Pages vi-vii

Records Relating To the Barony of Kendale: Volume 3. Originally published by Titus Wilson and Son, Kendal, 1926.

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The North Riding Record Society have issued nine volumes of Quarter Sessions Records from 1605-1780 which are admirable in that they give not only a pretty full transcript of the text but also retain the old verbose forms and spellings. The present author is fully conscious that antiquaries will regret that the North Riding example has not been followed, but, if that had been attempted, nine or more volumes would have been needed instead of this one. As therefore a full and literal transcript was out of the question there seemed to be no call for keeping the old spelling.

He has been compelled to omit all Poor Law cases, maintenance, settlement, conveyance of vagrants and bastardy; with far greater reluctance all military matters such as the assessments for the army, the billeting of soldiers, the conveyance of their baggage, the relief of the lame and maimed and of the widows and orphans of such as had been slain, and further all reference to the impoverishment and distress prevailing on the occasions of the Scottish army marching through the Barony. Neither has it been possible to include the frequent appointments of Gamekeepers in connection with the history of the Game-laws, they are always described as generosus or gentlemen and there are instances of the position being held by the clergy.

Misdemeanours and felonies have only been touched upon to show what we should now consider the cruel punishments inflicted. For the stealing of goods valued at a few pence, men and women were stript to the waist and marched through the open market, or, as in some cases, from the Market Square down to Blindbeck Bridge, and whipt with the cat-o'-ninetails till their blood came. There is no instance where the Court of Quarter Sessions exercised the power of life and death, such as are to be met with in the North Riding Sessions (1651) where for horse stealing men were ordered to be hanged by the neck until they were dead. Neither do we find any indictments against sorcery and the practice of the magical arts. That witchcraft existed and was in active play throughout a great part of the 18th century is known and the fact that no cases are recorded is not a little curious.

There are several orders for "briefs" (fn. 1) to be issued to the churches and all charitable people, recommending that assistance should be given to those who had sustained loss by fire, such as:—It is therefore desired by this Court that the respective Ministers within the Barony read this recommendation upon the Sabbath day in the middle of Divine Service and exhort their parishioners to a liberal charity and contribution to this distressed person.

Chief attention, however, has been given to the growth of the Townships:—the building up of the churches and the pastorate; the growth of religious liberty as witnessed in the houses set apart for the worship of those "defealing" from the Church of England; the development of the highways; the formation of culverts beneath the roads in place of the open runners that spread out and flooded the ways; the substitution of stone for wooden bridges and their subsequent widening or rebuilding to accommodate vehicular traffic.

It is hoped that it will be possible to gather up the history of the long struggle for the efficient maintenance of both the roads and the bridges, how that at first the obligation was thrust upon the adjoining landowners and then upon the parishes; how that Henry VIII in 1530 ordered Quarter Sessions to take over, at the county's expense, all bridges and three hundred feet of the highway at either end where the rightful persons who ought to repair the same could not be ascertained; how that by the Acts of 1555 and 1562 enforced labour was exacted from every householder and by that of 1662 how that the surveyors were empowered to raise the necessary money over and above Statute labour by assessment; the introduction of the principle of tolls by the users, after the Rising of 1745, and the final abolition of Turnpike Roads in 1878 when Quarter Sessions and later the County Councils received power to levy rates for the purpose upon the whole county.

September, 1926.


  • 1. A writing issued by official authority. The distinction between "briefs" and "bulls" issued by the Pope is not much older than the 15th century. In the Rubric to the present Holy Communion Service reference is made to "briefs," which appear to have been letters patent from the Sovereign, as Head of the English Church, authorising collections in Churches for various charitable purposes. Cf. Statute, 4 Anne, c. 14. Any collection for a poor person on the Fell Side, Kendal, is still commonly called a "brief." They gat a brief for him when t' coo deed.