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

Vipont, Thomas, Bishop of Carlisle 1255-6, was a native of Appleby or its neighbourhood. (M). See also Annals of the Bishops.

Walker, George, preacher to Parliament during the Commonwealth, see Hawkshead parish.

Walker, John. M.D., - see Cockermouth.

Wallace, James, Esq., a native of this [Brampton] parish, raised himself by his talents and industry, from very humble circumstances, to the office of attorney-general, but died at the age of 53, in the zenith of his reputation, and "when the highest honours his profession could offer, or his country could bestow, were within his grasp." (B)

Wallis, Rev. John, A.M., late of Billington, was born in the neighbourhood of Ireby. He published the History of Northumberland: the first volume, containing the natural history, is reckoned very valuable. He also published a volume of Letters to a Pupil. (J)

Watson, Musgrave Lewthwaite, - born near Dalston in 1804. A sculptor, one of the four panels at the base of Nelson's Column is largely his work. Died 1847. Link.

Whelpdale, Roger, - see the Annals of the Bishops.

Wilkinson, John - a native of Clifton, he was born in 1728, and died in 1808. A pioneer and industrialist in iron-working, he built the worlds first iron boat, and was involved in the building of the Iron Bridge at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire. Link.

Wilkinson, Rev. Joseph, was born at Carlisle, and published, in 1812, "Select Views in Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire, with appropriate description." (MW)

Williamson, Rev. David, - see Whitehaven.

Williamson, Sir Joseph, - see Bridekirk parish.

Wise, Rev. Joseph, - see Holme Cultram parish. 

Wood, Francis Derwent, - 1871 - 1926. Keswick-born sculptor, he lectured at the Glasgow School of Art, and was later Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art. Link.

Wordsworth, William. Of the many eminent men whom Cumberland claims as her own not one has achieved a more world-wide reputation, or whose name will live longer in the memory of future generations than Wordsworth. Wherever the English language is spoken, from "torrid zone to icy pole," there the poetry of Wordsworth is known and read. The poet was born at Cockermouth on the 7th April, 1770. His father was an attorney, and law agent to Sir James Lowther, afterwards Earl of Lonsdale. His early school life was spent at Cockermouth, or with his mother's relations at Penrith. In his ninth year he was sent to Hawkshead School, where, he tells us in his autobiography, "one of the ushers taught me more Latin in a fortnight than he had learnt the two preceding years at Cockermouth." Let us hope for the reputation's sake of his early teachers, that when the poet wrote the above he was but using the license which everyone concedes to poetry. It was while at this school he wrote his first verses, in obedience to a task imposed upon him by his master.
In 1787 he entered St. John's College, Cambridge, of which his uncle, Dr. Cookson, had been a fellow, and in 1791 he obtained his B.A. degree. He was at this period an enthusiastic republican; and whilst on a tour through France, about the time of the Revolution, he was only prevented from precipitating himself into the struggle by his speedy return to England in 1792, just before the execution of Louis XVI. He took up his abode in the south of England, and, in conjunction with his friend, Raisley Calvert, a Cumberland gentleman, he commenced elaborating a scheme for the publication of a periodical, The Philanthropist, devoted to the advocacy of republican opinions. The scheme came to nought. Wordsworth's pecuniary resources at this time were very limited, and it was necessary that he should qualify for some profession which would render him independent of the charity of his relatives. He purposed studying for the law, proposing to support himself in the interim by writing political articles for the newspaper press.
At this time his friend, Raisley Calvert, died, bequeathing to him 900, that he might cultivate his poetical talents. He relinquished the idea of studying for the law, and devoted himself entirely to poetry. He removed to a rural retreat in Dorsetshire, and soon produced his poem "Salisbury Plain; or, Guilt and Sorrow." His next work was a tragedy, called "The Borderers," which the managers of Covent Garden Theatre unhesitatingly rejected.
In 1797 he made the acquaintance of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The two became fast friends, and in 1798 "Lyrical Ballads," the work of their joint pens, was published, for the copyright of which Wordsworth received 30 guineas. The poems made no impression on the public, though the first piece was Coleridge's "Ancient Mariner." The publisher lost by the work, and presented the copyright to the authors.
After a tour in Germany, Wordsworth took up his residence at Grasmere. Here also lived, or visited, Coleridge, Southey, De Quincey, Professor Wilson, and other kindred spirits, and to this congregation of poetic talent, Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review, applied in derision the epithet "Lake School." Wordsworth and his friends struggled on against the adverse criticisms of the Review, and the indifference of an apathetic public, until 1813, when the genius of the Lake poets began to be recognised. In this year he received the appointment of Distributor of Stamps in the County of Westmorland. The duties of the office were light, and could be discharged by deputy, and the salary 500 a year.
His first elaborate work, the "Excursion," was published in 1814, of which Jeffrey wrote "This will never do." "The White Doe of Rylstone," founded on a tradition of Bolton Abbey, followed. "Peter Bell," the "Waggoner," "Sonnets on the River Duddon," "Ecclesiastical Sonnets," and "Memorials of a Tour on the Continent," were next published.
In 1844 he received a pension of 300, and the following year was appointed poet laureate on the death of Southey. He died on the 23rd April, 1850, at Rydal Mount, where he had resided for many years. His mortal remains lie in the churchyard of Grasmere, near those of his children, and his friend Hartley Coleridge. After his death, was published "The Prelude," an autobiographical poem, written forty-five years previously.
Various and contradictory are the opinions of writers, as to the place Wordsworth shall hold in the roll of fame. By his admiring friends he has been unduly lauded and placed in the topmost storey of the poetic temple, along with Shakespeare and Milton; by others his poems have been unjustly criticised, and depreciated below their true worth. "He lived for the art of poesy, and that art was entire mistress of his thoughts, ever centred upon nature, recognising from time to time the tiniest and tenderest forms of life, or the ministrations and dispositions of men, or dwelling with a seer's eye on the everlasting hills, and the great heavenward of the universe. Probably his forte lay in investing the minutest details of nature with an atmosphere of sentiment peculiarly his own." (B), quoting Dr. Lonsdale Worthies of Cumberland, at the end.



19 June 2015

Steve Bulman