Appleby in Westmorland - History

The Parishes of St Michael and St Lawrence, contain the Borough of Appleby, and lie on opposite sides of the Eden, the former being on the west, and the latter on the east bank of the river. The parish of St Lawrence is about 3½ miles in length and breadth. St Michael’s is commonly called Bongate Parish, and is about 5 miles long and 2½ broad. The arable land is generally very fertile, and on the banks of the Eden are many rich pastures, and neat mansions and farm houses. These parishes are bounded by those of Dufton, Warcop, Ormside, Crosby-Ravensworth, and Morland, and contain ten townships, of which the following forms the enumeration, with the return of the number of inhabitants in 1821:

Appleby St Lawrence - parish




Appleby St Lawrence





















Appleby St Michael - parish




Bongate & Langton
















The capital of Westmorland, is an ancient Market Town and Borough, sending two representatives to Parliament, and distant 24 miles NE. by N. of Kendal, 14 miles SE. by E. of Penrith, and 266 miles NNW. of London. It lies principally in the townships of Appleby St. Lawrence and Scattergate; but Battle-Barrow, in Bongate township, on the eastern bank of the Eden, forms a part of the borough which is connected by an ancient stone bridge* of three arches, extended between the lofty and precipitous, but well-wooded banks of the meandering river, which partly encircles the western portion of the town, where are situated the Castle, Market-place, Moot-hall, and several good streets and public buildings, but the County gaol and Court-house are on the opposite side of the river. The borough contains upwards of 1200 inhabitants and 200 houses, but it had anciently a much greater population, and its buildings extended more than a mile further south to the village of Burrels, which had its name from the Borough-Walls, fragments of which and other buildings have been frequently "ploughed or dug up." The town suffered greatly during the Scottish wars; it was burnt in the 22d of Henry II. and again in the 11th of Richard II., when, of 2,200 burgages, by due computation of the fee-farm rents, there remained not above one-tenth, as appeared by several inquisitions, made in the reigns of Henry VIII. and Philip and Mary, when the jurors declared that the greatest part of the town "still lay in ruins," in consequence of which the inhabitants could not pay to the Crown the ancient yearly rent of 20 marks, which was afterwards reduced to 2 marks. It has evidently been occupied by the Romans, and Camden, from a similarity of name, erroneously calls it Aballaba – but Horsley "thinks it was the Roman Galacum," though no inscriptions have been found to prove the name bestowed upon this station by the "Mistress of the World."

* The wood foot-bridge at the bottom of the High Wiend was washed down in the Great Flood of 1822, but is now re-built.

The town received a charter of incorporation at a very early period, but it has long been lost or destroyed, though the corporation still exists by prescription, and possesses many charters and confirmations of privileges and immunities. Henry II. granted the burgesses privileges similar to those which, in the morning of the same day he had conferred upon the city of York, viz. "freedom from toll, stallage, pontage, and lastage, throughout England, except in the city of London," for which they paid 40 marks. These privileges were confirmed by charters granted by King John, Henry III., Edward I. II. III., Henry VIII., Elizabeth, James I., Charles I. and James II. King John also granted to the burgesses "the borough or town of Appleby, rendering to the Sheriff the rent due for the same, one moiety at the feast of St. Michael and the other at Easter." For its inflexible loyalty during the civil wars, Oliver Cromwell imposed upon the town a charter of restrictions, which for a time was enforced by the garrison, but was annulled on the restoration of Charles II., which joyful event was celebrated at Appleby with great solemnity, pomp, and festivity, heightened by the unbounded liberality of the aged Countess of Pembroke, who occupied the castle, and "thought not her gates then wide enough to receive her guests, which before had been too wide for receiving armies of soldiers." All the charters of Appleby were surrendered to James II., who, in the first year of his reign incorporated the burgesses de novo by the name of mayor, twelve aldermen, and sixteen capital burgesses, of Appleby, with a coronor, sword-bearer, serjeant at mace, two chamberlains, and two bailiffs, and the following privileges, viz. – a Fair on the second Thursday and Friday in April, and "courts leet, view of frankpledge, fairs, markets, waifs, estray, deodands, goods of felons and fugitives, felo-de-se, of persons put in exigent and outlawed, and all other things as they had formerly enjoyed; paying the farm to the king as heretofore." The mayor is chosen by the capital burgesses or common councilmen, and he chooses all his officers, who have power "to arrest for any sum without limitation – to acknowledge statutes merchant before the mayor – to take toll both in fairs and markets, and to seize felons’ goods, forfeitures, escheats, &c. all of which belong to the mayor," who "takes place, by immemorial custom, of the judges of assize." The common seal has on one side the arms of the town, and on the reverse St. Lawrence laid at length naked, with his hands across, on a gridiron, beneath which is a representation of burning coals. All the waste lands within the liberty of the borough belong to the Corporation. The borough has continued to send two representatives to Parliament since the reign of Edward I., and its present members are Viscount Maitland and the Hon. Henry Tufton. The following is a list of the

Corporation of Appleby in 1828-9

Mayor, Thomas Lowis Esq, Croft Ends

Recorder, John Hill, jun, Esq, Bankfoot

Town Clerk, James Atkinson, Esq, Borough-gate


Right Hon, The Earl of Lonsdale

John Wilkin Esq

Right Hon, The Earl of Thanet

Matthew Atkinson Esq

Right Hon, Lord Lowther

Rev. Joseph Milner

John Hill, sen, Esq

John Hill, jun, Esq

The Hon. H.C. Lowther

John Hammond, Esq

Rev. Robert Whitehead

Rev. Thomas Bellas


Hugh Parkin

Thomas Briggs

Mark Rushton

John Atkinson

Thomas Holme

Joseph Thompson

Nicholas Dent

James Atkinson

William Wilkin

Richard Stephenson

John Parkin

James Parkin

George Gibson

Thomas Harrison

Orton Bradley

Joseph Benn

Coroner, Mr Thomas Atkinson

Chamberlains, Thomas Atkinson & Mark Rushton

The Moot Hall, where the mayor, aldermen, &c. hold the borough courts and transact the town’s business, is an ancient and inconvenient edifice, with a row of butcher’s shops on each side of it, standing in the middle of Borough-gate, where it has long been considered a great public nuisance, which it is hoped will soon be removed from the busy and spacious street which it so much obstructs.

The County Gaol and Court-House are commodious buildings situate in Bongate, on the opposite side of the Eden, encompassed by a strong wall. They were erected in 1770 and 1771, at the expense of the county, except the sum of £357 15s. raised by voluntary subscriptions. Adjoining the gaol a new House of Correction was built about fifteen years ago, since which the two old and small prisons at the Bridge-ends have been used as private dwelling-houses. The new prisons contain six wards for males, and four for females, with cells for the accommodation of 53 prisoners; but the number incarcerated here at one time seldon exceeds 25. Within the walls is the governor’s house, a neat chapel, and a suit of hot and cold baths. The Crown and Nisi Prius Courts are much too small for the increasing population of the county, but it is expected that they will soon be enlarged. The prisoners are employed in grinding corn by hand mills, and are superintended by the following Officers, viz. Mr. Thomas Thwaites, governor; Mrs Elizabeth Atkinson, matron; Mr Joseph Slater, surgeon; and the Rev. Edward Jackson, the chaplain; all of whom are appointed by the magistrates, except the governor, who is nominated by the Earl of Thanet, the Hereditary High Sheriff of the County, and has a yearly salary of £100, towards which the Earl pays £15, and the county £85. Assizes are held here in March and August, but previous to the year 1818, only one assize was held annually. The Judges, from time immemorial, have been entertained at the castle at the expense of the sheriff.

The Quarter Sessions for the East and West Wards are held here on the Monday after the first whole week after Epiphany, on the Mondays in the first whole weeks after Easter and St. Thomas-à-Becket, and on the Monday after the 11th of October. On the Fridays following these days, the sessions are held by adjournment at Kendal, for the other two Wards of the county. E. W. Hasell, Esq. is generally the presiding magistrate; and R. S. Stephenson, Esq. is clerk of the peace. The Counsel are the same as at Carlisle, and the magistrates are:


With the dates of their qualifications, * denotes which are Deputy Lieutenants

1783 *William Moore, Esq, Grimes hill

1821 Rev. Henry Lowther, Dissington 

1798 *William. W Carus Wilson Esq, Casterton

 1821 *Edward Williams Hasell Esq. Dalemain

 1802 *John Hill Esq, Bank Foot

 1821 William Waltham Atkinson, Esq. Burton

 1807 *Matthew Atkinson Esq, Temple Sowerby

 1821 Joseph Gibson, Esq Whelprigg

 1808 *Rev. John Langton Leech, Askam

 1822 Hornby Roughsedge, Esq. Bentham

 1809 *Rev. Robert Milner, Orton

 1822 John Wilson, Esq. Howe

 1811 Rev. John Rippon, Longmarton

 1823 *Rev. Thos Bellas, M.A. Appleby

 1811 Hon. Wm. Visct. Lowther, M.P.

 1823 Thos. Greene, Esq. M.P.Whittington hall, (Lancashire)

 1812 *Christopher Wilson, Esq. Abbot & Rigmaiden halls

 1824 Robt. Greaves, Esq. Ferney green

 1813 *Thos. Holmes Maude, Esq. Kendal

 1825 Lord Viscount Bentinck

 1814 *Hon. Col. H. C. Lowther, M.P.

 1826 Geo. Wilson, Esq. Dallam tower

 1814 *Rev John Robinson, D. D. Clifton

 1827 John Hill, jun. Esq. Bank foot

 1821 *Rev. Joseph Milner, M.A. Appleby

 1827 Alexander Nowell, Esq. Underby



*** Besides the Deputy-Lieutenants marked thus * in the above List there are several others, amongst whom are John Perkins, Esq. Appleby; Thomas Lowes Esq. Croft-end; Rev. John Poole, of Cliburn; Edward Wilson, Esq. Rigmaiden hall, and some others.

 The County Court, for the recovery of debts under 40s., &c. is held on the Thursday of every fourth week, at the Crown and Mitre Inn; and Petty Sessions are held every Saturday at the Shire Hall, by the magistrates of the town and neighbourhood.

Appleby Castle, the ancient mansion of the successive lords of the great Barony of Westmorland, is now occupied by the Earl of Thanet’s steward, the Rev. John Heelis. It is a large edifice, forming two sides of a square, and standing at the upper end of Boroughgate, on the lofty summit of the western bank of the Eden, the steep declivity of which is thickly clothed with wood; indeed the caste is ornamented on every side by fine groves and shady avenues, which, with the beautiful curvatures of the river, margined with hanging gardens, trees and rocks, and overlooked by neat dwellings, make up a landscape fraught with picturesque sublimity. The greatest part of the present castle was erected in the reign of Henry VI. By Thomas Lord Clifford, the building having before that time been repeatedly defaced and broken down by the Scots. In 1641 it was greatly repaired by the Countess of Pembroke who fortified and garrisoned it for the services of King Charles, under the command of Sir Phillip Musgrave, who held it till after the battle of Marston moor, when it was surrendered to the parliament forces who took prisoners upwards of "1200 horse," and a great number of officers. On the west side of the castle is a detached square building, called Caesar’s Tower. and terminated at the corner of lofty turrets. This edifice is supposed to occupy the site of a Roman fortress, but the date of its erection in not known.

Markets, Fairs, &c. (In 1598, the market was removed to Gilshaughlin, on account of the plague; "In which year, between August 1 and March 25,, there died in Appleby, Scattergate, Colby, and Colby Leather 128 persons"). – The Market-House, or "The Cloister," where butter, eggs, &c are sold, stands at the foot of Boroughgate, where it was re-built by the corporation in 1811. It is a neat stone edifice, with a tower at each end; and in front of it is the Low Cross, which, as well as the High Cross, at the upper end of the Street, was re-built in 1817 and 1818. On the latter in inscribed—"Retain your Loyalty—Preserve your Rights." The Shambles, as has already been seen, assist the Moot-hall to obstruct the middle of the same street. The cloister was first built by Dr. Thomas Smith, Bishop of Carlisle, about A.D. 1700. It stands partly upon the church-yard, so that the corporation pays a yearly ground rent of 5s. to the vicar. The Market is held on Saturday, and numerously attended, and well supplied with corn, provisions, and coal; the latter of which is brought in small carts from Stainmore to Bongate. A cattle market is held every alternate Saturday at the High Cross. Three large FAIRS are held annually, viz. On the 2nd Saturday in March, and Whitsun-eve for cattle (in Bongate); and on the second Wednesday in June, for horses, cattle, sheep, and merchandise, which are exposed for sale at Gallow Hill. (where criminals are executed, is an extensive pasture, containing 100 acres, and situated in Bongate parish, 1 mile N. of Appleby. At the enclosure this portion of Bongate Moor was awarded in small shares to the landowners, who are enjioned to keep it undivided for the use of the above-named fair). The last-Mentioned being free form the heavy tolls imposed upon the fairs and markets in the borough, is nearly equal in consequence to the great fair held in Brough Hill, on the Saturday after which here is a very throng market. HIRINGS for SERVANTS are held at the High Cross on Whit-Monday, and at the Low Cross on the Nearest Saturday to Martinmas. Here are two extensive breweries and several manufacturers of Smith’s bellows, but the town is principally supported by its markets, fairs, &c.

The Church, dedicated to St. Lawrence, was burnt down by the Scots in the 22d of Henry II., but was re-built by that monarch about two years afterwards; and again in 1655, by the Countess of Pembroke, at the cost of £700. It is a fine Gothic structure, with a nave, chancel, and side aisles, and a square tower, in which are five bells, with a clock, and chimes which play at every third hour. The whole has been recently repaired, and it is intended shortly to re-pew it. In the chancel is a beautiful marble effigy of Margaret Countess of Cumberland, who died in 1616. Near this is an elegant altar-tomb, in memory of her benevolent daughter, The Countess of Pembroke, who died at the castle in 1675, and amongst other charitable bequests, left an estate at Temple-Sowerby, now worth £80 a year, for the reparation of this church, the bridge, market-crosses, &c. In the church were anciently two chantries; one dedicated to the Virgin Mary, by the family of Goldington, and the other to St. Nicholas, by the Robert Threlkeld. They were dissolved by Edward VI. Who granted their revenues, amounting to £5 11s. 8d. yearly to William Ward and Richard Venables, to hold in free soccage. The church, together with that a St. Michael’s was given by Ranulph de Meschiens to St Mary’s Abbey, in York, or rather to that monastery’s dependant priory at Wetheral. It is now a vicarage, of which the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle are patrons, and the Rev. Joseph Miller A.M. incumbent. It is valued in the king’s books at £9 5s. 2 ½d. Besides the ancient glebe, the vicarage is endowed with 236A.1H. 4P. of land, given at the enclosure in 1823, as a commutation for the tithes of Hoff township. St. Michael’s Church, in Bongate, on the east side of the Eden, ¾ of a mile SE. of Appleby, also partook of the munificence of the Countess of Pembroke, who raised it "out of its ruins," in 1658, but not on the same site, for the fragment of a wall, said to have been part of the original church, is still to be seen at the Holme, where human bones have frequently been found. It has a nave, chancel, cross aisle, and a small tower, and has anciently a chantry, endowed by Sir William English. At Battle Barrow, in the same parish, the Lords Clifford, Percy, and Vescy, in 1281, founded a White Friary, the site of which is now occupied by the neat modern mansion of John Hammond, Esq. Called the Friary. A little to the north-west a farm house stands upon the sit of St. Leonard’s Hospital, which long existed for the reception of lepers, and was given by John de Veteripont to Shap Abbey. It was dissolved by Henry VIII. And granted to Thomas Lord Wharton, but the adjoining farm now belongs to St. Anne’s Hospital. The Vicarage of St. Michael, valued in the king’s books at £20 13s. 9d. has been in the patronage of the successive Bishops of Carlisle since the year 1248, and is now the incumbency of the Rev. Thomas Bellas, A.M. At the enclosure of Bongate Common, 92A.1H. 10P. of land, were given to the Dean and Chapter of Carlisle, in lieu of the great tithes, and 15A. 1H. to the vicar, as a release form the small titles, besides 5A. 0H. 15P. allotted to the ancient glebe. The only Dissenting place of worship at Appleby is the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, which was built by subscription in 1823, and has a Sunday-school attached to it.

The Free Grammar School in Appleby was re-founded in 1574 by Queen Elizabeth, with ten governors, who are to appoint successors, nominate the master and usher, make statutes for the regulation of the school, and receive lands and possessions, "so as they exceed no the clear yearly value of £40," but the last limitation has been greatly exceeded, for this excellent seminary now possesses a yearly revenue of upwards £200, though it only receives six free scholars—all the others (about 70) having to pay small quarterages even for the classics, and additional charges for writing, arithmetic, &c. The chaplain of the two chantries in the church of St.Lawrence was enjoined to teach grammar as a part of his duty, so that Queen Mary, in consideration of the loss sustained by the dissolution of the chantries, granted to the school at Appleby a rent charge of £5 10s. 8d. to be paid out the rectory of Crosby Ravensworth. Since the royal charter of Elizabeth the school has been endowed with the following benefactions: With the sum of £300 (of which £240 was given by Dr. Miles Spencer) a rent charge of £20 a year was purchased in 1579, to be paid out of Newton Garths estate, in the county of Durham, now belonging to Cuthbert Ellison, Esq. In 1589, the governors received £40 from the will of Rainold Hartley, with which they purchased the field adjoining the school, called Pear-Tree-Garth. In 1661, Dr. Smith (afterwards Bishop of Carlisle) procured a lease of the corn tithes of Drybeck to be granted by the Dean and Chapter to the schoolmaster, who pays for tenants of £20 per annum. The demesne lands of New Hall in the manor by the governors with £500 out of the £700, given in 1671 by Bishops Barlow & Smith, the Rev. Randal Sanderson, and Sir John Lowther, Bart. All of whom had been scholars here, and gave their several donations to the school in consideration of the governors having ceded for ever the right of nominating the master to the provost and scholars and Queen’s College Oxford, where the Appleby scholars (natives of Westmoreland) have five exhibitions, founded in the same college by Lady Hastings, and those established by this founder, Robert Eglesfield for the education of scholars from Westmoreland and Cumberland. The school, of which the Re. Wm. Thompson, A.M. is now master, is open to all the boys of the parish of St. Lawrence and the township of Bongate. It is the "Temple Sowerby Trust."

A Book Club was established at Appleby about 40 years ago and now consists of the number of subscribers who yearly expend one guinea each in the purchase of books, which after being kept twelve month for their general use, are sold to the highest bidder, except such works as a majority of the numbers any determine to retain in the library, which is deposited at Mrs. S. Clark’s, in Boroughgate. The New Room is at the King’s Head Inn, where assemblies are occasionally held.

St Anne’s Hospital is a neat structure standing in a pleasant situation near the head of Boroughgate, and having a small chapel, with apartments and gardens of 13 poor widows, who have each a quarterly stipend of 7/- besides an extra sum of 25s. paid to the eldest, who is called the mother, and a cart load of coals given to each yearly. This excellent charity was founded in 1653, by that great benefactress of Appleby, Lady Ann Countess of Pembroke, who endowed it with an estate at Brougham, and lands in Bongate, formerly belonging to St. Nicholas’s Hospital, which now yield about 500/- per annum, of which 4/- belongs to the poor of Brougham. A small salary is paid to the Chaplain (Rev. John Heelis) for reading prayers in the hospital every Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Its yearly revenue at the foundation only amounted to 100/-. The Earl of Thanet is the visiter, and the Mayor of Appleby os one of the ten trustees. Exclusive of the three charities belonging the Church, Hospital and Grammar School, there are ten Benefactions, producing upwards of 56/- per annum, and distributed amongst the poor, pursuant to the will so f the donors, as has been seen at page 41. Having noticed all that is interesting in the Borough, we shall proceed to the out-townships and villages in both parishes.


Burrels is a village 1 ½ S. by W. of Appleby, on the Orton road. Its township has a rich reddish soil, contains an abundance of limestone, and is said to have been anciently crossed the the Borough Walls of Appleby. The Earl of Thanet is lord of the manor, and owner of most of the land.

Colby village stands on an eminence above the Eden 1 ½ mile W. by N. of Appleby. This township formed a manor which was long held by a family of its own name, from whom it passed the Warcops, who sold most of the tenements to freehold, and the rest have since been enfranchised, except a few tenants of the Bishop of Carlisle, who pay an annual; rent of £3 6s. 8d.

Drybeck, a small secluded village 3 ½ miles SSW. Of Appleby. The Earl of Thanet is lord of the manor of Drybeck and Hoff, which has been successively held by the families of Offa, Multon, Dacre, and others. The common lands in this manor were enclosed in 1823, when upwards of 7-0 acres were given to the lord, and the rest to the land owners.

Hoff a small village 2 ½ miles SSW. Of Appleby. The township forms a manor with Drybeck, and includes Hoff Row, Nether Hoff, and Barwise Hall, the latter of which though now a farm house, was long the seat off the distinguished family of Berewyse, but now belongs, together with the demense, to John Metcalf Carleton, of Hilbeck, who has sold it, to pass after his death, to Wm.. Pitts, Esq. There was anciently a chapel at Hoff, endowed with 37 acres of land. At Douglassing, near Hoff bridge, it is said a great battle was fought between the English and the Scotch in the reign of Richard II. This township was released from tithe, by giving common land to the vicar at the enclosure.

Hoff Nether a large farm belonging to the Earl of Thanet, and distant 1 ½ mile W. by N. of Appleby.

Hoff Row, a hamlet ½ mile W. by S. of Hoff. The family of Hall has been resident here upwards of 400 years and is remarkable for longevity: John Hall died in 1716, aged 109 years; his son John died in 1704, aged 89; and his grandson, in 1821, aged 101 years.

Scattergate township is mostly included in the borough, and contains the Castle of Appleby, already described.

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