Coulton, or Colton Parish 1

  > Extends northward from the estuary of the rivers Crake and Leven, to the lakes of Coniston and Windermere, comprehending a mountainous district, fraught with picturesque beauties. It is about six and a half miles in length, and five and a half miles in breadth, contains an area of 16,720 statute acres, and is divided into the four townships of East Colton, West Colton, Nibthwaite, and Haverthwaite with Finsthwaite and Rusland. Its population in 1801, was 1516; in 1811, 1524; in 1821, 1627; in 1831, 1786; and in 1841, 1993: of whom 1000 were males, and 993 females. Its rateable value is 8051 12s.

This parish is one of the most modern in Lancashire, having been a parochial chapelry to Hawkshead, till 1603, or according to Dr. Whitaker, till 1673. The lands of the bailiwick of Colton belonged to the abbey of Furness, till the suppression of religious houses, when they fell to the Duchy of Lancaster, and were held of Queen Elizabeth, by customary and bloomsmithy or wood rents. In the 11th of James I, the bailiwick of Nibthwaite, Colton, Haverthwaite, Satterthwaite, Sawrey and Graythwaite, was granted in fee farm, to William and George Whitmore, of London; and in the same year the land owners commuted the customary rents, by a purchase from the crown. The bloomsmithy was afterwards granted with the other privileges of the liberty of Furness, by Charles II to the Duke of Albemarle, from whom it descended to the Duke of Buccleugh. This rent is the only acknowledgement now paid by the landowners, and its amount is very trifling.

COLTON (EAST) township comprises the village of Colton, and the hamlets of Bouth and Oxen Park, distant about six miles N.N.E. of Ulverston. The parish church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity, stands on a lofty eminence. It is supposed to have been consecrated in 1575, by Archbishop Sandys, and to have been rebuilt about the year 1600, by William Rawlinson. It was re-pewed about ten years ago. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of seventy-six of the land-owners, who pay an annual stipend of twenty marks2 to the clergyman. Its income is 96 per annum, and it is now possessed by the Rev. Samuel Thomas Clarke, M.A., who resides in a commodious parsonage house, about one mile from the church, purchased with a portion of a grant of 600 obtained from government in 1816, the surplus being lodged in the hands of the governors of Queen Anne's Bounty. Here is a School, endowed by Adam Sandys, with an estate in this parish, now valued at about 50 a year.

At Rook How,3 three miles N.E. of Colton, is a Friends' Meeting House, where a few of the followers of George Fox hold meetings. It was built in 1725. The Friends were first formed in Furness in 1652, on their founder's visit to this neighbourhood, and though they were at one time rather numerous, they are now dwindled to about thirty members, in both High and Low Furness.

COLTON (WEST) township includes Bandrake Head, Tottlebank, and Underfield;4 the flax mill at Penny Bridge, and several dispersed dwellings, distant from five to seven miles N. by E. of Ulverston. At Tottlebank is a Baptist chapel, erected about the year 1664, and rebuilt about a hundred years ago. It is endowed with a small estate, now worth about 45 a year, together with the interest of 300 invested in property. Penny Bridge derived its name from the Rev. James Penny, Who lived at the old ford of the river Crake, when the bridge was erected. The word penny is probably a corruption of the British word penna, the head, the chief, &c.

HAVERTHWAITE, FINSTHWAITE and RUSLAND, three villages, distant from five to eight miles N. by W. of Cartmel, form a township, in which are also part of the village of Backbarrow, and several small hamlets and dispersed dwellings. The parish workhouse, which was erected at Backbarrow in 1823, at a cost of 250, is now converted into cottages. Rusland Hall, the property of C. D. Archibald, Esq., is a good mansion, now occupied by his land agent, Mr. James Nelson.

There are three chapels of ease in this township, one at Haverthwaite, one at Finsthwaite, and one at Rusland. The former, which is dedicated to St. Anne, was erected in 1828, and its net income is about 60 a year. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the incumbent of Colton, and now under the ministry of the Rev. Thomas Troughton, M.A., who has lately erected a new handsome parsonage house, contiguous to the chapel.

Rusland Chapel, dedicated to St. Paul, is a plain edifice, erected in 1756, on a rocky eminence near the school. This benefice, which is worth 57 a year, is also a perpetual curacy, in the patronage of the incumbent of Colton, conjointly with two landowners. It was augmented in 1766, with 400, viz. - 200 from Queen Anne's bounty, 100 given by the executors of W. Stratford, L.L.D., and 100 by other benefactors, with which land was purchased in Low Furness, and Dent, Yorkshire. The Rev. H. J. Baines is the incumbent. Near the chapel is an ancient school, now taught by Mr. John Teasdale.

Finsthwaite Chapel, dedicated to St. Peter, was, according to Mr. West, made parochial, at the request of the neighbouring gentlemen, in 1725. The perpetual curacy is in the gift of the incumbent of the parish, and six of the inhabitants. It possesses an income of about 90 per annum, which is now enjoyed by the Rev. John Bigland. Here is a school, endowed with 27 10s. a year, arising from various bequests, left at different periods. All the scholars pay quarter pence.

The large inn, at Newby Bridge, is in Finsthwaite, where letters are received and dispatched by the Ulverston and Milnthorp Mail. On the summit of a hill, north of the inn, is a tower or observatory, from which are obtained delightful and extensive views. That it is frequently visited by tourists, is evident from the number of names cut into its wooden frame. It was erected in 1797, by the late James King, Esq., of Finsthwaite House, a neat mansion, now the seat of Roger Taylor, Esq. The other principal landowners in this township are George Braithwaite, Esq., Mrs. Elizabeth Harrison, C. D. Archibald, Esq., and Mrs. J. Romney.

NIBTHWAITE township lies at the foot of Coniston lake, and in the vale of the river crake, extending from seven to nine miles N. by E. of Ulverston. Here is an extensive bobbin mill erected on the site of an ancient iron forge. "High Furness," says Mr, West, "is a country of water or lakes, around which the towns, villages, and houses, were at first planted by the Sistuntian5 Britons, and so remain with change of name, imposed by the Saxon lords. It is also remarkable that the Saxon families in High Furness, lived in villages and hamlets of their own name, as late as the reign of Henry VIII, as appears from the court rolls of that time. The Branthwaites lived then about Brathay; the Sawreys at Sawrey. At Sawrey Infra, at the view of frank-pledge, 38 Hen. VIII, there were George Braithwaithe, bailiff, and eighteen tenants of the same name. At the same time the Hirdsons lived at Bowith; the Rawlinsons at Haverthwaite; at Oxen Park, all were Turners. The Rigges were of Hawkshead; the Tomlinsons of Grisdale; at Nibthwaite all were Redheads; at Fincethwaite, all Taylors; at Colthouse, all Salterthwaites. &c."


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



1. Usually spelled Colton today.
2. A mark was two-thirds of a pound, or 13s. 4d., twenty marks amounting to 13 6s 8d.
3. Not apparent on current maps, but Bob Henson advises that it's at grid r
ef. SD 332 895, and supplied a website.
4. I can't find Underfield on modern maps. My appreciation to Bob Henson for advising that Underfield still exists,a large house at grid reference SD 318 840.
5. I've never come across this term before. Any offers? Bob Henson has advised that Sistuntian is another name for the Sententii, or Setantii, a British tribe of Roman times. More can be found on the Setantii here.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman