Alston, Cumberland Family History Guide

Alston is an Ancient Parish and a market town in the county of Cumberland.

Alternative names: Aldstone, Alston with Garrigill, or Alston-Moor.

Other places in the parish include: Garrgill and Garrigill.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin: 1700; Separate registers exist for Garrigill: 1699

Nonconformists include: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Independent/Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Protestant Dissenters, Society of Friends/Quaker, and Wesleyan Methodist.

Parishes adjacent to Alston

  • Middleton in Teesdale
  • Nenthead
  • Addingham
  • Kirkland
  • Ousby
  • Renwick
  • Allendale
  • Whitfield
  • Dufton
  • Kirkoswald
  • Melmerby
  • Milburn
  • Knaresdale
  • Kirkhaugh
  • Croglin
  • Heatherycleugh

Historical Descriptions

The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales 1851

Aldstone, or Alston-Moor, a parish in Leath ward, Cumberland. It is situated near the borders of Northumberland, and consists of a narrow valley surrounded by high lands, and inclosed on the west by the Cross, Hartside, and Thackmoor fells. Distance from London, 272 miles; from Brampton, 20, south-south-east.

Living, a discharged vicarage in connection with the chapelry of Garragill, in the archd. of Northumberland and dio. of Durham; rated at £7 13s., and in the parliamentary returns at £119; gross income £139. Patrons, in 1835, the commissioners of Greenwich hospital. The church was rebuilt in 1770. The chapel-of-ease is situated at Garragill. The whole tithes of this parish, belonging to the commissioners and governors of Greenwich hospital, were commuted in 1803. The relief of the poor in Aldstone and Garragill, comprehending a district of 55 square miles, is managed by a board of guardians. This parish is about 1,000 feet above sea-level, and remarkably sterile; but the mineral productions are rich and abundant, being of greater importance than any others in Cumberland. The mines are believed to have been first worked by the crown in the reign of Henry III. Their importance, however, does not appear to have been fully ascertained till about 1688, when they were in the possession of the earl of Derwentwater. In 1768, there were no less than 119 lead-mines in the parish, the average produce of which was 167,544 cwt. yearly, valued at £70,000. In 1814 there were still about 102 mines, producing yearly, 91,968 cwt. The ore contains much silver, generally yielding from eight to ten ounces per ton; and from that brought from Yadmoss mine, opened in 1828, not less than 96 ounces per ton are extracted. The present average value of the lead is 20s. per cwt. In the same mines copper has been found. For removing the water from the principal mine, a grand aqueduct level has been cut, called Nent Force. By means of this — which is 5 miles in length from the town to the shaft of the mine — a horizontal approach to the mine is obtained. There is one woollen mill in this parish, which, in 1838, employed 23 hands. In the hills there are extensive caverns, one of which, called Tutman's hole, has been explored to the distance of a mile from the entrance; others, such as that of Dunfell — which is within the limits of Westmoreland — are dangerous, from the number and intricacy of the chambers and passages. These are adorned with spar and pyrites in various forms, and afford many beautiful specimens of minerals — Of the Roman road, called the Maiden way, traces are distinctly visible crossing this parish, about 1 mile west of the township of Aldstone; and about 3 from the town, on Hall-hill, a little below the bridge over the Tyne, are the remains of Whitley-castle, consisting of earth-works and foundation, surrounded by a moat. Pop., in 1821, 5,699, of which 1,288 were in the chapelry of Garragill, and the remainder in the township of Aldstone; in 1831, 6,858. Houses 1,285. Acres 35,060. A. P. £25,590. Poor rates, in 1837, £1,684.

The township of Aldstone, in the above parish, stands on a declivity near the confluence of the rivers Nent and South Tyne; 29 miles east-south-east of Carlisle. The houses are irregularly built, chiefly of stone, and roofed with slate; a supply of water is brought in pipes from a spring at the distance of half-a-mile. Besides the parish-church, there are places of worship belonging to the Independents, Wesleyan Methodists, and Society of Friends. The first Independent church was formed in 1754; the second in 1804; the Wesleyan Methodist church in 1800. There is a grammar-school endowed with £26 per annum, erected in 1828 by subscription; a Lancasterian school for 200 children has recently been instituted. The yearly revenue of other charities connected with this parish is £70 12s. There is a subscription-library, which was founded in 1821. The Newcastle Union Bank have a branch here. The market-day is Saturday; and fairs are held on the last Thursday in May, the Friday before September 27th, and the first Thursday in November for cattle, horses, linen and woollen cloth. There are also races on Easter Monday and Tuesday. The town is within the jurisdiction of the countv-magistrates, who hold petty-sessions every month at the Swan inn. Courts leet and baron are also held in the months after Easter and Michaelmas. The inhabitants are chiefly miners; but the town contains also manufactories of shot, sewing thread and flannel, besides a large brewery. Pop., in 1801, 3.626; in 1831, 5,244. Houses 1,006.— The neighbourhood is the most picturesque and romantic part of Cumberland.

Source: The Parliamentary Gazetteer of England and Wales; A Fullarton & Co. Glasgow; 1851.

Crosby's Complete Pocket Gazetteer of England and Wales 1815

Aldstone Moor, (Cumb.) a market-town, and the most eastern in the county, situate on the declivity of a steep hill near the river Tyne, over which there is an ancient narrow stone bridge of one arch. The town consists ot a number of small houses built of stone, and covered with slate: with few exceptions their general appearance is mean. The church is a neat modern building, beside which there are 5 meeting-houses for Methodists, Quakers, and Independents. This town has a free-school, endowed with 20l. per ann. beside two Sunday schools, and a recently built school house for 200 children, to be educated on the Lancastrian plan. There is a cross post from Penrith 3 times a week, and another from Newcastle and Hexham every Saturday. The parish is very extensive, and the inhabitants are computed at between 5 and 6000. The surrounding country is bleak and desolate, and the vegetable productions are very inadequate to the consumption; but these disadvantages are compensated by the numerous mines of lead, which give employment to about 1100 miners, and are supposed to yield an annual profit of from 16,000l. to 20,000l. The parish itself is very small, but on account of the lead mines very populous: the number of its inhabitants is 5,079. The lands are part of the earl of Derwent water's forfeited estates, and are held on a lease, granted for 1000 yrs. under the governors of Greenwich Hospital.

Market Days and Fairs. The market is held on Sat, Fairs, last Thurs. in May, and first Thurs. in Sept.

Principal Inns. Golden Lion, Three Crowns, and Crown.

Aldston Moor is distant from London 302½ miles. On the right is a turnpikeroad to Walsingham.

Source: Crosby's Complete Pocket Gazetteer of England and Wales 1815; Baldwin, Cradock & Joy.


Alston-Moor The Universal British Directory 1791 - Google Books


  • County: Cumberland
  • Civil Registration District: Alston
  • Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Durham (Episcopal Consistory)
  • Diocese: Durham
  • Rural Deanery: Hexham
  • Poor Law Union: Alston with Garrigill
  • Hundred: Leath Ward
  • Province: York