Penrith Cumberland Family History Guide

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

Other places in the parish include: Inglewood Forest, Sendgate, Plumpton Head, Netherend, Middlegate, Townend, Eamont Bridge, Dockray, Carleton, and Burrows.

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1556
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1664

Nonconformists include: Independent/Congregational, Primitive Methodist, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, and Wesleyan Methodist. 

Adjacent Parishes

  • Barton
  • Newton Reigny
  • Brougham
  • Edenhall
  • Plumpton Wall
  • Lazonby
  • Hesket in the Forest
  • Great Salkeld
  • Dacre

Historical Descriptions

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

PENRITH, a town, a parish, a sub-district, and a district, in Cumberland. The town stands on Watling-street, and on the Lancaster and Carlisle railway, at the junction of the Cockermouth and Penrith railway, 1 mile N of the river Eamont at the boundary with Westmoreland, and 17½ SSE of Carlisle; dates from remote times; was early a place of military strength, and long a chief post in the hotly debated tract of Inglewood forest; was given to Alexander III. of Scotland with his wife Margaret, and again given by Edward I. of England to the military bishop Beck; passed to the Nevilles, who built a castle at it; suffered devastation in 1342, 1345, and 1386 by the Scots; had so large a population in the time of Elizabeth as to lose 2,260 inhabitants by a pestilence; was taken in 1648 by General Lambert; was occupied in 1715 by Foster for the Chevalier; was occupied again in 1745, both on the advance to Derby and on the return, by the army of the Pretender; consists now of one long street and several smaller ones, well built, of red sand-stone, but generally plastered and white-washed; is supposed to have got its name of Penrith, signifying "thered hill," from the colour of the building material; was much improved by removal of old edifices, and by reconstructions, in 1807 and in subsequent years; is a seat of petty sessions and county courts, and a polling place; publishes two weekly newspapers; and has a head post-office, a railway station with telegraph, three banking offices, two chief inns, remains of the ancient castle, assembly and news-rooms, two churches, four dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, a grammar school, an endowed girls school, a workhouse, and charities £261. The ancient castle stood on the W side of the town; was inhabited for some time by the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards Richard III.; remained long in the possession of the Crown; was seized and dismantled by the parliamentarians, in the civil wars of Charles I.; went, at the Revolution, to the first Earl of Portland; was sold, in 1783, to the Duke of Devonshire; passed, at a recent period, to other parties; appears to have been a quadrangle, with towers at the corners, and with a moat; and is now a fragmentary, ivy-clad, picturesque ruin, interiorly occupied as a farm-yard. The parish church was rebuilt in 1722; has an ancient tower; and was greatly enlarged in 1863. The previous church was given by Henry I. to the Bishop of Carlisle; and had a chantry, founded by Bishop Strickland. The churchyard contains a curious monument, called the Giant's Grave, supposed by many antiquaries to commemorate Owen Cæsarins, a regulus of Cumberland in the Saxon times; and contains also a stone pillar, 4 feet high, called the Giant's Thumb. Christ Church is a modern edifice, in the later English style; and serves for a section of the parish, with about 2,000 inhabitants. The Independent chapel was built in 1866. The grammar school was founded, in 1340, by Bishop Strickland; was re-founded by Queen Elizabeth; and has an endowed income of £44. The girls' endowed school has £34. The workhouse has accommodation for 250 persons; and, at the census of 1861, had 153 inmates. A weekly market is held on Tuesdays; fairs are held on 1 March, 23 April, Whit-Tuesday, 27 Sept., and 26 Oct.; and some manufacture is carried on in ginghams, checks, calicoes, and fancy waistcoats. A race-course is on the N side of the town, with a grand-stand built in 1814; and horse-races and stag-hunts were held in Autumn. Beacon hill is in the N E vicinity; rises to an altitude of 1,020 feet above sea-level; was used in old times, as a post for beacon-fires; and commands a magnificent and extensive panoramic view. The environs, for several miles, abound in curious antiquities, splendid parks, and picturesque scenes. Pop. of the town, in 1851, 6,668; in 1861, 7,189. Houses, 1,596.

The parish contains also the hamlets of Carleton, Plumpton-Head, and Eamont-Bridge; and comprises 7,664 acres. Real property, £29,012; of which £237 are in gas-works. Pop. in 1851, 7,387; in 1861, 7,948. Houses, 1,721. The head living is a vicarage, and that of Christchurch is a p. curacy, in the diocese of Carlisle. Value of the former, £300; of the latter, £300. Patron of both, the Bishop of Carlisle. The sub-district contains also the parishes of Melmerby, Ousby, Langwathby, Edenhall, Dacre, and Newton-Regny, and the township of Plumpton-Wall. Acres, 49,291. Pop., 11,532. Houses, 2,396. The district comprehends also the sub-district of Greystoke, containing the parishes of Grey-stoke, Hutton-in-the-Forest, Castle-Sowerby, and Skelton, the township of Mosedale, and the hamlet of Middlesceugh-with-Braithwaite; and the sub-district of Kirkoswald, containing the parishes of Kirkoswald, Ainstable, Croglin, Renwick, Addingham, Great Salkeld, and Hesket-in-the-Forest, and the township of Lazonby. Acres of the district, 181,236. Poor-rates in 1863, £8,752. Pop. in 1851, 22,307; in 1861, 22,322. Houses, 4,548. Marriages in 1863, 175; births, 759, of which 104 were illegitimate; deaths, 375, of which 135 were at ages under 5 years, and 22 at ages above 85. Marriages in the ten years 1851-60, 1,243; births, 6,596; deaths, 4,239. The places of worship, in 1851, were 29 of the Church of England, with 9,278 sittings; 4 of United Presbyterians, with 490 s.; 3 of Independents, with 740 s.; 2 of Quakers, with 620 s.; 30 of Wesleyans, with 3,115 s.; 4 of Primitive Methodists, with 560 s.; 2 undefined, with 174 s.; and 1 of Roman Catholics, with 98 s. The schools were 44 public day-schools, with 2,098 scholars; 37 private day-schools, with 768 s.; and 40 Sunday schools, with 2, 210 s.

Source: The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales [Wilson, John M]. A. Fullarton & Co. N. d. c. [1870-72].

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County: Cumberland
Civil Registration District: Penrith
Probate Court: Court of the Bishop of Carlisle (Episcopal Consistory)
Diocese: Carlisle
Rural Deanery: Allerdale
Poor Law Union: Penrith
Hundred: Leath Ward
Province: York