Whicham Parish

  Is bounded on the north by Whitbeck, on the east and south by Millom, and on the west by the sea, contains the village of Silecroft, and several scattered dwellings but has no assemblage of houses bearing its own name. it extends about three miles east and west, and one mile along the coast, north and south, comprises 2500 acres, rated at 1992, besides about 5000 acres of undivided mountain common. The soil towards the sea is fertile, but eastward the parish stretches over hilly grounds, on which large flocks of sheep are grazed. The principal land owners are the earl of Lonsdale, Mrs. Eliz. Brockbank, Revd. Joseph Kirkbank, Mr. John Kirkbank, and Mr. Thos. Simpson. The parish, which has been variously called Whittingeham, Whitcham, and Wicheham, was anciently held as a fee of Millom, and is said to have taken its name from one Wyche, the first feoffee who had it granted to him about the time of Henry I.; but the earl of Lonsdale is now lord of the manors of Whicham arid Silecroft, the former estate having been purchased by Sir James Lowther, Bart., of Mr. Henry Fearon and others. The farms are mostly occupied by freeholders, and there are about nine resident yeomen in the parish. There is a tradition that a battle was fought in a field near Whicham Hall, still called the Scots' croft. The population of the parish, in 1841, was 299 souls.

Silecroft, or Silcroft, is a neat village near the sea, four miles S. by E. of Bootle, and eight miles S.W. of Broughton, Lancashire1. The Church, dedicated to St. Mary, was given by "Reynard the Fewer," to St. Mary's abbey, in York. After the dissolution of the religious houses, the patronage was held by Hugh Askew, Esq., and subsequently by the Penningtons, till sold by lord Muncaster to the earl of Lonsdale. The benefice, which is a rectory, valued in the king's books at 8 15s. 0d., and certified to the governors of queen Anne's bounty at 49 13s. 3d., was returned by the commissioners as of the yearly value of 243. The tithes were commuted in 1838, for 160 per annum. There are 75 acres of glebe belonging to the living, which is now enjoyed by the Rev. Geo. Wilkinson, B.D. who was appointed in 1847, on the death of the Rev. A. Scott. The rectory house is a very ancient building, and the oldest registry in the church bears date 1569.

Whicham and Millom Grammar School is supposed to have been founded by a person of the name of Hodgson, a native of this parish, who endowed it with 16 a year, which from 1540, have been paid regularly out of the revenues of the crown, in the county of Cumberland. It was contended by the inhabitants of Millom, in the chancery suit between these two parishes, which continued from 1687 to 1691, that the school had been endowed by one of the kings of England prior to the reign of Elizabeth. The master is nominated by 32 trustees, amongst whom are the rector of Whicham and the vicar of Millom, pursuant to a decree in chancery, made in the 2nd of James II. Ten children are taught free, viz., five from each parish, arid the present master is Mr. John Brockbank. The school house, which was erected at the expense of the inhabitants, is only a small humble building at the church gate. The Rev. John Postlethwaite, head master of St. Paul's school, who died in 1713, received the rudiments of his education here. There was formerly a poor stock of 33 belonging to this parish, viz., 3 left by Danl. Mason, the interest thereof to be distributed to six poor widows; 5 given by the Rev. Rt. Crompton, rector in 1630, the interest to be distributed annually to the poor; the remainder was left by unknown donors, half of the interest thereof to be applied to the repairs of the church, and half to the poor.


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




1. Broughton is now in Cumbria.

30 April 2008

Steve Bulman