Pennington Parish


Is bounded on the south and south-west by the parishes of Urswick and Dalton, on the north west by the parish of Kirkby Ireleth, and on the north west and north east by that of Ulverston. It is the smallest parish in Lancashire, being only from three to four miles in length, and from one and a half to two miles in breadth. Its area is 26261 acres, and its population in 1801, was 273; in 1811, 271; in 1821, 284; in 1831, 355; and in 1841, 387 souls. The annual value of its rateable property in the latter year was estimated at 3297. It has a scattered village, one and a half mile S.W. by west of Ulverston, and its name may be derived from the British word pennig, a little head, or top, meaning a town or village on a little head or breast of a hill; in allusion to Pennington Castle, which stood on the verge of the precipice, now known as the Castle Hill, about half a mile from the church. No indications of this ancient castle of the Pennington family now exist, save a vallum of earth and a ditch on the south and east side of the castle yard; the other sides have been defended by precipices.

The church, dedicated to St. Michael, is a neat edifice, with a square tower, rebuilt in 1826, at a cost of about 550, towards which George IV contributed 50; and the Incorporated Society granted 100. It contains 175 sittings, of which 140 are free. The old church, which was quite a small building, is supposed to have been the remnant of a larger fabric. It was granted by Gamel de Pennington to Conishead Priory, and about the year 1200, was claimed by the Abbey of Furness, but it was afterwards decided by Walter Grey, archbishop of York, that the canons should for ever possess the churches of Ulverston and Pennington, on condition of their paying nine marks per annum to the abbey. The living is a vicarage, in the gift of the crown, in right of the Duchy of Lancaster, and incumbency of the Rev. Thos. Wm. Johns, M.A. It is worth nearly 250 per annum, having been augmented in 1846, with the interest of 250 left by Miss Margaret Townson. In the 7th of James I, the great tithes of the parish were granted to James Phillips and Francis Maurice, under whose title they are now possessed by the present landowners, with a reservation of 6 a year to be paid to the crown. Here is a school erected by subscription a few years ago.

The manor of Pennington, which is co-extensive with the parish, has belonged from time immemorial to the Pennington family, who resided here before the Conquest, and is now possessed by Gamel Augustus Pennington, fourth baron Muncaster, and eighth baronet, of Muncaster castle, Cumberland, whither the family removed about the year 1242. "The name," says Mr. West, "is diversely written in ancient writings, as Penyngton, Penington, Pennington; and in Doomsday, Pennegetun, perhaps from Pennaig, in British, a prince, or great personage, to which the Saxon termination tun, being added, forms Pennegetun in Doomsday, since smoothed into Pennington." From an agreement made between William de Pennington and the abbot of Furness, in A.D. 1318, respecting boon services, it appears "that the manor of Pennington was held by the service of 30s., and of finding yearly, for one day in autumn, a man and woman, sufficient to mow at the Grange of Lindale for every house with a court yard, except Sir William de Pennington's capital messuage; the convent to find the daily refreshment of each mower while employed, according to ancient custom; and Sir William granting, that all the tenants of the manor who had, or might have, ploughs, should plough half an acre of the abbot's Grange, at Lindale." Every tenant on his admission, pays a fine of sixteen years' quit rent, on the death of the lord, or charge by descent; and a running fine, town term, or gressum, is payable every seventh year. He must also plant two trees of the same kind for every one that he cuts down; and formerly he was obliged to carry a horse and load once a year to Muncaster, and half a horse load to Lancaster. The heir, where there is a widow, pays a heriot. The principal landowners of Pennington are William Fell, Esq., and Messrs. Robert, William, John, and Thomas Ashburner.

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



30 April 2008

Steve Bulman