Cockermouth Parish

  > The ancient borough of Cockermouth occupies a beautiful and advantageous situation in the heart of a most picturesque and highly-cultivated country, on the south side of the river Derwent, and at the mouth of the Cocker, whence is derived its name, 8 miles E. of Workington, 7 miles S.E. of Maryport, 14 miles N.E. of Whitehaven, 27 miles S.W. by W. of Carlisle, and about 305 miles N.W. of London. Camden, who visited Cockermouth in 1582, describes it as "a populous, well-trading market town, neatly built, but of a low situation, between two hills, upon one of which is the church, and upon the other, over against it, (which is evidently artificial) a very strong castle, on the gates whereof, are the arms of the Moltons, Umfravills, (Nevills) Lucies, and Percies." Bishop Nicholson, who wrote in 1685, says, "the houses are built of stone, and slated mostly with blue slate; they comprise two streets, one above the river Cocker, in which is the Moot Hall, Market-house, Corn-market, and Shambles." The old Moot Hall and the wooden Shambles, being a great nuisance to the place, were taken down in 1829, and in the same year the present convenient Court-house, or Town-hall, Bank, and News Room, were erected by subscription, at a cost of 1300 raised in shares of 26 each, exclusive of the materials of the old Moot Hall, which were given by the earl of Egremont. They form one handsome range of white freestone buildings, on the west side of Cocker bridge, which was built, in 1828, on the site of the old one, at a cost of 2600, including the expense of removing several houses, "for the purpose of widening the entrance on both sides of the river." It is 160 feet long, and connects the eastern and south-western parts of the town. The Derwent bridge, which has two arches 270 feet in length, forms a continuation of the road from Maryport. Besides being intersected by the Derwent and Cocker rivers, the town is also refreshed by two smaller streams which rise a few miles east, and are a great convenience to the manufacturers of Cockermouth and neighbourhood. A new market-house was erected at the top of Market-street, in 1837, by subscription, towards which the late earl of Egremont gave 200.

Although this town is in a low situation, and at the confluence of two rivers, it is, nevertheless, exceedingly healthy, as is evident from the bills of mortality published a few years since, shewing the number of deaths registered during five years, in 114 districts, containing, in 1841, a population of 6,534,555 souls, by which it appears that the lowest rate of mortality was in Anglesey, Cockermouth, and the Isle of Wight. In 1842, there were interred in Cockermouth church yard, 19 persons whose united ages amounted to 1591 years, being an average of 83 years each; and between the 1st of January, 1846, and the 1st of June, 1847, there were interred 40 individuals whose united ages made 3921 years, being an average of more than 80 years each. From 1636 to 1646, there were 414 baptisms, 272 burials, and 121 marriages; from 1781 to 1791 there were 685 baptisms, 663 burials, and 175 marriages registered, being an increase of 271 baptisms, 386 burials, and 55 marriages, in ten years. In the year 1842, the number registered was 143 births, 128 deaths, and 32 marriages, a considerable increase since 1791. In 1785, the town contained 663 families, numbering 2652 inhabitants, being an average of four persons to each family; in 1801, its population was about 2800; in 1811, 2496; in 1821, 3790; in 1831, 4536; and in 1841, it contained 4940 souls, and 1196 houses. In Hutchinson's History of Cumberland, published in 1795, it is stated that "The market is held on Monday, weekly; and every fortnight there are shows of cattle on the Wednesdays, in the great street, from the beginning of May until Michaelmas. There are likewise two general fairs held in the market-place, on Whitsun Monday and Martinmas Monday, for hiring servants. Men's wages, on an average, are 10 a year, and women's wages, 4 a year. There is a considerable manufactory carried on in hats, which employ about 100 hands; of coarse woollen cloths and shalloons1, in which about 300 hands are employed; of checks and coarse linens there are about 50 hands; and the leather trade, in various branches, employs about 50 hands. The whole place bears the countenance of opulence."

The corn market, which is still held on Monday, is abundantly supplied with grain and all kinds of provisions; and the cattle markets, held every alternate Monday, are numerously attended. Here is also another large horse and cattle fair, on the 18th of February; and there are now in the town and neighbourhood, four sewing thread manufactories, and flax and tow spinning establishments, at which several hands are employed; the Messrs. J. Harris and Sons alone employ upwards of 200, and their factories were greatly enlarged in 1847. Here are also three cotton check and gingham, and two woollen, manufactories, six tanneries, three currieries, two skinneries, three hat manufactories, and a large brewery and malstery, &c. The chapelry contains 2147A. 2R. 34P., and the rateable value of its lands and buildings, in May, 1847, was 11,283 12s. 4d. It is about five miles in length from east to west, and two miles in breadth from north to south, being bounded on the north by the Derwent, on the east by the lake of Bassenthwaite. on the south by the parishes of Embleton and Lorton, and on the west by the township of Brigham. The common lands were enclosed pursuant to an Act of Parliament passed in the 53rd of Geo. III. "Beneath the castle," says Hutchinson, "on the margin of the river Derwent, is a plain of considerable extent, in which is a public walk, almost a mile in length; the stream falls over a rough channel; the opposite banks are in tillage; whilst the plain is laid out in meadows bounded by a gentle ascent covered with wood. This walk is beautifully terminated at each end; one by lofty cliffs scattered over with trees, the other by the ruins of the castle impending over the river, which is crossed by a bridge of two arches, forming a communication with the village of Derwent,* seen hanging on the distant declivity." The rivers abound with salmon, trout, brandling2, pike, eels, and other smaller fish.

Cockermouth is one of the oldest boroughs in the kingdom, and sent two members to parliament in the reign of Edward I, but is said to have been disenfranchised at its own petition, to avoid the expenses attendant upon representation; for in the good olden times, members of parliament were paid for their services. In 1640, Charles I restored the franchise to several boroughs, amongst which were Cockermouth, Malton, Northallerton, Oakhampton, &c. Before the Reform Bill of 1832, the election was by the inhabitants having burgage tenure, who were about 300 in number, and the bailiff was the returning officer; but, for a long time previous to the passing of the Reform Bill, the honour of representing this borough was not contested; the earl of Lonsdale, who purchased most of the burghers' tenements, appointing whom he thought proper. Indeed, the immediate predecessor of the late earl was so extensive a proprietor and patron of boroughs, that he returned, it is said, nine members regularly to every parliament, who were facetiously denominated "Lord Lonsdale's ninepins3." It is also stated that "one of the members who represented Cockermouth having made a very extravagant speech in the House of Commons, was answered by Mr. Burke, in a vein of the happiest sarcasm, which elicited from the house loud and continued cheers. Mr. Fox, entering the house as Mr. Burke was sitting down, enquired of Sheridan what the house was cheering? 'O nothing of consequence' replied Sheridan, 'only Burke has knocked down one of Lord Lonsdale's ninepins.' " Since 1832 there have been several smart contests for the honour of representing the borough, but the liberal candidates have always been successful. The present parliamentary representatives of Cockermouth are, H.A. Aglionby and E. Horman, Esqrs. who were re-elected without opposition, in 1847. Previous to 1832, the county elections were held at Cockermouth, and were often contested with great spirit and opposition. The contest, in 1768, when 4058 freeholders voted, lasted nearly a month, and cost the four candidates, J. Lowther, Bart., H. Curwen, H. Senhouse, and H. Fletcher, Esqrs. above 100,000.

The honour of Cockermouth gives the title of baron to the earl of Egremont, and lieut. general Wyndham succeeded, in 1837, to the lordship of the barony of Egremont, and the honour of Cockermouth, which he at present retains. He has several manors of customary tenure, in this district, which are governed by a number of commissioners, who preside at the Court of Dimissions, held in the castle here, at Christmas, when the estates are passed according to their ancient tenure, "by deed, surrender, and admittance." All the liberties of the baronies of Wigton and Egremont; of the honour of Cockermouth; of the "five towns above Cocker," viz., Brigham, Dean, Greysouthen, Clifton, with the hamlets of Little Clifton and Stainburn; and of the manors of Derwent Fells, Braithwaite, Coldale, Aspatria, Bolton, Wasdale, and Westward, are amenable to this court. Besides the Court of Audit, a Court Leet for this honour is held in the Court House, at Michaelmas and Easter, by Wm. Bragg, Esq., agent to general Wyndham. The borough of Cockermouth, the five towns, and manor of Derwent Fells, are amenable to this court, for each of which three liberties separate juries are charged. A Court Baron for the recovery of debts under 40s. is held in the Court House every three weeks; and here are also held the new County Court, for the recovery of debts under 20. Wm. Bragg, Esq., solicitor, is steward of all general Wyndham's manors and courts in Cumberland; R. Richardson, high bailiff; and the borough bailiffs are - the Rev. Edward Fawcett, and Mr. Wm. Wood, alternately. Petty Sessions are held every Monday, in the Court House, when the following magistrates are generally on the bench, viz., the Rev. Edw. Fawcett, and J.S. Fisher, J.C. Fisher, Esqrs., the Rev. J.B. Dykes, T.A. Hoskins, and Wm. Browne, Esqrs. John Steel, Esq., solicitor, is their clerk. The Easter Quarter Sessions4 are held on the first week after 31st of March, and the Michaelmas Quarter Sessions the first week after 11th October. Edward W. Hasell, Esq., of Dalemaine5, is the Chairman. The Police Station, in Chaloner street, consists of a superintendent (Mr. R. Brown) and three men, viz., one for Maryport, one for Keswick, and one for Cockermouth. The House of Correction is situated in St. Helen's street. Mr. W. Mackreath is governor.

The Church or Chapel of Ease, dedicated to All Saints6, is a handsome structure, on an eminence at the head of Kirk-gate. It was enlarged and beautified in 1825, when 322 additional sittings were obtained, half of which are free and unappropriated; so that it will now accommodate about 1000 persons. It has a tower, containing a peal of six bells, a clock, and chimes. The present church is built on the site of the original chapel, which had a chantry, endowed in 1395, by Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland, with lands which, in the 20th of Elizabeth, (1579) were granted to one Gunson. The benefice was returned to the governors of queen Anne's bounty, in the early part of the last century, as being worth 26 13s. 4d. paid by the earl of Lonsdale the patron and impropriator, and 8 surplice fees; and was certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average value of 132 per annum. The curacy was augmented, in 1798, with 200 given by a Mr. Baines; and in 1811, it received a parliamentary grant of 1000. The Parsonage House was built in 1814, at a cost of 1300, of which 900 was given by the bounty office, and 400 by the earl of Lonsdale. The Rev. Edward Fawcett, M.A. is the present curate, having been inducted in 1808.

The other places of worship in this town are an Independent chapel, in the Main street, instituted about the year 1662, and now under the ministry of the Rev. Robt. Wilson; a Wesleyan chapel, a good building, in Market street, erected in 1841; a Primitive Methodist chapel, in Sand lane, formerly belonging to the Wesleyans; and a Friends' Meeting House, an old building, with a burial ground, in Kirk-gate. The Catholics have only a temporary place of worship here, and service only once a month, by the Rev. E.J. Kelly, from Wigton, but they are about erecting a neat chapel, at the west end of the town, on a plot of ground recently purchased of the trustees of the late Mr. Rudd, solicitor. Sunday schools are attached to all of the chapels; besides which, here is a general sunday school, erected for the purpose, a few years since, and attended by children of every denomination. Connected with it is a clothing, and sick and funeral societies, under the superintendence of Mr. J. Richardson.

Schools, Libraries, &c. - The Grammar School, for the township of Cockermouth and Embleton, was founded in 1676, by lord Wharton, Bishop Smith, Sir George Fletcher, Sir Richard Graham, and others. It stands in the church yard, and its endowments are estimated by the charity commissioners at 24 3s. 1d. per annum, "of which 10 is paid yearly out of the tithes of the chapelry, and the remainder arises (or should arise) from the rents of houses in the town, and 35 poles of land." The School of Industry was established in 1809, for the gratuitous education of 30 poor girls. The National School, in New-street, was built in 1845, chiefly through the exertions of the Rev. Charles Cuthbert Southey, son of the late poet-laureate, and is supported by voluntary contributions. It is capable of accommodating 300 children, and the average number of both sexes now in attendance is about 100. In 1847, the late George L. Bragg, Esq., of Lorton Hall, left 100 to this school. The British School, in Market-street, is also well attended. At the Grammar School is a public library, containing about 500 volumes, founded, in 1762, by the associates of Dr. Bray; and augmented by Dr. Keane, bishop of Chester, for the use of "such clergymen as shall be nominated thereto by the trustees." There is also a library and news room at the Mechanics' Institute, which occupies a large room attached to the Savings' Bank; and another news room in the bank buildings, supported by subscribers of one guinea each per annum.

Provident Institutions, &c. - The Savings' Bank is a provident institution established here in 1818, and now occupying a neat building near the Court House, erected in 1846. Its deposits amount to 34,023 13s. 2d., and the number of accounts is 1227. It is opened every Saturday evening, from 6 to 7 o'clock. Mr. Jonathan Cooper is secretary. The friendly and benefit societies in the town consist of two lodges of Odd Fellows, a lodge of Forresters, a lodge of Druids, one of Rechabites, and one of Mechanics. The Almshouses or hospital here, founded, in 1760, by the Rev. Thomas Leathes, rector of Plumbland, for six poor widows, has an endowment of 7 14s. per annum.7

Cockermouth Union Workhouse, at the top of Sollart-street, was erected in 1840, and opened June 23rd, 1841; since which time upwards of 500 have been expended on its improvement; and in 1847 an east wing and fever hospital was added, at a further expense of 600. The classification of paupers here is admirable, and it is one of the most complete and best conducted workhouses in the north of England. The Union, which is divided into the four registration districts of Cockermouth, Keswick, Workington, and Maryport, comprises the following 47 parishes and townships (containing an area of 106,756 acres, and, in 1841, a population of 35,566 souls), viz :- Allerby and Oughterside, Bassenthwaite, Bewaldeth and Snittlegarth, Blindcrake, Isell8, and Redmain; Bothel and Threapland, Bridekirk, Broughton (Great), Broughton (Little), Blindbothel; Borrowdale, Brackenthwaite, Brigham, Buttermere, Cammerton9, Clifton (Great), Clifton (Little), Cockermouth, Crosscanonby, Dearham, Dovenby, Dean, Ellenborough and Unerigg, Eaglesfield, Embleton, Flimby, Gilcrux, Greysouthen, Isell Old Park, Keswick, Lorton, Loweswater and Mockerkin, Mosser, Papcastle, Plumbland, Ribton, Seaton, St. John's, Castlerigg; Sunderland, Setmurthy, Stainburn, Tallantire, Undershiddaw10, Whinfell, Winscales, Workington, Wythburn, and Wythop. The average yearly expenditure of the Union since 1841 has been upwards of 7000, and the total number of in and out-door paupers relieved, for the quarter ending March, 1846, was 1475, exclusive of 826 "children relieved with their parents." The average number of in-door paupers during 1846-7 was about 230. Robert Benson is superintendant-registrar; Mr. Nicholas Williamson, registrar of births and deaths; and Mr. Robert Richardson, registrar of marriages. The relieving officers are N. Williamson, for Cockermouth; F. Greenip. for Keswick; H. Hayton, for Workington; and I. Fawcett, for Maryport district. The medical officers in the same order are Henry Bell, Ralph brown, Samuel Hamilton, and Joseph Pearson. Mr. Charles Brown, manager of the Cumberland Bank, is treasurer, and Mr. R.F. Yarker, Esq., solicitor, Ulverston, auditor, for Cumberland west district. The board of guardians meet every Monday at the Court House, and on the first Monday in every month at the Workhouse; John Story Spedding, Esq., is chairman, and John Wilson Fletcher, Esq., vice-chairman.

The Dispensary, one of the most important charitable institutions in Cockermouth, was established in 1785, since which time it has administered medical and surgical aid to thousands of indigent patients.

The Gas works were built in 1831, at a cost of 3,050, raised in shares of 4 each. They contain eight retorts, a patent purifier, and one gasometer, capable of holding 12,000 cubic feet of gas, which is sold at 8s. per 1000. Mr. Abraham Hetherington is secretary, and William Bateman manager of the works.

At the west end of the town is the terminus for the Cockermouth and Workington Railway, opened 28th April, 1847. The line, which is 8 miles in length, runs along the picturesque vale of Derwent, which river it crosses no less than five times, and the river Marron once. Five trains run to and from Workington daily. Henry Jacob, Esq., is secretary and manager; Joseph Carter Fearon, Esq., resident engineer; Mr. Ralph Rutter, inspector of the line; and Mr. William Patman, collector.

Cockermouth Castle, though now in ruins, is still the greatest ornament of the town, and, as Hutchinson says, "stands at the confluence of the rivers Cocker and Derwent, on a fine eminence," strongly fortified by nature. It is said to be contemporary with Windsor, having been built soon after the Norman Conquest; and was for a length of time the baronial seat of the lords of Allerdale; but the name of its founder is rather uncertain - some authors supposing that it was erected by William de Meschines, who had this part of Cumberland by the grant of Ranulph de Meschines; and by others we are told that it owed its origin to Waldeof, first lord of Allerdale, who removed hither from Papcastle. In bygone days, it was evidently a fortress of great strength. Its massive walls, which are upwards of 600 yards in compass, form an irregular square, and were formerly surrounded by a deep moat; the arched entrance being defended by a strong gate, portcullis, and draw-bridge. The gateway tower is ornamented with the arms of the Umfrevills, Multons, Lucies, Percies, and Nevills; which arrangement of arms points out the age of this part of the fortress. On each side of the gateway, leading to the interior and more ancient court, is a square arched dungeon, capable of holding from 40 to 50 persons, and having in the crown of the arch a round opening, through which the unfortunate captives were lowered into its gloomy cavity. The S.W. front, many vestiges of which remain, stood on the brink of the precipice, above the rivers. Here was the large square tower which contained the state apartments; the entrance to which was through a wide semicircular piazza, illuminated by several large windows. This tower, which is evidently the most ancient part of the building, had under it a spacious vault, 30 feet square, lighted by a small grated window, and approached by a descent of twelve steps from the inner area; being supported by groined and interesting arches, springing from an octagonal centre pillar. Hutchinson supposes this vault was anciently used as the retreat of the family and repository of their jewels in time of danger. This castle, being garrisoned, in 1648, for king Charles, was besieged and dismantled by the parliamentary forces, after a month's siege; since which time it has lain in ruins, except the court and gate houses, with two adjoining rooms. It is the property and occasional residence of lieut. general Henry Wyndham, who, as has been already seen, succeeded to the Cumberland estates of his father, the late earl of Egremont, in 1837.

At the north end of the town is a tumulus, or artificial mount, called Toot Hill; and opposite the Roman station at Papcastle, about a mile west of Cockermouth, at a place called Fitts Wood, are the remains of a rampart and ditch of a fort, 750 feet in circuit. About a mile east of the town is St. Helens, the seat of Robert Benson, Esq., occupying a delightful situation in the picturesque vale of the Derwent.

Biography - John Walker, M.D., "the great apostle and martyr in the cause of vaccination," was born at Cockermouth, in 1759, and received the principal part of his education at the Grammar School in this town. He was the son of a smith, who resided in the house now occupied by Mr. J. Miller, and for five years followed his father's business, after which his restless spirit directed itself to the art of engraving, and, in 1798, he removed to Dublin, and his performance in Walker's Hibernian Magazine, for 1780, 1781, 1782, and 1783, shew to what an excellence he attained in that art. He afterwards kept a school in Dublin, and published a Geography and Universal Gazetteer. In 1797, he visited the continent, and, in 1799, obtained the degree of doctor of medicine, at the celebrated university of Leyden. He, in company with Dr. Marshall, introduced the cow pock at several places in the Levant; and on his return, settled in London, where he obtained an extensive practise, and was most indefatigable in his exertions at the vaccine stations. He was a member of the Society of Friends, and having dispensed the blessings of the discovery to almost every part of the habitable globe, died June 23rd, 1830.

Eaglesfield, or Eglesfield, township, has a small village, 2 miles S.W. of Cockermouth, and contains about 2000 acres of land, (rated at 2044 18s.) belonging chiefly to Mr. John Robinson, Messrs. John, Jonathan, and William Wood, and few others. It was anciently possessed by a family of its own name, formerly distinguished for their extensive possessions in Cumberland and other counties, and dignified by having produced the greatest benefactor to these northern counties that ever lived, viz., Robert Eaglesfield11, founder of Queen's College, Oxford. A paved Roman way, seven yards in width, leading from north to south, has been discovered in this township; and in removing the surface for the purpose of quarrying the limestone which abounds here, several human bones, teeth, and instruments of war have been found from time to time, at a place called Endlaw12, from which circumstance it is supposed to be the site of a Roman station. Population in 1841, 371.

Embleton township and parochial chapelry, contains 3764 acres, rated at 3168, and the small hamlets of Beckhouse, High-side, Shatton, Stanger, and Stanley Hall13, situate in a fertile valley, stretching east and west between Bassenthwaite lake and Cockermouth, and girt on the north and south by hills, which afford excellent pasturage for sheep. The Church, which was rebuilt in 1806, is a plain, but neat and substantial edifice, with a bell turret carrying two bells. It is dedicated to St. Cuthbert, and stands in a cemetery near to Beckhouse hamlet, three miles S.S.W. of Cockermouth. The benefice is a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the earl of Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Rev. Henry Kitchen. Hutchinson says it is "endowed with lands of the yearly value of 2 4s., a stipend of 5 paid by the impropriator, and 1 1s. yearly produce of a money stock." It was certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the annual value of 54. The tithes were commuted in 1841, for 190. Embleton, "villa Amabiliœ," was a parcel of the demesne of Allerdale-above-Derwent, in the time of Richard I, when it was given by Robert Courtney and Alice Romley, his wife, to Orme de Ireby, of High Ireby, in which family it continued till the reign of Edward III, but is now possessed by a number of proprietors, and general Wyndham is lord of the manor. Highside, consists of four farms and a few cottages, 3 miles S.E. of Cockermouth; Shatton is two miles S.S.E.; and Stanger, two miles S. by E. of the same town. At the latter hamlet is a strong aperient salt spring, called Stanger Spa, said to be very efficacious in all acute diseases of the skin, but it is not much resorted to at present. Stanley Hall hamlet is distant about three miles from Cockermouth. Pop. in 1841, 408.

Greysouthen14 township has a large irregularly built village, 3 miles W. by S. of Cockermouth, and contained in 1841, 584 inhabitants. Its rateable value is 3153, and the principal owners of the soil are Joseph Harris, John Wilson Fletcher, and Wm. Paisley, Esqrs. who are also coal proprietors in this township, where there are now five collieries; and about a mile south of the village is Oldfield flax mill, where linen thread is manufactured by Mr. Jas. Elliott.Tarn bank, the handsome residence of J. W. Fletcher, Esq., is situated near the village. At the enclosure of the common there were fifteen acres of land appropriated for the education of the poor of this township, and here is also an infant school, supported chiefly by the principal land owners. The Society of Friends, and the Wesleyans, have each a chapel here, the latter built in 1833. Greysouthen, was anciently called Crakesothen, and is one of the "five towns" belonging to the honor of Cockermouth.

Lorton, supposed to be a corruption of Lower Town, is a township containing the villages of High and Low Lorton, distant about half a mile from each other, and four miles S. by E. of Cockermouth. Its principal landowners are Jno. Bridges, Esq., Mr. Jno. Jennings, Miss Stubbs, E. C. Knubley, Esq., and Mr. Jno. Pearson, and its rateable value is 2313. 8s. The whole township belongs to the honour of Cockermouth, as a parcel of the manor of Derwent fells except a small customary manor, which belongs to the dean and chapter of Carlisle, to whose court here their tenants in this neighbourhood are amenable. "The customary tenants pay a fourpenny fine upon change of tenant by death; but the lord never dies15. And the tenants are entitled to all wood upon their respective customary estates." Hutchinson says, "in the reign of Henry VIII it was held in severalty by three persons, Winder, Sands, and Huddleston; but we do not find how they derived their title." In the village of Low Lorton, on the banks of the river Cocker, stands Lorton Hall, the seat and property of Robert Bridge, Esq., in right of his wife, youngest sister of the late G. L. Bragg, Esq.

The Church, or parochial chapel, dedicated to Saint Cuthbert, is situate between High and Low Lorton, and is a plain substantial building, with a small square tower or belfry. It includes within its jurisdiction the townships of Lorton, Brackenthwaite, and Wythop, the inhabitants of which, together with those of the chapelry of Buttermere, marry and bury their dead at Lorton chapel, and consequently contribute towards its repairs, under the direction of four chapelwardens, appointed by the different quarters of this parochial chapelry. The living is a perpetual curacy, certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average annual value of 76, in the patronage of the earl of Lonsdale.† The tithes have been commuted for a yearly rent charge of 25. Here is a school. endowed with 100 left by several donors, and now yielding 4 10s. a year. Besides which, it has the interest of 100 left in 1844, by Arthur Bowe, Esqr., and of another 100 left in 1847, by the late G. L. Bragg, Esq. Both these sums are invested in government security, and yield 3. per cent., the minister, chapelwardens, and overseers being the trustees. The school has been lately raised and rendered more convenient, and the master is nominated by five feoffees. At High Lorton is a flax spinning and thread manufactory, belonging to Mr. John Jennings, jun; and a brewery belonging to John Jennings and Co. The Wesleyans have a small chapel here, built in 1840.

The Vale of Lorton, through which runs the river Cocker, is about three miles in length, "beautified with rich meadows, eminences covered with wood. and scattered hamlets." It enjoys a rich soil, and the banks of the river are adorned. with wood, and varied with different objects. Mr. Gilpin says, "Nature, in this scene, lays totally aside her majestic frown, and wears only a lovely smile. The vale of Lorton is of the extended kind, running a considerable way between mountains, which range at about a mile's distance. They are near enough to screen it from the storm ; and yet not so impending as to exclude the sun." And again he says, "Except the mountains, nothing in all this scenery is great; but every part is filled with those sweet engaging passages of nature, which tend to sooth the mind and instil tranquillity." The population of Lorton township, in 1841, was 394, and the number of acres in the chapelry, according to the Parliamentary return, is 13,960.

Mosser is a township and chapelry extending from 4 to 6 miles S. E. of Cockermouth, and containing two hamlets, called High and Low Mosser. Its principal landowners are Mr. Thomas Hall and Mr. Thos. Watson, but general Wyndham is lord of the manor, which was held, in 1544, by Thomas Salkeld, of the king as of his castle of Egremont, by homage and fealty, suit of court, 13s. 4d, cornage and puture of the sergeants. The Chapel of Ease is a small plain edifice, dedicated to St. Philip; the living is a curacy, in the patronage of the earl of Lonsdale, and incumbency of the Rev. Samuel Sherwen, rector of Dean, for whom the Rev. Henry Kitchen officiates. It was returned to the parliamentary commissioners as of the average annual value of 44, and the tithes were commuted in 1844, for a yearly rent charge of 16. Previous to the dissolution of the religious houses there was a richly-endowed chantry here, the possessions of which were granted by Edward VI to Thomas Brende, scrivener, of London. At Akebank is a drain tile manufactory, belonging to Mr. Jonah Dixon, of Todah. The rateable value of the township is 629 15s. and its population, in 1841, was 107 souls.

Setmurthy, or as it is called in ancient records, Secmurthow, and sometimes Seatmurthow. is a township and chapelry extending along the south side of the Derwent, nearly to the foot of Bassenthwaite Lake, and containing a small Chapel of Ease, under the parochial chapel of Cockermouth, from which it is distant 4 miles N. by E. The chapel was built in 1794; the living is a curacy, certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners as of the average value of 54 per annum, in the patronage of the inhabitants and incumbency of the Rev. C. C. Southey, of Plumbland. It was certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty, at 2, being the interest of 40 raised by the inhabitants for a reader, but when Hutchinson wrote, it had received three augmentations, so that the living was then worth 24 per ann. The tithe is worth about 16 a year. "Before its augmentation," says the same writer, "the reader of divine service had a precarious income; but an actual custom subsisted for several years, of allowing the poor minister a whittlegate. He was privileged to go from house to house in the chapelry, and stay a certain number of days at each place, where he was permitted to enter his whittle, or knife, with the rest of the people of the household, and to share the provisions prepared for the use of the family. This custom has been abolished in such modern times, that it is in the memory of many now (1794) living." The chapelry is part of the honour of Cockermouth, so that general Wyndharn is lord of the manor. At the enclosure of the common, 60 acres were purchased by the inhabitants, for the use of a schoolmaster to teach the children of Setmurthy. This land is now worth 21, but it is expected shortly to let for upwards of 30 a year. Besides which, the master has what is called a "school store," amounting to 2 16s. a year, contributed by a few of the landowners. Here is also an infant school, to which lady Vane contributes 17 a year, viz., 12 to a mistress, and to a master for teaching writing, 5. Sir Henry R. Vane, Bart. is the principal landowner of this township, which, in 1841, contained 181 souls. Its rateable value is 1800.

Huthwaite Hall16, 2 miles E.N.E. of Cockermouth, is a "little manor" in this township, belonging to Henry T. Thompson, Esq., of Bridekirk, who exchanged lands at Lorton for it, with the late Geo. L. Bragg, Esq., of Lorton Hall.

Whinfell township comprises 1701 acres, rated at 1269, mostly the property of resident yeomen, but general Wyndham is lord of the manor, as a parcel of the honour of Cockermouth. It has no village of its own name, but contains the small hamlet of Roqerscale, and a few scattered houses built on the skirts of the fell, 4 miles S. of Cockermouth. The population of the township, in 1841, was 132, and in the same year the tithes were commuted for a yearly rent charge of 15.

Wythop is a township and chapelry, within the parochial chapelry of Lorton, extending from 4 to 6 miles S. E. by E. of Cockermouth, and containing the small hamlets of Old Scales and Routon Beck17, 4 miles from the same town. Its rateable value is 670 11s. 6d., and its population, in 1841.was 436. Wythop, or Wythorp, Salium convallis, said to have derived its name "from the Wyths, or Willows, growing there," was anciently a demesne of the honour of Cockermouth, but the manor. which descended from the Lucys to the Lowthers, was sold, in 1606, by Sir Richard Lowther to Richard Fletcher, of Cockermouth, who entertained Mary, Queen of Scots, with great hospitality, on her way from Workington to Carlisle, for which. he was afterwards knighted, on the accession of her son James, to the crown of England. Sir Henry Fletcher, Bart., one of his descendants, became a convert to the catholic faith, and died in a monastery at Flanders, in the early part of the last century, having settled the estate upon Thomas Fletcher, with remainder to Henry Vane, son of Mr. Vane, of Long Newton, Durham, so that it now belongs Sir H. R. Vane, Bart.

The Chapel of Ease, which is a small edifice, stands near the farm called Kelswick, over the steep woody bank that rises from the west side of Bassenthwaite lake. The living is a curacy, certified to the ecclesiastical commissioners, as of the average annual value of 51, in the patronage of the inhabitants, and incumbency of the Rev. James Matthias Woodmason. The tithes were commuted, in 1844, for 18. 9s. 5d.

* Now Papcastle

† The Rev. Wm. Armitstead, late incumbent of Lorton, has just been presented to the vicarage of Whitbeck.

 

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

 

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Notes

1. "shalloons" - light woollen cloth used as garment linings.
2. "Brandling" - immature salmon.
3. After the description of Lonsdale's ninepins, a small section has been omitted which lists members of parliament for other boroughs.
4. The paragraph on the Quarter Sessions is interpolated from another section of the book. The Midsummer and Christmas Quarter Sessions were held at Carlisle.
5. "Dalemaine" is, of course, Dalemain.
6. The church of All Saints described above was built in 1711, the present All Saints dates from the 1850's. Christ Church was built in 1865, after the directory was published.
7. After the mention of the almshouses, the directory refers the reader to a long list of charities. Both the reference and the charity list has been omitted.
8. Isell is now Isel.
9. Cammerton is Camerton,
10. Undershiddaw - sic, Underskiddaw.
11. For more on Robert Eaglesfield, see the Aspatria entry.
12. Endlaw does not show on the 1:50,000 O.S. map; can anyone advise where this is ?
13. High-side is now High Side; I cannot locate Stanley Hall.
14. I think Greysouthen is pronounced "Graysoon"; but I am willing to be corrected in this.
15. "the lord never dies" - some customary tenants also paid a fine when the lord of the manor died, the implication being that in this case no such payment was expected.
16. Huthwaite Hall is now Hewthwaite Hall.
17.  Old Scales is Old Scale, and Routon Beck is Routenbeck


19 June 2015

Steve Bulman