Diocesan Histories : Carlisle




THE great Civil War commenced in 1641: Charles I raised his standard at Nottingham on the 23rd of August, and Edgehill was fought on the 23rd of October. For long the tide of battle rolled away from Carlisle, and many persons of distinction sought refuge in it from the perils of war. The battle of Marston Moor was fought on July 1, 1644: York surrendered to the Parliamentary forces on the 16th of that month, and Sir Thomas Glenham, governor of York, and commander-in-chief in the North for the king, took refuge in Cumberland, and after some preliminary skirmishing was locked up in Carlisle, and that city was besieged by David Leslie and a Scotch army. The siege lasted from October, 1644, to June in the following year, and the garrison and inhabitants surrendered through sheer starvation. The victors, in violation of the articles of surrender, played havoc with the cathedral; they pulled down [a] great part of the nave, cloisters, and prebendal houses, and used the materials for the repair of the fortifications. This surrender, indeed, made a clean sweep of everything in Carlisle; bishop, dean, and prebendaries had all been sequestrated and deprived prior to the siege, and disappear, Prebendary West alone surviving to the Restoration. For two or three years apparently no mayors were elected; certainly no chamberlains of Carlisle kept any accounts: they had no money to account for. When, in 1648-9, we find the accounts resumed, we find the mayor and his brethren established in place of the dean and prebendaries. The mayor and his brethren repaired the two churches; they shifted their chapel or pew from St. Mary's to St. Cuthbert's, where they washed out the royal arms [?] and set up a stand for their sword of honour; they managed the cathedral or grammar school, paid for its repairs, appointed a new master, and paid him out of the tithes of Cargo, which they had become possessed of: they turned the deanery into a poorhouse; and they kept a register in their great "Dormant Book" of the sales of the sequestrated episcopal and capitular estates.

The Solemn League and Covenant of 1643 had ejected several of the Episcopalian clergy of the diocese, and some that remained were ejected on the "Vacancy of Ministers" in 1655. The two churches of St. Mary and St. Cuthbert, Carlisle, became thus vacant; the mayor and his brethren held a great competitive preaching, which lasted from December in that year until the following May, when they appointed Mr. Timothy Tullie and Mr. Comfort Starr. The competitors included some eminent lights of Nonconformity, the Rev. George Larkham, known as "the Star of the North;" the Rev. Richard Gilpin; and the Rev. Nathaniel Burnand. Tullie also held a lectureship at St. Cuthbert's Church, whose stipend the mayor and his brethren partly paid; the lectureship can be traced back in the chamberlain's accounts and municipal records to 1625; it was probably founded under the order of Queen Elizabeth appointing lecturers in cathedrals, and removed from the cathedral to St. Cuthbert when the nave was pulled down.1

We shall presently return to the doings in the cathedral and city of Carlisle: we must now direct our attention to a remote corner of the diocese as extended in 1856. In 1652 George Fox was travelling in the Yorkshire dales: he visited the annual hiring fair held at Sedbergh, and preached in the churchyard; a disturbance took place, an attempt was made to put him down, and one Francis Howgill, an Independent minister, took part with Fox, and procured him a hearing. Next Sunday, Francis Howgill, and one John Audland, also an Independent minister, and both afterwards energetic ministers among the Friends, were preaching in Firbank Chapel, in Westmorland, a place now included in the extended diocese of Carlisle. To this place came George Fox, and, in the afternoon, after people had had their dinners, he addressed a congregation of about a thousand in number, from a rock which was close to the chapel, so close, indeed, that many of the elders listened to him from the chapel windows; while he explained to them that he preached from the rock rather than in the chapel, because, in his opinion, no more sanctity appertained to the one than to the other. The result of this meeting at Firbank, famous in the annals of the Society of Friends, was that he obtained many followers, including both Howgill and Audland, who became the earliest and most ardent missionaries of the Society. From Firbank, Fox proceeded by Preston Patrick to Kendal, where he held a meeting in the Town Hall. He next went to Underbarrow and Crook, at which places he had great success. He then returned to Lancashire, but frequently during the year visited Westmorland. From that county and North Lancashire he collected the first missionaries of the Society, namely, Edward Burrough, John Audland, Francis Howgill, John Camm, George Whitehead, Richard Hubberthorne, Thomas Holmes, Miles Halhead, and Miles Hubbersty, the majority of them were Westmorland men. Fox numbered also among his local friends and followers two men of official position, namely, Gervaise Benson and Anthony Pearson: the first was justice for Cumberland and Westmorland, and the second for both these counties and Lancashire as well. Both were converted and both wrote books, one against tithes, the other against oaths. In the following year 1653, Fox was informed that the people in Cumberland had vowed to take his life if he put foot in that county. Fox was in no way deterred by this, but joined justice Pearson and his wife, who were on their way to Carlisle Quarter Sessions. Fox only accompanied them as far as Bootle, where he presented himself at church on Sunday, and so soon as the priest had finished preaching he commenced, according to the custom of the time, a discourse of his own. Two sermons in such rapid succession were more than the people would stand, or else the priest incited them to violence, though it was then usual for any minister of any religious society to preach and officiate in a parish church alter the hours of regular service. They pulled Fox out into the churchyard, and, spite of the constable's exertions, beat him severely, nearly breaking his wrist. Nothing daunted by this rough treatment, Fox returned in the afternoon to the churchyard, and seated himself upon a cross there, while some of his comrades entered the church, where they found a stranger from London officiating. They beckoned Fox in, and, spite of the priest from London, he succeeded in preaching, being protected by the constable. Fox stayed some days at "Milholm in Bootel," and from thence went to make an appointment with Priest Wilkinson, who had three churches near Cockermouth, Brigham, and (probably) Mosser Chapel and Greysouthen. At one of these churches (name not given) the concourse of people anxious to hear Fox was so great that the place resembled a fair, and his audience included a party of twelve soldiers and their wives, from the Cromwellian garrison of Carlisle, Priest Larkham (the Star of the North), and others. Both here and at Brigham, Fox had a more friendly reception than at Bootle: the people welcomed him into the church, where he preached, the effects of which Wilkinson immediately tried to counteract by a sermon of several hours in length. Fox gained the day, and convinced many, including the twelve soldiers, who went with him to Cockermouth, protected him, and hindered those who wished to prevent him from preaching in the church of that town. Preach he did, "largely," as his journal expresses it. By Caldbeck and the Borders Fox passed to Carlisle, where the Baptists and their minister met him, and held a meeting in the abbey. Fox quaintly describes the pastor of the Carlisle Baptists as

"An high notionist and a flashy man, who came to me and asked me what must be damned. I was moved immediately to tell him that which spake in him must be damned; this stopped the pastor's mouth."

From the abbey, Fox went to the castle, the garrison was at once assembled by tuck of drum to hear him preach. Some of the sergeants, however, demurred, not to his preaching, but to his doctrine. On the market-day, Fox preached in the market place, and all passed off peaceably, spite of threats by the magistrates. On Sunday, he went to the "steeple House," evidently the cathedral. There he attempted to preach. A riot ensued, - soldiers, magistrates' wives, and mob, all fighting with sticks and stones, and yelling, "Down with the Roundheads" until at last the governor of the castle appeared with several files of musketeers, cleared the place, and arrested some of the rioters. Fox escaped by connivance of the military. Next day he was brought before the justices of the city, who were all Presbyterians and Independents; they committed him to prison "as a blasphemer, an heretic, and a seducer." There he was to remain until the assizes, and the report was that he was to be hanged. A flaw was discovered in the the order of commitment, and Fox was not put upon trial at the assizes, but was detained in close confinement. His friends, Benson and Pearson, strenuously moved for his freedom. They circulated letters and broadsheets, and at their instigation Parliament took up the matter, and instituted an inquiry. Fox was set free and his gaolers punished. Fox did not immediately leave Cumberland; he went to Caldbeck, where the people beat his comrades; to Wigton, where the people formed a guard armed with pitchforks, and would let no Quaker enter the town; to Gilsland, where he was taken for a horse-stealer; and, finally, to Uldale, where he addressed a meeting of many thousand people. Fox, in this visit to the two counties, got a large number of converts, including several soldiers, who were shortly discharged from the Parliamentary forces, because they would not take an oath of allegiance to Cromwell. Fox revisited the two counties in 1657 and 1663, on each occasion narrowly escaping arrest. We have no records of any further visits; but the number of early preachers of his theology that came from Westmorland and Cumberland, and from North Lancashire, and the number of Friends there, show how deeply his teaching must have taken root. Plenty of evidence can be obtained from "the Papers of Mr. Secretary Williamson", of which a calendar is in the Rolls Series, as to the growth of the Society. In November, 1663, Sir Daniel Fleming, a prominent Westmorland magistrate, writes to Williamson:-

"If mischief arise now, it will be from non-licensed ministers or from Quakers, of whom there are too many in the part of the county joining to Lancashire, where George Fox and most of his cults have been long kennelled. They keep weekly meetings within eight miles of each other through all this country, if not through England: they will do mischief most resolutely if Fox, or any other of their grand speakers, dictate it; and some threaten already."

Sir Philip Musgrave, a Cumberland justice, writes:-

"The Quakers grow bold enough to meet two hundred or more at a time; they keep copies of proceedings against them by justices of the peace, to be ready against a time when they shall call the justices to account."

The justices passed away before they could be called to account, but Besse, in his huge folio volumes, has published in minute detail the memoranda thus kept. It should be said that Fleming and Musgrave lumped together all Nonconformists as fanatics and Quakers.2

The Restoration found only one of the sequestrated dignitaries of the see still living, Lewis West, prebendary of the third stall in Carlisle Cathedral. The bishopric of Carlisle was offered to Dr. Richard Gilpin, rector of Greystoke, who declined the offer, not on account of any invincible objection to episcopacy, but because he could by no means be wrought upon to sign the Solemn League and Covenant. Finally, Richard Sterne, the deprived master of Jesus College, Cambridge, was appointed to the see: he was translated to York in 1664. Guy Carlton, a local man, educated at Carlisle Grammar School and at Queen's, Oxford, an exile to the Continent for his loyalty, was made dean, and held that preferment until, in 1671, he was made Bishop of Bristol, from which see he was translated to Chichester in 1685. To the vacant stalls in the cathedral, Thomas Canon, Arthur Savage, and George Buchanan were appointed, of whom Savage had been ejected from the living of Bromfield, and Buchanan from Kirkby Lonsdale. Two munificent prelates followed, Edward Rainbow, 1665 to 1684, and Thomas Smith, 1684 to 1702. Munificence, indeed, was necessary in bishops and deans of Carlisle, for the Restoration found the episcopal palace of Rose, the deanery, the prebendal houses, and the nave of the cathedral mere ruins. Bishop Sterne rebuilt the chapel at Rose, but so badly that Bishop Rainbow had again to rebuild it; and Bishop Smith (while dean) rebuilt the deanery, in addition to giving an organ and communion plate to the cathedral. As bishop, he built largely at Rose, and other places in the diocese benefited by his liberality.

A most amiable picture of Bishop Rainbow is given in a short life of him published in 1688. It also contains his funeral sermon, which was preached by his chancellor and chaplain, Thomas Tullie, afterwards dean of Carlisle. Edward Rainbow was born at Bliton, in Lincolnshire, of which place his father was rector, a man noted for his learning and virtue; his mother was also skilled in the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages. After being a short time at school at Gainsborough, young Rainbow was sent to Dr. John Williams's, at Peterborough; he was removed thence to Westminster School, on Dr. Williams being appointed dean of Westminster and bishop of Lincoln. From Westminster he proceeded to Oxford, but two years later he migrated to Magdalen College, Cambridge, induced thereto by being nominated to a Scholarship in the patronage of the Countess of Warwick. He became a fellow of that college, and attained distinction at the university as a preacher; ultimately he became master of his college, but was ejected from that post by the Rump Parliament, and retired to a small country living. On the Restoration he returned to his old post at Magdalen, and was shortly appointed dean of Peterborough. These appointments he gave up on being appointed in 1665 to the see of Carlisle, though he might have retained one or other for some time in comendam with his bishopric. It is characteristic of the man, that when thus giving up a secure income, he had to borrow money to defray the charges of his consecration, first-fruits, and his journey to and settlement in his diocese, where the ruined state of Rose Castle involved him in a heavy outlay on building, and in a protracted litigation about dilapidations with his predecessor and metropolitan Sterne. Rainbow's biographer is very reticent about names and cases, but it is clear Rainbow found much in his diocese that required to be reformed; negligent and immoral clergy, who did not hesitate, when rebuked, to publicly affront their bishop. He appears to have been outspoken generally in the denunciation of immorality, and to have so offended some great lady about the Court, once a friend, who revenged herself by preventing his translation to Lincoln. He was very earnest in impressing upon his clergy, by his example as well as by precept, the diligent preaching of God's word, the due administration of the holy sacraments, and the catechising of youth. So long as his health would allow he preached frequently in his Cathedral, in his chapel at Rose, in Dalston church, and in the churches and chapels in the vicinity. His liberality was unbounded. In dear years, when his own stores were exhausted, he bought barley and distributed it to the poor, sometimes as many as seven or eight score being relieved in one day by the porter at Rose. To the poor at Carlisle and at Dalston he made regular allowances. He paid for the education of poor boys at Dalston school, and for putting them out as apprentices; he supported poor scholars at the universities; he subscribed largely to the French Protestants and to foreign converts. Much of this was done in secret, even without the knowledge of his wife, who was a worthy helpmate to the good bishop. His domestic life was most exemplary; four times a day he assembled his family for divine worship, twice in the chapel, when a chaplain officiated, and twice in the dining-room, at 6 a.m. and 9 p.m., when his lordship officiated. His biographer says of his house:-

"All known Profanesse and Swearing were banished thence: For this made as much discord in that Family, as an ill Musician did in Plato's Schools. Offenders in Debauchery were at first reproved and admonished; and if they relapsed into the same Fault, they were often dismiss'd the House; unless there appeared visible signs of Repentance, and those ushered in with fervent Promises, to make those good by their utmost endeavours . . . . Neither was his Hospitality offending against the Canons of the Church; but like that of a Bishop. His Entertainment was free; his Table was well furnished with Varieties; his Conversation pleasant and yet grave, divertive and yet instructing; often feeding the Minds, as well as the bodies of his Guests."

The good prelate died in 1684, and was buried, by his own request, not in his Cathedral but at Dalston, under a plain stone, with the simple inscription:-

"Depositum Edvardi Rainbow
Epis. Carliol. Obijt Vicesmc.
Sexto die Martij M.DC.LXXXIV"

Scholar though he was, Rainbow left no works in print but three occasional sermons, one of which he preached at the funeral at Appleby of Anne, Countess of Pembroke, Dorset, and Montgomerey, in 1676. These sermons are now very scarce. The mode of life of this excellent prelate must have been in striking contrast to that of many in his diocese, if Macaulay's sketch at a seventeenth-century squire is a true one.

Rainbow's successor, Thomas Smith, as born in the parish of Asby, in Westmorland, and went from Appleby grammar school to Queen's College, Oxford, where he became [a]  fellow, and a celebrated tutor. During the civil wars he retired to the north; on the Restoration he was appointed chaplain to the king, and prebendary of Durham. In 1671 he became dean of Carlisle, and rebuilt the deanery, which dean Carleton had left in the ruins he found it in after the civil wars. In 1684 Smith, then in his seventieth year, was appointed bishop of Carlisle. He found a young and active archdeacon of twenty-nine years, left him by his predecessor in the famous William Nicolson, and throughout his episcopate archdeacon Nicolson was a leading spirit in the diocese. We shall have much to say of Nicolson when we come to his appointment as bishop of Carlisle. Bishop Smith's enthronement in the cathedral was conducted with much ceremony; the mayor and corporation and the leading citizens went out of Carlisle as far as Brisco, to meet the new prelate, who had spent the previous night at Hutton-ith-Forest, the seat of Sir George Fletcher, M.P. At the market-cross he was met by the clergy, the cathedral dignitaries and the singing-men, and conducted to the cathedral and the chapter-house, where the necessary ceremonies were duly observed, after which the great men of the party were entertained in the deanery by the new dean, Dr. Thomas Musgrave. There is little to tell about Smith's episcopate, which terminated with his death in 1702, but the list of his expenditure on public objects:-

Building the deanery at Carlisle £600
Organ at Carlisle, £220, communion plate, £100 320
Prebendal house at Carlisle 50
Altering house and building stables at Rose 300
New tower there and court walls 167
School at Dalston, £30, tenement there, £80 110
Court-house at Dalston 50
Library and Register's office at Carlisle 120
To the Dean and Chapter 100
Pigeon-cote at Rose 53
To the several parishes in his diocese by his will 230
School at Carlisle 500
Vicarage of Penrith 500
Vicarage of Dalston 300
The school and master's house at Appleby, and cloisters there 626
The poor and school at Asby 100
Towards building St. Paul's 150
New library at Queen's College 100
More to the said college 500
Other colleges and chapels 50
Prebendal house at Durham, and organ 300


The total is a very large sum of money, for days in which a squire with £400 a year was thought a well-to-do man.

To return to the Restoration; that event was speedily followed by the Act Of Uniformity, under which, on St. Bartholomew Day, 1662, about a fifth of the English clergy were driven from their parishes as Nonconformists. About twenty-four of the Cromwellian ministers in Cumberland, and five or six in Westmorland refused to conform. Some of these, like Dr. Gilpin, of Greystoke; Benson, of Bridekirk;  Baldwin, of Penrith; and Comfort Starr, of Carlisle, left the district; others, like Burnand, of Brampton, and Larkham, of Cockermouth, remained and exercised their gifts in private, unsilenced by the Conventicle Act of 1664. After a time of persecution, Charles II, in 1672, issued the "Declaration of Indulgence," enacting that, upon application a person could obtain a licence to preach, the same favour being granted to certain houses, rooms, barns, or buildings to be used for preaching therein. Mr. Blair, F.S.A., has kindly furnished me with the following list of those registered for Cumberland3 :-

"The house of George Larkham at Hameshill in the Parish of Bride-Kirke Cumbd 8 May 1672

"License to George Larkham to be a Pr teacher in his house in Hameshill in the parish of Bridekirk Cumbd 8 May 1672

"The house of John Noble in Graestoke Cumberland Pr

"License to Anty Sleigh to be a Pr Teacher in the house of John Noble in Graestoke Cumbd

"License to John Davy to be a Congl [presumably Congregational] Teacher in Reginald Waltons house at Aulston More [Alston Moor] Cumbd 29 June 1672

"The house of Reginald Walton at Alston More in Cumbd Congl 29 June

"The house of George Larkham in Bridekirk Cumbd Pr 16 July

"License for the house of Garwen Wrean at Crosthwaite Cumbd July 16

"The like for Richd Lowreys house at Cockermouth Cumbd 16 July

"Like for Richd Egleshold's house at Allarby [Allerby, south-west of Aspatria] Cumbd 16 July

"Like for Thomas Younghusbands house at Torpenhow Cumbd 16 July

"License to Giles Nicholson of Kirkheswold [Kirkoswald] Cumberland. July 22

"The house of Natha : Burnan, of Branton [Brampton] in Cumberland, to be a Pr teacher Sept 5

"The house of Wm Jameson of Kirkoswold Cumberland Pr

"The house of Wm Atkinson of Brampton in Cumberland Pr

"Like for the house of John Carse at Embleton Cumbd 16 July

Sept 5

"The house of Gowdon Wreen of Crosthwaite in Cumbd Congl Sept 5

"The house of Edw James of Blackfryers in Carlisle in Cumberland Pr

"The house of ---- Wilson at Crosfield [Crossfield, a hamlet west of Cleator Moor] in Cumbd

"The house of Thos Thorkold of Kirkoswold Cumbd Pr

"The house of "Thos Langhome of Penrick (Penrith?] in Cumbd Pr

"License to Gawin Eaglesfield Indpt teacher at his own house at Dearlam [Dearham?] in Cumberland

"The house of Isabella Dixon of Whitehaven in Cumbd Indpt

"The house of Thos Barnes of Holmecaltram [Holme Cultram] in Cumberland Indpt

Of these, Gawen Wren was a Quaker, the only one; George Larkham, registered as a Presbyterian, was an Independent; Nathan Burnan is Nathaniel Burnand, the ejected vicar of Brampton, and brother-in-law of Dr. Richard Gilpin, whose house, Scaleby Castle, in Cumberland, is also licensed, but has got by mistake into the Northumberland list, no doubt because Gilpin himself was minister of the Presbyterian chapel at Newcastle in 1672. Gilpin, Presbyterian and Larkham, Independent, were the two great apostles of local seventeenth-century nonconformity, and the other persons named, except Wren, would be disciples of one or other of them; we fancy all the elder non-conformist bodies in the diocese can trace a pedigree to one or other of these two ministers. The licences were very soon withdrawn, and persecution recommenced, as the records of the Quarter Sessions show, where, however, the majority of the persons proceeded against were Quakers, though the justices seem to have had fits of severity against Papists alternating with those against Quakers: thus in 1674 the offenders were chiefly Quakers of the yeomen and humbler classes; in 1680 they were chiefly Papists, add of the squirearchy.

Charles II had at least one sincere admirer among the higher clergy of the diocese of Carlisle. Archdeacon (afterwards bishop) Nicolson, in his diary,4 under "11 Feb., 1684" (the archdeacon keeps his diary by the ecclesiastical and not the historical year), writes:

"The ill news of ye Death of Charles ye Second: Regum Optimi."

Charles had indeed been very gracious to the archdeacon on his being presented to him at Windsor in that year.

The archdeacon took an active part in procuring signatures to an address to the new king; rival drafts of this were prepared by the bishop, Dr. Smith, and by the dean, Dr. Musgrave, but it is not clear which was adopted; probably the bishop's, as Nicolson, who was his right hand, took charge of it, got the signatures of the prebendaries, and then travelled up and down the diocese to obtain signatures from the clergy5; he records a convivial evening spent during the trip with the chancellor, Thomas Tullie, at which the toast of "Prosperity to ye Church of England in Spight of Popery and Fanaticism" was drunk.

James II filled the Corporation of Carlisle with partisans of his own, as indeed he did every post that he could: Carlisle he garrisoned with a regiment of Irish Papists, whose doings are thus recorded :-

"This was, in the Year 1688, about which Time came the News of the Queens' being with Child; and the Papists, being greatly overjoyed thereat, made Bone-fires in the Market-place, and, in a publick, exalted, and triumphant Manner, drank Healths to the young Prince: And I being a Spectator, with many other young Men of the Town, the Officers called several of us to drink the Health with them; and then I took occasion to ask one of the Captains how they knew the Child would be a Prince; might it not happen to be a Princess? No, replied he sir, that cannot be, for this Child comes by the Prayers of the Church; the Church has prayed for a prince, and it can be no otherwise. And, when the News came of his Birth, they made another great Fire in the same Place; when they drank Wine, till, with that, and the Transport of the News, they exceedingly distracted, throwing their Hats into the Fire at one Health, their Coats at the next, their Waistcoats at a third, and so on to their Shoes; and some of them threw in their Shirts, and then ran about naked, like Madmen." Story's Journal, p. 7.

In the diocese of Carlisle the Revolution of 1688 was, in spite of these heroics, effected with great quietness: Lowther, of Whitehaven, secured the sea-ports for William III, and the Irish Papists that garrisoned Carlisle got over the walls and ran away by night, and the stout-hearted sheriff, William Stanley, proclaimed William III and Mary at the market-cross.

The clergy in the diocese of Carlisle, or some of them, were evidently uneasy about their duty under the new state of things, and in May 1689 Archdeacon Nicolson addressed a circular letter to the clergy in his archdeaconry. In it (it is too long to reproduce at length) he urges the necessity of the clergy being unanimous among themselves, particularly in times when all sorts of rumours were flying about, - rumours of revolt in the army, of invasions by Popish Highlanders, rumours that all the parsons were only waiting a favourable moment to declare for King James, and such like stories, - all which tended to alienate the parsons' friends, and to provoke their enemies,

"upon the first popular insurrection to fall on us, as abettors of Idolatry and traitors to our own establishment. And it must be confessed that some of the more unwarily scrupulous among us have given to great encouragement to those wicked attempts. I am glad to find us so generally concerned to preserve and keep close to our ancient principles of loyalty, which have hitherto been the glory of our Church; and may they for ever continue to be so. But to live answerably in our practices requires a deal of unprejudiced reasoning and circumspection in some junctures, lest we misplace our obedience; and, out of a true design to place, approve ourselves most steadily loyal, fall into the very dregs of treason and rebellion. We have now a Prince and Princess seated on the English throne, in whom we are ready enough to acknowledge all the accomplishments that we can wish for in our governors, provided their title to the present possession of the Crown were unquestionable; and, therefore, methinks we should rather greedily catch at any appearance of proof that may justify their pretensions, than dwell upon such arguments as seemingly overturn them."

The archdeacon then proceeds to discuss various questions with the view of showing that William III was king de jure as well as de facto; he deals with the effect of the late king's desertion of his government, and the action taken by the Convention. He says:-

"The short of our case is the late king was pleased unexpectedly to leave us; and their present Majesties have stepped into the throne as the next lawful successors. And where is the mischief of all this? You and I are not yet called upon to give our assent to every vote that passed in the House of Parliament in the management of this matter, and I hope we never shall. But I think we ought thankfully to join in the last result of their councils that William and Mary, Prince and Princess of Orange, are honestly and legally seated on the English throne. And this may be done without an unnecessary acquainting the world with our opinion whether the royal dignity has devolved upon them by right of succession or they have attained it by a new grant from the people."

Nicolson then examines at length the popular objections to this doctrine, - viz., the want of a proper inquiry into the birth of the Prince of Wales; the doctrine of passive obedience in face of James's rumoured league with the French king for the destruction of Protestants; and the example of Sancroft, archbishop of Canterbury, who had declined to take the oaths of allegiance to William and Mary, on which Nicolson remarks that the clergy here should have regard rather to the behaviour of their own metropolitan and diocesan [i.e. the Bishop of Carlisle, Nicolson] than to that of his Grace of Canterbury. He concludes:

"In short, sir, we have the judgement of a vast majority of both the Divines and Lawyers of the kingdom that a firm allegiance is due to their present majesties, King William and Queen Mary. And the pressing necessities of our Church call for a speedy resolution of letting the world know (to the astonishment of our enemies, and comfort of our friends) that we are heartily of the same opinion.

"I am, yours, &c.,
"W. N."

No record has come to our knowledgment of the reception this letter met with, or the effect it had, but Archbishop Sancroft and eight of his episcopal brethren absolutely refused to take the oath to the new sovereign; their example was followed by about four hundred clergymen, who became known by the name of "Non jurors."

Towards the close of the seventeenth century public attention was directed to the alarming increase of coarseness and immorality throughout the kingdom. It soon became the subject of a Royal proclamation, which was ultimately embodied in an Act of Parliament. The religious world was roused to the evil, and societies for the suppressing of immorality and profaneness sprang up in almost every county, but principally in London, to check by united effort the prevailing sin. Books and pamphlets were written, explaining the object of the crusade, and calling upon Churchmen and Dissenters alike to join in it. In the city of Carlisle, the moving spirit in establishing in 1699 a branch of "the Society for the Reformation of Manners " was the recorder, William Gilpin, son of the the celebrated Richard Gilpin, of Scaleby Castle and Newcastle, the quondam rector of Greystoke, and Presbyterian minister; the patronage of the aged Bishop of Carlisle, Dr. Smith, was secured by a surprise, and matters looked like a success. But Archdeacon Nicolson made strenuous opposition. He took his stand on the Canons, which he alleged, were binding on his conscience, and denounced those clergy who ignored them by joining in "conventicles," with dissenting ministers under cover of furthering the interests of morals, while in reality they were causing schism and breaking the law.

"You may probably have heard of a society, league, or covenant at Carlisle, wherein the Churchmen and Dissenters are mutually engaged for the Reformation of manners. We certainly are all obliged to prosecute the good ends of his Majesty's late proclamation in our several stations; but give me leave to tell you that our zeal for the service of Religion ought to be regulated by the laws of the land and Canons of the Church, We must beware of making ourselves parties to conventicles and unlawful assemblies, by meeting in numbers (above five besides our own families) on a  religious account, unless we can secure ourselves of the benefit of the Act of Toleration; and (then) we are Dissenters and not members of the Established Church. If we desire to continue in our present Communion we ought well to consider the words and meaning of the twelfth Canon."6

The clergy, as a whole, were willing enough to follow their archdeacon's advice, till Chancellor Tullie ranged himself on the other side and went in strongly for the amalgamation of Church and Dissent. Under his ægis Cockburn, the vicar of Brampton, aided by a few of the neighbouring clergy, set up a society at Brampton, a place where Gilpin possessed considerable influence. Here arrangements were made for a weekly lecture at which Cockburn, two other neighbouring vicars, and a dissenting minister were to preside in turn. This soon brought down the archdeacon's thunders on Cockburn's head. Nicolson thus reasons with him -

"The reformation of manners is a most Christian duty, and we are under an indispensable obligation to endeavour it, according to the King's late excellent proclamation, by the most effectual means allowed and prescribed by law. I fear these societies are not legal ways of procedure. I am confidant you will be of my mind, when you have carefully perused the twelfth Canon. The censure there denounced is a terrible one; and wise men will beware of doing anything that does so much as look like the anabaptistical error which is there condemned."7

Archdeacon and chancellor were summoned to Rose Castle to answer to their aged diocesan for the strife they were causing in his diocese. Little came out of it. The bishop was too old and too infirm to curb the enterprising zeal of his ecclesiastical subordinates. An appeal was made to the Archbishop of York, but he shelved the question; the Bishop of Chester was inclined to side with Chancellor Tullie, but finally the Bishop of Carlisle drew up the following paper to be dispersed among his diocese:

"I. I earnestly desire all my Clergy zealously to promote the good ends of his Majesty's late proclamation; not only by their frequent Sermons on that subject, but likewise by such voluntary meetings and conferences amongst themselves (weekly or monthly) as may most conveniently be had, or such other methods (allowed by the Canons of the Church and the Laws of the Land) as they shall occasionally agree on.

"II. That in these conferences and meetings they would (as they see it necessary) request the company and assistance of such neighbouring Justices of the Peace, and other persons of note and gravity, as may best forward these their good designs.

"III. That, in their said consults, they confer only with such persons as are well affected to the doctrine and discipline of the Established Church."8

The following presentment by churchwardens was extracted by Mr. W. Jackson, F.S.A., from the duplicate Scaleby Registers in the Bishop's Registry at Carlisle:-

"The presentment of the Parish of Scalby (Scaleby) An. Dom. 1684.

Impr'im. To the first Article of the Title of the book of Visitation exhibited at the Bishop's last triennial Visitation we answer that our Church is so far from being in good repair that it is no wise fit for the publick worship of God.

2ndly. We have no carpet cloath [cloth] Surplice or pulpit cloath.

3rd. Wee have noe Church Bible book of Homilies or other books required by the Canons of our Church.

4ly. Wee know of noe Church Stock or poore stock belonging to our parish nor can Devine how the sume [sum] hath been Raised or disposed of.

To the first article of the second Title.

1st. Wee answer that our Churchyard is not sufficiently fenced from Annoyances.

2nd. The dwelling house and outhouses belonging to our Minister are wholey gone to decay and Ruine and that they have been so this many years.

3rd. Wee have noe Terrier off of the glebe Lands [a register of the properties owned by the church] belonging nor can we learn how the same hath been lost.

To the fourth Title.

1st. Wee answer that we have in our parish severall separatists viz John Pearson of Stoneknowe quaker, William Gash, John Scot of Highberries, John Goodfellow of Scaleby Hill.

2ndly. We have in our parish found to be guilty of adulterie (three couples). Noe register book."

It must not be assumed that Scaleby was a representative seventeenth century parish in the diocese of Carlisle; its proximity to the Borders caused it to fall a ready prey to Scottish invaders. In 1703 Bishop Nicolson commends the fabric of the church, so that it must have been restored; but there was no font, no altar-rail, no surplice, or Common Prayerbook.

The following account of Carlisle cathedral at the end of the seventeenth century (1687) is interesting, though well known locally. Tradition says that Carlisle cathedral is the only cathedral in England that has never had candlesticks on the altar since the Reformation: copes were worn in it by Gospeller and Epistoler as late as 1778.

"About this time I went diligently to the publick Worship, especially to the Cathedral at Carlisle; where in time of publick Prayer, we used all (Male and Female) as soon as that Creed, call it the Apostles Creed, began to be said, to turn our Faces towards the East; and, when the word JESUS was mentioned, we all, as one, bowed and kneeled towards the Altar-table, as they call it, where stood a Couple of Common Prayer Books, in Folio, one at each Side of the Table, and over them, painted upon the wall H.S. signifying JESUS, Hominem Salvator." - Storey's Journal.


1. See Lectureships at St. Cuthbert's, Carlisle, - Transactions Cumberland and Westmorland Archæological Society, vol. vi. p. 312. Was this lecturer the Theologiæ Prelector, newly appointed in 1571, whom Bishop Barnes charged to preach on certain occasions? See "Visitations in the Ancient Diocese of Carlisle," Dr. Prescott, p. 36, n. There was also a cathedral lecturer from 1684 to 1855.
2. The above account of Fox is (abbreviated) from "Early Cumberland and Westmorland Friends," by the writer of this book.
3. See "Archæologia Æliana," vol. xiii. pp. 33 and 63. They are taken from "The Domestic Entry Book of Charles II," in the Record Office.
4. Several volumes of the diaries of this active prelate are in existence, and there is roeason to hope they may shortly be made public. At present the writer has only seen one, - that for 1684-5.
5. Thomas Story, the eminent Quaker, Recorder of Pensylvania, and the friend of Penn, says:- "In this Conjunctors, the whole Protestant Parts of the King's Dominions, were in great Consternation, and apprehensive of a Popish Government, and consequent Oppression, and Persecution to Destruction. Nevertheless, whether out of Fear, or other cause, as well the Bishops as inferior Clergy, and the generality of the People throughout the King's Dominions, presented addresses to him . . . replete with the utmost expressions of Loyalty and Duty that words were capable of." Storey's Journal, p. 7.
6. "Letters on Various Subjects, &c., to and from Bishop Nicolson." London: John Nichols & Son, 1809". Letter to Mr. Gregory, p. 151.
7. Ibid., Letter to Mr. Cockburn, p. 145.
8. Ibid., Letter to Archbishop of York, p. 163. The whole correspondence is in "Letters to and from Bishop Nicolson," and is most interesting.


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


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19 June 2015

© Steve Bulman