Rev’d Tovey Jolliffe (1750–1830), Rector of Skelton (1791-1830), Landowner and Philanthropist

The Reverend Tovey Jolliffe had various posts in Hampshire before becoming Rector of Skelton on 11 June 1791. The living of Skelton was in the patronage of Corpus Christi College, Oxford, from where he had obtained his qualifications (B.A 1768, M.A 1772 and B.D 1781). From 1795–98 he was also Rector of Brooke, Hampshire.
Jolliffe was born on 16 January 1750 at Newport, Isle of Wight, to James Jolliffe (1717– 95) and his second wife Frances Smith (1716–87). Shortly after coming to Skelton Tovey married Grace Dobinson (1751–1832) in Carlisle on 27 May 1793. Two of Grace’s sisters, Catherine and Mary, had also married clergy, whilst a third sister, Elizabeth, remained unmarried. M. Yates’ letter in the Memorials of a Family in England and Virginia 1771–1851 recounts: ‘It is talked that Miss Grace Dobinson is to marry a Parson whose name is Jolliffe. He has a living near Greystoke’. Tovey and Grace Jolliffe set up home in Skelton.
In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries local affairs were run by parish vestries with the local squire and parson often in charge. There are several accounts of Jolliffe’s involvement in the parish affairs. Newspaper items respond favourably on his provision of coal and beef to the poor at Christmas.
The Carlisle Patriot noted:
On Friday week, the Rev. Tovey JOLLIFFE, of Skelton, with his usual liberality, distributed a quantity of excellent Beef to the poor inhabitants of that village. It is the constant practice of this benevolent gentleman to give large quantities of Soup to the same people every week during winter. He also supports and superintends a Sabbath School, and the children undergo a weekly examination by him.
The last occasion on which he donated food was the Christmas before his death when he gave 30 stones of beef and 636 pecks of coal. Others of means also did the same. The Earl of Lonsdale gave beef, blankets and clothing to those in the Lowther Castle area, and Joseph Cowper of Unthank gave soup to the poor at Christmas. Jolliffe’s visits to the poorhouse with supplies of tea, sugar and soup are reported as regular occurrences too. Jolliffe contributed to the subscription for relief of the Waterloo sufferers following the Napoleonic Wars.
Jolliffe concerned himself with the education of the children at Skelton school. The disbursements record that in 1819 and for the next 18 years until he resigned his post and moved to Workington, Robert Loraine, schoolmaster of the parochial school, was paid £16.3s.5d every half year. The trustees of the school were led by Rev’d Jolliffe. In 1798–9 Overseers of the Poor and Churchwarden account books report Jolliffe striking out one churchwardens and replacing him with one of his choice.
The Rectory provided Jolliffe with an income, some coming from tithes and rents. In 1823 Leeds Intelligencer Jolliffe’s name is on a list of gentleman who had reduced tithes in order to help those struggling with high wheat and grain prices as well as stagnant wages. In publishing the list it was hoped that pressure would be exerted on others to do the same.
From early on, Jolliffe had purchased small pieces of land around Skelton and continued to do so for the remainder of his life. As open ground started to be replaced by enclosed land, opportunities arose for the creation of a market in land purchase. In 1796 Jolliffe’s mother’s cousin (Betty Smith) died leaving Jolliffe half of Hale Manor and the tenement of Stile House in Arreton, Isle of Wight, near where he was born. By his death in 1830 he had at least 27 properties including fenced of areas of land, allotments, orchards and property to his name in Skelton. He also had property mortgaged to him between 1798–1814. One property he purchased in 1820 was occupied by Jane Sewell (b.1759). Sewell’s name appears on overseers’ vouchers between 1784 and 1788 for the maintenance of her child. Payments of £0.19.0 and £0.16.0 were made by Issac Dodd, overseer. The parish register records the birth of this child, Mary, as base born in 1779 and a further illegitimate child, Ann, being born to Sewell in 1789. Jane had lived in Skelton since 1781. What happened to her after Jolliffe purchased the property is unknown.
Jolliffe collected rents for the properties he owned. Tenant Joseph Robley who had a 21-year lease paid £36 a year; William Whitelock and Joseph Thompson paid £82 a year each. A churchwarden’s voucher of 1802 shows a payment made by William Whitelock:
Rec,d of William Whitelock by the hands of Rev’d Jolliffe the sum of one pound, one shillings and sixpence due to the estate of the late Jos Sanderson.
Jolliffe had also purchased land in Carlisle. Evidence for this is found in 1830 when a meeting of benefactors and subscribers for the building of an Infirmary in Carlisle agreed to purchase land at Coldcoates from Jolliffe.
Jolliffe died suddenly on Sunday August 1830. His remains were interred in Skelton Parish Church. A memorial can be seen in the church today. It reads:
Underneath are deposited the remains of Rev’d Tovey Jolliffe B.D 39 years Rector of this Parish who die on the first of August 1830 in the 81st year of his age. Also of Grace his widow who died at Carlisle the 19th day of June 1832 aged 82 years.
Grace died at her home in Castle Street, Carlisle. Tovey and Grace had no children.
The Jolliffes appear to have amassed an estate of considerable value. Jolliffe left a new cottage and garden to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Joseph Cowper had the two thirds of Jolliffe’s estate he purchased from the Jolliffe family valued in 1839. It records the purchase price as £2200.
Jolliffe is also listed as a donor to King’s College, London. His contribution was £50.
Information for future research
Both Tovey and Grace Jolliffe left wills accessible at Cumbria Archives Carlisle
Robert Loraine, schoolmaster, married Mary Marie Wright in Moffat, Dumfriesshire, on 27 October 1834. Her father was John “Squire” Wright (1752–1821) of Hutton in the Forest
William Whitelock died 8 May1817 aged 78 years. He is buried in Skelton Churchyard along with his wife, Rebecca, who died 28 November 1820, aged 80 years.
Cumbria Archives, Carlisle
PR 10/V/24 Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, 1804-5
PR 10/V/12, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, 1784
PR 10/V/16, Skelton Overseers’ Voucher, 1788
PR 10/14, Lease for 21years at £36 a year from Rev’d Tovey Jolliffe to Joseph Robley, 24 March 1792
PR 10/15, Lease for 21 years at £82 a year from Rev’d Tovey Jolliffe to William Whitelock and Joseph Thompson, 24 March 1792
PR 10/81, Overseers of the Poor and Churchwardens account books entry. 1798-9 by Rev T Jolliffe
DCC 1/63, Personal account and memoranda book of Joseph Cowper of Unthank, Valuation of Rev. T Jolliffe estate 1839
DX 748/214, Deeds of house on Castle Street, March 1798
DX 748/215, Lease and Release of piece of waste ground, formerly bought by Watson Carnaby, March 1798
DX 1/47 Deeds, mostly of various small properties in Skelton, mainly sold to Thomas James and family of Thornbarrow (p. Hutton) and Penrith, 1736-1801, and to the Rev. Tovey Jolliffe, rector of Skelton, 1796–1820
DCC, 1/32, Deeds relating to the purchase of the Skelton estate of the Rev. Tovey Jolliffe deceased, in which Joseph Cowper of Unthank Esq. (with his brother John of Carleton Hall and of Stamford Street, Blackfriars, London, as co-party) bought two-thirds of it from the Jolliffe family, 1831–34

Isle of Wight Record Office
JER/SEL/1A/16, Schedule of deeds re. BROOK ESTATE, I.W., delivered to Rev’d Tovey Jolliffe, clerk, mortgagee, by James and William How, 6 August 1806

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser, 21 December 1821, 5 January 1824, 10 January 1826, 23 January 1827
Carlisle Patriot, 22 January 1820, 30 December 1820, 22 January 1830, 23 January 1830, 19 June 1830
Hampshire Chronical, 9 August 1830
Leeds Intelligencer, 9 March 1823
Oxford Journal, 14 August 1830
Stamford Mercury, 13 August 1830
Secondary Sources
The Skelton Parish Histories. Skelton Parish Council Millennium Project (2000)
A. E. Tirrell, Memorials of a family in England and Virginia 1771–1851
Websites Probate will of Betty Smith, parish of Carisbrooke, dated 4 October 1796, proved 7 February 1804 accessed 9 November 2018
This is a work in progress, subject to change with additional research.

Wigton Vestry Members, 1788, 1822-1834

The following list of Wigton Vestry Members, 1788, 1822-1834 is drawn from the vestry minutes. The year 1828 is not included. In most years the occupation or status of the person was also recorded. Where possible these have been checked against entries in trade directories. Some occupations not included in the minutes have been taken from the directories.

Surname First Name Location Status Years
Armstrong Thomas Standingstones yeoman 1822-34
Atkinson John 1788
Barnes John Dockray yeoman 1824-31
Barwick Joseph 1788
Barton William Wigton, spirit merchant 1829
Baxter Abraham Aikhead farmer 1827
Baxter William Wigton grocer 1826-30
Blackstock John Akehead 1822-24
Bradshaw William Wigton spirit merchant 1822-23, 1826
Clark Wilfrid 1788
Crookdake William Wigton gentleman 1823-26
Crozier John Aikhead farmer 1834
Dalton George Wigton farmer 1829-34
Dalton Richard Wigton currier 1831-34
Dodgson William Wigton manufacturer 1826-27, 1832-34
Donaldson John Wigton brewer 1830-34
Edgar James 1788
Fiddler Edward Wigton manufacturer 1833
Fiddler Jos Mains yeoman 1829-31
Furnass John Wigton hat manufacturer 1830-34
Halliby Anthony Wigton callico printer 1823, 1825
Henderson John Moorhouse yeoman 1822-23, 1825-34
Hewson Joseph Wigton blacksmith 1832-34
Hodge Joseph Highmoor 1822-23
Hodgson Jonah Ashburn Wigton common brewer 1829
Hodgson Joseph Wigton attorney 1823-32
Howson William 1788
Irving J chairman 1827 1827
Irving Thomas Wigton innkeeper 1822-23
Ismay John Wigton stationer
Ismay Jos 1788
Little William Lowfield House farmer 1834
Lowes John Faulder Wigton brewer 1825
Manduel John Oakshawhill yeoman 1827
Mc Alpin Duncan Wigton calico printer 1830-34
Mc Alpin Thomas Wigton calico printer 1822, 1824, 1826-28
Matthews Richard reverend 1822, 1824-26, 1829, 1832, 1834
Meals John Wigton spirit merchant 1826-34
Messenger John 1788
Moor Joseph Wigton mason 1824
Parkin Joseph New Street, Wigton gentleman 1822-32
Parkin William Wigton manufacturer 1825-27
Pattinson John New Street, Wigton manufacturer 1822, 1825, 1827, 1829
Pattinson Joseph Wigton manufacturer 1822-24, 1826, 1830
Pattinson Isaac Wigton gentleman 1830-31
Pattinson William Blair Wigton 1823, 1827, 1830
Pingney John Wigton farmer 1824-25
Reed William Wigton currier 1827, 1832-34
Reymond[?] John Spittal farmer 1834
Richardson Joseph Wigton painter 1832
Rigg Samuel Wigton mercer 1824-26, 1829-30
Robinson John Wigton 1823
Robinson John jun Wigton mercer 1826-27
Rooke John Aikhead yeoman/gent 1824-26, 1829-32, 1834
Sandorson John 1788
Saul John Wigton painter 1833
Selby Matthew Dockray yeoman 1833
Shadwick Joseph Moorhouse miller 1829
Sheffield Joseph Wigton butcher 1826, 1833
Simonds James Wigton gentleman 1829-34
Simonds John Wigton farmer 1831, 1833
Smith John Mains 1822
Strong John Wigton yeoman 1833-34
Studholme Joseph Wigton attorney 1823-24, 1826-32, 1834
Taylor John Wigton 1822
Twentyman Timothy Wigton gentleman 1823-27, 1830, 1832-34
Westmorland Isaac Wigton 1822
Willis John Wigton attorney 1830-32
Wilson Matthew 1788
Wise Robert Wigton shopkeeper/grocer 1822, 1824-29, 1831-33


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

Francis Jollie, Cumberland Guide and Directory (Carlisle: 1811)

E. M. Parson and E. W. White, History, Directory and Gazetteer of the counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (1829)

Pigot and Co., National Commercial Directory [Part 1: Cheshire – Northumberland] for 1828–29 (London and Manchester: J. Pigot and Co., 1828)

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


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


Dalston workhouse: a surprising arrangement

Recent research at Carlisle has revealed that, in addition to our first group of three target parishes, the Small Bills project will also be able to use overseers’ vouchers from additional places including Dalston.  This means that, on a trip to Lady Gillford House earlier this month, I was drawn to the published volumes of the Dalston parish registers.  The preface to the second volume of the registers includes a transcription of a document concerning the Dalston workhouse and its management by local man Thomas Martin.   The workhouse contract was devised in 1822, but Martin had probably been managing aspects of parish business for some years by that time.  He was the signatory to parish legal bills by 1816, and a full reading of the vouchers will probably reveal additional references to him.

In the contract Martin offered (for a flat fee) to maintain all of the poor of the parish including illegitimate children, medical bills, apprenticeship costs, legal expenses and other forms of outlay for poor-relief.  This was relatively unusual; parish contracts of this kind might relate exclusively to the workhouse poor, but less often encompassed the really pricey aspects of relief, like mending broken bones.  But the quirky features of the Dalston contract keep coming.  Martin also specified that he was emphatically not willing to collect the poor rates, or have anything to do with other parish responsibilities (associated with the Church, highways, valuations, vestry meetings – all of which he specified).  The final and I suspect unprecedented aspect of the contract is that he undercut himself: the first agreement was signed on 13 June 1822 and netted Martin an income of £924 for twelve months of service, but by 20 June 1822 he was offering to do the work for £880!  He had allowed the parish to revise the contract downwards, when they apparently asked to exclude two components: they were no longer paying up front for legal bills, and they were  not prepared to pay him anything in addition to the contractual fee as a basic salary, hence the reduction by £44. If we assume the document of 13 June was legally valid, then the parish were depending on Martin’s good will in reducing his total fee.


Sources: J. Wilson (ed.) Dalston Parish Registers volume 2 (1679-1812), xvii; Carlisle archives, SPC 44/2/49, Dalston parish legal bill for 6 February 1816 to 17 March 1817.

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 CulgaithThomas 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.


Thomas Wilson Overrules the Overseers of Wigton Again: Jane McCall, 1776

In an earlier blog ‘Thomas Wilson JP Ove-Rules Overseer Isaac Lightfoot of Wigton, Re: Joseph Blackburn, 1773’ (28 Aug 2018) it was suggested that the over-ruling by Wilson of decisions taken in the parish of Wigton might not be an isolated incident. Another hand-written order has come to light, this time concerning Jane McCall and her two children. The following is a transcription of the document.

Cumberland to wit

Whereas Jane McCall in Wigton in the Parish of Wigton in the said county of Cumberland hath made Oath before me Thos Wilson DD and of his Majesty’s Justices of the Peace, in and for the said County that she the said Jane McCall is very poor and impotent and not able to provide for herself and family and that she the said Jane McCall did on the 26th of November last apply for relief to the parishioners of the said parish of Wigton, and was by them refused to be relieved And Whereas, William Faulder one of the overseers of the Poor of the said Parish hath appeared before me to show cause why relief should not be given to the said Jane McCall and hath not showed any

I do therefore hereby order that the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor of the said Parish, or some of them to pay unto the said Jane McCall the sum of Three shillings and six pence weekly and every week for and towards the support and maintenance of herself and two children untill such time as it 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 seventh Day of December in the year of Our Lord 1776.

Although the wording of this statement is very similar to that relating to Joseph Blackburn, it does not have the same pro-forma feel. There is no indication that McCall’s name and the dates have been slotted in to a pre-prepared document and there is no variation in ink colour. On this occasion a specific overseer is not mentioned but Wilson refers to ‘the Churchwardens and Overseers of the Poor’ of Wigton. Volunteers searching the Vestry Minutes for Wigton show John Henderson, William Faulder, Isaac Robinson and Thomas Pattinson to have been Overseers in 1776.


Cumbria Archives, Carlisle

PR/36/119, Wigton Vestry Minute Book, 1735-1885

PR36/V/6/83, Wigton Quarter, Overseers’ Vouchers, Jane McCall’s Order

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