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Westmorland, England

Historical Description

Westmorland, an inland county, bounded on the NW and the N by Cumberland, on the NE by Durham, on the E and the SE by Yorkshire, on the S and the SW by Lancashire. Its outline is irregular. Its boundaries, to a considerable extent and at intervals, are formed by Windermere, Ulleswater, and the rivers Eamont and Lune. Its greatest length south-south-westward is about 35 miles, its greatest breadth is 40 miles, its circuit is about 135 miles, and its area is 500,906 acres. The surface is mainly a congeries of high uplands, diversified with moor, studded with mountain summits, and intersected with deep valleys. The heights are generally rugged and irregular, and they rise in most parts, particularly in the NE and in the W, to altitudes of from 1098 to 3055 feet. Much of the scenery is romantic or picturesque, and that in the W forms a main part of the features of the English lake region. The principal rivers are the Eden, the Lune, the Kent, the Eamont, and the Lowther. The principal lakes, besides the two great ones on the boundary, are Haweswater, Grasmere Lake, Rydal Water, Elter Water, and seven or eight tarns. Mineral springs are at Clifton, Roundthwaite, and near Shap. The principal tracts consist of Silurian rocks, lower and upper; some small tracts are Devonian; a broad belt in the NE, and considerable tracts in the S are carboniferous, chiefly limestone and shale, a broad belt in the extreme NE beyond the limestone is new red sandstone; and interspersed spots throughout the Silurian tracts are trap and granite. Gypsum is quarried at Acornbank; a grey or greenish limestone resembling marble near Kendal, Kirkby Lonsdale, and Ambleside; roofing slate of excellent quality at Kentmere, Whitemoss, Thrang Crag, and other places; and coarse slate, ragstone, and bluish granite, in many limited localities. A poor coal is worked on Stainmoor and near Mallerstang and Casterton; lead ore at Dunfell, Eagle Craig, Greenside, Glenridding, Hartley, and Staveley; and copper ore near Ashby, Orton, Raine, Shap, and Kirkby Lonsdale. Iron ore (hematite) is also obtained.

The soils on a few farms are clayey or loamy, but in general are gravelly and dry. Much of the hill pastures, mainly in consequence of perpetual moisture, is good. The chief crops are oats, barley, wheat, turnips, potatoes, and clover. The cattle are Durham shorthorns, Scotch breeds, and a rough long-horn breed; the sheep are chiefly a white-faced Silverdale breed, and goats are numerous. Many farms of from 10 to 300 acres are held as freeholds or copyholds subject to fines.

Manufactures, chiefly consisting of woollen cloths, are confined principally to Kendal, Milnthorpe, and their neighbourhoods.

According to the census returns issued in 1893, the chief occupations of the people of the county were:—Professional, 1140 males and 710 females; domestic, 248 males and 4845 females; commercial, 1712 males and 48 females; agricultural, 6967 males and 318 females; fishing, 14 males; industrial, 10,506 males and 2912 females; and "unoccupied," including retired business men, pensioners, those living on their own means, and others not specified, 4234 males and 17,252 females; or a total in the county of 24,821 males and 26,085 females. The number of men employed in the leading industries was as follows:—Agricultural labourers, 2626; farmers, 2380; general labourers, 1781. The chief occupations of women were—domestic service, with a total of 4276; millinery and dressmaking, 951. There were also in the county 48 blind persons, 14 deaf, 34 deaf and dumb, 78 mentally deranged.

The Lancaster and Carlisle railway, a branch of the L. & N.W.R., traverses the county through its centre; a branch goes from it at Oxenholme to Windermere; a line coming in from Settle joins it at Low Gill; a line leaves it at Tebay junction to go eastward into Durham; and a branch leaves that line in the neighbourhood of Kirkby Stephen, and goes down the valley of the Eden into a junction with the Lancaster and Carlisle at Clifton. The Lancaster and Kendal Canal starts from Kendal, and runs for some distance parallel to the river Kent, and after crossing the Bertha and passing Burton-in-Kendal enters Lancashire. There is steamer communication on the Windermere and Ulleswater lakes.

The county contains 109 entire civil parishes, and also the two boroughs of Appleby and Kendal, is divided into East, West, Kendal, and Lonsdale wards; and for parliamentary purposes into the Northern or Appleby, and the Southern or Kendal divisions, each of which returns one member. The chief seats include Lowther Castle and Brougham Castle.

The county is governed by a lord lieutenant and custos, a hereditary high sheriff, and a county council, and for military purposes is in the North-western district, and is in the Northern judiciary circuit. The County Council is composed of a chairman and vice-chairman, 14 aldermen, and 42 councillors. The assizes are held at Appleby, and the quarter sessions are held there and at Kendal, which has a separate commission of the peace. The county jail is at Appleby, and H.M. prison at Kendal. The lunatic asylum for this county and Cumberland is at Carlisle. There are five petty sessional divisions—viz., Ambleside, East Ward, Kendal Ward, Lonsdale Ward, and West Ward. The county contains 81 entire ecclesiastical parishes, with parts of 3 others, and is entirely in the diocese of Carlisle. The population of the county is small in proportion to its area, being 66,098 to an area of 500,906 acres, or 0.13 persons to an acre. There are only the two counties of Huntingdon and Rutland with less population.

The territory now forming Westmorland was inhabited by the ancient British Brigantes, was included by the Romans in their Maxima Cæsariensis, and formed part of the Saxon kingdom of Northumbria. The Scots made many devastating incursions into it in the middle ages, the Civil Wars of Charles I. affected it strongly at Appleby, and the rebel invasion of 1745 caused a skirmish at Clifton. The Roman Watling Street, the Maiden Way, and another Roman road traverse it in various parts, and there are ancient British, Roman, Danish, and Saxon camps in about twelve places, ancient tumuli in four or more places, stones of the kind called Druidical in six places, old castles or remains of them at sixteen or more places, abbey ruins at Shap, and interesting old churches at Askham and Kirkby Thore. The county gives the title of Earl to the family of Fane.


Transcribed from The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England & Wales, 1894-5

Archives and Libraries

Cumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library, Barrow
140 Duke Street
Barrow-in-Furness
LA14 1XW
Tel:01229 407377
Fax:01229 894364
Email:Barrow Office

Cumbria Record Office, Carlisle (closed)
The Castle
Carlisle
CA3 8UR
Tel:01228 227285/227284
Fax:01228 607270
Email: Carlisle Office

Cumbria Record Office, Kendal
Kendal County Offices
Kendal
LA9 4RQ
Tel:01539 713540 or 713539
Fax:01539 773538
Email:Kendal Office

Cumbria Record Office and Local Studies Library, Whitehaven
Scotch Street
Whitehaven
CA28 7NL
Tel:01946 506420
Fax:01946 852919
Email:Whitehaven Office


Civil Registration

For general information about Civil Registration (births, marriages and deaths) see the Civil Registration page.

List of Registration Districts in Westmorland from 1837 to 1974.


Directories & Gazetteers

The Historical Directories web site have a number of directories relating to Westmorland online, including:
Kelly's, Pigot, Slater, etc.

We have transcribed the entry for Westmorland from the following:


Historical Geography

A listing of the Wards in Westmorland, with the parishes contained in them.


Land and Property

The Return of Owners of Land in 1873 for Westmorland is available to browse.


Maps

Old map of Westmorland circa 1848 (Samuel Lewis)

Old map of Westmorland circa 1895 (Gazetteer of England and Wales)


Parishes & places

Ackenthwaite
Ambleside
Appleby
Applethwaite
Arnside
Asby
Askham
Backbarrow
Bampton
Bampton Grange
Barbon
Barras
Barton
Barugh
Barwise
Battle Barrow
Beetham
Benson Knot
Berkshire Island
Birbeck
Birbeck Fells
Birk Fell
Birthwaite
Black Force
Blea Tarn (Little Langdale)
Blea Tarn (Warcop)
Blea Water
Blowick
Blue Gill
Bolton
Bomby
Boredale
Borrowdale
Bowness
Brampton
Branstree Fell
Brant Fell
Bretherdale
Brigsteer
Brothers Water
Brough
Brough Sowerby
Brougham
Buley Castle
Burbeck
Burrals
Burton
Burton in Kendal
Butterlip Howe
Caldron Snout
Calf Fell
Calgarth Hall
Casterton
Clappersgate
Clawthorpe
Cliburn
Clifton
Codale Crags
Codale Fell
Colby or Coleby
Coney Beds
Copeland Beck
Cotter Hills
Cowbridge
Crawdundle Beck
Crook
Crooklands
Crosby Garrett
Crosby Ravensworth
Crosscrake
Crosthwaite and Lyth
Deepdale
Dillicar
Docker
Dove Crag
Drybeck
Dufton
Dungeon Gill
Eamont Bridge
Easdale
East
Ecclerigg
Elleray
Elter Water
End Moor
Fairfield
Farleton
Fawcet Forest
Fellend
Ferry Nab
Firbank
Fordendale Beck
Fox How
Froswick
Gaisgill
Gateside
Goldrill Beck
Grasmere
Grayrigg
Great and Little Strickland
Great Musgrave
Greenholm
Gunnerskeld
Hackthorpe
Hale
Hallin Fell
Harter Fell
Hartley
Haverbrack
Hawes Water
Helsington
Helton
Heversham
High and Low Borrowbridge
High Barton
High Street
Hilbeck or Hillbeck
Hilton
Hincaster
Holme
Holmescales
How Town
Hugill
Hutton Roof
Kaber
Keastwick
Keld
Kelleth
Kendal
Kentmere
Kidsty Pike
Killington
Kirkby Lonsdale
Kirkby Stephen
Kirkby Thore
Kirkland
Kirkstone
Knock
Lambrigg
Lamerside Castle
Langdale (Grasmere)
Langdale (Orton)
Lindeth
Little Langdale
Little Musgrave
Logs
Long Marton
Long Sleddale, or Longsleddale
Loughrigg
Low and New Biggin
Low Winder
Lowther
Lupton
Maiden Way
Mallerstang
Mansergh
Mardale
Martindale
Matsons
Meal Bank
Measand
Meathop and Ulpha
Melkinthorpe
Middleton
Milburn and Milburn Grange
Millbeck
Milnthorpe
Milton
Morland
Murthwaite
Murton Cum Hilton
Nanbield
Nateby
Natland
Nether Graveship
Nether Staveley
New Hutton
Newbiggin
Newbiggin (Kirkby Lonsdale)
Newbiggin (Ravenstonedale)
Newby or Newby Stones
Nook (Preston Patrick)
Nook (Underbarrow)
Oddendale
Old Hutton with Holmescales
Old Town
Ormside
Ormside or Ormes Head
Orton
Over Staveley
Park
Patterdale
Patton
Pooley Bridge
Preston Patrick
Preston Richard
Racett
Raisbeck
Ravenstonedale
Rayne
Rayside
Reagill
Rosegill
Roundthwaite
Row
Row (Heversham)
Rydal and Loughrigg
Sandford
Scalthwaiterigg, Hay, and Hutton in the Hay
Scattergate
Sedgwick
Selside
Shap
Sizergh Fell Side
Skeggles Water
Skelsmergh
Sleagill
Sleddale, Wet
Smardale
Sockbridge and Tirril
Soulby
Stainmore
Stainton
Storrs
Strickland Ketel and Strickland Roger
Sunbiggin
Swindale
Tailbert
Tearnside
Tebay
Temple Sowerby
The Barrow
The Beetha or Belo
The Belleau or Beelah
The Brathay
The Eden
The Kent
The Lime
The Lune
The Mint
The Sprint
Thornship
Thorpe
Thrimby
Tirril
Troutbeck
Ulpha
Underbarrow and Bradley Field
Undermilbeck
Waitby
Warcop
Watercrook
Waterhead
Whale
Wharton
Whinfell
Whitbarrow
Whitwell
Wickerslack
Wildboar Fell
Windermere
Winster
Winton
Witherslack
Woodside
Yanwath and Eamont Bridge
Map of Westmorland