THE TOWNSONS OF LYTH

 

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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.) 
To all to whom these presents shall come  Ellen Bland late of Stainton in the parish of Heversham in the county of Westmorland but now of Low Mill near Egremont in the county of Cumberland widow and relict of  James Bland late of Low Mill aforesaid engineer deceased and Isaac Mossop of Low Mill aforesaid husbandman and Elizabeth his wife formerly Elizabeth Townson spinster and late Elizabeth Newton send greeting  Whereas by Indenture of four parts duly executed bearing date the 12th day of June 1790 and made or mentioned to be made between Thomas Townson of Lyth in the parish of Heversham in the county of Westmorland yeoman since deceased of the first part  Robert Turner of Lyth aforesaid yeoman and Agnes his wife of the second part  The said James Bland then of Stainton in the parish and county aforesaid and his wife Ellen of the third part  And the said Elizabeth Mossop by her then name of Elizabeth Townson of Lyth aforesaid spinster of the fourth part  After reciting therein that Leonard Townson late of Lyth aforesaid yeoman deceased father of the said Thomas Townson Agnes Turner Ellen Bland and Elizabeth Townson lately died intestate seized and possessed of the messuages tenements and lands hereinafter mentioned situate lying and being in Lyth aforesaid and also seized and possessed of the messuages tenements and lands at Crosthwaite Green in the parish and county aforesaid  leaving Mary Townson his widow and also leaving the said Thomas Townson his eldest son heir at law and customary heir  the said Agnes Turner Ellen Bland Elizabeth Townson and also William Townson and Mary Townson spinster the younger children all unprovided for  And reciting that the said Thomas Townson well knowing the desire mind and intention of his late said father to provide for his younger children by giving to each of his said daughters or their husbands the portions or sums of £100 payable on the death of the said mother Mary Townson widow the portions of the said Agnes Turner Ellen Bland and Elizabeth Townson to be paid out of the said Leonard Townson’s messuages tenements and lands in Lyth aforesaid thereinafter mentioned which he intended would descend to the said Thomas Townson he the said Thomas Townson was minded and desirous to carry such his late father’s intention into execution and to secure the said three several portions or sums of money of £100 each to the said Robert Turner and Agnes his wife James Bland and Ellen his wife and Elizabeth Townson in manner hereinafter mentioned  And further reciting that the said Leonard Townson in his lifetime lent and advanced to the said James Bland the sum of £50 at interest on his promissory note which sum of £50 it has been agreed should be retained by the said James Bland in part discharge and satisfaction of his wife’s portion or sum of £100 he continuing to pay interest on the sum to the said Thomas Townson during the life of Mary Townson widow  It is there witnessed that for the considerations therein mentioned he the said Thomas Townson did demise grant bargain and sell unto the said Robert Turner and Agnes his wife James Bland and Ellen his wife and Elizabeth Townson their executors administrators and assigns all those his freehold lands closes enclosures and parcels of land or ground situate lying or being at or near Low in Lyth aforesaid to hold the same unto the said Robert Turner and Agnes his wife James Bland and Ellen his wife and Elizabeth Townson their executors administrators and assigns from the day next before the day of the date of the now reciting indenture for the term of 99 years then next ensuing and fully to be completed and ended without impeachment of waste subject as herein mentioned  And it is further witnessed that for the considerations aforesaid he the said Thomas Townson did grant bargain sell and confirm unto the said Robert Turner and Agnes his wife James Bland and Ellen his wife and Elizabeth Townson their heirs and assigns all that customary messuage and tenement situate lying and being at or called by the name of Low in Lyth aforesaid with all the lands grounds closes enclosures and parcels of land or ground hereditaments and appurtenances thereunto belonging or therewith held occupied and enjoyed parcel of the lands called the Richmond Fee  To hold the same unto and for the use of the said Robert Turner and Agnes his wife James Bland and Ellen his wife and Elizabeth Townson their heirs and assigns for ever according to custom  In which said indenture is contained a provision for redemption of the said premises on payment by the said Thomas Townson his heirs executors and administrators unto the said Robert Turner and Agnes his wife James Bland and Ellen his wife and Elizabeth Townson or the survivors of them to James Bland and Ellen his wife the sum of £50 to Robert Turner and Agnes his wife the sum of £100 and to Elizabeth Townson the sum of £100 at the end of twelve calendar months next after the decease of Mary Townson widow with interest at the rate therein mentioned as by the said four part recited indenture terms may more fully appear  And whereas the said Thomas Townson did in and by his last will and testament in writing duly executed bearing date on or about the 5th day of April 1793 confirm the said recited indenture and did nominate and appoint Robert Dickinson since deceased and the said Robert Turner joint executors of his said will now remaining in the Consistory Court of the Archdeaconry of Richmond  And whereas the said testator Thomas Townson soon after making his said will died without revoking or altering the same and whereas the said Mary Townson the widow and relict of the said Leonard Townson departed this life some time ago and the said several portions secured by the said recited indenture are become due and payable  And whereas the said James Bland also lately departed leaving the said Ellen his widow and relict surviving him  And whereas the said Elizabeth Townson lately intermarried with and is now the wife of the said Isaac Mossop  And whereas the said Ellen Bland and Isaac Mossop and Elizabeth his wife have applied to and requested the said Robert Turner as the surviving executor named in the said will of the said Thomas Townson deceased to pay unto them the said portions or sums of money due and payable to them respectively under and by virtue of the said recited indenture which he has agreed to do on having such release discharge as hereinafter made or mentioned to be made  Now know ye that the said Ellen Bland doth hereby own and acknowledge to have had this day and received from the said Robert Turner the sum of £50 of lawful money of Great Britain and the said Isaac Mossop and Elizabeth his wife do and each acknowledge that they have this day had and received from the said Robert Turner the sum of £100 of like lawful money in full satisfaction of the portions or sums of money secured to them respectively in and by the said recited indenture and will and of all principal money and interest due to them respectively under and by virtue of the said recited indenture and will  In consideration whereof the said Ellen Bland and Isaac Mossop and Elizabeth his wife have and each and every one of them doth release for ever quit claim unto the said Robert Turner his heirs executors administrators and assigns  All and all manner of action and actions suits bills covenants etc whatsoever both at law and in equity which they the said Ellen Bland and Isaac Mossop and Elizabeth his wife their heirs and assigns have or might have on account of the said recited indenture and will whatsoever from the beginning of the world to the day of the date of these presents  In witness whereof the said Ellen Bland Isaac Mossop and Elizabeth his wife have hereunto set their hand and seal the 17th day of March 1803.  Ellen Bland, Elizabeth Mossop, Isaac Mossop.      

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)

Dear Nephew
I was not a little surprised at the amount received for the coppice wood, so much exceeding all former amounts.  I can only assume the increase in price beyond all former amounts by supposing that a portion of the plantation, once a field and subsequently planted for coppice, must have been added to the portion of old coppice; as I apprehend  there has been no increase in the price of poles now in the woods.  The balance of £6-9-5½ stated as due to me, you will do me the favour to accept for your own use as some small compensation for the trouble and attention in managing my concerns at Arlesbeck.

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.  
 
The expenses of a university education are not trifling, but if a young man is diligent – I mean disposed to labour hard and be at the same time a good scholar – they may be much alleviated by having private pupils whom the college authorities are always ready to recommend to any industrious and competent scholar.  At Oxford the allowance for a private pupil is £50 a year and that for one hours employment during the term; the terms being only 26 weeks in the year.  At Cambridge I have no doubt it is much the same, so that a young man who has two pupils is in receipt of £100 a year and that sum ought to go a long way towards his maintenance in the university; when his residence for a BA degree is less than four years and half of that time he may be at home or where he pleases.

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.

  1.  Keep your heap of peat ashes under cover – sow them in yards as you do seed corn out of a hopper over the meadow you intend to mow – they are an excellent top dressing.
  2. The meadow below your orchard (J.Wilson’s I mean) in the year 1829 was miserably spoilt by flooding.  An embankment of a foot or eighteen inches high in certain places would I fancy clear it of floods and, when laid dry, the rough grasses would soon disappear and fine herbage result.
  3. Get that useful implement of husbandry, a roller.  There is many an old pollard oak in your neighbourhood that would make a capital roller.  I have seen rollers made of thick and narrow strips of oak board with an iron girder at each end nailed upon the circular pieces.  The larger the circumference supporting the weight, the same will be the draught.
  4. Upon your arable land which you mean to have in grass the next year, sow clover or rye grass.  Red clover will last two years, white clover is permanent.  I am at a loss to know how grass crops can be had after the plough without artificial grasses.
  5. Your land in Lyth is of such good quality for producing hay and pasturage that I should not think of breaking up any upland meadow unless it were very grown with moss which I believe is eradicated by lime.  But you would make your hay crop and pasture more profitable by having sheep – I mean ewes in lamb purchased about the end of October and sold off when fattened with their lambs (double couples they call them in Hampshire) from the month of May to August.  This the plan adopted in the south where they have nothing but enclosed fields and no means of keeping a permanent flock and it is clearly very profitable.  However it cannot be practical where turnip husbandry is not introduced as, without the Swedish turnip, there would be no means of maintaining or fattening the sheep in winter or spring before grass affords them pasture.

I am yours affectionately,
               R.Dickinson

Correspondence between Robert Townson and Henry Hoggarth, 1869 to 1872.   
These are copies of, and extracts from, letters concerning the executorship of Robert Dickinson’s estate which could not be wound up until the death of his second wife, which occurred some 25 years after his own.  By this time Robert Townson was over 80 and disinclined to deal with the inevitable complications arising from the trust.  I already have some copies of the correspondence which show that the relationship between the two executors could be somewhat acrimonious.  There were also difficulties in keeping in touch with the potential beneficiaries.

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)

Dear Sir,
We are obliged for your letter of the 3rd instant and have also received by registered post the bundle of papers from you today.  These were the only papers of any family interest that we came across.

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.
                                                            Yours faithfully

Addressed to Revd F.C.Townson at Sea View, Woolavington.