In the absence of any positive claim to the spiritual oversight of
Carlisle and this diaconate of Westmarieland, which had long been
neglected by the bishops of Durham, William Rufus after his conquest in 1092 appears to have tacitly annexed it to the diocese of
York, under the charge of the archdeacon of Richmond. This
annexation was confirmed by Henry 1 to archbishop Thomas between
the years 1109 and 1114. When the king, however, formed the
diocese of Carlisle in 1133 he compensated the archdeacon for his
loss of the northern halves of Cumberland and Westmorland by
persuading archbishop Thurstan to grant him special quasiepiscopal rights within his archdeaconry.
Of the twenty-four ancient churches in the Barony we find that
they are equally divided between Vicarages and Rectories. The
two at Appleby, Kirkby Stephen with its chapel at Brough, and
Morland were granted to St. Mary's abbey at York. Orton was
granted to Conishead Priory; Ravenstonedale to Watton Priory;
Crosby Ravensworth to Whitby abbey; Bampton, Shap and
Warcop to Shap abbey; while Askham and Barton were granted to
Wartre Priory. Twelve, that have remained Vicarages to this day.
Cliburn, Musgrave and Ormside although at first granted to St.
Mary's at York and Clifton to Wartre, were each ceded back to the
bishop of Carlisle as their respective revenues were deemed insufficient
to maintain a vicar or afford any benefit to the monasteries, the
abbots, however, reserved to themselves a pension from each rectory.
The advowson of Lowther appears to have been originally divided
into three parts, one being granted to the Priory of Carlisle, one to
the Priory of Watton, while the other third remained in lay hands;
it is now a rectory. At Asby and Kirkby Thore the abbeys of
Byland and Holm Cultram held considerable possessions there but
the churches remained as rectories; while again the churches of
Crosby Garrett, Dufton, Long Marton, Newbiggin and Brougham
have remained rectories on account principally of their small
revenues. Perhaps for them it is fortunate for on appropriation,
although the chancel of the church was maintained by the religious
house, the chief burden fell upon the parishioners who naturally
resented the diversion of most of the revenue to a wealthy body.
Then again, with the exception of the Augustinian canons, the
regular clergy seldom conducted services outside their own monasteries, as a general rule it was the secular clergy who were made
vicars, men who were poor and had to augment their inadequate
stipends as best they could. Gladly did some receive the right of
cutting timber for "housebote and haybote" (for house or hedge
repair), no small boon at a time when the vicarages were built of
wood, and sometimes they received the right of pasturing their
geese and cattle in the common pasture of the village, yet, without
the benefactions of the laity, appropriated churches could ill afford
both rectoral and crown taxation let alone find the money for the
growing need of rebuilding. It remains only to be said that in the
Valor Ecclesiasticus the word Synodalmeans a tribute to the bishop
or archbishop, and Procuration a payment to the archdeacon at the
time of his Visitation in lieu of hospitality.
The effect of the Scottish Wars of Independence upon the churches
in the devastated area is seen by Pope Clement's mandate to Bishop
John de Halton to ascertain afresh their true value. His Novo
Taxatio of 1318 reduced the total value of these twenty-four churches
from £764. 7. 8. to £116. This militant bishop, who had lost and
suffered so much at Rose Castle, confirmed the appropriation of
Warcop church to Shap abbey "in consideration of the ruined
condition and poverty to which the canons were reduced by the
incursions of the Scots."
The earlier names and dates in the lists of Incumbents that appear
in several churches, and printed here, are somewhat problematical
and should not be relied upon wholly unless proven by the foregoing
text or other documentary evidence.