The Holm under Elizabeth


Institute of Historical Research



Francis Grainger & W.G. Collingwood (editors)

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'Records : The Holm under Elizabeth', Register & Records of Holm Cultram (1929), pp. 167-176. URL: Date accessed: 20 April 2014. Add to my bookshelf


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XIII. The Holm Under Elizabeth.

After the manor came into the hand of the Crown, several attempts were made to induce the copyholders to give up their tenant-right. The first was in 1555, when a dispute arose as to the method of tithe-paying, and on Oct. 8 a commission was appointed consisting of John Dacre, Thomas Salkeld, William Musgrave and John Ellis, who decided that certain money payments should be substituted for payments in kind. The question was re-opened in June 1570 by another commission; the evidence is printed in Nicolson and Burn, ii, 183–188, and need not be repeated here, because there is a fuller account of the parish in the answers given on Jan. 15, 1573, to a third inquiry. The commissioners then were Lord Scrope, Richard Ashton, Richard [Barnes], bishop of Carlisle, Edmund Hunt, Simon Slingsby, Lancelot Marshall, Anthony Barwise, Edward Braddel, receiver general for Cumberland, and Thomas Crompton, deputy auditor; to whom the jury of local men deposed as follows:—

"1.—The site of the abbey with certain of the domains is devized to Robert Chambers for 21 years, 457 acres of land and pasture, yearly rent £26 19s. 8d.; of which Robert Hodgson has 9 acres 1 rood in copyhold. Other portions of the domains are let to Thomas Deves (47 acres and 38 days-work of meadow) at £4 13s. 8d.; Edward Musgrave (92 acres 1 rood) at £6 8s. 3d.; Stephen Skelton (New Park) at 4s.; John Brisco, Hugh Stamper and Thomas Chambers (3 acres, the feast of cattle, warren of conies and fishing) at £16 13s.; Robert Chambers of Wolsty (55 acres 1 rood) at £1 10s.; John Borrowdell (47 acres 3 roods with a moss) at £4 5s. 6d.; Richard Benson (20½ [?] acres) at £12 14s.; and Edward Philipson (Salt coats and Saltpans) at £8 4s.

"2.—There are no lands holden at will, but—

"3.—Certain cottages letten by lease for 21 years to John Brisco, Hugh Stamper and Thomas Chambers at £3 7s. 10d., which sum is charged with the domains.

"4.—There are no freeholders.

"5.—No bondage tenants; all saving the Leasers before written are Customary tenants by copy of court roll or copyholders . . to have their tenements to them and their heirs for ever, by the custom of the lordship, paying the accustomed rents. What number of acres every man holdeth cannot be presented because they were never measured … albeit divers surveys have been taken. [They pay] fines at death and changing of tenants, and at every alienation or surrender one year's rent, and at the change of the Prince [the Crown being landlord] one penny every tenement and … halfpenny gressoms every five years. [They] serve the prince on these Borders in peace and wars with horse and armour according to the rate and custom of these Marches … uphold the sea-dykes from Robert Taylor's house at Skinburness unto John Askew Hole, and do suit of court as by their grant more at large under the Great Seal doth appear…

"7.—There are two water-cornmills; Abbey Mill, demised with the site to Robert Chamber for £10 yearly; and Dubmill, demised to Richard Benson at £6. The tenants of Skinburness, Blitterlees, Wolsty, New and Old Mawbray and Edderside are bound by custom to grind at the Dubmill and to repair the same with thacke, and cast [clear out] the dam when needed, and therefore they are the first served.

"8.—No several pasture saving in the domains. There is a common or bare waste which belongeth only to the customary tenants for cattle (etc.) according to the rate or stint of old time made … and if any tenant on the west side of the Waver do keep more cattle on the common than his stint he payeth agistment … to John Brisco, Hugh Stamper and Thomas Chambers, agisters of the same from the Queen's Majesty. They say further that the said Leasers … do injury . . unto the said tenants bewest the water of Waver in that they trouble the said tenants for agistment of cattle depasturing upon the marsh from Skinburness to [Calvo?] Crekes, which said marsh is not liable to the agistment paying; … and also … if any tenant … let any of his arable land [go] to grass and thereupon do grass his own cattle … and for agistment of their best horse which they keep for service of the prince, which in that respect time out of mind of man was ever allowed free of agistment …

"9.—There is no common to spare to be improved.

"10.—There are none that occupy improvements but such as pay rent to the Queen's Majesty for the same.

"11.—There be no concealed or attainted lands … to their knowledge.

"12.—Thomas Deves hath an intack of one rood, rent 3d. William Allonby hath a rood, rent 2d. Thomas Stamp[er] hath half an acre, rent 6d. Hugh Stamp[er] half an acre, rent 7d. John Wise, half an acre, rent 4d. and John Pape, a highway through the same to his meadow. Gawen Richardson, half an acre, rent 6d. Richard Barnes, half an acre, rent 1s. Divers others there hath been and because they paid no rent … they were laid down … to the common; and when the tenants of New Mawbray were overblown with sand of the sea, upon survey made by the late lord William Dacres, his lordship … appointed their houses to be shifted (fn. 1) … whereby her Majesty hath neither loss of rent nor of lands.

"13.—No woods of account, but one parcel set with oak, birch and holly called Wedholme wood, granted … for the maintenance of the sea-dykes.

"14.—No park of deer, but a warren of conies rented at 13s. 4d., a fishing of the Stank, rent 10s., the prize fish, 13s. 4d. [i.e. the best fish of the catch, due to the lord of the manor], the abbot's coop, rented at 1s. 8d., all demised for 21 years to John Brisco, Hugh Stamp[er] and Thomas Chamber.

"15.—No [?] but what is demised to John Brisco for 21s. a year, and no pannage.

"16.—The saltpans are letten to Edward Philipson at £8 4s.

"17.—No mines; the common moss, letten to John Borrowdale at 23s. 4d. and Wedholme moss, to Robert Chambers at 6s. 8d.

"18.—In some years more and some years less [of wreckage ? but it is not stated].

"19.—Two Court Leets in the year, time out of memory.

"20.—Two fairs in the year, on Mawndie Thursday and Corpus Christi day, upon which days toll is due to the Queen's Majesty and all fish of royalty [as sturgeon], wrecks of the sea, felons' goods, etc.

"22.—There are certain Chapels … contained within the leases before specified and rents reserved upon the same; a parsonage of the Holme lordship in the gift of the university of Oxford; the parsonage and vicarage of Wigton and Burgh-by Sands in the Queen's Majesty in right of this lordship. In the abbey's time there was a rent of 13s. 4d. from Camerton, which hath not been paid of a long time, for what cause or how they cannot learn.

"23.—A perfect rental … followeth last in this roll … they can do no more than … by the last survey, the book whereof wascertified into the Exchequer.

"24.—No reprisals nor allowances saving £18 13s. 4d. a year for the fee of the head steward and clarke's fee, £2 10s. 8d. for the bailiff's fee and £4 6s. 8d. for the learned steward.

"25.—There is a decay in the sea-banks of Mawbray and Wolsty, and about 60 acres overblown with sand. A strong peile called Newton [Arlosh church] tower hath been ever a notable safeguard and defence … as well for all the tenants on the east side of Waver as also of the east stock and goods, which tower is now decayed in the roof and will cost … £5. There be also four bridges of wood in decay; the Long Bridge, which will cost £8, Cromford bridge, £3, Hartlaw bridge, £10, and Selat bridge, £1 6s. 8d. to repair, which all have been upholden and maintained by the chief lord … the want thereof may be the utter undoing of the whole tenants and lordship.

"26.—Wolsty Castle … ruinous … viz. the Hall which will cost to be repaired in timber, slate, iron nails, laths, lime, carriage and workmanship £24; the Chamber at the end of the hall, £21 4s.; the Evidence house, £17 6s. 8d.; the kitchen, peathouse, byre and stable £44 19s. 4d.; in all £107 4s.; and if the said castle be not maintained … for the defence of that west part … fourteen townships, viz. Dubmill, Old Mawbray, New Mawbray, Beckfoot, Wolsty, Blitterlees, Silloth, Skinburness, Hayrigg, Mireside, Calvo, Brownrigg and Sevile, of the rent yearly of £120 17s., should utterly be spoiled and destroyed by the enemies and so should the Queen's Majesty lose all those rents.

"27.—They can make no further value concerning the lease of Robert Chambers (article 1).

"29.—The number of the tenants doth appear in the rental following—one hundred serviceable men, furnished with horse and armour … and fourscore serviceable men furnished with meaner horses or nags, and all the rest are footmen furnished with bows or spears, besides the men's sons and servants.

"30.—The fishing of Seaton is decayed by reason of [the fact that] Flimby park and the woods there growing, which was the maintenance of that fishing, was sold away by the Prince, whereby there is now no woods to be had to maintain the same, which is the very cause of the decay thereof.

"31.—The decay of the Salt-pans rent came by means that half of them were worn away by the rage of the sea's floods and divers workmen in them drowned, so as there was nor is any found left to plant or make new pans and repairs.

"32.—As for boon days, so long as they were charged with them they had great commodity and benefit from them, as for every plough, for three days' work, seventeen white herrings and six red herrings, a quarter of a killin [cod], a quarter of a salmon, three wheat loaves, three loaves of yeoman's bread and three gallons of ale; and for every shearbond in harvest, to every person, three days, three loaves of bread, six white herring and three pints of ale; besides that in the time of Christmas every year every tenant and his wife dined in the abbey, whereof they say that ever since the dissolution of the abbey they have been denied … the said commodities.

"33.—The number of the acres of the rivings [divisions of the ploughed townfields] are sixteen score, whereof fourscore go yearly and answer £3 rent, besides 19 acres of the said fourscore being in the occupation of divers tenants … answer no rent in this charge, and besides 2 acres of the said number allowed to the officer's rent.

"34.—There is no decay of the Colt park.

"35.—No encroachments saving those specified in the 12th article, and that John Langcake, John Austin, Anthony Wise and William Smith of Saltcoats have removed their houses by license of Mr. Swift, then auditor, from the danger of the sea-floods. Also … the sea-floods have wasted four acres of arable lands of Brownrigg and Red Flatt of their acrewall, whereby they are not able to pay their rents … whereof they crave allowance and are in danger of great damage by the said flood in time to wear away all, without some remedy be found for the safe guard thereof by the Queen's Majesty, for that the same lieth not within the limits of the sea-banks that the tenants of the lordship are bound to maintain but hath ever been maintained by the chief lord of the soil."

The answers of 1573 show the Holm as a typical Cumbrian manor, of which the constitution need not be described in general terms; its subsequent history will be given in chapter XVI. By the fifth answer, we see the importance attached to Border service as the basis of the 'custom' on which the land was held. In 1538 the following muster gives the four Quarters of the manor and their various grieveships, with the numbers of holdings divided into Horsemen tenements of 15-20 acres, Demys of 10-12 acres, and footmen tenements of 2-6 acres each. It may be remarked that these are not statutory acres, for the area included the headriggs and the reins or balks which divided the land actually ploughed from the holdings of neighbours in the commonfields.

Holm Abbey Quarter.
Horse Demy Foot
Swinsty 4 7
Southerfield 9 5 6
Aldoth 2 2 6
Highlaws 3 3 7
Abbey Cowper 3 7 3
Sandenhouse 3 5 11
Abbey 2 1 4
Brownrigg 6 2 2
32 25 46
Holm St. Cuthbert Quarter.
Horse Demy Foot
Pelutho 5 6 6
Tarns 4 4 7
New Cowper 5 1
Edderside 6
Old Mawbray 6 13 5
New Mawbray 4 7 7
30 30 26
Holm Low Quarter.
Horse Demy Foot
Wolsty 2 4 1
Blitterlees 10 5 3
Silloth 4 3 16
Mireside 13 1 1
Skinburness 4 5 7
Calvo 3 8 7
Sevill 8 6 2
44 32 37
Holm East Waver Quarter.
Horse Demy Foot
Angerton 1 5
Newton Arlosh 15 9 8
Saltcoats 4
Moss-side 4 3 2
Raby 5 2 12
29 19 22

The total muster included 135 horsemen, 106 demys and 131 footmen, making 372 men in all. With these totals may be compared the figures arrived at from surveys of different dates based on the holdings regarded as farms and cottages:—

1538 1573 1604 1649
farms. cots. farms. cots. farms. cots. farms cots.
Holm Abbey 87 17 88 17 84 17 85 25
Holm Low 89 11 83 11 83 11 84 14
H. St. Cuthbert's 74 6 74 6 79 6 77 16
East Waver 64 20 62 20 61 20 63 23
314 54 307 54 307 54 309 78

From this it appears that four men, more than the holdings account for, were liable to service in 1538; and that after the Dissolution the population slightly decreased. That is to say the wealth of the Holm diminished, as we shall see from the difficulty found in raising horsemen fully equipped, and in purchasing firearms. The decay is seen in the next four extracts.

"A Breviat of the muster of Light Horsemen . . furnished with horse, steel coat or jack, speare and steele cap fit for service upon the Borders, certified to Lord Scrope, Lord Warden of the West Marches of England, 28th March, 1580.—Holm Coltram 60, decayed to 40. The officer of Holm apperteyninge to her Majestie hath informacion that there owght to be kept within that office threskore light horsemen and no more, whereof at this present are furnished twentie. The residewe being in nombre 40 are altogether unfurnished, not havinge anye just cawse at all to alledge for their decaye …"

In the Report by Edward Aglionby, 1592.—"West of Bourgh [Burgh-by-Sands] lyeth the Holme Lordship under the Government of a Steward who ought to be resident within the Holme for defence of the Lordshippe. His service is not so readie as Bourgh to follow frayes except the fraye be amonges them selves, but his service is to bringe the men under his charge … as the Warden shall appoynt."

Jan. 11, 1596–7; Thomas Scrope to Burghley.—"I have received by the Tenants of Holme your Lordship's letter, whereby I see they petitioned you showing that the weapon of calyver [the new and lighter musket, fired without a rest] is of little use in this country and the charge is too great [a caliver cost 20s.] for any benefit they get by it, and the same by the great dearth there is will undoe them. I find them of the Holme by their setters on alwayes ready to cross me." [This was, however, a time of plague.] And later, Scrope and others write to Burghley:—"By your Honor's warrant Mr. Rich. Musgrave brought hither from Newcastle a proportion of calyvers to strengthen the Borders. The Queen's tenants of Holm Cultram were appointed to receive 50, at rates settled by the officer and 12 honest and substantial men; but it appears they … allege you that the tax is burthensome in this time of dearth … God be praised, for it is no greater this year than it was last, and the most of them assessed are well able to sustain the charge … and this complaint rather springs from the backwardness of a few, not of the meanest ability, who show a bad example."

The dangers of the Border and the duties of the service were real enough, as an extract will show:—

1542 (the year of the battle of Solway Moss).—"The Scottes upon Mounday a nyght the secunde of October to the nombre of thre score in botes entered into the Lordshippe of Tholme and ther ner to the see burnt two houses and did take two watchers (fn. 2) and thre other; ane olde man they did bere away in a shete. The same was done as I am informed upon displeasure for that to these personnes by the same Scottes a redress [compensation] was made in the last year …" (In continuation is the narrative of the reprisals; how the English raided Annandale and burnt thirty houses in Dumfries.)

Consequently, when Henry VIII in 1544 ordered every fifth man to be taken to serve in France, there was dismay. In 1549 it was proposed to import a hundred kernes (from Ireland) to strengthen the western Border, and to place 20 of them in the Holm. The inhabitants seem to have petitioned the king, and the answer to the Lord Warden was "to cease to trouble thinhabitants of Holm Coltram."

In 1592–3, spoils in Cumberland included the following within the Holm:—"William Osmotherley, (fn. 3) gentleman, his house broken and goods taken worth £200 and himself carried prisoner to Scotland; George Austin [of Saltcoats, as the Court Rolls show] 9 oxen, £30; William Saunderson [Blitterlees] 6 horses, and Clokes worth £10; Thomas Ullock [Calvo] prisoner, and ransomed at £14; Anthony Penryse [Mosside] goods worth £40 and his ransom £40; George Drape [Calvo] and Robert Wilkinson [Highlaws] 5 nags worth £10; sheep from sundry men £5."

With the union of the crowns this perpetual state of Border trouble ceased. But at the beginning of the Civil War it recrudesced for a time:—

1640. "To the Honble. Sr. Nicholas Byron, Governour of the castle and citadell of Carlisle … the humble petition of the Inhabitants within the Parish of Holm humbly sheweth that his Ma'ties Tennants within the said Parish have heretofore from time to time bene charged with light horse and demys besides foote and night watch, all which have been provided at the Lord Warden's comand … at our owne costs … We … have sustained great dammage of the Scots by Boateing, insomuch that they have burnt two or three townes at one time, violently taken away thre schore head of Cattle, one hundred Sheepe, together with the spoyle of the said Townes. Now soe it is that for the prevention of ffuture harmes in these dangerous times … we … have for our better safetie bene at the charges of thre schore poundes for muskets and other warlike furniture, and have planted the same upon the sea and is at charges with keepeing of men and municion day and night. Nevertheless his Ma'ties poore Tennants have reoeived a direccion or warrant from the Deputie Lieutenants for to Levie everie fift man out of the said Parish, to come to the Cittie of Carlisle or where it pleaseth them to appoynt, to be kept at our cost and charges, which we are not able to performe … for we live in the mouth of the enemie …"—" We conceive it reasonable for these reasons herein mentioned that the sd. Tennants be freed from their attendance at Carlisle, in respect of their watches and customs, and that they shall not neede to send every fift man unless the Beacons be on fire and then all to come.—Leonard Dykes ffirst of October 1640."

The Border laws did not prevent a certain amount of intercourse between the two countries, subject to licence from the Lord Warden, and the following is a specimen:—

1569. "Henry Scrope, knyght, Lorde Scrope of Bolton, Lorde Warden of the West Marches … doth license John Mackge, Scottsman … may saflie with all his lofall goods and merchandyse … come into any creeke or harbor … to make his lawfull exchange, paying his loful custome and dewte therfore and … return agayne unto the Realm of Scotland without lett vexacion or troble of any Englisheman in bodye or goods, so as the Scotsman do replevie to lie [lay] downe anything prejudiciall to the Queen's Ma'tie her highnesse Realm lawes and subjects. And this license lasting till Whit Sundaye next year under my signet at Carlisle the vth daye of November in the xi yeare of our Sovereign ladye Quene Elizabeth's Reign."


1 At Chapel fields, the site of Beckfoot fort. On Feb. 1, 1555, lord William Dacre wrote to John Leigh of Isel, steward of Holm " . . I perceive that there be certain Tennants of … New Mowbray removed in to a place called Studfold rigg and have left other of their dwellings there, which is a weakening to the Frontiers … Place all the said Tennants together in one Town whereas the said Town may be dyked and quicksett about and have two outgates for their Strength and Defence against the Invasion of the Enemys …" Hence perhaps 'Hay[i.e., hedge]rigg.'
2 Patrols or coastguards; their nightly posts and beats are given in detail by Nicolson & Burn, i, p. lxxxvii, from the regulations made by Lord Wharton in 1552 and printed by Bishop Nicolson in Leges Marchiarum:—"The lordship of Holme Cultrayne; Angerton to keep watch from Kirkbryde to Angerton. Newton to keep watch from the Moss side to the town, and from the town to the sand. The Saltcotes to keep watch from the Saltcott to the water of Waver; Moss side and Sletholme to keep watch from the West Myer to the Salcotts nightly. Raby to keep watch from Raby Rigg syke to Wetholme gate. Swynsty to keep watch from Cromock bridge. Sutterfield to keep watch. And the High Laws to keep watch at the New-couper causey. Dubmylne, Sathowe [Salta?], and Old Mawbray, to keep watch from the Dubmylne to the east end of Old Mawbray lands. New Mawbray to keep watch from Frankhill [Bank mill ?] to Mawbray beck. Mawbray beck and the Godyhills to keep watch from Mawbray beck to Ulsty [Wolsty]. Ulsty and the Ternes to keep watch from Ulsty to the Leys. Blatter Leys to keep watch from the Leys to Selythe [Silloth]. Selythe, Harrigge, and Dryholme, to keep watch from Selythe to the Estcote. Skynburneyes and Pellathow to keep watch from the Estcote to St. John's of the Green [Grune]. Sulwath [Wath?], Dalway, and the Foulsyke to keep watch from the Sulwath to Trodersyke. Myrchide [Mireside] andChristopher Hariske with his neighbours of Whinnyclose, to keep watch from the Staryhill to Trodersyke. Brownrigge and Sewell [Sevill] to keep watch from Brownrigge kiln to the Staryhill. Sandenhouse and the Abbey Cowper to keep watch from Brownrigge kiln to the Castlehill [the motte north of the abbey].
Mr. D.L.W. Tough in 'The last Years of a Frontier' (Oxford, 1928) p. 92, remarks on "the unpleasantness of the job, and the fact that it was unpaid . . but when the watches were well kept they were effective."
3 Then of Dubmill (C. & W. Trans. N.S. xvi, 188n).