Prestons, as early as the reign of Elizabeth, from whom it passed to the Lowthers, and from them to the family of Cavendish.

HOLKER (UPPER) township extends N.W. from Cartmel to the river Leven, and includes most of the village of Backbarrow, four and a half miles N. by W.; the hamlet of Beckside,9 one and a half mile N.; and Brow Edge, four and a half miles N.W. of Cartmel; and its rateable value is £5505 2s. Backbarrow village is situate on both sides of the Leven, which divides the parishes of Cartmel and Coulton, and is crossed by a good bridge, near to which are two extensive cotton mills belonging to Thomas and William Ainsworth, Esqrs., at which about 350 hands are employed; and on the other side of the river, in Coulton parish, are the iron works of Harrison, Ainslie, & Co. At Low Wood are extensive powder mills, belonging to Daye, Barker, and Co.; and at Brow Edge is a free school, endowed with about £40 a year.

Bigland Hall, which for seven centuries has been the seat of the Bigland family, stands in this township, on the summit of a hill, whose sides are hung with spring wood, and contiguous to a small tarn,10 abounding with wild fowl. Furness Fells, Leven Sands, the pile of Fouldrey, and the extensive bay of Morecambe, are seen from hence in fine perspective. The mansion, which is now unoccupied, is the property of Capt. Wilson Braddyll Bigland, R.N.

STAVELEY township and chapelry contains a pleasant village of its own name,11 six miles N. of Cartmel; the hamlets of Ayside, three miles N.; Barber Green, two and a half miles N.; Seatle, four miles N., and part of the hamlet of Newby Bridge, six miles N. of the same town, and nine miles N.E. by N. of Ulverston. The large inn at the west end of the bridge, in the latter hamlet, is in Coulton parish, and is delightfully situated at the foot of Windermere lake. The rateable value of Staveley township, is £2571 2s.

The Chapel is a neat building, with a tower and one bell. It was rebuilt in 1793, and subsequently enlarged. In 1844, it had a burial ground consecrated. The interior is handsomely fitted up, and contains about 180 sittings. The living has received several grants of Queen Anne's Bounty, all of which have been laid out in property, now yielding £110 per annum. The Rev. Edmund Townley is the incumbent curate, and resides about a quarter of a mile from the chapel.

The Girls' School was erected in 1801, by Mrs. Mary Dixon, who afterwards endowed it with the interest of £460, for the education and part clothing of twelve poor girls. This money is vested in the three per cent. consols, as is also the sum of £200 left by the same benevolent lady for the poor of this township.

The Boys' School was rebuilt in 1847, at a cost of about £80, of which £32 was given by the Committee of Council on Education, and the rest was raised by subscription. It is endowed with land, left in 1779, by Thomas Barwick, now let for £11 a year; and an allotment of the enclosed common, let for about £2 a year; and William Townley, Esq., of Town Head, has deposited £10 in the hands of certain trustees, for the benefit of this school, which is now conducted by Mr. John Thompson.

The beautiful mansion called Fell Foot, the seat of Francis Palmer Duckinfield Astley, Esq., situate near the shore of Windermere, in the midst of plantations; and Town Head, the pleasant seat of William Townley, Esq., are both in this township.

BIOGRAPHY. - Edmund Law, D.D., Lord Bishop of Carlisle, born in 1703, was the son of the Rev. Mr. Law, minister of a small chapel, in the neighbourhood of Cartmel. After receiving the rudiments of his education in Cartmel school he proceeded to the Free Grammar School at Kendal, and thence to St. John's College, Cambridge. In 1723, he took the degree of B.A.; and in 1727, that of M.A. In 1737, he was presented by the University to the living of Graystoke, in Cumberland; and in 1743, was promoted to the Archdeaconry of Carlisle. In 1749 he took his degree of D.D.; in 1754, was elected master of St. Peter's College, Cambridge, and was soon after appointed Casuistical Professor. In 1767 he obtained a stall in Durham Cathedral, and in the year following was promoted to the see of Carlisle, which he held till his death, in 1787, aged 84 years. He possessed great erudition and piety, was of a most mild and tranquil disposition, and of a calm and benignant temper. His principal works are "Considerations on the Theory of Religion"; "An Inquiry into the Ideas of Space, Time, &c."; and an edition of Locke's Works, with a Life of the Author. "His fault" says Archdeacon Paley, for we are not writing his panegyric, "was the general fault of retired and studious characters - too great a degree of inaction and facility in his public station. The modesty, or rather bashfulness of his nature, together with an extreme unwillingness to give pain, rendered him sometimes less firm and efficient in the administration of authority than was requisite. But it is the condition of human mortality. There is an opposition in some virtues, which seldom permits them to subsist together in perfection."

MR. WILLIAM GIBSON, though a native of Westmorland, spent the greater part of his life in the parish of Cartmel. He was born in 1720, near Appleby, and at an early age was left an orphan, without guardian, or immediate means of support. In the hope of bettering his condition, he removed to Kendal, and soon afterward to the neighbourhood of Cartmel, where he was encouraged to take a small farm, at a place called Hollins, in Cartmel Fell. Here he vigorously applied himself to the rudiments of mathematics, having previously attained the art of reading almost entirely without the assistance of a master. He went through a treatise on arithmetic, as far as the extraction of the cube root, working out all the problems by memory, and became so expert, that he could tell the product of any two numbers multiplied together, although the multiplier and multiplicand consisted of nine places of figures each; and could answer in the same manner, questions in division, in decimal fractions, or in the extraction of the square and cube roots. He at this time did not know what the word mathematics meant, nor was he aware that he possessed any extraordinary talent,
but conceived that the capacity of others fully equalled his own. Having heard something about "Euclid," he purchased a copy, and soon launched out into a field of which he had previously no conception. These pursuits he carried on while engaged in the business of his farm, chiefly by the help of his wonderful memory, but occasionally working out an abstruse problem by calculations with chalk, on his breeches. He next applied himself to the studies of astronomy, the laws of gravity, the centripetal and centrifugal forces, the ebbing and flowing of the tides, &c. His next study was Emerson's Treatise on Algebra, which he want through with success. He afterwards studied navigation, the principles of Mechanics, the doctrine of falling bodies, and the elements of optics; and as a preliminary to fluxions, which had then been only lately discovered, by Sir Isaac Newton, he went through conic sections, and subsequently made himself master both of fluxions and flowing quantities. Questions had been put to him by learned persons in London, the Universities, and even from Gottingen, in Germany, all of which be never failed to answer; nor was there a question in mathematics that he could not readily solve. During the last forty years of his life, he consented to take pupils, whom he instructed in geometry, mensuration, &c. His original simplicity of character never forsook him, and he was addressed by his neighbours with the familiar soubriquets of "Will o' th' Hollins," while he resided an his farm; and afterwards when he had removed nearer Cartmel, "Willy Gibson." He died in 1791, aged 71 years.


Mannix & Co., History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland, 1851



1. Fred Sedgewick (thanks Fred) advises that this will be Hest Bank, near Carnforth. The route across the sands went from there to Kents Bank, near Grange; Fred's great-grandfather was a guide across the sands.
1a. He also says that "brog", referred to in the Lower Allithwaite section, is in other sources called a "brob".
2. Mike Hancox has advised me that the Irish connection is mentioned in The Priory of Cartmel by John Dickinson (ISBN
9781852840778) to the effect that William Marshall gave to the Priory the church of Ballysax with the chapel of Ballymaden [is this the Balunadan in the text above?] and the vill and advowson of Kilrush, Co Kildare.
3. i.e. the 19th century.
4. "sidesmen" - deputy churchwardens.
5. Now the hamlets of High and Low Newton.
6. The stica is  more usually given today as stycca. I've been unable to find out what denomination it was.
7. For more on Grange, see Early Recollections of Grange.
8. Now Cark.
9. Now Beck Side.
10. Bigland Tarn.
11. Now known as Staveley-in-Cartmel.

19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman