General history: Baronies

Pages liii-lv

Magna Britannia: Volume 4, Cumberland. Originally published by T Cadell and W Davies, London, 1816.

This free content was digitised by double rekeying. All rights reserved.


Division of the County into Baronies.

After William the Conqueror had given the county of Cumberland to Ranulph de Meschines, who had married his niece, and whom he made Earl of Carlisle, or, as some say, of Cumberland, this Earl divided the county into eleven baronies; Copeland, Allerdale below Derwent, Wigton, Burgh, Dalston, Greystock, Gilsland, Crosby, Liddell, and a nameless barony in the south-east part of the county, under the fells, given to Adam FitzSwein. He reserved in his own hands the forest of Inglewood, which afterwards became part of the Crown demesne. A part of this was some time, by royal grant, vested in the Kings of Scotland, afterwards resumed by the Crown, and granted to the Nevils. The whole was granted by King William III. to the Portland family, and is now vested in the Duke of Devonshire.

The barony of Copeland was given by Ranulph to William de Meschines, some say his brother, others a younger son, who built the castle of Egremont, and gave that name to the barony, which comprised the whole ward of Allerdale above Derwent except the honour of Cockermouth. William de Meschines left an only daughter; and this barony passed by successive female heirs to Fitz-Duncan, Lucy, and Multon, who took the name of Lucy. The division between coheiresses in this family will be more particularly spoken of hereafter. The whole became eventually vested, by gift and purchase, in the Percy family, whose ancestor married Maud (fn. n1), heiress of Anthony Lord Lucy, in the fourteenth century, and is now vested in the Earl of Egremont, by descent from Charles Duke of Somerset, who married the heiress of the noble family of Percy. The honour of Cockermouth, with the lordship of the five towns, Brigham, Dean, Eaglesfield, Braithwaite, and Greysouthern, was given by William de Meschines to Waldeof or Waldieve, son of Gospatric Earl of Dunbar; and except a temporary possession by the Whartons (fn. n2), has passed in the same manner as the barony of Egremont, and is now the property of the Earl of Egremont.

The great barony of Allerdale, given also by William de Meschines to Waldieve, has passed in the manner already described under the barony of Egremont, and is now the property of the Earl of Egremont.

The barony of Wigton (fn. n3) was given by William de Meschines to Waldeof, and by the latter to Odard de Logis, whose posterity took the name of Wigton, and became extinct in the male line about the middle of the fourteenth century, after which the barony of Wigton passed to the family of Lucy, and has descended with Allerdale to the Earl of Egremont.

The barony of Burgh (fn. n4) was given by Earl Ranulph to Robert D'Estrivers, from whose family it passed by successive heirs female to the families of Morvill, Multon, Dacre, and Howard. In 1684 it was purchased of Henry Duke of Norfolk by the ancestor of the Earl of Lonsdale, who is the present proprietor.

The barony of Gilsland (fn. n5) was given by Earl Ranulph to his relation Hubert de Vallibus or Vaux. From his family it passed, by successive heirs female to the Multons, Dacres, and Howards, and is now the property of Charles Earl of Carlisle. Naworth Castle has long been the chief seat of this barony; it is supposed to have been at an earlier period at Irthington.

The barony of Dalston was given by Earl Ranulph to a younger brother of the Vaux family; but having escheated to the Crown, it was granted by King Henry III. to the Bishops of Carlisle. It comprises only the parish of Dalston: the north part of the barony, which is in the parish of St. Mary Carlisle, was assigned to the Prior, and now forms the manor of John de Capella, belonging to the Dean and Chapter.

The barony of Crosby, given by Earl Ranulph to Waldeof, was by the latter conveyed to the second Bishop of Carlisle and his successors, and is still annexed to the see. It comprises the parish of Crosby, and part of Stanwix.

The barony of Liddell, comprising the parishes of Arthuret and KirkAndrews, was given by Earl Ranulph to Turgis de Brundas or Brundey: it was afterwards in the Estotevilles, and passed by marriage to the Wakes. The heiress of Lord Wake having married Plantagenet Earl of Kent, it came eventually to the Crown. Having been granted to George Clifford, Earl of Cumberland, it was purchased of him in the reign of James I. by the ancestor of Sir James Graham, Bart. the present proprietor.

The barony of Kirklevington, or Kirklinton, which comprised the parishes of Kirklinton and Scalesby, was given by Earl Ranulph to the Boyvills, amongst whose coheirs it was divided at an early period.

The barony of Greystock, comprising the parishes of Greystock and Dacre, was given by Earl Ranulph to Lyolf, whose descendants took the name of Greystock; from them it passed by female descent to the Dacres and Howards, and is now the property of his Grace the Duke of Norfolk.

The barony given by Earl Ranulph to Adam Fitz-Swein, and called after his name, comprised the parishes of Kirkland, Melmerby, &c. This barony was at an early period divided into severalties.

Kirk-Oswald was also formerly a barony, though not enumerated among those distributed by Earl Ranulph. It comprised the parishes of KirkOswald and Croglin. This barony belonged to the Engaynes, and passed by female descent to the Morvilles and Dacres.

The proprietors of the several baronies, particularly those of the larger ones, granted numerous manors to their dependents, most of which having passed through various hands, continue to be held under such of the baronies as still exist.


  • n1. This Maud gave the whole of her inheritance to her second husband, the Earl of Northumberland, and his heirs.
  • n2. See the account of Cockermouth and the other townships.
  • n3. It comprised the manors of Wigton, Waverton, Blencogo, Dundraw, Oulton, Kirkbride, and their dependencies.
  • n4. This barony comprises the parishes of Burgh, Bowness, Aikton, Thursby, Orton, KirkBampton, Beaumont, Kirk-Andrews on Eden, and Grinsdale.
  • n5. This barony extends over the greater part of Eskdale ward, and the parish of Ainstable in Leath ward.