Parishes (West Ward): St Michael, Lowther

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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'Parishes (West Ward): St Michael, Lowther', in The Later Records Relating To North Westmorland Or the Barony of Appleby, (Kendal, 1932) pp. 325-334. British History Online [accessed 19 April 2024]

In this section


Including the Manors of Whale, Hackthorpe and Melkinthorpe.


Within this parish we have a Tumulus on Hackthorpe farm. Stone circles, one half a mile north of Baxter Rash on Lowther Scar, two near Lowther Church, and one on Knipe In Scar. Three Hogbacks at Lowther church, two of them representing rude female heads and busts awaiting release from the snakes of Hades that are curled up below them; while the third depicts a bear at each end of the house, embracing it with fore and hind paws in a desperate clutch, but being muzzled unable to do more than show impotent malice, for the dead have been buried in the Christian hope of eternal life. Collingwood, Ancient Monuments.


The first mention of the church is contained in the institution by Archbishop William Wickwane, of William de Capella, subdeacon and one of the de Hutton family, as rector to the church of Lowther on 7 July, 1280. During the vacancy of the See of Carlisle the collation devolved upon the Archbishop by authority of the Council. On 22 July following the Archbishop directed a mandate to William de Capella; rector of the church of Lowther, his Official in the diocese of Carlisle, as follows:—"Since we have received the profession and obedience in due form of our venerable brother Radulph [Ralph Irton], Bishop of Carlisle, which he made in person and under oath before us at our church of York, for himself and his church of Carlisle . . . we have delivered into his trust the spiritualities of the aforesaid diocese . . . write therefore in your letters containing word for word this information to the Archdeacon, clergy and people of the diocese bidding them that they humbly obey and support the said Radulph as their bishop." Reg. of Arch. Wickwane, pp. 222, 223.

Soon after this, viz.:—on 17 May, 1282, the abbot and convent of Byland conveyed to Master William de Capella, rector of the church of Lowther, their manor of Fawcett, quit of punishment for escape of beasts within Scleddisdale, Borwedale, and Wascedale, for his own animals to be agisted, to hold for the term of his life or cure for 40s. yearly rent.

In the "Antique Taxatio Ecclesiastica" of Pope Nicholas IV, made in the year 1291, the church is valued at £35; but by the "Novo Taxatio" of 1318 the value is reduced to £5. The "Valor Ecclesiasticus" made by order of Parliament, 26 Henry VIII, 1535, is as follows:—

Lowther Rectory, Miles Fleming, incumbent.
The said Rectory is worth in—
Site of mansion with glebe and 3 cottages £1 12 2
Tithes of grain £20 0 0
" hay, flax and hemp 10 0
" lamb and wool £2 6 0
Oblations and the lesser fees in Easter Book £2 15
£27 3
Reprisals to wit—
Pension to the priory of Carlisle £1 6 8
Synodals 4s., and Procurations 5s. 8d. 9 8
1 16 4
Clear annual value £25 7
A tenth part whereof 2 10

The Commonwealth Survey of 1657 gives the following:—

That the right of presentation to the church is in Sir John Lowther. That William Smith is present incumbent there and hath for his maintenance all the tithes within the parish which are worth by the year £40 and the glebe land which is worth £14 by the year.

The church was rebuilt between the years 1682 and 1686 by John, Viscount Lonsdale. Bishop Nicolson speaks of it in 1703, as being "in the fairest condition of any parish church in the diocese." The whole fabric was restored in 1856.

A list of the Incumbents whose names have been met with during the present research.

1280–1320 William de Capella
1366 Walter de Welle
1378 John Bone
1535 Miles Fleming
Anthony Garnett
        –r.1586 Thomas Fairfax
1587–d.1609 Leonard Lowther
1610–1613 Christopher Lowther
1613–r.1656 John Teasdale
1656–1657 Devereux Spencer
1657–d.1675 William Smith
1676–r.1694 Richard Threlkeld
1694–d.1738 Richard Holme
1738–d.1763 Hugh Robinson
1763–r.1769 Henry Lowther
1814–d.1827 Jas. Satterthwaite
1828– William Jackson


Lowther School.

On 3 September, 1638, Richard, son of Sir Christopher Lowther, in love of the place and parish of his birth, gave £100 to the parish to be employed for the salary of a schoolmaster to teach freely the young children of the parish. At the same time Sir John Lowther, bart., gave a site "in the Slacke" to the parson and churchwardens of Lowther to be employed in the erection of a school house. This was built in 1640 upon a small piece of ground, measuring barely a rood. When, however, the building fell into decay, William, earl of Lonsdale in 1810 gave £100 and built a new school in a more convenient situation at Hackthorpe.

Indenture made 6 November, 1826, between William earl of Lonsdale of the one part; and the Rev. James Satterthwaite D.D. rector of Lowther, Thomas Walker of Whale, and John Walker of Lowther Low Moor, churchwardens, of the other part. That whereas for many years there had been a school at Hackthorpe whereof the Rev. James Thornborough Ward is now master, the said earl now grants to the rector and churchwardens a yearly sum of £10 for the said master, the principal sums of £200 having been given by William James of Penrith, mercer, and by a benefaction made many years ago. The said £10 to be issuing out of the freehold messuage and lands purchased by the earl of Edmund Bowman. Close Roll 10505, pt. 73, n. 5.

Girls' School.

Indenture made 6 November, 1826, between William earl of Lonsdale, and the Rev. James Satterthwaite D.D., rector of Lowther, and Thomas Walker and John Walker, churchwardens, that whereas Richard Holme, late rector, dying in 1738, gave £100 as salary for a school mistress to teach girls and the younger children of the parish of Hackthorpe, and the same after his death was divided among the parishes of Hackthorpe, Whale and Melkinthorpe, and the portions of the two former were laid out in lands in Hackthorpe, now the said lands having been sold to the said earl and £60 been paid by the said Trustees, the said earl grants to them £24 a year issuing from his freehold messuage at Celleron with the lands thereto belonging, lately purchased of Edmund Bowman, to pay £10. 10s. 0d. to the schoolmistress of Hackthorpe school, £10. 10s. 0d. to the school mistress of Whale and the remaining £3 to the school mistress of Melkinthorpe. Close Roll, 10505, pt. 73, n. 6.

Lowther College.

John, first Viscount Lonsdale, by deed dated 5 May and by Rules and Orders dated 14 September, 1697, and by will dated 16 September, 1698, gave to Trustees the following directions. "Whereas I have ever taken it to be my duty, as much as in me was, to endeavour the good of my country, and more especially of that part where the residence of my family and my estate was; I have therefore made several experiments to establish such manufactures as I conceive might be most proper; but finding it very different to bring any such thing to perfection, I have turned my thoughts another way and what the poor were unwilling to receive I intend to apply to the advantage of gentlemen, in providing a better means for their education than is anywhere yet established that I know of." To this end he left to the Trustees the manor of Dernbrook in Craven; the rectory and parsonage of Hale in West Cumberland, charged with the payment of a yearly salary to the curate; a messuage and tenement called Armstrong's tenement situate at West Linton in the parish of Kirk Levington; and the school-house lately erected, etc. Mr. Withers and Mr. Trant were the first masters who had £50 a-piece paid to them every half year.

From 1697 to at least 1740 the college appears to have been kept going and it is interesting to note that Anthony Askew of Kendal in his will dated 5 December, 1733, granted to three feoffees certain lands and the sum of £350 in trust for the education of his grandson, either at Lowther or Sedbergh schools and afterwards at one of the Universities, "to be brought up either in divinity, law or physic as his genius shall tend."

On 17 May, 1739, Sir James Lowther wrote "My lord Lonsdale (Henry 3rd Viscount) seems resolved to turn the charity back to the promoting some manufacture at Lowther town, which he thinks will not only do more good to the country as it will employ a good deal of the coarse wool and consume more provisions. Perhaps Mr. Sunderland may be sent to Ireland, to take an account of some manufactures there, such as the linen, before my Lord resolves what to set up at Lowther, when Mr. Wilkinson leaves the school which will be in another year."

Up to at least 1802 a carpet manufactory was carried on in the building known as the College. The Report of the Charity Commissioners in 1822 led to a suit in Chancery and resulted in the establishment of the scheme of 1831.


Lowther Hall.

Probably as a motte and bailey this strength is mentioned in 1287 when Alice, daughter of Peter de Thrimby quitclaimed certain lands to Hugh de Louthre. About the middle of the 14th century a pele tower was erected but there is no record of the owner receiving a licence to crenellate it. Then some hundred years later a second tower was built to the westward leaving sufficient space for the great 15th century hall between them. Each tower had a vaulted basement with three floors above.

Machel says that the ancient village of Lowther was considerable. Beside the Hall it consisted of the church, the parsonage house and seventeen tenements, all of which were purchased by Sir John Lowther, in the year 1682, and pulled down to enlarge his demesne and open up the prospect of his house, for they stood just in front of it. Between this time and 1685 Sir John rebuilt the great hall. His son writing in his Memoir says, "The buildings between the old tower [east tower] and Lowther Hall [west tower] were made by my father . . . both the lead and the wood I bought by my father's appointment of Lord William Howard, being the roof of the great hall at Kirkoswald Castle." This block, about 60 feet in length was of two storeys with a curiously embattled parapet and a large cupola rising from the centre.

In 1726 the building was mostly destroyed by fire and for a period of eighty years it seems to have lain waste and neglected. Between years 1802 and 1808 Sir William Lowther, created 1st earl of Lonsdale in 1807, rebuilt the present castle from designs by Sir Robert Smirke.

Hackthorpe Hall.

Now serving as a farm house, was erected by Sir Christopher Lowther in the reign of James 1 and here his son Sir John was born. The manor was held by the Strickland family from the time of Edward 111 and continued in their possession until the purchase by the Lowthers in 1535.

Melkinthorpe Hall.

A "little low mean-looking building" of the 16th century, which occupied a low site near the beck, was pulled down during the last century. The manor passed from the de Melkinthorpes to the Musgraves and afterwards to the Fallowfield family whose heiress transferred it by marriage to the Dalstons who sold it to the Lowther family.



Unknown malefactors broke into the house of Geoffrey de Melkinthorpe and Richolda his wife, cut their throats and carried away their goods. Alice, daughter of Adam, first found Richolda, she is not suspected. Afterwards Warin de Melkinthorpe, Adusa Frikes and Agnes la Breweress were taken for the same burglary and imprisoned in the castle of Appleby, from which prison the said Warin escaped in the time of Ralph de Nottingham, then sheriff. The chattels of the said Warin are worth 23s. The aforesaid Adusa was hanged for the same burglary, her chattels were worth 5s. and Agnes la Breweress was delivered in the presence of the Justices. And the vills of Hakethorpe, Clyburne and Stirkeland did not come fully to the inquiry therefore they are in mercy. Assize Roll, 1256, m. 10.


Writ "sicut pluries" to the Bishop to distrain William de la Capella, parson of Lowther, one of the collectors of the clerical fifth. A similar writ had been issued in 1312 when, together with the abbot of Shap, he was collector thereof in Westmorland. Again in 1313 he was called upon to render an account of the fifth for the time when he with the abbots of Shap and Holm Cultram and the prior of Carlisle collected the amount. This was a writ issued for the third or fourth time.


Thomas de Stirkeland, knt., enfeoffed Walter de Welle, parson of Lowther and others of his lands and tenements in Quinfell, Grarig and Lambrig.

1377–8 Hilary.

John de Louthre, by Adam de Croseby his attorney, appeared against John Bone, parson of the church of Lowther in a plea that he render unto him 40s. which he owes. The defendant did not come and the sheriff was ordered to summons him, and the sheriff now returns that he is a clerk and beneficed in the Bishopric of Carlisle and has no lay status in his bailiwick, therefore the sheriff is commanded that he take him that he may be here at Easter. De Banco Rolls, 469, m. 223d; 470, m. 225d.; 472, m. 541d.

1378 Easter.

John Bone, parson of the church of Lowther appeared against William del Fermory, chaplain, in a plea that he render unto him a reasonable account of the time when he was his bailiff in Lowther and receiver of money for the same John. De Banco Roll, 470, m. 12.

1378 Easter.

William del Fermory, chaplain, by Adam Crosseby his attorney, against William son of John Carter of Louthre in a plea that he render unto him 40s. Which he owes. De Banco Rolls, 470, m. 225d.; 472, m. 466d.

1378 Trinity.

William son of Robert Thomson, by Adam Crosseby his attorney, against John Shepherd of Hakthorp and John his son in a plea wherefore with force and arms the same William was assaulted at Hakthorp, beaten, wounded and ill-treated. De Banco Roll, 471, m. 82.

1378 Trinity.

Hugh de Louther 'le fitz,' knt., against Robert de Louther brother of Hugh de Louther in a plea that he render unto him £100 which he owes. De Banco Roll, 471, m. 157.

1378 Trinity.

John de Hoton of Louthre, by Adam Crosseby his attorney, against Henry Mariotson, Robert Dannay and William Rose in a plea that each of them render unto him 40s.; and against John Gest and William his son that they render 40s. which they owe. De Banco Rolls, 471, m. 82d.; 472, m. 313.

1378 Trinity.

John de Hoton of Louthre, by Adam Crosseby his attorney, appeared against Richard Swynhirdson in a plea that whereas by Edward, late King of England and grandfather of the present king it was ordained that if any servant was retained in the service of anyone by agreement and withdrew without reasonable cause or licence he should be subject to imprisonment. The aforesaid Richard late servant of the said John, at Tranthwayt withdrew from his said service without cause to the grave damage of the said John. De Banco Roll, 471, m. 82d.

1378 Trinity.

John de Whitefeld, by Adam Crosseby his attorney, against Thomas Best, Roger Sprentlop and Isabella his wife, William Gollane, Henry son of William dell Hall, William Robynson de Hakethorp, Nicholas de Crakehale, John Shepeherd, John Porter, John Sympson and Thomas de Betham in a plea wherefore with force and arms they broke into the close of the said John de Whitefeld at Melcanthorp and his trees and underwood lately growing there they cut down and his corn also growing there they mowed down and all the said trees and underwood, corn, goods and chattels they found there they took and carried away to the value of twenty marks. De Banco Roll, 471, m. 284d.

1379 Trinity.

Laurence de Whale, by Adam Crosseby his attorney, against John Caponn in a plea that he render unto him 40s. which he owes. De Banco Roll, 475, m. 224.


Lowther paid a fifteenth as a subsidy to the king amounting to 13s. 4d.; Lowther Quale, 17s.; Melkinthorpe, 15s.; and Hackthorpe, 18s.; a total of £3. 3. 4. Excheq. Q. R. Miscell. Books, vol. 7.


At the inquest taken at Brougham on 5 April, 1530, it was found that Walter Strickland, knt., was seised inter alia of six acres of land in Thorpe; one and a half acres of land in Lowther and two parts of the advowson of the parish church of Lowther with power to present a clerk to the said church when void alternately; and four acres of land in Sharough. The lands in Thorpe, Lowther and Sharough are held of the heir of Thomas Parr, service unknown, worth yearly clear 20s. Walter Strickland died 9 January, 1528, and Walter Strickland the younger is his son and heir, aged fourteen years. Excheq. Inq. p.m., series ii, file 129.

1537 30 May.

Hugh Fleming of Coniston, esquire, and Lancelot Lowther, gentleman, did covenant that the said Lancelot should marry Joan daughter of the said Hugh. That either should pay for their marriage apparel; that meat and drink shall be at the charge of the said Hugh and also the licence; that the said Hugh is to give the said Lancelot and Joan bedding and "inseyght" (furniture) as shall stand with his worship to give; and that the portion shall be £66. 13. 4d. to be paid at the parish church of Lowther.


At the inquest taken at Kirkby Kendall on 13 September, 1599, the jury found that William Knipe was seised inter alia of messuages in Melkanthorpe now in several tenures of divers tenants thereof according to the custom of the manor or lordship of Melkanthorpe. They are held of the earl of Cumberland by knight's fee and are worth yearly clear 40s. William Knipe died 8 April last past and Anthony Knipe is his son and heir, a minor to wit of the age of 16 years on 2 July last. Chanc. Inq. p.m., series ii, vol. 258.

1664 May.

Certificate of William Smith, rector, and Christopher Holme, churchwarden, of Lowther parish, to Quarter Sessions, that John Wilkinson of the Park Foot had not been to church for the four Sundays last past. They desire that the Statute in that behalf provided may be executed upon him.

1669–1672 Hearth Tax Roll

1669–1672 Hearth Tax Roll, Lay Subsidy 195, n. 73.


Sir John Lowther 15
Richard Wilkinson 1
John Ritson 1
John Lancaster 1
Francis Harrison 1
Robert Lowther 1
Hugh Newton 1
William Smith, vicar 3
George Holme 1
Richard Burton 1
Robert Stephen 1
Anthony Noble 1
John Threlkeld 1


Hugh Workman 1
Hugh Bolton 1
Edward Browne 1
Richard Pearson 1
Thomas Workman 1
William Robinson 1
Thomas Robinson 1
James Pearson 1
Christopher Bryan 1
Hugh Workman 1
Thomas Robinson 1

Six householders were exempted from paying the Tax by Certificate.


Richard Williamson 1
Robert Wilkinson 1
John Powley 1
widow Baxter 1
widow Chapelhow 1
Anthony Hobson 1
John Wilkinson 1
Henry Wilkinson 1
William Wilkinson 1

1678 8 April.

Quarter Sessions issued an order to several inhabitants of Melkinthorpe to appear at the next Assize to give evidence for and on behalf of our Sovereign Lord the king against Richard Braison for uttering false money.

1694–5. 7 February.

It is ordered that the constables at Lowther do set forth watch and ward and if they find any vagrants wandering or begging that they strip them to the waist and whip them and then convey them to the place of his or their birth or where they last dwelt for a year.

1696 1 August.

Richard Holme, rector of Lowther, signed the antiJacobite "Association" formed throughout the Kingdom for the protection of William III.


Henry, third Viscount Lonsdale, succeeded his brother, Richard. In the year 1715 he was constituted Custos Rotulorum and afterwards Lord Lieutenant of the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland. On 3 October of that year he took the usual oaths and Test.

1733 10 July.

William Bouskell alias Bousfield of Hackthorpe, blacksmith, was indicted by Quarter Sessions for entering into a certain close, called Great Tranthwaite, being the freehold of the Rt. Hon. Henry lord viscount Lonsdale and in the occupation of Isaac Thompson and Jonathan Savage, as farmers thereof, and with force and arms did tread down the corn and grass and with horses and other cattle did eat up and destroy the same and with strength of arm did drive out and remove the said Isaac and Jonathan from their said farm. Fined one shilling.

1758 4 November.

Sir James Lowther, son of Robert Lowther of Mauld's Meaburn succeeded his cousin the 3rd viscount and being chosen Lieutenant and Custos Rotuloram for Westmorland took the oaths of Allegiance and Supremacy, the oath of Abjuration and made the Declaration against the doctrine of Transubstantiation.

1830 19 April.

William Jackson, rector of Lowther, took the usual oaths on qualifying as a Justice of the Peace.


Hugh Cecil Lowther was born 25 January, 1857, and succeeded his brother, St. George Henry, as 5th earl of Lonsdale on 8 February, 1882. Thus for fifty years he has been head of the House of Lowther, throughout which time, in the late Lord Birkenhead's phrase, he has been, "a great aristocrat, a great sportsman and a very kindly English gentleman."