Intersecting Lives at Hesket Newmarket Poorhouse, 1772-1784

In 1772 one of the poorhouses of England was situated in the small market town of Hesket Newmarket, in the Parish of Caldbeck, some nine miles from the town of Wigton.

Market Cross, Hesket Newmarket

Vouchers for the parish of Wigton as well as the Account Book of Caldbeck poorhouse for 1772-73 name Jonathan Cape, apothecary; Joseph Bewley, mercer; and William Blair. Blair was responsible for the poorhouse. In addition, some of those boarded there are named, although detail is limited.

Suppliers

Dr Johnathan Cape provided medicine and treatments to the poor. [1] His bill of 1774 totalling £4 6s 0d begins ‘to the poor in the poorhouse Hesket Newmarket belonging to the Township of Wigton’. Among those named on his bill, are Isabel Hendrie, Mary McCullen, Sally Harrison, Peggy Little, Mrs Mary Kennedy, Mary Blackburn and Betty Thompson who was supplied with herbs on 4 March 1774 costing 4d. Bleeding from the arm, was a regular treatment costing 6d. [2]

Cape was baptised in the parish of Greystoke on 14 July 1737 and by 1759 was apprenticed to Richard Grave apothecary and grocer of Penrith.[3] In her book, Frances Wilkins describes Grave’s work at the estate of Dalemain; treating both the Hassell family and their servants.[4] Grave died in 1760 leaving his wife Mary with seven sons and one daughter. She carried on his business in the same vein. Some ten years later she married William Atkinson and continued in business. Only a year into his apprenticeship, it has been assumed that Johnathan Cape continued his apprenticeship with her or found someone else to take him on until he started out on his own. There is no evidence of him having a contract with the poorhouse at this time or what spectrum of society used his services [5].

Joseph Bewley, like Cape, sent a bill to William Blair concerning the supply of fabric and haberdashery items to the poor of Wigton in 1772-73.[ 6] In October two women are named on his bill Sarah Wiley, and Betty Thompson.  A further bill from him has similar items the following year [7] . However, by 1784 Bewley had been declared bankrupt. Several notices appear in the London Gazette between 1784 and 1793. Meetings of his creditors were held at the Crown and Mitre, Carlisle, and the George and Dragon, Hesket Newmarket.[8]

Overseers and Inmates

Of the inmates in the poorhouse, Betty Thompson was there between 1772 and 1776. Several bills show that her board was being paid for by the overseers of Wigton.  In 1776 payments for Thompson ceased after her death on 10 April. William Blair wrote to Isaac Robinson, ‘I have sent an account of Betty Thompson if we find anything else will let you know’.[12]  Itemised are her possessions, all clothing including unmade gowns and brats. Thompson may have been making her own clothes but like many of the others named identifying the circumstances that led to them entering the poorhouse can only be surmised.

Isabella Hendrie, her sons and Mary Kennedy also had their board paid for.[9]

John Henderson was the overseer in 1774-75. Two further overseers named in subsequent years are Isaac Robinson [10] and William Lightfoot. [11] The Hendrie and Blackburn families  were provided with their board and schooling. All the payments were made to William Blair.

By 1776 time William Blair and his wife Sarah Peascod were the parents of John, George, Stephen and Sarah. A fifth child, William, was buried  on 18 April 1776.

In 1784 William Blair appears in the overseer accounts of Thomas Clements in Threlkeld. [13] Named in relation to Hesket Newmarket poorhouse, he had by this time another son, William. There are various payments concerning Mary Pingey. On 9 March, 5s for her to be entered into the poor house at Hesket Newmarket, and a year’s board of £3 4s 0d. Shortly after further expenses appear for her; including ‘a journey to pay funeral expenses’ £1 9s 3 1/2d and ‘a Journey bringing her clothes’ 2s 6d . Mary Pingey was buried at Caldbeck on 20 November 1784.

Threlkeld Overseers’ Voucher SPC21/8-11, 1 1784

There are references to other inmates in Hesket Newmarket poorhouse in the accounts of Threlkeld around the same time. For instance, a charge of 9s 6d regarding Benjamin Nicholson when he was ‘brought out of the poorhouse’. Robert Lancaster and the Benson family are others named spending time in the poorhouse.

When William Blair’s tenure at Hesket Newmarket poorhouse ended is uncertain. One Thomas Dobson fulfilled this post but exactly when is not known either. [14]

The parish of Caldbeck had agreements with house the poor of other parishes, among them Sebergham and Blennerhasset being examples. [15]

 

Sources
[1] Cumbria Archives, PR 71/47, Overseers’ Account Book, 1753- 1773.
[2] Cumbria Archives, PR/36/V/3/ 7, [line 50]  Wigton Overseers’ Voucher,  The poor in the Poorhouse of Hesket Newmarket Belonging to the Township of Wigton, Johnathan Cape. 1773-1774
[3] www.findmypast.co.uk  [accessed 15 January 2021]
[4] Wilkins Frances, Two thousand five hundred Cumberland and Westmorland Folk (Wyre Forest Press, 2006)
[5] op.cit Johnathan Cape 1773-1774
[6] Cumbria Archives, PR/36/V3/6 [line 59], Wigton Overseers’ Voucher,  For the poor belonging Wigton, Joseph Bewley, 1772-73.
[7] Cumbria Archives, PR/36/V/3/5 [line 16] Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, 1772
[8] London Gazette, 25 May 1784,  p. 5
[9] Cumbria Archives, PR36/V/4/11, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher,  John Henderson, Overseer, 1774-75
[10] Cumbria Archives, PR36/V/6/78, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, PR36/V/6. 78 Isaac Robinson, Overseer, 1776
[11] Cumbria Archives, PR36/V/6/62 [line 1],  Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, William Lightfoot, Blackburn girls schooling, c.1776
[12] Cumbria Archives, PR36/V/6/9, Wigton Overseers’ Voucher, Betty Thompson, 1776
[13] Cumbria Archives, SPC21/8/11/1, Threlkeld Overseers’ Voucher,  Thomas Clements Overseer Accounts, 1784
[14] Monumental Inscriptions of St Kentigern’s Church, Caldbeck, Cumberland
(Thomas Dobson, her son-in-law, late Governor of Hesket Workhouse, 4 May 1822, aged 99)
[15] Cumbria Archives, PR 75/13, Deeds and papers re: Caldbeck Parish Workhouse, 1779-1936

William (1789-1827) and Wilkin Irving, (1791-1859) Surgeons, Greystoke Parish

When Wilkin Irving died on 9 April 1859 he was described as having a naturally timid and nervous character ‘A safe cautious judge of medical practice, who rarely made a mistake. His opinion often sought by rich and poor’. [1]

The vouchers of Greystoke contain bills for treatment given by Wilkin and his brother William John. The vouchers span the years 1818 to 1834.[2] In addition, there are also bills at a later date signed by their cousin William John Irving (1808-1870). He was the son of Christopher Irving, William and Wilkin’s father’s brother.  

Examples of recurring items appear on the brothers’ bills, including Anodyne drops 1s, diuretic drops 1s 6d, a blister and ointment 2s 6d [3] an alkaline mixture 2s 6d, enuretic solution 1s 3d, and camomile flowers 6d. [4] The procedures they undertook were varied but charges for attending women in labour occur frequently. [5 ][6] The extraction of a tooth from someone called Monkhouse [7] 18 November 1827 and the extraction of urine from someone named Berli[e]n are infrequent events. [8] The Irvings also supplied medicines to the Workhouse in Penrith.[9]

PR5/53 37A Greystoke Overseers' Voucher 1829-1830 William Irving treatment to Berlin , Fanny Cowper
PR5/53 37A Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher 1829-1830 Wilkin Irving

William was baptised on 11 January 1789 and Wilkin on 21 June 1791 in the parish of Caldbeck, as was their brother Joseph (1790-1844). They had a sister Jane (b.1793)  who may have died in infancy. Their father William and his wife Mary [Mally] Dobson had no further children. Mary died on 11 February 1795 in child birth aged 27.

Barbara Dowson (1755-1812) married the widowed William at Greystoke on 27 June 1801. [10]

Their father William had established himself as a surgeon in Hesket Newmarket. Wilkin Irving was educated at Appleby, Westmorland, and gained his surgical degree in Edinburgh before returning to Hesket Newmarket to practice in 1814, first with his father, then the following year with brother William John. [11]

Hesket Newmarket, Cumberland. Left of picture what was the Poorhouse
Hesket Newmarket, Cumberland. Left of picture what was the Poorhouse

William Irving the elder died at Hesket Newmarket on 2 September 1820. His extensive will shows he owned various parcels of land and property in the surrounding area. While he occupied some, he leased others, from which he earned an income. His will names some of those he leased the land to such as Betty Alcock, a farmer, and Hannah Peet, a shopkeeper. [12] Hannah Peet was also a witness to his will.

The three sons are named as beneficiaries in his will. Joseph and William John inherited property and land; Joseph the livestock and household furniture; Wilkin consolidated bank shares valued at £500. Medical and surgical books were left to William John and Wilkin. Wilkin inherited his father’s surgical instruments. Small bequests were made to nephews and nieces, as well as to Christine and Sarah, daughters of fellow surgeon William Blamire of Thackwood Nook, Dalston. Five pounds was left to the parish poor. [13]

While Joseph remained in Hesket Newmarket the brothers continued to practice in the surrounding area. Wilkin at some point moved to Hutton John. William John died suddenly on 23 July 1827 aged 38, [14] leaving a wife Ann Studholme (1789- 1884) who he had married at Sebergham in 1812, and three children: Mary Ann (1814-1898), Catherine (1821-1898), and William John 1823-1905). Ann and her children lived with her brother John, a farmer, at Bell Bridge, Sebergham, before they all moved to Buckabank House, Dalston.

Buckabank House, Dalston, Cumberland

According to newspaper accounts, Wilkin continued to work but his nervous disposition and pressure of work began to take its toll. He gradually withdrew from work refusing to undertake surgical procedures. He moved to Bennet Head near Watermillock overlooking the lake at Ullswater, where he died aged 68. The Carlisle Journal reporting that he hada hereditary malady which he well knew would ultimately prove fatal to him’. [15]

Ullswater from Bennet Head near Watermillock

A memorial to the brothers step-mother Barbara Dowson and her brother Rev’d Thomas Head Dowson was placed in Greystoke Church. [16] The surrounding Churchyard has one to Wilkin irving, his brother Joseph, and their father.

Memorial to Wilkin Irving, his father and brother Joseph at St Andrews Church, Greystoke.

 

Sources
[1] Cumberland and Westmorland Advertiser and Penrith Literary Chronicle, 19 April 1859, p. 4, col.,d
[2] Cumbria Archives, PR5/67-K, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin and William Irving, (cousin) 4 June 1834
[3] Cumbria Archives, PR5/54-26, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, william John Irving 4 April 1820
[4] Cumbria Archives, PR5/54/12, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving 5 August 1828
[5] Cumbria Archives, PR5/53/37A, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving 9 November 1830
[6] Cumbria Archives, PR5/53/10, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving 5 June 1833
[7] Cumbria Archives, PR5/54/12, [line 32] Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving. 5 August 1828
[8] Cumbria Archives PR5/53/5, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin Irving, 12 May 1829
[9] Cumbria Archives, PR5/53/37A, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, Wilkin irving 9 November 1830
[10] Carlisle Journal, 4 July 1801, p. 3, col. c
[11] Cumbria Archives, DCC/1/47, Deeds mostly of various properties in Skelton….1714-1832
[12] England and Wales Quaker BMD Register, 1578 -1837, Cumberland and Northumberland Burials 1814-1835 [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk 2 October 2020] p. 67 of 272
[13] The National Archives, Prerogative Court of Canterbury, PROB11/1636/67, Will of William Irving Surgeon Caldbeck, Cumberland, 8 November 1820
[14] Cumberland Parquet and Whitehaven Ware’s Advertiser, 31 July 1827
[15] Carlisle Journal, 22 April 1859, p. 5, col. e
[16] Kuper, M. E. (1888), ‘Sebergham Parish Registers’, Transactions of Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and archaeological Society, 9 (series 1), pp. 32-96, p. 73 [accessed 2 October 2020]