Parkinson's Diaries

In Defence of Keeping a Diary

For time unnoted is time lost, and
Time recorded gain;
To trace years backward, day by day,
Is to live life again.


From the first page of Canon Parkinson’s Diary for 1831


Canon Richard Parkinson

Highlights from his diary were serialised in the parish magazine during the 1920’s by Rev’d A Ainley, Vicar of St. Bees, who also added some interesting comments to help with interpretation. These magazines have recently come to light and the text has been transcribed faithfully by Bob Jopling of St. Bees. His further comments are in dark red italics and marked (RJ). It is not known where the diary is today, but it would probably make very interesting reading in full.


Parish Magazine for September 1926

St Bees in 1831.

Through the kindness of Mr. P.H. Fox, I am permitted to insert a few extracts from the diary of the Rev. Richard Parkinson, D.D., F.S.A., of St. John’s College, Cambridge, and Lecturer at the Theological College here in 1826; Principal and Vicar of St. Bees 1846; Seatonian Prizeman and Hulsean Lecturer in the University of Cambridge, and Canon of Manchester. He was of Sedbergh School.

The volume I have before me begins with January 1st. 1831, when he had been in St. Bees some five years.

It would appear that once 10/6d. was awarded to the preacher of a sermon on New Year’s Day – that is the first thing recorded.

Winters were fine and frosty then.

The Vicar and Principal of the College in those days was the Rev. William Ainger, D.D., Canon of Chester; he is often mentioned, of course.

A journey made several times gives hours as follows:- Leave Kendal at 8 a.m.; dine at Keswick at 1 p.m., arrive Whitehaven at 7 p.m.

The period was that of the Reform Bill and there is mention of this and the agitations which attended its discussion and passage. Once he thought of a sermon about it, “but” he says, “I doubt whether such a discourse would edify this congregation, retired and peaceable as it is”.

February 1st. 1831 – “Went to College at 10 to give a lecture, but found it full of smoke.” That’s the Old College Hall, and it had been a snowy day.

Mr. Parkinson shows great interest in the novels of Sir Walter Scott, who died in 1832..

Parish Magazine for October 1926

THE DIARY 1831 (2nd. Instalment)

Mr. Parkinson lectured on Grotius, Tomline, The Acts and the Gospels, and took Themes.

When you wanted to go to Whitehaven, you wrote for a tub, unless you walked or drove in a carriage or gig, or went on horseback.

He published sermons and a poem, “The Ascent of Elijah.” A gathering was made for a farmer who had “lost four horses lately” – it amounted to £12 13s 0d. He records from time to time the size of the congregation at Church –“pretty full church,” “thinnish,” “good” &c.

February 22nd. 1831 “Called on W. to persuade them to send their grandson, who is in Typhus fever, to the Infirmary, but could not succeed”.

In his capacity as Curate he “scolded” people for having a drunken party and for carrying corn on Sunday. He once preached a sermon about that. N.B. – It was “in such fine weather as this” – and he says “It was listened to but not acted on”.

March 11th. 1831. “A wet morning and the waters very much out, but a fine evening and the Aurora Borealis brilliant.”

He married Miss Catherine Hartley, of Gillfoot, and he bought the house which he calls “Mr. Wilkinson’s house” – because Mr. Wilkinson lived in it. This house is now called Kandalah. Mr. Parkinson, or rather Mrs. Parkinson, called it ‘St. Bees Lodge’, and by this name it was known. For a time they lived at Linethwaite – there seem to have been housing difficulties even ninety-five years ago.

March 27th. 1831 – I suppose this is Palm Sunday – “In the afternoon the children (90 in number) were examined in their Catechism.”

Board and lodging cost 30/- per month.

March 29th. 1831. “Helped the Dr. stake out his well and walk. He has nine masons at work today.

April 1st. 1831. “A fine day and Good Friday. 101 Communicants, and the collection was £2 3s 8d”

April 3rd 1831. “Went down to the Church to assist at the Sacrament at 8 o’clock (this is an old custom here). We had 83 Communicants and the collection was £1. 1s 3d. Breakfasted with the Dr. The Dr. read morning prayers and I

preached. Sacrament again, 48 Communicants and collection 12s 3d. So that this Easter we have had 238 Communicants in all. Dr. preached in the afternoon (there is always a sermon in the afternoon on this day). Walked by Rottington to the shore in the evening.


This will give some idea of the usages and services.

Of one Mr. Bourke, who died at Rottington, and was a member of “our Institution,” he writes “he had great taste in architecture – he built a very beautiful model of a Cathedral with paper – he designed the gallery in our Church – he also rebuilt the Parish Church at Arlecdon, where he has directed his remains to be deposited.”

April 9th. 1831 ” … returned at 4 to take a funeral. The Clerk lay dead drunk in the Churchyard as the body passed him! and on the 10th. the Clerk did not venture to appear at Church.”

“She has hired her own maid for 11 guineas,” and “a housemaid for 6 guineas finding her own tea and sugar”.

May 2nd. 1831. Dr. Ainger was away voting in the election of the Reform Bill Parliament, so – “A Vestry meeting at 3, at which I presided. Mr. Bosward attended with an estimate for a stove for the Church (£69), partly agreed to.” I do not know how that is done in such a matter.

The Dr. is represented as having a pleasant trip to London, Cambridge &c. He had some of his usual adventures, such as going to Manchester from Liverpool without his luggage and returning for it, (which he did, including dinner, in 3 hours). Some great St. Beghians do these things.

May 19th. 1831 – “Rode to Whitehaven to attend Lord Lowther’s dinner to the freeholders. About 800 present – the whole arrangements excellent, and everything went off well but the speeches”. On the 20th. Whitehaven all yellow, because Lord Lowther gives a dinner to his colliers.

Parish magazine for November 1926

THE DIARY 1931 (3rd Instalment)

There seems to have been 31 men, or rather more, in the “Institution”.

The School is mentioned in this volume just once, and that only because a “School Meeting” – Governors’ Meeting, I suppose – caused an influx of visitors.

July 10th. 1831 – “Rode up to Preston” – this was in the vacation when he was in Lancashire – “and off at half past eleven for Liverpool. Arrived at three and took a car for Highfield, Mr. Littledale’s, a beautiful place which I reached at 4. Found Miss Hartley there and Mrs. Wordsworth. James Wybergh came to dinner at half-past 5. After dinner went to look at the railroad.”

A coach that ran from Liverpool to Preston was called the “Fair Trader”.

June 26th. 1831. “Sacrament Sunday. Only 29 Communicants. Collection 13s.

You “looked in at Martindale’s and Lyons’ ware-rooms – Robinson’s was the bookseller – and ordered a stair-carpet at Backhouse’s, and bought gloves at Proddow’s” when you were at Whitehaven.

July 1st. 1831 “Drove the Dr. over to Whitehaven to the Visitation. The service began at eleven. Mr. Huddlestone read prayers and Mr. Wordsworth read prayers and Mr. Wordsworth preached. His text was of “prophets that peep and that mutter” and was in full allusion to the times. … Called on Andrew Huddleston (sic) for a licence, for which I paid 2 guineas” – he was married on July 18th. at Egremont, where Mr. Scott was Rector.

July 6th. 1831. “A very fine morning. Up at half-past 7 and off on horseback at half-past 8 to join a party for ascending Scawfell, the highest ground in England, and overtook them just on this side the Lake. Major Lutwidge, Mr. Wake, Miss S. Senhouse, Miss Smith and Tom and Miss Hartley. Left our horses at a farm at the foot of the hill and began to ascend at a quarter past 12. Miss Hartley rode up and missed her way, having got up Scawfell instead of the Pikes which it was our object to ascend and which is the higher of the two.Reached the top in 3 and a half hours, having lingered for Miss H. It was a little hazy, but the view of mountains all tumbling in confusion was indescribably grand. Ascended on the North and descended to the West through Mickledore, a rough descent. Reached the house at the bottom about half past 6. Found that a basket of provisions which we had laid in a hedge had been stolen. It was “clipping day at the house and all Wasdale Head, including Mr. Kitchen, the clergyman, was gathered together. I charged them with going in a body to steal our basket and said that the very next Vestry meeting I should bring in a bill for it against the Township! Home at 10 after a ride of 20 miles.

Lest there should be any mistake, I think Mr. Parkinson was being humourous (sic) about Wasdale Head.

You sometimes drove to Fleswick.

July 10th. 1831 “Had a banns forbidden in Church by the father of one of the parties. This is the second time it has happened to me.”.

(He had a living at Whitchurch – with a Curate taking duty).

September 24th. 1831. Along with some troubles about settling in the house “St. Bees Lodge”, he records Reform Bill finally passed the House of Commons, by a majority of 109.

October 2nd. 1831. Sacrament Sundays appear to come once a quarter. – “73 Communicants, Collection 36s.”

There flit across these pages the names of personages: – The Hartleys of Gillfoot, Clergy like Mr. Scott, Mr. Huddlestone, Mr. Gillbanks, Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Hale, Mr. Stanley of Plumbland, Mr. Sherwen, Mr. Lowther, Mr. Walker (who seems to be a lawyer), and Mr. Lancaster, Captain Le Mesujier, Captain and Mrs. Wilcock, Mr. And Mrs. Wilkinson, Rev. James and Mrs. Senhouse, of Gosforth, Miss Ainger, Mr. and Mrs. Jackson, Provost Fox, Mr. Gaitskell, James Murray, James Irwin, the Speddings (one of whom, Major C. Spedding, took Linethwaite), Mr. And Mrs. Brooksbank, Mrs. N. Dixon, Dr. Fallon, the Misses Jefferson, Dr. Lawson, Uncle and Aunty M—ham, Miss Ponsonby, William Thompson (I think of Egremont, the joiner), and MacFarlane, and with him McClellan the carrier. Wasdale works in the garden and Rase is gone. Mr. Bell was Surveyor of Taxes at Whitehaven.

Nov 1st. – After many vicissitudes sees the entry “so we are settled at last” at St. Bees Lodge.

November 2nd. 1831. “The Dr. omitted his Epistle lecture at the College to go and hear the Doctors at the Infirmary talk about Cholera Morbus,” – which was bad at Sunderland, “the country all in alarm”. Prayers in Church November 13th. and meetings to consult about the best means of preventing the importation of Cholera November 26th.

November 5th. 1831. “Our bells were rung , but alas! It was a melancholy chime.”

November 27th. 1831. “I changed the hour for afternoon service to half-past for the winter”. There was no sermon in the afternoon in winter.

December 25th. 1831 “Xmas Day, and, as, usual, very wet. Administered the Sacrament to the Communicants, Collection £1 6s. 0d. After Church the children of the Sunday School, to the number of 40, dined in College according to custom. I carved for them. A christening and churching in the afternoon, and could hardly see.

Parish Magazine for December 1926

THE DIARY 1836 (4th. Instalment).

I have no diary between 1831 (which has been abstracted and published) and 1836, where we continue: –

Mr. Parkinson left St. Bees in 1833, and went to Manchester, where he was Fellow of the Collegiate Church there. This is now the Cathedral of the Diocese of Manchester, but that Diocese was not founded until 1847.

Whilst he was at St. Bees and afterwards, he held the Vicarage of Whitworth in Lancashire, now in the Diocese of Manchester (then it would be in the Diocese of Chester). Dr. Ainger, the Principal of the Theological College and Vicar of St. Bees, also held the Rectory of Northenden, then and now in the Diocese of Chester.

These places and journeys to them, and the appointment of and dealings with the Curates who resided there and carried out the parochial duties, especially of course with reference to Whitworth, are mentioned more than once.

It may be interesting to explain what a Collegiate Church was. It differed from a Cathedral in that it was not the seat of a Bishop. Manchester was governed by a College or Chapter consisting of the “Warden” and “Fellows” (Dean and Canons). At the Reformation there were 90 such foundations in England. Most of them were suppressed in the reign of Edward VI. Some of those which remained became Cathedrals later, e.g., Ripon, Southwell, Manchester.

The interest in this volume, of course, is in and about Manchester, and there is very little specially about St. Bees. We can give a short summary.

Mr. Parkinson does much preaching away, e.g., on January 3rd. at Dobeness, where an organ is opened and £15 collected; at Ardwick, collection above £80; at St. Peter’s, for Sunday Schools, collection £55. 7s. 0d., &c. Of course he preaches in turn, and sometimes for others, in the old Parish Church in Manchester.

His own Church at Whitworth has to be enlarged. He is interested and on Committees of Savings Banks (deposits more than £280, 000),

The Church Building Society*, The Deaf and Dumb Society, Proprietary Schools, the holding of a ‘Musical Festival’ in Manchester, which gets fixed for “first week October – Sir George Smart is to be Director”; The Blind Asylum, and the Sunday School Union.

In Manchester, early in January, he gave a party to the “Boroughreeves, Constables and Churchwardens”, and invited the Warden and some friends.

The Churchwardens seem convivial souls, they held another party on March 15th. On February 13th. there was a Chapter about railroads. It would be interesting to have a record of the discussion.

*In and around Manchester the population would be increasing rapidly and the Church made some effort to supply the spiritual needs of that population. Mr. Parkinson seems to have “started” the Church Building Society, and at a “great meeting” on February 22nd. £5000 was collected “in the room”. He made great efforts in the matter of raising more money by begging, and sometimes records success or failure, usually the former, which attended his efforts.

Ecclesiastical happenings and personages find some slight places.

“Dr. Hampden’s appointment at Oxford”. – It made a great stir at the time in certain circles.

Mr. Durnford, Rector of Middleton, and afterwards Bishop of Chichester, comes to dine. The Relief of the Irish Clergy. He records one day that a “poor clergyman called asking for relief – gave him a sovereign”. Mr. Stowell, at Pendleton – I suppose the Rev. Hugh Stowell, a preacher of renown in his day.

He went to the Quaker’s Meeting to hear Mrs. Fry. “She has a beautiful chaunt in her preaching”.

There is mention of the “Oldfield Lane Doctor” – I think he was a bone-setter of great repute.

You want to go to Cambridge. You start from Manchester by the mail at 10, stay all night at Leicester, which you reach at 7, spend a pleasant evening there – then start at 8 next morning and reach Cambridge at 7 in the evening. Going back, you start at 8 in the morning, reach Derby at 10 at night, leave Derby at 9 next morning and reach Manchester at 4 p.m.

Parish Magazine for January 1927

THE DIARY 1836 (5th. Instalment)

On May 15th. he records Eclipse of Sun –“nearly entire, appearing like the moon three days old – over at 4”.

May 23rd. 1836 – Whit Monday. “Joined Sunday School procession, about 6000 in number; the old church full. My hymn was very well sung by 3000 voices. Durnford preached a good sermon, collection about £58.”

May 31st. 1836 – “Think of going to Cumberland by steam on Thursday” accordingly “started at half-past 9 and at 10 by railroad to Liverpool, arrived 11.30. Sailed for Whitehaven at 1.30, and arrived at 10.15 after a pleasant voyage – at Gillfoot at 11.30.”

There is not any news up to June 16th., when arrangements are being made to go to France.

On June 16th. 1836 ” Started at nine in the ‘Countess of Lonsdale’ Steamer with Major (Spedding). A large crowd to see us off,” – this from Whitehaven, June 17th. “A fair wind and went to my berth, but could not sleep. Up at 4 – reached Liverpool at 8, five minutes too late for the coaches to Birmingham, and went to London at one. Took 2 outside and 1 inside places.”

June 18th. 1836. –”Thunder showers occasionally. The countryside looked beautiful as we passed through it. Reached London at 3 – too late to get a passport to Rotterdam. Stayed all night at the “Golden Cross”. Went to Covent Garden”.

June 19th. 1836 – “Up soon after 4 and started at 8 by coach to Dover – a beautiful ride through a beautiful country. Dined at Canterbury. Thunder showers. Reached Dover at 6.”

June 20th. 1836 – “Sailed at 6 in the French packet for Calais. Arrived at 9. Looked about the fortifications of the town. Started at 1 in the diligence for Paris: 5 horses driven like a flock of wild colts with a thronged cracking whip, but good cattle of the kind. Supped at Boulougne.”

June 21st. 1836 – “Through Abbeville, Beauvois, &c., a cultivated but unwooded and uninteresting country to Paris, which we reached at 8 p.m.” He had friends in Paris and went about to see the sights. He calls this a “true French dinner – soup, mackerel, vol-au-vent, melon, pigeons, roast beef, salad, vanilla cream, desert of cheese, strawberries, cherries, cakes &c. Wine Vin ordinaire, Burgundy, champagne, coffee with eau-de-vie and annisetea, finishing with a good glass of punch”.

They journey to Havre, reach Portsmouth on July 1st., travel via the Isle of Wight, Southampton, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Bath, Cheltenham, Chester, Liverpool (“130 miles in less than 7 hours” is one record), and on July 7th. “sailed at 6 in the ‘Earl of Lonsdale’”. Good passage, reached Whitehaven at 4.30 p.m.”

He took duty In Egremont Church for Mr. Leech the Rector at times and as he says “did nothing” until July 26th., when “a stormy wet day, left Gillfoot at 7, by steam, a stormy night and more of the party were unwell. I and the horse” (he had bought a little while before a new horse nine years old and 16 and a half hands high for £36) “not affected. Reached Liverpool in safety at 6 a.m., and July 27th. breakfasted at the Royal Hotel, and came home (to Manchester) at 12 by the Railway. Reached home at 1.30 and found all well and cook drunk!!”

He is very interested in a “New Church at Broughton” – that is, in Manchester today – he records the stone-laying, progress, completion, choosing seats therein. There was also an Archery Club at Broughton of which Mr. Parkinson was a member and some of whose doings he records.

Parish Magazine for March 1927. (There does not appear to have been room in February’s issue).

THE DIARY 1836 (6th. Instalment).

Steps are being taken to build a new church at Openshaw; inspection of new church at Heywood, &c.; shows the efforts being made to keep pace with the growing needs of Lancashire around Manchester.

September 4th., 1836 – “Off at 7.30 to preach at Turlon, a chapelry in the Parish of Bolton and the family place of old Humphrey Chetham” (he founded the Chetham School and Library close to the Cathedral in Manchester). “Nothing but prayers in the morning. Dined with the Incumbent, Mr. Spencer, and preached in the afternoon. The Church was crowded, and hundreds could not get in. It will only hold about 500. The collection was about £60, £20 more than usual. Came home directly after service and arrived at 8. Much pleased with the clergyman and his family”.

The time of the Musical Festival is come and on September 9th. tickets are bought, 25 at one guinea each. It seems to have made a great stir in Manchester – as not only were performances of Oratorios in the morning and C —– s in the evening, but balls and dinners as well.

September 15th. 1836 – “The Oratorio this day was ‘The Messiah’ and the execution of it was beyond praise.”

He says of one fancy dress ball “about 4000 people present” and of the Festival “everyone mad with the Festival” , and of the Old Church on Sunday September the 18th. – “The Patron’s Gallery was open to the public and there could not be less than 4000 persons in the Church morning and afternoon. I preached”.

The proceeds of the Festival about £17,000.

In various parts of the Diary from now onwards there is mention, first of the death in Manchester of Madame Malibran*, the great singer, who had sung at the Festival; and then of the difficulties and problems of the Church authorities in connection with her burial – she was buried at first in the Collegiate Church in the S. aisle of the choir – a public funeral “most splendid” – and Mr. Parkinson on the Sunday following (October 2nd.) preached the funeral sermon which was afterwards printed.

*Madame Malibran 1808 to1836 (RJ)

There is frequent mention of Mr. Rainer, the learned Lancashire antiquary, who once gave the diarist a document signed by a Parkynson in the 14th. Century.

In November he is asked to be a candidate for the Hulsean Lectureship in Cambridge.

He records the death of Charles Simeon,the great preacher, in Cambridge aged 79.

In November he is busy with the scheme for “the new Grammar School” (Manchester).

“New cook arrived from Whitehaven by steamer”.

November 28th. 1836 – “Went to town to attend a meeting to form a new College in Manchester,” he seems to have withdrawn from this scheme. On Christmas Eve there was a supper of oysters and toasted cheese!

On the last day of the year (1836) he records that he heard from the Vice-Chancellor of Cambridge that he was elected Hulsean Lecturer for the ensuing year – an honour which he much appreciated.

John Hulse who was born in 1708 and died in 1790 bequeatheed his estates in Cheshire to be applied

  1. To maintain two scholars at St. John’s College, Cambridge
  2. To found “The Hulsean Prize” for the best essay on some subject concerned with “Evidences” of the Christian Religion.
  3. To found and support the office of Christian Advocate. (In 1860 this became the

Hulsean Professor of Divinity).

  1. To found the Hulsean Lectureship.

At first the duty of the Lecturer was to preach annually twenty sermons in Great St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge on “The Evidences of Revealed Religion … and the most difficult texts or obscure points of Holy Scripture”.

Before Mr. Parkinson’s time (viz: in 1830) the number of lectures was reduced to eight in the year and later still it was reduced to four.

Many distinguished men have filled the office, Archbishop Trench, Bishop Wordsworth and Boyd Carpenter, Deans Hewson and Farrar &c.

The first lecture was delivered by the Rev. Christopher Benson in 1820.

Parish Magazine for April 1927

THE DIARY 1837 (7th. Instalment)

The next volume begins January 1837 – with “Still hard dry frost””. Mr. Parkinson was in residence in Manchester as Canon of the “Old Church”.

He records his election to the Office of Hulsean Lecturer at Cambridge on December 26th. 1836. He makes a sketch of his subject:

The Truth and doctrines of the Gospel proved –

  1. From Man’s physical structure and conditions.

  2. From his relation to external nature

  3. From his relations to his kind

  4. From his intellectual faculties

  5. From his affections and propensities

  6. From his moral sense –

and says that the first and last lectures are to be general; this would make eight in all.

Besides preparing these lectures he is busy with Savings Bank work, Charity Schools, Sunday Schools; Church Building Society, Deaf and Dumb and Blind Asylum – and when he goes to meetings – he sometimes says “little done” – which often happens yet. They did get on with building a Church at Harpurhey where I have no doubt one was needed; it was near Manchester.

On and about 25th. January people were unable to attend to their business on account of Influenza – pain in the back and shoulders.

The Mastership of Chetham Hospital – a school for boys close to Manchester Old Church – was a matter in which he was interested. He attends a Chapter meeting and is concerned with a Memorial to prevent the Canons being deprived of their patronage.

March 3rd. 1837 – He went to Cambridge to deliver his lectures. He stayed in College (St. John’s) after a night at “The Hoop” and preached his first Lecture on March 5th. And so on each Sunday until the end on March 26th. He must have enjoyed this visit to Cambridge. He returned to Manchester on March 29th.

These were the days of Archery – there were Clubs – and there are still, and Mr.Parkinson was a guest of the Broughton Club and “shot and lost”– sometimes he shoots “well”– once “the best shot of the day”.

April 5th. 1837 “Reached Gillfoot at 7” – he is back in St. Bees, dines with the Doctor, calls at Linethwaite and Summer Grove, comes to St. Bees to Church, goes to Whitehaven and makes many calls on the old ladies, and after these diversions he returns to Manchester on April 12th. – he arranged to preach two sermons at Whitworth on April 30th. – at that time he appears to have been much in demand for preaching what would be called then Charity Sermons and School Sermons so that he could well spare two to his Parish.

On the 30th. at Whitworth he had “congregations which would twice fill the chapel in the afternoon and evening. Good singing. Collections £20 and £12 much to their satisfaction. My sermons most attentively listened to … a busy and most gratifying day”.

April 19th. 1837. – “Walked to town and attended the meeting of the Church Building Society. The mob parading the streets asking for bread. Met the Boroughreeve to discuss what was to be done. Determined to call a meeting for tomorrow” – this was held and it was “determined to have no subs for the present”.

He is still interested in Sir Walter Scott, whose life he is reading.

May 14th., 1837. – “Races next week, and the roads full of idlers”.

Whitsuntide then, as now, was a great time in Manchester.

May 15th., 1837. Whit Monday – “Very fine. Little Catherine” (his daughter) “went to Church for the first time with her mother. Grand procession of Sunday Scholars. Church chock full. Mr. Boutflower preached. We all dined with the Warden.” (He would be the Head of the Collegiate Church body). This summer there seems to have been much procession work for the new Churches were being consecrated in and about Manchester and there was the opening of the new Deaf and Dumb School. “Must have been 30,000 spectators”.

June 21st., 1837 – “News of the poor King’s death”. (William IV).

June 23rd. 1837 – “Went to Chester to see Dr. Ainger” (who was ill there). “Walked round the City Walls. Proclamation of the Queen.” (Victoria).

Parish Magazine for May 1927.

THE DIARY 1837 (8th. Instalment)

June 25th., 1837. – “Preached in the Cathedral. Fuller than the Dr. had ever known it. Lord Grosvenor and other great people there. My sermon caused a good deal of discussion in that saintly town.”

Back in Manchester he is appointed with three others who adopt his draft to draw up an address to the Queen – ultimately the address was carried at a public meeting “without mentioning the Reform Bill” (This is the second one). He also wrote an address to the Queen Dowager.

A Bazaar for building a Church at Harphurhey realised £809.

Busied about July 4th. with raising subscriptions “for relieving the poor”.

July 8th., 1837. – “Deputation of fustian cutters asked me to memorialise the Queen on the subject of their emigration”. Times were very bad.

Elections are due and he is interested in politics and busy about candidates &c. “An active canvass going on for Gladstone” – who stood for Manchester. He became Conservative member for Newark at this election.

July 30th. 1837. “Great day in Northenden. Opening of a New Organ. Mr. Brownlow the Rector of Wilnslow preached in the morning and I in the afternoon. Collection in the morning £23 4s. 0d. and in the afternoon £28. The Church in the afternoon chock full. Our Choir” (the Old Church, Manchester) “attended and performed the Cathedral service.”

August 9th. 1837. – “Went to town.” (Manchester). “Elections good. Went with R. Gladstone to the dinner given to his cousin the Member for Newark. 150 of us sat down at “The Bush”. He made a most statesmanlike, R. Peel-like speech. Good voice and manner. I spoke for the Church at considerable length, and with considerable strength. Late home.”

August 27th., 1837. 14th. Sunday after Trinity. “The children, 120 in number, dined on the lawn between services on roast beef and plum pudding”. (I don’t know why).

October 6th. 1837 He had to go up to Cambridge to finish his lectures. “The Catherines went with me to the Railway at half past 11. Reached 96 miles in four and a half hours. Staid (sic) all night“. (The next day) “Off at half past 7 for Cambridge, beautiful day, arrived half past 7”.

He delivered his other four lectures and seems to have enjoyed his visit, taking his B.D. degree on October 25th. He reached Manchester by way of the “Birmingham Railway” at five on October 31st. and is again busy with his Manchester activities, Additional Curates’ Society, Blind Society, consideration of what should be done about National Education and concerned about the Isle of Man.

December 27th., 1837 records “Greatest flood ever known in these parts”.

December 23rd., Dr. Ainger came to reside in his Parish at Northenden.

Parish Magazine for July 1927


THE DIARY 1840 (9th. Instalment)

The next volume I have is for 1840.

Still in Manchester.

“Noting as they fade away

The little lines of yesterday”.


January 8th., 1840. He went to Warrington and had a meeting with “Rector and Parishioners” to examine Charity Boxes, a new experiment. “We all made speeches till near 11” (They began at 6.30). “Satisfactory evening”.

January 10th., 1840. “New Penny Postage began”. One day he received a penny letter from T.A. with a sermon in it.

Note; Perhaps this is Thomas Arnold, (1795 – 1842), Headmaster of Rugby School and an acquaintance of the Canon’s. Or perhaps Thomas Ainger, or Ainger’s brother. (RJ)

January 26th. 1840 There are several indications of the hardships of the times – he was at the Workhouse one day – “more than a thousand inmates at present” – and many references.

February 10th.1840 Queen’s wedding and a very fine day. To whom he appears to have written an address of congratulation from Manchester which had 8,150 signatures.

March 18th., 1840 “Mr. Jones, the artist, came to take my portrait” and the sittings and the length of them recorded – it meant of course that his portrait was being painted – he was so satisfied that he recommended other people to “be taken” by the same artist. This apparently is not the full length of which a proof engraving is in the Church Vestry – although Mr. Jones’ work was exhibited at Agnews “along with the Duke of Wellington’s”.

From May 15th. to 23rd. he and his family are at Gillfoot and at St. Bees and Egremont and his friends here-about are frequently mentioned.

On June 4th. he records with feeling the death of the last Warden of Manchester Old Collegiate Church, Dr. Calvert. He was the last Warden to die in office for his successor, Dr. Herbert, installed July 10th., 1840, who died in the year 1847, in which the Collegiate Church became a Cathedral, was the first Dean of Manchester.

On Whit Monday he records that the procession of Sunday School Scholars was, owing to “the personal exertions” of the late Warden“, which is interesting as the processions continue in great force. He was an executor and immersed in business – but is back at Gillfoot by June 21st., but by the “New Railway from Lancaster to Preston, just opened” he returns to Manchester on June 30th..

The summer of 1840 apparently very hot.

Coming changes are seen in the entry “Had a wedding at the Collegiate Church, signed my name in the Books ‘Canon’ for the first time as by Act of Parliament” (August 20th.) and on August 24th., 1840, “no longer Warden but Dean”.

“Hired a new servant at £18 with livery or £35 without”.

Railways were not considered an unmixed blessing by everybody. Some of Mr. Parkinson’s family in 1840 “posted it all the way for fear of the railway”.

Anti-slavery is becoming a burning question with the Diary.

On November 7th. the appointment of Rev. R.P. Buddicomb, M.A. to St. Bees, is set down. He was Principal of the Theological College and Vicar of St. Bees for six years. He came from Liverpool.

At this point Dr. Ainger’s portrait is mentioned as “belonging to the Institution” i.e. the Theological College, “so long as it exists, afterwards, the heirs” – who have had it. (November 18th. 1840).

It is rather interesting and significant of much controversy that on Christmas Day, 1840, someone in the Old Church in Manchester is accused of preaching “a Geological Sermon of some eloquence but no great pith”.

Parish Magazine for August 1927

THE DIARY 1841 (10th. Instalment)

Dr. Parkinson is still in Manchester and often this year dissatisfied with his attention to his diary. There are few references to St. Bees during this year; the chief ones besides arrangements for Dr. Ainger’s Monument is to Mr. Anderson, who was ‘Lecturer’ at St. Bees from 1840 to 1843, and ‘Tutor’ from 18843 to 1847 and afterwards Bishop of Ruperts-land.

For the more general story there are many items of interest recorded.

Needless to say Dr. Parkinson is busy at everything that is going on in the Manchester district. Church building – he collected, he says, about £11,000 and records “in the last month £42,000 has been raised for Church building”; General Election – the usual preaching in his turn and all about the countryside – his Archery, “scored 90” – the Whit Monday procession that numbered 10,000 children; the birth of a daughter, his resignation from the Parish of Whitworth; his care of the business of the late Warden of Manchester, his connection with Dr. Hook of Leeds, and his presence at the Consecration of Dr. Hook’s Church. He records the “Birth of a Prince of Wales, November 9th. 1841” (King Edward VII) His interest in social affairs is always very keen, and especially so in a few distress letters

to Sir R. Peel on conditions in Manchester – and his interest in the Sea Bathing Infirmary – whatever that is: and his record on November 17th., 1841 – ” Sat for my portrait to the Photographic Machine which takes likenesses solely by rays of light. Like, but very sombre”. The last, I suppose, his comment on the portrait produced. All this seems to indicate a busy, interesting and useful year of life.

Parish Magazine for September 1927

THE DIARY 1841 – 1846 (11th. Instalment)

During the years 1833 – 47 during which Canon Parkinson was absent from St. Bees, the diary is naturally lacking in events of special interest to us here. The Canon took a leading part in all Church, Charity and Educational matters and lived a very busy and social life. His principal recreation seems to have consisted in his membership of the Broughton Archers, a society consisting of the elite of Manchester, which divided its energies fairly equally between shooting at the butts and dining. Once a year many of the Society would attend a great archery meeting at York, at which over 100 archers would compete.

He spent his holidays, which usually extended over at least two months, sometimes with his wife’s family at Gillfoot, once at Bolton-le-Sands (in the days when Blackpool and Morecombe were mere fishing hamlets, if as much), but more often, for the benefit of his wife’s health, at Harrogate, where they met many of the Cumberland gentry.

He was considered by his friends a possible candidate for the Bishopric of the new See of Manchester, then being formed, or at least for the Deanery. He does not seem to have taken his own pretensions to these honours too seriously.

In June 1846 the Ministry fell, and he notes in his Diary on the 27th., “Sir R. Peel beaten by a majority of 27, so there goes Deanery and Bishopric”. Very soon after this, on the death of Principal Buddicomb, of St. Bees, he was offered by Lord Lonsdale the living and Principalship which he at once accepted; there were then 86 students at the College, and it did not stand very high in the eyes of the Ecclesiastical authorities.

He took up his residence and duties at St. Bees almost at once, but retained his Canonry of Manchester; there was some opposition to this in Manchester but it soon died down; and during the remainder of his life he travelled frequently from St. Bees to Manchester to perform his duties at the Cathedral there.

In the 1846 Diary he is busy editing “Byrom’s Remains” for the Chetham Society – and had a copy of the Rev. John Keble’s poems “Lyra Innocentium” presented to him by the author.

Note: John Byrom (1692 – 1763) was an English poet, hymnist, and inventor of a system of shorthand. He is best remembered for the Christmas hymn “Christians awake – salute the happy morn”. He was born near Manchester, and educated at Chester and Trinity College, Cambridge. The Chetham Society published his “Remains” in two volumes between 1854 and 1857, some years after Canon Parkinson’s editing. (RJ)

From 1846, when he was appointed Vicar of St. Bees and Principal of the Theological College, the St. Bees interest in the Diary of course revives. First there were the troubles of settling in and taking up the various duties, arranging the Staff, &c. Some of the work seemed rather hopeless – but “prospects begin to brighten” – and indeed as the story proceeds the prospects seem very good indeed. His many friends are revealed in the record of the congratulations he receives and Bishops are ready to receive St. Bees students. He “read in” on Sunday, September 27th., 1846, and St. Bees Church, he says, “was full”. On September 28th. he was present at the laying of the first stone of the New Hotel (Grindal, I suppose) – and he also “spoke to the people about better accommodation for our men”. He preached his first sermon as Vicar on October 11th.

There is talk of a Charter for the Theological Institution.

On Thursday October 15th., 1846, the family took up residence in the house.

Now begins “much College business” and references to the “glorious confusion” as the house gets set in order.

The “men” (i.e. the students) are “to chaunt in the service” – this was done for the first time on Sunday, October 25th.

Lectures began – and at once the men want a holiday!

On October 31st., he “went to look at the railway cutters” – he had posted to St. Bees from Keswick and “his servants and girls were at sea” he says, referring to the stormy state prevailing in October. The Furness Railway was being made and one of the things done when folk are at leisure in St. Bees was “to look at the navvies at work”.

Parish Magazine for October 1927

THE DIARY 1841, according to the Magazine, but it must be 1846 (12th. Instalment)

On November 13th. “workmen are getting on with the new drive” and Term is drawing to an end with examinations and the granting of “Titles” and the appointment of a New Tutor, Mr. Greggain. Mr. Woodhouse and Mr. Middleton are Lecturers. The “men” seem to have had most ingenious minds for devising ways of escaping work. On November 20th. they petition to “be let off the written part of the examination on account of Canon Parkinson’s accession to office” – I don’t think he let them off – for I note that he sent off proofs of Examination papers, which means that the questions were printed anyhow – later I see he “let them off some papers.”

There is some talk of making the Canon a J.P. – he became one on December 14th.

Mr. Greggain, the New Tutor, gets rooms at 14/- per week.

By December the Railway which had been about Nethertown has been “begun in front of the house”.

He was in Manchester after the end of Term and returned “by the new line from Lancaster to Kendal over Shap Fells, just opened. Beautiful line. Reached Carlisle at 6 and stayed at “The Bush” “.

And on December 23rd., “Off by the Maryport line at 9.30. Reached Harrington at 12 and walked home to St. Bees from there.”

Hard frost at Christmas Time.


Parish work, letter writing, gardening, and making entry of new students at the College occupy the early days of the year.

Term began about January 25th.

There is mention of “a New Institution at Birkenhead” – this would be St. Aidan’s, a Theological College still existing. St. Bees seems a little apprehensive.

The Canon becomes Rural Dean of Whitehaven, January 29th.

January 30th. 1847 “Old carved stones of the Abbey found by the Railwaymen – got them.” I wonder which those are of what there is?

Parish Magazine for November 1927

THE DIARY 1847 (13th. Instalment)

This year he was Chaplain to the High Sheriff, Gillfred (?) Hartley, Esq., of Rosehill; four years before, while in Manchester, he had been Chaplain to the High Sheriff of Manchester, R. Garnett Esq. He describes the Assizes at Carlisle on February 20th.

The Theological Institution is seeking a Charter and the matter was debated early in the year in the House of Lords. There seems to have been many difficulties.

On the 14th. February there was a collection, £50, in St. Bees Church “for the Irish”. (Famine Fund).

The life of a Principal seems to be a matter of letters –“a sackful of letters”.

On March 13th. he receives an invitation from Lord Lonsdale to dine at the Railway opening. I suppose he means on the occasion of the opening of the Whitehaven and Maryport Railway. 150 sat down to dinner, he says.

On March 19th. he planned an enlargement of the house (the Priory). I suppose the back extension. He sold his house in Manchester and had “college squabbles”. The “men” seemed to have talked too much.

Two St. Bees men went as missionaries to China, one to Barbadoes (sic).

March 28th. 1847 “I preached in the morning on Judas Iscariot and in the afternoon examined the children of the Parish on their Catechism according to custom instead of a sermon”.

Notwithstanding snow on the morning of April 1st. , £5’s worth of evergreens were planted in the grounds.

April 2nd. was Good Friday. There were 132 Communicants, on Easter Day 249 altogether.

On April 6th., he appears at Cockermouth at Quarter Sessions as a magistrate.

At the Vestry Meeting “Agreed to mat all the aisles of the Church, drain the North side and spout the S. Making alterations in the College rooms.”

New Church at Ginns opened; the Canon preached and the “College” sang – apparently on April 26th. This will be Christ Church, Whitehaven.

Term got over on May 4th., so the Canon went to Manchester.

The Whit Monday Procession of Sunday School children was 14,000 strong, he says. He came home on May 25th.

He is invited to become Rural Dean of Cockermouth – he accepted. “Robert Parkinson, my ancestor, was Rural Dean in this County in 1588”.

May 31st. 1847. “Began to raise a story” (sic; but perhaps storey?) “on the back kitchens.” (The Priory). There is much mention of “the work”.

As became him he kept bees. It seems rather late, but on May 31st. the bees swarmed and so

“a swarm of bees in May

is worth a load of hay.”

Another on June 3rd.

June 1st. 1847. Death of Dean Herbert, first Dean of Manchester, recorded.

June 7th. 1847 “Rough village last night with the navvies” working on the Railway. This is the first entry of the kind. I think it speaks well either for the Canon’s tolerance, or for the navvies.

Once there must have been an estate “belonging to this living on Dent, rent £22″.

He was Rural Dean of Whitehaven (as well as of Cockermouth). He held a Visitation in Whitehaven and gave an address to the Churchwardens, “dwelling particularly on their duty of preventing tippling”.

“Richard Jackson, from Woodplumpton, came over since morning, and called on me at 3 p.m. about his farm. What will railways do?”

“I saw first the intelligence of the Battle of Waterloo on the entrance to the town of Lancaster, as I walked home from Sedbergh School for the holidays. This I put on record because it is often asked (alas by and by no-one can answer it) ‘Where were you when you first heard the news of the Battle of Waterloo?’”

Appointment of Mr. Bowers as Dean of Manchester recorded June 19th.

Parish Magazine for December 1927

THE DIARY (the Magazine says 1583, but 1847 must be meant). (14th. Instalment)

June 22nd 1847“Went to plan the enlargement of Sandwith School. Mr. Knowles” (then Master at the School, I suppose) “gave me a design for enlarging Sandwith School”; evidently he paid for it, for later he says “the new bell up – and people pleased with my present”. Perhaps it was only the bell.

As Rural Dean he “prevailed with the Egremont Vestry to lower the ground about their Church”. Much excitement about the hay.

“The Parish” that is, St. Bees, “on the whole, in good order”.

Manchester, Cambridge and Carlisle (Assizes) all saw the Canon in July and August.

Took lodgings at Broughton (Manchester) at a guinea a week from September 1st. next” – but he was back in St. Bees and ‘freshmen’ were coming in by August 13th.

“Heard from Mr. Dickinson for the first time of the Holy Well and the Chapel near or on ‘Chapel Demesnes’ which ‘Old Mr. Smith of Desmesnes pulled down’ within the memory of Mr. Dickinson. There is also an old cross there. I went to the spot, but nothing remains except the well – nature triumphs over art.” This is on the Whitehaven Road at or about the junction with the Desmenes Road.

Provost Fox, of Queens College, Oxford, was staying in St. Bees this year.

The Collegiate Church of Manchester is now ‘The Cathedral’ – from September 1st. 1847.

He had a call from Mr. Hudson, ‘The Railway King’, who inspected along with other guests “the College and the School”.

[Mr. Hudson’s name was George; he was a Yorkshireman, born 1800, died 1871; he was concerned in the promotion of railway schemes and before he was 20 he had acquired a fortune, he put large capital sums in railway undertakings and during the period of rapid railway development had a controlling interest in railway enterprise. He was M.P. for Sunderland during his visit to St. Bees (his period 1845 – 1859). He died a comparatively poor man] RJ.

Note the continuity of unsolved problems. “September 15th. Henry Lowther called about a new road down the valley”. [Henry Lowther was Rector of Distington 1813 – 1876].

I suspect that in connection with his 50th. birthday (someone once said to me ‘You are only fifty once) he gave on September 24th. “a great feast of buns and coffee to all the children of the neighbourhood in Sandwith School. There was dancing, magic lantern” (and they would enjoy it then) “&c. till nine o’clock. All pleased”.

September 29th. Consecration of Christ Church, Whitehaven at 10.30 a.m. The collection was £24. The Bishop of Chester consecrated, the Canon was present and officiated as Rural Dean.

October 6th. “Received a request to bury my old friend Mr. Scott, Rector of Bootle, at Egremont, where he was formerly Rector … buried my kind old friend. His two clever sons much distressed.” One of these was Robert Scott, D.D., Dean of Rochester, and once Master of Balliol College in Oxford, editor of a book famous where Greek is read and called more or less affectionately “Liddell and Scott” – a great Greek Dictionary.

They seem to have come from Devonshire. His period was 1811 – 1887.

Henry Lowther was at the funeral and the two came to St. Bees “to plan a new road to the sea”. They proceeded apace for on the 11th., four days afterwards, came “a measurer” (I suppose a surveyor) “to set out the new road”.

Parish Magazine for January 1928

DIARY FOR 1847 (15th. Instalment)

October 17th. 1847 “Thanksgiving for bountiful Harvest”.

October 19th. 1847 Announcement that Prince Lee, the Master of Birmingham School, is to be the new Bishop of Manchester; his early time was by no means a pleasant one.

October 21st. 1847 Mr. Lowther elected Governor of the School, in place of Mr. Scott [who would be ex-officio when he was Rector of Egremont and had been apparently elected on the body when he went to Bootle].

Brought two stone balls from Gillfoot and put them upon the gateposts of the yard” – one is there yet – the other is in the corner of the garden path; it has been thereabouts ever since I came.

November 7th. “The Archbishop of York, a princely old prelate of 90, dead”. The new one was a Mr. Musgrave.

November 13th. “A letter from Mr. Hawkins, saying that all the papers relating to St. Bees are in the British Museum! Wrote to have an abstract taken of them”. He means the Papers relating to the Monastry (sic) deeds for the most part. Later he directed that a transcript be made which is in the possession of the Vicar. It cost £25, he says.

He speaks very highly of the “men” at the end of this term; “a credit to their College and their Church”.

December 24th. “Gave away a fat cow to the poor”.

December 28th. “Put up a new porch at the back door” –which?

He had been this year elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians.

Before the end of the year Dr. Hampden (was) elected by the Chapter of Hereford. It does not look much, but was the centre of an ecclesiastical storm. The storm raged around some lectures called “The Scholastic Philosophy considered in its relation to Christian Theology”. I do not think you want to hear about it – besides in 1847 the book was 15 years old.

Parish Magazine for February 1928

THE DIARY 1848 (16th. Instalment)

The beginning of the year before Term sees Canon Parkinson involved in very much correspondence and apparently in reading attacks on St. Bees and on the Chapter of Manchester Cathedral, in each case he himself was involved, and in attending his duties in Manchester Cathedral – the first Bishop was consecrated this year – The Term began and one day he went to a wedding and “found when I got home, that a pupil, Mr. …., had been to Gretna Green in my absence with a lodging-house keeper’s daughter and had since married at Church. Sent him off ….”

21 Freshmen this Term

Mr. Livesey will be interested in this entry. “Talked about a New Organ and offered £50 towards it”.

There was an “unaccountable disappearance from the College” – the “man” had “run home”.

As Rural Dean he had some difficulties about a Church being shut up in Whitehaven – it is not evident what it was all about.

In February the Bishop of Manchester was enthroned and the Canon was there.

He was very strict with himself about what he records in the Diary – but he would like to comment sometimes – as he would when he records on February 27th. the abdication of Louis Philippe, King of France after a revolutionary outbreak in Paris on February 21st. – but he has his own troubles and “many College squabbles to appease” – moreover his work on the Priory – “draining &c. still going on”.

This year there was what he calls “Leap Year’s day and Holiday”

He preached the Ordination Sermon at Manchester – “5,000 people at the morning service”, he says.

Records on March 27th. “A St. Bees schoolboy (Sergeant) got the Latin Scholarship at Oxford and a holiday was given for it. The Provost of Queen’s (Dr. Fox) has founded a Scholarship for St. Bees School”.

“All the world full of Revolution- except old England” – but this was the period of the Chartists – yet notwithstanding at St. Bees the Canon “put up trelliswork” and “planted a hedge” and there were “406 Communicants this Easter”.

There were 95 “men” to be examined at the end of the Term and “work is over for four months to come”.

“May 5th., 1848 – “A delightful day – spent in the company of Wordsworth at his son John’s at Brigham. He walked and talked with his usual power and vigour, although 78 years have told upon his features and slightly upon his memory. He was exceedingly kind to myself. Home ay 9 after a long to be remembered day”.

He wrote a sonnet about it and sent it to the “Cumberland Pacquet”. They published it and here it is –


Man’s life is measured not by years but days

Days that stand out as palm trees in a waste:

And the flat level of my year is graced

With yesterday!

The Morning’s sunny rays, the noon-tide’s converse,

The stream’s winning ways and Wordsworth’s step along the winding shore,

And speech on time and scenes that are no more,

Woke the heart’s wonder, gratitude and praise.

Nor was the Future unforeshadowed

For man and nations, scattered from his tongue

Prophetic, put to shame cold glozing schools,

And showed that truth is ever fair and young.

Age has matured the intellectual tree,

And still its ripest fruit was Poetry.

The improvements to the Priory were proceeding for “the children slept in the new rooms for the first time”, but the times are not for him untroubled either in the College or the Parish, or in his Canonry at Manchester.

June 18thy., 1848. There was an Ordination in Manchester Cathedral, at which the Canon, who was in residence, was present. Of St. Bees students he records that out of 22 made Deacon, two were St. Bees men, and that out of the 22 a St. Bees man was first. At the same Ordination five St. Bees men were ordained Priest.

August 13th. 1848. He addressed Confirmation Candidates in the College Hall: about 100 of them.

At the end of August the College returned and there were 25 Freshmen. George Ainger, himself afterwards Vicar and Principal, began his duties as Classical Lecturer.

Parish Magazine for March 1928

The Diary 1848 17th. Instalment

October 30th. 1848 “Mr. Knowles approves of my designs for new Reading Desk. Sent them to Holden’s, Manchester, to be carved.” I think this is the Vicar’s stall.

“The Bishop of Manchester confirmed 21,000 on his first Confirmation”.

November 8th., 1848. “The Railway-whistle heard for the first time in this quiet valley. Its peace is gone!”.

November 10th. 1848. the Canon preached in Manchester Cathedral and “my voice gave way in the middle of my sermon to the great dismay of more than 3,000 people.”


At the beginning of 1849 Canon Parkinson went to Manchester for a month’s “residence” as Canon of Manchester Cathedral. During his stay four Deacons (St. Bees students) were ordained.

By February term had begun and he is back in St. Bees. On February 12th. He records:

“Ash Wednesday. Good congregation. The first train of coal wagons on this day (dies cinerum”) [just Latin for Day of Ashes] “went on the railway to Braystones”. On his return from a short absence in Manchester during March “found there had been nose-pulling in College”. He deprived the nose-puller of his term and later “addressed the College on the outrage – blaming them as a body for lax conduct towards each other” and so on March 12th. “All the College presented me with a petition that I would re-instate the nose-puller. Granted their request”. It seems to have done good, for on March 12th. “many men ill from work.”

March 14th. 1849 “Received Liddell and Scath Lericon a present from Scott.” (Mine is the 7th. Edition; a few years ago there was a re-written one).

Note: The Magazine reads ‘Liddell and Scath Lericon’, but I presume it should be ‘Liddell and Scott Lexicon’ – see entry for October 6th. 1847. (RJ)

Mr. Anderson, late Vice-Principal, was made Bishop of Ruperts-land.

April 1st. 1849. “I examined the children in their Catechism”.

Term ended and there follows a very scrappy account of their visits to the Lakes, Manchester, Harrogate &c.

On August 11th. The Canon is back in St. Bees; on 13th. he preached at St. James, Whitehaven, on the occasion of the Bishop of Chester’s Visitation. The Bishop stayed at the Priory. There was a Confirmation in the Church and 420 people were confirmed, “about 120 of them our people.” The Bishop left “carrying with him the hearts of us all. He is a most happy speaker and of a most equitable temper. He took every opportunity of lauding the College; and gave his consent, with certain modifications, to the Charter.”

August 21st. 1849 “Began to pull down the Pulpit and Reading Desk. Jackson, the first pupil of St. Bees” (1817) “called.” On 22nd. “New Reading Desk arrived” and on 25th. “Finished putting up New Reading Desk and Old Pulpit” – old, – although “The Masters of the Grammar School authorised £20 towards a new one.”

August 29th. 1849 “Men came up – 31 Freshmen.”

September 15th. 1849 “The new prayer for the Cholera used.”

September 19th. 1849 “Started by the rail for the first time to Ravenglass, went to Fleetwood by boat and reached Manchester at 8. Met Chevalier Bunsen, the Russian Ambassador, a very jolly Pickwickian looking English-like foreigner, was very kind to me.”

Back in St. Bees on the 25th. – there is nothing of note except one step in the history of Baroney House. “October 1st – bought the old house at the end of the Church for £94.” And for once there is a record of the actual number of students in residence – it is “101 in all this term”.

There is an entry I would like to know more about. “Read Newcombe’s diary,

Minister of the Coll:”(I suppose he means the Priory Church) “during the Commonwealth. What a change in Language between his Diary and mine! One all religious language, the other none; yet probably our spontaneous thoughts on such subjects may be about equal.”

October 8th., 1849 “Began to paint the Apse at the Altar oak colour” ( of course that has gone – alterations in 1855.)

October 10th. 1849. “Lord Lonsdale called. Showed him the Church and Reading Desk. (It was the Canon’s gift; he paid £100 for it. It is on the South side). “Asked him for old oak to repen” (sicre-pew?) “the Church. Personally I am not sorry that he does not seem to have got the old oak – not that the present seats are very satisfactory”.

October 14th. 1849 “Mr. Knowles” (Master at the School, afterwards Canon, Vicar and Principal) “preached his first sermon in the Church”.

Canon Parkinson came into possession of the old house opposite the Grammar School (Abbey Cottage, I suppose, known to generations of Schoolboys as ‘Shakley’s’.

He was very pleased with the work of the College as evidenced both by the Examinations at the end of Term and at the Bishop’s Ordination Examination.

At a winter wedding of a friend he sent a wreath of Laurel and Ivy to the Bride.

“No roses twine this bridal wreath
For Summer’s rose has faded,
But laurel knows no winter death –
With that thy brow be shaded.
The love that springs in Christmas snow
Let no frail flower betoken
But Ivy green will cling and grow
Till life’s last branch is broken”.
So ends brightly the Old Year.

Parish Magazine for April 1928

The Diary 1850 (18th. Instalment)

During the whole of January this year the Canon was in Manchester, much engaged in Cathedral business and especially with a measure which some said was to reform and some said was to plunder the Cathedral body. (The Bill was carried on May 11th.) One day however he says he “took the St. Bees pulpit to the maker” – I suppose he means the design. Towards the end of the month he becomes “immersed in College business” in preparation for his return and the opening of the College for the Term. This last happened on 1st. February. There were about 35 new men.

On the 22nd. February died the Rev. William Hartley, sometime Incumbent of Allonby, and a brother-in-law of the Canon.

The College history was rather chequered just now; two men “broke their arms” being upset in a gig. One man was suspended, or expelled, and one man was ‘first’ at the Chester Ordination examination – this curiously was one of the causes of the broken arms for what the Canon writes of as a “holyday” was given on the occasion. We can join with him in his expression that he was “too idle” to record “sketches of College characters and events” and we can agree that they “might be made interesting” – alas, they are not forthcoming.

There was a Missionary Meeting in Whitehaven on April 16th., at which the Canon took the Chair. By special train he also took the College to Whitehaven and to the meeting. They got back at 10 o’clock – and he records the total number of students in residence – it was 94.

Under date April 4th. he says “The papers say that Wordsworth died on the 28th., aged 80. The greatest man that England has raised and lost since Shakepeare. It is something to have lived in his day and to have been called by him his friend”.

The beginning of May saw the Examinations in full work, on the 5th. 11. Si Guis’ were read in Church and the Canon went to Manchester, where he “went to the Butts and shot for the first time this 7 years”.

He figures in a book about Lancashire Public Characters by one Evans – he finds it “very absurd and amusing”.

Note: Perhaps this is the John Evans who contributed the ‘Biographical Sketch’ for the Fifth Edition of the Canon’s book “The Old Church Clock”, published some while after his death. (RJ)

Scattered amongst the entries are references to a once famous controversy called the Goreham case. George Cornelius Gorham was a clergyman in the Diocese of Exeter who came into conflict with his Bishop on doctrinal matters. There were many pamphlets and petitions and addresses – one went by way of the Rural Dean – our Canon – from Whitehaven to the Bishop of Chester; the matter was agitated from 1847 to 1851. Finally after the Bishop had refused to institute Mr. Gorham to a benefice in his Diocese appeal was made to the Privy Council and he was instituted in 1851.

The death of Dr. Bardsley “about 86″ removed a very famous Lancashire Divine and preacher.

Parish Magazine for May 1928

THE DIARY 1850 (19th. Instalment)

Dr. Tait (afterwards Archbishop of Canterbury) but now Dean of Carlisle, walked on Tomlin on an occasion of the Examination of the School, when there was much dining.

June 24th., 1850. The Priory party went to Wastwater.“Arranged with a native about getting the burial ground at Wasdale Head consecrated”.

June 29th. Canon Parkinson contracted to have the house enlarged; “it is to cost £250 and be finished in September”. (A little later there is a new contractor and October is fixed). On the same day he records that a gentleman told him that he had left a large sum to build a College at St. Bees! It did not arrive, evidently.

His criticism of Stanley Ghyll Waterfall is rather curious. “It is for its size the best appointed Fall in the Lakes”.

Some indignation is evident when the Canon records on July 34th. that the Petition to Incorporate St. Bees College has been refused. “It is not advisable to grant the Charter” – he says the Petition “was referred to the Committee of Council for Trade and Foreign Plantations” ! which certainly seems curious. I think if the Canon had not been so very indignant he would have expressed his sense of the humour of the reference.

Wasdale Head graveyard did not get consecrated at this time, but Drigg Church did, by the Bishop of Chester on July 30th. 1850.

The sound of masonry, &c. must have mingled with the writing up of the Diary sometimes, for entries “Work going on” are frequent.

What the reference is on August 13th. to “St. Bees Races and men off” I do not know.

College begins on August 29th. this year (1850) and there are 40 Freshmen, “the whole body about 106”.

September 5th. 1850. He went to Manchester and there met his friend Harrison Ainsworth (author of “Old St. Paul’s” and other popular historical romances).

The Pulpit was evidently originally on the North side. On September 24th. it was resolved at a Vestry Meeting “that the 4 new seats where the pulpit stood, being erected at the expense of the College, should belong to the Clergy.” The new Pulpit arrived on September 12th. It was used on the 20th.

The alterations at this time to the house seem to have included the Bay windows, the Parapet, the Front door porch. I think the additions at the back were earlier and have been mentioned before – they were made for the most part by Canon Parkinson.

The contractors were up to time.

The line between Bootle and Furness was opened on September 29th.

September 20th., 1850. “Received from the Bishop (of Chester) my appointment as Rural Dean of the whole of the old Deanery of Copeland.”

This was the period of very keen anti-papal controversy. The name of Manning afterwards Cardinal connected with it all. There was a “meeting of the Rural Deanery in the College Hall on the Popish Aggression. I took the Chair. The meeting was rather stormy, but we carried an address to the Bishop” (of Chester) “unanimously.” “The whole land” says the Diarist “mad about the Pope”.

December 3rd., 1850 At the end of term “a presentation of plate to Messrs. Middleton and Woodhouse by the late and present Students. We had speeches and it was a very gratifying scene”.

Parish Magazine for June 1928

THE DIARY 1851 (20th. Instalment).

Practically the whole of January Canon Parkinson was in Manchester, this being one of his two months’ duty there for 1851.

On January 30th. the College opened with 117 Students. (There were 124 in all).

January 2nd., 1851 “Our new lectern used today” . This must be the one that stands near the font, I think. The brass eagle is of date 1879.

There were many difficulties, but the Canon is pleased with his Students on the whole. “St. Bega’s heart would be gratified to see her wishes thus carried out”.

Notwithstanding that (the) contract for enlarging the House was completed to time – the usual fate happened to this contract also – it was much exceeded. The Canon paid £400 in all – a gift to the Parish and Diocese.

Now begins a time of trouble – apparently through what the Canon calls “a mad or bad student” with a Church newspaper “attacking” the College and its Head. Resolutions of confidence by the College, “cautious” apology by the Editor, articles and more articles, instructions to prosecute, counsels’ opinion &c. – as the counsel seems to have said, it would “blow over”.

March 31st. 1851. Census taken.

Note: It seems that Canon Parkinson was not at home on the night of the Census. The Record shows the household as:

Catherine Parkinson aged 49. Lady Wife of the Perpetual Curate of St. Bees. Born in Whitehaven.

Richard H. Parkinson aged 13. Son of Catherine Parkinson. Scholar. Born in Manchester.

Wilfred (?) Parkinson aged 12. Son of Catherine Parkinson. Scholar. Born in Manchester.

Elizabeth H. Parkinson aged 9. Daughter of Catherine Parkinson. Scholar. Born in Manchester.

Elizabeth Carter aged 50. Sister-in-law of Catherine Parkinson. Lady Wife of the (?) Curate of Allonby. Born in Whitehaven

Margaret Corbet aged 28 Unmarried. Servant – Lady’s Maid. Born in Brampton.

Elizabeth Tyson aged 33 Unmarried. Servant – Cook. Born in Nether Wasdale.

Eliza Emmerson (?) aged 20. Unmarried. Servant – Housemaid. Born in ???

Mary S. Holden aged 16. Unmarried. Servant – Kitchenmaid. Born in Workington.

Two points arise from this Census Return. There is no mention of “little Catherine”, the daughter who was old enough to begin attending Church on May 5th. 1837 and is presumably one of the “Catherines” who saw him depart for Cambridge on October 6th. that year There is also an unexplained circumstance about the presence of Elizabeth Carter, described by the Enumerator as Catherine Parkinson’s sister-in-law and wife of the Allonby curate. She is not listed as a “Visitor”. Is it just coincidence that Canon Parkinson’s late brother-in-law, the Rev. William Hartley, had been “sometime Incumbent of Allonby”? (Diary entry 22nd. February 1850. (RJ)

April 6th., 1851 Sergeant, a St. Bees schoolboy, “got the Ireland” – a very high Classical distinction at Oxford.

April 11th., 1851 Again a Special Train to the Missionary Meeting in Whitehaven.

April 13th. 1851 Apparently Palm Sunday,. There were about 100 Sunday school children and there is an additional note “The population of St. Bees proper” (he means the village) “is increased during the last ten years by about a quarter. It is now 1000.”

At Easter time there were 455 Communicants. The Churchwardens at St. Bees were Mr. Carter and Mr. Raven.

May 1st. 1851 “Grand day for the opening of the Crystal Palace in London”.

May 18th. 1851 “News brought to us that a young infant was found killed in Pattering Holes, St. Bees Head.”

June 9th. 1851 Whitsuntide procession in Manchester, about 13,000 children.

Canon Parkinson was in Manchester in June, his second month of residence this year, and he went with Canon Raines, the Lancashire Antiquary of these times, to visit Milnrow and inspect the Pictures and Mss. of Tim Bobbin, the local writer of the dialect, &c. But when he had got Canon Wray, the Sub-Dean and Senior Canon of Manchester, to finish for him his term of duty, he went with the Dean of Manchester to Marlborough, “by Birmingham and Gloucester to Swindon, and then posted to Marlborough, had bed with a Mr. Merriman (rightly named). After breakfast this gentleman took a drive into Tottenham Park, the very finest I ever saw” – and so they went to the school, where there were nearly 500 boys. The Dean distributed the prizes and then there was a dinner. The Canon made a speech, for the strangers. Then away to London by G.W.R. – abbreviations not used yet I notice in the diaries. Visit the National Gallery, Modern Exhibition, Water Colours, Vernon Gallery, “then we walked in the Park and met the Duke” [of Wellington – he died in 1852] “whom I saw for the first time. Like Wordsworth. He kindly touched his hat to us and turned about that we might see him better, at the evident hint of the Marchioness of Down, who was with him. The whole tide of omnibuses stopped that he might cross the street. No other earthly power could have stopped them. Then went to the Exhibition – which I shall not attempt to describe. It is indeed the world – or rather the best of it! There about 3 hours with 60,000 companions. Close and hot. Off at 5 for Manchester and at the Palatine at 11 p.m.

For one or two of the stones on our Church window sills &c., this is interesting. “July 17th. Went to see Holm Cultram Abbey, a sadly ruined ruin! I saw a tomb with shears and the name of a lady (Juliana) upon it. Settles” (he says) ” the question that the shears are the mark of a female”.

July 23rd. 1851 “The Pewing of the Church going on”. It is “nearly finished” on August 11th.

There are two pages opposite to each other which might be headed “Quarrels 70 years ago”. One seems to have involved much language, and happened in St. Bees. The other happened in Manchester where owing to a quarrel, although a sermon had been preached for a Charity, no collection was made. I wonder what the “Widows and Orphans of the Clergy” thought about that dignified proceeding.

I am sorry to have to close on that note, but there is no more Diary. It ends with the beginning of the Term in September, 1851.

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