Sunday, 14 October 2012

Kirkby Thore, Bridge End Farm.

Bridge End Farm, Kirkby Thore [1]

For most of us who are researching our family history, if we go far enough back there is likely to be a farm at the end of the trail.

Bridge End Farm at Kirkby Thore in the former county of Westmoreland is one of these farms in my case.

It appears to have been the childhood home of my great great great grandfather William Nicholson (1780 - 1859). William was the sixth of eight children of John Nicholson of Southwaite and Ann Graham. [2] Together with his elder brother John Nicholson (1774-1863) he would go down to London to found J&W Nicholson, Gin Distillers.

The farm passed to the eldest brother, James Nicholson (1773-1827), however it is clear that William remained interested in events at his childhood home long into his adulthood as the following letters will demonstrate.

These letters come from a collection that has passed down to me through the maternal lines, with each generation passing it to another chosen lady, Nicholson, Greatrex, Hancock, Balmer until in my generation, we are only boys.

The earliest letter to survive was written on the 20th September 1816, from Kirkby Thore and appears to have been written by John Nicholson, the son of William Nicholson (1780-1859) to his Grandmother Mrs. Pane.  Mrs. Pane whose name was usually spelt Payne, was the daughter of Richard Payne "of Rochester."

20th. Sept-. 1816.

 Dear Grandmother.

I take the present Opportunity of addressing you, to let you see a Specimen of my writing, which, I know will give you great Pleasure. I am a great deal taller since I. came to Kirkbythore and am so much improved in my look that I think you would scarcely know me.

My Brother William and I like this Country very well and are very content.

Give my kind love to my Mother and Sisters, and accept the same yourself, together with my best thanks 

for all your kind Presents.

I remain, Dear Grandma',
yours affectionately,
John Nicholson.

 Mrs. Pane.
at J. and W. Nicholsons, Distillers,
Woodbridge Street, Clerkenwell,

That the connection remained strong is demonstrated by the following letter from John Nicholson, (son of Thomas Nicholson (1777-1841), to his Uncle William Nicholson. Thomas was the second son of John and Ann Nicholson, who had inherited the farm when the eldest son James Nicholson had died on the 9th of May 1827.

 Kirkbythore Bridge End,
                                                         Sepr. 18th 1845.

                My Dear Uncle,
                                                I take up my pen to write a few lines to you, in answer to the queries of your letter of the 23rd. of Aug. in respect of the crops.  At the same time I hope it will find you and all my friends in London enjoying good health as it leaves us all the same.  And that the heifers have arrived safe at Highgate.
                We got the Wheat Crop all under Cover on Saturday last.  In the slack places where it was so much laid there will be little or nothing in it, but upon the hills it will be beyond an average of the county.  In point of bulk of straw we never cut such a large crop within my 

recollection.  There was above seventy stooks per acre, which would have produced in a good year 7 qrts. Per acre, but I don’t think we shall have above 4 in the very best part of a field, and I don’t expect above one qr. In per acre in the slacks.  We have a splendid crop of Barley and Oats, I expect that we shall be able to deliver to the Brewers not much short of 200 qrs. Of Barley of 31 acres of land, and the Oats are beyond average.  We shall finish cutting corn this week but we have got nothing in up to this time except Wheat.  We have had 3 weeks of very fine weather up to yesterday when the weather broke down with rain and it continues showery today, with every appearance of more bad weather, and the Barometer is very low.

Our neighbour Mr. Crosby is busy cutting a noble crop of Oats on Brampton Moor, but has not got anything housed as yet.
                Your nephew James Atkinson got a Son and heir a fortnight gone Tuesday.  I saw him a few days ago and told him about the Wheat, and he said that he had not given you any information on the important subject, which I thought was very remiss on his part.  I told him that I was going to write to you and I would tell him what had happened, but you will have heard ere this though some other channel.  And all that I can say is that Mrs. Atkinson and her infant are doing as well as her friends could wish.
                I will be much obliged to you to give me intelligence how the price of Barley is likely to be this year.
                My kind love to Aunt and Cousins, and accept the same yourself,
                                From Your Affectionate Nephew,
                                                              John Nicholson
                                            I hope you will excuse my scrawl as it was done in a very
                                         Great hurry. J.N.

Wm. Nicholson.                                  
114 St. John Street.                                         

William's nephew James Atkinson mentioned is the son of William's elder sister Sarah Nicholson (1772- who had married Richard Atkinson on 18th April 1799 at Kirkby Thore.

There are many mentions of this family in the Kendal Mercury. My great great great great grandmother, Ann Nicholson, nee Graham death was noted as follows..

"At Kirkby Thore, the 5th inst., Mrs. Ann Nicholson, late Kirkby Thore Bridge End, aged 88 years—highly respected."

Kendal Mercury - Saturday 10 October 1835.[3]

Unfortunately in 1846 John Nicholson would misjudge the amount of barley he was able to offer for sale incorrectly and this would land him in court.  Thomas, his father would die on the 25th October 1847, and he may have already been ill, leaving his relatively inexperienced son in difficulty.

"COUNTY COURT, PENRITH. Monday. (Before T. H. Ingham, Esq., Judge.) There was this day a very extraordinary number of trifling cases, which were soon despatched. The court was crowded from an early hour, as several very interesting trials were anticipated. We shall notice the most important.  
New Brewery, Penrith, v. Mr. Nicholson, of Kirkby Thore. This was an action brought to recover £20 damages, for an alleged breach of bargain. Mr Wm. Blaymire appeared for plaintiffs, and Mr Jameson for defendant. John Harvey, agent to the New Brewery Company, said that in September, 1846, he bought all the barley Mr Nicholson had at 13s. 6d. per bushel. That Mr Nicholson had supplied to the New Brewery Co. 150 bushels only new and old, though he had that year 30 acres which, on average, would yield 300 bushels. Walter Wilson, maltster at the New Brewery, remembered Nicholson delivering the last 50 bushels of barley, and saying that he had other 50 ready for coming. Edward Robson, formerly brewer to the Company, remembered Thomas Nicholson coming to the Brewery and asking for empty sacks. He (Robson) told him of a party with whom the New Brewery Company had agreed to take the whole of his barley; but the party question, in consequence of the advance in the price, had refused to bring any more. Nicholson repudiated the selfishness of the individual, and said that Mr Harvey had bought all his barley, and he would deliver it, and he would have delivered it at whatever price he had bargained for. Other witnesses were called, the tendency of whose evidence was to prove that the defendant, after the advance in price, had refused to supply the barley according to bargain. Mr Jameson rose to reply for the defendant, and said that the evidence which he would bring forward would entirely contradict the evidence to which they had been listening. The plain bargain was, that Mr Harvey was to have all the new barley the defendant could spare. Mr Nicholson had about 100 head of cattle in 1846-the potato crop was a failure, as was the turnip crop to a considerable extent, and was it likely, with the fact of the failure before him, that Mr Nicholson would make a bargain as foolish as that which had been stated the plaintiffs? Was it likely that Mr Nicholson would sell the whole of his barley, and reserve none for the consumption of his family and cattle? Thomas Nicholson said that he never agreed to sell the whole of his barley, but merely what he had to spare. Other witnesses made similar statements. The Judge, in summing up to the jury, said if they believed Mr Harvey's statement of the bargain which Mr Nicholson had made, however foolish, he was bound to stand to it; but if, on the other hand, they believed Mr Nicholson, the case was widely different. These points he left for their consideration. Verdict for the plaintiffs,-- damages, £20. Mr Jameson moved for a new trial, as he said the jury had given their verdict contrary to evidence."
Kendal Mercury - Saturday 08 April 1848 [4]

I would be fascinated to learn more about Bridge Farm and the other people mentioned in these letters, and I would be very pleased to hear from you if you know anything more about their lives.

[1] Photo from Google Streetview.
[2] Rev'd Nigel Nicholson, Nicholson, being a compilation of family trees, published 1996.
[3] & [4] British Library Newspaper Archive.

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