Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archæol.

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through the whole of that reign, that is, to 1272. The



Alston mines must, at that time, have been very rich, for
£2,154 of that age represents the large sum of £10,000 of
our money. Assuming that the lessees realised one-half of
that sum for themselves, and paid a like amount in wages
to their workmen and for mining apparatus — a moderate
estimate of their expenditure — the annual produce of the
mines will be represented by the sum of £20,000. The
total rental of the Alston Moor estates, which were then
held under lease by Nicholas Vipont, was £20 — equal to
£100 of our money — or only about i-200th part of the an-
nual value of the mines. We have the authority of Hume
for stating that the annual revenue of the Crown in the
reign of Henry III. was less than 60,000 marks, or £40,000,
a sum which was less than double the value of the ore
raised in the Alston mines. The facts just cited are suffi-
cient also to account for the interest which the Kings of
England took in the lead mines, and for the privileges
which they granted to the miners. These privileges are
gone into by Hodgson, and need not be reproduced here ;
the charter was frequently renewed.

Hodgson infers from the wording of the charter that the
King had no other mine in Cumberland, than that of Alston.
He also tells us that among the other liberties which the
miners enjoyed was. one which gave serious trouble to the
landowners and farmers. They were allowed to cut down
the trees, and to use the wood in the mines. Such a
liberty as this was a fruitful source of disputes. A case of
dispute is instanced by Hodgson — " In the year 1290,
Patric of the Gill, and other twenty-six miners were in-
dicted by Henry Whitby, and Joan his wife, for cutting
down their trees at Alston, by force of arms, and carrying
them away." The defence set up by the miners was that
they enjoyed the privilege, granted to them by their lord
the King, of cutting clown the wood, to whomsoever it
might belong, which was nearest to the silver vein, and of
taking as much of it as they pleased, to roast and smelt the



ore, to build and to hedge, to give to the agents in lieu of
wages, and to the rich in order that they might distribute
it among the poor. They also affirmed that the lords of
the woods had no right, after that they (the miners) had
begun the work of cutting down, to sell or give away any of
it, excepting for reasonable needs, and that they had enjoyed
the liberty from immemorial time. Edward III., in 1350,
wishing to ascertain what were the liberties, customs, and
immunities which the miners of Alston and their prede-
cessors had enjoyed, commissioned Thomas de Seton and
John de Mowbray to institute an inquiry; who thereupon
empanelled a jury at Penrith for that purpose. The jury
found that the miners dwelt together in their Shells, and had
the liberty of choosing from among themselves one coroner
and one bailiff, who was called the King's sergeant. The
coroner had cognizance of all pleas concerning felonies,
debts, and all other matters concerning themselves, and had
the power of determining cases. The bailiff was em.
powered to enforce the decisions of the coroner. There
was, however, a proviso to the effect that the miners ceased
to enjoy their privileges when they ceased to dwell together
in Shelis. The word Shelis is obviously the root of the
name Shieling or Shielding, or Shield, which occurs so fre-
quently in Alston Moor, as, for instance, in Fore Shield,
Lovelady Shield, Crag Shield, and Shield Hill. Some
time previously to the year 1359, the Carlisle lessees had
either surrendered or forfeited their rights in the mines,
for a German, named Tilman, was then in possession of
them. Hodgson conjectures that the mines had, previously
to this date, been worked by the Germans. There is a
strong probability that Tilman brought over with him a
colony of his own countrymen and settled them in Alston
Moor. Five centuries of leadminirig, and intermarriage with
the native stock, have, we think, not entirely obliterated
in their descendants all traces of their origin. The Alston-
ians are still somewhat tall in stature and large in limb,


Alston. 15

and they are also, we think, fairer in complexion than the
people of West Cumberland. The labouring classes of
Alston Moor are distinguished for their thrift, cleanliness,
and self-respect, virtues in which the Germans excel.
They, out of their scanty means, manage — though strangers
cannot understand how — to dress respectably, keep clean
houses and bright firesides.

The change of lessees was probably followed by a change
of market, the Germans sending their lead, or lead-ore, by
way of Stanhope or Hexham, to Newcastle, whence it was
shipped to the Continent. Alston was thus separated from
Carlisle and brought into close connection with Newcastle
— a connection which has never since been broken. In
1414, the mines came into the possession of William
Stapleton. In 1468, Edward IV. granted to Richard,
Earl of Warwick, and John, Duke of Northumberland, and
others, all his mines of gold and silver ; and again on
March 23rd, 1475, the King granted to his brother, the
Duke of Gloucester, Henry, Earl of Northumberland, and
others, the mine of Fletchers. This " old mine of Fletch-
ers, or Fletcheras, was situated near Gerrard's Gill, now
called Garrigill." It might with perfect propriety have
been called the " Old Man of Fletchers," the expression
" Old Man " being generally applied by miners to an old
working. If a miner in driving a level, or a drift, or in
cutting a cross-cut, or in putting up a rise, or in sinking a
sump, or in taking up a stoup, or in breaking down a head-
ing, suddenly opens into an old working, he tells his friends
that he has met with the Old Man.

Towards the end of the sixteenth century, the Alston
estates, together with the mines, became the property of
the Hyltons of Hylton Castle, Sunderland. In 1621,
Hylton, the Lord of the Manor, being desirous of providing
his daughter with a marriage portion, raised the requisite
sum by granting leases for 1,000 years of the several tene-
ments upon his Alston estates, reserving to his family the



right of working the lead and other mines on payment of
damages to the lessees. His successor, finding that the
mines were not remunerative, and supposing that they
were exhausted, sold the property for £1,500 to the Rad-
cliffes of Dilston. The story of the rebellion of 1715, and
of the forfeiture to the Crown of his estates by James Rad-
cliffe, Earl of Derwentwater, is well known, and does not
need to be repeated here. In 1734, the Derwentwater es-
tates were settled upon the Greenwich Hospital, to which
they now belong.

A history of lead-mining during the last century and a
half, which should embrace an account of the veins disco-
vered and of the wealth found in them — of the improve-
ments made on the washing floor and in the smelting house,
of the companies formed, and of the men who have risen
to distinction in connection with mining — of the changes
wrought in the condition of the miners and in the appear-
ance of this dale, would furnish matter enough for a small
volume. I do not propose to do more than mention a few
of the more important facts. After the settlement of the
Alston estates upon the Greenwich Hospital, Adam Wil-
kinson of Nentsbury Hall became the lessee of the Nent-
head Mines, and the Earl of Carlisle of the Garrigill Mines.
The latter speculation cannot have been fortunate, for the
earl soon abandoned the Garrigill Mines. The mines then
opened in Garrigill were those known by the names of
Browngill, Tyne Bottom, and Fletcheras. The lease was
taken up by a Derbyshire gentleman named Gilbert. He
also soon surrendered it.

Whilst these changes were taking place a company was
being formed which was destined to develope the mineral
resources of Teesdale and Alston to an extent hitherto
unknown. A north-country Quakeress, when attending a
meeting of that religious body in London, called the atten-
tion of the gentlemen present to the great need of employ-
ment in the mining dales of the North of England, and



expressed her belief that those mines abounded in lead ore,
which, on being discovered, would not only give employ-
ment to the people, but be a source of wealth to their
employers. She appealed alike to their philanthrophy and
to the spirit of commercial enterprise which she believed
animated them. A company was formed, which was after-
wards known as the London Lead Company. The atten-
tion of the directors was not immediately turned towards
Alston Moor. They commenced operations elsewhere —
apparently in Teesdale. When, however, Adam Wilkinson
surrendered the lease of the Nenthead mines, and Mr.
Gilbert the lease of the Garrigill Mines, the London Lead
Company took up the abandoned leases, and carried on the
mines with varying success until 1882, when the directors
sold their interest in Alston Moor to the Nenthead and
Tynedale Lead and Zinc Company. The works of this
Quaker or London Company were always conducted with
a deep regard for the physical and moral well-being of
their workpeople. The directors provided free education
for the young, medical attendance for the sick, and estab-
lished a fund for the relief of the disabled. Other compan-
ies have developed the resources of those portions of the
Greenwich Hospital estates, which were not occupied by
the London Company.

Lead ore does not occur in the form of strata like coal ;
neither is it diffused through reefs of primary rock in the
form of particles like gold. It is found in mineral veins in
the form of deposits. Experience has shown that deposits
of ore are not only irregular in the manner of their occur-
rence, but that they vary greatly in extent. A succession
of deposits extending to a long distance, and containing
an immense quantity of ore has been found in some veins ;
in other veins only one deposit has been discovered, whilst
many veins have yielded nothing in return for the money
expended in trying them. There is no science of lead-
mining. The saying that " It is only by trying the ground



that ore is found," is as true to-day as ever it was. Our
great grandfathers knew almost as much about lead-mining
as we know. They knew that east and west veins are
more productive than north and south veins ; that the most
productive veins have little throw; that rich deposits of ore
are sometimes found at the points where veins cross each
other, or towards which they converge ; and that the lime-
stones are the most productive strata. We know little
more. The most intelligent miner amongst us cannot tell
whether or not any particular vein of average strength and
moderate throw will prove remunerative. His knowledge
of it amounts to probability, not to a certainty. It may or
may not contain ore in the great limestone. Hence it is
that so many fortunes have been made and so many lost in
lead-mining, that poor men have been suddenly enriched,
and rich men impoverished. Most of the rich depqsits of
ore were " finds." Until they were actually discovered no
one was aware of their existence. Many stories might be
told of the way in which trials have been made, and aban-
doned as abortive by one company, which, on being re-
sumed by another company, have immediately proven to
be very profitable. The first company were within a yard,
or a fathom, of the deposit, but not being aware of their prox-
imity to a mass of wealth which would have enriched every
shareholder, they abandoned the mine in despair after
spending all their capital. For a while the mine stood
still. Then operations were resumed by another company
and the deposit was discovered. This uncertainty about
lead-mining is not an unmixed evil; we are not sure whe-
ther it an evil at all, but a blessing in disguise. If the
deposits of ore which have been dug out of the Alston
Moor mines had occurred in regular order, and according
to any known law, they would have been exhausted long
ago. There would have been a short period of great pros-
perity in the mining districts of Alston, Weardale, and
Teesdale, followed by a complete and permanent collapse



of the lead-mining industry, and there would have been
less scope for the exercise of skill and enterprise. It is
undoubtedly true that lead-mining is a hazardous specula-
tion for capitalists ; but it is equally true that the average
rate of interest upon the capital invested has hitherto been
as high as the average rate upon the capital invested in
the other industries of this country.

The richest lead mine in proportion to its extent which
has been discovered in Alston Moor was the one at Hud-
gill Burn. In one year eighty workmen raised 12,000
bings of ore in this mine, which, at £4 10s. per bing — a
moderate price for the time — was worth £54,000. The
richest vein is the one known as the Rampgill vein. In
the Greenwich Hospital manor this vein has yielded 300,000
bings of ore, besides a large quantity in its eastward course
through Mr. Beaumont's property. The total value of the
ore obtained from the Rampgill vein has probably fallen
very little short of £2,000,000.

In 161 1 the Alston mines were surveyed and reported to
be almost exhausted. But in 1767 the yield of ore was
larger than it had ever been before, amounting to 24,500
bings, which were sold for £77,160.

Of the inventions for facilitating the washing of lead ores,
and of the discoveries in the metallurgy of lead, we shall
mention only the crushing mill and the Pattinson process.
The crushing of lead ore was formerly done with the hand-
bucker — a tool which was made of a piece of iron, oblong
in shape, measuring about four inches in length, and three
inches in breadth, by three-quarters of an inch in thickness,
and weighing from five to seven pounds. The under sur-
face of the oblong was plated with steel ; upon the upper
surface was fixed an eye, into which the shaft or handle
was fitted. This tool was wielded by boys often to fifteen
years of age. A quantity of pickings — mixed pieces of ore,
so called because they were picked out of the grate by the
washer-boys — having been placed upon the knockstone, a



boy who stood in front of the stone crushed them with his
bucket. The crushing is now done by a machine called
the grinder or crushing mill. There is no need to describe
it, since most of you are acquainted with it. We do not
know who invented this mill, but we know that it was in-
troduced into Alston Moor from the Lake district by Mr.
Utrick Walton. Only those who have seen boys at work
with the backer, slowly and painfully reducing the pickings
— some of which were very hard — to the consistency of fine
gravel or sand, can fully appreciate the benefit conferred
upon miners by the invention of the crushing mill. A
great saving of time and hard labour has been effected by
this and other improvements in washing apparatus. The
work which formerly required the labour of two men and
eighteen boys, can now be done by two men and four boys.
In 1829, Mr. Hugh Lee Pattinson, a native of Alston,
discovered the process for desilverising lead which is now
known throughout the civilised world as the Pattinson
process. By the old process the separation of the silver
from the lead was very imperfectly done ; by the new, or
Pattinson process, the separation is almost perfect, the
quantity of silver left in the lead being very minute indeed.
The new process is much quicker than the old, and there-
fore, less expensive. Formerly, if the proportion of silver
in combination with one ton of lead was less than eight
ounces it would not repay the cost of extraction. Hence
the reason why many of the old smelting houses were with-
out refining apparatus, no attempt being then made to
refine a large proportion of the lead. But now, if the pro-
portion of silver to lead is as much as two ounces of the
former to one ton of the latter the refining can be done
with profit. These facts show the superiority of the Pat-
tinson process over the one formerly in use.


Art. III. — Why Alston is in the Diocese of Durham, and
in the County of Cumberland. By R. S. Ferguson,

Read at that place, July 10th, 1884.

THE parish of Alston is situate, locally, in the Franchise
of Tindale ; it is the most southerly parish of the
deanery of Corbridge, once part of the diocese of Durham ;
but now, since 1882, part of the bishopric of Newcastle.
It lies on the eastern water-shed of England, and its rivers,
the Nent, the Ale, the Blackburn, the Gilderdale-burn,
and the South Tyne pour their waters into the North Sea.
and not into the Solway Frith, as do the rivers of the rest
of Cumberland : it lies, where I wish Carlisle did, at the
back of the Helm Wind : its inhabitants speak a different
language from what we do in the rest of Cumberland —
to give but one instance, — what we call a beck they call a
burn, and you may note on the Ordnance map of our route
to-morrow that the streams running east from Hartside
Fell, are all burns : these running west are all becks : its
parish church is dedicated to a Saint to whom no church
in the diocese of Carlisle is dedicated, viz : to S. Augustine :
it naturally, that is by all the laws of geography, belongs
to the county of Northumberland, from which county alone
is it accessible without crossing a mountain pass. Yet
the parish of Alston is part of the county of Cumberland, to
which it has access only over a col, whose summit, as we
shall painfully learn to-morrow, is 1,900 feet above the
level of the sea.

This is no modern anomaly : had it been a thing of yes-
terday, done by a modern act of Parliament, I might have
groaned, but I should not have wondered at it, or at any-
thing in these days, when new bishops and new archdea-
cons grow up, like mushrooms, in districts defined by a



railway time table, to the utter confounding of ancient
historical boundaries and ancient historical associations !
But this is a time honoured anomaly : in 1292, at a trial at
Carlisle, there was produced proof that William de Saham
and John de Metingham, justices itinerant, with the sheriffs
of Cumberland and Westmorland, had made a perambulation
between Aldeneston and Tynedale, and found by the oaths
of knights and other good men that the manor moor and
waste of Aldeneston, were wholly in Cumberland. The
Valor Ecclesiasticus of Pope Nicholaus IV., made in
1291, shows that Alston was then in the diocese of Durham.
So we thus have proof that in the 13th century, or 600
years ago, there prevailed this same anomalous condition
of things that exists to this day. In seeking to elucidate
its origin, we must go into somewhat obscure questions,
relating to the early history of the Borders.

To avoid prolixity and the retelling of an oft told tale,
I will, for this evening, assume that this Society is a learned
one, and that its members have availed themselves of the
many opportunities which have been presented to them of
becoming acquainted with their early history.

On the dismemberment of the great kingdom of Northum-
bria by the Danes, in the 9 th century, Carlisle and the dis-
trict round it, or Carliol, fell neither to English nor Danish
rule. It turns up incorporated with Strathclyde proper,
and with Galloway under the name of Cumbria. In 924
occurred the events which brought about the Commend-
ation to England of Scotland and Strathclyde, when not only
Northumbria, including the Lothians but the Scots and
Picts of Scotland, and the Britons of Cumbria chose
Edward the King of the English, to be "Father and Over-
lord.'" In 945, Dunmail, " the last king of rocky Cumbria "
fell out with his overlord, Eadmund the Magnificent, king
of the English, who at once took his kingdom from him
and granted it, in 945, to Malcolm I., king of Scotland, as
a feudal benefice in the strictest sense. Until Cumbria was



dismembered, it continued in the possession of the royal
line of Scotland, held as a fief under the English king,
either by the king of Scotland himself, or by a near rela-
tion, usually by the Tanist or proximate heir.

For many years nothing is on record relating to Cumbria,
except that in A.D. iooo it was laid waste by the English.
In the middle of the nth century both Cumbria and
Strathclyde were in the hands of Malcolm Caenmore, but
about 1070 Gospatrick, Earl of Northumberland, severed
the district of Carlisle, or all Cumbria south of the Solway,
from Malcolm's dominions, and handed it over to Dolphin,
supposed to be the Earl's son. In 1092 the Red King
came north with a large army, drove out Dolphin, and
made the district of Carlisle part of the English kingdom.
Henry I. made it an English bishopric and an English
earldom, but he reassumed the earldom, and then split the
earldom of Carleolum, the English barony of Kendal, and
the strip that intervened between them, into two counties,
Carliol and Westmorland, and these two counties are
accounted for by their sheriffs, in the oldest Pipe Roll
known, — the solitary one of 31 Henry I [1130-1] . In this
Pipe Roll the burgesses of Carlisle render an account into
the Exchequer of 100s. for the old rent of the silver mine ;
and in the same year William the son of Hildret, the
sheriff of Carlisle, or Carliol, also accounts to the Ex-
chequer for the rent of the silver mine for "this past year."
That this silver mine was at Alston is proved by sub-
sequent records which show that in the books of the
Exchequer the silver mine at Alston, and those in the
vicinity, stood as the Silver Mines of Carlisle, a nomenclature
which would naturally arise through the rent being ac-
counted for by Carlisle officials.

We thus have, from the very earliest time of his making
an appearance in history, the sheriff of Carleol, or Cum-
berland, dealing with the rents of the mine at Alston, and
Alston appears ever since to have been part of this county.



Was then Alston part of the British kingdom of Cum-
bria ? No : positive evidence exists that it was not.
When Edward I. was considering his claims upon Scot-
land, he directed the various religious houses throughout
the kingdom to furnish him with all the information in
their possession, historical or documentary, bearing on the
ancient relations between England and Scotland. Among
the returns from the monastery of Carlisle is the following
statement as to the boundaries of the kingdom of Cumbria
at the time of its dismemberment circa 1070. That district
was called Cumbria, which is now included in the bishoprics of
Carlisle, Glasgow, and Whitheme, together with the country
between the bishopric of Carlisle and the river Duddon. As
there is no pretence for saying that Alston was ever in
the bishopric of Carlisle, we have here positive proof that
it never was part of the British kingdom of Cumbria,
which was dismembered in 1070. Yet in 1130-1, or sixty
years later, we find the sheriff of Carliolum, or Cumber-
land, dealing with its revenues, or at any rate with the
revenues of its mines.

How comes this ? We must turn cur attention to the
district in which Alston is geographically and ecclesiasti-
cally situate; the district on the eastern side of the great
water-shed, while Cumbria was on the western. In 1130-1
that district was not, as now, in the county of Northum-
berland : between the counties of Cumberland and North-
umberland there then intervened the franchises of Tyndale
and of Hexham, in which the chief lords had all taxes and
civil jurisdiction, and the King of England's writs could
not run within them. The franchise of Hexham belonged
to the Archbishop of York; with it we have nothing to do,
but it was not made part of the county of Northumberland
until 1572. The franchise of Tyndale [comprising the
parishes of Alston, Knaresdale, Kirkhaugh, Whitfield,
Simonburn, and part of Haltwhistle] owned the king of
Scotland for its chief lord, who held it of the English



crown ; it was not made part of the county of Northum-
berland until 1495. For the origin and history of the
franchise, and how the king of Scotland came to own
estates and seignorial rights in England, I must fefer you
to Hodgson's Northumberland; but the king of Scotland
held this, not as a part of his kingdom of Scotland, but as
an estate in England, and he did homage for it to the king

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