The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby. Originally published by Titus Wilson and Son, Kendal, 1932.
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THE PARISH OF ST. OSWALD, RAVENSTONEDALE.
In this parish we have a Stone Circle near Rawthey Bridge; Ancient Villages at Old Biggin and "Severals"; Lynchets at Capel Butts and Capel Riggs; Monastic remains and the site of St. Helen's Chapel and well at Newbiggin-on-Lune.
Thorphin, son of Robert, son of Copsus, during the reign of Henry 11, granted the church to the priory of Watton in the East Riding of Yorkshire, which was founded in 1150 for nuns and canons of the new English order of Gilbert de Sempringham. The church, however, does not appear to have been appropriated fully before the year 1336.
In 1276 a curious dispute arose between the priory and Robert de Chauncy, bishop of Carlisle, and later Bishop John de Halton (1292–1324) in his Register made a note concerning a presentment of obedience owed by the priors of Sempringham, to whom the priory of Watton was attached, to the bishopric of Carlisle in respect of this church.
The "Antique Taxatio Ecclesiastica" of Pope Nicholas IV, made in the year 1291, values the living at £6. 10. 6. yearly, but the "Novo Taxatio" of Pope Clement v, made in the year 1318, reduces the value to £2. There is no mention of this church in the "Valor Ecclesiasticus" of 26 Henry VIII, 1535.
It being alleged, in 1405, that for some considerable time past the Priory of Watton had not kept a master and three canons to dwell in the cell of Ravenstonedale, John de Preston and the sheriff of Westmorland were commissioned to enquire into it. Failure to celebrate for the good estate of the king and the souls of his progenitors and to do alms and other works of piety in any cell was a very serious thing according to the original foundation of the priory. Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1405, p. 63.
After the suppression of the monastery in 1539, Henry VIII granted the church and manor of Ravenstonedale to Archbishop Holgate of York during his life, and in November, 1546, he granted the reversion to Sir Thomas Wharton for the sum of £935. 16. 8. When the Wharton estates were confiscated in 1727 and sold to Robert Lowther, the great and small tithes and oblations within the parish were sold to the inhabitants. From earliest times none of these tithes were ever allocated for the use of a vicar, the cure being supplied by regulars sent out from the priory, so that the church continued to be a perpetual curacy.
In the Westmorland Certificate, under date 10 March, 1645–6, the names appear of Thomas Dodgson, minister, and William and Anthony Fothergill as elders. On 15 February, 1654, the Commissioners approved of Thomas Dodgson as a person qualified to preach the gospel, as follows:—Whereas the Commissioners for propagating the gospel in the four Northern Counties of Northumberland, Cumberland, Westmorland and Durham, by their order of 2 July, 1651, granted the yearly sum of £40 to Mr. Thomas Dodgson, minister of Ravenstonedale, it is ordered that the said yearly sum of £40 be and the same is hereby continued for such time as Mr. Dodgson shall discharge the duty of the minister of the said place or till further order. Unwilling to comply with the Act of Uniformity, Dodgson was ejected from the living, but under the pressure put upon him by the gentry of the neighbourhood he conformed in 1664 and continued at Ravenstonedale till his death in January, 1672–3.
That the right of presentation to the church is in Philip lord Wharton. That Mr. Thomas Dodgson is present incumbent there and hath for his maintenance £20 by the year usually paid out of the tithes of Ravenstonedale. And hath likewise £40 per annum augmentation paid him by the Trustees for Maintenance of Ministers during their pleasure. That there is no glebe land nor houses belonging to the Rectory or Vicarage of Ravenstonedale saving one glebe little garth and two old housesteads not worth above 6s. 8d. by the year.
Machel in describing this early church in 1688, says, it is "an old conventual church with a row of three substantial round pillars and four arches just in the middle. On the south side of the altar was a piece allotted by dispensation of Bishop Potter for teaching a school." Fifteen years later Bishop Nicolson speaks of it as "a large and handsome church, the quire part the worst but all repaired at the common charge of the parish. The altar has no rails and stands at a distance from the east window, having two rows of seats betwixt it and that for the scholars."
The church was rebuilt in 1744 near the old site. The original contract is still preserved, between Robert Mounsey the vicar and John Martin the builder, for pulling down of the old church and the erection of the present one, the steeple having been built six years earlier.
ST. AIDANS', NEWBIGGIN-ON-LUNE.
Ravenstonedale Grammar School.
In 1668 Thomas Fothergill, born at Brownber and who became Master of St. John's College, Cambridge, left money for the foundation of a free grammar school here. By deed dated 9 June, 1688, Abraham Fothergill established it according to the intention of Thomas.
With the money given by the founders and others three estates were purchased for the sum of £447, viz, with £140 was purchased 84 acres of land at Blaterne, called Horngill, which the trustees sold in 1703 to Thomas Pattinson of Breeks, subject to a rent charge thereout of £6 a year. Another estate was purchased at Foxellrigg in the parish of Sedbergh for £112, which the trustees sold subject to a rent charge of £5 a year. Another estate was purchased at Bowsfield in the parish of Orton for £195 which remains for the benefit of the school. There was a further endowment by Thomas lord Wharton who gave a rent charge of £5 by deed dated 13 August, 1705, payable out of the estate at Raine in Orton.
In 1758 a new school-house and residence were built by subscription. In 1873 the school was reconstituted and new buildings erected at the cost of Richard Gibson, the upper floor being also used for public meetings.
With 14th century windows, was rebuilt in 1664 by George Fothergill. Over the front door are the initials and date G.F., I.F., 1664, George having married Julian second daughter of Richard Skelton of Armathwaite. Here lived Sir Thomas Fothergill, standard bearer to the first lord Wharton, when Lord Warden of the Western March (1537–42).
Crooks Beck, North, in Ravenstonedale Town End.
Rawthey Bridge, over the river Rawthey, between Ravenstonedale and Cautley.
On 20 March, 1584–5, Queen Elizabeth issued a commission to Robert Tempest and seven other esquires of the counties of York and Westmorland to enquire about the late fall of Rawthey Bridge and to take measures for the rebuilding of the same. On 13 April following Richard Dudley wrote that he could not meet the Commissioners on the 26th inst. for he had a horse to run that day in the race at Langwathby. And so the matter rested for a year until the earl of Huntingdon wrote again to Robert Tempest, on 5 May, 1586, saying that her majesty's subjects were much troubled for want of repair of Rawthey Bridge. On 12 September, the Queen and her Council wrote again to Tempest in which she says that "she marvels at their negligence in the execution of her former orders concerning the rebuilding of Rawthey Bridge and straightly commands them to meet at Sedbergh on the 7th or 8th October in order to take measures in the matter and make certificate of their proceedings before the 20th of May next. The remains of the abutment of this wooden bridge can be seen still, but there is no mention as to when stone arches were thrown across a new site. The new bridge appears upon the list of public bridges made on 28 April, 1679.
On 2 May, 1709, Quarter Sessions ordered that 4d. in the pound be assessed and levied for the repairing or rebuilding of the Westmorland half of the bridge, which ever plan will be found most convenient; and that such Justices who are pleased to be present do meet at the house of widow Bousfield in Ravenstonedale the 24 May to contract with some able and skilful workmen for the purpose. On 10 July, 1733, upon the petition of the inhabitants of Ravenstonedale, Quarter Sessions ordered the High Constables of the East and West Wards to view the causey adjoining to Rawthey Bridge and contract for its necessary repair with some experienced workmen. In 1820 a new bridge with a single arch was built, 80 yards below the old one. On 11 November, 1913, it was reported that the arch forms a complete semi-circle, rising 17 feet in a span of 34 feet.
Smardale, over the Scandale Beck.
At the Quarter Sessions held at Appleby on 12 April, 1602, it was ordered that an assessment of 5d. in the pound should be levied on the Bottom of Westmorland for the repair of four bridges of which Smardale was one. On 18 July, 1649, at the Assize held at Appleby, sixteen bridges were presented as in decay after the Civil War, of which Smardale was one, when it was ordered that 4s. in the pound should be assessed and levied upon the whole County towards the repair of the same. Eighteenpence a year was paid out of the Crosby Garrett school stock for the repair of this bridge; and in 1662 this wooden bridge received benefit from £1 left by John Richardson. In 1685 Smardale Bridge was declared to be a "public bridge repairable by the County."
Stenesceugh over Scandale Beck.
On 16 July, 1745, Quarter Sessions ordered the High Constables of the East and West Wards to inform themselves whether "Steneshay Bridge" in Ravenstonedale be one of the public bridges of the County and make a report on 10 August next ensuing to the Justices who will give such directions as they shall think proper. The report was that it was a public County bridge, and it appears so on the list made in 1825. On 5 March, 1891, the bridge was reported as having a span of 20 feet, a rise of 4 feet 9 inches and a clear 8 feet width of roadway over it. Neither history or legend can say how it ever became a bridge repairable by the County seeing that it carries only a fell-track.
The prior of Watton appeared against Thomas son of Thomas Lambe of Wateby in a plea wherefore with force and arms he took and carried away turf to the value of 100s. belonging to the said prior in a several turbary at Ravenstonedale. De Banco Roll, 477, m. 299d.
When Henry VII granted the reversion of the manor to Sir Thomas Wharton the number of landholders in the dale was 187 and of these 138 held 1020 acres or an average of 7 acres each. The holdings were small but with the extensive common rights were sufficient to maintain a family in fair comfort in those days.
Thomas lord Wharton enclosed a large deer park by removing the tenants within the prescribed area under pressure, and as a feudal lord was able to do. He compensated them with lands elsewhere but required them to build a piece of the outside wall in proportion to the size of the land allocated. The work was begun on the morrow of Michaelmas Day, 1560, and finished in one year and one month, November, 1561. The total cost is said to have been £127. 16. 0. Some parts of this wall, nine feet in height, are said to remain to this day.
When Christopher Jackson was ejected from the church of Crosby Garrett for nonconformity he obtained a livelihood upon a little estate in Ravenstonedale, doubtless as one of lord Wharton's tenants. Preaching occasionally he laid the foundation of what was popularly called a Presbyterian but in reality a Congregational Church. Eventually with the aid of Lord Wharton a chapel was built, but at what date is not known. In 1693 Philip lord Wharton granted by his will the sum of £100 for the support of the cause here, the Rev. Timothy Punshon being the then minister. Punshon was followed by James Mitchell who was here on 5 April, 1697, when £4 was allowed him from the Congregational Fund Board. He was buried here on 15 September, 1712. John Magee followed being ordained as minister here on 14 April, 1713–14. His appointment, however, was the occasion for a secession of a portion of the congregation who were perhaps more inclined to Arianism. Caleb Rotherham ministered to these secessionists until he removed to Kendal; and he was followed by James Mallison. John Magee, however, remained with the principal body till 1732, and his successor "appointed by the major part of the congregation" on 9 September, 1733, was James Ritchie. His course of life was no more smooth for after he had ministered twelve months an attempt was made by the trustees to remove him from office. In a law suit that followed Ritchie obtained judgment and the people lost a considerable sum of money.
In early times the Noncomformists were accustomed to attend the Parish Church as well as their own Meeting house. Dr. Burn says, "In the old (Parish) Church there was a small bell called the Saints' bell," which was wont to be rung after the Nicene Creed, to call in the dissenters to the sermon."
After a time we find James Tetley as minister here from 1767 to 1774; James Somerville, 1775 to 1781; Mr. Smith, 1784 to 1790; John Hill, 1790 to 1809; James Muscutt, 1811 to 1815; R. H. Bonner, 1817 to 1835; and William Hasell, 1836 to 1837. Mr. Hasell, it appears, seceded to the Wesleyans and with him went a considerable portion of the congregation, for whom the Wesleyan Chapel was erected in 1839. However in 1837 Mr. Sedgwick was appointed, Mr. Bryan in 1844, and from 1846 to 1856 W. Mathison was minister here. Then came the union with Kirkby Stephen until 1863 when they became separate again. The Revs. J. Barnfather, 1863 to 1867; R. Pool, 1868 to 1869; William Nicholls, 1869 to 1883; W. M. Fell, 1884 to 1887; and C. Illingworth in 1887. Mr. Illingworth was thought so well of as a philanthropist that at the Guild Hall, York, the Lord Mayor presented him with an address and a purse containing £150 on his departure for Ravenstonedale. The Dean of York and Canon Fleming spoke at the meeting, and to the testimonial the Archbishop of York sent £5, with a request that his name be added to the list of subscribers.
The Chapel was rebuilt in 1726, and in 1802 the sum of £250 was spent in removing a cottage which stood in front against the road, enlarging the burial ground, and building a vestry for Sunday school purposes.
1669–72 Hearth Tax Roll
William Fothergill of Adamthwaite and Richard Clarkson were presented to Quarter Sessions for not bringing their children to the parish church to be baptised. On 10 March, 1674, Edmund Newby was presented for burying and baptising contrary to the rites of the Church of England. On 14 April, 1675, Thomas Fawcett was presented for burying his wife in a field. And on 10 November of the same year Richard Adamthwaite was likewise presented for burying his father, William, contrary to the rites of the Church of England.
Quarter Sessions ordered that the constable of Ravenstonedale should attach Robert Shaw, Henry Bousfield, Richard Alderson and Christopher Todd, the former church wardens of Ravenstonedale, and bring them before the next Justice of the Peace to enter recognizance for their appearance at the next Quarter Sessions to be held at Appleby on 8 May next. They were indicted for failing to deliver a list of all such persons who neglected to attend their parish church. Either the church wardens were slack in their duties or else had a fellow feeling towards their nonconforming neighbours.
John Fawcett of Ravenstonedale, yeo. was indicted for buying of divers unknown persons one hundred "calfe skins in the hare," each valued at 1s., contrary to the form of the Statute. He was fined 16s. 8d.
Anthony Robinson of Ravenstonedale, quaker, left by will to his nephew John Robinson 20s. yearly for life at Midsummer, "£10 at six months and £10 at two years after my decease, and if my said nephew John Robinson be not content with what I have herein given him and give disturbance . . . then he shall have no benefit." To Ralph and John, sons of the nephew John Robinson, he gives the tenant-right estate at Dovengill in Ravenstonedale, equally divided, and "the cupboard, great table and dish-bench, allmery and four bedsteads or bedstocks" . . . To John Perkin his servant he gives his messuage at Wandale in Ravenstonedale of 3s. ancient rent, conditionally on his allowing his father and mother to have the mean profits for three years. Among a large number of monetary bequests he grants £5 to be added to the poor stock. Dovengill is to be let at once and the profits put to interest for Ralph and John or to be spent on their education "and I desire them to provide a book and to enter therein all receipts and disbursements . . . and I do authorise Abraham Dent and Godfrey Milner yearly to examine the said accounts."
On a petition to Quarter Sessions by the people called Quakers desiring to have a barn in Ravenstonedale for a place of meeting for religious worship; it appeared to the Court that the same would be a great disturbance to the church, the place being near adjoining thereto, and it also appeared that the said people called Quakers have already a convenient place set apart and licenced in the parish, it was therefore ordered that the petition be refused.
Upon the petition of the inhabitants of Ravenstonedale complaining that John Hunter doth suffer evil rule and disorder to be kept in his public house in the said parish, and this Court being satisfied of the truth, it is therefore ordered that the said John Hunter shall forthwith surcease and be suppressed from any longer keeping any ale house or selling of bread and other victuals, beer, ale or other excisable liquors, with instructions to the constable to forthwith cause his sign to be pulled down and removed.
Presentment that John Parkin being seised of one close commonly called the Meeting House garth in Ravenstonedale did peacefully and quietly continue his possession of the same until James Ritchie of Ravenstonedale, John Miller of Asfell, Christopher Bousfield of Bowderdale and many others did on 20 August with force and arms that is to say with staves, swords, files and gravelocks enter the said close and with strong hands and armed power did drive out and remove the said John Parkin from his possession and have with power kept him out to this day against the peace of our sovereign lord the king, etc.
During the cattle distemper Thomas Fawcett of Weesdal in Ravenstonedale received a certificate to drive certain cattle to K. Stephen for sale which had been for two months entirely free from infection or distemper. The Certificate was attested by Robert Mounsey, curate at Ravenstonedale. Kendal Notes and Queries, n. 1013.
Philip Handley of Nathwaite, Ravenstonedale, in his will bequeathed £20 to Simon and John Alderson to be used for "the members of the Quaker's Meeting, so called, in Ravenstonedale." "To my nephew Isaac, son of John Handley my estate of tenant right at Nathwaite which was devised to me by my eldest brother Joseph, etc."
Presentment that Thomas and William Elliotson with force and arms did obstruct and block up a certain ancient water course adjoining the King's highway between the market towns of Orton and K. Stephen with gravels and other materials, by reason whereof the rain and waters that were wont to flow down the said course did and do overflow and remain in the King s highway to its great hurt. Also that Thomas Elliotson, by reason of his tenure of adjoining lands, ought to repair and maintain a certain ancient Foot Bridge, called Bootherdale leading from the town of Ravenstonedale to the market town of Orton, it being 20 feet in length and 3 feet in breadth and in great decay for want of reparation.
Isaac Handley of Nathwaite left by his will to his son Thomas his estate called Wandall to have and to hold according to the custom of the manor of Ravenstonedale; also all his tithes of corn, grain, hay, wool, lambs, calves, foals, bees, etc. To his youngest son Joseph he left his estate called Howgill, consisting of Fall, Fall Parrock, Backside and Great Intake and tithes, etc. "To my brother Edward Smith of Townhead, cordwainer, the Building or Meeting House at Street, with a garth or burying place at Dovengill Lane Head, also a garth or burying place at Wath and tithes, etc.
Dr. Thomas Gibson says, "Close by the road to Sedbergh, at Fell End, is what appears to be a compound of old school-houses and barn, but a portion of which is really an ancient Friends' Meeting-house. Just within the gate, to the left on entrance, without memorial-stone or anything to mark the spot, lie the remains of several Friends who have been interred here. It is a lonely neglected place." This must refer to the Meeting-house at Street above referred to.
Indenture made between Annie Brunskill and Isabel Brunskill, both of Ravenstonedale, spinsters, of the one part, and William Batty and many others of the second part. Witnesses that for 5s. the said Anne and Isabel Brunskill have sold to those of the second part, all that freehold barn with ground behind at Ravenstonedale, bounded on the north by the village street, on the south by lands of William Batty, on the east by Miss Hodgson's barn and on the west by the waste; for one year at a pepper corn rent.
On the following day the same parties, with the addition of the Rev. Abel Dernaley of Appleby, Superintendant Preacher of the Circuit, as of the third part, made Indenture that for £27. 10. o the said Misses Brunskill sold to those of the second part, all the ground as described above for the building of a Chapel for the use of the Wesleyan Methodists. Close Roll, 12231, pt. 199, n. 10, 11.