Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archæol.

Transactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society (Volume vol 14 no 1) online

. (page 16 of 18)
Online LibraryCumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and ArchæolTransactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society (Volume vol 14 no 1) → online text (page 16 of 18)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

true Bishop Nicolson (1703-4) and Lord William Howard's House-
book use indiscriminately Over or Upper. But they are Over and
Nether in the Denton MSS (1610), in Speed's Map of Cumberland
(1610), Nicolson and Burn (1774), Hutchinson (1794), Lysons (1828),
and the Ordnance Map (1867). Whellan (i860) and the Lanercost
register use Upper; and High Denton only occurs in Brampton
Presbyterian register.

In this parish is situated Sir Walter Scott's Mumps Ha'. Nether
Denton burial register has the following entry: " 1717 Margt wife
of Thos Carrick of Monks Hall Dec 15". In other years the name
occurs in the register as Mumps Hall," and indeed is so styled on
Margaret Carrick's tombstone in Over Denton churchyard. We
may therefore perhaps regard " Monks Hall" as merely a guess on
the part of the then rector of Nether Denton, Thomas Pearson.
Margaret Carrick is stated on her tombstone to have died " in the
100 th year of her age". In the same churchyard lies her grand-
daughter "Margaret Teasdale of Mumps Hall who died May 5,
1777) a S ec ^ 98 years ". Tourists, misled by some of the guide books,
identify Margaret Teasdale with Meg Merrilies. But she (Mt
Teasdale) was the original of the landlady of the inn, called in the
novel Tibb Mumps, and in local tradition Meg of Mumps' Ha'.
Her burial is registered at Lanercost.

* Mumper = a beggar. Mumps Hall = Beggars' Hall. A cottage is not likely
to be a monks' hall, while it might be a beggars' hall.— R.S.F.




G Gilbanks, Curate: — "No. I, baptisms & burials 1700-1782,
marriages 1700-1753. No. II, baptisms & burials 1783-1812. No.
Ill marriages 1754-1812.

Whellan (p 676) : — "The Parish Registers extend over 200 years".

Mr Gilbanks, who resided at Lanercost, seems to have been
unaware that there was extant at Farlam an older book; now very
dilapidated, which in 1S32 or even in Whellan's time (i860) may
have dated from 1660. It is of parchment, has long been without a
cover, and now contains baptisms 1665-1724 and marriages 1672-1724.
It should be rebound.

The book regarded by Mr Gilbanks as No. I is for its first 24
years a copy of the last 24 years of the older book, in the hand-
writing of Mr Nicholas Reay, p. curate (1711-171S) of Cumwhitton,
rector of Nether Denton and p. curate of Farlam and of Over
Denton from 1718 to 1736. We have seen that the first 15 years of
the existing Nether Denton register are a copy made by Mr Reay
from an older book no longer extant ; and, seeing that he did not
copy the old Farlam register from its beginning, we must not assume
that he copied the Denton register from its beginning. We should
have been glad if he had copied all he found in both of them. But
as he did so much it would be ungracious to complain that he did
not do more. Nor, as he preserved the old Farlam register, may we
doubt that he also preserved the old Denton register, the loss of
which has probably occurred since his time. It is to be noticed
that his copy of the old Farlam register includes six years (1718-
1724) of the time when he was p. curate of Farlam. He resided at
Denton, and until 1724 left the Farlam register to be posted up by
an assistant curate. After making his copy he himself posted up
the register in the new book during the remainder (1724-1736) of
his incumbency.

In 1886 or thereabouts the late Mrs George Thompson of Farlam
Hall, observing the condition of the old register, undertook to copy
it from its beginning in 1665, and with exemplary perseverance
copied the whole of it down to its end in 1724, presumably unconscious
that a copy of its contents from 1700 to 1724, in the copper-
plate handwriting of Mr Reay, was in the parish chest, where it
had lain for 150 years.

Mr Reay, though included by the county historians in their lists
of the rectors of Nether Denton, is not mentioned by them as p.
curate of Farlam. They are capriciously defective in such matters.
Thus, while no Farlam incumbent later than Robert de Hayton
(1373) is mentioned by Hutchinson or by Nicolson & Burn, Whellan



has no record of any earlier than G Gilbanks (1786) except his

immediate predecessor whom he mentions as "Townley ". No

doubt the making even of an imperfect list, where the benefice was
formerly neither a rectory nor a vicarage, is not easy. But some ad-
ditional names may be supplied. Henry Gill often signs the transcripts
from 1674 to 1694, and Thomas Milburn in 1700-1, of whom Bishop
Nicolson in 1703 (May 7) says: "The present curate (Mr Milburn)
is an honest man, and deserves a better support " (Miscellany
Accounts, p. 4). Ten months later (February 26, 1703-4) we find
Richard Culcheth "endeavouring to hold " Farlam with three other
livings (ib, p. 143). Whether he succeeded in holding Farlam, and,
if not, who did hold it from 1704 to 1718, there is nothing either in
the register, the transcripts, or the county histories, to shew. The
succession continues thus, Nicholas Reay 1718-1736, Thomas
Fawcett 1736-1746, George Story 1746-1774, William Townley 1774-
1786, the last three of whom, as well as George Gilbanks, held
Lanercost and Over Denton with Farlam.

The transcripts begin in 1665, and except for the years 1673, 79,
80, 9O5 92-3, 1703, and 1719, are complete as far as I have examined
them, i.c, to 1736. Mr Reay, residing at Denton, did not for three
years (1718-20) himself write or sign them. When he did take them
in hand he never missed sending them.

The register may be consulted for information concerning the
ancient Farlam families of Bell, Bowman, and Milburn ; of which
only Bell now remains in the parish.

In 1670 the churchwardens in a lofty spirit of self-satisfaction
wrote : "As for answer to ye inquiries they are as sufficient as any
in the Barony - '. Not so in 1704, when two men are presented "for
refusing to give account of money collected for ye public use of ye
Parish ", another man " for refusing to give account of the Church
stock", another "for embezelling ye Church stock", and another
" for saying he would not come to be churchwarden ". Nor again
in 1724, when two men are presented "for profaning the Lord's
day by unlawful games & threatening the churchwarden when he
reprov'd them & told them they shd be presented for so doing in
saying that if he presented them they would be full of his flesh ".


R Rice, P. Curate: — "No. I, baptisms 1637-1730, burials and
marriages 1620-1730. No. II, baptisms to 1S11, burials to 1782.
No. Ill, marriages 1754-1811 ".

The Parish Registers Abstract- has a different summary of Mr

* Our local antiquaries may like to know that the Cumberland and Westmor-
land parts of the Parish Registers Abstract are among the books bequeathed by
the late Mr W Jackson F.S.A. to Tullie House.



Rice's return, viz.: — " Nos. I — III, baptisms 1637-1720, 1730-1812,
burials 1620-1810, marriages 1620-1753; interrupted by IV, burials
1782-1789. Nos. V & VI marriages 1754-1812". This looks like an
" amended return ", which I may have overlooked when copying the
returns in the British Museum. Or it may not have been deposited

Whellan (p 678) : — "The registers commence in 1620 ".

A valuable paper on " Hayton Parish Registers" was contributed
to these Transactions (ante iv, 425-456) in 1879 by Canon Dixon,
the well known church historian, vicar of Hayton 1875-1883.

He says that " the earliest remaining book carries on the three
events of life from 1622 down to 1722", and "is followed by a thin
paper book, half of which is taken up by churchwardens' accounts,
while the other half carries on the baptisms, marriages, and burials,
from 1722 to 1730; the third register, a parchment book in good
preservation, contains baptisms and burials from 1730 to 1810, and
marriages down to 1753 ".

Speaking of the oldest existing book Canon Dixon says: " It is a
book of paper, and has been very badly kept. The covers are gone,
the book itself is nearly broken through the middle, the beginning
and end are so dog-eared that little can be made of them. The
baptisms come first, and the first five or six leaves of them are
undecypherable through these causes " (p 426) ; which seems to
explain why the baptisms were reported by Mr Rice as beginning at
1620. Having had occasion many years ago to study this book for
several purposes I can fully substantiate Canon Dixon's description
of it. I have never seen a register in a more deplorable condition ;
which was the more to be regretted as its contents are very
interesting. Canon Dixon, lest it should go further to pieces, and
doubting whether it was possible to bind it, had a special case
made for it. In 1893, however, his successor (Rev T Wallace) had
it rebound, and the work has on the whole been remarkably well
done. But unfortunately the binder has cut away an important part
of a famous entry. The story of that entry I need not repeat, as I
have told it at some length in a paper entitled " Robert Bowman's
supposed baptismal register" (ante, v, pp 33-38). One sentence, how-
ever, I must quote: "After all its inspections, by Dr Barnes and
others, by successive vicars of Hayton, by myself when uncritically
glancing at it, and after certificated copies of it have been sent here
and there as the baptismal register of Robert Bowman, this much-
examined entry turns out to be no baptismal entry at all ; nor does
it mention the christian name or even the sex of the child to whom
it has reference. Let the reader examine it himself in the accom-


panying fac-simile " (ib, p 35). The fac-simile is a photograph of
the entry in question, at the foot of a page, ending with the words
" the birth of a child ", the bearing of which upon the alleged
longevity of Robert Bowman (119 years) is fully explained in the
paper. Well, those words will never again be seen in the register;
and, but for the photograph, it would be open to question whether
I accurately observed them.

Among names occurring all the way down the register a foremost
place is taken by the Grahams of Edmond Castle; and "most of the
familiar surnames of the district, as Milbourne, Noble, Robson,
Thompson, Knight, Dixon, Railton, Mulcaster, Hill, Bird, and
Xewton, occur from the very first " (ante, iv, p 426).

Availing himself of "chance references" in the register "to deter-
mine approximately the succession of p. curates or ministers, and
the dates of their cures", incompletely recorded by the other county
historians, Canon Dixon says: "Thomas Knight was curate in 1698,
and still remained in 1716. George Hodgson succeeded him; he
was a very bad writer, or at least used very bad ink. Christopher
Rickerby was curate in 1698, and still remained in 1716. Hugh
Browne probably succeeded him in or before 1732, and remained to
1755. Edward Wills began in 17565 a pluralist, holding Cumwhitton
with Hayton, and was buried in 1S04". Edward Wills was not the
only p. curate of Hayton whowas a pluralist. Christopher Rickerby
must have been either the rector of Castle Carrock or his son the p,
curate of Cumrew ; and George Hodgson — whose bad ink, by the
way, but not very bad writing, may be seen in Cumrew register, in
which, when occasionally taking duty for Mr Calvert, he wrote and
signed the memoranda of burials in woollen — was vicar of Ainstable
from 16S0 to 1737.

This register, alone among the registers in Brampton deanery, is
extant from a time earlier than the Restoration; but, unlike most of
the pre-Restoration registers, it does not contain a single trace of
the changes in registration ordered by the Barebones Parliament.
Nor can any indication be detected in its pages of disturbance arising
from the Civil Wars and Commonwealth. It pursues the even tenor
of its way just as if no such events had occurred.

The Hayton transcripts begin at 1665, forty three years later
than the register, but not on that account to be considered useless.
For "instance, it was from not finding Robert Bowman's alleged
baptismal entry in the transcript that I was led to examine more
particularly the entry in the register, with what result has been
stated above.

The story of that entry, as told by me vol v of these Transactions,



I have said that I need not here repeat. But I must add to it some-
thing which further acquaintance with Brampton deanery registers
has brought to light. When the subject of Robert Bowman's alleged
abnormal longevity was discussed, at considerable length 30 years
ago, in Notes and Queries,'''' great stress was laid on the age of his
younger brother Thomas, who died at Grinsdale in 1810 at the re-
puted age of 99 or as some asserted 103. Robert, buried at Irthington
in 1823, was sa 'd on the authority of his supposed baptismal entry
at Hayton in 1705, to have died at the age of 119. "If Robert
Bowman's age be a delusion and a snare", wrote one of his ad-
vocates, " then is also the age of his brother Thomas. The two
must stand or fall together ". To this statement that " the two
must stand or fall together " the late Mr Thorns assented. But,
referring to the Hayton entry of 1705, he said: "If this be the
baptism of tbe centenarian Robert, the same register would in all
probability have contained the register of his brother Thomas, said
to have been born in 1707 or 171 1 ". That the baptismal register of
Thomas is not found at Hayton is not strange, because, as I have
shewn, neither is Robert's baptismal register found there. But
what is strange is this, that, whereas it was stated that " after
searching the registers of four adjacent parishes no entry of any
kind has turned up to shew that any person of the same christian
name and surname" as Robert Bowman " has been baptized at a
later date, i.e. within a reasonable time ", it does not seem to have
occurred to any of the searchers to examine the register of the
adjacent parish of Farlam, in which they would have found

1726 Robert son of John Bowman of Low Bow Bank bapt
October 23

1728 Thomas son of John Bowman of Low Bow Bank bapt
July 7.
These seem to fulfil the requirements of the case, especially when
we bear in mind that Robert Bowman named his eldest son John,
presumably in accordance with the Cumberland custom of naming
an eldest son after his paternal grandfather; from which it appears,
on hypothesis of these Farlam entries relating to the reputed cen-
tenarian and his brother, that Robert died aged 97, and Thomas 82.

John Topping, Vicar: — "No. I (bound), baptisms, burials, and
marriages, 1704-1723, imperfect between 1723 to 1732. No. II
(bound), baptisms, burials, and marriages, 1732-1812".

* For report of which see Longevity of Man by W. J. Thorns, pp. 193-207.



Xo. I, the leaves of which are of paper, is now " imperfect", not
only "between 1723 to 1732", having also a gap, due to loss of
leaves, from May 17, 1715, to January 2, 1719/20. The imperfection
" between 1723 to 1732" is a gap, due to the same cause, from 1723
to 1729. From 1729 to 1732 there is nothing missing. The leaves
are now all loose from the leathern cover, which still remains.
They are not of equal size, those from 1729 to 1732 being longer and
broader than those from 1704 to 1723. The inference is that the
leaves from 1704 to T723, and probably to 1729, belonged to a book
which began, perhaps far back, in the 17th century, but had lost
most of its leaves when Mr Topping sent in his return in 1832. A
few interpolated entries, dated 1691, 1692, and 1700, indicate that
the loss of earlier leaves than 1704 occurred not long after that date.
A note dated April 6, 1729, says : "This Register book was bought
att the charge of the Parish of Irthington, price 7 shillings " ; and
in the churchwardens' account "for the year ending Easter 1729"
there is this item, " Paid for a register 10 shillings ". These two
memoranda probably refer to the same book ; but to what book ?
The few leaves, containing the entries from 1729 to 1732, cannot be
regarded as a book, costing even 7 shillings. I suggest that the
book bought in 1729 was not used until 1732, and that the section
of paper leaves used during that period was at some subsequent
time sewn into the old book, where Mr Topping found them in 1832,
since which time it, as well as the earlier leaves, have become loose
from the cover. They are so frayed all round the edges that it
would be difficult to bind them ; but, with the example of the Hayton
register before us, it cannot be regarded as impossible. The vicar
from 1692 to 1723 was John Gosling. There is nothing to complain
of in his writing. But his Latin was peculiar, e.g. " nupciated " for
" married ".

The book bought in 1729 I take to be Mr Topping's No. II, which
is of parchment, and complete as far as its contents are concerned,
but in need of repair, as some of its sections are becoming loose.
Mr Topping's description of it is very inaccurate. Its marriage
entries, as one would expect to find, cease at the end of the year 1753 ;
and its baptismal and burial entries both end in October 1783, the
book being then full. The three departments of registration in this
book are kept separate, except from 1763 to 1771, when the events
are entered as they occurred. The writing in those years (1763-
1771) is that of William Townley, curate to John Stamper, who also
held Walton. Mr Townley's handwriting is very familiar to me, as
he had previously been curate of Brampton, and from 1775 to 1785
was p. curate of Lanercost and Farlam, in each of which parishes



he posted up the registers with great care and neatness, though
crowding the entries too closely together, and too much addicted to
flourishing of capital letters. The Irthington vicars during the
period of No. II were Matthew Wilkinson 1731-1745, James Farish
(1745-1763) who was also rector of Bewcastle, and John Stamper
who held Irthington and Walton 48 years.

No. Ill, which Mr Topping seems not to have noticed, or at all
events did not report, contains baptisms and burials from 1783 to

No. IV, also unreported by Mr Topping, is the separate book for
marriages ordered by Lord Hardwicke's Act, but not one of the
authorised books. It is of the same kind as the separate marriage
registers for 1754-1812 at Castle Carrock and Cumrew, but somewhat

An important person in Irthington during the latter half of last
century was one Lachlan Murray, of whose antecedents nothing was
ever known on this side of the border beyond the fact of his having
come from Scotland with Prince Charlie's army in 1745; for he was
a mysterious man and very reserved about his private history.
Whether he left the army during the siege of Carlisle, or during the
retreat from Derby, certain it is he did not return to Scotland, but
settled himself at Irthington, where he kept a school, taught land-
surveying and the classics, became parish clerk, was twice married,
and died in 1801, aged 80 years. The worst thing known about him
is that he could not, at all events did not, prevent his wife (whether
the first or second tradition does not specify) who kept a grocer's
shop from using the leaves of the parish register as wrappers for
tea and tobacco. The authority for these particulars concerning
him was the late Mr Thomas Graham, of Beanlands, Irthington,
whose grandmother, from whom he heard the story, died in 1838,
aged 95. Mr Graham, whose fore-elders, alternating all the way
down as Thomas and David, had owned Beanlands (now owned by
his son) since 1607, often proved himself an invaluable depository
of local tradition.

Other names occurring in the register from its earliest extant
pages to the present time are Hetherington, Law, and Wannop.

The transcripts begin at 1669; and down to 1704, when the
register begins, 17 are missing. Thence to 1714 seven are missing.
But from 1714 to 1729 only one (1728) is missing, so that both the
gaps in the register, except for the year 1728, can be filled.

Geo Gilbanks, P. Curate: — •' Nos. I — IV, baptisms & burials,
1684-1S12, marriages 1684-1753. Nos V & VI marriages 1754-
1812". Whellan


Whellan ip 6S5I : — "The parish registers commence in 1644".

Bishop Nicolson (p 57): — ''There's no register book (either here
or at Walton) of anything done in the parish before Mr Dickenson's
comeing among 'em, which was about Twenty years agoe''.

Mr Dickenson was p. curate of Lanercost and Walton from 16S1
to 1724. That no register was kept here before his time is
unlikelv; nor need we understand Bishop Nicolson, who visited
Lanercost in 1703, as meaning to state more than that no such
earlier register book was extant in 1703.

The oldest existing book begins, not in 1644 as stated by Whellan,
but in 1684 as reported by Mr Gilbanks; who, however, failed to
observe that only the baptismal entries begin in 16S4, the marriage
entries not begining till 1687, and the burial entries not till 1689.

The transcripts begin at 1666. Some of them for the period
1666-16S9 are missing ; but those for the years 1666-7-8, 70, 74, 76-7,
S2, S4, 86, and S8, are extant, each containing baptisms, burials, and

The churchwardens for the year ended March 24, 16S4/5, in their
answers to the bishop's inquiries, say : " We have a register book
of parchment in which are set down the names of all persons
baptized, married, and buried". This cannot be the book (No. I)
now extant, which is a paper book, containing for the first few years
no entries of marriages and burials, and headed "A true Register
of the names of children baptized for Leonard Coast p'ish 16S4 ",
as if originally intended only for baptisms. Moreover down to 1711
it is manifestly a copy.

From the foregoing data I draw the following conclusions, which
the reader may take for what he thinks them to be worth, viz : that
in 16S1 Mr Dickenson found here a book, which had been used by
his predecessors, and himself used it to 1684 for all purposes, thence
to 1687 only for burials and marriages, and thence to 16S9 only for
burials; meanwhile in 1684 he procured a "parchment book",
erroneously reported by the churchwardens as "containing baptisms,
burials, and marriages ", which at first he used only for baptisms,
but later on for all purposes; that in 1711, the old book having
disappeared, and the new parchment book being regarded, for
whatever reason, unsatisfactory, he procured the existing paper
book, into which he copied, or caused to be copied, all the entries
from the parchment book. On which points the Walton register,
presently to be dealt with, will throw further light.

Whellan is the only county historian who gives a list of the Laner-
cost p. curates, and that a very imperfect one, beginning with G
Storv, licensed in 1746. I therefore subjoin the names of some of



Mr Story's predecessors, recovered from the register and other
sources. Samuel Constantyne signs the transcript of 1666, and
William Birkett that of 166S. Bishop Nicolson's unpublished diary
supplies Thomas Bell licensed in 1679, and Win Dickenson licensed
in 1681, who died in 1724. Anthony Wilton, who signs the tran-
scripts in 1726 and 1728, was succeeded in 1730 by Thomas
Fawcett, who, as also Bell and Dickenson, held Walton with
Lanercost. Anthony Wilton from 1722 to 1731 was rector of
Kirklinton, and perhaps p. curate of Walton. Whether Fawcett
continued to hold Walton when Farlam and Over Denton were added
to his charge of Lanercost I have not yet been able to ascertain ;
nor whether Constantyne and Birkett held any other benefice with
Lanercost. George Cowper " curate " signs the transcript of 1667.

Farlam and Over Denton were held with Lanercost by Fawcett's
successors down to 1845. Lanercost, to this day a very large parish,
included in those times what is now the ecclesiastical parish of
Gilsland. The total area then of the parishes under their charge
was 44321 acres. The former prevalence of plurality in this deanery
was doubtless due to the poverty of the livings.

The form (Leonard Coast) in which the name of the parish
appears in the heading to the oldest existing register is one of many
variations of it in the early register and transcripts, due to the
liberty of spelling exercised in those days. But in the Lanercost
chartulary from the earliest times the name occurs as now spelt.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 16 18

Online LibraryCumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and ArchæolTransactions of the Cumberland & Westmorland Antiquarian & Archaeological Society (Volume vol 14 no 1) → online text (page 16 of 18)