St. Bridget's Church, Moresby
stands just to the north of Whitehaven on a clifftop overlooking the sea and on the site of a Roman Fortress. From the graveyard on a clear day there are views of the Isle of Man to the west and, further north, across the Solway Firth of the hills of Scotland. In that graveyard are three similar gravestones grouped together, the middle of which has the following inscription:
In Memory of
Born 1739, Died April 18th 1818.
Elizabeth Wildridge His Wife
Born 1737, Died December 11th 1818.
Both Buried at St. Bees
John Dalziel their Eldest Son
Born 1770, Died July 1st. 1841.
Mary Dickinson of Kidburngill.
His Wife, Died January 31st 1837.
Both Buried at St Michael's Workington.
John Dalzell their Eldest Son
Born March 1793, Died September 17th 1875.
Buried at Aspatria.
Sarah Fleming of Wright Green.
His Wife. Born 1792. Died June 17th 1820.
Buried at Lamplugh.
Thomas Dalzell Their Eldest Son.
Born February 3rd 1816. Died March 7th 1887.
Anne Towerson of Swinside.
His Wife. Born June 1818. Died April 25th 1890.
Both Buried Here.
John Dalzell Their Only Son.
Born November 27th 1847.
Died September 5th 1862.
Buried at Accrington.
To find five generations of a family listed on one stone is quite unusual and, for a genealogist, not only extremely helpful but also something of a bonanza, especially where wives are shown with their maiden name. Thomas and Elizabeth, the first generation are certainly buried in the graveyard at St Bees Priory, just to the south of Whitehaven, where they were also married. Although this memorial stone must have been carved after 1862, and the accuracy of their birth years might therefore be open to question, the information about the first generation is certainly correct, and it is also clear that this was a family proud of its heritage.1
We have already met the first couple on the stone, Thomas and Elizabeth as, if my supposition is correct, they would be Frances Dalziel's parents. Knowing of their burial at St. Bees in a visit in April 2018 we searched for the gravestone, which we believed would still be there. Frustratingly we could not find it - it turns out that all stones in the oldest part of the churchyard had been moved in 1974, and either used as paving or leaned against walls around the graveyard, apparently to tidy the place and make it more manageable.
The St Bridget's gravestones were transcribed before removal however, and whilst the accuracy of some of the transcriptions has been questioned - it was done by the pupils of St.Bees school before the stones were moved, and their original location was not mapped - there is no reason to doubt that the transcription of Thomas and Elizabeth's stone is correct. This proved almost as elusive as the gravestone itself, but fortunately the transcriptions have been filmed by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) and I have now seen the entry.2 This reads:
Thomas Dalzell died 18 April 1818 Age 79
Elizabeth Dalzell died 11th December 1818 Age 81
Accompanying the text is a sketch of the shape of the stone which showed it to be something like this:-
Knowing now what it looks like perhaps it will be findable on a future visit to St.Bees.
What do we know of Thomas and Elizabeth? I have been unable to find Thomas's birth or baptism, (although some online "family trees" also show him and say he was born in Lanarkshire in 1739, but I suspect this is only because that baptism is the only one they could find that matches his calculated birth year - which is not evidence that it was actually him). We do have Elizabeth's father's Will, which gives his name as John Wildridge and in which he left his land to his daughter, and his wife Elizabeth was buried at St. Bees in 1766, so these are her parents. The first record we have of them together (thus far) is of their marriage, by Licence, on 9th January 1768 in St.James' Church, Whitehaven. Thomas's occupation on the licence is shown as "Gardiner", and he signed his name with an ornate, well practiced signature, as he did on the Marriage Register, suggesting that he could write and thus read.
The occupation "Gardiner" is interesting. The BBC Newsreader Sophie Raworth was featured in the programme "Who Do You Think You Are" in 2017 / 2018 and she had gardener ancestors in the same period in the North East of England, although they were, at least in part, in the direct employ of landowners. The conversation she had with the "expert" on this subject went:
"Being a gardener was a very prestigious activity."
SR "It was a prestigious activity?"
Oh, absolutely. It's not just somebody pulling a few weeds, he's actually somebody who is probably the equivalent of the butler on the outside staff."
SR "Why was that?"
"Because the garden is where your wealth is shown off. And when you come through the front gates, that's the first impression that people are going to have of you and your standing in society....."
Whether Thomas worked for the local landed gentry we do not know, but we do know that his wife's father, John Wildridge, owned several parcels of land in Moor Row, and that on his death Elizabeth, Thomas's wife, inherited it.
Thomas and Elizabeth appear to have lived in Moor Row, in the parish of Egremont, for the earlier years of their marriage, moving to Stockhow Hall, Lamplugh, sometime around 1772 to 1773. Their son Anthony was the last of their children to be baptized in Egremont in 1772, where their elder children had also been baptised, whilst their next son William was baptized in Lamplugh in 1773, as also were their subsequent children (those for whom baptism records have been found). Nevertheless Moor Row must have remained important to them as Thomas had a detailed plan of his land there drawn up in 1798, and this includes a detailed plan of the house and what would appear to be a laid out garden or plant nursery. (This plan might well have been prepared because of the Inclosure legislation)
Their death notices in the local paper also show that they had returned to live at Moor Row where they both died in 1818, just a few months apart.
Both Lamplugh and Moor Row would have been bleak spots at this time, certainly in the winter. Lamplugh was a large straggling parish, then as now with no real centre. Stockhow Hall was and is closer to Ennerdale Bridge, being right at the southern end of Lamplugh parish. Although Moor Row would later become a centre for iron mining and greatly expanded in the nineteenth century (see below), in the later eighteenth century would have been merely scattered farms and farmhouses, as indeed was Lamplugh. It seems though that the Dalziel family moved readily between the two places as both Thomas and Elizabeth died at Moor Row, both in 1818, whilst their son John appears to have taken over Stockhow Hall at that time, and his children were baptized in Lamplugh.
Unfortunately no trace yet has been found of a Will, for either Thomas or for Elizabeth, unfortunate because if Wills existed they might be expected to list their living children. Thomas owned land, which suggests that the family were "respectable" and, it would seem, comparatively wealthy. They had gravestones, which would not have been the case had they been from the labouring class. It is highly unlikely that they, or at least Thomas, would not have left a will, but the most likely repositories do not have him listed.
Thomas' Estate certainly passed to at least his two older sons as the eldest, John, took over Stockhow Hall and their second son Anthony either inherited or was gifted some or all of the land in Moor Row, and in due course obtained a licence to mine there.
Mining of Iron Ore and Hemetite became a substantial industry in the west of Cumberland from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards and the Montreal mine at Moor Row was one of the larger ones, producing up to 250,000 tons of iron ore a year. The village of Moor Row grew significantly and at some point the main street was named Dalzell Street, apparently names after Thomas Henry Dalzell3, son of Anthony Dalzell (see below) and grandson of Thomas and Elizabeth Dalzell, who would not would not have recognised the place only 40 or 50 years after their deaths.
Of William and Elizabeth's children, although elder son John appears in early trade directories as a farmer at Stockhow Hall, the most information still available relates to their second son Anthony. He attended the University of Aberdeen and was ordained first as a deacon, then as a priest in 1795 and 1796 respectively before in 1804 becoming Perpetual Curate (effectively vicar) of the parish of Clifton, just to the north of Lamplugh and west of Cockermouth, a position he held until his death in 1850. He was also the proprietor of a school in nearby Workington. His name appears on various documents - he seems to have been asked to act as Executor for a number of Wills and of course married, baptised and buried the people of his parish. Details of his career are listed in the online Clergy Database 4
Little Clifton Church
Anthony's gravestone and those of his family, three stones grouped together in an enclosure in a corner of Little Clifton churchyard, together with his Will, and also the Will of his nephew John who lived and farmed at nearby Stainburn Hall, cast light on their descendents and their families, and these may be a valuable area of future exploration given that nowadays DNA matching with living people can confirm suspected common ancestors, so when time permits.....
Text on the Gravestones at Little Clifton Cumbria. (Expand to read)
The central and oldest gravestone, standing in front of the back wall of the enclosed area, behind the two later graves.
In Memory of
The Revd Anthony Dalzell, who died 20th Jany 1850 aged 78 Years
His end was peace
MARY Wife of the Rev ANTy DALZELL died the 10th of April 1837, aged 49 Years
Mary their Daughter died the 17 of March 1828 aged 16 Years.
Thomas their Son died the 24 of May 1828 aged 14 Years
On top of the front, low grave within an iron fenced and stone walled area:
In Loving Memory of
Thomas Henry Dalzell J.P.
Of Clifton Hall
Who died on the 2nd Day of Jul 1881 ?? (Or 1891?)
Aged 58 years and 10 months
Son of the Rev Anthony Dalzell
Incumbent of this church
From 1804 to 1850
And of Margaret his wife
Who died August 1st 1898
Aged 73 years
Robert Dalzell J.P.
Elder son of the above
Who died at Stilecroft
March 8th 1912
Aged 51 years'
Mary Ellen Dalzell
Eldest Daughter of Thomas
Henry & Margaret Dalzell
Who entered into rest
August 21st 1913
Aged 60 years
On the front facing face of the same grave (some of which has been impossible to transcribe from the photographs I took)
In Loving Memory of
Anthony Dalzell Surgeon of Park??? House
Second ?? son of Thomas Henry Dalzell, who died at Saint Thomas Hospital
June 8th 1894 aged ?? Year
Also of Anthony Son of the above Anthony and Flora Dalzell
Born and died August 4th 1894
What do thou knowest, not now, but thou shalt know ????
Margaret Dawson Dalzell daughter of Thomas Henry and Margaret Dalzell
Who died at Whelpside, Hensingham, June 27th 1931? aged ?9 years
On left end panel of the same front grave, below the top panel:
Annie Elizabeth Dalzell
Daughter of Thomas Henry
and Margaret Dalzell
Who died at Whelpside
March 3rd 1934, aged 77 years
On 3rd gravestone - right hand side of the enclosure:
In Loving Memory of
Wife of Robert Dalzell
Died March 16th 1953 aged 90 years
Wife of Fred Burns Spedding
And younger daughter of
Robert and Kate Dalzell
Died June 11th ? 1929 aged 31 years
Wife of John Noel Wilkinson
and elder daughter of
Robert and Kate Dalzell
died January 21st 1964 aged 70 years
Also John Noel Wilkinson
Died April 8th 1968
Buried at sea
Which brings us to the detail given on the other two gravestones at Moresby, or perhaps memorial stones would be more accurate for most of those listed on them as they are not buried there. The picture below shows the closeness of the sea, and on a clear day the Isle of man would be visible in the distance, but the full text on the stones is impossible to decipher in the photo. It can be read though by expanding the section below, from which it will be seen that several members of the family were pillars of the local, and indeed national, community. One wonders what Thomas and Elizabeth would have made of the fact that one of their descendents would become the Member of Parliament for the constituency in which they had started the Dalzell dynasty, less than a hundred years after their deaths.
The Moresby Graves. (Expand to read)
Gravestone at Moresby (on the right of the Dalzell memorial stone)
In memory of
William Burnyeat J P D L
Born Nov 9th 1849, Died June 28th 1921
Sarah Frances Dalzell
Born Sep 14th 1849, Died June 1st 1938
Thomas Dalzell, Infant son of
William and Sarah Frances Burnyeat
who died March 12th 1876
William John Dalzell Burnyeat
M A, J P of Moresby House
their eldest son
M.P for Whitehaven 1906 – 1910
Born March 13th 1874
Died May 7th 1916 aged 42 Years
Hugh Ponsonby Burnyeat
their fourth son
Lieut Col 65th Brigade Royal Field
Artillery Born May 5th 1881
Killed in action in France
in the Great War Oct 30th 1918
aged 37 years
Buried at Bousies, Le Cateau
Miles Fleming Burnyeat, their third son
of New Millgrove, British Columbia
and of Moresby House, Whitehaven
Born April 11th 1879, Died Feb 20th 1935
3rd Gravestone (on the left of the Dalzell memorial stone)
In loving memory of
George Desborough Ward
Commander Royal Navy
Beloved husband of
Isabel Mary Burnyeat
And youngest son of
William Curtis and Lydia Ward
of Harbourne, High Holden, Kent
Born Dec 15th 1876. Died Sept 5th 1913
Isabel Mary his beloved wife
Born July 7th 1877
Died February 6th 1956
F Hugh Desborough Ward
Only son of the above
Born June ?? 1902
Died December 25th ? 1936
(The birth of Isabel Mary Burnyeat was registered in the Whitehaven district in the September Quarter 1877)