Register and Records of Holm Cultram. Originally published by T Wilson & Son, Kendal, 1929.
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Holm Cultram, the outlying part of north-western Cumberland, though beyond the area of the Lake District and consequently little known to the general public, has a distinction of its own. It was the site of a great Cistercian abbey with possessions and influence both wealthy and wide-spreading; and of this abbey the history is preserved in its Register or Cartulary. After the Reformation the manor, in the hands of the Crown, went through a series of phases which were not uneventful; and these are known from local records more ample than the remains of manorial and parish history in most cases. To these records the late Francis Grainger of Southerfield had especial facility of access, and by his thorough knowledge of his native district—for he took a leading share in all its interests, practical and political—he was enabled to collect the information given in this volume, though, unfortunately, he did not live to see it in print.
He was the representative of an ancient family of Cumberland yeomen, whose home, to the end of Elizabeth's reign, was at Stoneraise, near Wigton; early in the seventeenth century they settled in the Holm. Cuthbert Grainger, in 1626, was deputy steward of the manor, and in the early days of Charles II, Francis Grainger of Southerfield was foreman of the council of Sixteen Men. Another Francis was trustee for the rebuilding of the church, under George I, and in the earlier Victorian age John Grainger of Southerfield was one of the two leaders who piloted the parish through the difficult business of long-standing tithesuits. It was natural that our author should follow in their steps, and while personally farming his ancestral estate he began at an early age to take part in public affairs.
He began with politics, as a speaker at Liberal meetings, and later was chairman of the local branch of the Liberal Association. But by 1885 he was a member of the old Local Board for the township, and remained with the Urban District Council until his death. When the County Council was formed he was elected to represent Abbey Holme, and re-elected; in 1900, chairman of the General Purposes Committee and later on other committees, such as those for Printing and for the working of the Contagious Diseases (Animals) Act, until he became County Alderman in 1912, a position he retained to the end. In 1889, on the formation of the Seadyke Charity—and what that meant to the Holm will be seen in the sequel—he joined the committee, and from 1896 acted as clerk. He was appointed a magistrate on July 3, 1894, and sat on the Wigton bench; also at Silloth, where he took the chair. During the later part of his life he was chairman of the Wigton Board of Guardians, on which he had represented Holme Abbey since 1898. He was also churchwarden and school manager and a member of the Wigton Union Assessment Committee.
He was known as an effective and ready speaker, with a head for figures, for practical commonsense and a strong turn towards economy in administration. He was an advocate of progress in agriculture, on which he wrote many articles in the Carlisle Journal, under the name of 'Rusticus.' When the Holm Cultram agricultural show was established at Silloth be became chairman of the committee and served for thirty-two years until 1923, when he retired. But besides the antiquities in which he was interested, he was a student of natural history and a supporter of the movement in Cumberland for the protection of wild birds.
Mr. Grainger was twice married; first to the youngest daughter of Thomas Chambers of Pelutho, by whom he left a large family; and secondly to Miss Alice Barnes of Kelsick, who survives him. During the Great War, in which one of his sons, a marine engineer, was lost, he acted as drainage officer under the Defence of the Realm Act, and later as clerk to the Wampool and Waver Drainage Board. At the age of sixty-nine years a seizure carried him off suddenly, on Tuesday, January 20th, 1925; and he was buried at St. Mary's, the abbey church of Holm Cultram.
There must be others than myself, to whom the memory is very distinct, who can recall his first appearance with our Antiquarian Society. It was on a bright day in June, 1900, at our first meeting after the loss of Chancellor Ferguson and under the presidency of the late Bishop Ware. We had been viewing the Abbey church, guided by the Rev. Arthur Sheppard and the Rev. G. E. Gilbanks —names of note in this local history. We clambered off the coaches at Raby Cote and, standing in the picturesque doorway, Mr. Grainger talked to us, as one that had authority and not as the scribes, lucid, audible and unembarrassed by his MS. He told the story of the Chambers family as old friends of his, and brought them to life again. The Bishop's thanks for that address were warm, and all the party shared in the appreciation. Mr. Grainger was elected a member of the Society and his paper was printed in the first volume of the New Series of our Transactions.
It was followed by other articles:—'The Holm Cultram chapels' (N.S. ii); 'The Sixteen Men of Holm Cultram' (n.s. iii); 'A note on the Hellywell at St. Cuthbert's Stone, Waverbridge' (n.s. xii); 'The Cumberland Yeoman in past times' (n.s. xiv); 'Poor Relief in Cumberland in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries '(n.s. xv); and 'James Jackson's Diary, 1650 to 1683' (n.s. xxi). He took the initiative in explorations at the Abbey in 1906, reported by Mrs. Hesketh Hodgson (n.s. vii) and by Mr. J. H. Martindale (n.s. xiii), and in various attempts to dig at the old chapel-sites, as well as giving great assistance at meetings held in his district. In 1923 he was elected a member of the Society's Council. His last paper was given at Bromfield church on July 3rd, 1924, on one of his own family, the William Grainger, vicar of Bromfield, who was ejected under the Act of Uniformity of 1662. In his later life he collected and re-wrote the papers which appear in this volume. On his death the Council of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian Society agreed to print them in the Society's Record Series, with the addition of the Register of the Abbey, without which a book on Holm Cultram would hardly be complete.
During many years there has been a demand for the Holm Cultram Register or Cartulary in a readable form. The Latin abstract in Dugdale's Monasticon (new edition, vol. v, pp. 594ff.) can be seen by local students at the Fratry, Carlisle, but they need a version which includes something of the history and topography, not fully treated by Dugdale's editor. The original MS. in possession of the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle is a sealed book to the general reader. Among the papers of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian Society at Tullie House, Carlisle, are transcripts not only of the Carlisle MS. but also of charters at the British Museum, adding considerably to the matter; but these are without notes or dates.
Both the late Canon James Wilson and Chancellor Prescott were asked to consider a full edition of the Cartulary, to rank with the Wetherhal and the St. Bees, which have been so useful to us all. But neither of these eminent men were able to carry out the proposals. When Mr. Francis Grainger had nearly completed his collection of Holm Cultram records, I suggested to him, and he accepted the suggestion, that his book would be all the more welcome if it gave a summary of the charters. His lamented death left this part of the task to me. Our volume therefore contains an abstract in English of all accessible charters relating to Holm Cultram, omitting common-form but including all the names and essential information of the original, with notes and dates as far as I have been able to supply them; and in the second part, Mr. Grainger's papers on the history of the parish up to recent times.
With permission from the Dean and Chapter I have read the original MS. of which our Society has a transcript. It was written by the end of the thirteenth century and it contains no information of a later date, as do the MSS. in the British Museum, except that seventeenth century hands have added a few entries. It was originally intended as a kind of scrap-book with the charters under topographical headings; but the copyists were not able to keep up their scheme when more charters had to be added and too little space had been left. Further, the MS. has been re-bound at least once, without setting the leaves in order. After the last binding the pages have been numbered; these numbers are sometimes quoted as of the leaves ('fol.' so-and-so) but they are of the pages. In spite of this confusion it has seemed better to follow the Carlisle MS. as it stands, quoting it as 'C.' with the page-number at the head of each paragraph taken from it.
An entry on p. 1 shows that the volume belonged to Mr. Blenerhasset, probably the sheriff of Cumberland in 1677–79; his family was of Carlisle and of Flimby near Holm Cultram, which perhaps may account for his possession of the book. Tanner indeed (Notitia, quoted in Hutchinson's Cumberland, ii, 328) mentioned a Register of the abbey 'formerly' in possession of Lord William Howard of Naworth, and 'lately' in the Carlisle Cathedral library; but as Bishop Nicolson noted (p. 1) 'This is not the same Register book which was in Lord William Howard's custody.' The Bishop had this book, he said, from Thomas Denton, recorder of Carlisle (1679–95) and author of the MS. account of Cumberland dated 1687–8; and Denton got the volume from Blenerhasset. It remained in the Bishop's family until 1777, when his nephew Joseph (of Nicolson and Burn) died and left it to the Cathedral library. If Bishop Tanner was not mistaken, some other copy was at Carlisle in his time. I am unable to explain the circumstances mentioned on p. 98 below, when 'this booke' was produced at a trial in 1695, the year in which Nicolson, not yet bishop, probably received it.
Taking the Carlisle MS. as the basis, I have inserted further entries from Canon Wilson's transcripts of the British Museum MSS. Of these the Harley MS. 3911, dating about 1300, contains notes which state that it belonged to Cuthbert Musgrave of Crookdake in Bromfield (near the abbey), either the Cuthbert of 1544 or his son. He had a great-grandson of the same name, but by that time the book was at Naworth, where in 1638-9 Roger Dodsworth took extracts now in the Bodleian Library (Dodsworth MS. 45). Copies of these are in the British Museum (part of Harl. MS. 294) and the matter supplied articles 24 to 84 of Dugdale's Monasticon (new edition) in which the book is said to be in possession of John Warburton. Articles 1 and 2 in that edition also came from this Harl. MS. 3911, of which the history is clear. But the Harl. MS. 3891, dating from about 1350, supplied articles 4 to 21 in the Monasticon (new edition), where they are attributed to a book penes Lord William Howard. This has suggested to Dr. H. H. E. Craster of the Bodleian Library, to whom I owe most of the information in this paragraph, that Lord William possessed two Holm Cultram registers, though Dugdale did not know it. In the following pages Harl. MS. 3911 is quoted as H. 1, and Harl. MS. 3891 as H.2; Dugdale as D.
Another MS., Harl. 1881, used for the Monasticon was a copy made for Hugh Todd, D.D., vicar of Penrith 1699 to 1728. Dugdale's editor said it tallied with all his entries except the last; and his last is a repetition of his first. The Todd transcript is said to be inaccurate; it adds nothing, and is not quoted here.
Bishop Nicolson, or a writer using a hand like his, copied into C. a few charters 'penes Thomas Salkeld esq.,' probably of Whitehall and the bishop's contemporary. They must have been originals, not leaves from a volume of copies. The Monasticon states that its article 3 is from the library of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge; but it is also found in the collected registers. A few original charters at Hesleyside, formerly in possession of John Charlton esq., were printed by the late Rev. John Hodgson in Archaeologia Aeliana, ii, 393ff. (1830) and are noticed here.
In our notes, 'F.F.' stands for Feet of Fines; 'P.R.' for Pipe Rolls; 'Wetheral' for Chancellor Prescott's edition of that Cartulary, and 'St. Bees' for Canon Wilson's volume. 'C. & W. Trans.' refers to the Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian Society.
In the notes I have been most kindly assisted by several friends, whose contributions are acknowledged as they occur; but I have especially to thank Mr. T. H. B. Graham for help in the dates and in the pedigrees, Mr. R. G. Collingwood for checking a number of references in chapters III, IX and XI, and Mr. R. C. Reid for information on subjects that take us north of the Solway. It will be understood that all words in square brackets are to be regarded as editor's notes, and further particulars of persons and places will be found in the index.
P. 19, line 8; as Cospatric is named in the 'foundation charter,' p. 92, read his date 1150-79; and for further particulars consult Mr. J. F. Curwen's recently published 'History of the Ancient House of Curwen' (Wilson, Kendal, 1928).