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and the north boundary of Priorsdale.

It was in Gerrard's Gill that Mr. Hodgson says
that the Picts and Wallises were settled at an early
period. I suppose the Wallises were Cambrians or
ancient Britains, who, according to Julius Caesar,
had made some progress in civilization before the
invasion. As we have already pointed out, there are
no facts even to support a conjecture that they
occupied Alston Moor as a settled people before the


invasion of the Romans, or during their occupation.
They might, however, in small numbers, frequent
the country as hunters before and after the Romans
left. The ferocious Picts also possessed some
amount of civilization ; they buried and did not
burn their dead. They used drinking glasses and
made darts or javelins and lances, and occasionally
rode in chariots.* If the Picts did inhabit Garrigill
as a settled people, it is remarkable that no remains
of their glass vessels, &c., have ever been discovered,
nor even their places of sepulture ; and it is improb-
able that the Picts and Wallises would live
harmoniously together. The dialect of the inhabi-
tants and the little information we possess as to the
habits of the community in ancient times, I think
indicate that the ancient shieldings and the important
fence or fences were made by the Saxons who settled
in the country long before the Conquest.

From the memorial rolls it is clear that watches
had to be kept as a precaution against Scottish
raiders. When I was a boy my grandmother used
to tell me stories of the olden time. Most of these I
have forgotten. One, however, I well remember

* See Ritson's Annals of the Picts, page 120.


was, that during her grandfather's time, the family
was careful to arrange axes and other weapons at
the head of their beds, in order to be in readiness to
defend their property against the Scotch. The
family were living at Annetwalls in 1726, and how
long before that date I have not ascertained. The
country was in a very unsettled state about the time
of the rebellion of 1715.

Respecting the social state of the inhabitants in
past times, history is silent. In county histories the
principal subjects are the castle, hall, and the
church— the lord, the squire, and the parson, and all
that pertains to them. Of the manners and customs
of the common folk — the working bees of the
community — and things relating to their struggles
for existence, they give us very little information ;
and now it is probable that many written records
formerly in existence have perished. Mr. Nanson's
recently published article on the Alston memorial
records is a very interesting exception. Many of
the items in the rolls he only alludes to ; but from
those given it is evident that the inhabitants
possessed a great amount of home rule or self-


It was only in the beginning of the present century
that Garrigill parish was conneded with Alston in
the administration of the poor laws. Each division
of the manor colledled rates sufficient to defray the
cost of keeping their own poor. After this union the
Garrigill people were more heavily rated ; and for a
long time after they regretted that they gave consent
to the union. Formerly, the inhabitants of Garrigill
entertained a kind of horror of the ^Puir Hoiise,' and
it was considered a disgrace to a family for any of
their relations to be sent there. In consequence, the
poor rates were probably low.

The old people living formerly in Garrigill frequently
said, that in former times there was a closer
connexion between the parish of Garrigill and the
parish of Kirkland than with the parish of Alston.
What this connexion consisted in or how or when
formed, I have never been able to learn with certainty.
It is, however, very remarkable that the dead were
carried from Garrigill to be interred at Kirkland. I
was once informed by Mr. Thomas Millican, who was
the agent for Messrs. Fydell and Tufnell's Tynehead
Manor, that a corpse was taken from Garrigill, in the
depth of winter, to be interred at Kirkland. The





funeral party was overtaken with a snow storm, and
had to return home to save their Hves, leaving the
coffin on the top of Crossfell, where it remained for
a fortnight. When the storm subsided they brought
the corpse back to Garrigill and buried it in a piece
of glebe land. The Bishop of Durham having been
informed of this circumstance, ordered a portion of
the glebe land to be walled in, and then came and
consecrated it for a burial ground. I suppose this
happened about the middle of the seventeenth century,
or a few years later. Mr. Millican also informed me
that, for some years after this event, the registers of
baptisms and deaths were written on slips of paper,
and were put through an opening into a box, kept at
the Fox Inn. The box was occasionally opened by
a clergyman, and the registers sent to Durham. In
recent times, and probably in the olden time, the
marriages were celebrated at Alston. The ^weddeners,'
often a considerable number, rode on horseback, and
there was often much hard riding back to Garrigill.
This very remarkable circumstance of the pastoral
people in Garrigill parish burying their dead in
Kirkland parish, may throw some light on the
question why Alston Moor is in the County of


Cumberland. "The division of the kingdom into
counties, which, in common with many other of our
earher institutions, is commonly attributed to Alfred,
though it was probably of a date far anterior, was in
ancient times, chiefly of use in marking the limits of
different jurisdi(?tions. To each county belonged a
county court, which it was the duty of the thanes and
other freeholders to attend and do suits at ; though
it seems the thanes only took part in the administra-
tion of justice."* Had the county boundary been
fixed by royal authority, it is not probable that a
portion of upper Tynedale would have been assigned
to Cumberland, unless circumstances rendered it
imperatively necessary. Naturally it forms a portion
of Northumberland.

It would seem probable that the Anglo-Saxons,
who formed the fell-side village communities on the
west side of the Crossfell range of mountains, took
possession of the fertile land on the banks of the
Tyne river for summerings for their flocks of sheep
and cattle, and that shepherds resided in ' shells '
to attend to, and protect their flocks from wolves,
&c., until the autumn. A portion of one of the

* Brand's Dictionary. Art. County.


principal streams in Alston Moor is called Shield
Waters, and a number of farm houses are called
Shields. This migratory population would be
subject to the county jurisdiction connected with
their principal place of abode. Gradually residence
in these shields would become permanent, the popu-
lation still claiming the protection of the ancient
county courts to which they had been accustomed.
Whether they displaced the Picts or the Wallises,
or amalgamated with them, is not now determinable.
There were probably very few, if any, of these
ancient people. The desire to be interred at the
place of sepulture of their fathers is a natural one,
and sufficiently accounts for the practice of the
pastoral people of Garrigill parish to continue bury-
ing their dead at Kirkland, from very remote periods
of time. It does not appear to me to be improbable
that, in Saxon times, the inhabitants of Alston
parish also buried their dead on the west side of
Hartside. The erection of a church in connexion
with a burial ground, probably after the time of the
Conquest, would gradually occasion the abandon-
ment of this custom.

It may now be pointed out that the parishes of


Alston and Garrigill do not comprehend the whole of
the upper part of South Tynedale. The manors of
Kirkland with Skirwith, Ouseby and Addingham
extend considerably beyond the heavens water
division which separates the vales of the Eden and
Tyne. Further north, the manors of Heskew
and Renwick extend only to the heavens water
division. It is probable that this portion of Tyne-
dale, at least, was a portion of Cumberland when in
800 it was comprehended in Strathclyde and Gallo-
way, then called Cumbria — a kingdom of the ancient
Britons which ended in 945, after having been in
existence 600 years. The whole of this kingdom
was granted by Edmound the Anglo-Saxon king to
Malcolm, King of Scotland, as a feudal benefice in
the strictest sense — that is, he should be his ally
both by sea and land.*' It would, therefore, seem
probable that this portion of South Tynedale was
then in possession of the village communities of
Kirkland, Ouseby and Gamblesby ; and that the
North men had taken possession of these villages
before the grant was made to the King of Scotland
in 945. The first body of Saxons arrived in Britain

* See Ritson's Annals of Cumberland, page 205.


in 449, and in 547 they had estabhshed themselves
in the kingdom of Northumberland which compre-
hended Northumberland, Cumberland, Yorkshire,
Westmorland, and Lancashire. Soon after the last
date they had probably settled in the parishes of
Alston and Garrigill, where they were not much
interfered with by the Danes when, in 800, they
broke up the great kingdom of Northumberland.!
If the Picts came into Scotland about 270 or 296
from Norway, as some antiquarians suppose, and if,
as Mr. Hodgson affirms, they and the Wallises
occupied the dales of South Tynedale, it would
account for the Gill and Burn being united in the
name of small streams to which we have previously
alluded. The occupation of the dales of South
Tynedale 7nay have taken place by the different
races as follows.

1. By a race of men who used stone implements
at a very remote period, and probably when the
climate was milder than at the present time.

2. By the Cymbri as a hunting ground, who have
left no remains of their existence.

t It is remarkable that the word Beck, as the name of a small stream, does
not occur in Alston Manor. It, however, occurs thrice in that portion of
Tynedale, included in the manors of Ouseby and Addingham.



3. By the Picts and Wallises, after the Romans
abandoned Whitby Castle. (?)

4. By the Anglo-Saxons. The first settled com-
munity in the district.

5. By the Normans as property without displace-
ment of the Saxon population.

Hunder Bridge, or as it is now called Hundy
Bridge, in Gerrard's Gill, did not belong to Nicholas
de Vetriponte. It was granted by Hugh de Applebi
Clerk to Laurence de Vetriponte. The date of this
grant is not given by Hodgson. The name of Hugh
de Applebi does not occur in the list of the Rectors
and Vicars of St. Laurence and Bongate, Appleby.
Henry de Applebi held the living of Bongate in
1339. Nor are we informed how Hugh de Applebi
obtained possession of this portion of Alston Manor.
The grant to Laurence de Vetriponte was confirmed
by Nicholas de Vetriponte, who died in 1315. It is
possible that this portion of the manor had become
Bok or Bookland, and had descended to Hugh de
Applebi from Saxon times. It was held by William
de Vetriponte by homage to Robert, son of Nicholas.
On the 30th August, 1566, it was conveyed by
Richard Vipont (probably a descendant of Laurence,


the grantee under Nicholas) to Edward Musgrave,
who transferred it to Layton. During the latter
part of the last century only the Lowhouses portion
of this estate belonged to Mr Ricardson; considerable
portions of it had been sold to different persons.
Nearly all of them, however, passed into the
possession of the Greenwich Hospital by purchase
from the owners. Lowhouses was the Old Manor
House. It was rebuilt nearly sixty years ago.
Mr. Ricardson had a private road through the estate
on the line of the present Garrigill and Alston road.
Before the Earl of Carlisle and Co. obtained a grant
of mining ground from the Greenwich Hospital, an
agreement was made with Mr. Ricardson, who
possessed all the manorial rights. The Earl of
Carlisle and Co. obtained a grant of the minerals
of this estate from Mr. Ricardson, and they made a
level from Crossburn on the top of the Scar
limestone, which extended nearly to the Alston
and Garrigill road for proof of Hundy Bridge Vein.
This level was propped and lined with fine oak
timber, brought on the backs of ponies from the
Earl's estates in Cumberland. This estate com-
prehended all the district between the Tyne river


and the Old Fell dyke, and between Crossburn and
Garrigill Burn. There is a small portion on the
west side of the Tyne which gave the estate the
right of pasturage on the common land on the west
side of the Tyne river.

The number of shieldings and tenants in the
Nent and Corbrig-gate district at the time of
Nicholas de Vetriponte's death, does not differ much
from the number of tenements leased off by Henry
Hilton, as shown upon the old maps of the district.

In the above list there does not appear to have
been any shieldings in the Alston district, between
Nattras Gill and the Nent river. It is probable
that the freeholds near Alston Town had, by some
process, become book lands in Saxon times, and, in
consequence, were less affected by the introduction
of feudalism than the folk lands after the Conquest.
Sometimes a free and absolute ownership was con-
ferred by the terms of the book on the person on
whom the grant was made ; in some cases homage,
or service of some kind, was exacted. " As early as
the eighth century, grants were made recklessly out
of folk land in the North of England to persons who
professed the religious character merely to have the


grant without the burden of the ordinary secular
dues and services."*

Priorsdale is a large portion of the Manor of
Alston, called Presdale in ancient times. It was
given by Ivo, son of William de Vetriponte, the
original grantee, to the Priory of Hexham, to be
holden in 'frank alinoigiie ' or free lands of him and
his successors as of the demesne of that manor.
Alexander II. of Scotland [1214-1249], and Henry
III. of England [1216-1272], confirmed Ivo's grant.
It would appear that the validity of this grant was
afterwards disputed ; for there was a writ issued
against the Convent of Hexham for usurping a
franchise belonging to the king. The pleadings
were at Carlisle and afterwards at York, and they
established the religious houses' title to the estate.
The date of these assizes is not given by Hodgson.
At these trials the Priorsdale estate was shown to
consist of 92 acres of meadow and 2000 of pasture.
At that period the acre was not a well defined
quantity of land ; the acreage of Priorsdale far
exceeds these quantities. "The Black Book of
Hexham contains an account of all the possessions

* Pollock's Land Laws, page 25.


of that house prior to the dissolution of religious
houses ; and under the title of ' The Liberty of
Tindale, with Presdale and Aldenston Moor,' has a
Latin description of the boundary of this estate, of
which the following is an old translation : ' They
hold also Presdale and its several [joint tenancy] at
every time of the year ; and if any shall depasture
with any beasts at any time within the divided
pasture of Presdale, he ought to be attached at the
court of the prior and be justified. And it is
contained within these divisions : — beginning under
Esgillhead,sae heavens water divideth unto Edestone,
and from thence to Burnhopehead by Hard Road,
as the water divideth unto Burnpot Lane, and from
thence to Crokit burne head, and from the same
Crokit burne unto the water of the Tese, and sae
from the entrance of Crockit burne into Tese
ascending unto the top of Fiends Fell, and from
thence directly to Wakestaneghe, and from thence
unto the fountaine of Kekburn [Cashwell] wane,
from thence to Crossgill head, and from thence, over
thwart unto the east, unto Nunstones, and thence to
Cokeley Fell, and from thence descending by EUer-
burne even into the water of the Tine, and soe by


Tine unto Esgill foote, and from thence ascending
by Esgill unto Esgill head first named.' "

The Priory and Convent of Hexham shared the
fate of the monastic and religious houses in the time
of Henry VHI. The dissolution was resisted with
more pertinacity and courage than prudence.- And
they seem even to have influenced the Earl of Bedford
and one Downing to obtain a grant of Presdale from
the Crown in trust for themselves, with the hope that
the old order of things would be restored. Prior to
that period they had leased the estate to George
Lawson, Esq., who, in Elizabeth's reign, obtained a
grant of it in fee, and whose son, Thomas Lawson,
Esq., in Michaelmas Term, 1588, conveyed by deeds
and fine four of the six ancient messuages of which it
consisted to Arthur Jackson, Anthony Walton,
Nicholas Walton, and Henry Renwick, and their
heirs each to have one messuage. The other two mes-
suages were conveyed to John Whitfield. Hill house

* Henry VIH.'s Commissioners met with opposition when they went " to
take possession of the Monastery ; they found the gates closed and the
battlements lined with armed men, most prominent amongst the latter being
a canon, the master of Ovingham — a cell belonging to Hexham ; he stood
on the walls in full armour, with a bow bent, with arrows, and to the
summons of the Commissioners answered : ' We be twenty brethren in this
house, and we shall die all or that you have this house.' " — Palmer's Tyne
and Its Tributaries.


was one of these messuages. It is not now easy to
affirm where the other was located, probably at Side-
head. The Hill Liberty was in the possession of
the Whitfield family in 1616. At that period they
were owners of Randalholme estate, and Lords of
the Manor of Kirkhaugh, which comprised the
manors of Whitley and Ayle. Robert Whitfield sold
the Hill Liberty to William Richardson, or Ricard-
son, of Nunwick Hall, at some date before 1670, and
probably about 1664, when the boundaries of the
Liberty were perambulated without let or hindrance.
The Tynehead tenants had to perform suit and
service at the Manorial Court of Kirkhaugh. In
1670 William Ricardson leased Sidehead and
Dortgill to Ralph Archer of Tynehead for a term of
ggg years. * The conditions were £2^^ paid down at
once, a rent of nine shillings per annum, and a
twenty-penny fine every twenty-one years. By a
deed dated ist June, 1696, Ralph Archer assigned
this leasehold property to Thomas Walton, Walton
sold it to William Hodgson, who also purchased
the freehold of his property. Lough Carleton, Esq.,
purchased or inherited (before or about 1788) the
whole of the property from William Hodgson's


mortgagee, who I am inclined to believe was a Mr.
Gill, the Lord of the Tynehead Manor, and whose
name occurs in an old document relating to the
mines. It is evident that the Richardsons parted
with their Tynehead property long before they sold
the Randalholme estate.

The property descended from Lough Carleton to
three nieces, daughters of Thomas Carleton, Esq.,
Barrister-at-law, and a native of Longwathby. One
of them died unmarried. One of the surviving sisters
was married to F. S. Fydell, Esq., of Morcott,
Uppingham, the other one to Mr. Tufnell. At the
death of Mrs. Tufnell, her share of the property
descended to her two sons, the Right Hon. Henry
Tufnell, M.P., and Edward Carleton Tufnell, Esq.
The former married the Hon. Frances Byng, youngest
daughter of Field-Marshall Sir John Byng, G.C.B.,
first Earl of Strafford. Henry Tufnell had no sons,
and his only daughter succeeded by the will of her
father to his portion of Lough Carleton's property.
At the death of Mr. Tydell in i86g, the other half of
the property came into her possession. In 1870,
Lieutenant-Colonel Alfrid M. Cranmer Byng married
Miss Tufnell, and at the present time is Lord of the


Manor and also of the manor of Blencairn. Mrs.
Cranmer Byng died at Quindon Hall, Essex, on
the 31st January, 1887, leaving two sons and a

The two messuages conveyed to the Waltons form
the Hole Liberty. The Tynehead messuage had
come into the possession of the Lord of the Manor of
Alston at some period previous to the attainder of
the Earl of Derwentwater in 1715. In 1734 it was
let to Josiah Archer for ^16 per annum. At that
time the Hole Messuage was in the possession of the
Hopper family. In 1795, Nicholas Hopper was the
owner. According to Hodgson, Mr. Burnett married
the niece of Nicholas Hopper of Black Hedley, and
at his death the estate descended to his son, James
Burnett, Esq., of Ovingham. In 1851, Mr. Burnett's
son or heirs sold the property to the Greenwich
Hospital for the sum of ^^3300. The annual rent was
^130 per annum, with £1 as rent for way leave.

Arthur Jackson and Henry Renwick's shares or
messuages form the Eshgill Liberty : I have not
been able to obtain any information respecting the
changes of the ownership of this property ; before
1820 it was in the possession of Joseph Dickinson,



Esq., of Dufton Hall, in Westmorland, and William
Simpson. In November, 1821, Mr. Dickinson sold
High and Middle Eshgill to the London Lead Com-
pany, and William Simpson sold Low Eshgill to the
same Company in January, 1822. On the 31st
December, 1883, the Eshgill Liberty was conveyed
to the Nenthead and Tynedale Compan)-.

Randalholme was an ancient Peel-house, situated
on rich ground, near the confluence of Ayleburn
with the Tyne. It has an heraldic tablet on the
front with the motto ^ virtiite acqiiiretur honor,' and
the initials C.R.R., 1746. Surtess says that "Sir
Bevis Bulmer, who was supposed to be a speculator
in lead mines, died at the house of Mr. Whitfield,
of Randalholme, in 1616. I suppose Sir Bevis
resided in Durham. At this date he undertook to
discover a gold mine on Crawford Moor, near the
source of the Clyde, and when he died, he was
probably on his journey to or from Crawford Moor.
We have already pointed out that the family of
Whitfield had possession of this estate at the above
date, and were probably owners in 1588, when John
Whitfield obtained possession of the Hill Liberty.
As alread}^ pointed out, Robert Whitfield sold both


estates to William Richardson of Nunwick Hall,
probably in 1664. In September, 1764, the
Richardsons of Randalholme advertised several veins
of lead ore within the Manor of Kirkhaugh to let,
some of which had been wrought by the Governor
and Company. This estate was sold to Joseph
Salkeld, who, in 1828-9 (?) sold it to the Greenwich
Hospital with the manorial rights of Whitley and
Ayle, in the parish of Kirkhaugh, for the sum of
about ;^9,5oo.

Mr. Hodgson apprehended that this estate was
the Raynerholme, of which Robert de Vetriponte
died seized in 1370, and that it was the capital
messuage which Nicholas de Vetriponte had at Alston
at the time of his death, in 1315. The contents of
the estate were estimated at 14 acres of arable and
100 acres of meadow ground; it, however, far exceeds |
these measures. It was probably bookland in Saxon

Mr. Sopwith says that Randalholme Hall was
*' formerly the seat of the family of Randals,
one of whom, William Randal Featherstonehaugh
Ricardson Randal, is buried in the parish church."
I do not know the source of Mr. Sopwith's


information. Undoubtedly the name of Randal was

assumed. 1358843

Until the middle of the last century, or even to a
later date, the country may be said to have had no
roads — only rough stony tracks formed after the
soil disturbed by the ponies' feet had been washed
away. Old Thomas Pearson, of Tynehead, who
was born in 1759, informed me that, since he could
recollect, there was no road between Alston and
Garrigill. People riding between the two places
selected the hard ground on the undivided common.
There was no road on the west side of the Tyne,
from Garrigill to join with the Hartside pass. The
road between Garrigill and Nenthead was made by
the Lead Company, after they obtained possession of
the Earl of Carlisle & Co.'s mines, in the beginning
of this century, and the road from Garrigill to
Howhill was made through the Lowhouses and
Hundy Bridge freeholds, after the Greenwich
Hospital had bought these estates. The road

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Online LibraryWilliam WallaceAlston Moor : its pastoral people, its mines and miners, from the earliest periods to recent times → online text (page 2 of 12)