North Westmorland
Catholic recusancy and Protestant Dissent


Institute of Historical Research



John F. Curwen

Year published




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'North Westmorland: Catholic recusancy and Protestant Dissent', The Later Records relating to North Westmorland: or the Barony of Appleby (1932), pp. 24-30. URL: Date accessed: 28 November 2014.


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An account of the strife for uniformity in religious matters that lasted for over one hundred years, makes sad reading but out of the darkness came a lasting freedom. It is impossible in two or three pages to give a full history of how the strife affected Westmorland but the following local notes may add somewhat to that which is already known.

In 1592 Queen Elizabeth caused a list to be prepared of all those who refused to acknowledge her supremacy in ecclesiastical matters and absented themselves from their parish church, so that warrants might be issued for proceeding against them. The following is the list of those in North Westmorland, as sent to the Exchequer.

Machell, Anthonyof Appleby.
Smythe, Richard"
Webster, William,"
Atkinson, Jenkin,of Brough
Blenkinsop, Margaret, widow,"
Dicconson, Alice wife of Christopher,"
Rudd, Jennet, spinster,"
Blenkinsop, Henryof Hilbeck.
Boste, Frances wife of Lancelot,of Dufton.
Lane, Matthew,of Kirkby Thore.
Wharton, Thomas and Anne his wife"
Salkeld, Jane wife of Oswald,of Morland.
Whitfield, Maria wife of Cuthbert,of Bolton.
Barton, Francis,of Ormside.
Lancaster, Frances wife of Lancelot,of Patterdale.
Hilton, Andrew and Alice his wife,of Warcop.
Hilton, Maria, John and Winifreda,"
Budgell, John.

Unfortunately there is no counterpart in North Westmorland to the famous Rydal Hall deeds of this period (See Records of Kendale, vol. iij, 43ff.), neither do the Rolls of Quarter Sessions throw much light upon the struggle until we come to the Sessions held on 6 February, 1678–9, when the following list was prepared of the known popish recusants with a note as to whether the oath of Allegiance was taken or refused by them.

Orton parish.Andrew Dennison and Elizabeth his wifeRefused.
William GawthorpeRefused.
K. Stephen parish.Christopher JeffersonRefused.
Ann wife of Francis FawcettOath taken.
Leonard Wharton and Margaret his wifeRefused.
Brough parishThomas Blenkinsopp and Ann his wifeRefused.
Dorothy and Katherine daughters of Thomas BlenkinsopRefused.
Mark Nicholson aged 90, not able to travel.
Mary Askell, widowRefused.
Bongate parish.Elizabeth Hilton wife of Mr. Thomas HiltonRefused.
Edmond Sandford, lives not in the county.
Elizabeth Kennedy wife of Thomas KennedyRefused.
Agnes Atkinson, not able to travel.
K. Thore parish.Elizabeth Breaks wife of William BreaksConformed.
Alice and Elioner Beerpark (?)Conformed.
William Colston and Elizabeth his wifeConformed.
Newbiggin parish.William Hudleston and Mary his wifeRefused.
Mrs. Skelton sister of the above WilliamRefused.
Bampton parishMr. William Howard and his wife, not able to travel.
Brougham parish.Mr. John Catterick and Margaret his wifeOath taken.
Elioner and Margaret Birkbeck.
Mrs. Dorothy Pool.
Elizabeth Craston.
Mary Bousfield.
Margaret Walker.
Barton parish.Elizabeth ClarkOath taken.

After a conspiracy against William III with the hope of replacing James II on the throne, an "Association" was formed throughout the Kingdom for the defence of his majesty. Among those who joined the Association in 1696 we notice the names of William Wilkinson, vicar of Crosby Ravensworth; Matthew Rudd, schoolmaster of "Russendale"; Henry Fleming, rector of Asby; Roger Kenion, vicar of Orton; William Atkinson, vicar of Morland; Thomas Jackson, schoolmaster of, and Thomas Knott, vicar of Bampton; Rowland Barrow, rector of Brougham and Clifton; Richard Holme, rector of Lowther and Lancelot Sisson, curate of Thrimby.

It then became more than ever necessary to require from the recusants the oaths of Allegiance and Abjuration, as set out in the Act of I William and Mary, and a further declaration against the doctrine of Transubstantiation and the Invocation of Saints according to the Act of 30 Charles 11. The wording of these oaths is given in Records of Kendale, vol. iii, p. 122.

Upon instructions from her majesty's Privy Council directed to the Rt. Hon. Thomas Lord Wharton bearing date 15 July, 1706, and in obedience thereto the Justices ordered the High Constables of the East and West Wards to send forth their warrants to the petty constables to inquire, make and schedule a list of all papists suspected to be disaffected to her majesty's government, with their quality, estate and place of abode. The following refused to take the oath.

John Hudleston of Haile Grange, gent.

George Miller of Stainmore, yeo.

William Leight of Temple Sowerby, yeo.

Andrew Dennison of Tebay, yeo.

William Robinson of Tebay, yeo.

The Jacobite rising of 1715 was the cause for the compilation of the English Catholic Nonjuror Register, so that the authorities might keep control upon all such as might be suspected of sympathising with the Pretender. In this Register we find the following:—

John Hudleston, of Haile Grange, in Newbiggin, gent., possessing a copyhold house, he having five children to maintain.

John Mounsey, of Great Stainton in parish of Dacre, co. Cumberland, yeoman, possessing a copyhold house called "Tenterhow" in the parish of Barton, valued at £4. 15s. per annum.

Edward Sisson of ditto. yeoman, possessing a copyhold house at Crosdormont in the parish of Barton, valued at £21. 10s. per annum.

Sisson and Dorothy Mounsey conjointly possessing a house called "Crosdormont" in the occupation of William Mounsey, valued at £16 per annum.

Isabelle Dennyson, widow, possessing a house called "Netherend" in the parish of Orton.

John Warwick, of Warwick Hall, co. Cumberland, esquire, possessing an estate at Bampton and Shap, held in trust for him, valued at £188. 10s. per annum. He was a son of Thomas Warwick who died in 1689; he married Mary daughter of Francis Howard of Corby, and dying in 1720 left a son, Francis.

The following recusants on 5 October, 1778, took and subscribed the oath of Allegiance as prescribed in an Act for the relief of Roman Catholics:—Jeffery, John, Thomas and Mary Wharton.

Protestant Recusants.

Under the policy of Clarendon and Sheldon the strict inforcement of all the penal laws against Romanist and Protestant Recusants alike was urged, and therefore we find the Deputy Lieutenants of Cumberland and Westmorland, in writing to Sir Henry Bennet (afterwards Lord Arlington), saying on 10 August, 1663, that "the Quakers and other Separatists are numerous in the district and that their weekly meetings are apprehended as dangerous. Although we have proceeded according to law against some of them, they abate nothing of their obstinacy."

On 11 January, 1663/4, we have a list of the people called Quakers who stand "indicted for unlawfully assembling themselves under pretence of religious worship," with the amounts of their fines. Those marked with an asterisk were also imprisoned.

John Morland100s.
*Rob. Bowman, Bampton40s.
Anth. Bownass, Shap60s.
Nich. Denkin80s.
*Tho. Sowerby60s.
Edw. Guy, Appleby100s.
John Salkeld50s.
*John Kendall50s.
*John Browne50s.
*Wm. Fallowfield50s.
*Hy. Bowman, Bampton50s.
Wm. Bland50s.
Ric. Arey and other150s.
*Rob. Hutchinson & other150s.
Edw. Winter, Morland40s.
Geo. Barwick50s.
Wm. Barwick, Shap50s.
Tho. Smith, Sleagill60s.
Edm. Robinson, Newby40s.
Wm. Hebson and other150s.
*Tho. Langhorn and other150s.
Rob. Robinson60s.
Geo. Dennison, Hilton50s.
John Bolton and other150s.
*Tho. Langhorne100s.
Sum Total£97 0s.0d.

Quarter Sessions ordered that William Dobson of Kirkby Thore and John Ion of Mauld's Meaburn do take to their assistance the constables of the several parishes where the above persons do reside and collect the said sums by distress and sale of their goods and to give an account at the next Sessions.

For this same cause the following were fined at the Easter Sessions held on 18 April, 1664. The sum total amounted to £68. 10. 8d. with the same instructions for distress warrants.

Rob. Hebson, Gt. Strickland66s.8d.
Tho. Langhorn, Helton120s.
Anth. Bownass, Shap110s.
John Hebson, Murbar66s.8d.
Rob. Winter, Morland66s.8d.
Anth. Burrow, G. Strickland100s.
Geo. Dennison, Hilton101s.
Hy. Bowman, Bampton101s.
Tho. Hebson, Gt. Strickland50s.
Edw. Guy, Appleby120s.
Wm. Barwick, Shap101s.
Geo. Barwick, Shap101s.
Ric. Haison, Shap66s.8d.
Ric. Whitehead, Shap66s.8d.
Lanc. Fallowfield66s.8d.
John Airey, Shap66s.8d.

Then at the Sessions held on 20 July, 1664, "Forasmuch as the following persons met together under the pretence of the exercise of religion contrary to the liturgy of the Church of England and contrary to the Act made the last Session of Parliament, we do therefore adjudge them to be convict and have assessed the fines and they refusing to pay the same have committed them to custody."

Anth. Bownass, Shap66s.8d.Gaol for 2 months.
Wm. Whitehead, Hardingdale66s.8d." 6 weeks
Ric. Barwick, Shap66s.8d." 6 weeks
Rob. Robinson, Newby66s.8d." 3 months
John Bolton, Bongate66s.8d." 2 months
Wm. Hebson, Sleagill66s.8d." 6 weeks
John Barwick, Shap66s.8d.H. of Correction 6 weeks
Jas. Fallowfield66s.8d." 5 weeks
Edw. Winter, Morland40s." 5 weeks.
Wm. Bland, Newby50s." 1 month
Rob. Bowman, Bampton40s.Adjudged 2 months but fled
John Smith, Sleagill66s.8d." 3 months "

At the Sessions held in the following October, Gran. Whitehead, Margaret Bownass and Agnes Whinfell were each fined £3. 6. 8, while Thomas Langhorn, Henry and Robert Bowman were convicted for the third offence.

On 10 December, 1667, the Lords of the Council wrote to the Justices in Westmorland requiring a list of all prisoners confined for their religious beliefs, with particulars of the time and cause of their commitment, especially of that sort of people called Quakers, and the opinion of the Justices concerning them respectively, distinguishing those who may be fit objects of the King s mercy from those who are ringleaders of faction.

Sir Philip Musgrave and Daniel Fleming, however, could find no mercy. The latter writing to Secretary Joseph Williamson on 19 Aug., 1670, says, "Your smart actings at London against conventiclers have given us so good an example, as we are following it in this county as well as we can. We have convicted many Quakers and are levying of their fines which make some of them come to church and in time will, I hope, make many more conform. Our Independents keep close and are cunning, they not exceeding the number mentioned in the Act. And after we have routed all conventicles, the levying of 12d. for every Sunday will I hope bring them to the church. It is as clear as the day that nothing will convince them of their errors so soon as the drawing of money from them."

Then came the famous Declaration of Indulgence, 15 March, 1671/2, by which Charles 11 suspended the operation of most of the penal laws in matters Ecclesiastical against those of his subjects who did not conform to the Church of England. It lasted but one year, being withdrawn on 7 March, 1672/3. The Test Act was passed on the 29th of the same month and on 12 February, 1674/5 the King issued his recantation "that no Conventicle hath any authority, allowance or encouragement from us." Soon after James 11 came to the throne, in April, 1687, he issued his Declaration for liberty of conscience, giving his subjects leave to "meet and serve God after their own way and manner, be it in private houses or places purposely built or hired for that use," on the understanding that such places were to be made known to and licensed by the magistrates. Two years later came the Toleration Act of 1689, which, although it did not alter the law, relieved from penalty all persons who took the new oath of allegiance and supremacy and also made a declaration against Popery, and which further allowed the Quakers to substitute an affirmation for the oath. While it did not relax the provisions of the Test Act it laid the foundation of religious liberty, and from it dates the legal existence of Nonconformist congregations.

The following is a list of Certificates granted by Quarter Sessions to houses set apart for religious worship by Protestants "defealing' from the Church of England, so that they be used according to law.

1699.The house of John Martindale of Bleatarn.
1700." Edward Hollyday of Bleatarn.
1702." John Airey of Butterwick Green, Bampton.
1702." Thomas Atkinson of Gand Busk, Shap.
1702." Henry Lycock of Gatelands, Morland.
1703." William Scaife in Warcop.
1703." John Bus—in Mallerstang.
1705." Anth. Robinson of Drykeld in Ravenstonedale.
1705." Thomas Elliot in K. Stephen.
1727." John Parkin in Ravenstonedale.
1731." Robert Chamberlain in K. Stephen.
1741." John Bell in Crosby Garrett.
1754." Joseph Richardson in Crosby Garrett.
1761." Thomas Shepherd of K. Stephen.
1802." Thomas Pearson of Long Marton.
1807.A Meeting House for Quakers in Morland.
1810.A building belonging to Joseph Breaks in Newbiggin.
1810." John Brunskill in Gaisgill, Orton.
1810." Robert Wharton in Orton.
1819.A Chapel belonging to Benjamin Hewetson in Ravenstonedale.
1849." Rev. Alexander Mansie in Orton.