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Westmorland ( ; formerly also spelt Westmoreland, an even older spelling is Westmerland or Westmereland) is an area of North West England and one of the 39 historic counties of England. It formed an administrative county from 1889 to 1974 and now forms part of Cumbriamarker.

Early history

At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 parts of the county were considered to either form part of Yorkshiremarker or be within the separate kingdom of Scotland, having historically been associated with the Kingdom of Strathclyde. The Normans conquered the area that is today Cumbria in 1092 during the reign of William II and created the baronies of Kendal and Westmorland which were originally distinct jurisdictions with separate sheriffs, but were formed into a single county of Westmorland in 1226/7.. Before 1226 the Barony of Kendal was connected to the Earldom or Honour of Lancaster while that of Westmorland was part of the Earldom of Carlisle.

The historic county boundaries are with Cumberlandmarker to the north, County Durham and Yorkshiremarker to the east, and Lancashiremarker to the south and west. Windermeremarker forms part of the western border with Lancashire north of the sands, and Ullswatermarker part of the border with Cumberland.

The highest point of the county is Helvellynmarker at 950m (3,117 ft). According to the 1831 census it covered an area of .

Applebymarker, the historic county town, formed a historic borough and was unreformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835; although reform came later in 1885. Kendalmarker was reformed as a municipal borough in 1835.

Division into wards

Rather than being divided into hundred, Westmorland was subdivided into two baronies of Westmorlandmarker (or sometimes Appleby) and Kendalmarker.

The baronies were further subdivided into two wards each:





Modern history

In 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888, a county council was created for Westmorland, taking functions from the Quarter Sessions. Westmorland did not contain any county boroughs throughout its history so the administrative county, or area under the control of the county council, was coterminous with the geographic county. The county council was based at Kendalmarker, instead of the historic county town of Applebymarker.

Aside from the two municipal boroughs of Kendal and Appleby, the Local Government Act 1894 divided the county into urban districts and rural districts. In 1905 a new Shapmarker urban district was formed, while Windermere absorbed the neighbouring Bowness UD.

A County Review Order in 1935 reduced the number of districts in the county:
  • A new Lakes Urban District was formed by the merger of Ambleside and Grasmere UDs and adjacent parishes in West Ward and South Westmorland RDs
  • East Westmorland RD, most of West Ward RD and Shap UD were merged to form North Westmorland Rural District
  • South Westmorland RD absorbed Kirkby Lonsdale UD, at the same time losing an area to Lakes UD.


Despite the title many of Westmorland's urban districts eg: Lakes, Grasmere, Shap were quite rural.

These divisions lasted until 1974.According to the 1971 census, Westmorland was the second least populated administrative county in England, after Rutlandmarker. The distribution of population was as follows:

District Population
Municipal Borough of Applebymarker 1,944
Municipal Borough of Kendalmarker 21,602
Lakes Urban Districtmarker 5,815
Windermere Urban Districtmarker 8,065
North Westmorland Rural Districtmarker 14,778
South Westmorland Rural Districtmarker 20,633


In 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the county council was abolished and its former area was combined with Cumberlandmarker and parts of Lancashiremarker and Yorkshiremarker to form the new county of Cumbriamarker. The former administrative county now forms part of the districts of South Lakelandmarker and Edenmarker. Since Westmorland existed before the Westmorland County Council, it is unaffected by administrative changes.

Coat of arms

Westmorland County Council was granted a coat of arms by the College of Armsmarker in 1926. The design of the shield referred to the two components of the county: on two red bars (from the arms of the de Lancaster family, Barons of Kendal) was placed a gold apple tree (from the seal of the borough of Appleby, for the Barony of Westmorland). The crest above the shield was the head of a ram of the local Herdwick breed. On the ram's forehead was a shearman's hook, a tool used in the handling of wool. The hook was part of the insignia of the borough of Kendal, the administrative centre of the county council.

Notable people

  • Thomas Strickland Esq carried the Flag of St. George at the battle of Agincourt.
  • St. John Boste Roman Catholic priest and martyr
  • The Claybourn family (with some variations in the name) originated in Westmorland and share their name with the small Westmorland village of Cliburn, which is located six miles (10 km) southeast of the town of Penrith. Some have estimated that this family which originated in Westmorland now numbers in the millions.


Legacy

Map of Westmorland, 1824
Westmorland is still used as a place name by organisations and businesses in the area such as:
  • The Westmorland Gazette (founded 1818)
  • The Westmorland County Agricultural Society (founded 1799), which organises the annual Westmorland County Agricultural Society Show
  • The Westmorland Geological Society (formed 1973)
  • The Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquanarian and Archaeological Society (founded 1866)
  • The Westmorland Youth Orchestra
  • The Westmorland Shopping Centre, Kendal
  • The Westmorland Cricket League
  • Westmorland services, better known as Tebay services, on the M6 motorway.
  • In 1974 the successor parish council formed for the former borough of Appleby adopted the name Appleby-in-Westmorland.
  • Westmorland General Hospital in Kendal
  • Westmorland croquet club


The southern part of the county, the former Barony of Kendal or that part of Westmorland that is part of South Lakelandmarker, is included in the Westmorland and Lonsdalemarker parliamentary constituency.

In June 1994, during the 1990s UK local government reform, the Local Government Commission published draft recommendations suggesting that Westmorland's border with Yorkshire and Lancashire be restored for ceremonial purposes. The final recommendations, published in October 1994, did not include such recommendations, apparently due to lack of expression of support for the proposal to the commission.

References

  1. F.A. Youngs, Guide to the Local Administrative units of England, Vol.II, Northern England, London, 1991
  2. Vision of Britain - History of East ward
  3. Vision of Britain - History of West ward
  4. Vision of Britain - History of Kendal ward
  5. Vision of Britain - History of Lonsdale ward
  6. 1971 Census; Small Area Statistics
  7. W.C. Scott-Giles, Civic Heraldry of England and Wales, 2nd edition, London, 1953
  8. Bissell, Lolita Hannah. "Cliborn-Claiborne Records" (Nashville, 1986). See also "The Descendants of James Monroe Sills, James Cliburn & Allied Pitman Family" by Isom L. Stephens (1972), wherein the author estimates that 'John of Dale Parish' had upward of a million descendants living in the United States in 1972.



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