James Finlinson

The puzzle of the several James Finlinsons and their Occupations

Every now and again in the poor law vouchers we come across an unusual surname and think that this would be a good person to research, based on the belief that the more unusual the surname, the easier they will be to locate in the records. All too often, we find the sources confusing with more than one person sharing the same name. What follows is about two people sharing the name James Finlinson who had a tendency to move around a great deal.

One James Finlinson (1783-1847),was a man pre-occupied with parochial office becoming Governor of the Workhouse, Assistant Overseer, Registrar, Surveyor and Manager of Roads for the parish of Dalston. Despite his accumulation of posts, James has been somewhat of a difficult person to trace especially before his appointment as Governor of the Workhouse in 1825. He and his wife, Elizabeth’s (1784-1869) association with the poorhouse lasted for many years.

In 1825 James and Elizabeth were appointed as Governor and Matron of Dalston Workhouse with the salary of £14 per annum and a room for a loom. In 1826 a new workhouse in Dalston was built. On 26 April 1827 James was appointed assistant overseer of the poor for Dalston with a salary of £13 and keeper of the workhouse with an additional of £12.

In the Militia List, Cumberland Ward, for 1818, is a James Finlinson, weaver, aged 32, of Buckabank. Given his occupation, this is likely to be the same Finlinson who became the workhouse governor.

Finlinson is one of those people whose association with parochial office spanned the old poor law and the changes brought about by the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act. In 1843 he was appointed as manager of the roads and in November 1844 resigned as Overseer.

He was reappointed Overseer in February 1845.

Dalston Vestry minutes of 1844 show that Finlinson’s offer regarding Dalston workhouse was resolved. Rent of £6 10s per annum was accepted for part of the workhouse, including the kitchen, vestry room, lodging room above vestry room, the garden and one out building.

James’ parents were James Finlinson, yeoman, of Houghton and Ann [Nancy] Corry who were married by licence on 30 October 1779 at St Michael’s, Stanwix, (licence granted 24 October 1779). At the time their first child John was baptised at Stanwix 28 October 1781, James and Ann were living at Pepper Moss. John went on to marry Mary Wood, and became a farmer at Warblebank Westward.

James was baptised at Bolton parish church, Cumberland, in 1783. Other children followed: Sarah, baptised 24 July 1785; Ann baptised 6 March 1791, both at Bolton. Joshua, son of James Finlinson of Little Dalston, husbandman, and his wife Ann late Corry, was baptised 11 June 1797 at Dalston.

Joshua became a blacksmith and parish clerk in Thursby. He is buried in Thursby churchyard. Also buried in Thursby churchyard are James (d.23 February 1834, aged 81), and Ann (d.20 February 1824, aged 70).

James Finlinson the younger, married Elizabeth Pape on 11 May 1809 at St Mary’s, Kingston-upon –Hull, by banns.

Why they married in Hull is a mystery.

One theory is that James was serving in the Military, but no mention of James has been found in Military records.

Elizabeth was baptised in Mordon, Sedgefield, County Durham, on 18 December 1784. Her parents were Robert Pape, a cordwainer, and Ann. The family moved to Whitby, Yorkshire, where a daughter, Ann, was born on 10 January 1789 (baptised 13 January 1789 at St Mary the Virgin, Whitby). Robert Pape was buried in the same church on 20 October 1812, aged 63.

In the 1841 no occupation for James or his wife Elizabeth is stated. In their household is a William Finlinson, aged 15, who most likely was the son of Joshua blacksmith of Thursby.

James died on the 25 November 1847. He is buried in Dalston churchyard. The inscription on his grave reads:

In Memory of James Finlinson many years assistant overseer for this parish,

who died Nov. 25th 1847, aged 65 years

Also Elizabeth, his wife,

Who died November 13th 1869, Aged 85 years.

This stone was erected

By the members of the Loyal Caldew Lodge,

Dalston, of the Independent Order of Oddfellows, M.U.,

As a token of respect for his valuable services

After his death, although this has not been determined for certain, it seems that Elizabeth continued to live in what was the Poorhouse for a while. In both the 1851 and 1861 Censuses she had her sister Ann were living at the Forge, Buckabank. Her occupation was given as laundress and that of her sister as a boot binder.

One of the other James Finlinsons in the area was a schoolmaster. He also had a wife Elizabeth. James married Elizabeth Shepherd on 5 September 1796 at St George’s, Bloomsbury, London. This James and Elizabeth Finlinson certainly had two children baptised Helen (25 January 1804) in Wigton, and Joshua in Penrith (6 June 1807) who went on to become a Church of England clergyman.

There were also three daughters of a schoolmaster James Finlinson and Elizabeth Finlinson who were baptised on 20 October 1814 at St Mary’s Carlisle, but, despite the title ‘schoolmaster’, it is not certain yet as to which James and Elizabeth were their parents.


Dalston Memorial Inscriptions, p.79 No. 224

Parson and White, Directory of Cumberland 1829, p. 372, James Finlinson Governor of the Workhouse

Mannix and Whellan Directory of Cumberland 1837, p.193, James Finlinson Registrar Dalston

James Finlinson entries in the Carlisle Journal and Carlisle Patriot:

Unless there is reference in the newspaper articles to Dalston, it is difficult to determine to which James Finlinson they refer

Carlisle Journal 5 Jan 1811

Advert for Pupils J Finlinson Grove House near Wigton

Carlisle Journal 17 Aug 1811 p.1 col.D

Letting of farm at Bog-Hall Bolton parish near Wigton.

James Finlinson was owner & occupier of the estate

Carlisle Journal 27 Nov 1819

Letters to the Carlisle newspapers regarding a dispute over recording a County meeting. James Finlinson was said to be an obscure schoolmaster of Carlisle

Carlisle Patriot 8 Jan 1820

Private Tuition offered to inhabitants of Carlisle by J Finlinson

Carlisle Journal, 19 May 1838 p.3, col. D.

Correspondence with a Mr J Routledge of Brampton regarding Jane Hall a pauper belonging to the parish of Cumwhitton

Carlisle Journal 26 Feb 1842 p.1 col. B

Nominations for Election of Guardians of the Poor James Finlinson for Dalston

Carlisle Journal, 5 March 1842, p.1, col. E

Nominations for Election of Guardians of the Poor James Finlinson for Dalston

Carlisle Journal, 7 May 1842, p.1, col. A

Notice of order of road diversion Barras Lane Dalston. James Finlinson Surveyor of the Parish of Dalston.

Carlisle Journal, 27 April 1844, p.3, col. C

Alterations to Highway at Hawksdale James Finlinson surveyor

Carlisle Journal, 20 July 1844, p.3, col. C

Poilce Intelligence case of John Cairns false entry of birth J Finlinson overseer & registrar

Carlisle Journal, 10 August 1844, p.3, col. H

Under reports from the Cumberland Assizes

James Finlinson assistant overseer for Dalston witness in case of George Cairns who was prosecuted for obtaining money under false pretences from the registrar of births deaths & marriages for Dalston district.

Carlisle Journal, 27 February 1846, p. 1, col. D

Election for the Guardians of the Poor James Finlinson for Dalston

Carlisle Journal, 6 March 1847, p.1, col. F

Notice of Appoint of Joseph Shields of Buccabank as Deputy Registrar to James Finlinson

Thanks to Margaret Dean, and Bob Nichols for their help.

Who was Elizabeth Routledge?

Some of the bills that survive from Dalston Poorhouse came from Elizabeth Routledge a miller at Bishop’s Mill Dalston in the 1830s

What can be found of Elizabeth ?

Was she married or single ?

She didn’t appear in a trade directory and wasn’t at first found in the Dalston parish registers.

But looking at the parish registers of Thursby the baptism on 25 September 1831 of Margaret Routledge daughter of William & Elizabeth miller of Thursby was found.

William Routledge died the following year buried 10 October 1832

A William Routledge married Elizabeth Emmerson at Great Orton

Marriage of William Routledge & Elizabeth Emmerson Great Orton Parish Registers PR 88/4

Emmerson was a name on some of the Dalston poorhouse bills.

Is this our Lady ?

In the 1841 & 1851 census no Elizabeth Routledge found.

So a search was made for Margaret Routledge in 1841 & 1851.

In both censuses in Thursby was found a Margaret Routledge step daughter of James Storrow farmer & his wife Elizabeth.

Was this the correct family ?

Searching the G.R.O. marriage indexes for a married of a James Storrow to an Elizabeth found the married of James Storrow to Elizabeth Routledge March quarter 1839 Carlisle registration district Volume 325 Page 33

Was this our Elizabeth ?

Looking at the Thursby parish registers no marriage found.

So Dalston parish registers were searched and the marriage was found 21 January 1839.

Marriage of James Storrow and Elizabeth Routledge Dalston Parish Registers PR41/13

Elizabeth Routledge gave her address as Bishop’s Mill Dalston.

Possibly more research can be done on Elizabeth as the Emmerson name also appears on the bills.

Elizabeth on her marriage to James Storrow gave her father’s name as John Emmerson husbandman.

Fear of Poverty in Wigton

with the assistance of Beth Banks

The Sad Tale of Ann, Wife of William Graham, Blacksmith

A dreadful occurrence took place at Wigton on Sunday 20 April 1817.

Transcribed and Edited from -Carlisle Patriot April 1817 + The Times 29 April 1817

Anne Graham, the wife of William Graham, blacksmith, murdered two of her children by strangulation, left another for dead, and afterwards cut her own throat!

The following particulars have reached us, from which it will clearly appear that the wretched woman laboured under strong mental derangement. On the preceding day she dressed herself, and took her children for a walk, a circumstance with her very unusual on such a day. She went with them to a small stream of water, and looking into it, remarked that “it was not deep enough, and they would come another time.”

On Sunday morning, she strongly persuaded her husband to go to church; and when she laid out his Sunday clothes, she gave him a black silk handkerchief, instead of a white one. He inquired the reason and asked for a white one. His wife immediately said to him in a singular tone – “What, would you not wear it if we all lay dead? Graham took no particular notice of this wildness and went to church. As soon as he was gone, she called the children into the house and locked the door. After washing them, she gave the oldest “a boy of about nine years of age” [this must have been James] an infant to hold, which was sucking at the breast, [this will have been Catherine] and took one of the other children into an adjoining room, put it to death by strangling it with her hands, and then laid it into a bed. She returned for another, which she strangled in the same manner. When she came for the third, the boy before-mentioned inquired what she was doing, and observed, he thought she was killing the children. She replied, that she would let him soon see what she was doing with them, and went into the room with the third, which she also strangled. The boy being alarmed, laid the infant on the floor, and got into the blacksmith’s shop by means of a door which communicates with the dwelling-house, where he concealed himself under the large bellows.  His mother followed him into the shop, and searched, but could not find him. After she returned into the dwelling-house, the boy escaped from the shop by drawing the bolts which secured the great doors. He met his father as he was returning from church and told him the dreadful tale; assistance was immediately procured, and on entering the house, the unhappy woman was found with her throat dreadfully cut, without any signs of life; the infant was lying on the floor unhurt. The other three children were found in bed, two of them quite dead [William and Thomas]; the other [Mary] showed symptoms of life, and by proper care has been much recovered, but still remains in a doubtful state.

What a scene for the unfortunate husband and father! No cause but insanity can be assigned for these dreadful acts. William Graham has always proved himself a kind an affectionate husband. His wife was naturally of a gloomy disposition; and, latterly, she had formed an idea that her children would come to poverty.


From Parish Registers, further details of this family can be discovered:


  • William Graham, blacksmith, married Ann Walton 14 Aug 1806
  • Their first child, James, was baptised 23 October 1806. [James was the eldest son who ran away to get help]


  • Their second child William was baptised 26 October 1808; he died aged 22 months and was buried 3 August 1810.
  • Their third child also named William was baptised 25 November 1810 [William died]
  • Their fourth child Thomas was baptised 27 November 1812 [Thomas died]
  • Their fifth child Mary was baptised 17 December 1815 [Mary left for dead but survived]
  • Their sixth child Catherine was baptised 20 April 1817 [Catherine was baptised on the same day as the tragedy.]
  • Ann Graham and her two sons William and Thomas were buried on 21 April 1817

At the inquest the Coroner’s Jury returned a verdict of Insanity.

So, William was left with three small children but from the records we find that in the following year William married again.

Marriage bond/licence of 15 August 1818 states that William Graham, widower, blacksmith made application to marry Ann Mallinson, spinster.  The couple were married at St. Mary’s, Wigton on the 16 August 1818.


Baptisms recorded for the children of William and Ann [Mallinson]

  • William baptised on 25 December 1818
  • John baptised on 21 February 1821
  • Thomas baptised on 18 June 1824

From Pigots Directory of Cumberland 1828-29 on page 99 is listed:

Graham Wm. Blacksmith, Water Street, Wigton.

No more has been found on this family.


Skelton parish registers PR 10                                          Cumbria Archives Carlisle

Wigton parish registers PR 36                                           Cumbria Archives Carlisle

Carlisle Diocese marriage bonds/licences                       Cumbria Archives Carlisle


Dr. William Ballantine Wigton Poorhouse

Dr. William Ballantine

William Ballantine was of the Ballantine family of Crookdake Hall

The Ballantine family inherited the seat from a younger branch of the Musgrave family of Edenhall Anne Musgrave marrying Sir John Ballantine JP [1632-1705] of Corehouse Clydesdale, he was knighted in 1663 and High Sheriff of Cumberland in 1694. Their son  William Ballantine [d 1710] was High Sheriff 1709 he married Grizell daughter of Sir  James Johnston of Westerhall without his father’s consent. Their son John Ballantine [1699-1756] High Sheriff in 1726 married Jane daughter of Frecheville Dykes. Dr. William Ballantine was their son, he was baptised 7 December 1736 in Bromfield Church.

In 1752 William Ballatine became apprentice to Henry Hall surgeon Wigton premium £42 0s 0d

William Ballantine was Master to these Apprentices

1759 Master [occupation Apothecary] to Jonathan Simpson Wigton premium £38 10s 0d

1762 Master [occupation Surgeon] to Robert Mccauland Wigton premium £25 0s 0d

1765 Master [occupation Surgeon] to John Shitfield Wigton premium £39 0s 0d

1766 Master [occupation Surgeon] to Thomas Mallison Wigton premium £50 0s 0

Marriage On the 28th of February 1774 William Ballantine surgeon bachelor aged 38 married Jane Porter spinster aged 22 in Wigton Church both were of the parish of Wigton & were married by licence.

Carlisle Diocese Marriage Bonds records

28 Feb 1774 Ballatine Wm. parish Wigton Surgeon & Apoth & Porter Jane parish Wigton

Bondsman William Brownsword p. Wigton Attorney at Law

These are the baptisms of their children from the Wigton parish registers

20 Jan 1775 James son of William Ballantine Apothecary Wigton & Jane his wife born 10 Jan 1775

5 Jul 1776 Jane daughter of William Ballantine Apothecary Wigton & Jane his wife born 7 Feb 1776

20 Aug 1784 Ann daughter of William Ballantine Apothecary Wigton & Jane his wife born 10 Jan 1783

13 Oct 1787 William son of William Ballantine Apothecary Wigton & Jane his wife born 11 Feb 1787

Other references to William Ballantine found

Cumberland Quarter Sessions Rolls Petitions Easter 1761

William Ballantine of Wigton: petition for subsistence on behalf of William Watts, soldier in 2nd Regiment of Foot Command, left in care of petitioner whilst suffering from fever

From a Medical Register of 1783

Wigton Surgeons & Apothecaries

Mr. William Ballantine, Mr. Lancelot Walker, Mr. Edward Walker, Mr. Joseph Hodgson

Wigton Poor Law vouchers and small bills

Bills for treatment & medicines for Poorhouse in 1776 & 1777 from Dr William Ballantine

Dr William Ballantine appears in the Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790) at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh.

Letter from William Ballantine, concerning the case of John Baxter 1786

Dr William Ballantine is also mentioned in two other cases.

Cumberland Militia & Cavalry Papers Provisional Cavalry Cumberland Ward

An application for the exemption by William Ballantine of Wigton, Surgeon and Apothecary is now several years past the prime of life. That he is frequently prevented from following his practice by tedious, painful and oftentimes protracted fits of gout and other disorders [exempted by Col. Foster]

[Note this appears to be in papers dated around 1797

Marriage Bond for William’s daughter

Carlisle Diocese Marriage Licence/Bond 22 Dec 1804

Rimington Geo. parish Penrith draper  Ballantine Ann , p. Wigton

Bondsman Borradaile Chrs parish. Wigton gen

The marriage notice appears in the Lancaster Gazette 5 January 1805

The sale of William’s premises shop & dwelling house 15 April 1805 at the King’s Arms Wigton is advertised in the Cumberland Pacquet of 5 April 1805.

William’s burial is recorded in the parish register of St Martin Ludgate London 4 Oct 1812 agd 77 [New Vault]

It is recorded in Cumberland Pacquet 20 Oct 1812

Deaths Thursday the 1st inst. in London, in the 78th year of his age, Mr William Ballantine; many years an eminent surgeon at Wigton, and of the ancient family of the Ballantines if Crookdake, in this county.


Cumberland families & Heraldry       Hudleston & Boumphrey

Britain Country Apprentices 1710-1808     Find My Past

Bromfield Parish Registers PR140         Cumbria Archives

Wigton Parish Registers PR36                Cumbria archives

Carlisle Diocese Marriage Bonds/Licences   Cumbria Archives

Cumberland Quarter Sessions Q/11/1/259/34    Cumbria Archives

The Medical Register for the year 1783        Google books

Wigton Overseer of the Poor Vouchers & bills PR36/V    Cumbria Archives

The Cullen Project Consultation Letters of Dr William Cullen (1710-1790)

Cumberland Militia & Cavalry Papers Q/MIL/5/16         Cumbria Archives

Lancaster Gazette Newspaper

Cumberland Pacquet Newpaper

London England Church of England Burials          Ancestry