Whitehaven St Nicholas is an Ecclesiastical Parish and a market town in the county of Cumberland, created in 1736 from chapelry in St Bees Ancient Parish.

Alternative names: Whitehaven

Parish church:

Parish registers begin:

  • Parish registers: 1694
  • Bishop’s Transcripts: 1705

Nonconformists include: Baptist, Christians, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Church of Scotland/Scottish Presbyterian, Countess of Huntingdon Methodist, Independent Methodist, Presbyterian Church in England, Primitive Methodist, Roman Catholic, Society of Friends/Quaker, United Presbyterian Church of Scotland, Wesleyan Methodist, and Wesleyan Methodist Association.

Table of Contents

Adjacent Parishes

Parish History

Whitehaven Duke Street

The Imperial Gazetteer of England & Wales 1870

WHITEHAVEN, a town, a township, four chapelries, and a district, in Cumberland. The town stands on the coast, and on a system of coast railways, 12 miles SSW of Maryport; was only a fishing hamlet, with about 10 houses, in 1633; began to acquire importance, under the influence of the Lowther family, and by exporting of coals, in 1666; rose rapidly thence to the bulk and wealth of a considerable seaport town.

It was attacked menacingly, but not seriously, in 1778, by Paul Jones; became a parliamentary borough, with one representative, in 1832: is a seat of petty-sessions and county courts, a polling place, and a head port; stands upon a rich coalfield, elaborately worked, extending both inland and fully 2 miles outward beneath the sea; commands great mineral traffic by railways coming to it from Cleator and from other parts; suffered a mining subsidence in 1791, injuring 18 houses; adjoins fine white cliffs, called Scilly Bank, 500 feet high.

It has derived constant benefit from the adjacency on the SE of Whitehaven Castle, a plain but very massive edifice, a seat of the Earl of Lonsdale; presents a neat, well built, modern appearance, with straight and spacious streets intersecting one another at right angles; underwent sewage improvement in 1867; publishes three weekly newspapers: and has a head post-office, a r. station with telegraph, three banking offices, four chief inns, a police station, a county court-house, a town hall, with public offices and assembly-rooms, an old public office now used as reading rooms, a market house of 1813, a custom-house of 1811, barracks, public baths, a theatre of 1769, four churches, nine dissenting chapels, a Roman Catholic chapel, an ultra-mural cemetery, a mechanics’ institute, a subscription library, a race-stand, an endowed school with £90 a year, a refuge school for 100 boys and girls, a ragged school and reading-room, several national schools, a large infirmary, a workhouse, and charities £31.

Markets are held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays; a fair is held on 12 Aug.; a productive herring fishery, ship-building, sail-making, rope-making, flax-spinning, and the manufacture of coarse linens are carried on; considerable quantities of grain, lime, and lead ore, and vast quantities of coal and iron, are exported; and a large trade with many seaports of Britain, and with America, the West Indies and the Baltic, is carried on.

The harbour is artificial, and was formed by Rennie; is entirely tidal, with a depth of from 10 to 8 feet at high water; comprises a north pier running out 1,800 feet, a west pier running out with a bend 1,350 feet, and five other piers in different directions; and has an inner fixed light for showing the fair way, and an outer revolving light visible 11 miles out at sea. A patent slip was constructed at the expense of Lord Lonsdale; a lifeboat has been maintained since 1803; and a battery, with upwards of 100 guns, was on the west pier, but has been allowed to go into decay.

The vessels belonging to the port, at the beginning of 1864, were 18 small sailing-vessels, of aggregately 350 tons; 166 large sailing-vessels, of aggregately 26,515 tons; and 3 steam-vessels, of aggregately 535 tons.

The vessels which entered in 1863, were 15 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 3,961 tons, from British colonies; 8 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 950 tons, from foreign countries; 18 foreign sailing-vessels, of aggregately 2,436 tons, from foreign countries 788 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 32,265 tons, coastwise; and 324 steam-vessels, of aggregately 64,998 tons, coast-wise.

The vessels which cleared, in 1863, were 5 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 1,235 tons, to British colonies; 1 foreign vessel, of 173 tons, to British colonies; 49 British sailing-vessels, of aggregately 4,420 tons, to foreign countries; 7 foreign sailing-vessels, of aggregately 804 tons, to foreign countries; 3,780 sailing-vessels, of aggregately 271,136 tons, coastwise; and 430 steam-vessels, of aggregately 109,646 tons, coastwise.

The amount of customs, in 1862, was £61,324. Steamers sail regularly to Liverpool, Ramsey, Douglas, Dublin, Belfast, and Dundrum. The borough includes all W. township, and part of Preston-Quarter. Amount of property and income tax charged in 1863, £6,977. Electors in 1833, 458; in 1863, 638. Pop. in 1851, 18,916: in 1861, 18,842. Pop., 3,751.

The township comprises 117 acres of land, and 150 of water. Real property, £41,234; of which £5,430 are in railways. Pop. in 1851, 14,190; in 1861, 14,064. Houses, 2,798. The chapelries are St. James, St. Nicholas, Trinity, and Christchurch; and all are in St. Bees parish. The livings are vicarages in the diocese of Carlisle. Value of St. J., £140; of St. N., £188; of T., £250; of C., £200. Patron of all, the Earl of Lonsdale.

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

A Topographical Dictionary of England 1848

WHITEHAVEN, a sea-port, market-town, newlyenfranchised borough, and the head of a union, in the parish of St. Bees, Allerdale ward above Derwent, W. division of Cumberland, 40 miles (S. W.) from Carlisle, and 320 (N. W.) from London; containing 11,854 inhabitants.

This place, in the record of a trial between the crown and the monks of St. Mary’s at York, relative to a claim to wrecks of the sea in the manor of St. Bees, is called Whitothaven; and is supposed by some to have derived its name from the light-coloured rocks which surmount the bay. In the reign of Henry I., the manor formed part of the possessions of St. Mary’s monastery at York, to which the priory of St. Bees belonged.

So late as the time of Elizabeth, the town consisted of only a few small huts inhabited by fishermen. In 1599, the manor of St. Bees was purchased from Sir Thomas Chaloner, Knt., by Gerard Lowther and Thomas Wybergh, Esqrs.; and the whole having come into the possession of Sir John Lowther, Bart., in the year 1644, Whitehaven, under his auspices, advanced rapidly in prosperity.

Having obtained from Charles II. a grant of land estimated at 150 acres, lying between high and low water mark, to the extent of two miles northward, Sir John materially improved the harbour, extended the collieries, and otherwise benefited the town, which, aided by the patronage of his family, subsequently created earls of Lonsdale, continued to increase until it has become one of the most populous and flourishing places in the north.

The town is situated on a creek of the Irish Sea, and has several spacious well-built streets, intersecting each other at right angles, and paved with pebbles. It is lighted with gas; supplied with water partly from wells, and partly by means of carts, in which it is brought into the town; and watched under the superintendence of police. The ground, on three approaches to it, rises abruptly and precipitously; the entrance from the north is under a fine arch of red-sandstone, with a rich entablature, bearing the arms of the Lowther family.

On the south-east is the castle of the Earl of Lonsdale, a quadrangular building, with square projections at the angles, and a circular bastion in the centre, having fine meadow land to the south, and commanding an extensive prospect of the harbour. In Roper-street is a theatre, erected in 1769, a handsome and commodious structure; and races are occasionally held in the neighbourhood.

The subscription library, formed in 1797, occupies a neat building erected by the Earl of Lonsdale, in Catherine street, and contains about 3000 volumes: the subscription newsroom is well supplied with newspapers. A mechanics’ institute and library, in Lowther-street, was established in 1825; and cold, warm, and shower saltwater baths are fitted up in a building near the old platform.

The harbour has always been an object of importance with those interested in the trade of the town, and many great improvements have been effected in it. Several stone piers extend, some in a diverging and some in a parallel direction, into the harbour; and another bends in an angular manner towards the north-west, on which is a battery. A watchhouse and a lighthouse have been built on the pier called the Old Quay, which was constructed in the time of Charles II., or previously, affording protection to the shipping in the harbour, which is capable of sheltering several hundred sail of vessels.

Formerly the harbour was dry at low water, to remedy which, a new west pier, 20 yards in thickness, was constructed to the north-west; it was commenced in 1854, on a plan by Mr. John Rennie, and the estimated expense was £80,000, but this sum being found insufficient, the trustees were empowered to borrow £180,000 to complete the undertaking. The harbour was once defended by four batteries, mounting together nearly 100 guns; but since the termination of the late war, many of the guns have been removed. At the entrance of the harbour are two lighthouses, that already mentioned, and another on the New Quay, which has a revolving light.

Whitehaven is a place of very considerable trade, of which coal forms the chief article: in addition to this, it exports lime, freestone, alabaster, and grain; and the imports mainly consist of American, Baltic, and West India produce, linen and flax from Ireland, fruit from the Levant, and wine from Spain and Portugal.

The most important manufactures are of linen, linen-yarn, sailcloth, checks, ginghams, cordage, earthenware, copperas, colours, anchors, and nails; soap and candles are also made, for the West India market and for home consumption.

The coal-mines, which are of a magnitude only inferior to those of Newcastle and Sunderland, furnish the principal employment of the inhabitants; some have been sunk to a depth of more than 150 fathoms, and extend a considerable distance under the sea. They are worked by means of shafts formed at great expense, and to some are entrances called Bear Mouths, which, opening at the bottom of a hill, lead through passages, by a steep descent to the bottom of the pit. The coal, when raised, is carried to the harbour in wagons on tramways, aided by the declivity of the ground, and is shipped by means of an inclined plane and wooden spouts called hurries, placed sloping over the quays.

A quantity of a very rich iron-ore is sent from the mines here to the iron-works in South Wales. The herring-fishery was formerly carried on to a great extent, but now very few of the inhabitants are employed in it. There are several ship-builders’ yards, the ships of Whitehaven being distinguished for their durability, and for drawing little water.

A patent-slip was erected in 1821 by the Earl of Lonsdale, which will admit vessels of 700 tons, and, with great convenience, four vessels of 150 tons’ burthen each, and by which a few men can draw a large vessel into the yard to be repaired. A communication with Liverpool, Dublin, the Isle of Man, Dumfries, Annan, and Garliestown, is maintained by steam-boats, which sail regularly for those places.

The number of vessels of above 50 tons registered at the port is 341, and their aggregate burthen, 55,501 tons. The custom-house was erected in 1811. An act was passed in 1844 for a railway hence to Maryport; it was completed in 1847, and is 12 miles in length. In 1845 an act was obtained for a railway to Furness, in Lancashire, 32 miles long: this has also been completed.

1900s Whitehaven Railway Station

There are three markets, on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, that on Thursday being the principal, and they are all well supplied with provisions: a fair, held on the 12th of August, has nearly fallen into disuse. The market-place is a handsome area, containing a neat market-house, designed by Smirke, in 1813, for the sale of poultry, eggs, and dairy produce: there is another building, erected in 1809 at the expense of the Earl of Lonsdale, for fish, of which the supply is good; also shambles, called the Low and George’s markets, for butchers.

The regulation of the town and harbour is, under acts of parliament passed in the 7th and 11th of Queen Anne, and confirmed by subsequent acts, vested in 21 trustees, of whom seven are chosen by the lord of the manor (himself being one), and the remaining fourteen elected triennially by ballot. Such of the inhabitants as pay harbour-dues, or possess one-sixteenth share of a vessel belonging to the port, and the masters of vessels, form the electors.

The constables of the town are nominated by the trustees, and appointed by the justices of the peace, who meet at the public office in Lowther-street, on Thursday and Saturday, for the despatch of business. By the act 2nd of William IV., cap. 45, the town was constituted a borough, with the privilege of sending a member to parliament: the right of election is vested in the £10 householders; the borough comprises an area of 1778 acres, and the returning officer is appointed by the sheriff. The powers of the county debt-court of Whitehaven, established in 1847, extend over the registration-districts of Whitehaven and Bootle.

Whitehaven contains three chapels, to which districts have been assigned, and of which the livings are perpetual curacies, in the patronage of the Earl of Lonsdale, who is also impropriator.

St. James’, on an eminence at the eastern extremity of the town, was rebuilt in 1753, and is a neat structure with a square tower surmounted with pinnacles: net income, £200.

St. Nicholas’ was erected in 1693, and is a plain building of good proportions with a square tower; the interior is decorated with paintings of the Last Supper, and of Moses and Aaron, by Matthias Reed, an artist of some merit, who came from Holland in the fleet with the Prince of Orange, and settled in this town: net income, £188.

The chapel of the Holy Trinity, situated near the southern extremity of the town, at the head of Roper street, is a plain edifice with a lofty tower; net income, £250.

A church-district named Mount-Pleasant was endowed in 1845 by the Ecclesiastical Commission: its church, dedicated to Christ, was consecrated in September 1847. The living is a perpetual curacy, in the gift of the Crown and the Bishop of the diocese, alternately; income, £150.

There are places of worship for Presbyterians, Particular Baptists, the Society of Friends, Independents, Wesleyans, Primitive Methodists, and Roman Catholics.

Near St. James’s chapel is the Marine school, endowed by Matthew Piper, Esq., with the interest of £2000; the site was given, and the building erected, by the Lowther family. The interest of £1000 was bequeathed by Mr. Piper, for the purchase of soup to be distributed during winter among the poor; and about the commencement of the year 1830, a spacious mansion in Howgill-street was purchased, and fitted up for the purposes of an infirmary, a dispensary, and house of recovery.

A savings’ bank was instituted in 1818, and from the accumulation of interest beyond what was paid to the depositors, a new and elegant edifice has been erected in Lowther-street.

The poor-law union of Whitehaven contains a population of 29,971.

The late Mr. Justice Littledale, one of the judges of the queen’s bench, was a native of the place. Dean Swift, when a child, resided with his attendant in a house in Roper-street, during the disturbance in Ireland about the time of the Revolution; and Dr. Brownrigs, who by his publications first attracted the notice of strangers to the beauties of Keswick and the surrounding scenery, for many years practised as a physician in the town.

Source: A Topographical Dictionary of England by Samuel Lewis 1848

Parish Records

FamilySearch Catalog

The monumental inscriptions of the Church and churchyard of St. James, Whitehaven, Cumberland Author: Stout, H. B.

Register of burials, 1856-1859 Author: Whitehaven Cemetery (Cumberland)

Register of headstones in the graveyard of Holy Trinity church, Whitehaven, Cumbria Author: Stout, H. B.

Census returns for Whitehaven, 1841-1891

Holy Trinity [chapelry], Whitehaven, 1851 census

1851 census, Bottle, Penrith and Whitehaven workhouses : Birker, Austhwaite, Hayton, Irton, Talkin and Ulpha

A history of the churches of the rural deanery of Whitehaven : with extensive abstracts from the parochial registers Author: Caine, Ceasar

Baptism transcripts, 1750-1893 Author: Presbyterian Church of Whitehaven (Cumberland)

Baptisms, 1756-1858 Author: Scots Presbyterian Church. St. James (Whitehaven, England)

Baptisms, 1789-1836; burials, 1823-1833 Author: Independent Church (Whitehaven)

Births and baptisms, 1806-1837 Author: Michael Street Chapel (Whitehaven, Cumberland : Wesleyan)

Bishop’s transcripts for Chapelry of St. James’, Whitehaven, 1753-1878 Author: Church of England. Chapelry of St. James’ (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Bishop’s transcripts for Holy Trinity Newchaple, Whitehaven, 1717-1856 Author: Church of England. Holy Trinity Newchapel (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Bishop’s transcripts for St. Bees., 1676-1895 Author: Church of England. Parish Church of St. Bees (Cumberland); Church of England. Chapelry of St. Nicholas (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Bishop’s transcripts St. Nicholas’ Old Chapel Church, Whitehaven., 1705-1881 Author: Church of England. St. Nicholas’ Old Chapel Church (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Church records for Carlisle United Presbytery, 1847-1876 Author: United Presbyterian Church. Carlisle Presbytery (Cumberland, England)

Church records, 1804-1816 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (Michael Street, Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Church records, 1806-1937 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. Whitehaven Circuit (Cumberland)

Church records, 1839-1882 Author: Primitive Methodist Church (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Church records, 1870-1891 Author: Bible Christian Church. Millom and Dalton Circuit (Lancashire)

Church records, 1879-1932 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (Cleator-Moor, Cumberland)

Church records, 1888-1957 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (Moor-Row, Cumberland)

Church records, 1899-1952 Author: Wesleyan Methodist Chapel. Hogarth Mission (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Marriages, births and baptisms, 1679-1832 Author: Society of Friends. Whitehaven Preparative Meeting (Westmoreland)

Parish register transcript, Whitehaven, Cumberland Co., England : St. Nicholas Chapel Christ., Jan-Dec 1807 and funerals Jan. 1807; Holy Trinity Chapel Christ., Apr 1803-Nov. 1812, marriages May 1803-Feb. 1812 and deaths Mar 1803-Mar 1812 Author: Norman, Bertram William Tuff, 1880-1959

The registers of St. James, Whitehaven : baptisms, 1753-1837 Author: Stout, H. B.

St. Nicholas Church, Whitehaven Author: Stout, H. B.; Cumbria Family History Society; Church of England. Chapelry of St. Nicholas (Whitehaven, Cumberland)

Computer printout of Whitehaven, Holy Trinity, Cumb., Eng

Computer printout of Whitehaven, Independent, Cumb., Eng

Computer printout of Whitehaven, James Street Scotch Presbyterian, Cumb., Eng

Computer printout of Whitehaven, Michael Chapel Wesleyan, Cumb., Eng

Computer printout of Whitehaven, St. James, Cumb., Eng

Computer printout of Whitehaven, St. Nicholas, Cumb., Eng

Parish register printouts of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England (Independent) ; christenings, 1789-1819

Parish register printouts of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England (Independent) ; christenings, 1820-1836

Parish register printouts of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England (Scotch Presbyterian, James Street) ; christenings, 1756-1808, 1810-1838, 1840, 1842-1858

Parish register printouts of Whitehaven, Cumberland, England (Wesleyan, Michael Street) ; christenings, 1806-1837

Bygone Whitehaven : a photographic look at life in Whitehaven and District over the last one hundred years Author: Moon, Michael; Moon, Sylvia

Whitehaven : an illustrated history Author: Hay, Daniel

Whitehaven to Washington Author: Lawrence-Dow, Elizabeth; Hay, Daniel

Whitehaven and its Jews, 1774-1859 Author: Sellick, W. R.

Church of England parishes in Cumbria : largely based on Wm. Parson and Wm. White, ‘A history, directory, and gazetteer of Cumberland, Westmoreland with Furness and Cartmel, 1829’ Author: Cumbria Archive Service

1851 census, Bottle, Penrith and Whitehaven workhouses : Birker, Austhwaite, Hayton, Irton, Talkin and Ulpha

Workhouse records, 1838-1906 Author: Whitehaven Union (Cumberland)

Window tax for Whitehaven and Hansingham, also, land tax for Whitehaven, Preston Quarter, 1770


Kelly’s Directory of the Leather Trades 1880

Market day Thursday

Boot & Shoe Makers Warehouses & Dealers
Allinson William 2 Church st
Baynes John 13 Howgill street
Best John Fredk E 61 King st
Dixon George 8 Church street
Dobbins James 50 Roper st
Fidler Benj 4 Lower Queen st
Jackson Stephen 9 Market pl
Looney John 20 Church street
Lowrey John T 55 King street
McGowan James 55 Lowther st
McKay John 47 Roper street
McKee Francis 13 Duke street
Morton Mrs Margt 13 Chapel st
Nixon Joseph 78 Duke street
Pattison Henry 74 Ginns
Snaith Thomas 21 King street
Stead Simpson & Nephews King street
Thompson John 23 Tangier st
Wallace William 75 Market st
White Thomas 73 King street

Boot & Shoe Thread Manufactrs
Litt Bros Scotch Street mills

Clog & Patten Makers
Brew Thomas 38 Chapel street
Gibson Henry 6 New town
Gibson Thomas 64 Duke street
Harrison Joseph wholesale 161 Queen street
McKee Francis 13 Duke street
Smallwood John 13 Market pl
Townsley Samuel 31 George st
Trahear Matthew 51 New town
Wilson Robert W 58 New town

Coach & Carriage Builders
McNaughton Jas 112 Scotch st
Richardson Thomas & Son Bransty road
Tonge Charles Hy Preston st

Carriers & Leather Merchants
Bayliff William Roper street
Bone Wm & Sons 32 Scotch st
Pears John Fox lane

Conquest Richard 43 King st
Proddow John 59 King street
Weld Henry Thomas 1 & 2 King street & 106 Duke st

Saddlers & Harness Makers
Kendall Jeremiah 44 Roper st
Oates Jane & Son 60 Lowther st

Walker Wm High st & Scotch st


  • County: Cumberland
  • Civil Registration District: Whitehaven
  • Probate Court: Court of the Archdeaconry of Richmond Western Deaneries – Copeland
  • Diocese: Carlisle
  • Rural Deanery: Copeland
  • Poor Law Union: Whitehaven
  • Hundred: Allerdale above Derwent Ward
  • Province: York

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