Cumberland 

 

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 HISTORY OF THE COUNTY

What was to become Cumberland had a complicated political history before the 12th century. The first record of the term "Cumberland" appears in 945, when the Anglo Saxon Chronicle recorded that the area was ceded to Malcolm I of Scotland by King Edmund of England. At the time of the Domesday Book in 1086 most of the future county remained part of Scotland although some villages in the far south west, which were the possessions of the Earl of Northumbria, were included in the Yorkshire section with the Furness region.

In 1092 King William Rufus of England invaded the Carlisle district, settling it with colonists. He created an Earldom of Carlisle, and granted the territory to Ranulf Meschyn. In 1133 Carlisle was made the see of a new diocese, identical with the area of the earldom. However, on the death of King Henry I in 1135, the area was regained by Scotland's King David I. He was able to consolidate his power and made Carlisle one of his chief seats of government, while England descended into a lengthy civil war. In 1157 Henry II of England resumed possession of the area from Malcolm IV of Scotland, and formed two new counties from the former earldom: Westmorland and "Carliol". The silver-mining area of Alston, previously associated with the Liberty of Durham, was also added to the new county of Carliol for financial reasons By 1177 the county of Carliol was known as Cumberland. The border between England and Scotland was made permanent by the Treaty of York in 1237.

The boundaries formed in the 12th century did not change substantially over the county's existence. It bordered four English counties and two Scottish counties. These were Northumberland and County Durham to the east; Westmorland to the south, the Furness part of Lancashire to the southwest; Dumfriesshire to the north and Roxburghshire to the northeast.

During the nineteenth century a series of reforms reshaped the local government of the county, creating a system of district with directly-elected councils.

The first changes concerned the administration of the poor law, which was carried at parish level. The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 provided for the grouping of parishes into poor law unions, each with a central workhouse and an elected board of guardians. Cumberland was divided into nine unions: Alston with Garrigill, Bootle, Brampton, Carlisle, Cockermouth, Longtown, Penrith, Whitehaven and Wigton.

In the following year the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 was passed, reforming boroughs and cities in England and Wales as municipal boroughs with a uniform constitution. The corporation of the City of Carlisle was accordingly remodelled with a popularly elected council consisting of a mayor, aldermen and councillors.

Outside of municipal boroughs, there was no effective local government until the 1840s. In response to poor sanitary conditions and outbreaks of cholera, the Public Health Act 1848 and the Local Government Act 1858 allowed for the formation of local boards of health in populous areas. Local boards were responsible inter alia for water supply, drainage, sewerage, paving and cleansing. Eleven local boards were initially formed at Brampton, Cleator Moor, Cockermouth, Egremont, Holme Cultram, Keswick, Maryport, Millom, Penrith, Whitehaven, Wigton and Workington.

Further reform under the Public Health Act 1875 saw the creation of sanitary districts throughout England and Wales. The existing municipal boroughs and local boards became "urban sanitary districts", while "rural sanitary districts" were formed from the remaining areas of the poor law unions.

Three more local boards were formed: Arlecdon and Frizington in 1882, Harrington in 1891 and Aspatria in 1892. In addition Whitehaven and Workington received charters of incorporation to become municipal boroughs in 1894 and 1883 respectively.

The 1888 Act also allowed any municipal borough with a population of 50,000 or more to become a "county borough", independent of county council control. In 1914 Carlisle successfully applied for this status, ceasing to form part of the administrative county, although remaining within Cumberland for purposes such as Lieutenancy and shrievalty.

The Local Government Act 1929 imposed the duty on county councils of reviewing the districts within their administrative county so as to form more efficient units of local government. In general, this meant the merging of small or lightly populated areas into larger units. A review was carried in Cumberland in 1934.