Thursby Parish

  > Is bounded by the parishes of Aikton, Orton, Dalston, Westward, and Wigton; and extends about 4 miles in length, along the north side of the river Wampool, and is about 1 miles in breadth. It contains 2874A. 3R. 22P., rated (in 1846) at 3541 1s. 6d. The soil, which consists principally of gravel, with a mixture of loam, is tolerably fertile-except on the eastern side, where a cold clayey land prevails. Its situation is rather low along the river, where quantities of reed grow, especially on the swamp called Cardew Mires. It is divided into three townships and manors; viz., Thursby, Crofton, and Parton, with Micklethwaite; which, in 1841, contained (collectively) 574 inhabitants.

Thursby township has a small but pleasant village, on the Carlisle and Wigton road, 6 miles S.W. from the former, and 5 miles E.N.E. of the latter town. It also comprises the small hamlets of Evening Hill, Moor End, and Neal House1, with several scattered dwellings; and contains 1457A. 3R. 14P. (rated at 1699 3s. 7d.), mostly belonging to resident yeomen, but Mr. John Bowman and Mr. Simeon Cowper have estates here. Evening Hill, the pleasant seat of John Knubley Wilson, Esq., lieutenant-colonel in the Cumberland militia, is a large mansion in the Elizabethan style, erected, about fourteen years ago, by its present proprietor. It commands some fine views, and is surrounded by extensive pleasure grounds. Thursby is supposed to have derived its name from the god Thor; - to which deity, it is said, there was a temple dedicated, at a place now called Woodriggs.

The manor of Thursby was given by Alan, second lord of Allerdale, to Herbert de Brun, who assumed the name of the place. It afterwards passed in marriage to Guido Boyvil, a younger son of the house of Levington; and after that it came into the possession of Robert de Ogle, who appears to have sold it to the Dacres, by whom it was subsequently united to the barony of Burgh, to which it is still annexed. It appears that William, Lord Dacre, held this manor in the reign of Henry VIII, by knight's service and 25s. 8d. cornage. The Church, dedicated to St. Andrew, is a beautiful edifice, on an elevation a little west of the village - erected, in 1846, on the site of the old fabric, which is said to have been built by David I, king of Scotland. Its style of architecture is that which prevailed in the 13th century, and the funds for its erection were raised by a rate of 3s. 3d. in the pound, on the whole parish, aided by 500 left by the late Sir John Brisco. Another rate of 6d. in the pound will be required to defray the expense of the six musical bells which hang in the tower. Its interior is very neatly filled up, and here are four elegant marble monuments to the Brisco family. The old font is also preserved. The benefice was a rectory, until about the year 1469, when Sir Robert Ogle granted it to the priory and convent of Carlisle. It is now a vicarage, in the patronage of the dean and chapter of Carlisle, and incumbency of the Rev. James Webster Huntley, M.A., who was inducted in the year 1830. It is valued in the king's books at 91 10s. 4d., but is now worth 204 a year, exclusive of 21A. 1R. 1P. of glebe. The vicar, by prescription, is entitled to all the small tithes of the parish, and the great and small tithes of the two townships of Parton and Micklethwaite, and Crofton and Whinnow. In 1838, a commutation of the tithe was made for a yearly rent charge of 354; of which 150 (the rectorial tithes of Thursby township) belong to Messrs. John Jefferson and Simeon Cowper, as lessees under the dean and chapter. The vicarage house is a good residence, contiguous to the church. The school, which was built about the year 1740, is endowed with 354 left in 1798, by Thomas Thomlinson, Esq., a native of this parish, who died in America. It is placed in the hands of Sir Wastel Brisco, who pays 4 per cent. yearly interest (14 3s. 4d.) to the master, who teaches ten poor children for the small payment of 2s. 6d. per quarter, and the residue of his scholars are taught for 5s. per quarter each. He also, in the same year, bequeathed to the poor of Thursby 160, the interest of which (7 15s.) to be distributed amongst six or seven poor industrious parishioners. In the same year, 1798, Thomas Gibson left to the poor of this parish a legacy of 30 and another of 5, which (being laid out in the purchase of stock at 3 per cent.) produced, in 1817, the sum of 107; the annual receipts of which amount to 5 7s. Hutchinson says he could not find that there has been more than one author in this parish, viz., John Studholme, of Moor End, who was then (1795) in the 85th year of his age. He wrote a Moral Essay, of which the Westminster Magazine of 1779, gives the following character: - "The author proposes his sentiments with modesty and perspicuity. A very ingenious and philosophic piece - written both with intelligence and intelligibility; nor is there anything assuming or dogmatical in any part of it."

Crofton township lies in the centre of the parish, and contains only 813 acres, (rated at 1,000 7s. 6d.) and 80 inhabitants, including the small hamlet of Whinnow, 3 miles E.N.E. of Wigton. It is all the properly of Sir Wastel Brisco, the lord of the manor. In king John's time, the manor of Crofton was the property of Sir Gilbert, son of Sir Gilbert de Dundraw, from whom it passed, by marriage, to Crofton, the father of Sir John Crofton, whose daughter transferred all their family estates to her husband, Isold Brisco, whose decendants have possessed them to this day. In Denton's MS. it is stated, that it is called Croft-town, of the word Croft, as the town standing upon the Crofts."

Crofton Hall2, the beautiful seat of Sir Wastel Brisco, Bart., occupies a delightful situation, on the north bank of the Wampool, about four miles E. by N. from Wigton, and one mile W. from the parish church. It has been considerably enlarged and improved, within the last few years, by its present proprietor. Hutchinson says, "the deer park contains between 140 and 150 acres, inclosed with a wall near eight feet in height," that "in the park is a fish pond of twelve acres, stored with carp and tench," and that "the woodlands, including the new plantations, are above 100 acres." At a little distance from the hall is a considerable conical mount, vulgarly called Torquin, clothed with wood, and said to have been the residence of two gigantic brothers. The Brisco's were anciently called De Birkskeugh, "because their first ancestors dwelt at Birkskeugh, or Birchwood, a place by Newbiggin, in a lordship belonging to the priory of Carlisle, which lands they yet enjoy, or part thereof." The word birkskugh, in the British tongue, implies agility in leaping, from which the Saxons took the word frisk, or leap; and the words skeugh, shaw, &c., in ancient evidences, always imported "a wood ground standing on a hill, as this Birkskeugh and Winnaw Shaw."

Parton and Micklethwaite are two adjacent hamlets, forming a township of 604 acres, of fertile land, rated at 841 10s. 5d., and containing 104 inhabitants. Parton occupies a pleasant and airy situation, two miles N.N.E. of Wigton; and Micklethwaite contains a few farm houses and an inn, 2 miles N. by E. of the same town.

The manor of Parton, which, besides Parton and Micklethwaite, includes also Neal-house, in Thursby township, and Cardew Lees, in Dalston parish, passed from a family of its own name to the Maunsels, who sold it to Robert Mulcastre, who, in the reign of king Henry III conveyed it to Robert de Grisdale, whose heiress married a Roos; from whom, and by various succeeding sales, it came at length, in 1686, to Sir John Lowther, and is now possessed by his descendant, the Earl of Lonsdale; but, in 1672, the tenants were all enfranchised.


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




1. Moor End and Neal House are now Moorend and Nealhouse respectively.
2. Crofton Hall has been demolished (Pevsner, writing in 1967, says "recently"), but some of the estate buildings remain, and the gateway is a handsome structure. The pond, too, is still there, and popular with anglers.

19 June 2015

Steve Bulman