Diocesan Histories : Carlisle




In 1521 John Kyte, archbishop of Armagh, relinquished that piece of preferment for the titular archbishopric of Thebes, in Greece, together with the bishopric of Carlisle. Kyte, a Londoner by birth, had held the office of sub-dean of the Royal Chapel, and had been sent ambassador to Spain by Henry VII. He was made Archbishop of Armagh by papal provision in 1513, and his translation to Thebes and Carlisle was effected by the influence of Cardinal Wolsey, whose friendship Kyte requited by continuing steadfast to him even in his adversity. It is worth while to mention that the fees demanded by the Papal Court on Kyte's translation amounted to 1890 ducats. In the tariff issued in 1511, on authority of Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, the papal ducat is valued at 33 groats, so we get £1,039 10s. as the demand made upon Kyte, or two years' income of the see of Carlisle, which in the Valor of Henry VIII is estimated at £541. No wonder the nation had long groaned under such exactions, and under the large sums which were drawn from their pockets for probates and mortuaries by bishops and priests, too often imposed upon them by foreign authority. We have seen what a large proportion of the bishops of Carlisle were appointed by papal provision; their fourteenth century register contain one (if not more) brief from the Papal Court, ordering the prior and convent of Carlisle to find a benefice for a priest who is named, and the wills in these registers speak to the severity of the mortuaries.

Bishop Kyte was, as matter of course, in various commissions to treat with the Scots. He acted with Wolsey in the matter of the king's divorce, and he sided with Lee, archbishop of York, in opposing Archbishop Cranmer and the reforming party. He built largely at Rose Castle, but died in London in 1537. He was succeeded by Robert Oldridge,1 or Aldridge, a scholar, poet, and orator, provost of Eton, and holder of many offices, which are detailed in the county histories. He was one of the authors of the "Bishop's Book," but in his opinions he disagreed with Cranmer and the reformers, and sided with Lee, Gardiner and Tunstall. He died in 1555, at Horncastle; and he had a gift from Henry VIII, of a house at Lambeth Marsh, called Carlisle House, for use of himself and his successors.

The episcopates of these two bishops, covering the greater part of the reign of Henry VIII and the reign of Edward VI, are not so devoid of local colour as were those of their predecessors.

The causes which for long had been preparing men's minds for the inevitableness of some sort of reformation of the Church of England, would be slowly felt in a poor and remote diocese like Carlisle, whose clergy were probably the most ignorant in England, but still there must have been a few among them who had tasted of the "New Learning," and read the works of Erasmus and Colet. There is no evidence that the inhabitants of Cumberland and Westmorland were particularly anxious for any sweeping changes; on the contrary, we shall see that they were not, if we may judge from what they afterwards did on occasion of the suppression of the smaller religions houses, or those having incomes under £200 per annum. The Act of 1536 for the suppression of these were preceded by some sort of visitation made by commissioners; the results are generally supposed to have been laid before Parliament, in a book called the Black Book, afterwards destroyed (so the story goes) by Bishop Bonnor, at command of Queen Mary. Some fragments which escaped bear the title of "Comperta," and very shocking they are.

The story of the Black Book, and of the Comperta, has been very carefully sifted by Canon Dixon in the first volume of his History of the Church of England, and he arrives at conclusions very unfavourable to those documents. They have been recently thoroughly exposed by Father Gasquet in "Henry VIII and the English Monasteries."2 But, be these documents true or false, laid before Parliament or not, the act for the suppression of the smaller houses was passed. Locally it affected all the religious houses in the diocese of Carlisle but St. Mary's, Carlisle, and Holm Cultram. The discontent occasioned by the suppression of these houses, co-operating with other grievances, and assiduously fanned by the monks and priests, set the North of England on fire. In October, 1536, a rebellion of some sixty thousand persons, rose in Lincolnshire, and subsided in a fortnight. It was followed by the rising in Yorkshire, known as "Aske's Rebellion" or "The Pilgrimage of Grace," and on October 13, the beacons of Cumberland and Westmorland blazed out in response to the fires on the Yorkshire hills. The Pilgrimage found sympathisers and promoters in the diocese of Carlisle. Robert Jerby, abbot of Holm Cultram, Towneley, chancellor of Carlisle, the prior of Lanercost, and a nameless vicar of Penrith, made themselves especially obnoxious to the king by their activity. Carlisle was held for the king by Sir Thomas Clifford and Sir Christopher Dacre; certain unfounded suspicions about Dacre's fidelity were evidently in circulation, but he in the end thoroughly vindicated it. Penrith appears to have been the local focus of insurrection, and thither repaired Abbot Jerby, and there he aided and abetted in the sending [of] men to the insurgents at York. He warned his tenants of the manor of Holm Cultram, on pain of hanging, to attend illegal gatherings at Wayttyrighow (?) and on Broadfield, and, when on February 12, 1536-7, some eight thousand rabble from Kendal, Richmond, Kirkby Stephen, Appleby, and Hexham, under Nichol Musgrave, laid siege to Carlisle, he rode with them and acted as their commissioner to demand the surrender of the town.

Clifford and Dacre repulsed and pursued the disorderly assailants, who rallied and made a stand, but melted away in panic on hearing of the approach of the royal forces under the Duke of Norfolk. That leader proclaimed martial law in Cumberland, Westmorland, Durham, and the northern angle of Yorkshire, by displaying the royal banner. A courier was despatched to Henry VIII with the news, and he replied in a letter which has been often quoted, and which is printed at full length by the Surtees Society, volume xliv. p. 150; this volume also contains other documents, of which we have been making free use. One passage we reproduce :-

"Our pleasure is, that before you shall close upp our said baner again, you shal, in any wise, cause suche dredfull exacation to be done upon a good nombre of th' inhabitauntes of every toune, village, and hamlet, that have offended in this rebellion, as well by the hanging them up in trees, as by the quartering of them and the setting of their heddes and quarters in every toune, greate and small, and in all suche other places, as they may be a ferefull spectacle to all other hereafter, that wold practise any like mater."

The letter also orders the duke to get and send the vicar of Penrith and chancellor Towneley to the king, and to visit

"Salleye (Sawley), Hexam, Newminster, Leonerdecaste, Saincte Agatha, and all such other places as have made any maner of resistence, or in any wise conspired or kept their houses with any force sithens th' appointement at Doncastre, you shall, without pitie or circumstance, nowe that our baner is displayed, cause all the monkes and chanons, that be in anywise faultie, to be tyed uppe, without further delay or ceremoney, to the terrible example of others."

The abbot of Sawley and the prior of Hexham were certainly hanged; the fate of the other three is not known, nor what became of Chancellor Towneley and the vicar of Penrith. Seventy-four persons were executed in the towns of Cumberland and Westmorland; by some oversight they were not hanged in chains, as were the insurgents who endured that fate in Yorkshire, and the bishopric of Durham: "the bodies were cut down and buried by certain women," to the anger of the duke. Nothing is said as to the fate of the abbot of Holm Cultram, but as Sir Thomas Wharton writes, in August, 1537, of "the dethe of the laytt Abbot of Holm" he was probably hanged, unless he cheated the wood by dying. Sir Thomas Wharton, in his letter, also says he had attended the assizes in Cumberland:-

"when dyvers henyus riottes and oyer unlawfull demenors er laytly doune. Ther is on grett ryott foundon to be doune by the commandment of the byschoppe of Kerlesle."

This was compromising for Bishop Kyte, as pointing to his complicity with the insurgents, but Kyte was beyond the king's, power; he died in London, June 19, 1537.

The Pilgrimage of Grace was but a vain performance: it originated in discontent with the suppression of the small houses; it failed to save them, and it furnished the excuse for the suppression of the larger houses, whose various abbots and inmates had encouraged it. The punishment of Holm Cultram was not long delayed: it has been conjectured that Abbot Jerby was hanged; his successor Abbot Gawen Borrowdale, surrendered the abbey to the king on the 5th or 6th of March, 1538, the commissioner to receive the surrender being Dr. Legh. Borrowdale was appointed the first rector, his brethren were pensioned off, and the fabric of the church was permitted to stand as "a grete ayde socor and defence" for the parishioners against the Scots, to become the melancholy victim of storm, fire, neglect, and churchwardens that it now is.

The priory of Wetheral was surrendered to the king on October 20, 1539, and the priory of St. Mary's, Carlisle, on January 9, 1540. Dr. Layton was the commissioner who received the surrender of Carlisle. Out of the dissolved priory of Carlisle, and on the site thereof, by charter bearing date, May 8, 1541, the king founded the Cathedral Church of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Carlisle, and created a dean and four prebendaries one body corporate under the name of the Dean and Chapter of the said cathedral church. Launcelot Salkeld, the last prior, a man defamed in the worthless "Comperta," was appointed the first dean. By another charter, bearing date May 6 of the same year, the king endowed the Dean and Chapter with most of the revenues of the dissolved priory of Carlisle, as well as with all the revenues of the dissolved priory, or cell of Wetheral, which had heretofore been attached to St. Mary's Abbey at York. On June 6, 1545, the king, under the Act (31 Hen. VIII c. 9) authorising the foundation of additional bishoprics, delivered to the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle a body of statutes by the hands of his commissioners, and signed by them, but not under the Great Seal.

These statutes have given rise to some important and well-known lawsuits, and were the primary cause of the passing of the Act 6 Anne, c. 21, by which the validity of the statutes of the cathedrals of the New Foundation was established. The original copy of these statutes delivered by the commissioners of Henry VIII is not in existence, but an examined and certified copy of the time of Charles II is kept in a chest in the Treasury; this copy has been printed in 1879 by the Dean and Chapter, under the supervision of the Ven. Archdeacon Prescott and the late Canon Chalker, and a translation, with a most valuable preface and notes, was published by the archdeacon in the same year. Of these we hope later on to avail ourselves.

Oldridge, or Aldridge, or Adrich, Kyte's successor in the bishopric of Carlisle, was one of the bishops who supported in Parliament the "Act for Abolishing of Diversity of Opinions," known as the of "Statute of the Six Articles," and "The Whip with Six Strings." The persecutions under the statute were mainly in the south of England; possibly the seventy-four examples that the Duke of Norfolk had tied up in the two counties of Cumberland and Westmorland were not forgotten, and further severity was unnecessary.

In 1542 war broke out between England and Scotland. James V being on the side of Rome, was unfavourable to his uncle, the English king, whose policy was to renew the claims made by Edward I to superiority over the kingdom of Scotland. A Scottish army entered the West Marches of England and was put to rout on the 14th November, 1542, by a few hundred borderers under Sir Thomas Dacre the Bastard, and Jack Musgrave, of Bewcastle, both of whom Mr. Froude elevates into lords. Sir Thomas Dacre was rewarded in the following year by a grant of some of the possessions of the dissolved House of Lanercost.

Henry VIII died January 28, 1547, leaving a boy of nine years old to succeed him. By his will he clearly intended, in the selection of his executors, to leave a government behind him in which, as Mr. Froude says, the parties of reaction and progress should alike be represented, and should form a check one upon another. But the Earl Hertford managed to modify the scheme, and, with the title of Duke of Somerset, to be made Protector of the kingdom. He strengthened his influence over the nation by a victory over the Scots at Pinkie, near Musselburgh, and he gave his support to the advanced Reformers. The Six Articles, and the Acts against the Lollards were repealed; a general visitation of the kingdom was held, which was divided into six circuits, each with its own commissioners. But the changes this visitation was intended to enforce; the history of the first and second prayer-books of Edward VI; the fall of Somerset and the rise of Northumberland; the death of the young king, and the tragic fate of the unfortunate Lady Jane Grey, - all belong to general history and not to that of the diocese of Carlisle. One important document of this reign has been published by the Cumberland and Westmorland Society (Transactions, vol. viii.), namely, the inventory of church goods in Cumberland, taken under a Royal Commission issued in 1552. The commissioners were Sir Thomas Dacre and Sir Richard Musgrave, Kts., and William Pykerynge, Thomas Salkeld, Robert Lamplugh, and Anthony Burnis, Esquires. The contents of this document strikingly indicate the poverty of the county, if this inventory is compared with those for Berkshire and Herefordshire, which were published by James Parker, London; still, nearly every church had "one chalice of silver," but, chalices apart, the silver vessels in the 111 churches visited were only two paten covers, one broken cross, and one pyx. Eight churches had tin chalices, two had none, and only one church had cruets, and those of tin. The commissioners carried away or disposed of for the king's use all church goods beyond a very limited supply.

The innovations introduced in the reign of Edward VI were intensely unpopular, and people were eager to recur to the old practises as soon as the opportunity presented itself. At Naworth Castle is a book entitled:-

"Hynorum (sic) cum notis opusculum ad usum Sar.' diurno servitio per totu annu apprime necessariu; plurimis eliminatis medis. Antwerp, 1528, per Christopheru Endoviensen."

On the title page is written:-

"Dus Henricus Browne me possidet."


"Tho. Riding est possesor."

On back of titlepage is:-

"Tertio die Septembris anno dui 1553, fuit missa iterum incipienda in Ecclia Sci Cuthberti in fyt (?) in civitate Carl."

Just six weeks after Mary [also known as Bloody Mary] was proclaimed queen, which was on the 19th of July, 1553. A further inscription tells us more about Henry Browne:-

"Dus Henricus Browne capellanus curatusque Ecclie Sant Cuthbert Carl. et decanus decanatus Carl., &c." - SURTEES SOCIETY, vol. lxviii., p. 477.

This book is some evidence that the use in the diocese of Carlisle was the Use of Sarum. The missal still survives which was presented, in 1506, by Robert Cooke, apparently a priest, to the Church of Caldbeck, in Cumberland, together with a silver chalice and pax, and some vestments, as detailed in a Latin note written in the book. It is of the Use of Sarum, and the Mass of St. Mungo (to whom Caldbeck Church is dedicated), is in manuscript at the end. This fine volume, in 1880, was in possession of the Benedictine mission at Warwick Bridge, near Carlisle. We believe it is now at Ushaw [Ushaw College, a Catholic seminary at Durham]. Dr. Prescott, in his translation of the Statutes of Carlisle Cathedral, shows that the offices enjoined by the statutes of Henry VIII were to be in accordance with the Use of Sarum.

However eagerly people might welcome the restoration of Mass, and of laws against heresy, they obstinately refused to restore the Church lands, and they clung obstinately to the royal supremacy. The unhappy queen could not prevail upon them: her persecutions created sympathy for those she and Bonnor sent to the stake. She dragged the country into an unwilling war to support her unpopular husband [Phillip II of Spain; his marriage to Mary dragged England into his war with Henry II of France], and had she not died when she did, in 1558, there would have been a general revolt. Bishop Oldridge, or Aldridge, preceded her, dying in 1556, and Dr. Owen Oglethorpe, succeeded him. Oglethorpe was president of Magdalen College, Oxford, and first canon and then dean of Windsor; and he and his predecessor were both among the theologians to whom Cranmer had addressed the questions, on the answers to which the Third English Confession was founded, viz., "The Necessary Doctrine and Erudition of a Christian Man." Oglethorpe had been on the previous Commission of 1540, but he is best known as having officiated at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth, - Pole, the Archbishop of Canterbury, having died on the same day as Queen Mary, while the Archbishop of York (Heath), alarmed by the proposal to use the English Litany, refused to officiate. With the other Marian bishops, except Kitchen of Llandaff, Oglethorpe was deprived of his see for refusing the oath of supremacy, in May, 1559.

By the influence of the Earl of Bedford and of Bishop Sandys, (Bishop of Worcester, afterwards Archbishop of York), the see of Carlisle was offered to a distinguished member of a distinguished Westmorland family, Barnard [more usually Bernard, see Miss Gilpin of Scaleby Castle] Gilpin, rector of Houghton-le-Spring, and a kinsman of Sandys. Sandys was himself a member of a Cumberland family, though born at Hawkshead, in Lancashire, and he was educated at St. Bees School, in Cumberland, in
Company with Grindal, a native of the parish of St. Bees, and in succession Bishop of London, Archbishop of York, and Archbishop of Canterbury in the reign of Queen Elizabeth. A well-informed antiquary writes:- "The fact that both Grindal and Sandys became brilliant ornaments of the Reformed Church, would seem to suggest that their teacher at St. Bees must have been a man of Protestant tendencies."2 Both these prelates were born in the limits of the extended diocese of Carlisle; obscure, wild, and popish as that district must have been in the sixteenth century, yet two of its sons greatly influenced the character of the reformed Church of England. Sandys must have known well the sort of man that the diocese of Carlisle wanted, and in his letter to Gilpin, announcing that the queen had nominated the latter bishop of Carlisle, he strongly urges acceptance of the offer:-

"I am not ignorant that your inclination rather delighteth in the peaceable tranquility of a private life. But if you looke upon the estate of the Church of England with a respective eye, you cannot, with a good conscience, refuse this charge imposed upon you: so much the lesse, because it is in such a place, as wherein no man is found fitter than yourself to deserve well of the Church."

Gilpin resolutely declined, and the reason he gave was, that

"he refused not so much the bishopricke as the inconvenience of the place, for if I had bene chosen in this kinde to any bishopricke elsewhere, I would not have refused it; but in that place I have been willing to avoide the trouble of it, seeing I had there manie of my friends and kindred, at whom I must connive in many thinges, not without hurte to myselfe, or else deny them manie thinges, not without offence to them."3

It is probable that Gilpin thought he could not advance the reformed religion in the diocese of Carlisle, in opposition to his extensive family connexions there. Less charitable persons have suggested that as Houghton-le-Spring was worth about £400 a year, and the bishopric of Carlisle only, according to Strype, £268 (a falling off from the value in the Valor of Henry VIII of £541), other reasons might have moved Gilpin.

The bishops that Queen Elizabeth, during her long reign, appointed to Carlisle, were John Best, 1560; Richard Barnes, 1570; John Meye, 1577; and Henry Robinson, 1598. The deans of Carlisle appointed by Queen Elizabeth were Sir Thomas Smith, whom she appointed at her accession, or rather re-appointed, for he had held the deanery during the reign of Edward VI, after the ejection of Lancelot Salkeld, who was re-appointed by Queen Mary on the ejection of Smith. Sir Thomas Smith was a deacon only; to him succeeded in 1577 Sir John Wooley, and in 1596 Sir Christopher Perkins, who held it until 1622; these two were both laymen. There is no evidence that these deans, very distinguished men they were, and holders of high office at the universities, in state and in diplomacy, ever saw the deanery they enjoyed. The deanery of Carlisle was, in fact, secularised throughout the reign of Queen Elizabeth, and for part of that of James I. Accounts of these deans are in Archæologia, vol. xxxviii., where it appears Smith got £80 from his deanery, after paying Salkeld £40 as pension. This secularisation of the deanery was probably one of the things Bernard Gilpin disliked the idea of conniving at.

To return to the Elizabethan bishops, John Best, Yorkshire by birth, Oxford by education, and the first Protestant bishop of Carlisle, found his see no bed of roses. In a letter to Cecil, Bishop Best writes that thirteen or fourteen of his rectors and vicars refused to appear at his general visitation in 1561, and take the oath of allegiance, while in many churches in his diocese Mass continued to be said under the countenance and open protection of Lord Dacre; the clergy of the diocese he described as wicked imps of Antichrist, ignorant, stubborn and past measure, false and subtile. Fear only, he said, would make them obedient, and Lord Cumberland and Lord Dacre would not allow him to meddle with them. In 1562 the same bishop complained that, between Lord Dacre and the Earls of Cumberland and Westmorland, "God's glorious gospel could not
take place in the counties under their rule." The few Protestants "durst not be known for fear of a shrewd turn;" and the lords and magistrates looked through their fingers while the law was openly defied. The county was full of wishings and wagers for the alteration of religion; rumours and tales of the Spaniards and Frenchmen to come in for the reformation of the same; while the articles of the secret league between the Guises and Spain for the extirpation of heresy circulated in manuscript in the houses
of the northern gentlemen.4 The Bishop of London, Grindal, in a letter dated Dec. 27, 1563, in which he begs Cecil to appoint a Mr. Scot to a vacant prebend at Carlisle, says:-

"The Bishop of Carlisle hath complained to me for want of preachers in his diocese. All his prebendaries are ignorant priests, or old, unlearned monks."

In another letter he says:-

"I pray you be good to my lord of Carlisle (i.e. Bishop Best) the bringer. There be marvellous practices to deface him in my lawless country."

As mentioned before, Grindal, was a native of the parish of St. Bees. Best's troubles must have been increased in 1568, when Mary, queen of Scotland, landed in Cumberland and was conducted to Carlisle Castle, a virtual prisoner, by Mr. (afterwards Sir) Richard Lowther, deputy to the Lord Warden, Lord Scrope. To Carlisle also repaired the Earl of Northumberland, who demanded that the queen should be handed over to his custody, and who, when Lowther declined to do so, abused that gentleman in very rough terms. Carlisle became the centre of intrigue among the papal party, but the gentry of Cumberland and Westmorland showed no enthusiasm whatever in the queen's behalf, though their two counties and Northumberland were then reckoned the stronghold of English Catholicism. After a stay of two months, Queen Mary was removed, in July, 1568 to Bolton, in Yorkshire. In the following year the "Rising of the North" took place under the Earls of Northumberland and Westmorland, who again reared the banner that had been flown in "the Pilgrimage of Grace." Their objects were to rescue the Queen of Scots, to subvert the government of Elizabeth, and to re-establish the ancient faith. One of the instigators of this outbreak was Leonard Dacre, uncle of the little lad on whose untimely death, caused by the fall of a vaulting horse, the great estate of Dacre of the North had fallen to three co-heiresses. Leonard Dacre "stomached it much," says Camden, "that so goodly an inheritance should fall to his nieces." He assumed the title of Lord Dacre, and claimed the estates as heir in tail male. He instigated the two earls to rise; then betrayed them to Elizabeth, whom he persuaded to entrust to him a share in putting down the rising. He seized his nieces' estates, fortified Naworth Castle, and collected some 3000 men who rallied to the old border slogan of "A read Bull, a read Bull." Lord Scrope, relying on Dacre's loyalty, moved out from Carlisle to intercept the two earls, should they march for Scotland, leaving Bishop Best in command of the castle of Carlisle. He was recalled by rumour of a plot to seize the castle and murder the bishop. The rising soon became a flight: the two earls arrived as fugitives at Naworth, where the wily Dacre gave them but short shelter; he was in no mood to compromise himself, and the earls fled to Liddisdale. But the queen had discovered Dacre's double dealings: she gave Lord Hunsdon peremptory orders to apprehend that "cankred subtill traitor," as she called him. Hunsdon and Dacre met one another at Gelt Bridge, about four miles from Naworth: Dacre was worsted and fled into exile. The gentry of Cumberland and Westmorland had stood aloof from the rising: perhaps they remembered too well the seventy-four hung by the Duke of Norfolk, perhaps they mistrusted Leonard Dacre. On Lord Hunsdon's intercession the queen pardoned the borderers who fought for Dacre. The Earl of Northumberland was brought to the scaffold, and more than 600 of his followers were executed. Locally "The Rising of the North" is known as "Dacre's Raid."

Bishop Best died in 1570. Barnes, who succeeded him, had been one of Archbishop Grindal's chaplains, and was canon and chancellor of York, and after holding the see of Carlisle for seven years was translated to Durham. In 1571 Grindal issued his injunction for the substitution of "cups" for chalices; the number of cups of that date in the diocese of Carlisle shows that Barnes enforced this injunction in his own see. At Crosthwaite, in Cumberland, the church was still, in 1571, in possession of a large number of vestments and a quantity of plate, which had escaped the commissioners of Edward VI, or had been restored by the commissioners of Queen Mary. Bishop Barnes issued a most peremptory injunction to the churchwardens and others, ordering all the plate to be sold before December 1, the vestments to be sold or cut up to cover cushions, and that with the proceeds fine linen cloths, for the communion table, and a covering of buckram, fringed, were to be got before Christmas, and also two fair large communion cups with covers, one fine diaper napkin for the communion and sacramental bread, and two fair pots or flagons of tin for the wine.

We thus have Bishop Barnes's directions as to the altar furniture necessary for one of his largest churches. Similar injunctions by him probably lurk in other parish chests.5 He also held the first recorded visitation of the cathedral under the statutes of Henry VIII; in it he ordered certain minor canons, suspected of papism, to recite on certain days in St. Mary's Church, Carlisle, in an audible voice, during divine service, after the Apostles' Creed, the English Confession, entitled "A Declaration of Certain Principal Articles of Religion." He also enjoins a newly appointed Theologiæ Prelector of the cathedral to preach ad Clerum every year, as well as at other times.

Bishop Barnes was succeeded by John Meye, master of Catherine Hall, Cambridge, who held the see for twenty years. He died in 1597, during a visitation of the plague. Some records exist of the proceedings in Cumberland of the Court of High Commission in the northern parts during the episcopate of Bishop Meye, who was one of the commissioners in Cumberland, as were Lord Scroop of Bolton, Warden of the West Marches, and certain local clerks, knights, and esquires. They held their sittings at Carlisle and Rose Castles, and in St. Mary's Church at Carlisle. It appears that the commissioners issued articles of inquiry addressed probably to the clergyman or the churchwardens, who in reply made presentments of offenders. The following are specimens:

"John Adamson presented to be a drunkard. He hath not recyvid (the Sacrament) sence Easter - he cometh not to church.

William Smyth, Curate of Edenhall, presented to wear his hose lowse at the knees.

William Mester presented to be a drunkard and rayler against ministers and wifes.

Robert Gibson, Agnes Strichet, and Agnes Morehous, presented that they have not receyved thrise this year because they could not saye the ten Commandments. (These parties were ordered to learn the Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Creed before next Easter.)

John Dockher for playing on his pipes when the Curat was at evening prayer.

Anna Harrison, widow, suspected of witchcrafte.

Anthony Huggon presented for medicioning children with miniting a hammer as a smith of kynde.6

Janet Huggen presinted to be a sourcerer and medicioner of children.

Maria Hutton alias Skelton, a widow lady, presented for wearing beads.

Margaret, wife of Richard Jackson, presented for fasting St. Anthonie's fast.

John Taylor presented for suspect of sorcerie for that he had knyt in cows taile staves, salt, and herbs.

Henry Wilson, Curat of Holm Cultram, presented for drunkennes and playing at cardes and tables at sundrie times.

Robert Winter presented that he is a malicious person and beareth evell will against his neighbour.

Thomas Hodgson presented for ringing a bell at the last floode to provoke people to prayer.

John Stricket for that he gave George Mashall 8d. in the weeke for the lone of 20/ (usury)

Agnes Watson for keeping a dead man's scalpe.

Robert Sanderson for medicioning for the worme.

Hugh Askewe for burying a quick nowt, and a dogg, and a quick cock (a charm).

Alice Thompson presented that she will not learn the chatechism.

Jenkin Swan presented for casting his glove down in the church (Irthington) and offering to fight with any one that would put forth the hand.

Janet Walker of Lanercost presented that she hath had 4 bastards. Christopher Dacre and Thomas Carleton, officers of Gillesland, ordered to bring her up. She appears, and is ordered to do penance in Carlisle market-place the next Saturday and in the Parish church.

Agnes, wife of John Wyse, alias Winkan John Wyse, presented to be a medicioner for the waffe of an ill winde and for the fayryes.

Mabell, wyfe of John Browne, presented to be a witche and taketh mylke from kye.

Margaret, wife of Nicholas Gyll, presented that she liveth in disquietnes with her husband in banning and scolding.

William Forster for fornication with Janet Mowse, and because he can't say the catechism.

The Churchwardens of Irthington, for that the churchyard layd common unfensed, the church porch downe, the surplesse rent, the Bible rent, no Commandments set up, and they would present none for not coming to Church.

The Curat of Lanercost for that he married two cupples of folkes in a prophane place without bannes asking.

Margaret Avery, of Lanercost, presented for cursing her father and mother.

The Churchwardens of Denton presented that they come not to churche neither levie the penalties nor presente the absente."7

A thoroughly competent authority on the condition of the diocese of Carlisle thus comments on the Presentments just quoted,

"When such were the fruits the ill-condition of the country may be imagined. How, indeed, could it be otherwise? The ancient religious establishments had been swept away, and little or nothing done to supply their place. To earnest religious reformers the suppression of monasteries and the triumph of Protestantism might afford satisfaction to cover every other shortcoming. But these were the minority. To the bulk of the people the transaction seemed more like plunder. They beheld the ancient possessors turned out, their habitations and churches dilapidated, - one rapacious grantee of the Crown stripping off the lead, another overhauling the furniture and decorations, a third, perhaps carrying off the very stones to rear for himself a mansion on the fair domain he had the luck or the interest to obtain out of the sequestered estates of the church. Little or no care was taken to make provision for the spiritual wants of those numerous parishes which the religious houses had held appropriate and had served by their brethren. What could be the effect of this on the popular mind but to induce a feeling of indifference and a disbelief in the reality and efficacy of any religious establishment whatever, and hence a falling away to ignorance and superstition of the grossest kind.

"Perhaps a more perfect instance of this reckless method of dealing with the property of the Church cannot be found than in the parishes of Lanercost, Farlam, and Over Denton. Every acre of land, every dwelling and erection within them belonging to the Church, all tithes and pecuniary dues were seized to the Crown. Some portion of land near the Abbey yet remain so, having been granted to Sir Thomas Dacre and his heirs male, and having fallen in again to the Crown on failure of such. The remainder was granted in fee without any stipulation or expressed condition for the grantees to provide for the parochial cures. It was not to be expected that they would voluntarily do so, but surely it ought to have been specifically enjoined. Generally speaking, these grantees were either Court favourites or greedy speculators who purchased of the Crown. Neither the one or the other cared for aught but to make the most for themselves. They pocketed the whole proceeds, and refused to pay the miserable ecclesiastic more than the meagre fee or allowance which the monastery had formerly given to the brother who took the duty. The law made no provision for compelling them to allow a decent maintenance to a sufficient minister."

The reader will learn more about the parishes of Lanercost, Farlam, and Over Denton when he comes to the chapter on the eighteenth century.

Bishop Meye was succeeded by Henry Robinson a native of Carlisle, educated at Queen's College, Oxford, of which he became provost. In 1598 one Christopher Robinson was executed for high treason at Carlisle, on account of exercising his functions in England as a Roman Catholic priest. He was born at Woodside, near Wigton, and educated abroad: Bishop Robinson visited him while in confinement prior to his execution. This is the only instance in the diocese of Carlisle of martyrdom for religious opinions unconnected with actual rebellion. Bishop Robinson is commemorated in his cathedral and in his college by a small brass (in duplicate) which has frequently been engraved. He died in 1616, and, like his predecessor, of the plague. The next five bishops of Carlisle were Robert Snowden, 1616-1621; Richard Milburn, translated from St. David's, 1621-1624; Richard Senhouse, 1624-1626; Francis White, dean of Carlisle, appointed bishop in 1626 and translated to Norwich in 1628; Barnaby Potter, provost of Queen's, Oxford, 1628 to 1641. There is little special to relate of the see of Carlisle during their episcopates. Milburn, Senhouse, and Potter were local men. Snowden was, we fancy, but with hesitation, the first married bishop of Carlisle. Mrs. Snowden appears in the accounts of the chamberlains of Carlisle as partaking of the hospitality of the mayor and aldermen. The following interesting letter from Bishop Snowden to James I was found by Mr. Walter Money, F.S.A., among papers collected by Mr. John Packer, secretary to George Villiers, first Duke of Buckingham:-

"Most blessed Soveraigne, my great and most gratious Lord and Ma.,

"All yor Subjects stand infinitely obliged in their services to yr highness, but my self farr beyond many Thousands. I have therefore coveted to be the first in my congratulations and thanksgivings to the God of heaven for yr Ma'ties good health and safe returne unto us.

"When I made professions of my homage, in the Pallace of Newmarket, your Ma'tie most graciously required me to write unto yor selfe immediately.

"To the end I myght inable myselfe for that kind of most happie service I have since my first coming to Rose Castle (the only place of habitacon left unto me by my predecessors), for the space of well nere two moneths by my presence in visitations, sessions, and commissions, and by petitions, conference, and suggestions, gained some notice of the Civil and Ecclesiastique state of my Diocesse, and I have found that

"1. The Citie of Carlisle is in great ruine, and extreme poverty, partly because the Lieutenant is not there resiant, and partly for that ye Inhabitants exercise themselves in no Arts or trades, neither have they other meanes of livelyhood besides fishing.

"2. In the Country at large many of the meaner sort live dispersedly in Cottages, or little farmes, scarcely sufficient for their necessary maintenance, whereby idleness, thefts, and robberies are occasioned. And according to the nature of the soile, and qualitie of the air (like that in Norfolke) the vulgar people are subtill, violent, litigious, and pursuers of endless suites by appeales, to their utter impoverishment, and the poor wretches finde admittance of their most unreasonable appeales, both at York and London, for which those higher courts deserve to be blamed.

"3. The gentry have beene formerly induced to straighten themselves by intruiges and bribes, whereby they have inclined to partialities in publique negotiations, howbeit I find the most of them flexible to good motions, saying that they are divided in their dependencies upon eminent persons, but their factiones may perhaps be for some purposes convenient, as they are for others inconvenient. Yr Ma'ties oracle-like wisdome will easily conceive the meaning of this parable by their various and repugnant answers, to yor propositions touching the government of the lowest parts, of one of those answeres I could get no copie, but copies of the rest I have sent in a packett to the Earl of Buckingham, to the end Yr Ma'tie may at your pleasure command the sight of them before that they shall be exhibited or presented with subscription.

"4. The state eccleiastique is hugely weakened not onely by Impropriations served by poor Vicars, and multitudes of base hirelings, but by compositions contracted in the troubled times, and now prescribed, yet there are some show of grave and learned pastors. And albeit many of them in their habits and external inconformities seme to be Puritanes, yet have I not found any of repugnant opinion to any of our summons or lawes ecclesiastical.

"And though my Diocese is not infested with Recusants so dangerousslye as the Bishoprickes of Duresme and Chester, yet in my late Visitacon some have been presented and detected to the number of eightie or thereabouts, and the most of those in some few families, whose Conversion, or reformaion I shall labour both by gentle persuasion and all other good meanes to the utmost of my power.

"Thus in all humilitie and most thankfully acknowledging the happiness wch I enjoy by yor Ma'ties extraordinary benefitts and most gratious favours I shall forever ab imo pectore pray continually for the continuance of yor Ma'ties health and happiness to the Glory of God and the singular comfort of the Christian world.

"Rosecastle August 2, 1617.

"Yor Ma'ties meanest but most
"obliged and most dutifull
"subject and servant


Bishop Potter, in a letter to Neile, archbishop of York, reports general conformity in his diocese, but states that the wretched stipends attached to most of the benefices oblige him to admit mean scholars to the diaconate, rather than allow the people to be utterly without divine service; and he complains much of the supineness of the churchwardens, who never present absentees from church, and of the magistrates, who never punish them.

We quote an account of Carlisle Cathedral in Bishop Potter's time from:-

"A Relation of a short Survey of 26 Counties, &c., observ'd in a seven week journey, begun at the City of Norwich, and from thence into the North, on Monday, August 11th, 1634, and ending at the same place. By a Captaine, a Lieutenant, and an Ancient, all three of the Military Company in Norwich."

These tourists write as follows:-

"The next day we repayr'd to their Cathedrall, which is nothing so fayre and stately as those we had seen, but more like a great, wild country church: and as it appear'd outwardly so it was inwardly, neither beautify'd nor adorn'd one whit. I remember no more monuments of note, but that of bishop Oglethorpe, that crowned our late vertuous Queene Elizabeth; and that of Snowdon, the Bishop that preached Robin Hood to our late renowned king. The organ and voices did well agree, the one being like a shrill bagpipe,, the other like the Scottish tone. The sermon, in the like accent, was such as we would hardly bring away, though it was delivered by a neat young scholler (sent that morning from Rose Castle, the Bishop's Mansion, which stands upon Rose and Cawd [that is, the Caldew] rivers), one of the Bishop's chaplains, to supply the Lord's place that day. The Communion also was administrated, and receiv'd in a wild and unreverent manner."

No monuments now exist to Oglethorpe and Snowdon. The occasion on which Snowdon preached before the king is commemorated in the following extract from the register of one of the guilds of Carlisle, but how he introduced Robin Hood into his sermon wants elucidation. The following extract from the records of the Merchants' Guild at Carlisle relates to the occasion on which the bishop preached:

"The King's most excellent majestye, James I, was here at Carlisle, the 4 daye of August, 1617, where the Maiore of the city, Mr. Adam Robinson, with Thomas Carleton recorder, and the brethren presentyed hym firste with a speech, then wyth a cup of golde valued at £30 and a purse of sylke, with 40 jacobuses [gold coin worth about £1] or pieces of the same; his Majestie vouchsafede very pleasantlye the speeche and gyfte, thankyde the Mr. Maiore, and all the citizenes therefore, presentlye wente to the church, accompanyed withe the nobles both of England and Scotland. The next daye he did keep a feast royall, went agayn to the church in state wyth his nobles, being a saint daye, where preached before hym, Robert Snowdon, bishop of Carliol, and the Maiore that daye going before hym to and from the church att the court gate kyssed his hando att their departure. The thirde daye, the Maiore and the brethren took their leave of hys Majeste who used them very graciously."

The bishops of Carlisle with whom we have just been dealing, were, in point of importance, by no means on a footing with their predecessors. It was no longer necessary that bishops of Carlisle should be diplomatists, and commissioners for Scotch affairs, or courtiers or soldiers. Kyte was the last of the diplomatists employed to negotiate for peace with Scotland; Aldridge, or Oglethorpe, the last courtier, and Best, the last bishop of Carlisle that had military custody of Carlisle Castle. With Bishop Barnes began a line of bishops who had nothing to distract them from attending to the diocese of Carlisle, a change which was greatly helped by the union of the two kingdoms. After Barnaby Potter's death, in 1641, the see of Carlisle was given in commendam to the celebrated Archbishop Usher, who probably never saw his see, and can have received but little emolument from it.

The deans of Carlisle during this period were Francis White, who succeeded Sir Christopher Perkins in 1622, and became bishop of the see in 1626; Paterson, who held the deanery for three years, until 1629, when he became dean of Exeter; Comber, dean from 1630 until 1642, when he was deprived; these deans have left no mark on the diocese.

During the first thirty or five-and-thirty years of the seventeenth century, the accounts of the chamberlains of Carlisle show that the mayor and aldermen of that city were on friendly terms with the ecclesiastical dignitaries; the mayor and his brethren dined at Rose Castle and with the dean and prebendaries, and the bishop, the dean, and the prebendaries dined with the mayor and his brethren, and (strange to our notions) on festive occasions accompanied the mayor and his brethren to some hostelry, and there were treated with sack and sherry wines, hot drinks, spices, cakes, and biscuits. Thus:

"1603. Itm in wine and sugar bestoued upon my
Lord bushoppe Robinson, Mr Deputie, and manye
other gentlemen when the king was proclaimed.
[i.e. 33s.]
"1614. Upon my lord Carlile (Bishop Robinson) and
prebendes a pottle of sack burnt
[i.e. 3s.]
1617. Bestoued in wine and sugar of Mrs Snowden (the
new Bishop's wife) at her first coming to Carlell
[i.e. 4s.]
"1621. Wine and sugar that was bestoued upon my Lord
Bishop Milburn, at Besse Parkers, Mr Maior and his brethren
being present
iiijs : vid.
[i.e. 4s. 6d.]
"1624. Itm for wine and sugar which Mr Maior and his
brethren bestoued upon Bishop Sceanouse as a present at his
first cominge to the Rose
02 : 18 : 08
[i.e. £2 18s. 8d.]
"1627. Itm for wine and sugar bestoued upon the deane
0 : 5 : 6."
[i.e. 5s. 6d.]

The mayor and council attended Church regularly, as the following extract from the record of the jury's presentments at the Court Leet held on Monday, October, 1649, shows:

"We order that (according to an ancient order) the Aldermen of this Citty shall attend the Maior upon every Lord's day to the Church in their gownes and likewise to attend the Maior in the Markett place at or before the Sermon bell to the church sub pena vis viiid toties quoties and the Common counsellmen to attend likewise sub pena 3s 4d toties quoties."

From the wording of this order it is clear that the service and the sermon came off at different times. The mayor and his brethren had a "chapel" or pew in St. Mary's; and the officials received an annual payment or fee (as they do now) for laying the cushions, provided by the corporate funds for the greater ease of the civic dignitaries, who also paid for the repair of their "chapel" out of these funds. Occasionally they manifested their appreciation of a sermon by a donation to the preacher.

"1627. Itm a present bestowed upon the deane of
Winchester the 6th of Maii preaching that same day
0 : 6 : 8
"Aug 4 1635 bestaued upon Mr Moor preacher in
presence of the brethren
0 : 2 : 8
"8 Nov 1636 given to a preacher Mr. Porcas
00 : 11 : 00
"Itm given the 3 Novem to Mr Ogle a blind preacher
0 : 05 : 0
"Itm to Simond Banks a minister
1 : 6.
"1637. Itm given to a minister called Gray brown the 3 of 
Julii beinge blind
00 : 02 : 06

These payments to ministers and preachers do not occur earlier than the dates given; it is probable that the political and theological opinions of some of these preachers would be by no means agreeable to the regular clergy of Carlisle.


1. He is called Oldridge in the charter of foundation of the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle.
2. "Archbishop Grindal, and his Grammar School of Saint Bees," by William Jackson, F.S.A.
3. For much of the above the author is indebted to Collingwood's "Memiors of Bernard Gilpin."
4. The bishop's letters are cited by Mr. Froude. The author has not, owing to ill health, been able to see the volume of "Domestic Calendars" in which they occur.
5. On the Edwardian and Marian Commissioners, and on Barnes's injunction to Crosthwaite, see "Old Church plate in the Diocese of Carlisle," Published by Cumberland and Westmorland Archæological Society.
6.The child was placed on an anvil, and the smith with the heavy sledge-hammer made as if he would crush the child with a blow. The hammer was allowed to decend upon it, but stayed in time, so as not to touch it.
7. These are quoted from "Gillesland," a tract published by Lonsdale at Carlisle without author's name or date, but written by the G. G. Mounsey, late registrar of the diocese of Carlisle, and secretary to several bishops of that see.


Diocesan Histories : Carlisle,
by Richard S. Ferguson, Chancellor of Carlisle
Published by SPCK, London, 1889


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19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman