Descriptive Gazetteer Entry for CUMBERLAND

CUMBERLAND, a maritime and border county; bounded on the N, by the Solway frith and Scotland: on the E, by Northumberland and Durham; on the SE and S, by Westmoreland and Lancashire; on the W, by the Irish sea. Its greatest length, north-eastward, is 64 miles; it greatest breadth, south-eastward, is 35 miles its circuit is about 215 miles; and its area is 1, 001, 273 acres. The surface is very much diversified. A range of mountains, commencing in the Crossfell ridge at the boundary with Durham and Westmoreland, extends along all these borders to the boundary with Scotland, and degenerates in many parts, especially toward the N, into wild expanses of heath. A broad tract of low land, at first tumulated, afterwards rich valley, afterwards morass more or less reclaimed, extends parallel with this range along the course of the Eden river, and onward thence to the boundary with Scotland. Another great tract of low land, prevailingly flat, and variously poor and rich, strikes westward from the middle and lower part of the Eden's valley to the Irish sea, and lines all the shore of the Solway frith. A great upland tract, with the Skiddaw group of mountains on the N, the Helvellyn group in the centre, and the Scaw Fell group in the S, including many summits from 2, 000 to 3, 229 feet high, enclosing numerous picturesque vales, and forming the main part of the famous Lake country, occupies most of the remaining area of the county, measuring about 39 miles by 17, and gives scenic character to all the rest. The chief rivers are the Eden, the Croglin, the Irthing, the Petteril, the Caldew, the Line, the Esk, the Wampool, the Waver, the Ellen, the Derwent, the Ehen, the South Esk, and the Duddon. Rivulets of picturesque character, many of them with fine waterfalls, are numerous. The chief lakes are Derwent water, Bassenthwaite, Thirlmere, Lowes, Crummock, Buttermere, Ennerdale, Wastwater, and part of Ulleswater. Picturesque lakelets and mountain tarns also are numerous. The rocks range from granite and trap, through slaty formations, both without and with fossils, and through sedimentary deposits of old red sandstone, mountain limestone, millstone grit, and coal, up to new red sandstone. The igneous and the silurian rocks occupy most of the Lake country; and the newer ones extend thence to the eastern and northern boundaries, the Solway frith, and the sea. Rare and curious minerals occur in great variety; plumbago, and silver, lead, copper, and iron ores are found; coarse marble, limestone, and building-stone are plentiful; and iron and coal are produced to the amount of respectively 50, 097 and 1, 041, 890 tons a year. The native flora is surprisingly rich; and moor game abounds.

The soils are variously strong fertile loam, heavy wet loam, light dry loam, and poor peaty mould. About one-third of the entire area n waste. The crops and culture are much controlled by the character of the soils, but extensively include good rotations. Husbandry, in all departments, has undergone much recent improvement. Multitudes of farms are small; and many are let by customary tenure. The dairy commands considerable attention, and produces excellent butter. The cattle are variously long horns, short horns, Galloways, and crosses. The sheep are partly Cheviots, partly a black-faced, mixed, hardy breed; and they yield annually about 10, 000 packs of wool. Manufactures in cottons, woollens, linens, paper, earthenware, and other matters are carried on to the extent of employing about 6, 000 hands. One railway goes from Carlisle south-south-eastward ton ward Lancaster; two others go, continuously with this, the one north-north-westward, the other northward, into Scotland; a fourth goes from the same terminus west-south-westward to Maryport, and is prolonged continuously thence, along the coast, into Lancashire, with branches to Cleator and Egremont; a fifth goes from Carlisle, also from the same terminus, east-north-eastward toward Newcastle; a sixth goes from Carlisle west-north-westward, and westward, to ports on the Solway frith; and a seventh goes from the coastline at Workington eastward to Cockermouth, and is prolonged thence, past Keswick, to the first line at Penrith.

The county contains 106 parishes and 5 extra-parochial places; and is divided first into the five wards of Cumberland, Eskdale, Leath, Allerdale-above-Derwent, and Allerdale-below-Derwent, and next into the parliamentary sections of East Cumberland and West Cumberland, the former comprising the first three wards, the latter comprising the last two wards, and each sending two members to parliament. The registration county is conterminate with the county proper; and is divided into the districts of Alston, Penrith, Brampton, Longtown, Carlisle, Wigton, Cockermouth, Whitehaven, and Bootle. Carlisle sends two members to parliament; Whitehaven and Cockermouth each send one; eighteen towns are market-towns; and there are upwards of 340 smaller towns, villages, and hamlets. The chief seats are White-haven Castle, Gowharrow Park, Rose Castle, Naworth Castle, Muncaster Castle, Crofton Place, Armathwaite Hall, Hensingham Hall, Netherby, Brayton, Graystock, Calder Abbey, Dovenby, Edenhall, Corby, Irton, Hawkesdale, Lamplugh, Nunnery, Workington, Ponsonby, Netherhall, and Newbiggen. Real property, in 1815, £737, 848; in 1843, £910, 334; in 1851, £963, 077; in 1860, £1, 216, 185, -of which £124, 770 were in mines, £2, 456 in quarries, £59, 966, in railways, and £1, 436 in iron-works.

The county is governed by a lord-lieutenant, a high sheriff, 12 deputy-lieutenants, and about 85 magistrates; and is in the Northern judiciary circuit, and in the diocese of Carlisle. The assizes and the quarter sessions are held at Carlisle. The police force, in 1862, comprised 29 men for Carlisle and 93 for the county at large, maintained at a cost of £1, 758 and £6, 750. The county jail and house of correction is at Carlisle. The crimes committed, in 1862, were 11 in Carlisle, and 183 in the rest of the county; the persons apprehended, 11 and 152; the depredators and suspected persons at large, 120 and 646; the houses of bad character, 52 and 127. The parliamentary electors, in 1868, were, in East Cumberland, 5, 455; in West Cumberland, 4, 602. Poor-rates, in 1862, £66, 872. Marriages, in 1860, 1, 501, -of which 650 were not according to the rites of the Established church; births, 6, 716, -of which 815 were illegitimate; deaths, 4, 595, -of which 1, 611 were at ages under 5 years, and 148 at ages above 85. The places of worship in 1851 were 161 of the Church of England, with 56, 803 sittings; 2 of the Church of Scotland, with 1, 000 s.; 5 of the English Presbyterian church, with 1, 980 s.; 10 of the United Presbyterian church, with 3, 090 s.; 24 of Independents, with 6, 919 s.; 9 of Baptists, with 2, 025 s.; 20 of Quakers, with 5, 160 s.; 1 of Unitarians, with 28 at-tendants; 96 of Wesleyan Methodists, with 14, 774 s.; 23 of Primitive Methodists, with 4, 181 s.; 17 of the Wesleyan Association, with 2, 468 s.; 2 of Brethren, with 400 s.; 7 of isolated congregations, with 554 s.; 4 of Latter Day Saints, with 401 s.; and 8 of Roman Catholics, with 1,853 s. The schools were 249 public day. schools, with 16, 801 scholars; 314 private day schools, with 8, 692 s.; 273 Sunday schools, with 20, 365 s.; and 15 evening schools for adults, with 405 s. Pop., in 1801, 117, 230; in 1821, 156, 124; in 1841, 178, 038; in 1861, 205, 276. Inhabited houses, 40, 532; uninhabited, 2, 114: building, 246.

Caledonian Celts, coming in from the north, and penetrating to the centre of the Lake country, seem to have been the first inhabiters of Cumberland; and took here the name of Cistuntii or Voluntii. Other Celts came afterwards from Wales, and peopled some of the southern parts of the Lake country. The Romans entered in the second century; overcame the Celts only so far as not to deprive them of their own customs; and annexed their territory to the province of Maxima Cæsariensis. The Celts, after the retiring of the Romans, maintained for some time a sturdy independence, and became included in the kingdom of Cumbria. The Angles and the Saxons did not enter, in any considerable number, till near the end of the seventh century; and entered even then, not as invaders, but in the way of stealthiness and conciliation. Danes came soon after the Saxons, but chiefly as fugitives from defeat; were strengthened by a few Norwegians, arriving on the seaboard; and eventually acquired so much force as to have greater influence, and. larger numbers, than the Angles and the Saxons. Little intestine commotion occurred; but the peace was broken by inroads of Athelstane in 937, Edmund I. in 945, Ethelred in 1001, William the Conqueror in 1069, and the Scots in 1135, 1216, 1297, 1311, 1319, 1322, 1327, 1337, 1342, 1380, 1387, 1524, and 1542. Several of the Scottish inroads, particularly under William the Lion, Bruce, and Douglas, were extensive and devastating; but others swept only low tracts near the frontier, and did little harm. The army of the Pretender traversed and re-traversed the county in 1745; and was followed, in its retreat, by the royal forces under the Duke of Cumberland.-Celtic monuments occur in a great Druidical circle near Keswick, the great Druidical circle called Long Meg and her Daughters, and small circles or standing stones on Black Combe and four other places. Roman relics are found in remains or traces of the Roman wall, Watling-street, and the Maiden way, and of stations at Netherby, Bewcastle, Old Carlisle, Moresby, Old Penrith, Ellenborough, Papcastle, and three or four other places. Monuments-various ages, from the Celtic to the Scandinavian, occur in numerous small tumuli, called variously how, raise, barrow, and hill. Relics of the Anglo-Saxons and the Danes are found in a few monument-runic stones. Traces of a time of tall strong heroes occur in the contents of cairns and in numerous traditions. Remains of abbeys or other religions houses, of ancient date, are at Calder, Wetherall, Lanercost, St. Bees, Holme-Cultram, and Bridekirk; castles at Rockcliffe, Naworth, Scaleby, Carlisle, Kirkoswald, Penrith, Cockermouth, Egremont, Castle-Hewin, Sowerby, Millom, High-head, Wulstey, and Dacre; and numerous towers or peel-houses, on the Border. Cumberland gave the title of Earl to the ancient family of Clifford; and, since the time of Charles I., has given the title of Duke to some member of the Royal family.

(John Marius Wilson, Imperial Gazetteer of England and Wales (1870-72))

Linked entities:
Feature Description: "a maritime and border county"   (ADL Feature Type: "countries, 2nd order divisions")
Administrative units: Cumberland AncC
Place: Cumberland

Go to the linked place page for a location map, and for access to other historical writing about the place. Pages for linked administrative units may contain historical statistics and information on boundaries.