THE TOWNSONS OF LYTH
Notes by the Revd Frederick Cowper Townson in 1927.
Transcribed from a note pad in the possession of Myles Saker. The notes, some of them sketchy, were made by the Revd Frederick Cowper Townson in 1927, probably after the death of his first cousin, Mary Agnes Croft Townson, who had died that year. Some of the notes are transcriptions or abstracts of documents that I have already seen copies of, or to do with family that I know are not connected to us, and I have therefore not copied these. (Words in italics are guesses for indecipherable or missing words. I have also shortened part of the 1803 document from Ellen Bland and Isaac and Elizabeth Mossop to Robert Turner. Clerks were often paid by the word or page and the clerk in this case seems to have gone to absurd lengths to extend the document! )
A document by Myles Walker to his brother in law, Thomas Townson, dated 1671. Myles Walker is granting his brother in law, Thomas Townson of Low, something in return for a sum of money. (FCT cannot read the writing, but Myles Walker is probably married to one of Thomas Townson’s sisters)
A document of release to Thomas Townson of Low for a legacy left by Edward H......, dated January 1689. John Cartmell, James Burrow, and Christopher Stephenson, chapel wardens of Crosthwaite and Lyth, have received the sum of £5 of lawful English money from Thomas Townson of Low in Lyth in respect of a legacy left by Edward H...... of Low in Lyth for the use and benefit of a preaching minister at Crosthwaite.
A document of release to William Townson from his brother in law, James Barrow, dated 25th January 1704. James Barrow of Broadoak in the parish of Heversham in consideration of the full settlement of the legacy left to his wife Agnes by her father, Thomas Townson, releases William Townson from all claims, etc, that he might have had against him.
A Deed of Gift from Agnes Townson, widow, of Low in Lyth to her son William Townson, dated 2nd April 1705. To all Christian people to whom these presents shall come I Agnes Townson of the Law in Lyth in the county of Westmorland send greetings Know ye that I the said Agnes Townson for the natural love and affection that I now have for my son William Townson as also for divers other good reasons and valuable considerations me hereunto now moving have given and granted and by these presents do give grant and confirm unto him the said William Townson his executors administrators and assigns All those my horses mares cows heifers oxen sheep and all other my goods whatsoever and all my household stuff and all my bedding and husbandry gear whatsoever meal and malt hay and straw bigg (barley) and oats threshed and unthreshed and all other my goods and chattels whatsoever moveable and unmoveable quick and dead of whatever nature be the same............ which shall or may be found as well as in mine own custody or possession as in the possession hands and custody of other person or persons whatsoever (my wearing apparel and the liberty to have the use of the bed wherein I usually lie with all the bed clothes and other furniture thereunto belonging during my natural life only excepted) and also my right title and claim unto the same to have and to hold all and singular the said goods chattels and personal estate unto him the said William Townson his administrators heirs assigns for his own proper uses and benefits for ever thereof and thereon to enjoy use and dispose of without any manner of challenge or claim or demand of me the said Agnes Townson or of any other person or persons whatsoever for me or in my name And I Agnes Townson have put the said William Townson his heirs administrators and assigns in full possession of all and singular the said goods chattels and personal estate In witness whereof I the said Agnes Townson have hereunto put my hand and seal the 2nd day of April 1705. (This deed is made the same date as another deed of gift, which I already have a copy of, where she passes over her widows right to the property at Low in Lyth to her son, William Townson. Having in effect handed over all her assets to William, the following deed protects at least some of her income)
A document concerning William Townson of Low in Lyth and his widowed mother, dated 1705 and signed and witnessed. That William Townson promises that, if he goes to live in London or any place out of the County, he will pay to his mother £13 of lawful English money annually until such time as he returns. This promise is secured on the property at Low in Lyth. (It is unlikely that William ever did live out of the County of Westmorland)
Release of Portions – Mrs Bland and Mrs Mossop to Mr R.Turner 1803. (This
document refers to the mortgage taken over Low in Lyth to secure the payments to three
of Thomas Townson’s sisters, Agnes, Ellen and Elizabeth of money that might otherwise
have been left to them by their father. It is not known whether Thomas made similar
arrangements for his brother William or sister Mary, but the Revd Robert Dickinson mentioned
in one of his letters that there had been a possibility of the Crosthwaite Green property
passing to William Townson. This did not happen and William moved away. Robert
Townson entered legally into the Low property in September 1802 at the age of 16 and
this could be why these payments were paid now.)
By the Right Hon. William Earl of Lonsdale, Viscount Lowther, Lord Lieutenant of the County of Westmorland. To Robert Townson, gentleman. By virtue of the power and authority to me given by a warrant from his Majesty under his Royal Signet and Signature bearing date the 22nd day of March 1813 I the said William Earl of Lonsdale do in his Majesty’s name by these presents constitute and commission you the said Robert Townson to be Ensign in the Kendal and Lonsdale Regiment of local militia and to take rank in the army according to the directions of the Act of Parliament passed in the 52nd year of the reign of his present Majesty for that purpose. You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Ensign by exercising and with disciplining both the junior officers thereof who are commanded in his Majesty’s name to obey you as their Ensign and you are to observe such orders and directions from time to time as you shall receive from his Majesty or any other your superior officers according to the rules and disciplines of war in pursuance of the trust hereby reposed in you. Given under my hand and seal the 25th day of March in the 53rd year of the reign of our Sovereign Lord George the Third, by the grace of God of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, defender of the faith, in the year of our Lord 1813.
Copy of a letter from the Revd Robert Dickinson, 5 Bethel Place, Camberwell, Surrey to his nephew, Robert Townson, dated 17th December 1840. (Words in italics are guesses for indecipherable or missing words)
The proceeds of the coppice sale £143 will I conclude according to custom be payable about Candlemas 1842 and, of that sum, I do promise to give £43 to be divided equally amongst my sisters, Isabel Hoggarth and Mrs Elleray and my late brother Frank’s widow, which will be £14-6-8 to each of them. The remaining £100 I shall be very happy to accommodate you with the use of for so long a period as may be convenient for you to retain it. You shall have it clear of any interest and of all expense of bonds or writings, with only a simple acknowledgement of the receipt of it by letter when you receive it at Candlemas 1842.
I make this offer on the supposition of its profitably being of some use to you and for
your son John’s education on setting out in life. You have placed him at
Sedbergh School. I do not know who is the master of that school, nor what is its
present character for classical education. It ought to be a good school, as I believe
it is very well endowed and in the patronage of St John’s College, Cambridge; and
its master usually one of the Fellows of St John’s where a Fellowship cannot be
obtained without a great proficiency in classical literature, as well as in mathematics
and science. Do you know whether that school has any exhibition to St John’s
or to any other college in Cambridge? If your son is clever, he would stand a good
chance for a Fellowship at Cambridge.
A parson who gets a fellowship at such colleges as St John’s or Trinity and several others has the offer of a college benefice much sooner than at Queens College, Oxford, where the best part of a man’s life has past before he has the chance of preferment. For this reason, I would not recommend a friend of mine to enter his son into such a foundation. I should like to know what Greek and Latin authors your son has read. Mathematics bears sway at Cambridge. Your son has time enough before him to accomplish himself in that branch of learning as he is not 18 years of age and few of the students I believe know much of mathematics before they are entered in the university; 19 years is considered as most expedient for entering. A young man who has his fortune to make will then have finished his education and obtained his BA degree by 23, which is as soon as he can enter into deacon’s orders.
Will you ask my sister Mary Elleray if she continues to take snuff? I do not reckon snuff taking, and much less smoking tobacco, a satisfactory practise, but it is a habit not easily left off. If she still adheres to it, I will send her (by post) which I can easily do at a very trifling cost a silver snuff box belonging to me; only I must know where in Kendal I must address the parcel so that she may be sure of receiving it.
To turn for a few moments to agriculture, a few hints but they must be very limited.
I am yours affectionately,
Correspondence between Robert Townson and Henry Hoggarth, 1869 to 1872.
Attached to the notes is the following letter to the Revd Frederick Cowper Townson, dated 5th May 1927, from Milne, Moser and Sons, who were solicitors and notaries in Kendal. (Edward Moser was one of the executors of Mary Townson’s will, as were Frederick Townson and his first cousin, Major George Harrison Townson, my grandfather)
There were boxes and trunks full of bills, receipts, correspondence, Christmas cards, calendars and all sorts of other papers other papers of no value; apparently the accumulation of years and these were gone through as possible to do in the circumstances while at Worcester. It took the executors several days, but we came across nothing of family importance.
With regard to the family portrait, we have had some little trouble about this from the
point of view of ascertaining the value for probate. After consultation with a
gentleman at Worcester who saw it, the portrait was put down in the Estate Duty Account
as being worth £500. The Estate Duty Department referred the question of
its value to their art expert, Mr J.D.Milner of the National Portrait Gallery. Had
the picture proved to be of National or Historic interest it would have been exempt from
duty unless or until sold. Mr Milner however advised the Estate Duty Department
that the picture was not and that, in his opinion, £500 was a fair value for it. The
picture is described in the will as “the portrait of my paternal great grandfather
John Wilson, painted by Romney”. Which of the Wilsons it is we cannot really
say. Romney painted a portrait of a Sir John Wilson which was a very fine portrait
and has been on loan to the Kendal Corporation for a long time. That picture belonged
to General Braithwaite, one of the Braithwaite Wilsons, and has either just been offered
for sale or is just about to be offered for sale at Christies. We are afraid we
cannot tell you any more about it.
Addressed to Revd F.C.Townson at Sea View, Woolavington.