THE CURWEN FAMILY OF WORKINGTON HALL
|Title:||THE CURWEN FAMILY OF WORKINGTON HALL|
It is unfortunate that some of these interesting aspects of Curwen history do not emerge as clearly from the Workington Hall documents as might be hoped. However the collection does provide a valuable source for research in other fields. The colliery records, coupled with those of the harbours, illustrate the development of the coal industry and trade in West Cumberland in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and they are complemented by records from c.1750 of the Christian family's Broughton and Unerigg Collieries, which survive in the solicitor's collection of Messrs Benson of Cockermouth (D/Ben) and in the Senhouse family papers (D/Sen), both at Carlisle Record Office. Another source for research is present in the records of the central management of the estates, kept by the agents from the time of Charles Udale onwards. The series of ledgers, correspondence, etc. are supplemented by the records of the work Yard and its successor from the 1830s, the New Yard, which acted as supply depots for the collieries and the Workington Foundry as well as for the rest of the estate.
So far as the town of Workington is concerned, the early material is surprisingly scanty, particularly as regards the medieval and Tudor deeds which for the most part concern the township of Winscales, some two miles away. From 1700, however, the Manor Court Books yield a comprehensive picture of the state and growth of the town, and in the 19th century the receipt books for ground rents supplement the picture. Winscales itself is well covered by deeds from 1358, which together with the 'strays' in the Lonsdale collection (D/Lons at Carlisle Record Office) may provide a clue to the early settlement and land use of a community which seems at one time to have had more importance than it has today.
Finally may be mentioned those 'strays' within this collection which relate to other families. Those concerning the Christian estates at Unerigg or Ewanrigg (including the Broughton Colliery papers) are here as of right for the period when the two estates were merged in the person of John Christian Curwen, but some earlier papers and deeds have also come into the collection at this time. The Christians were an ancient family prominent in the Isle of Man and holding the hereditary office of deemster there. They produced some colourful character including the legendary 17th century rebel leader Illiam Dhone, who was executed for his pains, and the 'Bounty' mutineer Fletcher Christian, who was first cousin to John Christian Curwen. In the late 17th century the family was settled at Unerigg in Cumberland, although the seat at Milntown was maintained at least until the latter half of the 19th century. John Christian in the early 18th century was an attorney, and steward to many manors in West Cumberland, including Workington. When John Christian Curwen died in 1828 the estate reverted to his son by his first marriage, John Christian, but following the death in 1886 of this John's son, the Rev William Christian, the estate was for a time managed by Curwen Estate Office [see D Cu/5/36].
Those 'strays' belonging to the Richmond and Brougham families [D Cu/1/110 - 125, and /4/128 - 158] are here in connection with executorship duties, and have some interest as supplementing knowledge about these families and about the descent of the manor of Highhead.
[C] Deposit from Messrs Curwen, Solicitors
C & W n.s./o.s. Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society. New Series/Old Series, followed by Volume number and page
C & W Ragg. F W Ragg's article on 'de Culwen' in C & W n.s. XIV
[H] Deposited by C Roy Hudleston, esq.
D Cu/1 FAMILY RECORDS
Workington town & Manx affairs
Probate & settlement papers
Richmond-Brougham Executorship papers
Legal & lawsuit papers
D Cu/2 MANORIAL RECORDS
Manor of Calder
Manor of Harrington
Manor of Workington
D Cu/3 CORRESPONDENCE
Post-1883 letters (by subject)
Yearly bundles from 1870
Estate Office & Solicitor's files
D Cu/4 DEEDS
Workington & Winscales
Calder (Sella Park)
Sowermire & Raikes in Gosforth
Richmond & Brougham family deeds
Skelton of Branthwaite Hall deeds
Colliery, Harbour, & industrial leases
Bonds on securities
19th.-20th. c. estate leases & agreements
Schedules of deeds & leases
D Cu/5 ESTATE MANAGEMENT
Works Yard & Foundry
Accounts, main series
D Cu/6 COLLIERY & HARBOUR MANAGEMENT
Colliery plans & diagrams
D Cu/7 ADDITIONAL DEPOSITS
The following records form additional deposits of records of the Curwen family. The descriptions are in summary form and, in some cases, were actually prepared whilst the records were still in the custody of the Curwen estate office.
Consequently, the descriptions are not fully representative of the records in our custody: some items do not seem to have actually been transferred and others are unlisted.
Catalogue section 1
Additional deposit, 1974 including Curwen estate records (described in compartments)
Catalogue section 2 Additional deposit 1970:
General ledgers 1725-1946
Housekeeping accounts and day books 1784-1928
Unerigg estate 1730-1790
Collieries: Workington 1734-1862
Collieries: Harrington 1776-1907
Collieries: Banklands 1794-1805
Collieries: Broughton, Birkby and Unerigg, 1774-1829
Collieries: pay bill books 1802-1859
Iron stone 1770-1852
Labourers' pay bills 1767-1826
Workington estate: farm accounts 1787-1862
Workington estate: miscellaneous books 1810-1828
Workington and Harrington Harbour 1773-1902
Rent ledgers and rentals 1783-1894
Workington societies 1797-1855
Various accounts 1729-1928
Letter books 1818-1904
Miscellaneous accounts 1761-1848
Distington and Flimby 1718-1837
Catalogue section 3 Additional deposit 1970:
Estate plans 1755-1890
Colliery plans 1791-1922
Trade catalogues 1872-1921
|Held by:||Cumbria Archive and Local Studies Centre, Whitehaven, not available at The National Archives|
The Curwens of Workington Hall represent one of the oldest families in England, the male line proper being generally accepted as a direct descent from Eldred, a pre-Norman Englishman, whose son Ketel held lands in the Barony of Kendal. Orm, Ketel's son, inherited the Cumbrian manor of Workington, which is the one Curwen possession to have remained with the family since the eleventh century - although it has to be remembered that the present members of the Workington Hall branch of the Curwen family are of Manx Christian stock in the male line, John Christian having taken the surname Curwen upon his marriage to Isabella Curwen in 1783. However, other branches of the Curwen family are of unbroken male descent, one of the best known being that of Messrs Curwen, the London music publishers whose founder John Curwen (1816-1880) originated the Tonic Sol-fa system of musical notation.
With rare exceptions the Curwens never attained national importance in politics or the church; nor did they accumulate massive estates as did some of their neighbours. They remained prominent local gentry controlling the area around Workington, and leading in mining, commerce, and agriculture. Workington harbour was important in the 18th century at a time when its near neighbour Whitehaven was the second or third biggest port in the country, and the records in this collection can be supplemented for the early 17th century by Sir Patricius Curwen's account book [D/Lons Lonsdale papers (Carlisle Record Office)]. Harrington harbour was founded in c.1750 by Henry Curwen, and the tonnage of shipping in the two ports increased greatly by the end of the 18th century. Mining similarly developed in intensity at this period, particularly with the introduction of pit engines such as those which Messrs Boulton and Watt supplied for the Workington collieries (see Index).
The greatest strides in Curwen initiative occurred during the lordship of John Christian Curwen, who controlled the estates during the period 1783-1828. Although a Curwen in fact only on his mother's side, he is nevertheless the man who stands out from these records and who must rank as one of the most interesting and progressive of Cumbrians of his day. He was Member of Parliament for Carlisle from 1796 to 1812 and from 1816 to 1820, following this with a period as member for Cumberland from 1820 to 1828. Unfortunately the records of his parliamentary career are sparse in this collection, but he made a national mark in his campaigns for reform of the Corn Laws and Agrarian Laws, and for Catholic emancipation. His influence was such that he was offered peerages by both Addington and Castlereagh. His practical interest in agricultural reform can be traced in the Proceedings of the Workington Agricultural Society, of which he was founder-president [see D Cu/5/18 - 21, and D/Sen [Senhouse family records (Carlisle Record Office)]. These volumes contain reports on Curwen's experimental farm at the Schoose, and on such other items as the estate he purchased between Windermere and Hawkshead, Lancashire, in order to encourage forestry. To modern eyes, however, one of the most interesting of his projects was his introduction of social insurance and mutual benefit schemes for his colliery workers, of which a little can be seen in the colliers' society records [D Cu/6/58 - 62 and D Cu/Workington Societies].
Note on Tenantright Customary Tenure
Tenantright was the Cumbrian version of the normal English Copyhold tenure, the difference being that in addition to the recording of title by an admittance entered on the Court Roll and issued in the form of a Copy, the 'tenantright' in the land was bought and sold in much the same way as was seisin in freehold land. A deed accompanied this transaction, similar in form to the freehold deed except that it specified 'with the licence of the Lord ...' and varied the wording of the 'tenendum' clause. Thus a land transfer involved two documents; the deed, and the copy of court roll.
For a discussion of the 16th. century history and development of local customary tenure, see 'The Lake Counties 1500 - 1830, A Social and Economic History,' by CML Bouch and GP Jones, pp. 63 - 78.
|Immediate Source Of Acquisition:||
There follows a descriptive list, submitted in part requirement for the University of London Diploma in Archive Administration by Charles Roger Davey, August 1966."
|Link to NRA Record:|