Ireby Parish

  > Is bounded by the parishes of Bolton, Uldale, and Torpenhow1, being about 4 miles in length, and about 2 in breadth. The south-east side is high, and the soil a red light loam; on the other side the soil is also loamy, rising of a strong clay, and well adapted for the growth of wheat, barley, oats, &c. It contains plenty of limestone, some grey freestone, and coal, and is refreshed by the small river Ellen, over which are several bridges. The parish, which extends to the summit of Binsey-hill2, is divided into the two townships of High Ireby and Low Ireby, contains 4,320 acres of land, and 472 inhabitants. Camden says that it was called Arbeia3 in the time of the Romans, and that their band of soldiers, called Barcari Tigriensis, were placed here.

Ireby, anciently a market town, is still a considerable village, on the west side of the river Ellen, in the township of Low Ireby, seven miles S.W. of Wigton, and the same distance W. of Hesket New Market. Its market, which was held on Thursday, has long been obsolete; but two fairs are held here annually, on February 21st for horses and cattle, and on October 18th for sheep. The ancient market cross, after lying in ruins for nearly a century, has been restored by Henry Grainger, Esq., who is the owner of the old building, once the Moat Hall4 of the town.

The manor of Low Ireby, at the time of the Conquest, was possessed by a family of its own name, and afterwards by the families of Tilliol, Colvil, Musgrave, and Ballantine; from the latter it came to the Dykes of Dovenby, and is now the property of Mrs. Dykes, of Dovenby Hall. The customary tenants "purchased their tenements to freehold of the two last owners of the name of Ballantine."

Low Ireby township contains 1131A. 2R. 26P.; and the largest proprietors of the soil are Joseph Railton, Esq., of Snittlegarth, and Mr. William Railton, of Ireby, but here are several other resident yeomen. Its rateable value is 1260, and its population, in 1841, was 314 souls. The church, which was rectorial, was given to the prior and convent of Carlisle, by Alan, second lord of Allerdale, and the grant was confirmed by Henry II and Edward III, so that the dean and chapter are now patrons of the curacy, which receives 25 a year from the lessee. The benefice was augmented by queen Anne's bounty in 1809, 1811, 1813, and 1822, with four sums of 200 each, with which 27 acres of land (now undergoing considerable improvements), and a parsonage house, have been purchased for the incumbent, whose salary is now upwards of 60 per annum. The parsonage has been lately sold to H. Grainger, Esq., and the money is about to be laid out in the purchase of a house and garden, at Low Ireby, contigious to the new church. This neat Gothic edifice, which was opened December 6th, 1846, and consecrated June 10th, 1847, has been erected at a cost of above 500, raised by subscription, to which Mr. Grainger contributed 100, and also presented to it a beautiful stained glass window (executed by Mr. Waite, of Newcastle), considered one of the best specimens of modern art; and Mrs. Grainger gave the communion plate and other furniture belonging to the church. It is dedicated to St. James, and contains 260 sittings; all of which are free, except one reserved by Mr. W. Railton, who gave the site for the building, which is situate in the village. The font of the old fabric, and a curious stone, found in its walls, commemorating John de Ireby and his wife, are preserved here. The Rev. Joshua Clark is the incumbent.

Ireby school was founded in 1726, by Matthew Caldbeck, who endowed it with 100, with which land was purchased, and is now let for 8 a year, for which the master teaches eight poor children of the parish. Mr. Jonathan Cape is the present master. Ellenside House, the seat of John Bough, Esq., is a commodious building in Low Ireby, erected in 1837, occupying a pleasant situation near the banks of the river, from which it takes its name. A lodge of Odd Fellows is held at the Black Lion Inn.

Ireby (High) is a village and township, about one mile S. by W. of the former village, containing 158 inhabitants, including the hamlet of Ruthwaite, 1 mile south of Low Ireby. The principal proprietors of this township are Joseph Gillbanks, Esq., of Whitefield House, and Henry Grainger, Esq., of "the Grainge," representatives of families, long settled in this part of the county; but the manor of High Ireby belongs to Sir Henry R. Vane, and the manor of Ruthwaite to General Wyndham. High Ireby was given by Alan, second lord of Allerdale, to Gospatrick, son of Orme, lord of Seaton and Workington. It afterwards belonged to the family of Barwise, who sold it to an ancestor of its present lord. Whitefield House, the seat and property of Joseph Gillbanks, Esq., is a fine mansion in this township, greatly enlarged and beautified a few years since, three miles south of Ireby. The Grange is another neat mansion in High Ireby, the property, and occasional residence, of John and Henry Grainger, Esqrs.


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




1. Torpenhow is pronounced something like "Tre'penner".
2. Binsey-hill is today simply Binsey.
3. Arbeia is usually identified today with the roman fort at South Shields, in North-east England. Bulmer, in 1901, makes no mention of a Roman connection with Ireby, and I'm not aware of one today. Camden may simply have been making a connection because of the similarity of the names Ireby and Arbeia.
4. Moat Hall, i.e. Moot Hall.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman