Picture of Daniel Defoe

Daniel Defoe

places mentioned

Letter 10: Lancashire, Westmorland and Cumberland

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SIR,-Having thus finished my account of the east side of the north division of England, I put a stop here, that I may observe the exact course of my travels; for as I do not write you these letters from the observations of one single journey, so I describe things as my journies lead me, having no less than five times travelled through the north of England, and almost every time by a different rout; purposely that I might see every thing that was to be seen, and, if possible, know every thing that is to be known, though not (at least till the last general journey) knowing or resolving upon writing these accounts to you. Now as by my exact observations on all these several traverses of the country, I hope I am not the less able, so I am sure I am much the better furnished, as well to tell you wherein others have ignorantly or superficially represented things, as to give you such other and fuller accounts, as in your own intended travels you will find confirmed, and by which you will be able the better to guide your farther equines.

I entred Lancashire at the remotest western point of that county, having been at West-Chester upon a particular occasion, and from thence ferry'd over from the Cestrian Chersonesus, as I have already call'd it, to Liverpoole. This narrow slip of land, rich, fertile and full of inhabitants, tho' formerly, as authors say, a meer waste and desolate forest, is called Wirall, or by some Wirehall. Here is a ferry over the Mersee, which, at full sea, is more than two miles over. We land on the flat shore on the other side, and are contented to ride through the water for some length, not on horseback but on the shoulders of some honest Lancashire clown, who comes knee deep to the boat side, to truss you up, and then runs away with you, as nimbly as you desire to ride, unless his trot were easier; for I was shaken by him that I had the luck to be carry'd by more than I car'd for, and much worse than a hard trotting horse would have shaken me.

Liverpoole is one of the wonders of Britain, and that more, in my opinion, than any of the wonders of the Peak; the town was, at my first visiting it, about the year 1680, a large, handsome, well built and encreasing or thriving town; at my second visit, anno 1690, it was much bigger than at my first seeing it, and, by the report of the inhabitants, more than twice as big as it was twenty years before that; but, I think, I may safely say at this my third seeing it, for I was surpriz'd at the view, it was more than double what it was at the second; and, I am told, that it still visibly encreases both in wealth, people, business and buildings: What it may grow to in time, I know not.

There are no fortifications either to landward or seaward, the inhabitants resting secure under the protection of the general peace; though when the late northern insurrection spread down their way, and came to Preston, they could have been glad of walls and gates; and indeed, had the rebel party had time to have advanced to Warrington, seized the pass there, and taken Manchester, as they would certainly have done in three days more, it would have fared but very ill with Liverpoole; who could have made but little resistance against an arm'd and desperate body of men, such as they appeared to be, and by that time would have been: Besides, the invaders would here have found not the sweets of plunder only, but arms, ammunition, powder and lead, all which they extreamly wanted; they would have had ships also to have facilitated a communication with their fellows in Ireland, who would have throng'd over upon the least view of their success, if it had been only in hopes of plunder.

But heaven had Liverpoole in its particular protection, as well as the whole kingdom; the rebels were met with, fought and defeated, before they gat leave to get so far, or to make any offer that way. The story of which, as it does not belong to this work, so it is too recent in memory, to need any account of it here, other than in general.

The town has now an opulent, flourishing and encreasing trade, not rivalling Bristol, in the trade to Virginia, and the English island colonies in America only, but is in a fair way to exceed and eclipse it, by encreasing every way in wealth and shipping. They trade round the whole island, send ships to Norway, to Hamburgh, and to the Baltick, as also to Holland and Flanders; so that, in a word, they are almost become like the Londoners, universal merchants.

The trade of Liverpoole is not my particular province, so I shall be short in that part; it consists not only in merchandizing and correspondencies beyond seas; but as they import almost all kinds of foreign goods, they have consequently a great inland trade, and a great correspondence with Ireland, and with Scotland, for their consumption, exactly as it is with Bristol; and they really divide the trade with Bristol upon very remarkable equalities.

Bristol lies open to the Irish Sea, so does Liverpoole: Bristol trades chiefly to the south and west parts of Ireland; from Dublin in the east, to Galloway west; Liverpoole has all the trade of the east shore and the north from the harbour of Dublin to London Derry.

Bristol has the trade of South Wales; Liverpoole great part of the trade of North Wales; Bristol has the south west counties of England, and some north of it, as high as Bridge North, and perhaps to Shrewsbury; Liverpoole has all the northern counties, and a large consumption of goods in Cheshire and Staffordshire are supplied from Liverpoole. It is some advantage to the growing commerce of this town, that the freemen of it are, in consequence of that freedom, free also of Bristol; and they are free also of the corporations of Waterford and Wexford in the kingdom of Ireland. Not that these corporation privileges are of any great value to Liverpoole in its foreign trade, but in particular cases it may be some advantage, as in town duties, in admitting them to set up trades in those corporations, and the like.

The people of Liverpoole seem to have a different scene of commerce to act on from the city of Bristol, which to me is a particular advantage to both, namely, that though they may rival one another in their appearances, in their number of shipping, and in several particulars, yet they need not interfere with one another's business, but either of them seem to have room enough to extend their trade, even at home and abroad, without clashing with one another. One has all the north, and the other all the south of Britain to correspond in. As for Wales, 'tis, as it were, divided between them by nature it self. Bristol lies open to South Wales, and into the very heart of it, by the navigation of the Rivers Wye and Lug, and by the many open harbours all the way to Milford Haven and St. David's, and into all the east side of Wales, and the counties of Monmouth, Hereford and Salop, by the Severn; Liverpoole has the same with North Wales, by the water of Dee, the Cluyd, the Conway, Canal of the Mona, and all the rivers in Carnarvon Bay.

Ireland is, as it were, all their own, and shared between them, as above; and for the northern coast of it, if the Liverpoole men have not the whole fishery, or, at least, in company with the merchants of London Derry, the fault is their own. The situation of Liverpoole gives it a very great advantage to improve their commerce, and extend it in the northern inland counties of England, particularly into Cheshire and Staffordshire, by the new navigation of the Rivers Mersee, the Weaver, and the Dane, by the last of which they come so near the Trent with their goods, that they make no difficulty to carry them by land to Burton, and from thence correspond quite through the kingdom, even to Hull; and they begin to be very sensible of the advantage of such a commerce. But I must not dwell here; I might otherwise take up great part of the sheets I have left in describing the commerce of this town, and some of its neighbours.

I return therefore to the description of it as a town; the situation being on the north bank of the river, and with the particular disadvantage of a flat shore. This exposed the merchants to great difficulties in their business; for though the harbour was good, and the ships rode well in the offing, yet they were obliged to ride there as in a road rather than a harbour. Here was no mole or haven to bring in their ships and lay them up, (as the seamen call it) for the winter; nor any key for the delivering their goods, as at Bristol, Biddiford, Newcastle, Hull, and other sea ports: Upon this, the inhabitants and merchants have, of late years, and since the visible encrease of their trade, made a large basin or wet dock, at the east end of the town, where, at an immense charge, the place considered, they have brought the tide from the Mersee to flow up by an opening that looks to the south, and the ships go in north; so that the town entirely shelters it from the westerly and northerly winds, the hills from the easterly, and the ships lye, as in a mill-pond, with the utmost safety and convenience. As this is so great a benefit to the town, and that the like is not to be seen in any place in England but here, I mean London excepted, it is well worth the observation and imitation of many other trading places in Britain who want such a convenience, and, for want of it, lose their trade.

The new church built on the north side of the town is worth observation. 'Tis a noble, large building, all of stone, well fmish'd; has in it a fine font of marble placed in the body of the church, surrounded with a beautiful iron pallisado; the gift of the late Mr. Heysham, a merchant of London, but considerably concerned in trade on this side, and for many years Member of Parliament for Lancaster. There is a beautiful tower to this church, and a new ring of eight very good bells. The town-house is a fine modern building, standing and upon pillars of free-stone; the place under it is their Tolsey or Exchange, for the meeting of their merchants; but they begin to want room, and talk of enlarging it or removing the Exchange to the other part of the town, where the ships and the merchants business is nearer hand.

In a word, there is no town in England, London excepted, that can equal Liverpoole for the fineness of the streets, and beauty of the buildings; many of the houses are all of free stone, and compleatly finished; and all the rest (of the new part I mean) of brick, as handsomely built as London it self. Mr. Cambden says, it was a neat and populous town in his time; his reverend continuator confirms what I have said thus, that it was more than doubly encreased in buildings and people in twenty eight years, and that the customs were augmented tenfold in the same time; to which I am to add, that they are now much greater, that being written about two and thirty years ago, before the new church, or the wet dock, mentioned above, were made, and we know they have gone on encreasing in trade, buildings and people, to this day. I refer the reader therefore to judge of the probable greatness of it now.

From hence the Mersee opening into the Irish Sea, we could see the great and famous road of Hile Lake, made famous for the shipping off, or rather rendezvous of the army and fleet under King William, for the conquest of Ireland, an. 1689, for here the men of war rode as our ships do in the Downs, till the transports came to them from Chester and this town.

The sea coast affords little remarkable on the west side of this port, till we come farther north; so we left that part of the county, and going east we came to Warrington. This is a large market town upon the River Mersee, over which there is a stately stone bridge, which is the only bridge of communication for the whole county with the county of Chester; it is on the great road from London leading to Carlisle and Scotland, and, in case of war, has always been esteemed a pass of the utmost importance. It was found to be so upon several extraordinary occasions in the time of the late civil war; and had the rebels advanced thus far in the late Presten affair, so as to have made themselves masters of it, it would have been so again; and, on that account, the king's forces took special care, by a speedy advance to secure it.

Warrington is a large, populous old built town, but rich and full of good country tradesmen. Here is particularly a weekly market for linnen, as I saw at Wrexham in Wales, a market for flannel. The linnen sold at this market, is, generally speaking, a sort of table linnen, called huk-a-back or huk-a-buk; 'tis wail known among the good housewives, so I need not describe it. I was told there are generally as many pieces of this linnen sold here every market day as amounts to five hundred pounds value, sometimes much more, and all made in the neighbourhood of the place.

From hence, on the road to Manchester, we pass'd the great bog or waste call'd Chatmos, the first of that kind that we see in England, from any of the south parts hither. It extends on the left-hand of the road for five or six miles east and west, and they told us it was, in some places, seven or eight miles from north to south. The nature of these mosses, for we found there are many of them in this country; is this, and you will take this for a description of all the rest.

The surface, at a distance, looks black and dirty, and is indeed frightful to think of, for it will bear neither horse or man, unless in an exceeding dry season, and then not so as to be passable, or that any one should travel over them.

The substance of the surface seems to be a collection of the small roots of innumerable vegetables matted together, inter-woven so thick, as well the bigger roots as the smaller fibres, that it makes a substance hard enough to cut out into turf, or rather peat, which, in some places, the people cut out, and piling them up in the sun, dry them for their fewel. The roots I speak of are generally small and soft not unlike the roots of asparagus or of bearbind, they have no earth among them, except what they contract from the air, and dust flying in it, but the rain keeps them, as it were, always growing, though not much encreasing.

In some places the surface of this kind lies thicker, in some not very thick. We saw it in some places eight or nine foot thick, and the water that dreins from it look'd clear, but of a deep brown, like stale beer. What nature meant by such a useless production, 'tis hard to imagine; but the land is entirely waste, except, as above, for the poor cottagers fuel, and the quantity used for that is very small.

Under this moss, or rather in the very body of it, not here only, but in several like places, and perhaps in all of them, those antient fir trees are found, of which so much dispute has been what they are or were, but especially how they should come there. Much mob-learning is sometimes expended upon these questions, which, in my weak judgment, amounts to no more than this; That nature, whose works are all directed by a superior hand, has been guided to produce trees here under ground, as she does in other places above ground; that these live rather than grow, though 'tis manifest they encrease too, otherwise they would not be found of so great a bulk; that as the trees above the surface grow erect and high, these lie prone and horizontal; those shoot forth branches and leaves; these shoot forth no branches or leaves, yet have a vegetation by methods directed by nature, and particularly to that kind; and 'tis remarkable, that as if they lie buried they will grow and encrease, so if you take them up, and plant them in the air, they will wither and die; and why should this be more strange than that a fish will strangle in the air, and a bird drown in the water, or than that every thing lives in its proper element, and will not live, or at least not thrive out of it.

It is observable, that these trees are a kind of fir, and are very full of turpentine. Whether there is any tar in them I am not positive, but I suppose there is. And yet I do not see, that for this reason they should not be a natural ordinary product, as other vegetables are.

If it be enquired, why no kind of trees should grow thus but fir; it may be as well ask'd, why no stone grows in such or such quarries, or countries, but marble, or in others than free stone, nature alone can resolve that part.

As to their being brought hither by the general convulsion of the globe at the deluge, the thought is so mean, and the thing so incongruous, that I think it neither needs or deserves any other notice.

From hence we came on to Manchester, one of the greatest, if not really the greatest meer village in England. It is neither a wall'd town, city, or corporation; they send no members to Parliament; and the highest magistrate they have is a constable or headborough; and yet it has a collegiate church, several parishes, takes up a large space of ground, and, including the suburb, or that part of the town called--over the bridge; it is said to contain above fifty thousand people; and though some people may think this strange, and that I speak by guess, and without judgment, I shall justify my opinion so well, that I believe, it will convince you my calculation is at least very probable, and much under what fame tells us is true.

The Manchester trade we all know; and all that are concerned in it know that it is, as all our other manufactures are, very much encreased within these thirty or forty years especially beyond what it was before; and as the manufacture is encreased, the people must be encreased of course. It is true, that the encrease of the manufacture may be by its extending itself farther in the country, and so more hands may be employed in the county without any encrease in the town. But I answer that though this is possible, yet as the town and parish of Manchester is the center of the manufacture, the encrease of that manufacture would certainly encrease there first, and then the people there not being sufficient, it might spread itself further.

But the encrease of buildings at Manchester within these few years, is a confirmation of the encrease of people; for that within very few years past, here, as at Liverpoole, and as at Froom in Somersetshire, the town is extended in a surprising manner; abundance, not of new houses only, but of new streets of houses, are added, a new church also, and they talk of another, and a fine new square is at this time building; so that the town is almost double to what it was a few years ago, and more than double to what it was at the time I am to mention.

Now to go back to the last age, the right reverend continuator of Mr. Cambden tells us positively, that sixty years before his writing, and that is now thirty-two years ago, there were computed twenty thousand communicants in Manchester parish, for then the whole town was but one parish. Now if there were twenty thousand communicants, we may be allowed to suppose ten thousand children, from fifteen years old down wards, which is thirty thousand people; and if the town is since more than doubled in buildings, and the trade manifestly encreased, as I believe every one will grant; and also that I take in the suburb or village of--to it, which is another parish, I think my computation of fifty thousand people to be not reasonable only, but much within compass; and some of the antient inhabitants are of the opinion there are above sixty thousand.

If then this calculation is just, as I believe it really is, you have here then an open village, which is greater and more populous than many, nay, than most cities in England, not York, Lincoln, Chester, Salisbury, Winchester, Worcester, Gloucester, no not Norwich it self, can come up to it; and for lesser cities, two or three put together, would not equal it, such as Peterborough, Ely, and Carlisle, or such as Bath, Wells and Litchfield, and the like of some others.

I must not quit Manchester without giving some account of the college there, which has been very famous for learning and learned men, even in our age; and has just now given a bishop to the church in the person of the late master Dr. Peploe, now Lord Bishop of Chester.

The town of Manchester boasts of four extraordinary foundations, viz. a college, an hospital, a free-school, and a library, all very well supported.

The college was the charity of Thomas, Lord Delaware, who being but the cadet of the family, was bred a scholar, and was in orders; afterwards became rector of the parish, and enjoy'd the same many years, succeeding to that honour by the decease of his eider brother without heirs.

He founded the college anno 1421, after he was come to the honour and estate of his brother. By the foundation it was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and the two patron saints of France and England, St. Dennis and St. George.

The foundation escaped the general ruin in the time of Henry VIII. but was dissolved in the reign of his successor Edward VI. and the revenues fell to the Crown; but they were restored by Queen Mary, and the house re-established upon the first foundation, though with several additions.

Queen Elizabeth enquiring into the nature of the gift, and having a favourable representation of it as a seminary not of Popery but of learning and true religion, founded it anew, at the same time as she did the great free-school at Shrewsbury. This was anno 1578. and as, I say, she refounded it, so she new christen'd it, gave it the name it still enjoys, of Christ's College in Manchester, and settled its antient revenues as far as they could be recovered; but there had been great dilapidations in the time of the former unsettled governours of it by several former foundations, as follows:

The college was first founded, A.D. 1421, by Thomas de la Ware, at first, rector of the said parish church, and brother to the Lord De la Ware, whom he succeeded in the estate and honour; and then himself founded a college there, consisting of one master or keeper, eight fellows chaplains, four clerks, and six choristers, in honour of St. Mary, (to whom the said parish church was formerly dedicated) St. Dennis of France, and St. George of England.

This foundation was dissolved 1547, in the first year of King Edward VI. the lands and revenues of it taken into the king's hands, and by him demised to the Earl of Derby, and the college-house, and some lands sold to the said earl.

After this, the college was refounded by Queen Mary, who restored most of the lands and revenues, only the college it self, and some of its revenues, remained still in the hands of the Earl of Derby.

It was also founded anew by Queen Elizabeth, A.D. 1578. by the name of Christ's College, in Manchester, consisting of one warden, four fellows, two chaplains, four singing men, and four choristers, the number being lessened, because the revenues were so; chiefly by the covetousness and base dealing of Thomas Herle, then warden, and his fellows, who sold away, or made such long leases of the revenues, as could never yet, some of them, be retrieved.

It was last of all refounded by King Charles the First, A.D. 1636, consisting then of one warden, four fellows, two chaplains, four singing-men, and four choristers, and incorporating them, as before, by the name of the Warden and Fellows of Christ's College in Manchester, the statutes for the same being drawn up by Archbishop Laud.

The hospital was founded by Humphry Cheetham, Esq; and incorporated by King Charles the Second, designed by the said bountiful benefactor for the maintenance of forty poor boys out of the town and parish of Manchester, and some other neighbouring parishes; but since 'tis enlarged to the number of sixty, by the governours of the said hospital, to be taken in between the age of six and ten, and there maintain'd with meat, drink, lodging and cloaths, to the age of fourteen, and then to be bound apprentices to some honest trade or calling, at the charge of the said hospital; for the maintenance of which he endowed it with the yearly revenue of 420l . which is since improved by the care and good husbandry of the feoffees or governours, to the yearly sum of 517l . 8s. 4d . they having laid out in the purchase of lands the sum of 1825l. which was saved out of the yearly income, over and above the maintenance of the poor children, and others, belonging to the said hospital, wherein there are annually near seventy persons provided for. By the bounty of the said founder, is also erected a very fair and spacious library, already furnished with a competent stock of choice and valuable books, to the number of near four thousand, and daily increasing with the income of no, per annum, settled upon the same by the said worthy benefactor, to buy books for ever, and to afford a competent salary for a library keeper. There is also a large school for the hospital boys, where they are daily instructed, and taught to read and write.

The publick school was founded, A.D. 1519. by Hugh Oldham, D.D. and Bishop of Exeter, who bought the lands on which the school stands, and took the mills there in lease on the Lord De la Ware, for sixty years; afterwards, with the bishop's money, Hugh Benwick, and Joan his sister, purchased of the Lord De la Ware, his land in Ascots, and the mills upon right and left of them in feoffment to the said free-school for ever, which revenues are of late very much encreased by the feoffees of the schools; who, out of the improvements, have as well considerably augmented the masters salaries, as the exhibitions annually allowed to the maintenance of such scholars at the university, as the warden of the college and the high master shall think requisite, and have besides, for some years past, added a third master, for whom they have lately erected a new and convenient school at the end of the other. Besides these publick benefactions and endowments, there have been several other considerable sums of money, and annual revenues, left and bequeathed to the poor of the said town, who are thereby, with the kindness and charity of the present inhabitants, competently provided for, without starving at home, or being forced to seek relief abroad.

As for the antiquity of the place, I have no room to mention it here, though the authors who have mentioned it say much of that part too; nor is it my business, the antiquity of the manufacture indeed is what is of most consideration; and this, though we cannot trace it by history, yet we have reason to believe it began something earlier than the great woollen manufactures in other parts of England, of which I have spoken so often, because the cotton might it self come from the Mediterranean, and be known by correspondents in those countries, when that of wooll was not push'd at, because our neighbours wrought the goods, and though they bought the wool from England, yet we did not want the goods; whereas, without making the cotton goods at home, our people could not have them at all; and that necessity, which is the mother of invention, might put them upon one; whereas having not the same necessity, ignorance and indolence prevented the other.

I am the rather of this opinion too, because Mr. Cambden speaks of this manufacture too, by the name of Manchester Cottons, and that being written in Queen Elizabeth's time, when the woollen manufacture was, though much improved, yet, as we may say, in its infancy, or, at least, not at full age; we may reasonably believe, that cotton was the eider manufacture of the two, and that by some considerable time. This manufacture of Manchester Cottons, as it seems they were then call'd, I suppose is the same that is now call'd fustian or dimity, or that both these are but different kinds of the other.

I cannot doubt but this encreasing town will, some time or other, obtain some better face of government, and be incorporated, as it very well deserves to be.

The River Irwell runs close by this town, and receives the little River Irke just above the town, on the north and north east side. There is a very firm, but antient stone bridge over the Irwell, which is built exceeding high, because this river, though not great, yet coming from the mountainous part of the country, swells sometimes so suddenly, that in one night's time they told me the waters would frequently rise four or five yards, and the next day fall as hastily as they rose.

The author of the Geographical Dictionary places this town upon the bank of the River Spolden, which Mr. Cambden's continuator, mentioned so often, takes notice of as a mistake, and so it is; but I suppose 'twas occasioned by this: There is a river named Spodden, not Spolden, which rising under Blackstone Edge, runs into the Roch at Rochdale, and so losing its name in the Roch, runs into the Irwell, about Ratcliff, six or seven miles above Manchester, and, in some maps, they have made not the Spodden lose its name in the Roch, but the Roch in the Spodden, and so give it yet its own name after it joins the Irwell, and on to Manchester.

About eight mile from Manchester, north west, lies Bolton, the town which gives title to the noble family of Powlet, Dukes of Bolton, raised to the heighth of duke by the late King William, at the same time, or near it, with the Dukes of Bedford, Devonshire, Rutland and Newcastle. We saw nothing remarkable in this town, but that the cotton manufacture reach'd hither; but the place did not, like Manchester, seem so flourishing and encreasing.

On the left hand of this town, west, even to the sea-shore, there are not many towns of note, except Wiggan, on the high post road, and Ormskirk, near which we saw Latham House, famous for its being not only gallantly defended in the times of the late fatal wars, but that it was so by a woman; for the Lady Charlotte, Countess of Derby, defended the house to the last extremity against the Parliament forces; nor could she ever be brought to capitulate, but kept the hold till Prince Rupert, with a strong body of the King's army, came to her relief, and obliged the enemy to raise their siege, anno 1644: It was indeed ruin'd in a second siege, and is not yet fully recovered from the calamity of it.

In this town of Bolton the old Earl of Derby was beheaded by the Parliament, or by the army rather, in the time of those fatal wars, October 15. 1651.

In the neighbourhood of this town, that is to say, between Wiggan and Bolton, in the estate of Sir Roger Bradshaw, is found that kind of coal they call Canell or Candle Goal, which, tho' they are found here in great plenty, and are very cheap, are yet very singular; for there are none such to be seen in Britain, or perhaps in the world besides: They so soon take fire, that, by putting a lighted candle to them, they are presently in a flame, and yet hold fire as long as any coals whatever, and more or less, as they are placed in the grate or hearth, whether flat or edg'd, whether right up and down, and polar, or level and horizontal.

They are smooth and slick when the pieces part from one another, and will polish like alabaster; then a lady may take them up in a cambrick handkerchief and they will not soil it, though they are as black as the deepest jet. They are the most pleasant agreeable fuel that can be found, but they are remote; and though some of them have been brought to London, yet they are so dear, by reason of the carriage, that few care to buy them; we saw some of them at Warrington too, but all from the same pits.

We saw nothing remarkable in Ormskirk but the monuments of the antient family of the Stanly's, before they came to the title of Earls of Derby. Here they are all buried, and have some very fine, tho' antient, and even decayed remains of monuments; and here they continue to bury the family still, whose seat of Latham, as I said before, is but hard by. Mr. Cambden gives a full account how Latham House, and a great estate with it, came to the Earls of Derby by marriage, and has continued in the family to this day.

It is not to be forgot that Warrington is near Winnick, a small town, but a large parish, and great benefice; but though it might be the greatest in England in those days, 'tis very far from being now so; for we never heard that it was worth above 8ool per annum, whereas Sedgfield, near Durham, is valued at this time at 12ool . per annum at least.

I must not pass over here the Burning Well, as 'tis called, near Wiggan, though I must acknowledge, that being turned from Bolton towards Rochdale, before I heard any thing of it that I gave any credit to, I did not go back to see it; not that I had not curiosity enough, if I had been satisfied it was valuable, but the country people, who usually enlarge upon such things rather than lessen them, made light of this; and so I cool'd in my curiosity.

But the account given in publick of it is also so particular, that it abundantly makes amends to me for my not seeing it. Mr. Cambden's continuator gives the following account of it: Within a mile and a half of Wiggan is a well, which does not appear to be a spring but rather rain water, at first sight. There is nothing about it that seems extraordinary, but, upon emptying it, there presently breaks out a sulphureous vapour, which makes the water bubble up as if it boiled; a candle being put to it, it presently takes fire, and burns like brandy; the name, in a calm season, will continue a whole day, by the heat whereof they can boil eggs, meat, &. though the water it self be cold By this bubbling the water does not encrease, but is only kept in motion by the constant halitus of the vapours breaking out; the same water taken out of the well will not burn, as neither the mud upon which the halitus has beat.

Dr. Leigh, in his Natural History of Lancashire , not only describes it, but accounts very judiciously for the thing it self, and by it for the warmth of all not baths.

As I have noted above, we turned east here, and came to Bury, a small market town on the River Roch, mentioned above, where we observed the manufacture of cotton, which are so great at Manchester, Bolton, &. was ended, and woollen manufacture of coarse sorts, called half-thicks and kersies, began, on which the whole town seemed busy and hard at work; and so in all the villages about it.

From thence we went on to Rochdale, a larger and more populous town than Bury, and under the hills, called Blackstone Edge, of which I have spoken sufficiently in my former letter having travelled this way to Hallifax, &.

But I must now look northward. This great county, as we advance, grows narrow, and not only so, but mountainous, and not so full of towns or inhabitants as the south part, which I have been over; Presten and Lancaster are the only towns of note remaining.

Preston is a fine town, and tolerably full of people, but not like Liverpoole or Manchester; besides, we come now beyond the trading part of the county. Here's no manufacture; the town is full of attorneys, proctors, and notaries, the process of law here being of a different nature than they are in other places, it being a dutchy and county palatine, and having particular privileges of its own. The people are gay here, though not perhaps the richer for that; but it has by that obtained the name of Proud Preston. Here is a great deal of good company, but not so much, they say, as was before the late bloody action with the northern rebels; not that the battle hurt many of the immediate inhabitants, but so many families there and thereabout, have been touched by the consequences of it, that it will not be recovered in a few years, and they seem to have a kind of remembrance of things upon them still.

Lancaster is the next, the county town, and situate near the mouth of the River Lone or Lune. The town is antient; it lies, as it were, in its own ruins, and has little to recommend it but a decayed castle, and a more decayed port (for no ships of any considerable burthen); the bridge is handsome and strong, but, as before, here is little or no trade, and few people. It surprized me to hear that there is not above sixty parishes in all this large county, but many of them are necessarily very large.

This part of the country seemed very strange to us, after coming out of so rich, populous and fruitful a place, as I have just now described; for here we were, as it were, lock'd in between the hills on one side high as the clouds, and prodigiously higher, and the sea on the other, and the sea it self seemed desolate and wild, for it was a sea without ships, here being no sea port or place of trade, especially for merchants; so that, except colliers passing between Ireland and Whitehaven with coals, the people told us they should not see a ship under sail for many weeks together.

Here, among the mountains, our curiosity was frequently moved to enquire what high hill this was, or that; and we soon were saluted with that old verse which I remembered to have seen in Mr. Camden, viz.

Ingle rough, Penndel-hill and Penitent,
Are the highest hills between Scotland and Trent?

Indeed, they were, in my thoughts, monstrous high; but in a country all mountainous and full of innumerable high hills, it was not easy for a traveller to judge which was highest. Nor were these hills high and formidable only, but they had a kind of an unhospitable terror in them. Here were no rich pleasant valleys between them, as among the Alps; no lead mines and veins of rich oar, as in the Peak; no coal pits, as in the hills about Hallifax, much less gold, as in the Andes, but all barren and wild, of no use or advantage either to man or beast. Indeed here was formerly, as far back as Queen Elizabeth, some copper mines, and they wrought them to good advantage; but whether the vein of oar fail'd, or what else was the reason, we know not, but they are all given over long since, and this part of the country yields little or nothing at all.

But I must not forget Winander Meer, which makes the utmost northern bounds of this shire, which is famous for the char fish found here and hereabout, and no where else in England; it is found indeed in some of the rivers or lakes in Swisserland among the Alps, and some say in North Wales; but I question the last. It is a curious fish, and, as a dainty, is potted, and sent far and near, as presents to the best friends; but the quantity they take also is not great. Mr. Cambden's continuator calls it very happily the Golden Alpine Trout.

Here we entred Westmoreland, a country eminent only for being the wildest, most barren and frightful of any that I have passed over in England, or even in Wales it self; the west side, which borders on Cumberland, is indeed bounded by a chain of almost unpassable mountains, which, in the language of the country, are called Fells, and these are called Fourness Fells, from the famous promontory bearing that name, and an abbey built also in antient times, and called Fourness.

But 'tis of no advantage to represent horror, as the character of a country, in the middle of all the frightful appearances to the right and left; yet here are some very pleasant, populous and manufacturing towns, and consequently populous. Such is Kirby Launsdale, or Lunedale, because it stands on the River Lune, which is the boundary of the county, and leaves the hills of Mallerstang Forest, which are, in many places, unpassable. The manufacture which the people are employed in here, are chiefly woollen cloths, at Kirkby Launsdale, and Kendal, and farther northward, a security for the continuance of the people in the place; for here is a vast concourse of people. In a word, I find no room to doubt the hills above mentioned go on to Scotland, for from some of the heighths hereabouts, they can see even into Scotland it self.

The upper, or northern part of the county, has two manufacturing towns, called Kirkby Stephen, and Appleby; the last is the capital of the county, yet neither of them offer any thing considerable to our observation, except a great manufacture of yarn stockings at the former.

My Lord Lonsdale, or Lonsdown, of the antient family of Louther, has a very noble and antient seat at Louther, and upon the River Louther; all together add a dignity to the family, and are tests of its antiquity. The house, as now adorned, is beautiful; but the stables are the wonder of England, of which, having not taken an exact view of them my self, I am loth to say, at second-hand, what fame has said; but, in general, they are certainly the largest and finest that any gentleman or nobleman in Britain is master of.

When we entred at the south part of this county, I began indeed to think of Merionethshire, and the mountains of Snowden in North Wales, seeing nothing round me, in many places, but unpassable hills, whose tops, covered with snow, seemed to tell us all the pleasant part of England was at an end. The great Winander Meer, like the Mediterranean Sea, extends it self on the west side for twelve miles and more, reckoning from North Bridge on the south, where it contracts it self again into a river up to Grasmere North, and is the boundary of the county, as I have said, on that side; and the English Appenine, as Mr. Cambden calls them, that is, the mountains of Yorkshire North Riding, lie like a wall of brass on the other; and in deed, in one sense, they are a wall of brass; for it is the opinion of the most skilful and knowing people in the country, that those mountains are full of inexhaustible mines of copper, and so rich, as not only to be called brass, copper being convertible into brass, but also to have a quantity of gold in them also: It is true, they do at this time work at some copper mines here, but they find the oar lies so deep, and is so hard to come at, that they do not seem to go cheerfully on.

But notwithstanding this terrible aspect of the hills, when having passed by Kendal, and descending the frightful mountains, we began to find the flat country show it self; we soon saw that the north and north east part of the county was pleasant, rich, fruitful, and, compared to the other part, populous. The River Eden, the last river of England on this side, as the Tyne is on the other, rises in this part out of the side of a monstrous high mountain, called Mowill Hill, or Wildbore Fell, which you please; after which, it runs through the middle of this vale, which is, as above, a very agreeable and pleasant country, or perhaps seems to be so the more, by the horror of the eastern and southern part.

In this vale, and on the bank of this river, stands Appleby, once a flourishing city, now a scattering, decayed, and half-demolished town, the fatal effects of the antient inroads of the Scots, when this being a frontier county, those invasions were frequent, and who several times were masters of this town, and at length burnt it to the ground, which blow it has not yet recovered.

The searchers after antiquity find much more to recreate their minds, and satisfy their curiosity, in these northern countries than in those farther south, which are more populous and better inhabited, because the remains of antient things have met with less injury here, where there are not so many people, or so many buildings, or alterations, enclosings and plantings, as in other places; but, for my purpose, who am to give the present state of things, here is not much to observe; nor are there many houses or seats of the nobility in this part, tho' many antient families dwell here, as particularly Strickland, from the lands of Str?ckland, Wharton from Wharton Hall, Louther from the River Louther, as above, Warcop of Warcop, Langdale of Langdale, Musgrave from Musgrave, and many others.

The Roman highway, which I have so often mentioned, and which, in my last letter, I left at Leeming Lane and Peers Brigg, in the North Riding of York, enters this county from Rear Cross upon Stanmore, and crossing it almost due east and west, goes through Appleby, passing the Eden a little north from Perith, at an antient Roman station call'd Brovoniacam, where there was a large and stately stone bridge; but now the great road leads to the left-hand to Perith, in going to which we first pass the Eden, at a very good stone bridge call'd Louther Bridge, and then the Elnot over another.

Perith, or Penrith, is a handsome market town, populous, well built, and, for an inland town, has a very good share of trade. It was unhappily possessed by the late party of Scots Highland rebels, when they made that desperate push into England, and which ended at Preston; in the moor or heath, on the north part of this town, the militia of the county making a brave appearance, and infinitely out-numbering the Highlanders, were drawn up; yet, with all their bravery, they ran away, as soon as the Scots began to advance to charge them, and never fired a gun at them, leaving the town at their mercy. However, to do justice even to the rebels, they offered no injury to the town, only quartered in it one night, took what arms and ammunition they could find, and advanced towards Kendal.

From hence, in one stage, through a country full of castles, for almost every gentleman's house is a castle, we came to Carlisle, a small, but well fortified city, the frontier place and key of England on the west sea, as Berwick upon Tweed is on the east; and in both which there have, for many years, I might say ages, been strong garrisons kept to check the invading Scots; from below this town the famous Picts Wall began, which cross'd the whole island to Newcastle upon Tyne, where I have mentioned it already.

Here also the great Roman highway, just before named, has its end, this being the utmost station of the Roman soldiers on this side.

But before I go on to speak of this town, I must go back, as we did for our particular satisfaction, to the sea coast, which, in this northern county, is more remarkable than that of Lancashire, though the other is extended much farther in length; for here are some towns of good trade; whereas in Lancashire, Liverpoole excepted, there is nothing of trade to be seen upon the whole coast.

I enquired much for the pearl fishery here, which Mr. Cambden speaks of, as a thing well known about Ravenglass and the River Ire, which was made a kind of bubble lately: But the country people, nor even the fishermen, could give us no account of any such thing; nor indeed is there any great quantity of the shell-fish to be found here (now) in which the pearl are found, I mean the large oyster or muscle. What might be in former times, I know not.

The cape or head land of St. Bees, still preserves its name; as for the lady, like that of St. Tabbs beyond Berwick, the story is become fabulous, viz. about her procuring, by her prayers, a deep snow on Midsummer Day, her taming a wild bull that did great damage in the country; these, and the like tales, I leave where I found them, (viz.) among the rubbish of the old women and the Romish priests.

In the little town, which bears her name there, is a very good free-school, founded by that known and eminent benefactor to, and promoter of pious designs, Archbishop Grindal; it is endowed very well by him, and the charity much encreased by the late Dr. Lamplugh, Archbishop of York: The library annexed to this foundation is very valuable, and still encreasing by several gifts daily added to it; and they show a list of the benefactors, in which are several persons of honour and distinction. The master is put in by the Provost and Fellows of Queen's College in Oxon.

Under this shore, the navigation being secured by this cape of St. Bees, is the town of Whitehaven, grown up from a small place to be very considerable by the coal trade, which is encreased so considerably of late, that it is now the most eminent port in England for shipping off coals, except Newcastle and Sunderland, and even beyond the last, for they wholly supply the city of Dublin, and all the towns of Ireland on that coast; and 'tis frequent in time of war, or upon the ordinary occasion of cross winds, to have two hundred sail of ships at a time go from this place for Dublin, loaden with coals.

They have of late fallen into some merchandizing also, occasioned by the great number of their shipping, and there are now some considerable merchants; but the town is yet but young in trade, and that trade is so far from being ancient, that Mr. Cambden does not so much as name the place, and his continuator says very little of it.

About ten miles from Whitehaven north east, lies Cockermouth, upon the little River Cocker, just where it falls into the Derwent. This Derwent is famous for its springing out of those hills, call'd Derwent Fells, where the ancient copper mines were found in Queen Elizabeth's time, and in which, it was said, there was a large quantity of gold. But they are discontinued since that time, for what reason, I know not; for there are several copper mines now working in this county, and which, as they told me, turn to very good account.

Some tell us, the copper mines on Derwent Fells were discontinued, because there being gold found among the oar, the queen claimed the royalty, and so no body would work them; which seems to be a reason why they shou'd have been applied to the search with more vigor; but be that how it will, they are left off, and the more probable account is, what a gentleman of Penrith gave us, namely, that the charge of working them was too great for the profits.

Here are still mines of black lead found, which turn to very good account, being, for ought I have yet learned, the only place in Britain where it is to be had.

Here we saw Skiddaw, one of those high hills of which, wherever you come, the people always say, they are the highest in England. Skiddaw indeed is a very high hill, but seems the higher, because not surrounded with other mountains, as is the case in most places where the other hills are, as at Cheviot, at Penigent, and at other places. From the top of Skiddaw they see plainly into Scotland, and quite into Dumfries-shire, and farther.

Cockermouth stands upon the River Derwent, about twelve miles from the sea, but more by the windings of the river, yet vessels of good burthen may come up to it. The Duke of Somerset is chief lord of this town, in right of his lady, the only heiress of the ancient family of the Piercy's, Earls of Northumberland, and which the duke of Somerset enjoys now in right of marriage.

The castles and great houses of this estate go every where to ruin, as indeed all the castles in this county do; for there being no more enemy to be expected here, the two kingdoms being now united into one, there is no more need of strong holds here, than in any other part of the kingdom. At Cockermouth there is a castle which belongs to the same family, and, I think they told us, the duke has no less than thirteen castles in all, here and in Northumberland.

This River Derwent is noted for very good salmon, and for a very great quantity, and trout. Hence, that is, from Workington at the mouth of this river, and from Carlisle, notwithstanding the great distance, they at this time carry salmon (fresh as they take it) quite to London. This is perform'd with horses, which, changing often, go night and day without intermission, and, as they say, very much out-go the post; so that the fish come very sweet and good to London, where the extraordinary price they yield, being often sold at two shillings and sixpence to four shillings per pound, pay very well for the carriage.

They have innumerable marks of antiquity in this county, as well as in that of Westmoreland, mentioned before; and if it was not, as I said before, that antiquity is not my search in this work, yet the number of altars, monuments, and inscriptions, is such, that it would take up a larger work than this to copy them, and record them by themselves; yet, passing these, I could not but take notice of two or three more modern things, and which relate to our own nation: Such as,

  1. That of Hart-Horn Tree, where they shew'd us the head of a stag nail'd up against a tree, or rather shew'd us the tree where they said it was nail'd up, in memory of a famous chase of a stag by one single dog. It seems the dog (not a greyhound, as Mr. Cambden's continuator calls it, but a stanch buckhound, to be sure) chas'd a stag from this place, (Whitfield Park) as far as the Red Kirk in Scotland, which, they say, is sixty miles at least, and back again to the same place, where, being both spent, and at the last gasp, the stag strain'd all its force remaining to leap the park pales, did it, and dy'd on the inside; the hound, attempting to leap after him, had not strength to go over, but fell back, and dy'd on the outside just opposite; after which the heads of both were nail'd up upon the tree, and this distich made on them; the hound's name, it seems, was Hercules.
    Hercules kill'd Hart a Greese,
    And Hart a Greese kill'd Hercules.
  2. Another thing they told us was in the same park, viz. three oak trees which were call'd the Three Brether, the least of which was thirteen yards about; but they own'd there was but one of them left, and only the stump of that; so we did not think it worth going to see, because it would no more confirm the wonder, than the peoples affirming it by tradition only. The tree or stump left, is call'd the Three Brether Tree, that is to say, one of the three brothers, or brethren.
  3. West of this Hart-horn Tree, and upon the old Roman way, is the famous column, call'd the Countess Pillar, the best and most beautiful piece of its kind in Britain. It is a fine column of free-stone, finely wrought, enchas'd, and in some places painted. There is an obelisk on the top, several coats of arms, and other ornaments in proper places all over it, with dials also on every side, and a brass-plate with the following inscription upon it:
    This Countess of Pembroke had a noble and great estate in this county, and a great many fine old seats or palaces, all which she repaired and beautified, and dwelt sometimes at one, and sometimes at another, for the benefits of her tenants, and of the poor, who she always made desirous of her presence, being better'd constantly by her bounty, and her noble house-keeping. But those estates are all since that time gone into other families. This lady was of the family of Clifford; she had no less than four castles in this county, of which Pendragon Castle was the chief, which is a fine building to this day.
  4. At Penrith also we saw several remarkable things, some of which I find mentioned by the right reverend continuator of Mr. Cambden, and which I was glad to see, so confirm'd my observation, viz. (1.) Two remarkable pillars fourteen or fifteen foot asunder, and twelve foot high the lowest of them, though they seem equal. The people told us, they were the monument of Sir Owen Caesar, the author above-nam'd calls him, Sir Ewen Gesarius, and perhaps he may be right; but we have no inscription upon them. This Sir Owen, they tell us, was a champion of mighty strength, and of gygantick stature, and so he was, to be sure, if, as they say, he was as tall as one of the columns, and could touch both pillars with his hand at the same time.

They relate nothing but good of him, and that he exerted his mighty strength to kill robbers, such as infested the borders much in those days, others related wild boars; but the former is most probable. (2.) On the north side of the vestry of this church is erected in the wall an ancient square stone, with a memorial, intimating, that in the year 1598 there was a dreadful plague in those parts, in which there dy'd;

In Kendal, 2500
In Penrith, 2266
In Richmond, 2200
In Carlisle, 1196

N.B. By this account it should seem that every one of those towns had separately more people than the city of Carlisle, and that Kendal, which is the only manufacturing town of them, was the most populous. We did not go into the grotto on the bank of the River Eden, of which mention is made by Mr. Cambden's continuator; the people telling us, the passage is block'd up with earth, so I must be content with telling you, that it seems to have been a lurking place, or retreat of some robbers in old time; as to its being a place of strength, I do not see any possibility of that; but its strength seems to be chiefly in its being secret and concealed; it had certainly been worth seeing, if it had been passable, the entry is long and dark, but whether strait or crooked, I cannot say, the iron gates leading to it are gone, nor is there any sign of them, or what they were hung to.

But though I am backward to dip into antiquity, yet no English man, that has any honour for the glorious memory of the greatest and truest hero of all our kings of the English or Saxon race, can go to Carlisle, and not step aside to see the monument of King Edward I. at Burgh upon the Sands, a little way out of the city Carlisle, where that victorious prince dy'd. Indeed I cannot wonder that two writers, both Scots, viz. Ridpath and Mr. Kay, should leave it, as it were, not worth their notice, that prince being the terror of Scotland, and the first compleat conqueror of their country, who brought away the sacred stone at Scone Abbey, on which their kings were crowned, also the regalia, and, in a word, made their whole country submit to his victorious arms.

Near this town, and, as the inhabitants affirm, just on the spot where the king's tent stood in which he expired, for he died in the camp, is erected a pillar of stone near thirty foot high, besides the foundation. On the west side is the following inscription:

Memorię Ęternae Edvardi I. Regis Anglię longe Clarissimi, qui in Belli apparatu contra Scotos occupatus. Hic in Castris obiit. 7 Julii, A.D. 1307.

On the south side:

Nobilissimus Princeps Henricus Howard, Dux Norfolcię, Comes Marshal Anglię, Comes Arund. &......ab Edvardo I, Rege Anglię oriundus P. 1685.

On the north side:

Johannes Aglionby, J. C. F. i.e. Juris-consultus fieri fecit. Beneath , Tho. Langstone fecit. 1685.

It is not to be ask'd why Mr. Cambden takes no notice of this because it was not erected till near an hundred years after his survey of the country, only the place was marked by the country people, or perhaps by the soldiers of his army, by a great heap of stones rolled together upon the place; but this monument was erected, as is said above, by a private gentleman, for the eternal memory of a prince, who, when he lived, was the darling of the world, both for virtue and true fame.

But I return to Carlisle: The city is strong, but small, the buildings old, but the streets fair; the great church is a venerable old pile, it seems to have been built at twice, or, as it were, rebuilt, the upper part being much more modern than the lower. King Henry VIII fortify'd this city against the Scots, and built an additional castle to it on the east side, which Mr. Cambden, though I think not justly, calls a cittadel; there is indeed another castle on the west, part of the town rounds the sea, as the wall rounds the whole, is very firm and strong. But Carlisle is strong by situation, being almost surrounded with rivers. On the east it has the River Poterell, on the north Eden, and on the south the Cande, or Canda, or Calda, which all fall into the arm of the sea, which they call the Solway, or Solway Firth.

Here is a bridge over the Eden, which soon lets you into Scotland; for the limits are not above eight miles off, or thereabout. The south part of Scotland on this side, coming at least fifty miles farther into England, than at Berwick. There is not a great deal of trade here either by sea or land, it being a meer frontier. On the other side the Eden we saw the Picts Wall, of which I have spoken already, and some remains of it are to be seen farther west, and of which I shall perhaps have occasion to speak again in my return. But being now at the utmost extent of England on this side, I conclude also my letter, and am,

SIR, &.


Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, divided into circuits or journies (London: JM Dent and Co, 1927)

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