1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Cumberland (England)

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CUMBERLAND, the north-westernmost county of England, bounded N. by the Scottish counties of Dumfries and Roxburgh, E. by Northumberland, S. by Westmorland and Lancashire, and W. by the Irish Sea. Its area is 1520.4 sq. m. In the south the county includes about one-half of the celebrated Lake District (q.v.), with the highest mountain in England, Scafell Pike (3210 ft.), and the majority of the principal lakes, among which are Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite, Buttermere and Crummock Water, Ennerdale, Wastwater, and, on the boundary with Westmorland, Ullswater. From this district valleys radiate north, west and south to a flat coastal belt, the widest part of which (about 8 m.) is found in the north in the Solway Plain, bordering Solway Firth, which here intervenes between England and Scotland. The valley of the Eden, opening upon this plain from the south-east, separates the mountainous Lake District from the straight westward face of a portion of the Pennine Chain (q.v.), which, though little of it lies within this county, reaches its highest point within it in Cross Fell (2930 ft.). A well-marked pass, called the Tyne Gap, at the water-parting between the rivers Irthing and South Tyne, traversed by the Newcastle & Carlisle railway, intervenes between these hills and their northward continuation in the hills of the Scottish border. Besides the waters of the Eden, Solway Firth receives those of the Esk, which enter Cumberland from Scotland. Liddel Water, joining this river from the north east from Liddisdale, forms a large part of the boundary with Scotland. The Eden receives the Irthing from the east, and from the Lake District the Caldew, rising beneath Skiddaw and joining the main river at Carlisle, and the Eamont, draining Ullswater and forming part of the boundary with Westmorland. The principal streams flowing east and south from the Lake District are the Derwent, from Borrowdale and Derwentwater, the Eden from Ennerdale, the Esk from Eskdale, and the Duddon, forming the greater part of the boundary with Lancashire. There are valuable salmon fisheries in the Eden, and trout are taken in many of the streams and lakes.

Geology.—The mountainous portion of Cumberland is built up of two different types of rock. The older, a sedimentary slaty series of Ordovician age, the Skiddaw slates, surrounds Bassenthwaite, Saddleback, Crummock Water, Keswick and Cockermouth and the western end of Ennerdale Water. The same formation is found in the northern flanks of Ullswater also north and east of Whitbeck. The other type of rock is volcanic; it gives a more rugged aspect to the scenery, as may be seen in comparing the rough outlines of Scafell and Honister Crags or Helvellyn with the smoother form of Saddleback or Skiddaw. These volcanic rocks, owing to much alteration, are often slaty; they have been called the “green slates and porphyries” or the Borrowdale Series. The Skiddaw slates are usually separated from the newer green slates above them by a plane of differential movement, for both have been thrust by earth pressures from south to north, but the former rocks have travelled farther than the latter which have lagged behind; hence Messrs Marr and Harker describe the plane of separation as a “lag-fault.” Much general faulting and folding have resulted from the movement; the thrusting took place in Devonian times. About the same period great masses of granitic rock were intruded into the slates in the form of laccolites, which often lie along the lag planes. Such rocks are the granophyre hills of Buttermere and Ennerdale, the micro-granite patches on either side of the Vale of St John, and the great mass of Eskdale granite which reaches from Wastwater to the flanks of Black Combe. At Carrock Fell, N.E. of Skiddaw, is an extremely interesting complex of volcanic rocks, and in many other places are diabase and other forms, e.g. the well-known rock at Castle Head, Keswick.

From Pooley Bridge, Ullswater, on the east, by Udale round to Egremont on the west, the mountainous region just described, is surrounded by the Carboniferous Limestone series, with a conglomerate at the base. Upon these rocks the coalfield of Whitehaven rests and extends as far as Maryport. The coal seams are worked for some distance beneath the sea. The vale of Eden between Penrith, Hornsby and Wreay is occupied by Permian sandstone, usually bright red in colour. Red Triassic rocks form a strip about 4 m. broad east of the Permian outcrop; a similar strip forms a coastal fringe from St Bees Head to Duddon Sands. The same formations are spread out round Carlisle, Brampton, Longtown, Wigton and Aspatria. East of Carlisle they are covered by an outlier of Lias. A great dislocation, the Pennine Fault, runs along the eastern side of the vale of Eden; it throws up the Lower Carboniferous limestones with their associated shales and sandstones to form the elevated ground in the north and north-east of the county. Several basic intrusions penetrate the limestone series, the best known being the Whin Sill, which may be traced for a number of miles northward from Crossfell. Evidences of glacial action are abundant; till with sands and gravel lie on the lower ground; striated rocks and roches moutonnées are common; perched blocks are found on the plateau by Sprinkling Tarn and elsewhere. Moraine mounds are quite numerous in the valleys, and have frequently been the cause of small lakes.

Climate and Agriculture.—The climate is generally temperate, but in the higher parts bleak, snow sometimes lying fully six months of the year on Cross Fell and the mountains of the Lake District. As regards rainfall, the physical configuration makes for contrast. At Carlisle, on the Solway plain, the mean annual fall is 30.6 in. At Penrith, on the north-eastern flank of the Lake District, it is 31.67; on the western flank 42.3 in. are recorded at Ravenglass, close to the coast, and 51.78 at Cockermouth, some miles inland. In the heart of the district, however, the fall is as a rule much heavier, in fact, the heaviest recorded in the British Isles (see Lake District). Somewhat less than three-fifths of the total area of the county is under cultivation, the proportion being higher than that of the neighbouring counties of Northumberland and Westmorland, but still much below the average of the English counties. Black peaty earth is the most prevalent soil in the mountainous districts; but dry loams occur in the lowlands, and are well adapted to green crops, grain and pasture. Wheat and barley are practically neglected, but large crops of oats are grown. Turnips and swedes form the bulk of the green crops. Hill pasture amounts to nearly 270,000 acres, and a good number of cattle are reared, but the principal resource of the farmer is sheep-breeding. The sheep on the lowland farms are generally of the Leicester class or cross-bred between the Leicester and Herdwick, with a few Southdowns. Throughout the mountainous districts the Herdwicks have taken the place of the smaller black-faced heath variety of sheep once so commonly met with on the sheep farms. They are peculiar to this part of England; the ewes and wethers and many of the rams are polled, the faces and legs are speckled, and the wool is finer and heavier in fleece than that of the heath breed. They originally came from the neighbourhood of Muncaster in the Duddon and Esk district, and tradition ascribes their origin variously to introduction by Scandinavian settlers, or to parents that escaped from a wrecked ship of the Spanish Armada. In general they belong to the proprietors of the sheep walks, and have been farmed out with them from time immemorial, from which circumstance it is said they obtained the name of “Herdwicks.” Long after the Norman Conquest Cumberland remained one of the most densely forested regions of England, and much of the low-lying land is still well wooded, the Lake District in particular displaying beautiful contrasts between bare mountain and tree-clad valley. The oak, ash and birch are the principal natural trees, while sycamores have been planted for shelter round many farmsteads. Plantations of larch are also numerous, and the holly, yew, thorn and juniper flourish locally.

Landed property was formerly much divided in this county, and the smaller holdings were generally occupied by their owners, who were known as “statesmen,” i.e. “estatesmen,” a class of men long noted for their sturdy independence and attachment to routine husbandry. Most of these estates were held of the lords of manors under customary tenure, which subjected them to the payments of fines and heriots on alienation as well as on the death of the lord or tenant. According to the Agricultural Survey printed in 1794, about two-thirds of the county was held by this tenure, in parcels worth from £15 to £30 rental. On large estates, also, the farms were in general rather small, few then reaching £200 a year, held on verbal contracts, or very short leases, and burdened like the small estates with payments or services over and above a money rent. In modern times these conditions have changed, the “statesmen” gradually becoming extinct as a class, and many of the small holdings falling into the hands of the larger landed proprietors.

Other Industries.—Carlisle is the seat of a variety of manufactures; there are also in the county cotton and woollen industries, pencil mills at Keswick, and iron shipbuilding yards at Whitehaven. But the mining industry is the most important, coal being raised principally in the district about Whitehaven, Workington and Maryport. Side by side with this industry much iron ore is raised, and there is a large output of pig-iron, and ore is also found in the south, in the neighbourhood of Millom. Gypsum, zinc and some lead are mined. Copper was formerly worked near Keswick, and there was a rich deposit of black lead at the head of Borrowdale. Granite and limestone are extensively quarried. Stone is very largely used even for housebuilding, a fine green slate being often employed. Shap and other granites are worked for building and road stones.

Communications.—The chief ports of Cumberland are Whitehaven, Workington, Maryport, Harrington and Silloth. The London & North-Western railway enters the county near Penrith, and terminates at Carlisle, which is also served by the Midland. The Caledonian, North British and Glasgow & South-Western lines further serve this city, which is thus an important junction in through communications between England and Scotland. The North-Eastern railway connects Carlisle with Newcastle. The Maryport & Carlisle, the Cockermouth, Keswick & Penrith, and the Cleator & Workington Junction lines serve the districts indicated by their names, while the Furness railway passes along the west coast from the district of Furness in Lancashire as far north as Whitehaven, also serving Cleator and Egremont. The Ravenglass & Eskdale light railway gives access from this system to Boot in Eskdale. Coaches and motor cars maintain passenger communications in the Lake District where the railways do not penetrate.

Population and Administration.—The area of the ancient and the administrative county is 973,086 acres, with a population in 1891 of 266,549 and in 1901 of 266,933. The county contains five wards, divisions which in this and neighbouring counties correspond to hundreds, and also appear in Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire in Scotland. The municipal boroughs are Carlisle (pop. 45,480), a city and the county town, Whitehaven (19,324), and Workington (26,143). The other urban districts are Arlecdon and Frizington (5341), Aspatria (2885), Cleator Moor (8120), Cockermouth (5355), Egremont (5761), Harrington (3679), Holme Cultram (4275), Keswick (4451), Maryport (11,897), Millom (10,426), Penrith (9182), Wigton (3692). Of these all except Keswick, Millom and Penrith are in the industrial district of the west and north-west. The urban district of Holme Cultram includes the port of Silloth. Among lesser towns may be mentioned St Bees (1236), on the coast south of Whitehaven, until 1897 the seat of a Church of England theological college. The grammar school here, founded in 1533, is liberally endowed, with scholarships and exhibitions. Cumberland is in the northern circuit, and assizes are held at Carlisle. It has one court of quarter sessions and 12 petty sessional divisions. The city of Carlisle has a separate commission of the peace and court of quarter sessions. There are 213 civil parishes. Cumberland is in the diocese of Carlisle, with a small portion in that of Newcastle. There are 167 ecclesiastical parishes or districts within the county. There are four parliamentary divisions, the Northern or Eskdale, Mid or Penrith, Cockermouth and Western or Egremont, each returning one member; while the parliamentary boroughs of Carlisle and Whitehaven each return one member.

History.—After the withdrawal of the Romans (of whose occupation there are various important relics in the county) little is known of the region which is now Cumberland, until the great battle of Ardderyd in 573 resulted in its consolidation with the kingdom of Strathclyde. About 670–680 the western district between the Solway and the Mersey was conquered by the Angles of Northumbria and remained an integral portion of that kingdom until the Danish invasion of the 9th century. In 875 the kingdom of the Cumbri is referred to, but without any indication of its extent, and the first mention of Cumberland to denote a geographical area occurs in 945 when it was ceded by Edmund to Malcolm of Scotland. At this date it included the territory north and south of the Solway from the Firth of Forth to the river Duddon. The Scottish supremacy was not uninterrupted, for the district at the time of its invasion by Ethelred in 1000 was once more a stronghold of the Danes, whose influence is clearly traceable in the nomenclature of the Lake District. At the time of the Norman invasion Cumberland was a dependency of the earldom of Northumbria, but its history at this period is very obscure, and no notice of it occurs in the Domesday Survey of 1086; Kirksanton, Bootle and Whicham, however, are entered under the possessions of the earl of Northumbria in the West Riding of Yorkshire. The real Norman conquest of Cumberland took place in 1092, when William Rufus captured Carlisle, repaired the city, built the castle, and after sending a number of English husbandmen to till the land, placed the district under the lordship of Ranulf Meschines. The fief of Ranulf was called the Power or Honour of Carlisle, and a sheriff of Carlisle is mentioned in 1106. The district was again captured by the Scots in the reign of Stephen, and on its recovery in 1157 the boundaries were readjusted to include the great barony of Coupland. At this date the district was described as the county of Carlisle, and the designation county of Cumberland is not adopted in the sheriff's accounts until 1177. The five present wards existed as administrative areas in 1278, when they were termed bailiwicks, the designation ward not appearing until the 16th century, though the bailiwicks of the Forest of Cumberland are termed wards in the 14th century. In the 17th and 18th centuries each of the five wards was under the administration of a chief constable.

Owing to its position on the Border Cumberland was the scene of constant warfare from the time of its foundation until the union of England and Scotland, and families like the Tilliols, the Lucies, the Greystokes, and the Dacres were famous for their exploits in checking or avenging the depredations of the Scots. During the War of Independence in the reign of Edward I. Carlisle was the headquarters of the English army. In the Wars of the Roses the prevailing sympathy was with the Lancastrian cause, which was actively supported by the representatives of the families of Egremont, Dacre and Greystoke. In 1542 the Scottish army under James V. suffered a disastrous defeat at Solway Moss. After the union of the crowns of England and Scotland in 1603, the countries hitherto known as “the Borders” were called “the Middle Shires,” and a period of comparative peace ensued. On the outbreak of the Civil War of the 17th century the northern counties associated in raising forces for the king, and the families of Howard, Dalston, Dacre and Musgrave rendered valuable service to the royalist cause. In 1645 Carlisle was captured by the parliamentary forces, but in April 1648 it was retaken by Sir Philip Musgrave and Sir Thomas Glenham, and did not finally surrender until the autumn of 1648. Cumberland continued, however, to support the Stuarts; it was one of the first counties to welcome back Charles II.; in 1715 it was associated with the rising on behalf of the Pretender, and Carlisle was the chief seat of operations in the 1745 rebellion.

In 685 Carlisle and the surrounding district was annexed by Ecgfrith king of Northumbria to the diocese of Lindisfarne, to which it continued subject, at least until the Danish invasion of the 9th century. In 1133 Henry I. created Carlisle (q.v.) a bishopric. The diocese included the whole of modern Cumberland (except the barony of Coupland and the parishes of Alston, Over-Denton and Kirkandrews), and also the barony of Appleby in Westmorland. The archdeaconry of Carlisle, co-extensive with the diocese, comprised four deaneries. Coupland was a deanery in the archdeaconry of Richmond and diocese of York until 1541, when it was annexed to the newly created diocese of Chester. In 1856 the area of the diocese of Carlisle was extended, so as to include the whole of Cumberland except the parish of Alston, the whole of Westmorland, and the Furness district of Lancashire. In 1858 the deaneries were made to number eighteen, and in 1870 were increased to twenty.

The principal industries of Cumberland have been from earliest times connected with its valuable fisheries and abundant mineral wealth. The mines of Alston and the iron mines about Egremont were worked in the 12th century. The Keswick copper mines were worked in the reign of Henry III., but the black-lead mine was not worked to any purpose until the 18th century. Coal-mining is referred to in the 15th century, and after the revival of the mining industries in the 16th century, rose to great importance. The saltpans about the estuaries of the Esk and the Eden were a source of revenue in the 12th century.

Cumberland returned three members for the county to the parliament of 1290, and in 1295 returned in addition two members for the city of Carlisle and two members each for the boroughs of Cockermouth and Egremont. The boroughs did not again return members until in 1640 Cockermouth regained representation. Under the Reform Act of 1832, Cumberland returned four members for two divisions, and Whitehaven returned one member. The county now returns six members to parliament; one each for the four divisions of the county, Egremont, Cockermouth, Eskdale and Penrith, one for the city of Carlisle and one for the borough of Whitehaven.

Antiquities.—Very early crosses, having Celtic or Scandinavian characteristics, are seen at Gosforth, Bewcastle and elsewhere. In ecclesiastical architecture Cumberland is not rich as a whole, but it possesses Carlisle cathedral, with its beautiful choir, and certain monastic remains of importance. Among these are the fine remnants of Lanercost priory (see Brampton). Calder Abbey, near Egremont, a Cistercian abbey founded in 1134, has ruins of the church and cloisters, of Norman and Early English character, and is very beautifully situated on the Calder. The parish Church of St Bees, with good Norman and Early English work, belonged to a Benedictine priory of 1120; but according to tradition the first religious house here was a nunnery founded c. 650 by St Bega, who became its abbess. Among the parish churches there are a few instances of towers strongly fortified for purposes of defence; that at Burgh-on-the-Sands, near Carlisle, being a good illustration. Castles, in some cases ruined, in others modernized, are fairly numerous, both near the Scottish border and elsewhere. Naworth Castle near Brampton is the finest example; others are at Bewcastle, Carlisle, Kirkoswald, Egremont, Cockermouth and Millom. Among many notable country seats, Rose Castle, the palace of the bishops of Carlisle; Greystoke Castle and Armathwaite Hall may be mentioned.

See J. Nicolson and R. Burn, History and Antiquities of the Counties of Westmorland and Cumberland (London, 1777); W. Hutchinson, History of Cumberland (Carlisle, 1794); S. Jefferson, History and Antiquities of Cumberland (Carlisle, 1840–1842); S. Gilpin, Songs and Ballads of Cumberland (London, 1866); W. Dickinson, Glossary of Words and Phrases of Cumberland (London, English Dialect Society, 1878, with a supplement, 1881); Sir G. F. Duckett, Early Sheriffs of Cumberland (Kendal, 1879); J. Denton, “Account of Estates and Families in the County of Cumberland, 1066–1603,” in Antiquarian Society's Transactions (1887); R. S. Ferguson, History of Cumberland (London, 1890); “Archaeological Survey of Cumberland,” in Archaeologia, vol. liii. (London, 1893); W. Jackson, Papers and Pedigrees relating to Cumberland (2 vols., London, 1892); T. Ellwood, The Landnama Book of Iceland as it illustrates the Dialect and Antiquities of Cumberland (Kendal, 1894); Victoria County History, Cumberland; and Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society.