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Cumberland and Westmorland Archives



Cumberland is the north-western maritime county of England, and is about 70 miles in length from its junction with Northumberland and Scotland to Haverigg point in the extreme south, and its breadth, from seacoast to its Durham boundary, is 44 miles; its western boundary is the Solway Frith and the St. George’s channel; on the north it is bounded by Scotland, from which it is separated by the river Liddel; in the south the rivers Earmont and Tees separate it from Westmorland, and the river Duddon from the Furness portion of Lancashire; on the east it is bounded by Northumberland and Durham. The county is of very irregular formation, and has 60 miles in extent of coastline; its area is 1,565 square miles, or 1,001,273 acres; it is eleventh in size of the counties of England, but it is very thinly peopled, there being onlt twelve counties with less population; the number of inhabitants, however, have steadily increased at the several censuses, viz. ~

1801 …… 117,230.
1811 …… 133,665
1821 …… 156,124
1831 …… 169,262
1841 …… 178,038
1851 …… 195,492
1861 …… 205,176
1871 …… 220,145

The surface of the county alongside the coast and through the centre from north to south is tolerably level, but other parts are very mountainous. The tracts of mountains or fells, as they are called, are above 2,000 feet in height, and in some instances reach 3,000 feet; the fells occupying the south-western portion of the county are the highest comprising Scafell, 3,161 feet; Helvellyn, 3,033; Skiddaw, 3,022; Great Gable, 2,949; Angle Tarn, 2,003; Bowfell, 2,911; Saddleback, 2,847; and Great Dodd, 2,804. The mountains in the east are not so lofty, the principal being Cross Fell, 2,892 feet; Skirwith Fell, 2,562; Ouseby Fell, 2,429 and Melmerby Fell, 2,331 feet above the level of the sea.

Among the southern fells is some of the most picturesque scenery, and several beautiful lakes, which attract many visitors, the chied being -

Ulleswater, 9 miles long, 1 mile broad and 210 feet deep, which is the largest, and is situated on the Westmorland border of the county.

Derwentwater, or Keswick Lake, 3 ½ miles long and 2 miles broad, the borders of which are ornamented by fine woods and enclosures; it contains and island which usually sinks.

Bassenthwaite, 4 miles long and 1 mile broad, lies to the north of Derwentwater.


Thirlemere, 2 ¾ miles long, 1 mile broad, and 108 feet deep is southeast of Dertwentwater.

Crummock Water, is three miles long, three-quarters of a mile broad, and 132 feet deep, is west of Dertwentwater.

Loweswater is close to Crummock Water.

Wastwater, 3 miles long, half a mile broad, and 270 feet deep, is more southerly.

Ennerdale, 2 ½ miles long, half a mile broad, is near the coast.

The tarns or small mountain pools include - Overwater, Burnmour, Wadling Tarn, Talkin Tarn, Martin Tarn, Styhead Tarn, and Sparkling Tarn.

There are numerous rivers and smaller streams; the Duddon separates the county from Lancashire, and forms the Duddon mouth at the extreme southern point; in the south also are the Esk, Irt, and Mite, which all flow into the St. George’s Channel at Ravenglass, there forming a sandy harbour. The Esk and Mite rise in Eskdale Moor, and the Irt flows from Wastwater Lake. The Ehen is also in the south and flows from Ennerdale water, and is joined by the Keekle on entering the sea; the Calder rises in the hills near Ennerdale water, and ebters the sea at the same point as the Ehen. The Derwent has its source in the mountains on the Westmorland border, and flows northerly to Derwentwater, thence to Bassenthwaite late, after which its course is westerly through Cockermouth to the sea at Workington; it receives the water of the Cocker, the Maron, and the Greta, and is 33 miles in length. The Ellen flows westerly from the moors to the sea at Maryport. The Caldew flows from the south and proceeds northerly to Carlisle, above which it joins the Eden; it receives the Ive before reaching Carlisle. The Eden rises in Westmorland, and crosses the county from southeast to northwest, and after passing Carlisle it flows to the Solway Frith; it is about 35 miles long. The river Petteril rises in the south, and flows northerly through the county to Carlisle, near which it joins the Eden. The Irthing forms a portion of the Northumberland border, and flows southwesterly to the Eden. The Esk, the second river of that name in this county, rises in Scotland, and at the point where it enters Cumberland, receives the Liddel, and, passing Longtown, enters the Solway Frith; the Sark flows into the mouth of the Esk. The Wampool and the Waver form a bay in the north-west. The source of the South Tyne is the Alston Moors, in the eastern part of the county. The Eamont flows from the Ulleswater, and forms, for about ten miles, the southern boundary of the county, until it joins the Eden.

On these hill rivers are many falls and cascades, of which Lowdore (sp?) is 200 feet high, Scale Force 190 feet, Barrow Cascade 126 feet, and there are others about 100 feet in height; the general scenery of the hills is very picturesque.

The climate on account of these hills, is among the wettest in England; and at Keswick the yearly fall some times reaches 70 inches; snow, too, lodges on the mountain tops every winter. The valleys and shores are however, milder.

The geological features of the county vary; the mountains in the east belong to carboniferous system, embracing millstone grit and mountain limestone; the level tract of land along the valleys of Eden and Petteril and the shore is new red sandstone, composed of various sandstones; the remainder is occupied by the carboniferous system, and also by the Silurian rocks, embracing clay, slate, and various slaty limestone, interspersed with granite. The various formations include many valuable minerals. Among them are iron (and other ores), coal, lead, silver, copper, zinc, gold, cobalt, antimony, manganese, limestone, , slate and gypsum. Quartz, garnets, agates, opal are found. At Borrowdale is a rich mine of plumbago. Lime is largely worked for the iron works and agriculture purposes. Gypsum is worked at Hesket, Cobalt antimony, and manganese are sometimes obtained in small quantities.

One of the minerals, iron ore is of the most importance, and is procured in the east, west and south of the county; the greater portion however, from the mines in the west; the county ranks third in the production of the counties of England, Yorkshire taking first place, and Staffordshire second; according to the mineral statistics for 1871, “1,302,703 tons of ore were raised, valued at £1,448,975; the character of the ore is that known as red and brown hematite; brown, however, bearing a small portion to the total, only 1,683 tons being procured, and that from Alston Moor, in the east; from the Whitehaven District in the west, is procured the greater portion of the red hematite, the quantity raised in those mines being 976,874 tons, valued at £1,074,561. Other mines are around Harrington, and in the South by Millom.

Coal is raised in the west, bordering on the coast, to the extent of 1,423,661 tons, nearly two-thirds of which is consumed in the county and the remainder exported coastwise. The number of collieries is 27.

Copper ore is raised to the extent of 581 tons, value £2,294 and 40 tons copper, value £3,000 mostly in Caldbeck, near the centre of the county; and lead ore, 5,345 tons, producing 4,015 tons of lead, were procured in 1871; and the lead mines are very rich in silver, yielding 47,179 ounces in that year. Zinc mines are in Alston Moor, and produced, of blende 740 toms, and calamine 57 tons, valued at £2,394; stone is used for most buildings, brick being little used.

The cotton manufacture is pursued at Carlisle and neighbourhood; ship building is carried on at the ports; paper is also made to some extent, and black lead pencils are made at Keswick and Maryport.

Although the climate and the small quantity of arable land limit the extent of husbandry, the country has of late years been much improved, and mush land has been enclosed. The grass lands feed many cattle and sheep, and much dairy produce is obtained.

The rivers and the lakes contain salmon, trout, char, pike, perch, carp, eels, and brandling, and on the shores are good fisheries. There is game on the hills and the moors, including grouse; the shooting on the moors is let for large sums.

Some of the parishes are very large; among them are:-


St, Bees ………………… 69,410

Crosthwaite …………… 58,330

Grey stoke ………………48,960

Lane cost …………………36,510

Alston ……………………..35,060

Millom …………………….32,780

Bewcastle …………………30,000

Holme Cultram …………..24,?20

Caldbeck ………………….24,280

Brigham …………………… 22,580

Arthuret …………………… 17,390

Brampton ………………… 16,970

Kirk Andrews upon Esk …..16,940.


Ennerdale ……………………………….16,998

Eskdale ………………………………......13,000

Kinniside ………………………………....11,950

Nether Wasdale ………………………….10,000

Netherby ……………………………….... 8,873

Watermellock …………………………….8,316

Lazonby ………………………………...... 8,154

Mallerdale ………………………………... 7,313

Nichol Forest ……………………………… 7,302.

Wasdale Head ……………………………… 7,000

Some of the above townships are very thinly peopled; as Ennerdale, with 254 persons in 16, 998 acres; Kinniside, 245 on 11,950 acres; and Nether Wasdale, 192 on 10,000 acres.

Carlisle is a cathedral city, and a municipal and parliamentary borough, with a population in 1861 of 29,417; and in 1871 of 31,074.

Cockermouth, with 7,057 inhabitants, and Whitehaven, with 18,446, are also parliamentary boroughs; other towns are Brampton, 6,632; Egremont, 4,558; Keswick, 2,,777; Maryport, 3,557; Penrith, 7,777; Wigton, 3,425; Workington, 6,467; Alston, 2,627.

Maryport, Whitehaven, and Workington are seaports, exporting coal to other coast ports, Maryport having the largest trade; those towns are also engaged in the iron manufacture, Whitehaven more particularly. Port Carlisle and Silloth Bay are the outports of Carlisle. Ravenglass is a small fishing port. St. Bees is noted for its college.

The unions are as follows: -

No.   NAME              ACRES      Population 1871.

565    Alston                35,060    5,680

566    Penrith             181,236   23,738

567    Brampton          95,473    10,607

568    Longtown         86,871     8,?68

569    Carlisle             70,810    46,653

570    Wigton           176,529    22,6?5

571    Cockermouth 156,025    46,??7

572    Whitehaven     99,203    47,5?2

573    Bootle            100,066     8,525

The county is divided into wards, as under: -


Allerdale, above Derwent…….207,579

Allerdale, below Derwent…….155,080




Derwent (division)……………..147,715


TOTAL …………1,001,273.

For parliamentary purposes the county is divided into East Cumberland and West Cumberland, each returning two members to Parliament. East Cumberland includes, Eskdale, Cumberland and Leath wards with the city of Carlisle, and has a population in 1871 of 104,696; West Cumberland includes the Allerdale wards, in which are the boroughs of Cockermouth and Whitehaven, and had a population of 115,549; Whitehaven and Cockermouth each send one member to Parliament, the latter formerly returned two, but the number was reduced to one by the “Representation of the People Act 1867.”

The shire town of Cumberland is Carlisle, where the assizes are held; the county is in the Northern Circuit. The Midsummer and Christmas Quarter Sessions are held at Carlisle, and the Easter and Michaelmas Sessions at Cockermouth.

County Courts are held at Alston, Brampton, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Keswick, Penrith, Whitehaven and Wigton; Whitehaven Court has jurisdiction in Admiralty.

Ecclesiastically, Cumberland is in the province of York, and chiefly in the diocese of Carlisle, except the parish of Alston which is in that of Durham, it is in the archdeaconries of Carlisle and Westmorland, and included in the rural deaneries of Brampton, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Gosforth, Greystoke, Keswick, Penrith, Whitehaven and Wigton.

The county is traversed by several railways, viz., the Lancaster and Carlisle railway from the south; the North British and the Caledonian from the North; the Newcastle and Carlisle railway from the east which has a branch to Alston from Haltwhistle in Northumberland; and from the West, the Maryport and Carlisle railway and the Carlisle and Silloth section of the North British, all converging to Carlisle, which thus forms a great railway centre. The Furness railway from Lancashire skirts the coast through Ravenglass and St. Bees to Whitehaven, thence the line to Workington and Maryport completes the connection with Carlisle and the north. The Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway has lines from Whitehaven, south to a junction with the Furness railway, and north to Workington. The Maryport and Carlisle railway passes through Wigton, and has a branch to Cockermouth called the Derwent branch. The Workington and Cockermouth, and the Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith railways effect communication between west and east. The Solway junction of the Caledonian railway crosses the Solway Frith, and is connected with the Maryport and Carlisle railway.

There is only one canal in Cumberland, between Carlisle and Port Carlisle.

Of the aborigines of Cumberland, nothing is known; but some of the geographical names attest to Ibreian occupation, as the Tyne, Tees and Nent. The Celts succeeded the Iberians, and the Belgians do not seemed to have reached so far. Of Iberian or Druidical , remains there are many in the hills. At Kirkoswald is the temple, or circle of rough stones, called Long Meg and her Daughters, and there is another near Keswick. At the time of the Roman invasion the great Celtic tribe of the Brigantes had possession of this country, and were beaten in 120 or 121 by the Romans, and Hadrian caused a wall to be built across the island from frith to frith against the outer barbarians. In 210 Severus built another wall of stone, extending across the county from Solway Frith eastward to Northumberland, and across the county to the Tyne; at Stanwix, near Carlisle, was a station called Axeldonum, other stations on the wall were Ahallaba, Petriana, and Auboglanna, the last on the Northumberland border. A Roman road ran parallel with the wall at Stanwix, thence to Longtown, passing the Solway Moss to Scotland. From Longton a Roman road passed Northeast ro Dumfriesshire. Three roads diverged from Ellenborough, one along the coast towards Bowness another to Papcastle, and the third northeastward to Old Carlisle, which it passed eastward of Carlisle Cathedral. Another Roman road connected the stations at Plumpton Wall and Ambleside in Westmorland. From Egremont a road passed north-east towards Cockermouth. The district was part of the Roman province of Maxima Cesareans (sp?), and included many towns, garrisons and settlements. Luguvallium, now Carlisle, was a city under Latin law. There are remains of Roman stations to be seen at Maryport, Old Carlisle, Old Penrith and Bewcastle. The names of Roman sites to be recognized are not so many as in southern districts. They include Papcastle, Muncaster, Burgh-by-Sands, Longburgh, Drumburgh, Broughton, Stapleton, Walton (two), Orton (four), Brackenborough, Burghthwaite, Burtholme, Braughill, Garborough, Solport, Ellenborough, Plumpton, Heyborough, Ainstable, Stanwix, Stonecraise, Brampton, Broomhill, Bowness, Castlerigg, Wallcastle, Trough, Troughfoot, Troughton, Walby, Walhead, and three Staintons.

The Scots and Picts harassed the county in the latter part of the Roman time and long after. The Welsh inhabitants constituted a kind of state, which has been called Cumbria, and extended from the Mersey to the Clyde, and was one of the chief seats of Welsh power. Of this occupation there are few remains or traces now.

The English gradually pressed on the Cumbrian border and exterminated the Welsh, or drove them out as exiles to Wales: it was then held as a dependency of the English in Northumbria, or the Scotch lowlands. In 945 it was held by Malcolm, King of Scotland, and continued to be so held by those Kings from time to time until 1237, when it was at length annexed to England.

Being on the borders of Scotland much of the north was the seat of frequent wars - as in the Parliamentary war, and in the advance of the Old Pretender in 1715, and of the Young Pretender in 1745. Salon Moss, in the extreme northwest of the county, was the site of a battle with the Scots in 1542, who were defeated.

We find here Coldstones, Coldwell (no Cold Harbour), Windyhill, Windhall, Windybrow, Windyslack, Windyhall, Cunningarth, Conyfield. Of the roads the names are the Maidenway, Holloway, Bankridge, and the Edge.

There are many varieties of topographical terms in Cumberland, besides those referring to the Iberians, Celtic, Roman and Morman sites. Few of the English clan names are to be recognized, as Cumberland was occupied after the period of the clan emigration from Jutland. The termination in ton is common; ham, wick, stead, worth, stoke, thorn, hope, and cot, are rare. By is very common. Among other terms are briggin, bothel, haven, mouth, gill, force, scale, forth, water, mere, tarn, beck, burn, kirk, cough, rigg, field, land, close, ley, garth, hill, gate, dale, shaw, croft, thwaite, moor, holm. How, row, head, side, et, with, wath, car, main, ey, syke, pike, fell, ness, hill, keld, clough, cleugh, meal, wreay, crake, bank, bow, well, pool, cliff, bury, barrow, cross, dean, dyke, crag, bottom, grove, gap, edge, brow, moss.