Thomas Wilson, Justice of the Peace, Dean of Carlisle Cathedral and the ’45

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). accessed 29 October 2018 accessed 29 October 2018

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.

Thomas Greenup. Tenant Farmer. Culgaith Skelton Parish fl 1772-1775

Stainsgill Farm Culgaith
Stainsgill Farm July 2018 M Dean


Thomas Greenup farmed Stainsgill at Culgaith in the parish of Skelton. The overseers vouchers of Joseph Turner, Matthew Cowper and Thomas Thompson for the years 1772-1775 with regard to expenses paid out for the poor show that Greenup was receiving large amounts of money throughout the year from the parish. On three occasions for £11.13s.4d ( 2 March 1773 , 15 May 1775 and an unknown date), once for £11.8s.4d (25 May 1772) and on another occasion for £23.6s.8d. A payment in 1772 says that it was “for the use of the poor”. In 1775 the payment is listed as “to expenses at to letting the poor”. It is not known if this was for accomodation or work or something else to provide ‘outdoor relief’.

He rented a farm from Matthew Atkinson of Temple Sowerby from at least 1772. The farm was advertised for sale in Cumberland Pacquet and Wares Whitehaven Advertiser 18 June 1782 . After six months the farm had still not sold and was offered on a tenancy basis of £200 per annum, the amount that Thomas Greenup was paying . It was described as a large freehold estate and farm consisting of a new Farmhouse, Barns, Granaries, Stables and Outhouses with 200 acres of pasture land as well as a further 280 acres of enclosed land.

Subsequent vouchers may provide information as to the exact use of this money.


Cumbria Archives Service, PR 10/V/3, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher

PR 10/V/6,  Skelton Overseers’ Voucher

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser 18 June 1782

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser 27 May 1783

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser 15 July 1783

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted

John Tordiff (c.1814-1839) Spirit Merchant, Wigton, Cumberland

Researched and written by Margaret Dean.

In 1833-34 John Tordiff’s name appears on a Church Warden’s bill for the Parish of Wigton for the supply of wine at a cost of £1.10.0. The bill was settled by Henry Hoodless, Stationer, Wigton. On the reverse side of Tordiff’s bill is a second bill for registers from Mr Hoodless for £5.10.0. It is from this side of the bill that the date is assumed.

The surname Tordiff is quite common in the Wigton, Holme Cultrum, and West Cumberland area, therefore, John Tordiff’s movements prior to this bill and business as Spirit Merchant in Market Street, Wigton, cannot currently be discerned with certainty.

On 29 August 1833 Tordiff married Mary Russell (b. 20 May 1808) in Whitehaven. Her father, John Russell, worked as a maltster. Shortly after the marriage Tordiff took over the grocery premises of John Meals in the Market Place, Wigton. John Meals’ name also appears on the same bill for the supply of wine (and on sveral other vouchers). Meals eventually retired to Cockermouth with his wife Mary (née Brown). In the 1851 Census the Meals were living in Castle Street. Meals died in 1857. Prior to this, Meals had placed a notice in the newspaper stating that he had relinquished his business and informing the public that John Tordiff had taken over his stock. In the practice of the time, Meals hoped that the public would favour Tordiff with its business.

In the Carlisle Journal there is further evidence of Tordiff in Wigton; an advert for the sale of a freehold estate at Hayton. The property was being sold at the Sun Inn, the house of John Cloag, innkeeper, Aspatria on 31 July 1834: ‘Particulars may be known on application to John Tordiff of Wigton Spirit Marchant’. Tordiff had also been acting as umpire in a horse race involving a wager between John Kidd, a Mr Pattinson, Mr William Buttery (erstwhile assistant overseer of Wigton) and a Mr Simpson.

By August 1834 John and Mary Tordiff had a son, John Russell Tordiff and all appeared to be going well. By December 1836, however, Tordiff’s fortunes were changing. His business ceased trading. In effect he has been declared bankrupt and those appointed to settle his estate were charged with the task of calling in the money owed to him so that they can pay his creditors. In February 1837 a dividend of 10s was paid out to creditors by the assignees at John Hewson’s office. Tordiff’s business was taken over by Daniel Harrison.

After this episode, John and Mary Tordiff went to Liverpool, where a daughter Hannah Elizabeth was born in 1838. There is no information as to his circumstances or if he was in business. He would only have been allowed to start a new business, however, once a certificate of discharge from his bankruptcy had been declared. All did not go well.

On May 5 1839 an inquest was held at The Grapes, Church Row, Aldgate London on John Tordiff, aged 35. The suggestion is that he may have taken his own life as two phials of laudanum (a preparation of alcohol containing the opium derivative morphine), were found with his body. He had been living for a month at the Three Colts, Old Ford, and was employed by Messrs Chapman, distillers. It is here that Tordiff’s wife had sold some stock from the funds at a disadvantage. A nurse who gave evidence said Tordiff had been in the London Hospital and had told her he had taken laudanum before. Bell’s Weekly Messenger reported his death as a ‘Determined case of poisoning of a decayed merchant’, stating that he had formally been in a very extensive way of business. Examination of his body showed he had led a dissipated life.  It would seem that John Tordiff died by his own hand either by accident or on purpose. He was buried at St Botolph Without, Aldgate, London May 1839.

John Tordiff’s wife Mary, aged 30, went to Aspatria with their children John Russell and Hannah Elizabeth aged six and two respectively. She took up work as a schoolmistress. On 26 July 1845 she married spirit dealer Robert Graham (b.1821 in Distington, Cumberland) and had two further children: Mary Jane (b.1847) and Dorothy (b.1851). They can be found at Scotland Road, Liverpool, on the 1851 Census along with her and John Tordiff’s children John and Hannah. In 1861 Mary was widowed again but carried on Graham’s business as a victualler.

Death notices in Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser 4 April 1867 and the Liverpool Mercury 2 April 1857 reported the death of an Elizabeth Tordiff age 81 at 36 Lodge Lane. For 40 years she had been the landlady of the Rams Head, Workington and latterly nurse at the Deaf and Dumb Institute, Oxford Street, Liverpool. According to the 1841 Census Elizabeth was living in Toxteth, Liverpool, and then at the above Institute in 1861 as a widow and Sick Nurse. It is possible that this is John Tordiff’s mother.

Hannah Elizabeth Tordiff (1838–1906) married William Wilson (a pilot mariner then dock worker) in Liverpool on 7 December 1861 and had five children: Alex Poole, Dorah, William R., Harold W. and Isabella.

John Russell Tordiff (1834–1871) was in business with a Benjamin Lambert prior to the dissolution of the business in1868. He also was a book keeper dealing with accounts, and lived with his sister’s family prior to his death on 9 May 1871. His death announcement in the Carlisle Patriot 19 May 1871 states he is the son of John Tordiff late Spirit Merchant of Wigton.


Cumbria Archives, PR36/V/21/4, Wigton Overseers’ Vouchers, 1833–34, England Select Marriages 1538–1973

Bell’s Weekly Messenger, 5 May 1839

Carlisle Patriot, 23 November 1833, 16 April 1836, 28 March 1857, 19 May 1871

Carlisle Journal, 14 June 1834, 5 July 1834, 18 July 1834, 31 December 1836, 4 March 1837

The Chartist, 5 May 1839

Gore’s Liverpool General Advertiser, 4 April 1867

Liverpool Mail 7, December 1861

Liverpool Mercury, 2 April 1867

Liverpool Daily Post, 13 May 1871

This is a work in progress, subject to change as new research is conducted.


Will of John Lightfoot (eldest son of Isaac Lightfoot) Wigton 1840

John Lightfoot was born on 14 December 1774 in Wigton, Cumberland, the eldest son of Isaac and Hannah (née Osmotherley). He received nothing in his father’s will of 1817, in fact this will detailed he was required to pay £640 owing to his father to fund bequests to his three younger brothers. However, John was a certified attorney of law in the town by this time and his own will of 1840 left bequests to his wife and children.

John married Betty Tiffin on 6 June 1801 in Wigton and they had seven children; five sons and two daughters. His will, after settling of just debts and expenses, commences with the female family members: to his dear wife and daughters Mary and Hannah (if my said wife shall continue my widow and not otherwise and my two daughters continue sole and unmarried) he bequeathed all his Freehold Messuages, Tenements, Lands, Estates, Hereditaments and appurtenances of what nature, tenure or kind whatsoever in the town and parish of Wigton, County of Cumberland) now in the several occupations of Mr John Donaldson, Mr Joseph Studholm, Daniel Cassons, John Knipes, Jonathan Peat and Isaac Lightfoot, for and during the term of their joint lives.

Upon the marriage of his daughters they were to retain control of their property independently of their husbands; a marriage settlement commonly used by people in business and owners of property.

He also bequeathed all furniture and other household effects (plate, linen, china, glass, books, prints, pictures, wines, liquors, fuel, and consumables to his wife and daughters (as before). If his wife died or remarried then these goods were to go to the daughters but divided as his widow decided.

His bay horse and gig were left to his wife and daughters.

Upon the death of the ‘last liver or survivor of them’, he devised that all his freehold messuages etc were to be divided equally to and amongst his five sons – John, Robert, Joseph, Isaac and Rook Tiffin in equal shares and to share and share alike. He requested that his son Rook Tiffin had the preference in purchasing his brothers’ shares in the Upstreet houses and premises, Joseph in the Knipes Shop and rooms above and Isaac in his own shop and rooms above.

The next part of the will seems to contradict what he has said earlier on because it says if his wife remarried or died or his daughters married, then all his property is to be re-divided equally amongst his seven children.

He bequeathed all his law books, papers, writing desks, ‘clossetts’, iron safe and other portable articles from his two offices to his son Rook Tiffen together with his grey mare and stock of hay.

He bequeathed to three of his sons (Joseph, Isaac and Rook Tiffen), wife and daughters the sum of £20 to be paid them within one month after his death. Anything else remaining was to go to his wife and daughters as stipulated earlier in the will.

The will was signed by John Lightfoot on 13 September 1839, witnessed by J.G. Willins and John Knipe with his dear wife as sole Executrix.

A Codicil was added on 10 January 1840, 1 month before his death on 11 February 1840. This was to be taken as part of and annexed to his last Will and Testament and bequeathed to his youngest son, Rook Tiffen, all his freehold customary or copyhold Lands, Estates and Hereditaments lying and being at Kirkbride in the parish of Kirkbride in the County of Cumberland to hold to him and his heirs.

The will was witnessed by Peter Pearson and Joseph Nixon.

Proved 1 August 1840 by Betty Lightfoot Sole Executix

Effects valued at under £300.

For further information on the Lightfoots see the blogs on posted on 31 July, 2 August, 3 August and 23 August 2018.


Cumbria Archives, WCOD 483-86, Will of John Lightfoot, 1 August 1840

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
















Thomas Wilson JP, over-rules Overseer Isaac Lightfoot, re: Joseph Blackburn, 1773

Whereas Joseph Blackburn of Wigton in the parish of Wigton

in the county of Cumberland hath made with oath before me

Thomas Wilson Dr in Divinity one of his majesty’s Justices

of the Peace and for the said county that he the said

Joseph Blackburn is poor and not able to provide for himself

and family and that he did on Sunday last the 25th of April 1773

apply for Relief to Mr Isaac Lightfoot Overseer of Wigton

in the said Parish of Wigton and was by him refused

to be relieved & whereas the said Isaac Lightfoot hath

appeared before me but he hath not shewed any sufficient

Cause why the said Joseph Blackburn should not be relieved

I do therefore hereby order the said Isaac Lightfoot Overseer

of the Poor of Wigton in the Parish of Wigton aforesaid to pay

unto the said Joseph Blackburn immediately upon producing

this Order the Sum of five shillings and afterwards

weekly and every week the sum of four shillings

for and towards the Support and maintenance of

himself and family until such time as he shall be

otherwise ordered according to Law to forbear the

said allowance. Given under my Hand and Seal

at Carlisle in the said County the twenty-ninth Day of

April one thousand seven hundred and seventy three

Tho Wilson

The handwritten order above, dated 29 April 1773, from Thomas Wilson, Justice of the Peace and Dean of Carlisle Cathedral, has raised a number of questions about the relationship between Wilson and Isaac Lightfoot, the Overseer of Wigton. On the face of it, it seems very straightforward. Pauper Joseph Blackburn had applied to Lightfoot requesting assistance for himself and his family. Lightfoot refused. Blackburn appealed the decision by applying to Wilson. This was part and parcel of the Poor Law process. If they were not satisfied with the decision made by an overseer, claimants could go to the quarter sessions and ask the magistrates to review it.  As happened in this case, magistrates could overrule an overseer’s decision and stipulate what provision should be made for the claimant.

This is a handwritten order, but what is interesting is that there are two different colours of ink used. Most of it is in black including the statement that Lightfoot had appeared before Wilson but had failed to show sufficient cause to explain his refusal to assist Blackburn. Blackburn’s name, the date and the amount to be paid over, however, are all written in a sepia colour. This raises the possibility that this was not an isolated incident. The use of what looks like a standard response pre-prepared by Wilson or a clerk acting on his behalf leaving gaps to be filled in later, suggests that Wilson was in the habit of over-ruling Lightfoot’s decisions. One of our volunteers wondered how many cases were referred during Lightfoot’s tenure as overseer, before adding, ‘By refusing support he would look to be on the side of the rate payers, and when ordered to pay up by the Quarter Sessions he was not seen to be responsible for the expenditure!’ Perhaps a trawl through the quarter sessions may offer an answer. Equally, are there any other instances of this occurring in other parishes in Cumberland, East Sussex or Staffordshire?


Cumbria Archives, Carlisle, PR36/V/3/9, Wigton Quarter, Overseers’ Vouchers, Jos Blackburn’s order

Edgar Miller, ‘English pauper lunatics in the era of the old poor law’, History of Psychiatry 23(3) 2012, 321.

The Establishment of Wigton Select Vestry and the Appointment of William Buttery as Assistant Overseer, 1822

Vestries were committees set up in parishes to administer local and ecclesiastical government. They tended to meet at Easter each year to appoint parish officials, to examine accounts and at other times as and when the need arose.

At a vestry meeting on 2 May 1822 the inhabitants of the township of Wigton resolved unanimously that Revd Richard Matthews, in the absence of the vicar of Wigton was to take the chair, to establish a select vestry. Its members comprised ‘substantial occupiers’ of property in Wigton, together with the vicar, church wardens and overseers of the poor. The select vestry was to consist of no more than twenty men and no fewer than five to deal with the ‘concerns of the poor’.

The original members of the select vestry were:

Joseph Hodges of Highmoor

John Taylor esq. of Wigton

Joseph Parkin of Wigton

Thomas McAlpin of Wigton

John Pattinson or Pattison of Newstreet

Joseph Pattinson or Pattison Innkeeper, Wigton

William Bradshaw of Wigton

John Blackstock of Akehead

Thomas Armstrong of Standingstones

John Henderson of Moorhouse

John Smith of Mains

Robert Wise Shopkeeper of Wigton

Mr Isaac Westmorland of Wigton

Thomas Irving, Innkeeper, Wigton

By a ‘plurality of votes’ they resolved to ‘nominate and elect some discrete person to be assistant overseer’ of Wigton.

On 24 May 1822 the select vestry appointed William Buttery ‘as a fit person to be the Assistant Overseer’ with a salary of £12.


Cumbria Archives, PR/36/119, Wigton, Vestry Minute Book, 1735 – 1885

Tim Hitchcock, Robert Shoemaker, Sharon Howard and Jamie McLaughlin, et al., London Lives, 1690-1800 (, version 1.1, 24 April 2012)

The Appointment of Joseph Lancaster as Assistant Overseer, Wigton, 1819

At a meeting of the inhabitants of Wigton on 9 December 1819 it was resolved unanimously to nominate and elect ‘some discreet person’ to be assistant overseer to the poor of Wigton pursuant to an Act passed in the 59 year of the reign on George III. It was also resolved unanimously that shopkeeper Joseph Lancaster of Wigton was just such ‘a discreet and proper’ person and he was duly nominated and elected.

It was agreed that his duties were to be ‘the same in all respects as those which the Rotation Overseers have heretofore been required to execute and perform’. A yearly salary was fixed at £8.

The details of Lancaster’s appointment were entered into the vestry book and signed by the chairman John Dodd.


Cumbria Archives, PR/36/119, Wigton, Vestry Minute Book, 1735 – 1885

Isaac, Robert and John Lightfoot’s Articles of Clerkship and other career-related matters, Wigton

Isaac Lightfoot seems to have had a faltering start to his legal career. This may explain the covenant included in the agreement binding his son in 1792.

On 26 November 1767 attorney Charles Christian of Moorland Close, Cumberland, paid the duty on Isaac Lightfoot’s apprenticeship indenture. The following year Isaac was articled to Henry Lowes. What prompted this change is unclear at present. Isaac made sufficient progress however to set himself up in practice as one of attorneys of George III at the Court of King’s Bench at Westminster. In January 1775, by articles of agreement he took on William Wilkinson, the son of John Wilkinson of Arkelby, Cumberland, for seven years.

Robert Lightfoot’s early progression in the legal profession followed the same path as his brother Isaac. He too was apprenticed to Charles Christian and then to Henry Lowes.

On 2 November 1792, by articles of agreement, Isaac took on his son John as an apprentice in his legal firm. By the agreement John ‘did put and bind himself clerk to the said Isaac Lightfoot to serve him as such from the day of the date of the said Articles for the term of five years … subject to a covenant’. The covenant stated that if Isaac thought it proper he could assign over his son and the articles binding him at the end of the first, second, third or fourth years of his apprenticeship to ‘any attorney in London or Westminster or elsewhere’ that Isaac though fit to serve out the remainder of his term of five years.

By 1799 Isaac Lightfoot was one of four certified attorneys in Wigton. The others were his son John, and Joseph Martindale, Joseph Stamper.


The National Archives (TNA), IR 1/25, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811, Charles Christian, master, Moorland Close, Cumberland, Isaac Lightfoot, apprentice, 26 November 1767

TNA, CP 5/77/3, Articles of clerkship (as a solicitor or attorney) for Isaac Lightfoot, articled to Henry Lowes, with affidavit, 1768

TNA, Court of Common Pleas: Registers of Articles of Clerkship and Affidavits of Due Execution; Class: CP71; Piece: 1, Henry Lowes, attorney, Wigton, Cumberland, Robert Lightfoot, apprentice, 14 June 1768

TNA, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices’ Indentures, 1710-1811, Charles Christian, master, Moorland Close, Cumberland, Robert Lightfoot, apprentice, 7 July 1768

TNA, Court of King’s Bench: Plea Side: Affidavits of Due Execution of Articles of Clerkship, Series I; Class: KB 105; Piece: 6, Isaac Lightfoot, attorney, Wigton, Cumberland, John Lightfoot, apprentice, 12 January 1793

The New Law List 1799

This is a work in progress, subject to change as further research is conducted.

Isaac Lightfoot, Overseer, Attorney, and Bankrupt, Wigton

Amongst the Wigton Overseers’ vouchers many are signed by Isaac Lightfoot. One, dated 7 May 1771, was an acknowledgement from Daniel Steel overseer for Wigton Quarter that he has received the remaining cash from Isaac Lightfoot late overseer of Wigton parish.

On 24 March 1789 the London Gazette announced that a commission of bankruptcy had been brought against Isaac Lightfoot of Wigton. Described as a money-scrivener, dealer and chapman, and a prisoner in Carlisle Gaol, he was required to surrender himself to the Commissioners at the Guildhall, London, on 4 and 11 April at 10 o’clock in the morning and at 5 o’clock in the afternoon on 9 May. On these occasions he was to make a full disclosure of his estate and effects. His creditors were also to come to the ‘guildhall to prove their debts’. At the second meeting the creditors were to appoint the assignees (those responsible for gathering in as much of Lightfoot’s estate as they could). At the third meeting Lightfoot was required to finish his examination whereupon the creditors would be required to assent or dissent from the allowance of his certificate. (Granting a bankrupt a certificate would allow him to continue trading in the hope that it would result in the creditors being repaid more of what they were owed). All persons indebted to Lightfoot, or any who were in possession of his effects, were not to pay or deliver them to Lightfoot but to those persons appointed by the Commissioners appoint and to inform Mr Mounsey of Castle-street, Holborn, London.

On 11 April 1789 the Gazette announced that the commissioners were to meet on 21 April following an adjournment on 11.

On 8 September 1789 the Gazette desired that the creditors who had proved their debts should meet Lightfoot’s assignees on 25 September at 3 o’clock at Mr Carlisle’s, at the Half Moon inn, Wigton, in order to assent to or dissent from the assignees commencing, prosecuting or defending any law suits relating to Lightfoot’s estate or effects, including submitting to arbitration, or any other matter relating to the bankruptcy.

More than a year later, in October 1790 Lightfoot was still in Carlisle gaol. The bankruptcy commissioners called a meeting for 16 November to be held once again at the Guildhall, London, (following an adjournment on 27 July 1789) to make a dividend to Lightfoot’s creditors. Any creditors who had not yet come forward to prove their debts were requested to do so, or they would be excluded the benefit of the dividend. All claims not then proved would be disallowed.

The Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser announced that those creditors who had proved their debts under the commission of bankruptcy against Lightfoot should attend the assignees at the Half Moon on Tuesday 7 December 1790 at one o’clock to receive the second dividend from the bankrupt’s estate and to consult on some special matters which would be laid before them. A final dividend was made in November 1791.

In April 1793, more than four years after Lightfoot had been declared bankrupt, the commissioners certified to the Right Hon. Alexander, Lord Loughborough, Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, that Isaac Lightfoot ‘hath in all Things conformed himself according to the Directions of the several Acts of Parliament made concerning Bankrupts’. They gave notice that Lightfoot would be granted his Certificate of Discharge on or before the 25 May. From that time onwards he would be free of his bankruptcy.

It is perfectly possible that Lightfoot’s bankruptcy had been occasioned by his activities as a money scrivener, a person who Webster’s 1828 dictionary defined as ‘a person who raises money for others’, and who also invests money on behalf of others in return for a payment of interest. Indeed, the survival of a small number of documents relating to Dubmill Mills shows that Lightfoot was owed money.


Cumbria Archives, PR36/V/2/46, 7 May 1771 Acknowledgement from Daniel Steel overseer for Wigton Quarter

Cumbria Archives, PR 122/439, Copy of documents relating to Dubmill Mills, (Sale, 1778; repairs 1783; bankruptcy, 1789) (names not stated), on back of copy of declaration by Robert Sibson of Old Mawbray, concerning the money due to Isaac Lightfoot of Wigton, Joseph Osmotherley of Allonby, Richard Barns of Dryholm, and Jeremy Barwise of Nook from the £1867 paid him by “Margery Jackson of London”

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser, 01 December 1790, p.3

This is a work in progress, subject to change as more research is conducted.