Thomas Wilson appears in two overseers’ vouchers, both relating to Wigton. See ‘Thomas Wilson JP Over-Rules Overseer Isaac Lightfoot of Wigton, Re: Joseph Blackburn, 1773’ (28 Aug 2018) and ‘Thomas Wilson Overrules the Overseers of Wigton Again: Jane McCall, 1776’ (20 Sept.2018)
According to his memorial in Carlisle Cathedral, Thomas Wilson was prebendary for 21 years and dean of the cathedral for 14 years from 1764. He died on 25 September 1778, aged 63.
Wilson attended Giggleswick School and Christ’s College, Cambridge. He was ordained in 1742 and became vicar of Torpenhow in 1743. The following year he married Margaret Morley, the younger daughter of John Morley of Beamsley Hall. She died 2 February 1780, aged 62.
Thomas and Margaret had two sons, the elder, also called Thomas (1748–1812), also took holy orders and became vicar of Corbridge (1773–1784) and, from 1785 until his death, rector of Distington. He also served as vicar of Brigham (1797–1812).
Wilson was a witness to the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 when Prince Charles Edward Stuart returned from exile and launched his bid to take the English throne. After taking Edinburgh, his forces defeated George II’s army (commanded by Sir John Cope) at Prestonpans, and marched into England. The garrison at Carlisle Castle surrendered to Charles’ army. When the prince’s army marched southwards, around 100 Jacobites remained in Carlisle. The Jacobite army reached Derby before retreating. They returned to Carlisle where around 400 faced a siege led by the Duke of Cumberland. In the face of the siege they surrendered, and many were subsequently executed.
During this time Wilson wrote a number of letters in which he commented on what was happening. In one dated 9 January 1745/46 he wrote:
The conduct of this place has been strangely misrepresented, and the people now in it are not looked upon as faithful and good subjects. I’m persuaded when truth comes out and circumstances are fairly stated, Carlisle will be pitied, and allowed to suffer on all hands. A demand made … in the Duke’s name, of the bells of our Cathedral … was a surprise upon the members of the Chapter here.
In a letter dated 20 January 1745/46 he continued on the subject of the cathedral and the bells: ‘
It was a scandalous, unprecedented, and illegal demand … Things are settling here, and I hope in a little time we shall be better thought of, and better treated … It will be sometime yet before it be safe to have service again in the Cathedral. Proper methods I’m assur’d will be taken to have it purifyed’.
A week later he wrote:
No further demand has been of our Bells … You may imagine better than I can describe the condition the Rebs. left the Parish Church in, for yt was their prison: I was given to understand the damage it suffered wd. be made good, but upon enquiry no further power was given than to the cleaning and washing of it. This proves of little use, for the flags being old, spungy and ill-laid, the earth under then is corrupted; and till that is removed the Cathedral Church will not be sweet, nor will it be safe to have a service in it.
Cumbria Archives Service, PR 36/V/3/9, Wigton Quarter, Overseers’ Vouchers, Jos Blackburn’s order, 29 April 1773
PR 36/V/6/83, Wigton Quarter, Overseers’ Vouchers, Jane McCall’s Order, 1776
Gentleman’s. Magazine, 1778, xlviii , p.4
R. C. Hudleston and R. S. Boumphrey, Cumberland Families and Heraldry (1977)
George Gill Mounsey, Carlisle in 1745: Authentic Account of the Occupation of Carlisle in 1745 (London: Longman, 1846).
https://www.british-history.ac.uk/fasti-ecclesiae/1541-1847/vol11/pp14-18 accessed 29 October 2018
http://www.tulliehouse.co.uk/collections/carlisle-and-1745-jacobite-rebellion accessed 29 October 2018
This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.