The Worthies of Cumberland and Westmorland

  > The following is a "List of eminent men, natives of the county of Cumberland, or who have been nearly connected with it," and also includes figures of notoriety. Commentary from myself is in square brackets. Source indicated by (J) - Jollies Cumberland Guide & Directory 1811, (MW) - Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847, (M) - Mannix & Co., History, Topography and Directory of Westmorland, 1851, (B) - T. Bulmer, History, Topography, and Directory of Cumberland, 1901. Other entries are © Steve Bulman, unless indicated otherwise. There are frequent references to "the city", or similar; in every case this refers to Carlisle.

Addison - Armstrong, Bacon - Burn, Calvin - Dykes, Egglesfield - Grindal, Hall - Irton, Jackson - Lowther, Marlowe - Potter, Ray - Routh, Salkeld - Swift, Taylor - Troughton, Vipont - Wordsworth

Bacon, Anthony - see Whitehaven.

Bacon, John, Esq., a native of Lough Grange, in Saint Cuthbert's parish, published a number of Essays, tending to promote public and patriotic institutions, and in 1786, a work entitled "Liber Regis, vel Thesaurus Rerum Ecclesiasticarum," in a large quarto volume. (MW)

Bacon, John, Esq. of the First Fruits Office, London; well known for his hospitality and benevolence. To his patronage and encouragement the History of Cumberland is not a little indebted. He is a native of Kirklinton. (J)

Bacon Rev. Thomas, of Whitehaven, some time a clergyman in America. He published in a large folio volume a Digest of the Laws of Maryland, a volume of Sermons, and System of the Revenue of Ireland; he also composed several pieces of music. His attainments as a divine, a lawyer, physician, and composer, were very considerable. He was a contemporary with Mr. Richardson, author of Pamela, &c. (J) [Samuel Richardson's dates are 1689 - 1761. See also Whitehaven.]

Bainbridge, Christopher, L.L.D., Archbishop of York and later Cardinal of Saint Praxis, in Rome, was a native of the parish of Warcop. He died in Rome in 1514. (M)

Banks, Sir John, was born at Keswick in 1589. He studied for the law, and was appointed to a judgeship. In 1630 he was made Attorney-General to the Prince of Wales, and in 1640 he became Chief Justice of the Common Pleas. He lived during the troublous times of the Civil War between Charles I and the Parliament, and displayed his loyalty and courage by his unshaken fidelity to the king; nor was his lady less loyal or brave. When the Parliamentary Army laid siege to Corfe Castle, the family residence, she defended it with vigour until relieved by the Earl of Carnarvon. He died during the heat of the Civil War, in 1642, and bequeathed property, now producing about Ł300 a year, to the poor of his native town. (B). See also Crosthwaite parish.

Barlow, Dr. Thomas, was born at Langdale, in Orton parish, Westmorland, in 1607, and and was sent from Appleby school to Queen's College, Oxford, of which he was afterwards provost. After the restoration of Charles II, he was appointed a commissioner for restoring the members who had been expelled during Cromwell's usurpation. He was subsequently made Margaret professor of Divinity, and promoted to the Bishopric of Lincoln, but like many more in his day, he appears to have been only a time serving man all his life. He died in 1691. (M)

Barnes, George, - see Wigton parish.

Baty, Rev. Richard, born at Arthuret, was rector of Kirk-Andrews, and instrumental in promoting the schools there. He published the following works: Seasonable Advice to a Careless World, Prayers for Private Families, Clergyman's Companion for visiting the Sick, &c. Died 1758. (J)

Beattie, John, born at Bewcastle in 1844, was elected mayor of Newcastle in 1900, following a career as a draper. See, Bewcastle, 1901.

Beattie, (Thomas) Kevin, - born Carlisle 1953, Ipswich Town and England football player. Link.

Bell, George, another of the Penrith worthies, published a small volume of poems in 1835. (B)

Bell, John, a native of Carlisle, made several valuable discoveries in the art of gunnery. (MW)

Bell, John, a teacher of grammar and mathematics, at Prior-ridge, in this county. He published, in 1769, an extensive English grammar, in two thick Vols. of considerable merit, but which never had much sale. The author fell into an irregular course of life, and after wasting a good paternal inheritance, he lived for some years upon the casual support of his friends. (J)

Bell, Rev. John, - see Bridekirk parish.

Benson, Rev. Joseph, in the Methodist connection; is a native of this county, we believe from the neighbourhood of Kirkoswald. He is held in great estimation by the Society, and is Editor of their widely-circulated magazine. (J)

Benson, Rev. George, a native of Great Salkeld. It is said that at eleven years of age he could read the Greek Testament. He was an eminent dissenting preacher in London, and published a Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles, the History of the first Planting of the Christian Religion, the Reasonableness of the Christian Religion, and other works. Died 1767. (J)

Benson, John, clockmaker born Whitehaven. Died 1798. According to Wikipedia, one of his clocks is in 10 Downing Street.

Birkett, Sir William Norman, Lord Birkett of Ulverston, a native of Ulverston, and educated there, and at Barrow, was an eminent lawyer, and one of Britain's two judges at the Nuremburg trials following World War 2. He died in 1962.

Blacklock, William James. Born in London (of an old Cumberland family) in 1816; died in 1858 in an asylum in Dumfries. Landscape painter and lithographer, pupil of M. E. Nutter (q.v.). Blacklock lived in Cumwhitton from 1818, and again from 1850-4, and in London from 1836-50.

Blamire, Susannah, the daughter of William Blamire, has achieved considerable fame as a poetess. She was born at Cardew Hall, in 1747, but spent the greater part of her lifetime at Thackwood. She early betrayed the rhyming faculty, and in her girlhood's days would often amuse the homestead by metrical sketches of passing incidents, or the peculiarities of some old neighbouring crone. These juvenile productions were consigned to the flames soon after they were written; nor did she, in her later years, write for the eye of any beyond the circle of the family or acquaintances. Many of her happiest pieces are written in the Cumbrian dialect, of which she seems to have been a perfect mistress; nor was she less happy in her Scotch songs, as may be seen in her "What ails this heart o' mine?", and "Ye shall walk in silk attire." Her most ambitious effort is a poem of considerable length, called a "North Country village, or Stockdalewath," in which she draws a life-like picture of that hamlet as it existed a hundred years ago, in the metre, and somewhat after the style of Goldsmith's "Deserted village." The village alehouse is thus portrayed :-

"In this gay village hangs a wondrous sign -
The 'Hounds and Hare' are the immense design.

Around the front, inviting benches wait,
Conscious of many a glass and sage debate;
The great man of the village cracks his joke,
Reads o'er the news, and whiffs the curling smoke;
Tells tales of old, and nods, and heaves the can,
Makes fixed decrees, and seems much more than man."

We are indebted to the pen of Dr. Lonsdale for rescuing from oblivion many of the poems of this talented lady, and for a most interesting sketch of her life and character in his "Worthies of Cumberland." She died at Carlisle in 1794, and was buried at the Chapel of Raughton Head. (B)
See also Miss Blamire of Thackwood, a description of her life and works from Sidney Gilpin's "Songs And Ballads of Cumberland and the Lake Country." The works of Susannah Blamire may be found at

Blamire, William, Esq., better known as the "Tithe Commissioner," was the son of Dr. Blamire, brother of the poetess. He was born at the Oaks on the 13th April, 1790, and died at Thackwood on the 12th January, 1862. He was High Sheriff of Cumberland in 1828, and represented the county in Parliament from May, 1831, to August, 1836. To him is chiefly due the credit of framing and carrying through Parliament "The Tithe Commutation Act," which did more to settle the disputes and quarrels between the Church and the farmers than any other piece of legislation. For his services he was appointed Chief Tithe Commissioner, and he was also on the Copyhold and Inclosure Commission. He retired again into private life in 1860, but did not live long to enjoy the repose he sought in his ancestral home. He died within two years of his retirement, and was buried at Raughton Head Church. A tablet was raised to his memory by public subscription, and placed in Carlisle Cathedral; and a Blamire Agricultural Prize was founded at the same time. The tablet thus records his merits :- "As a servant of the Crown he enjoyed the confidence of all parties in the State; and during the twenty-four years of official life he was the willing adviser of the Government on many political questions, especially those relating to agriculture. His practical sagacity and unwearied industry as a Tithe Commissioner made his public labours highly successful; whilst his abnegation of self, suavity of speech and unfailing courtesy, secured for him amongst all classes the greatest esteem and popularity." By his death the Blamires of the Oaks became extinct; and it is much to be feared, and still more to be mourned, that there are few types left of that class of men of which he was the ennobling ornament and unrivalled head. (B)

Bouch, Sir Thomas, the eminent engineer, was a native of this [Thursby] parish. His father, a captain in the merchant service, resided at Thursby, where Thomas was born in 1822. The rudiments of his education were imparted to him in the school of his native village, after which he spent some years in a private seminary in Carlisle. Having made choice of a profession, at the age of seventeen he entered the service of Messrs. Lomar and Errington, civil engineers, who, being engaged in the construction of the Lancaster and Carlisle railway, had a branch office at Carlisle. Here he made such good use of his time that at the expiration of his apprenticeship, he was fully competent to undertake the supervision of that class of work. This was an age of railway construction; and after superintending several minor lines in the north of England, he was appointed resident engineer for the Wear Valley Railway. In 1840, he became manager and engineer of the Edinburgh, Perth, and Dundee line, now forming part of the North British system. The estuaries of the Forth and Tay form impediments to the continuity of this line; and here all luggage had to be unloaded and carried over the ferries in steamers. Mr. Bouch at once saw that some more expeditious plan than this must be devised. The project was beset with many difficulties, but after the expenditure of much labour, he perfected a hydraulic cradle by means of which as many as seven loaded waggons could be run on or off the deck of the steamer. Mr. Bouch's plan has now been adopted on many railways, similarly circumstanced, in all parts of the world.
Quitting the service of the Edinburgh and Northern Railway Company, Mr. Bouch commenced business in the Scottish capital on his own account, as a civil engineer. Here he was eminently successful; he had won a name and reputation in the railway world, and work flowed in from all parts of the kingdom. The mere enumeration of the various lines he planned and carried through would occupy more space than we have at our disposal. Taking advantage of the increased power of traction obtained by the improvement of the locomotive, he introduced steeper gradients, and thus reduced the cutting and tunnelling which always form such expensive items in railway construction.
Mr. Bouch gave much of his time and study to the construction of light and elegant viaducts, and the many bridges which he designed remain as monuments to his success. "It was, however, as designer of the ill-fated Tay Bridge, and of the Forth Bridge, which still remain in the category of unrealised possibilities, that Mr. Bouch's name came most prominently into public notice." Viaducts over these two estuaries would complete the continuity of the line, obviate the use of the steam ferries, and thus expedite by an hour transit along the east coast. Many eminent engineers had affirmed the feasibility of the scheme, but there were not a few who doubted the permanence of any structure erected across an estuary two miles broad, and so open to the full force of both wind and current. Many great and unforeseen difficulties occurred in the construction of the bridge, necessitating alterations in the original plan, and a considerable extension of time for its erection. The bridge was at length completed, and in May, 1878, amidst much jubilation and rejoicing, the first passenger train passed over it. Mr. Bouch received the freedom of the burgh, and the following year the honour of knighthood from Her Majesty. The collapse of the bridge and the appalling catastrophe which followed are amongst the most mournful memories of railway travelling in this country. For a year and a half it had stood the force of wind and tide, but the terrible gale of Sunday, December 28th, 1879, disclosed an unsuspected element of weakness. In the darkness of the evening, when the storm was at its height, some of the girders gave way, a breach was formed, and a passing train with all its occupants was precipitated into the Tay. The collapse of an undertaking, on which he had built the hope of his future fame, came with crushing effect upon his sensitive mind, and before a year had passed away brought him to his grave. Appalling as was the calamity, the practicability of a bridge over the Firth was fully established. (B) [William McGonagle's poem on this disaster is a personal favourite.]

Boucher, Rev. Jonathan, was born at Blencogo, and was educated at Wigton. On entering into holy orders, he obtained a situation in North America, where he continued to discharge his clerical functions until driven from his place by the revolutionists to whose sentiments he was adverse. On his return to England, he obtained the living of Epsom, in Surrey, where he died in 1804, aged 67. In 1797, Mr. B. published a View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution, in thirteen discourses, preached in America between the years 1763 and 1775. He was also the author of two Assize Sermons published in 1798, of a Letter to the Inhabitants of the County, suggesting objects of improvement; and several biographical articles in the History of Cumberland were written by him. He was a member of the Antiquarian Society, and at the time of his death was engaged in completing an extensive Glossary of Provincial and Archaeological Words, intended as a supplement to Dr. Johnson's Dictionary. (J) [In the original text, his place of birth is given as Blencowe, but an erratum corrects this to Blencogo. According to Bulmer, he was born in 1737.]
Lynne Hall has provided further biographical information on Boucher - she is a descendant of his sister Mary. He was baptised on the 8th of March, 1737/8 at St. Mungo, Bromfield, his family living at the nearby village of Blencogo. His parents were James Boucher and Ann (nee Barnes). After schooling in Wigton, he taught at St. Bees School, under the headship of the Rev. John James, who was later vicar of Arthuret. In 1758 Boucher went to Port Royal, Virginia, where he taught. He returned to England to become ordained, whence he returned to America, and served in several parishes, as well as running a plantation. He also continued with teaching (unusually, he taught his slaves to read), and one of his pupils was Jack Custis, step-son of George Washington. There exists a considerable correspondence between Washington and Boucher, much of it concerned with Custis' education. Moving to Annapolis, Boucher became an unofficial advisor to Governor Eden. He married Eleanor Addison from Oxon Hill (near Washington D.C.). Boucher's politics were unpopular at a time of growing anti-British feelings, and he was indicted for treason - he claimed to have passed information to the British government regarding the Maryland forces, though Lynne has found no proof of this. Returning to England, he settled at Paddington, later moving to Epsom, though he seems to have spent a lot of time in Cumberland. He married twice more, his third wife, Elizabeth Hodgson, bearing him eight children.
Should you want further information regarding Boucher, Lynne has much more material. Contact me to be put in touch with her.

Bowman, Robert, of Botcherby, though blind from his infancy, made considerable progress in mathematics, and other sciences and branches of polite literature. (MW)

Boyle, Edward Courtney, Lieutenant Commander. A native of Carlisle, he was awarded the V.C. in WWI. Link.

Bragg, Melvyn, born Wigton 1939, is a prolific and popular author, and pioneering arts broadcaster on radio and TV; he was made a life peer in 1998, and now styles himself Lord Bragg of Wigton.

Bragg, Sir William Henry, Nobel laureate for physics in 1915, was born at Westward in 1862. See his biography.

Browne, Dr Joseph, late Provost of Queen's College, Oxford. Was born at Watermillock, and was an eminent scholar. By him was published a splendid edition of the Latin poems of Maplićus Barberinus. Died in 1767. (J)

Brown, Rev John, was educated at Wigton school. He was a distinguished writer in various departments of literature; his works are numerous. Died in 1766. (J) [see also Wigton parish.]

Brownrigg, William, M.D., F.R.S., - see Whitehaven and Crosthwaite.

Buckle, Sir Cuthbert, who was born in Stainmore, was lord mayor of London in 1593. (M)

Burn, Rev. Richard, L.L.D., chancellor of the diocese of Carlisle, and vicar of Orton, in Westmorland, was, in conjunction with Joseph Nicholson, Esq., author of "The History and Antiquities of Westmorland and Cumberland," published in 1777. (MW). See also Kirkby Stephen parish. (M)




19 June 2015


© Steve Bulman