This is the most extensive parish in the district of Furness, having a length of ten miles from Marsh Grange on the north to Rampside on the south, and a breadth of four miles from Roanhead on the west to the verge of Dalton on the east. Formerly it was of immense extent, and stretched, with the intermission of two or three small parishes, from the northern limits of the county to the southern point of Walney Island, and embraced within its jurisdiction all the islands on the south and west of the peninsula. Though several times dismembered, the parish is still of considerable extent. By the constitution of Barrow into a separate parish, the area of Dalton has been reduced from 16,364 acres to 8,430 acres. Its gross annual rental is £136,983, and its rateable value £130,723. For parochial purposes Dalton is divided into three ecclesiastical districts - (1) St. Mary's, Dalton, population 8,897 ; (2) Ireleth-cum-Askam, population 3,297 ; (3) Lindal-cum-Marton (St. Peter's), population 1,146. These form the civil parish and Local Board district, of which the total population is 13,340.*
This parish was until recently within the Rural Deanery of Aldingham, of which the vicar of Dalton was rural dean, but by a change which came into force this year (1882) it is now named the Rural Deanery of Dalton. The only rivulet in the parish is a stream which rises in the high ground near Kirkby Ireleth and Pennington, and flows past the village of Dalton, where it is called Butt's Beck. It then passes close by the ruins of Furness Abbey, where in the olden time it was the motive power of the mill in which the brotherhood ground their corn, and discharges itself into the sea below Roose. In the lower part of its course it takes the name of Abbey Beck and Roose Beck.
Lying wholly within the district of Plain or Low Furness, the surface of the parish is rather of an undulating than of an Alpine character ; and the eminences that occur are of gentle ascent, and capable of cultivation to the summit. Mr. Close, the painstaking editor of West's Antiquities, represents the tract of country around the Abbey as unparalleled for the fertility of its soil and the extent of its cultivation.
The abundance of iron ore within the parish, and the sinking of numerous mines, have led to a verv large increase not only in the population, but also in the material wealth of the district. These mines afford employment to a very large proportion of the people, who are generally thrifty and industrious, and by means of Building Societies many of the miners have become possessed of the houses in which they live. " The iron miner is a strange looking being as he emerges from his gloomy subterraneous operations, his clothes red with the oxide of iron, and his face as resplendent as the greasy visage of a copper coloured Indian ; when washed and dressed it would be difficult to recognise him."
A large portion of the haematite ore used in the furnaces of the district, or transported to other localities, is obtained from mines within the parish of Dalton. The Rev. Mr. West, the historian of the Abbey, described Whitrigg, from the abundance of its ferriferous deposit, the Peru of Furness. At that time 140 tons were regarded as an enormous output from one shaft in 24 hours ; but much more productive mines are now in operation.
The Manor of Dalton comprises the township only, the rest of the parish being within the limits of the manors of Plain Furness and Bolton-with-Adgarley, The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry lord of the Liberty of Furness is also lord of the Manor of Dalton, for whom a Court Baron or Bierlaw is held twice a year, in May and October. In this manor customary tenants pay 3s. 4d. fine on death or alienation. for every whole burgage, and 1s. 8d. for every half burgage. " The lands in the Manor of Plain Furness cannot be divided by the tenant, but in the other manors the tenants can deal with the lands as they like, and they are now devisable by will." Freeholders pay nothing upon descent, but customary tenants, upon death or alienation, pay a fine of two years rent, and all admissions of tenants are to be done in the open court of the manor. Should any tenant suffer his copyhold or tenement to fall into ruin or decay for two years, he shall forfeit his holdings ; nor are the tenants to dispose of their tenements separately, otherwise the contract is void ; but the lord has power by a recent Act of Parliament to alienate the tenement in parcels. The tenants are to keep in repair the walls and banks of the island of Walney, and other parts and places of the manor, at their own expense ; and should any part of the manor be wasted by the sea, they are bound to pay the same annual rent as if nothing of the kind had taken place. For the purpose of this reparation and maintenance, the tenants are to be supplied with as much timber and peat as they require, out of the woods of the manor."
THE TOWN of DALTON is pleasantly situated on a gentle acclivity about 4 1/2 miles to the north of Barrow, and 1 1/2 miles from the venerable ruins of Furness Abbey. The name Dalton which signifies the ' town in the dale' was no doubt conferred upon it in consequence of its situation. The town consists of one principal street, and several others of secondary importance. The west end of the main thoroughfare forms a wide open space where the market was formerly held, but the butchers' shambles and the hucksters' stalls are now relegated to Tudor Square at the opposite end of the town. Dalton can boast a very respectable antiquity, and in Saxon times as recorded in Domes-day Book, was one of the twenty-six vills or townships forming the Manor of Hougun, held by Earl Tostig, brother of Harold II. Dr. Whitaker thinks Kirkby Ireleth of superior antiquity to Dalton, but the former is not recorded in the Liber Regis of William I., nor even mentioned in the valuation of benefices made by order of Pope Nicholas IV. in 1291.
After the erection of Furness Abbey in 1127, Dalton became a town of considerable importance and the capital of Furness. A royal grant was obtained by the abbot to hold a fair of three days' duration, on the eve, the day, and the morrow of the Feast of St. Edward the Confessor. A market was also established by the same royal grant (Henry III., 1289). but after the dissolution of the monastery, it began to decline and soon became nearly obsolete. The great increase in population in recent years has led to its revival, and it is now held every Saturday.
During the reigns of the early Edwards (1272-1377) the northern counties were continually subject to the predatory incursions of the Scottish freebooters. The exposed situation of Furness rendered it peculiarly open to these inroads, and to protect the monastery and the inhabitants, the castle of Dalton was erected by one of the abbots, out of the ruins of a still more ancient and extensive one as thought by some writers. The Rev. Mr. West imagined he had found sufficient evidence to warrant the belief that a Castellum was erected at Dalton by the Romans ; and this opinion seems strengthened by the discovery of Roman coins at Elliscales.
Of the castle nothing now remains but the square tower. The ground plan of this building is a rectangle, the east and west sides measuring each 45 feet, and the other two 30 feet ; and the walls at the foundation are between live and six feet thick. A spiral staircase leads to the room where, in the olden time, the abbot by his deputy sat in judgment on crimes committed within the Liberty of Furness ; and certain manorial business is still transacted within its walls. A Court Baron or Bierlaw is held here twice a year for the Manors of Dalton and Plain Fnrness. At the latter court the follow. ing appointments are annually made :-Two pane-lookers, two constables, two inspectors of weights and measures, a bellman, and two ale-tasters, whose duty it is to test the quality of the beverage of that name supplied by the various hostelries within the manor. In the olden time they had also to fix the price at which it should be sold. The tower does not bear evidence of greater antiquity than the reign of Edward III. When not required as a protection against the marauding Scots it was " used as a pryson and common gaole for the hole lordship and domynyon of Furness." After the dissolution of the Abbey it fell rapidly to decay, and an order was made by the Duchy in 1544 for its reparation with stone, timber, and lead taken from the dismantled Abbey. It again underwent thorough repair in 1856, and is now used for the manorial courts and an armoury for the volunteers, as well as the head-quarters of the Dalton Freemasons, Baldwin Lodge.
The proximity of the town to the Abbey, and its connection with the monastery as the seat of the civil courts of the Liberty of Furness, placed Dalton first in the rank of importance among the towns of the peninsula. After the dispersion of the monks in 1535, the prosperity of Dalton began to wane, and Ulverston, probably from the greater facilities for trade and commerce afforded by its position, took precedence, and became the capital of Furness.
Stone is abundant in the neighbourhood, and is employed, to the almost entire exclusion of bricks, in the outer frame-work of the buildings. In the open space formed by the expansion of the west end of the principal street stands a plain cross of limestone, surmounting an octagonal pedestal of the same material, erected by the Duke of Buccleuch about fifteen years ago. Market Street, with its rough-coated houses, is a winding thoroughfare; its want of uniformity betokens its antiquity, but many of the buildings have been re-fronted, and now wear a modern aspect. Numerous smaller streets have recently been erected to accommodate the increased population, but they consist chiefly of cottage property.
The Church Schools are large and convenient buildings, commonly known as the Green Schools, and are capable of accommodating 1,200 children. In 1622 Thomas Bolton, a citizen of London, left £200 as an endowment, and £20 towards the erection of a school at Dalton, which, by the terms of his will, was to be free to all children born or living in the town of Dalton ; all others to pay an entrance fee of one shilling. A farm was purchased at Biggar, in the Isle of Walney, with the £200, which now lets for £80. The school was placed by the founder under the management of the 24 " sidesmen." In 1834 it was remodelled ; and in 1862 and 1869 the present commodious buildings were erected on the site of the old Free School. There are three departments-Boys', Girls', and Infants'-which are taught respectively by Mr. W. Bayliff, Miss M. A. Evans, and Miss M. A. Heyes. About 800 children attend the schools. The buildings are also used for the purpose of a Sunday School, which is attended by a very large number of children.
The Board Schools form not only a substantial, but even a handsome, block of buildings. The white limestone of the neighbourhood has been used in their construction, which gives them a light and elegant appearance. Spacious playgrounds are attached to the schools, and residences are provided for the teachers. About 1,000 children are entered on the books. The schools consist of three departments- Boys', Girls', and Infants' - which are under the care of Mr. E. Myers, Miss Smith, and Miss Blake respectively.
The Cemetery. Barrow, though now a separate parish, was for some years dependent upon the mother-church of Dalton, and all its dead were carried thither for interment. The limited extent of the burial-ground attached to the church, and the increasing number of interments, soon rendered necessary another and more commodious cemetery. Accordingly a Burial Board was formed ; the site fixed upon was the high ground rising from the Abbey Road and overlooking the lower portion of the village, which is well adapted for the purpose. Devious walks wind through the grounds, lined by rows of weeping willow, ash, laburnum, &c., whilst the funereal yew lends variety to the landscape by the sombre tints of its foliage ; and amongst the monumental headstones may be noted the absence of those foolish inscriptions and poetic effusions which disgrace the grave-yards of too many of our parish churches. There are two mortuary chapels, one appropriated to the Church of England and the other to the Dissenters. The Cemetery was opened in 1862, further enlarged in 1873, and now covers an area of ten acres.
The town is supplied with water from the mains of the Barrow Corporation. The Gasworks are situated in Abbey Road, and contain three purifiers and other appliances for the manufacture of gas. The works were enlarged last year (1881), when a new scrubber, with a self-acting distributer arrangement, was added. The Company can now meet all demands made upon them by the outlying districts. The annual consumption o£ gas is about 4,000,000 feet. The works are under the management of Mr. Jones.
Richard Gaitskill, in 1626 and again in 1632, devised the profits of certain lands to maintain three poor people, apprentice children, and to further poor maids in marriage. This and another estate adjacent let for £251 ; and the rent applicable to this charity may be taken at £125 10s. ; but so gross has been the misapplication of the funds, that, as far back as can be remembered, there has been only a distribution of small sums, on St. Thomas's Day, annually, of £26. In 1632 the testator devised by will the west end of his little house at Bowbridge, in Dalton, containing five rooms, and a moiety of the garden adjoining, to be equally divided, together with a moss-room in Ulverston Moss, for the habitation of three poor people. The house and garden devised by the testator was afterwards called the Bowbridge Hospital. It appears long before 1804 to have fallen into complete ruin, and in that year was sold to Robert Biggin, a poor man, for £2 2s.
Sir Thomas Preston's Charity.-Sir T. Preston bequeathed iron ore and other things to the value of £650 for the benefit of the poor of this parish. A messuage in Billincote was purchased with the money, and conveyed to Josias Heard, sen., and others, in trust for the poor, who had, till shortly before the visit of the Charity Commissioners in 1821, received the profits. The estate descended upon Josias Heard (probably son), who refused to permit the parish officers to receive the rent, or to give up possession. No answer being put in to an information filed against him in Chancery by the AttorneyGeneral of the Duchy, and the above facts being taken pro confesso, a decree was made against the defendant, who was ordered to deliver up the moneys and securities in his hands. The parish workhouse is built upon this part of the Billincote estate, which appears to have been purchased with Sir Thomas's charity, and it is now let with the land left by Gaitskill for £251.
John Preston's Charity, 1625.-For the maintenance of 20 poor people of Dalton, Aldingham, and Urswick, 100 marks ; but since 1810 the parishes of Dalton and Aldingham have rated the estate instead of receiving their respective shares. Gabriel bell in 1638 left 10s. yearly for the poor ; and Sugdener left 4s. for the same purpose, but the date of this last bequest could not be found. About the year 1760 Matson left 10s. to be given in bread to such of the poor as should resort to the church to receive the Sacrament, and 10s. to be paid to the vicar for preaching a sermon on Whit-Monday. W'illiam Atkinson, Esq., of Dalton, in 1821, left the sum of £50, clear of duty, one-half the interest to be given to the vicar for preaching a sermon on Easter Monday, the other half to be distributed in bread amongst poor householders. who shall attend service at Dalton Church on Easter Monday. This money is now invested in the Ulverston Savings Bank.
Dalton Free School.-Thomas Boulton left by will, dated 1622, to the twenty-four or sidesmen of the parish, £220, of which he directs £200 to be expended in the purchase of land, and £20 towards the charges of building the school. With the £200 a farm of about 24 acres of enclosed land, with right of common, was purchased at Biggar, in the Isle of Walney. The rent of the farm is given to the master and his assistant.
The charities of Dalton are now well administered by twelve trustees, of whom the Vicar is one, By a decree, dated July 30, 1825, the following mode of distribution was adopted :-" The rents of two fourth parts thereof, being the share applicable to the use of Sir Thomas Preston's Charity, shall be paid and applied during each Year for mid towards the relief of the most deserving poor in the parish of Dalton, but in no case shall relief be given to an inhabitant who shall have received parish relief during the last twelve months ; and that another part, being a moiety of share applicable to uses of Richard Gaitskill's Charity, to be applied for relief and maintenance of three poor people of Dalton, not having for three years at least received parish relief, such three to be chosen by said trustees at first general meeting, and when a vacancy occurs to be filled up at next meeting ; the remaining fourth part of such rents and profits applicable to the uses of the said Richard Gaitskill's Charity shall be paid for placing out poor apprentices and the preferment of poor maids in marriage ; such being children and maids of Dalton, preference being given to such as have not received parish relief."
Among the ancient customs of Dalton was one which is now happily more honoured in the breach than the observance. During the harvest time a hirings was held in the town on the Sundays, for the purpose of engaging reapers. This custom, as we may readily suppose, was productive of drunkenness and debauchery ; but, through the exertions of W. Butler, Esq., Coroner for the Liberty of Furness, the custom was abolished some years ago. " An annual festival was also formerly held here, which existed as early as 1703, called the Dalton Hunt, followed at night by a ball called the Dalton Rout, described in the Tatler. To the regret of the beaux and belles of the neighbourhood the Rout was discontinued in 1789, and has never since been revived."
A most singular mode of conducting funerals formerly prevailed in this district. A full meal of bread and cheese and ale was provided at the funeral house, and after the corpse was interred, the parish clerk proclaimed at the grave-side the name of the appointed public-house to which the company were to repair. Arrived there, they sat down by fours together, and each four was served with two quarts of ale. One-half of this was paid for by the conductor of the funeral, and the other half by the company. While they were drinking the ale, the waiter served each guest with a cake, which be was expected to carry home. This custom, called an Arval, is of Danish origin, and has descended to us from the Norsemen who once occupied Furness. The word is derived from the Danish word Arvol, signifying inheritance ale, and was expressive of a solemn banquet given by kings and nobles in honour of deceased relations. This custom is now never observed, except in the case of some aged person who may have left special instructions for an °` Arval."
Newton, a village in the Yarlside division, is now included in the ecclesiastical district of St. Mary's, Dalton. An iron chapel belonging to the Wesleyans, with accommodation for 200, was erected here in 1877. A minister is supplied from Dalton. There is also an excellent school, under the management of the Dalton School Board.
Manors of Plain Furness with Dalton, Steward, T. Woodburne ; Deputy Steward, J. Walker ; Bailiff, W. Holmes.
School Board, Rev. J. M. Morgan (chairman) ; Mr. R. Blake (vicechairman) ; clerk, Thomas Butler, solicitor ; treasurer, J. Gelderd, Lancaster Bank ; school attendance officer, R. Chynoweth.
Local Board meets on the first Monday in each month. Chairman, Mr. James Robinson ; clerk, J. Tyson ; treasurer, J. Gelderd ; medical officer, S. Johnson, M.B. ; engineer and surveyor, W. Wilson ; nuisance inspector, Thomas Procter ; collector, F. H. Clark.
Overseers, E. B. Mitchell, W. Dalzell, Jos. Walker, and R. Ormandy. Assistant overseer, F. H. Clark
Inland Revenue Office, Wellington Hotel, collector, Mr. Downs, Station road. Income Tax Collectors Thomas Wilson and F. H. Clark.
Parish Cemetery, Reuben Pearson, clerk to the Board, The Gill, Ulverston. Thomas Cooper, registrar.
Registrar of Marriages, F. H. Clark, Market square; deputy, R. Blake, Market street. Registrar of Births and Deaths, James Dickinson, Market street.
Relieving Olfcer, James Dickinson, Market street.
Billincoat Charity, Thomas Butler, secretary.
Post, Money Order, Telegraph, and Stamp Office, and Savings hank, at Mr. C. Godbv's, 73 Market street. Letters are delivered twice daily, morning and afternoon. Deliveries at 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. Despatches, 11-20 a.m. and 8-40 p.m.
-- from Mannex's Furness & Cartmel directory, 1882 --