Records : Tithes and tithe-suits

Pages 190-204

Register and Records of Holm Cultram. Originally published by T Wilson & Son, Kendal, 1929.

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XV. Tithes and Tithe-Suits.

At the Dissolution, a book was given to Gawen Borrodaile, late abbot and then rector, containing, among other matters, the tithes of the Holm. The list we copy from Nicolson and Burn, ii, 177f., noting that the skep was normally 12 bushels, though the size of the bushel varied, as appears later.

Sowterfield, 7 skeps and 3 bushels of big [inferior barley] meal, and 8s.

Adlath [read Aldoth], 2 skeps and a peck of big.

New Cowper, 6 bushels of big meal.

Edderside, 6 skeps of the same.

Plasket-lands, 12 bushels of the same.

Tarnes, 3 skeps, 3 ½ bushels.

Fowlesyke, 3 skeps, 4 bushels.

Hielaws, 6 skeps.

Abby Cowbier, 5½ skeps.

Dubmill, 13½ bushels.

Mawbrugh senior, 6 skeps, 8 bushels and 3 pecks.

Mawbrugh junior, 5 skeps, 9 bushels.

Mawbrugh Beck, 15½ bushels.

Wolstye, 4 skeps, 4 bushels and a peck.

Blatterless [Blitterlees], 7½ bushels.

Silleth, 14s. in money.

Coats, two tenements uncharged.

Skinburnese, 7 skeps, 11½ bushels of barley.

Hayrigg, 30 bushels of meal.

Mireside, 7 skeps and 2 bushels of meal, and half a skep of barley.

Calvoe, 3 skeps and 2 bushels of barley, 1½ bushels of meal, and 3 skeps and 2 pecks of oats

Brownrigg, 3 skeps and 3½ bushels of barley, 5 bushels and 3 pecks of meal.

Sivill, 2 skeps and 2 bushels of meal, 6½ skeps of barley, 8 bushels of oats.

Sandenhouse, 4 skeps of meal.

Sandenhouse grange, 14 bushels of barley.

Newton Arlosh, 19 skeps, 1 bushel and 1 peck of barley.

Salt Coates, 22 bushels of meal.

Moss Side, 3 bushels of meal.

Rabie, 2 skeps and 9 bushels of meal.

Robert Chambre payeth yearly at Easter for all manner of tithe at Raby Coat, 6s. 8d.

Raby Grange, one skep and 2 bushels of barley.

Acredale etc. [sic; i.e. the town-fields; see below].

"To this are to be added the following sums, several whereof are not reckoned in the abbot's book otherwise than at the will and pleasure of the rector; that is, as it seemeth, as he and the parishioners could agree:—"

Bletterley (beside the meal as above), £5 3s. 5d.

New Cowper, £1 8s. 4d.

The tenants of Silleth, 14s.

Robert Barwis, 8s.

The Acredale tithe, 7s. or 12 bushels of big.

Thomas Chambre, 6s. 8d.

This was the substance of the book for a long while inaccessible to the parishioners but necessary to us for the understanding of the disputes which upset the Holm for many generations.

On the death of Gawen Borrodaile, Queen Mary granted the rectory of Holm Cultram with the church or chapel of Newton Arlosh and all manner of rents, tithes, oblations and offerings, unto the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Oxford. The University at once leased the same to John Estwicke for 25 years; then to Roger Marbeck, and afterwards to Sir Arthur Atye. These speculators, who had no interest in the parish beyond getting the best returns for their investments, tried from time to time to take advantages of the tenants; but as may be inferred from the answers in chapter XIII the men of the Holm were not to be imposed upon. The history of their resistance may may be gathered from a calendar of the principal documents which are preserved, dealing with the tithes.

1554. The university of Oxford and John Estwick to Stephen [Gardiner], bishop of Winchester and Lord Chancellor of England, … "Your said Orators before this time exhibited a Byll of Complaynt in Chancery against Thomas Deves, John Borrodaile and other Tenants … of Holm Cultram, the Tenor of which … ensuethe. The late Abbot and Convent … were seized in their demesne as of fee and in the Tithe Corne and haye and other commodities and Emoluments to the said Rectorie belonging. The Tenants … were accustomed to pay their Tythe … after the measure and rate of the Carliell Bushell. After the said Monasterie … came into the hands of … Henry VIII [he] did grant the said Rectorie with the Tythes to the late Abbot [Borrodaile] … in place of such pension as the said Abbott should have had . . The same late Abbott did usuallie take of the Tennants … less measure of Tythe … than his predecessors did receive and take to the old and ancient custom … and died twelve monethes past or thereabouts … The Queen's Ma'tie that now is [Q. Mary] … did grant the said Rectorie together with all the Tythe Corne and haye to your said Orators … So its is, Right Honourable Lord, that your said Orators have required of Thomas Deves, John Borrodaile, Robert Peat, James Parkin, John Haton, William Peathouse, Michael Mann and Robert Chamber of Highlawes … such Tythe corne as they ought to yield … after such measure, quantity and rate as they ought to pay according to the custome aforesaid, yet that to doe They and everie of them doe refuse … May it please your good Lordship to grant … a writ of sub poena to be directed to the same persons, commanding them … personally to appeare in the Queen's Ma'tie's Court of Chancerie on a certain day, then and there to answer to the premises …"

" Upon exhibiting of such said Bill of Complaynt several writs were served upon the forenamed persons … who contemptuously disobeyed the same. Whereupon several writs of attachment were awarded against them and nevertheless some of them have … not appeared, by reason whereof your said Orators have been compelled to sue for writs of Proclamation against them … and thus your poor Orators have been put off from their rights the space of one whole yeare . . and yet . . minding a Godlie and quiett end of the said Suite … did of late upon their further charge send the said John Estwicke … who hath made further offer unto them as thereby your said Orators should lose more than the third part of their verie dutie for the year past, wch offer they refused … nevertheless they were contented that fower Gentlemen of the Countrie there … appointed by the Lord Dacre and the Bishopp of Carliel should … determine this matter. Wherewith the said John Estwick though he be a stranger in the said Countie … is verie well contented … Lord Dacre and the Lord Bishop of Carliel have appointed John Dacre, clerk, brother of the said Lord Dacre, Thomas Salkeld, William Musgrave of Newton, Esquires, and Robert Ellis, gentleman … May it therefore please your good Lordship to grant the King's and Queen's Majesty's commission to be by them directed … finallie to determine the said controversie …"

The award of the said Commissioners after the hearing of Estwick and the tenants, was—"That the Inhabitants … shall pay unto the said John Estwicke … for every Bushel of Barley 16d. and every bushel of Tithe oats 8d. for the year last past … at the feast of St. Andrew next in the Church of the Holme … and from henceforth … pay … [the same rate] and shall be … acquitted of all such Costs and Charges as the said University … and … Estwick have made or been put unto. And … all … who heretofore have been accustomed to pay time out of man's memory their Tithe corn in money shall pay the said money . . at such days and places as they have been accustomed to pay . . Dated October 8 [1555]."

After the award, the parishioners complained that "they did not inform the Commissioners truly . . for that the last Abbot being made Parson did entreat to have lesser measure in barley by reason he kept not such a house of hospitality as when he was abbot, and for that meal was not so vendible as Barley, by reason it would not keep fresh so long." But the award held good under Estwick's lease, which lasted until 1580, the rent paid amounting to £100 12s. 4d. a year. A petition of the parishioners in 1580 to the Chancellor of Oxford, reciting that the 'oulde Leasse' to Estwick ended on Lady day last, continues:—

"… Thos that was ffermours to him … mayd entry and hath taken the same since, saving that there is a suite depending betwixt us and them before or Lord Byshop of Carlyle ever sene for half a year's tyeth payable after that yeare ended, wch should have been for the paiment of this rent to you and is as yet unreceaved by or neighbour because he who is one of the ould farmoures is or lerned Steward of or Courte and the poure dar not with stand but keepe it unpayed ather to him or us. Now they the ould farmoures hathe by [process ?] called £40 of the sume beffore the Lord President of York for the same; desyring your Worshippe of your helpe geven, seeing we the wholle parishioners must paye the foresayd sumes at the day and tyme wch the sayd Leasse appoynted, Whereby dureinge all the leasse of Mr. Estwicke they were verye ill served for a Vickere, beinge sometyme two or three yeares without any togeather and hadd non to teatch or children nor no hospytalyte keped, therefor the popure of or parish beinge in nombre one hundreth and XV and sometyme more, wherof we now since or entre hath taken order, certayne of them shall goe daily through or p'sh and gather the releaffe of them and the rest, soe that there shall [be] no complaynt, and you have the hundrethe poundes xiis. iiijd. payd by us at Michaelmas and on every Ladye day by even payments, or within three monthes after, saveing that you allow [of the] £100 12s. 4d. to the Viker or assystant for the better serving of the p'sh and for the teaching of o/r children vijl. yerely our of the same, … and or Skollemaster hath but that, saving what they will grant him out of good will. Our Viker is one of syense and or Skollmaster or assystant is one of the Addamsons a Cambrydg man. Also ther is this yere about Allhallowes day [? Lady day] last the greatt window that was in the Est end of or Chancel blown down, stone beame and glasse; desyring yor worshippes helpe geven or ellse it wilbe verye chargeable to us. Also ther is a great lack of reparatyons wch was left by the ould farmers, and out of the rest of or Church and Chancell bourdes taken awaye wch wil not be bought for xx or xxx poundes. And also there is sertayne bourdes taken out of the Stalles of the Quire wch will not be mayd again for x poundes. Also the Chancell is sore in decaye both by want of lead and stoune wch is taken and carryed away by whom we knowe not, but throgh their deffalt, desyring yor Worshippe to appoint some Comyssion for to view of the same or otherways to yor dysscresyon, soe as the same may be viewed and seanne by some meanes. This is for Godes cause and we your powere farmours shal daly pray to God ffor all yor good pleading (fn. 1) in learnyng to the pleasure of God and to the greatt proffett of this or realme."

The University then leased the tithes to Dr. Roger Marbeck for 21 years. In 1581, three parishioners—R. Chamber, H. Stamper and R. Skelton—bought the lease of him for £400, they paying the same rent and rating themselves as they thought proper; but the troubles were not at an end.

According to the evidence of R. Smith, in the tithe suit of 1586, the lease was now "put into a good chiste in the sayed churche whereon four lockes were also hanged and Thomas Hardinge … had the custodye of one of the Keyes … and the sayd Sixteene persons the other three … Dyvers eville disposed p'sones there dyd geve out that the same chiste … myghte be broken and … some of the Sixtene p'sonnes … dyd kepe and preserve theym [the writings] in some other place; after whiche some of the compleynantes, as this deponent thinks … did open the sayd chiste with intente … to have taken … the sayd Lease or otherwise to have suppressed the same. Synce wch … the chist and lease [are] removed to the house of Stephen Barwis, where they do and may safely remayne. And Robert Smythe further sayethe that John Haton, John Watson, Robarte Hewson and John Parkin . . having done nothing but in p'formance of the Truste in the Leasse . . have been greatly troubled … for that at dyvers tymes there hayth bene great variance amongst the parishioners touching the same … especially by the means of Thomas Chamber, Heugh Askewe and seven scoure others who denyed the authoritie of the said Sixtene persones … alledginge that they were not lawfullye appoynted by the consente of the parishioners, and pursued the suite againste them and Thomas Hardinge and Robert Barwys who were nomynated by the Sixteen persons to collect the Tythes (etc.) … Heugh Askew, Thomas Chamber and Anthony Penrise, three of the complainants, denyed to pay the same, for that it was alleged by some that the appoyntment of the Sixteen men was not in lawe neyther could the collectors serve in their owne names against p'sons wch dyd witholde their tythes. Whereupon the said Thomas Hardinge for his owne quiete dyd yielde upp such authoritie as he had. The Sixteene Men newe chosen would deal with any other and nomynate anye collector … nor meddle any more with the same, considering how the Sixteen Men and Collectors weare served … by reason whereof the sayd Robarte Smithe, John Haton, John Watson, Robarte Heuson and John Parkine being leassees, survivors in the sayd Leasse, were forced to take some goode counsell for p'serving the sayde Leasse from harme, and did agree that the raite of their tythe corne should be eight pence a bushelle, being heretofore paid at that raite. Therefore the Lessees dyd agree with Rowland Skelton and Thomas Hardinge that p'shioners wch doe paye tythe corne in money should repayre the sayd chancell (for that they only have the benefitt of the sayd Leasse by having their tythe corne at 8d. a bushell where before it hayth been 16d.) … and should afterwards maynteyn the same dureing the sayed Leasse. Further … R. Skelton and T. Harding, the yearly tenth being £100 12s. 9d. [4d?] dewe to the University and the Vicar's stipend (etc.) during the sayd Leasse and to kepe the Tenants and the rait of 8d. a bushell whether they gayned or losed by the sayed bargaine, and so saved the Leasse unforfeyted, have entered bounde… to p'forme the said Covenantes and … the parishioners have ever since payed their tythes saving the sayed T. Chambers, H. Askew and A. Penrise, and they have gone about to stirre upp newe troubbles tending to the forfeiture of the Leasse …" The dispute was referred to Lord Scrope and the Bishop of Carlisle; what was the award is not known, but letters patent were taken out by the Archbishop of Canterbury to compel its acceptance.

The forfeiture of the lease was more than a possibility. A dozen years before the time when it would normally have ended, the University was negotiating with a new lessee, Sir Arthur Atye, knt., of Kilburn, co. Middlesex.

1595 July 12. Sir Arthur Atye wrote from London:—" I have heretofore maid offer unto you that I would buye yor present estaite in the Rectorie of Holme Cultram, or else that you, yf it so please you, should buy myne, and to ye offer you have accorded but very slender answer since, as I marvel… from men so wyse as I take you to be, as appeareth by your letter of the 19th of October 1589 and by soume speeches I then had with yr messenger wch I yet well remember. This notwithstanding, to the intent that my good will to you as tenants of the sayd p'sonage may appeare and yt [that] yt ys yor owne fault yf you myse a further conference therein when yr p'sent Lease is expired. You defyed this gentleman my friende to talk with you in the matter. Now againe to the sayd friende [I] resort and do mynd me to staye for yr answer either by him or otherwise by Allhallowtyde next, and in the meane tyme by cause I would not ofer you wronge in yor estate nor would willinglye suffer loss in myne, I do hereby pray you that you will shewe to this bearer both the Leases you have since it came to the Universitys hand, as well yt [that] granted to Mr. Marbeck as the former … I certainly assure myself that yor tearme is already ended except you by shewing and sending me copies of both Leases … shall shew me the contrary … . Yr very loveing Friend Arthur Atye."

1595, Sept. 9. The tenants reply—" They will not consent to shew any of their Leases to the bearer thereof viz. Henry Marwood and one Mr. Lumleye unless they will shew the Lease wch Mr. Atye haith claymed and their offer of a reasonable bond to be taken by Mr. Atye his estait in the sayd Lease."

After a while Sir A. Atye got a lease for 30 years from Ladyday 1601 (fn. 2) at the same rent as before to the University but paying £20 to £30 to the Vicar. In 1603 the tenants petitioned the king, reciting their grievances, and received a gracious answer dated July 11. Two days later Sir Arthur was bidden, "if God please to easse his sickness" to stay proceedings until Michaelmas term.

At the Dissolution, a book was made up, as we have seen, showing what each tenant had to pay in tithes. This book had not been in the tenants' possession until on Dec. 17, 1603 Thomas Chamber of Raby Coat bought it in London from "Auditor King in his office," as the inscription therein records. With this to support them the tenants held a meeting at Wolsty Castle and agreed to join in a suit against the owners and farmers of the tithes.

1604, March 14. Thomas Chamber wrote to his cousin William:—" At my coming to York… I went to Mr. Dodsworth, who took pains to peruse all our Petitions in the cause of Appeal before the delegates at London, who after long conference and deliberation thought it our best and safest course not to join in any Examination of Witnesses by the Commission from the Delegates to be setten upon before Palm Sunday next and was advertized by Mr. Coston our proctor, and these are his reasons … (1) The King's Majesty … did referr the Consideration thereof to the Lord High Treasurer, Mr. Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Lord Chief Baron and others … (2) The Lord Treasurer acquainted Sir Arthur Atye therewith … (3) We presented a Petition unto the Lord Treasurer in special against Vicar Mandevile and Thomas Harding … and others … the wch being shewn unto his Majesty by Sir George Henrie it was by him signified unto the Lord Treasurer that … he should take order therein … Whereupon his Lordship did recommend the examinacion of the said complaints by his letters unto Sr. Rich. Musgrave and Mr. Braithwaite, written as you know for that purpose, wch being not delivered because of his absence and we attending upon his return … Mr. Dodsworth doth think it will be sufficient inducement for the Exchequer Chambers upon Motion to take the cause again to that hearing and consequently to stay the Delegates. This he thinketh the fittest for us, because we follow therein the course directed by his Ma'tie, and would have us therefore not to trouble ourselves for the examining of any witnesses by this Commission … because Gibson, the Register at Carlisle … may be used in this business, who dealt hardly with you in transmitting the process from Carlisle to York …"

1604, March 29. The same to the same. "I pray you commend me unto all my friends and pray them to give their task unto Rowland Chamber (my son) that it may be ready betwixt this and Easter, or els all will be blank that we have done."

Sir Arthur Atye now caused proctors to exhibit a commission against three of the tenants, Clean, Huddart and Shaw.

1604, April 24. John Clene and John Huddart to Mr. Coston, counsel for the tenants:— "We received yr letter … that Sir A. Atye bathe … brought a cause into the Delegates Court again where he had gotten a Commission against William Chamber and Thomas Chamber and us, but when the commissioners made Examination of it… it was against us two onlye and John Shawe wch is dead … Now so it is, Good Mr. Coston, that upon Thursday, Fryday an Saturday before Palm Sundaye, wch dayes the Comyssion was sat upon, we two, John Clene and John Huddart, being verye aged, simpell, poore men, hapened both in souche an extreme secknesse as neither of us was a bell to be at Church where the Commission sat; and since it begun newe sytatyons was publyshed upon Sonday ye xvth of this instant Aprill 1604 and neither of us two being at Church that daye gat not the coppyeat [capias] or sytation … We are to appear yt day xv dayes yf yt be a Court Day … Therefore being aged weack men haith sent this berrer to maik othe of or infirmities and therefore requireth you to p'vide a Commissioner for the taking of or Answer … and also for that we were not at ye Commission sitting, thearby to have objectted such resonabell matter as appeareth yt might have bene agaynst such necessarie wytnesses as we understande weare sworne in ye behalfe of Sir Arthur Atye … viz. Robart Barwyse of Souterfield, John Bell, Thomas Hardinge, John Hardinge, Couthebart Studdham and William Osmotherleye, men knowne to be of hard contensies [consciences] and visius lyfe, as followeth:

"Depositions of the deponents.—Cuthbert Studdham, a backward p'son in all this neighborhead, as well a most slanderous fornycator and for the same fact or offence was ponessed ackording to ye lawes by peanance in open church and walketh naked from ye wast.

"William Osmotherley, an extreme extortyoner by his unresounable toll or moulter, taken at his myll [Dubmill] … (fn. 3)

"Robart Barwys a blode threstye fellowe of layt accused and tryed and standeth upon his pardon and good behaviour.

"John Bell his servant a great droncard and as well a fornicator and hathe a Bastard with another woman then his wyfe.

"Thomas Hardinge, a most quarreling person and a great broker and p'curer of this unnecessaire suite and many others …

"And John Hardinge a lyck quarreling fellowe and a prinsepill present with his coussin John Hardinge, sonne to ye forenamed Thomas Harding, in ye slaughter of Rychard Glaisters and for the same faickt fled and was not to be found. An unlawfull agreement was maid with ye said Glaisters Father and frende but as yeat ys no satisfaction to ye king for want of his subject; and also this John Hardinge younger brother named Xtopher Hardinge and being his sarvent; upon Wednesday being the xviij day of this instant April 1604 hathe bournt and waysted all ye holl Church and Chancell of Holme Cultram and for the same sacke is fled and cannot be found. As well as for ye said John Hardinge being sarvent unto or wecked Vicker Mandeville was by some p'shioners forbidden to unrype and breck open ye leades of or church as he did, but he would not be forbidden, answering his Mr. Vicker Mandeville had so commanded him …

"And this is all that we can shewe you for our defence against ye depositions. This, good Mr. Coston, we most heartylie pray you by yr Best and Learned Counsell advyze to be done for us and yr fees you shall receive by this berrer … ."

Signed with their marks.

Happily for them, the Chamber family conducted the business with more discretion. Sir Arthur Atye died about this time, but the famous Tithe-suit of 1604 was nevertheless instituted by John Bain, Rowland Chamber and 112 of the king's tenants of Holm Cultram, plaintiffs, against the Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of Oxford, Sir Arthur Atye (deceased) his executor Lancelot Atye, Thomas Harding, Edward Mandeville [vicar], and Henry Baynes [mayor of Carlisle], defendants.

The plaintiffs stated that they had always, except for a time and by special agreement, paid tithes thus:—some in money, with their rents, namely Thomas Chamber, £2 16s. 1d. (fn. 4) and for all tithes due 6s. 8d.; Robert Hodgson, 10s. 6d.; Rowland Chamber, 14s. and Hugh Askew, £1 15s. 4d.; some in kind, paid by the Abbot's bushel of 8 gallons. The University required them to pay by the Carlisle bushel, which they said contained 20 gallons or even more, as it varied from time to time.

To this Atye answered that William and Thomas Chamber were outlawed [he had in fact just been prosecuting them]; that before and after the Dissolution "they paid tithe in kind or in any variable manner, sometimes barley-meal, sometimes money, as they could agree"; that disputes in Gawen Borrodaile's time, in 2 and 3 Philip and Mary [1555] and in 1579 had been settled in the sense on which Atye based his claim.

Mandevile and Harding replied that they were only attorneys and servants to Atye; the decay of the chancel and the fall of the church-tower [which of course belonged to the owners of the rectory and had been alleged by the plaintiffs to be their fault] they charged to the plaintiffs, who were then lessees of the tithes and responsible for repairs, and that the vicar's action in rebuilding the chancel with the proceeds of the sale of the ruins was in obedience to the directions of the University dated June 20, 1602.

To this William and Thomas Chamber replied that they were not outlawed; that Atye's lease began on Lady day 1600, not in 1601, and they traversed the award between Borrodaile and the tenants. The agreement on Estwick's lease was not to pay in corn, but 16d. a bushel of barley and 8d. for oats; it left the custom as before. The fall of the steeple was in Mandevile and Harding's default, they being farmers of the parsonage, "and the new buildings are not so strong as the former."

To the charge as against the mayor of Carlisle, Henry Baynes answered that the Carlisle bushel formerly contained 20 gallons; he had made new measures, a bushel of 16 gallons and a halfbushel of 8; "the Plaintiffs may use which they like best," but the city and most of the county desired the continuance of the ancient measure. The tenants say they tendered arrears to Atye at 8 gallons the bushel, but suits were prosecuted for these tithes in the Consistory Court of Carlisle and yet they never paid in kind. They say that Harding took part with Atye in revenge because they had sued him, "and he would have his mind eased against them, although his own children did repent it." They referred to the suit in Borrodaile's time; Lord Wharton's award then was that those who paid 12 bushels should pay 11, and so on, but after the full measure of the bushel of Carlisle, sealed then by the mayor, and "in clean and dight [winnowed] corn, by view of four indifferent men, two or three of every town." They assert that for 60 years past the Carlisle bushel had been 16 gallons, and that it was twenty or thirty years since barley and oats had been seen to be sold by the bushel heaped up.

During the winter of 1604–5 several of the Holm men were in trouble at London, as we learn from the petition of John Barnes, Stephen Barwis, Robt. Stockdale, John Huddart and John Biglands representing the tenants against Lady Atye and others; Sir Arthur being dead. In spite of his death six had been arrested, "whereof none are partie, but John Bigland and Barnes appearing, they have continued 13 days in the Fleet, lying on the Boards, and not till yesterday one of these was enlarged. Barnes with the other and the residue, very poor men, most humbly pray they may be admitted to be bound over for another to pay that shall be decreed against them." The endorsement is— "Move this matter in Court, for I cannot alter my order without publick motion." And on Feb. 7, 1604–5, it was ordered that Stephen Barwis (?) prisoner in the Fleet at the suit of the Lady Atye, be discharged, with his costs in coming to London, if he be no party to the suit; but he was to be examined before one of the Barons of the Court upon interrogatories to be exhibited by Lady Atye, who has more witnesses to examine, who are to appear before Mr. Baron Savile in the country during the vacation. John Barnes also, the petition prays, and the rest of the prisoners, ought to be enlarged on surety to pay if the decree goes against them.

In the end the tenants made good their prescription to pay a modus decimandi or money in place of tithe hay and corn; but they had to pay certain mixed tithes, such as lambs, geese, calves, foals, pigs, hens and fish. On Feb. 24, 1609, Dame Judith Atye, widow of Sir Arthur, appointed Rowland Skelton, senior, of Angerton, (fn. 5) her attorney and receiver of all tithes in sums of money or bushels of corn and meal in arrear, unpaid for the last five years.

1618. This Rowland Skelton was afterwards agent to Sir George Dalston of Daiston, who took over the tithes in succession to Lady Atye. Skelton's land at Angerton became a prey to inundation; he handed it over to his son Rowland Skelton junior, who refused to pay tithe for the portion become valueless. Suits in the ecclesiastical court at Carlisle followed, Sir George maintaining the ancient rights. Counsel's opinion was taken and on August 12, 1618, Mr. Serjeant Humphrey Damport advised on a motion of compromise by which the defendant tenants agreed for quietness' sake to pay a certain sum towards the costs already incurred, which Sir George accepted.

1624, June 10. No. further action having been taken by Sir George, the case was dismissed with 4 marks costs to defendants.

1722, Aug. 16. The parishioners requested counsel's opinion from William Gilpin (fn. 6) on the tithe question as it then stood, to which he replied under the above date at great length. He recited the facts already stated, and alluded to the tradition of Abbot Gregory's demanding tithes for Newton Arlosh in order to maintain a curate, though, he said, "I doubt the story will still remain in the dark," and cited the Rental of 29 Henry VIII (Gawen Borrodaile's book) to show that tithes were very variously paid, or unpaid, by different occupiers. But freeholders and customary tenants had generally paid all tithes great and small in some form or other; and indeed no lay person could evade doing so unless they had paid something in lieu thereof or had been discharged by act of parliament. His opinion was, in short, that the tenants who had paid tithe, great and small, or moduses [money payments] or customary rates in lieu thereof could not hope to be discharged, because the ancient payment was evidence of the liability; and the mere omission of explicit mention of certain tithes in the Rental of 29 Henry VIII did not prove that such tithes were not paid of old.

1784, April. When the acredales or ancient commonfields were enclosed, the lessees and collectors of tithe modus, Richard Lothian, Isaac Lightfoot and Joseph Barnes, demanded tithe on this land now presumed to be under regular cultivation. Forty one tenants entered into agreement to defend one another against prosecution, and elected as their trustees for seven years Osmotherley Barwise and Robert Sibson of Mawbray, John Parkin of Edderside, John Johnson of New Cowper, John Tindall of Southerfield, Joseph Langcake of Aldoth, Isaac Reay of Highlaws, John Wilkinson of Gillbank and Jeremiah Barwise of Nook; pledging themselves to pay only the ancient modus for the acredales, namely 1s. 10d. per annum every two years in twelve, according to the accustomed rotation of the rivings or divisions of the commonfields.

1802, March 29. Fifty-one tenants agreed that, if Joseph Wilkinson should get a final verdict to compel them to pay as demanded, they would not plough any part of the acredales but that which would be in course to plough, during the term of his lease. And no further action was taken for the time.

1806. At the enclosure of the commons, a clause in the act exempted the pasture-land from tithe for 8 years. The first crops were reaped in 1811 and 1812. In January 1813 a suit was commenced by the University, but was not prosecuted.

1833. The University instituted upwards of 20 suits in the Exchequer Courts at Westminster against over 200 defendants, suing them for tithes. Answers from 65 of these set up certain moduses and exemptions. But in March 1839 the defendants applied to the Tithe Commissioners to interfere. A preliminary meeting was appointed for June 15, 1840, before Mr. Rawlinson as Commissioner. The tenants offered the University £200 a year in lieu of all tithe, or otherwise 1 1/2 of all commons. The University at first suggested £800 then £1000 a year, including costs of both parties in a trial which threatened and proved to be long and expensive. The tenants then offered £600. Ultimately it was agreed to give £900 a year, each party to pay its own expenses; a larger sum than would have been required if the tenants had come to terms with the tithe-holders before the enclosure of the commons. At the hand of the Crown the rent has not been increased a penny, while the tithe has increased nine-fold; and not only so, but the care of the poor, formerly paid by the abbey out of the tithe, is thrown upon the inhabitants at large.

For this trial the copyholders elected as Committee: Messrs. R. Barnes of Wolsty Close, Robert Peat of Seaville, John Steel of Southerfield and John Grainger of Southerfield. The first meeting before the Tithe Commission took place in 1840; on Sept. 6, 1847, it was agreed to accept Mr. Rawlinson's award, given Dec. 31, 1847; after which the land had to be valued and mapped and the amount of tithe per acre fixed. The last meeting to accept accounts was held Feb. 19, 1851, and the bills of costs paid by the committee amounted to £5,668 1s. 2d., which was raised by eight rates extending from 1839 to 1850. At the conclusion, Mr. Barnes and Mr. Grainger were each presented with a Silver Tea and Coffee Service for their Work on behalf of the District.


  • 1. 'Pleading ' in the sense of prosecuting a suit; progress ?
  • 2. Or 1600; see p. 200.
  • 3. For a notice of him see C. & W. Trans., n.s. xvi, 188f.
  • 4. T. Chamber's first payment and Hodgson's were for 'curst' lands, i.e. lands on which, according to tradition, the occupiers had anciently refused to pay tithe, so that the value was added to the rent and was thenceforth paid in money.
  • 5. He had married Janet, sister to Thomas Chamber, and was deputy steward with Robert Chamber. He died in 1637.
  • 6. William Gilpin (1657–1724) of Scaleby Castle, Recorder of Carlisle, was eminent as a lawyer.