Wilkinson’s Griffin Inn, Penrith

The Griffin Inn was one of the numerous inns in Penrith during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It was listed as being situated in the urban subdivision of Dockray and in later years the Corn Market. It was part of the social and commercial centre of the community, helping to promote the economy of the town, providing a venue for local officials, manufacturers and traders and those selling property. It was a place for social and cultural events providing accommodation for passing travellers, those on fishing excursions to Ullswater, and travelling performers as well as members of the Cumberland Militia that assembled and trained there in the early 1800s.[1] Grain was sold outside the various inns positioned round the Cornmarket; barley was sold from outside the Griffin.[2]

The Griffin Inn had been trading from at least 1779 when innkeeper Christopher Idle offered for lease a:-

Large and convenient dwelling house with a large hall or kitchen, parlour, back kitchen and brew house on the first floor, a large dining room, a small ditto, three lodging rooms for servants, three cellars, both dining room and lodging rooms have closets. Good stables for eighteen horses, common stables for fifty more, a byer for cows, roomy chambers for hay, three extraordinary good granaries, a pump, coal holes and every necessary convenience the whole situate within a large close yard. The stock and furniture to go with the premises it also a good seat in the Parish Church.[3]

One voucher from Threlkeld with no clear date has the letterhead ‘Wikinson’s the Griffn Inn’. Scribbled on the back are additions to the bill. It is probably dated from the end of the eighteenth century. It does give an brief insight into the business of the Griffin. Wilkinson supplied the customers with a range of alcoholic drinks, mainly ale and porter; luncheon and dinner, tobacco, beds, horses hay and corn along with the services of an ostler. The printed bill also shows the Griffin offered fruit, punch, tea and coffee, wine and negus, washing facilities, postage and paper as well as food and ale for servants. [4]

bill for Wilkinson's Griffin Inn items such as ale ,porter hay tobacco
Wilkinson’s Griffin Inn Penrith c 1800 SPC21/8-11 13 A and B

John Wilkinson and his wife Julia Harrison were married at Thorpe in the parish of Greystoke in 1789 but perhaps seeing a lucrative business opportunity moved and became the proprietors of the Griffin around the time of the birth of their second son, William in 1795. William did not survive beyond his first year, as was also the case with sibling John (b.1799).[5]

After John Wilkinson’s death in 1801, [6] it is not known if Julia had full control of the inn or a trustee was appointed. However, the lease of the Griffin was offered for nine years in February of that year. The Griffin being described as in the possession of Mrs Wilkinson.[7] Little can be found of the Griffin’s activities until 1811 when Jollie’s trade directory lists Julia Wilkinson as the Innkeeper.[8] She remained at the inn and was still there when her father Jonathan Harrison died in 1818[9] and when her daughter Mary married the Rev. John Ormandy the following year. [10] Mary died in a house fire on 27 December 1848 ,the suggestion in one local newspaper being that her being intoxicated was partly to blame.[11]

The General Wolfe inn near the Griffin, where Isaac Wilkinson was the innkeeper was continued by his only daughter Mary after his death in 1823.[12] She had married William Bolton a Sergeant Major in the Cumberland Militia in 1802. Widowed in 1824 she continued in business at the inn. [13] It may be that the two Wilkinson families were related.

In 1819 local newspapers carried family notices suggesting that Julia Wilkinson had remarried. The notice in the Carlisle Patriot of 31 July read ‘At Greystoke Thursday Mr Isaac Hodgson of London Slop Merchant to Mrs Wilkinson late of the Griffin Inn Penrith’. [14] A slop merchant provided clothes and bedding to sailors; often they were cheap and of poor quality. Indignant at this announcement, the same paper retracted this two weeks later, claiming it a falsehood. The instigator was unknown.[15] Julia Wilkinson died sometime around 1824. [16]

In 1811 the Wilkinsons’ eldest surviving son, Harrison, became a surgeon in Hounslow, Middlesex. Prior to that he had been in the Royal Navy.[17] The other Wilkinson children didn’t follow their parents into the innkeeping trade. The Griffin was once again offered for lease, with the addition to its facilities being a garden. Particulars of the lease were to be had from Thomas Wilkinson [John and Julia’s son] of Thorpe House, Greystoke.[18]

The will of Harrison Wilkinson (1790-1830) identifies family members. Apart from some small bequests he instructed his trustees to divide most of his estate between his brother Thomas (1797-1860) and two sisters Mary (1791-1848) and Ann or Nanny (1800-1865). The Griffin made up part of his estate. Dorothy the eldest daughter of his sister Mary was to benefit from the profits of the Griffin independent of her parents or husband, then subsequently the female lineage [her sisters or daughters]. The female heirs were always to be preferred before the male. Youngest sister Ann named Smith in the will, later married James Rowntree, a successful gun maker of Penrith and Barnard Castle. She was resident in Penrith when she died in 1865. She, like her siblings benefitted from her brothers estates at Townhead, Penrith; and Thorpe and Field House, in Greystoke parish.

Perhaps mindful of his own endeavours to gain an education and the lack of a public library in his early life, Harrison added a codicil to his will. He asked for his books comprising his library, to go to the president and committee of the public library free of all legacy duty for the use of all the inhabitants of Penrith.[19] They went to the Mechanics Institute, the forerunner of the Public Library. [20]

Julia Wilkinson appears to have been the only female owner among the Griffin’s various hosts before it ceased trading in March 1893. Adam Barker, a farmer who had taken possession of the Inn in October 1892, was adjudged bankrupt the following year.[21] The General Wolfe fared better and continues in business.

General Wolfe Inn Little Dockray, Penrith .Griffin Inn was situated just around the corner until 1888
General Wolfe, Little Dockray, Penrith


sources.
[1] Ewanian (William Furness), History of Penrith from the Earliest Record to the Recent Time, (1894) Reprint Carlisle Bookcase, pp. 179-185. Michael Mullett, A New History of Penrith, Book V, Penrith in the Nineteenth Century. 1800-1901 (Carlisle, Carlisle Bookcase, 2020), pp. 46-49; Westmorland Advertiser and Kendal Chronicle 26 June 1813, p.3, col., d
[2] www.penrithtowntrials.co.uk http://www.penrithtowntrails.co.uk/downloads/cornmarket.pdf
[3] Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser, 8 June 1779, p.1, col. b.
[4] Cumbria Archives, Threlkeld Overseers’ Vouchers, SPC21/8-11 13A and 13B, no date
[5] www.ancestry.co.uk
[6] Cumbria Archives PROB/1801/A(44) John Wilkinson Innkeeper Penrith
[7] Carlisle Journal, 7 February 1801, p.1, col. d.
[8] Jollie, F. Cumberland Guide and Directory (Carlisle, 1811), p. xxxi.
[9] Cumberland Paquet and Whitehaven Ware’s Advertiser, 8 September 1818, p.3, col. a.
[10] Carlisle Patriot, 20 February 1819, p. col. d.
[11] Kendal Mercury ,6 January 1849 p.2, col., g
[12] Cumbria Archives, PROB/1823/W723, Isaac Wilkinson Innkeeper, Penrith, 1823, Cumberland Paquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser 17 February 1823, p.3, col. c.
[13 Pigot & Co., National Commercial Directory, Cumberland, Lancashire, and Westmorland 1828-9 (London and Manchester, J Pigot & Co., 1828).
[14] Carlisle Patriot, 31 July 1819, p. 3, col. d.
[15] Carlisle Patriot, 14 August 1819, p.3, col. d.
[16] Cumbria Archives, PROB/1824/A(25), Julia Wilkinson, widow of Thorpe. 1824.
[17] UK City and County Directories 1766-1946, 1811, London County Directory, p. 1566 [accessed at www.ancestry.co.uk, 25 August 2020].
[18] Carlisle Patriot, 17 December 1825, p.1, col. e.
[19] National Archives, Prerogative Court of Canterbury, PROB11/1792/175, 3 November 1831, Will of Harrison Wilkinson of Hounslow, Middlesex.
[20] Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, 20 January 1883, p.5 cols. a-b.
[21] Cumberland and Westmorland Herald, 11 March 1893, p.4 col. g.


Research is ongoing and additional information may by gained accessing the following :-

DHOD/15/7, 1831-36, Estate of Harrison Wilkinson deceased and residue to Mrs Smith, Gosling Cottage, Carlisle.
DHOD/15/10 1830-38, Papers, estate of Dr Harrison Wilkinson, deceased.

Nathan Arnison (1796-1886), Linen and Woollen Draper, Penrith

Nathan Arnison can be found in a trade directory of 1829 at Nether End, near Penrith, as a linen and woollen draper. [1 ] He moved the business to Market Place Penrith around 1831. He bought the shop from a William James who had purchased it from Christopher Crackenthorpe, a member of the Wordsworth family. The shop once was the home of William Cookson silk mercer and draper, and the maternal Grandfather of the poet William Wordsworth and his sister the diarist Dorothy Wordsworth.

Plaque re the former owners of Drapers on the site of N Arnison business, Penrith


A small bill amongst the Greystoke overseers’ vouchers, is headed ‘Bought of N. Arnison Linen and Woollen Drapers, Family Mourning and Funeral Furnishing’, and dated 27 April 1836. The four items, totalling 11s 1/2d, inclued the versatile fabric of cotton calico, priced at 1s. 6d, and 1 pair of sheets at 4s. 4d. [2] It is not apparent from the bill who might be the recipients of these items. Eight years later as well as a small bill for £1.17.6 a larger bill from N Arnison exists.[3] To the Executors of the late John de Whelpdale it is for his funeral expenses in June 1844 for £123.7s.6d Among the 63 different textiles supplied are black and slate calico, ribbon, black mourning silk, crepe, silk and Barcelona handkerchiefs. [4]

N Arnison Linen and Woollen Draper Penrith PR5/67-K

Nathan Arnison, the son of George Arnison (1744-1833) and Elizabeth Topping (1752-1831) of High Hareskeugh (sic) was baptised 1 January 1796 at Kirkoswald .[5] His father a yeoman and victualler of the Horse Heads Inn, Haresceugh [6]. Nathan married Ruth Barra (1799-1870) in 1827. Two sons joined the business: George (1829-1883) and Thomas Bell (1833-1888). N Arnison and Sons appear in subsequent Trade Directories. Robert (1836-1916) was a draper in Sheffield. The other sons William Barras (1830-1896) and Charles Nathan (1840-1911) were principally solicitors. [7] Nathan and Ruth also had two daughters: Isabella Ruth (1838-1914) and Elizabeth who married Hamilton Woods, an engineer.

When Nathan Arnison died 27 February 1886 he left a well established businesss. [8] Those living in the Penrith area will be familiar with the shop that remains in the same place in the centre of Penrith today.

Sources

[1] Parson and White, Directory of Cumberland and Westmorland Furness and Cartmel (1829).
[2] Cumbria Archives, PR5/67- K 8, Greystoke Overseers’ Voucher, 27 April 1836.
[3] Cumbria Archives, DX 8/1/15, N Arnison Account, 1843.
[4] Cumbria Archives, DHUD/17/60, John de Whelpdale deceased, N. Arnison, Penrith, draper, 29 June 1844.
[5] J.J. Thornley, Penrith Ancient Church Registers of the Parish of Kirkoswald.
[6] Parson and White, Directory of Cumberland and Westmorland, Furness and Cartmel (1829)
[7] M Harrison & Co., Directory and Gazetteer County of Cumberland (1861).

[8] Cumbria Archives, PROB/1886/W570, Will of Nathan Arnison.

Elizabeth Wilson, (fl.1785-1788)

Elizabeth Wilson Voucher PR10/V/16 Skelton

 

Brief research shows that Elizabeth Wilson’s maiden name was Mathews.  Where or when she was married is unknown. She was the daughter of John Mathews (1700-1783) and Grace Sewell (1704- 1788). Their marriage was registered in Skelton parish 15 July 1731. Grace was baptised 13 April 1732 and her brother Joseph on 21 May 1735.

Elizabeth Wilson received money to help with the care of her mother on 1st November 1785. Other vouchers signed by Isaac Dodd, Vestry Clerk,  are of a similar freehand format. The payment to Elizabeth  was  delivered by the hand of Isaac Holm. It is assumed that the money was collected from or sent to a predetermined place known to Skelton people. Very often this would have been an inn or a well-known shop.

Letters from Elizabeth Wilson to Isaac Dodd were addressed with instructions to be left at the Black Bull, Penrith. The Black Bull was situated in the Corn Market area of Penrith. It had eight lodging rooms and stabling for 21 horses. In 1790 a Mr Murthwaite was the victualler there. Rye was sold outside the Black Bull, wheat at the Black Lion, oats at the Fish Inn and White Hart Inn, and barley at the Griffin. All were situated in or near the Cornmarket area.

By 1785 it appears that  Elizabeth was looking after her mother probably at her home, following John Mathews’ death two years earlier aged 83. He is described as a poor man in the parish register. A voucher of June 1785 lists the clothes and property of Grace Mathews to be delivered to her daughter. Isaac Dodd and Thomas Moses signed at the bottom. Her belongings may have been all she possessed. They Included:

  • 1 Chaf bed
  • 3 blankets
  • 1 pare [pair] of harden sheets
  • 1 bolster and pillow and draw
  • 2 Toppings 1 Rug
  • Bed hangings
  • 1 Bedstead
  • Two Gowns
  • 3 Petticoats
  • 1 Hankerchief
  • 2 Blue Aprons
  • 7 Checked Do[Aprons]
  • 1 pare[pair] of shoes
  • 4 Shifts
  • 2 pare[pair] of Stockings
  • 1 pare[pair] of Clogs
  • 6 Caps
  • 1 chair

The first letter to Dodd in November 1787 has Tindal [Tindale near Farlam] written at the top. She expressed her concern that he has not sent cloth for shifts as the money is not enough to buy clothing on top of her other outgoings. Saying she needed to be able to keep her mother clean and cannot do this without a change of clothes. Asking him to show the letter to the Overseers’, she continues:

I have  tobacco and everything to find. She has been a year and a half that she could not dress herself nor go to bed without help. If you don’t send cloth or money I must be obliged to send her back. I have now had her 3 years at May day.’ 

Elizabeth did get the money sent to her, however, as stated in her letter:

‘I received the money but had a great deal of trouble with a guinea which was not weight. When you send again write on the letter full weight or I shall have no chance with the carrier.’  

Counterfeit coins were problematic around this time and up until the 1830s. Punishment could be severe. Weighing a coin was a way of trying to determine its authenticity. It may have been that Elizabeth thought she had been given money that had been clipped, or that it was a newer design of coin recently minted that she did not recognise. 

The last letter of 15  June 1788 updates Isaac Dodd:

‘I received your letter with cash £0.2.9 in due time as for my mother and me we have had a very bad winter for she lay ever since Martinmass, but thanks be to God she has got it over. She was buried May the 29th 1788. So the money as it happened deferred the expenses of the funeral.’

The hand writing in the two letters differs so Elizabeth may have sought help to write them.

John and Grace Mathews

Further vouchers from the parish of Skelton have been found since this original blog was written that show Elizabeth Wilson’s parents John and Grace received help from the Parish prior to Grace being cared for by Elizabeth. In February 1781 an account of their belongings at Skelton poorhouse was made. The overseer for the poor being a John Pool of Unthank quarter. [photo below] After John’s death on 26 February 1783 Ann Steele  received a payment of £1.6s.6d. for the maintenance of Grace. The payment was made by Isaac Dodd.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources

Cumbria archives and Library.

Andrew Graham, Secret Penrith  (Amberley 2016)

The Register of the parish of Skelton Cumberland 1580-1812 Baptisms, Marriages and Burials

PR 10/110-112 Letters to the Vestry Clerk

PR 10/V/15 Voucher Cumberland. Small Bills and Petty Finance 1700-1834

Newspapers accessed at www.britishnewspaperarchives.co.uk

Carlisle Patriot, 20 September 1823

Carlisle Journal, 19 October 1839

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette, 21 August 1771

Cumberland Pacquet and Ware’s Whitehaven Advertiser, 30 July 1782