North Westmorland: Church Surveys

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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John F Curwen, 'North Westmorland: Church Surveys', The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932), pp. 22-23. British History Online [accessed 22 June 2024].

John F Curwen. "North Westmorland: Church Surveys", in The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932) 22-23. British History Online, accessed June 22, 2024,

Curwen, John F. "North Westmorland: Church Surveys", The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932). 22-23. British History Online. Web. 22 June 2024,


The three most important Papal taxes of the second half of the 13th century were the "Crusading tithes" of 1254, 1274 and 1291. Pope Innocent iv to whose predecessors in the See of Rome the First Fruits and Tenths of all Ecclesiastical Benefices had for a long time been paid, gave the same in 1253 to Henry III for three years. This occasioned a valuation to be made in the following year, sometimes called Pope Innocent's Valor, sometimes the Vetus Valor and sometimes the Norwich Taxation from the circumstance of its having been executed principally by the Bishop of Norwich. A second valuation was made in 1274 and a third in consequence of a grant made by Pope Nicholas IV to Edward I of all the First Fruits and Tenths of the Benefices for six years. This was a grant toward defraying the expense of an expedition to the Holy Land and, in order that the tithe might be collected to the full value, a survey known as the "Antique Taxatio Ecclesiastica" was made in 1291 and 1292.

But the valuation was taken just before the long war for Scottish Independence and that devastating struggle made it quite impossible for the churches to continue to pay on the same basis whilst meeting concurrently the secular expenses of the English Crown. Therefore Pope Clement v ordered the collectors in the devastated areas to the south of the border to ascertain once more the "true value" and to tax accordingly. Hence the "Novo Taxatio" was made, II Edward II, 1318, by virtue of a royal mandate directed to the Bishop of Carlisle.

Otherwise the "Antique Taxatio Ecclesiastica" formed the basis of the Papal taxation for nearly 250 years. But during this long period, and very gradually, there grew up a disposition to doubt the validity of the Pope's title to supremacy and to question the political expediency of allowing the Church of Rome to encroach, as it was increasingly doing, upon the ancient freedom and property of the English Church. Therefore when the yoke was finally thrown off in 1533, a new Survey became necessary.

Parliament began a new session on 3 November, 1534, the Commission to make the Survey was issued on 30 January, 1534–5, and the returns had to be made to the Exchequer by the Octaves of the Holy Trinity of that year.

In the 14th item of Instructions to the Commissioners it is ordained that they "serche and know the nombre and names of e[ver]y p[ar]sonage vicarige chauntrie as well mortized as other and frechapell within e[ver]y denry . . . . . And the true and entire yerely value of all the londs teñts glebes demeanes rentts possessions tithes offerings porc[io]ons pensions and all other p[ro]fetts as well sp[irit]uall as temporall belongyng to e[ver]y suche p[ar]sonage . . . . . . And the true ct[..]entie of the annuell and p[er]petuall rentts pensions and synods and pxis paide and yerely goyng oute of suche p[ar]sonages vicara[g]es chauntries and frechapells and to whome suche rentts peñsions synods and pxis bene yerly payde.'

It will be seen then that this Valuation is pre-eminent amongst Ecclesiastical Records as it is an estimate of the entire ecclesiastical establishment and made on the very eve of the Reformation. As in Domesday Boke we are presented with a view of the feudal distributions of England as they were settled at the Conquest, so here we have the ecclesiastical distributions as they existed and had existed with scarcely any alteration from the close of the reign of Henry I.

The Commonwealth Survey was made by virtue of a Commission under the Great Seal of England bearing date the 18th day of November, 1656. "Whereas we for divers good causes and considerations as at present moving and willing and intending to provide a competent maintenance and advancement for Preaching Ministers in the several parishes throughout England and Wales. And also desiring to be certified of the certain number and true yearly value of all Parsonages and Vicarages . . . . and the names of the Patrons and of the present Incumbents, Proprietors and Possessors thereof and of such person and persons as receive the profits and to whose use and who supplies the Cure and what he hath for his salary and how many chapels are belonging to parish churches and how parish churches and chapels are situated and how they or any of them are fit to be united or divided within the limits of the county and how the said several churches and chapels are supplied by Preaching Ministers, that so course may be taken for providing both for preaching and for maintenance where the same shall be found to be needful and necessary. And further to enquire what Chapels are fit to be taken from parish churches and annexed to others or made parish churches and where it is fit for other churches to be built and the parish divided and part of them appropriated to those new built churches," etc.

The Inquisitions took place at Appleby on the 24th and 25th of October, 1657, before Thomas Burton and Francis Sisson, esquires, and Robert Branthwaite, Robert Skaiffe, Richard Adamson, Christopher Crackanthorpe, Thomas Yare, Thomas Waller and Edmund Branthwaite, gentlemen. The result of these Inquisitions will be found under date 1657 in the records of the various parishes.