Blennerhassett Family Tree
Genealogy one-name study      by Bill Jehan
   Introduction      History      Blennerhassett Name and Origin

Blennerhasset Village direction signpost
Blennerhassett Name & Origin
Blennerhasset Manor & Village
"Children's children are the crown of old men;
 and the glory of children are their fathers"
                                           - Proverbs, chapter 17, verse 6
shown as a Pedigree of the Lords of Allerdale, in Cumbria
in Allerdale, Cumberland, as it passed through different hands

Entering Blennerhasset Village

The ancient family 'de Blenerhayset', now called 'Blennerhassett', are of English stock. The origin of what is now essentially an Irish name may be found at the manor and village of Blenerhayset (now Blennerhasset, with single 't') in Alnerdeale (Allerdale), Cumbria, close to the border with lowland Scotland. Pronunciation has been Blen'hayset, Blen'hassett, Blen'rassett or simply 'Rassett. They come from Alnerdal or Allerdale, this being the northern part of ancient Cumbria, close to the border with lowland Scotland. Cumbria was then held by the Earl of Northumberland (or Northumbria) and at the Norman conquest of England in 1066 was not yet a part of England, so is not described in the Domesday Book. Ancient Cumbria became the old English counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, recombined in the mid-20th century as a new English county of Cumbria.
In 1072 William the Conqueror took from the Saxon Gospatric (I) his Earldom of Northumberland (Northumbria) and exiled him to Scotland, giving all of Cumbria to Ranulf de Meschins and all the land of Copeland between the rivers Dutton and Derwent to William Meschins, brother of Ranulf. Gospatric (I), Earl of Northumberland (from whom the town Aspatria takes its name) had a son Waldeof (Waldeif, Waldeve), who was to recover great estates in Cumberland & Westmorland, being granted the whole of the Barony of Alnerdal (Allerdale) between the rivers Wampool and Derwent, by Ranulf de Meschins, and all lands between the rivers Cocker and Derwent by William de Meschins, Lord of Copeland.
Gospatric, Earl of Northumberland (from whom the Cumberland town Aspatria, near Blennerhasset, takes its name) had a son Earl Waldeof, first Lord of Allerdale, which he held of the King by service of cornage. His son Alan FitzWaldeof, second Lord of Allerdale, was benefactor of the Cistercian Abbey of St.Mary, Holm Cultram, restoring the monastery founded by Henry I (1100-1135) and giving to it one third of the manor of Holm Cultram (a.k.a. Abbeyholme or Abbeytown). Alan gave the Manor of Blenerhayset (Blennerhasset), with Upmanby (then called Ukmanby or Uckmanby), to his brother-in-law Ranulph de Lindsey, on the occasion of Ranulph's marriage to Alan's sister Ochtreda. Ranulph was from that time styled "Lord of Blenerhayset and Uckmanby", and from his family the property passed to the de Mulcaster family, who held Blenerhayset for a long time. 
The Blenerhayset family appear to have resided at Blenerhayset in Allerdale at an early date, perhaps before the Norman conquest of England began in 1066, at which time Cumberland was not yet a part of England so is not accounted in the Domesday Book. Carrying no surname and owning no property, the family will no doubt have worked the land or otherwise served their Lord of the Manor. In the twelfth century one of them adopted or was given the name of the manor as a personal surname, he and his descendants being described as "de Blenerhayset" (i.e. "of Blenerhayset").
During the late 13th or early 14th century a descendant left the manor of Blenerhayset for the nearby city of Carlisle, "...for centuries the bulwark of the Western Marches against the Scots...". There in the 1350s is found Alan de Blenerhayset, prospering as merchant and participating in local politics, who in 1390 sealed a deed with the arms still used by the family. To carry such arms Alan or his ancestor will have performed significant service, perhaps military in nature, but how and when these arms were acquired is unknown. The three dolphins may perhaps indicate a connection with the sea.

The earliest surviving representation of Blennerhassett coat-of-arms is "Gules three dolphins embowed Argent" (without a chevron), for John de Blenerhasset, illustrated in an Ordinary of Arms known as Thomas Jenyn's Book (sometimes "Thomas Jenyn's Roll"), Queen Margaret's version. This bound Ms. Ordinary or Book of Arms is believed compiled c1398 (21/22 Richard II) although one source suggests temp. Edward III (1327-1377) and another c1410. Thomas Jenyn's Book is archived at the British Library Department of Manuscripts, document ref: Add. Ms. 40851, f.68 (p.126). In this, the individual Blennerhassett shield of arms is numbered, No.1498. The book has been microfilmed.
[BL Add.Ms.40581, f.68 (p.126)] [BL microfilm M2105 (monochrome)] [Boos TJ] [FCA] [HUDDLESTON p.28] [TG vol.5 p.98].
For generations after the family resided in or near Carlisle [N&B v.2 p.109].

A Carlisle newspaper cutting, seen in a scrapbook [FS] of c1886, suggests:
"...The Blennerhassets, or de Blennerhassets as the name originally was, are a Carlisle family, and the first of them that appeared here, probably as an apprentice to one or other of the guilds, was called after the name of his native village in the parish of Torpenhow, to distinguish him from his fellow apprentices, in days when surnames were unknown. The family was not of importance at Blennerhasset, as they do not appear to have held land there, or to have been lords of the manor. It is probable that the first of the family to appear in Carlisle was apprenticed to a tailor, for the Blennerhassets were members of the guild of Tailors at Carlisle, but the family at an early date rose to high position..."
This item also states that some Blenerhaysets were "...wardens of their guild, the Tailors..." .
[GRAHAM p.49] writes "...The family seems to have been then resident at Blennerhasset... ...but by the time of the next Alan de Blenerhayset c1353/4 they resided at Carlisle; at Carlisle the family prospered and many were elected Burgesses during the 14th century..." .
Blenerhaysets prospered at Carlisle a further 200 years, often serving as Mayor, Sheriff or Burgess for that city, until in 1547 they established themselves as gentry at Flemby Hall, Flemby (now called Flimby) on the Cumberland coast. From Cumberland departed sons who founded dynasties in the English counties Norfolk & Suffolk, also Irish counties Kerry, Limerick & Fermanagh.
Ancestor of the Norfolk, Suffolk and Fermanagh lines was Ralph de Blenerhayset of Carlisle, who in 1423 married Joan de Lowdham of Loudham, a 14 year old heiress. At the time of the marriage Joan was already a widow, she having as a child been married to Thomas de Heveningham, who died in 1422. By this marriage Ralph gained the manors of Loudham, Toddenham & Halvergate in Suffolk, Frenze in Norfolk, Kelvedon in Essex, thus becoming Lord of the Manor for these places, a young man of property and some standing in East Anglia.
In 1430 Ralph travelled from England to France as one of the retinue of Humphrey, Earl of Stafford, one year before the boy king Henry VI of England was crowned King of France, a Plantagenet attempt to permanently unite the two crowns following Henry V's famous victory at Agincourt fifteen years earlier. Ralph was knighted, at date and place unknown. His tomb of 1475 at Frenze in Co.Norfolk displays a fine monumental brass with effigy of "Ralph Blenerhayset, Esquire" wearing armour of the early 15th century, the earliest surviving portrait of a Blennerhassett.
Today only the Kerry and Limerick branches flourish, the others extinct in the male line, thus all living Blennerhassetts are of Irish descent. Their common ancestor is Robert Blennerhassett of Flimby, Co.Cumberland, who settled in Ireland soon after his father Thomas was granted lands in Co.Kerry in 1590.
Robert was one of three principal English planters or undertakers who settled some of the 6,000 acres in Kerry granted in 1587 by Queen Elizabeth I to Sir Edward Denny, Knt, of Dennyvale & Tralee, as his part of the "Plantation of Munster" she established on the vast Munster estates previously forfeited by the rebel FitzGerald, Earl of Desmond. The Denny grant included the Earl of Desmond's chief castle and town of Tralee.
The grant to Thomas Blennerhassett was contingent on he, or his heirs, rendering "one red rose at the festival of Saint John the Baptist (29th August)" and paying a rent of "six pounds sterling" per year. The family established themselves on adjoining townlands Ballycarty and Ballyseedy, a few miles from to Tralee, and since then have remained a prominent and well-respected family in Kerry and Limerick.
The Blennerhassetts of Co.Fermanagh in Ulster are distant cousins of those in Co.Kerry, descending from two brothers from Norwich in Co.Norfolk Blennerhassett. The Elizabethan writer and poet Thomas Blennerhassett from c1600 served as a soldier in Ireland and also at Castle Cornet, in St Peter Port, Guernsey, Channel Islands.  A few years later he, with his brother Sir Edward Blennerhassett, Knight, settled by beautiful Loch Erne in Co.Fermanagh, having in 1610 been granted land in the "Plantation of Ulster", on confiscated Maguire property in the western part of the Barony of Lurg.  Their property stretched from Belleek to the river Bannagh and there they built Castle Hassett (Crevenish Castle) at Hassettstown (Ederney), also Hassett's Fort (Castle Caldwell) and the new towns Belleek, Ederney & Kesh. Belleek is today famous for its pottery.

Blennerhassett as a Family Name 
The earliest (known) documented use of de Blenerhayset as a surname is a young woman <???> de Blenerhayset who married John de Newbiggin, 3rd son of Laurence de Newbiggin & <???> Wharton.
Laurence de Newbiggin granted lands to the abbey of St.Mary, Holm Cultram (a.k.a. Abbeyholme, Abbeytown) temp. Henry II (1154-1189), so the marriage was probably about that time [Cal. Pat. Rolls, Henry II, p.254] [BROWNE p. 1].
The next occurrence is Waldeve (a.k.a. Baldwin) de Blenerhayset, whose son Alan de Blenerhayset was pardoned in 1270 (54/55 Henry III) " the instance of  Edward the King's son, for causing the death of another, and for any consequent outlawry..." [Cal. Pat. Rolls, 1270 (54/55 Henry III), p.446].  "Edward the King's son" was Prince Edward (b. 1239 d.1307), eldest son of King Henry III & Eleanor of Provence, soon to be crowned King Edward I of England at Westminster Abbey on 19.8.1274.
Considering this connection to Prince Edward, and Waldeve/Waldeof being variants of the same name, it is interesting to conjecture if Waldeve de Blenerhayset & his son Alan may be in some way related to the Lord of the Manor Alan FitzWaldeof, but no evidence found to indicate any family connection.  The first names Waldeve and Alan may have entered the Blenerhayset family as a mark of respect toward their Lord or because they were popular names in use at the time.
The spelling of the family name varied almost as much as the place name, evolving from de Blenerhayset, to Blenerhayset, to Blenerhaset, to Blennerhassett, with numerous variations.  Until the late 18th century the pronuncation of the family name remained "Blener'hay'set", not the modern "Blener'hass'et".
Outside Cumberland the name has been considered unusual and somewhat exotic, the celebrated Co.Norfolk man of letters Sir John Paston (II) writing to his brother on 2-Apr-1474 that Ralph Blennerhassett has "a name to start a hare" .

Pronouncation of the family-name has been  Blenerhayset,  Blen'hayset,  Blen'hasset,  Blen'rasset,  'Rasset, 'Hasset or 'Asset...
The place-name is, in Cumbria, generally pronounced blin’reisit or 'Rasset.   
The neighbouring village of Torpenhow, location of the 12th century parish church of St Michael, is pronounced Truh'penn'ah or Trepenna.

Some works relating to the history of Co.Norfolk contain references to the family name spelled "Bleverhayset", "Bleverhassett", etc.  This is wrong, the letter "V" was never used, being an error arising because some 18th century antiquarians such as [BLOMEFIELD] misread inscriptions on monumental brasses of the Blennerhassett family at Frenze and elsewhere.  An understandable mistake, the lettering is difficult to read and the name in East Anglia had become extinct early in the 18th century, so the reader of an inscription who was unfamiliar with the name could just as well see a "V" as an "N", and once in print their errors were often repeated by others.   

The hyphenated version of the name occurs mostly in Canada, in some branches of families descended from two Blennerhassetts of the Lissataggle, Currans, Co.Kerry, Ireland family who emigrated to Lower Canada (Quebec) and Upper Canada (Ontario) during the mid 19th century.  This change of name appears to have occurred soon after their arrival and may originate with the way the name was written on immigration documents.  These families are now widespread, particularly in Western Canada (Manitoba, Saskachewan, Alberta and and British Columbia) where many use Blenner-Hassett although some have stayed with Blennerhassett and others shortened their name to Hassett.
A South African family also adopted the Blenner-Hassett variation.  Irish-American academic Rowland Blenner-Hasset (1906-1986), born of a Tralee Blennerhassett family that had for many years previously had been content to be known as "Hassett", on emigrating to the USA adopted "Blenner-Hassett, he perhaps believing the full name more appropriate for his published work as Professor of English (Medievalist) and Doctor of Philology.  Alec Blenner-Hassett Haden Morris, who died when HMS Hood was sunk during WWII, also used the hyphenated name despite none of his ancestors doing so.

Some, but not all, of a Liverpool branch of the family use the variant "Blennarhassett", the result of an early 20th century spelling error when registering a birth.

There are two distinct origins to the name Hassett.
1. The gaelic Irish family "Hassett", whose homeland is in Co.Clare and north Co.Tipperary. This ancient Thomond family or sept of Oh Aiseadha were formerly called O'Hassia and O'Hessedy in English language records, from which evolved O'Hassett and the modern form, Hassett.  This spelling was adopted during the 17th century, but the names O'Hashea, Assett, Hassie and Hussae were also in use at that time.
An unrelated family called O'Hassie, now known as Hahessy or Oh Aithesa in Irish and originally from Co.Galway, may still be found in Co.Waterford.
2. The Blennerhassett family have, from early times in both England and Ireland, used the name 'Hassett, Hassett or Hasset for convenience as an alternave surname.  This arose out of convenience, as a verbal shorthand, people being addressed as "Mr Hassett" or "Capt. Hassett", they using the full name "Blennerhassett" principally for documents and letters.  Because Blennerhassett families became known to everyone in their locality as "Hassett", church ministers or local officials would sometimes write Hassett in public records such as parish registers.  This became accepted, the names Blennerhassett and Hassett appearing in documents and records more or less at random, for the same individuals, from the late 15th century onwards.
Some Blennerhassett families who had become isolated from a main line of the family, or who emigrated to the USA, Canada or Australia, after a while dropped the "Blenner" altogether, the family becoming "Hassett" for all purposes.  A few individuals in these families later reverted to the full name, but most did not.
The non-Irish Blennerhassett families all being extinct in the male line, if you carry the surname Hassett, whether your ancestors were always Hassett, or were once Blennerhassett, they were certainly Irish.
Because of the above, in Ireland it is sometimes not at all easy to distinguish between Blennerhassetts, who settled in Co.Kerry & Co.Fermanagh at the end of the 16th century, and the gaelic Irish Hassett.  A modern Hassett whose ancestors hail from Co.Clare or Co.Tipperary is generally a native Irish "Hassett", while a Hassett whose ancestors came from Co.Kerry is always descended from "Blennerhassett".  Those from Co.Cork or Co.Limerick or from one of the Irish cities may be descended from either.
The spelling of Hassett varies, the name recorded as Hassett, Hasset, Hasett, Hasset, Hasett, Haset, Assett, Asset, Accett or Accet.  When searching for the name a little imagination is sometimes reguired... 

Here is a curious occurance. In some Co.Kerry parish registers, both Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland, marriages have occurred where either the bride or groom have, in the parish register, entered their surname and that of their father as Blennerhassett.  Following this, either on the same day or at some subsequent date, the Blenner portion of the name has been struck through (crossed out), leaving only Hassett.
Where this occurs, the Blennerhassett half of the couple is usually a descendant of a couple who married without parental approval, often a mixed Church of Ireland / Roman Catholic marriage, or is a descendant of an illigimate or "natural" Blennerhassett child.  I have also seen this in England, once, at Swindon village near Cheltenham in 1832.
It may be that, in these cases, the priest has decided or been persuaded that such  families should be recorded as Hassett and not Blennerhassett.
An example of this may be seen in the Parish Registers of Kilcolman, Co.Kerry. 

Blennerhasset as a Place Name
The earliest documented references to the manor of Blennerhasset are as "Blendherseta" in 1188 & 1189 and "Blennerheiseta" in 1188
"The Place Names of Cumberland" part 2, pub. by The English Place-name Society, vol.21, 1943-44 [PNC] lists these spellings:
1188 Pipe Rolls
1353 Carliol, Pipe Rolls
1501 Inquisition Post Mortem (i.p.m.)
1188, 1189 Pipe Rolls
Blenh’ sete                 
1190-2, 1195 Pipe Rolls   
1194 Pipe Rolls   
1194 Close Rolls
1230 Scotland    
1235 Feet of Fines   
various spellings occur using combinations of:
Blenyr-, Blenar- & –hayset, -heysat, -haysat, -hesset, -hasset
1235-1400 Feet of Fines  
1276 Ass 


1290 AD vi  
c1290 Lowther   
1308 Inquisition Post Mortem (i.p.m.)
1432 AD i   
1271 Patent Rolls
1271 Patent Rolls
1276 Ass   
1278 Ass 
1278 Ass   
1278 Ass   
1278 Ch  
1426 Cl, 1459 Patent Rolls
1610 Speed (on one of Speed's maps)
1675 Sandford   
1675 Ogilby   
"The Place-names of Cumberland and Westmorland", by W.J. Sedgfield (1915), [PNCW] lists these spellings:
1188 P.R. 
1291, 1189 Inquisition Post Mortem (i.p.m)
Testementa Karliolensis(?) 
1188, 1353 P.R.
1190 P.R.
1285 Inquisition Post Mortem (i.p.m)
1234 Feet of Fines
Testementa Karliolensis(?) 
1238, 1369 Feet of Fines
1277 Charter Rolls
Other spellings are Blennyre, Blenerseta & Blenerhayset in 1392/3 

Meaning of the Place Name
"The Place-names of Cumberland and Westmorland", by W.J. Sedgfield 1915 [PNCW]:
"A difficult name. Judging from several of the recorded forms, the latter part may possibly be from Old Norse hey, ' hay/ and Old Norse scetr, * summer-pasture.' If this is correct, we may look for a pers. n. in the first el.
For the terminal forms -hasset, 'hayset, etc., we may compare Ughtrichassatf an early form of Oughterside, q.v. The P.R. spellings -herset, -hersete seem to be errors."
"The Oxford Dictionary of English Place-Names" 1960 [ODEP]:
"Apparently a hybrid name, the second part being an Old Norse HEYSAETR or 'Hay Shieling'.
The first seems to contain Welsh BLAEN meaning 'top'. It might be the Welsh BLAEN-DRE or "Hill Farm".
“A Dictionary of English Placenames” by A.D.Mills 1993 [DEPN]:
“Hay Shieling at the Hill Farm”, from “blain (Celtic) + tre + hey (Old Scandanavian) + saetr”.
It could mean simply “Hay hut (i.e. barn or shed) on the hill”
“The Place Names of Cumberland” part 2 (English Place-name Society, vol.21 1943-44) [PNC]:
“Probably, as suggested by Ekwall ("A Dictionary of English Place Names"), the Old Norse heysaetr, ‘haysheiling’, has been added to a British place-name containing blaen, ‘top’. The medial –er- is best explained by Ekwall on the supposition that the full first element corresponded to Welsh blaen-dre, ‘hill farm’.”
I have difficulty accepting the above definitions without question because Blennerhasset village lies on flat land, the Solway Plain, through the River Ellen flows, and itself has no hill. However, nearby Torpenhow, which I have been told means "hill-hill-hill", is certainly higher than Blennerhasset.

Blennerhasset Manor (The Manor of Blennerhasset and Upmanby)
and the manor house, Blennerhasset Hall


The medieval manor of Blenerhayset, a.k.a. "Blenerhayset and Ukmanby (or Upmanby") is now the Village of Blennerhasset, unlike the family name spelt with a single 't'. In past times spelling of the place name varied considerably, but by the 19th century Blennerhasset was well established.  In Cumbria the village name is pronounced blin’reisit or 'Rasset (see above).
Local pronouncation of Cumberland place-names is fascinatingBlennerhasset is pronounced 'Rasset, the neighbouring village of Torpenhow (location of the parish church of St Michael) is Truh'pen'nah or Trepenna, Blencogo is CogaAspatria is Patri (Aspatria named for Gospatric I, Earl of Northumberland), Burgh-by-Sands is Bruff-by-Sands and Drumburgh is Drumbruff... 

"The manor of Ukmanby, or Upmanby, together with that of Blennerhasset, was granted by Alan, second lord of Allerdale, to Ranulphus de Lyndsay, in marriage with his sister, Ochtreda. It subsequently passed to the Tilliols by marriage, which family ending in females, was divided among them. The Tilliols in their time appear to have wielded considerable influence, and, during the 11th century, several members of the family were summoned to Parliament. These shares of the dismembered estate subsequently passed by purchase into other hands. The principal landowners of the parish are Lord Leconfield, lord of the manor; Sir Wilfrid Lawson, Bart., William Parkin-Moore, Esq., and Joseph Hope."
[Bulmer's History & Directory of Cumberland " 1901]

"Blennerhassett Hall", originally the medieval manor house, is now a farm <need photograph>. Until the 18th Century tenants of Blennerhasset manor paid an ancient annual rent of £23, and arbitrary fines, also heriots on the widow's death as well as on the death of the tenant, and several boons and services, viz: “ day mowing, shearing, ploughing, meadows dressing, and two days leading coals...

Miscellaneous documents relating to Blennerhasset Manor are held by Cumbria Archive Centre, Carlisle [Ref: D/MBS 9/4/1, D LAW/1/72, D/Law 2/15 (NRA36260) etc]. Among the Lawson estate papers is "Manor of Blennerhasset: Colored (sic) Tracing of Plan" [Ref: D LAW/1/72/3]This is described as a tracing c1900 from an early 19th century plan, 127x 87 (cm?), scale 4 chains to 1 inch, with "Field names, acreages, tenure, name of previous owner; abutting owners; fields coloured blue or yellow; also shows the River Ellen, roads, Fitz, Blennerhasset Village (mostly in hand), Harby Brow, Cock bridge, Aldersceugh."

Blennerhasset manor is sometimes described as "Baggrow - Manor of Blennerhasset and Upmanby". Cumbria Archive Centre also has documents relating to Upmanby Manor [Ref: DMBS 9/4/1, SC 6/1144/13, D HUD 9/12/4 etc]
A paper "Torpenhow Church" by Rev. C.H. Gem, vicar of Torpenhow, read at Torpenhow 30-Aug-1876, tells us:
        "The Parish, not withstanding its numerous townships, is singularly destitute of ancient seats. Torpenhall, the seat of the Applebys, Moresbys, and Fletchers, which was situated about a hundred yards to the north-east of the church-yard, has entirely disappeared. Bothel Hall, a mean and poor house, is now a farm. Blennerhassett Hall (sic), also a farm, is of rather earlier date, but small. There are two seventeenth century cottages on the other side of the road at Blennerhasset. On the turnpike road below Kirkland there may be noticed a public house with the initials and date over the door. This was "Low Wood Nook", the patrimonial seat of the Addisons, from whom sprang the Addisons of Maulds meaburn, in Westmorland, and the Addisons of Maryland, now a rich and influential family in the United States. On the east side of Bothel Beck is a large boulder stone, locally called Sampson. It is 21 feet long and 10 feet above the ground. It has evidently been carried by the ice, as I am informed by Professor Harkness, from the granite rocks of Dumfriesshire." [TCWASS 1878 v.3 ART. VII pp.34-42]
If you have knowledge of the history of Blennerhasset Hall, photographs or other illustrations, please Contact Us.

Nearby manors:

When Brayton Hall estate was sold in 1924 a sale catalogue was printed by Mitchell's of Cockermouth. This includes detail of land and property in the Blennerhasset-Baggrow area that had been part of the estate. A reprint is available from local historian Mick Jane at:
The Manor of Whitehall at an early date belonged to the Percys; subsequently it was the property and residence of a younger branch of the Salkelds, of Corby. The last of this family was Henry Salkeld, Esq., who, dying without issue, the estate became the subject of a long Chancery suit, and was at length awarded to the Charltons, of Hesleyside, Northumberland, who claimed their descent from Margaret, daughter of Francis Salkeld, Esq. The old manor residence, now a farmhouse, appears from a date in the wall to have been built in 1589. The tower is supposed to date back to the reign of Henry IV. In 1861 the house was restored and enlarged by the late George Moore. [Bulmer's History & Directory of Cumberland " 1901]
Whitehall was demolished in the 1960s.
A reprint of "The History of Whitehall from the 13th Century" by Samuel Smiles c1884 is available from Mick Jane.

Parish of St Michael and All Angels, Torpenhow - Blennerhasset Tithes
There is no Anglican church within Blennerhasset village. The parish church for Blennerhasset is the 12th century church of St Michael, now called St Michael and All Angels, located in the neighbouring village of Torpenhow ("The Hill of Torpen"), pronounced Truh'pen'nah or Trepenna.

"The church of Torpenhow was given by Sibella de Valoniis and Eustachius D'Estoteville, to the prior and convent of Rossdale, in Yorkshire, to whom it was appropriated; but by an award made in the year 1290, by Bishop Irton, the glebe, &c. of Torpenhow, and the great tithes of Torpenhow, Threapland, Aldersceugh, Applewray, Snittlegarth, Bellasis, and Bowaldeth, were assigned to the vicar, for the maintenance of three priests and one sub-deacon: some of these tithes were granted by Queen Elizabeth in 1562, to Cicely Pickrell, and the remainder, in 1574, to John Sonky and Percival Gunson. These tithes belonged to the vicar till the late enclosure act, under which lands were given in lieu of them. The tithes of Bothill and Blennerhasset, which were reserved to the priory of Rossdale, were granted tothe Salkelds, and were held till lately with the Whitehall estate. Under the inclosure act an allotment was given in lieu of the tithes of Bothill. Mr Charlton has sold the great tithes of Blennerhasset to Mr Hodgson, of that place; the small tithes belong to the vicar of Torpenhow. The great tithes of the manor of Kirkland belong to the land owners. In 1807 an act of parliament passed for inclosing those in the town-ship of Threapland (Threapland-town Green excepted); and in 1814 an act for inclosing lands in the manor of Bowaldeth. The Bishop of Carlisle is patron of the vicarage, which is in the deanery of Allerdale."
[LYSONS Magna Britannia, 1816 v.4 Cumberland p.162].

The parish of Torpenhow includes four townships (i.e. villages or hamlets), each of these at one time a distinct manor.
cum (with) 
"Torpenhow Church" by Rev. C.H. Gem, vicar of Torpenhow, a paper read at Torpenhow 30-Aug-1876, tells us:
"The Parish of Torpenhow, containing an area of 9.001 acres, is situated on the south bank of the river Ellen, or Elne, as the original name seems to have been. The land rises gradually from the river till it reaches its highest points, Camp Hills, Caermote, and Binsey, and then descends into Bassenthwaite Lake. The Parish is divided into four "quarters", comprising the eight town-ships of Torpenhow and WhitriggBewaldeth and SnittlegarthBothel and ThreaplandBlennerhasset and Kirkland. The population is 1152, mostly employed in agriculture, though owing to the working of the coal mines in Aspatria and Mealsgate, an increasing number are devoting themselves to mining." [TCWASS 1878 v.3 ART. VII pp.34-42]

Torpenhow parish is part of Binsey Team Ministry, serving the parishes of Allhallows, Bassenthwaite, Boltons, Ireby, Isel, Plumbland, Setmurthy, Torpenhow and Uldale.

There are no Blennerhassett surnamed family memorials at Torpenhow church or churchyard.
During the late 18th and early 19th centuries a Blennerhassett family resided iat the nearby town of Wigton, some of that family interred in Wigton churchyard.

Parish of Allhallows (a neighbouring parish)
"Allhallows, a village, a township, and a parish in Cumberland, on the river Ellen........The property includes the manors of Baggrow, Harby-Brow, Upmanby, Whitehall, Lees Rigg, and Priestcroft. The Lawson family are lords of the manor and sole landowners. Coal, lime, and freestone are worked. ["The Comprehensive Gazetteer of England and Wales" 1894-95]

Blennerhasset Village
This ancient Cumberland village lies on the banks of the River Ellen (with salmon still running and hiding under the bridge), on the edge of the Solway Plain in Allerdale, within the recently created English county of Cumbria. Cumbria was formed in 1974 by merging the historic counties of Cumberland and Westmorland, part of Lancashire north of the sands, and part of Yorkshire.

The village is small and has all but merged with the adjacent hamlet of Baggrow across the river Ellen, to form a single community connected by "Blennerhasset Bridge". Blennerhasset has a thriving village school that has served the community since c1867 and about which a video was produced a few years ago. There is also a Post Office with shop.  The local pub is the “Grey Goat”, across the river at Baggrow. Good descriptions with photographs of bridge, school and pub appear in "Two Centuries of a Cumberland Village: Blennerhasset", by local historian Geoffrey Bremner, published by Bookcase, 19 Castle Street, Carlisle CA3 8SY (price £10 plus postage and packing). The Church of England Parish has merged to become "Blennerhasset and Torpenhow".
An advertisement in the “Mining Journal” of 1860 [MJ 1860 pp.634,732] offered for sale the “...Blennerhassett Estate, Torpenhow, Cumberland...” including “...minerals under, coal & iron...”.
William Lawson of Brayton was a prominent at Blennerhasset, a benefactor and supporter of local industry. interested in the concept of co-operative farming and in October 1861 he was given "Blennerhasset Farm" by his father, a local landowner, on which to experiment with his ideas.  The farm was initially 333 acres, to which another farm of 87 acres was added. Lawson organized a farm worker's agricultural cooperative to run the farm, the labourers having a large share of the profits and the provision of machinery being on a co-operative basis.  The experiment had notable successes, but Lawson later disagreed with some of the workers' decisions and they didn't appreciate him attempting to interfere with their policies. The experiment was terminated after ten years, "the tenants being unable to keep themselves above water", and the farm sold.
William Lawson owned a famous stallion which he named "Co-operation". In 1867 he opened Blennerhasset village shop and Post Office, which thrives today.  His experiences were published in 1874 as "Ten Years of Gentleman Farming at Blennerhasset", reprinted 1875 in the "Good Words" magazine, part of "Experiments in Agriculture, Physical and Social" by John Ludlow [LAWSON] [JONES]. A "Plan of Blennerhasset Farm, the property of William Lawson, Esq." of June 1870 is at [CRO PR138/33].
The catalogue for the sale of Brayton Hall in 1924 shows what land was owned by the Lawson family at that time.

A coal mine opened nearby at Fletchertown c1870, many men from Blennerhasset working there, at the mine. Several families presently in the Fletchertown area came from Blennerhasset at that time.
Another significant local benefactor was George Moore of Whitehall and Mealsgate (b.1806 d.1876) whose generosity is remembered in the poem "Lines to the memory of George Moore of Whitehall, who died November 21st, 1876" by John Bewley of Blennerhasset (see "A Blennerhasset village poet" below). Moore exchanged land in Blennerhasset with the Lawson family so that the (Primitive?) Church could be built.
Blennerhasset School is a thriving village primary school with a long history, more than 100 pupils attended in 1857.
motto: "Believe, Achieve, Succeed!"
Blennerhasset Village Hall (properly called "Blennerhasset and Bagrow Village Hall") was built in the late 1940s by unemployed men of the two villages, on land donated by the Lawson Estate.
In the village is a workshop making quality hardwood furniture. 

Blennerhasset village post code is CA5

photo: BJ         click on image to enlarge
Blennerhasset Village Post Office
photo: courtesy of Monina Rogers
postcard of war memorial soon after installation in 1921
photo: BJ                    click on image to enlarge
click on image to enlarge war memorial as reworked following WWII 
photo: copyright © Stuart Nicholson 2012

Located at the village green, installed on the base of an ancient stone cross.
 designed by Beattie & Sons of Carlisle, made of red granite, 9ft high, cost £110.
Unveiled 26-Jun-1921 by Lieut W. Stephenson, son of the village schoolmaster.
Dedicated by Rev. J. Wordsworth, vicar of All Hallows church, whose son was KIA early in WWI.
+ 1914-18 +
              1915  HENRY H. BEWLEY
              1916  JOHN C. BIRNEY
                       GEORGE LAWSON
              1917  RICHARD REYNOLDS
              1918  FRANK SHANKLIN
                       THOMAS W. BELL
                       GEORGE TELFORD
               1940  ALBERT H. SUTTON
                        STANLEY BATY
               1942  FRANCES A. WRAPE
               1943  JOHN PATTERSON
               1944  ROBERT ELLIOTT
                        FRED H. ATKINSON

click on image to enlarge
Village of Blennerhasset, Co.Cumberland c1920
click on image to enlarge
Village of Blennerhasset, Co.Cumberland c1920
Two postcards of Blennerhasset Village c1920
Blennerhasset is three miles from the larger village of Aspatria, eight miles from Wigton (the closest town), and 18 miles from Carlisle (the closest city). It is now a joint township with Kirkland, of 1263 acres, and since 1934 has been a part of the parish of Torpenhow, in Allerdale ward below Darwent.

click on image to enlarge
click on image to enlarge
Baggrow & Blennerhasset Cricket Club c1906
Matches were then played on the Brayton Park Estate.
The Cricket Club remains active, now playing at Blennerhasset Sports Field and Playing Field 
This is a "Real Photograph"* postcard dated 18th September 1906,
with Edward VII halfpenny green postage stamp and Blennerhasset Post Office postmark.
Photographs of the 1908 team and pages from the club's 1921 fixture list are illustrated (pp.118-119) in
"Two Centuries of a Cumberland Village: Blennerhasset"
by local historian Geoffrey Bremner, published by Bookcase, 19 Castle Street, Carlisle CA3 8SY
(price £10 plus postage and packing)
*NOTE: Real Photograph Postcards (RPPC) are original photographs, reproduced by developing onto photographic paper of similar size and weight to a conventional Postcard, with a printed Postcard back. Although a Real Photograph Postcard image is not printed, a quantity of almost identical cards may be made from the same negative 


Roman Fort at Blennerhasset
Located as it was at the extreme northern edge of the ancient Roman Empire, Blennerhasset contains the site of a Roman Fort, at O.S. NY1941.
Read "Fieldwork on the Roman Fort Site at Blennerhasset, Cumbria" by Jeremy Evans & Christopher Schull
[EVANS & SCHULL] & [BRITANNIA vol.XVIII, 1987, p.12].
A paper "Torpenhow Church" by Rev. C.H. Gem, vicar of Torpenhow, read at Torpenhow 30-Aug-1876, tells us:
"Within the area of the parish are to be found the remains of two camps; the one on Camp Hill is Roman and commands the approach from Keswick (through the plain in which Bassenthwaite Lake is situated), towards the Roman road from Carlisle by Papcastle, to the west. Close to this camp, when the neighbouring fields were broken up, two Roman hand-millstones were discovered, and are now in the possession of Mr R. Fisher Irving, in whose land they were discovered. About half a mile westward there is another camp, erected by the Danes, on Caer Mote. This camp, like the other, from its lofty location, commands a large tract of country from Bassenthwaite to the coast." [TCWASS 1878 v.3 ART. VII pp.34-42]

A report on results of a survey of the site undertaken in 2013 may be read on the Blennerhasset village website.

Blennerhasset Mill
Blennerhasset Mill is some distance to the north of the Village of Blennerhasset, where the River Ellen forms its boundary. This  is a water-driven flour mill deriving its power from the River Ellen, located near Green Bank, Aspatria. Built or rebuilt of sandstone c1647, it ground corn for the people of Blennerhasset, Baggrow and surrounding area. From ca1990 owned and restored by Andy Curle of Wigton with local volunteer help, the mill is a renewable energy project, surrounded by flourishing organic gardens. The mill is on private land but may sometimes be visited with permission.

A description with photographs of Blennerhasset Mill appears in "Two Centuries of a Cumberland Village: Blennerhasset", by local historian Geoffrey Bremner (pp.79-80) published by "Bookcase", 19 Castle Street, Carlisle CA3 8SY (originally priced £10 plus postage and packing - please check the current price).
To aid the Blennerhasset Mill restoration project Andy Curle has since 1988 raised funds by making and selling his own design of candle-powered tin-plate Pop-pop Steam Boats (a.k.a. Putt-putt, Put-put, Phut-phut, Pouet-pouet, Toc-toc steam boats).

Constructed from recycled materials, raising money for a great cause and providing hours of fun, the boats are available from Andy at:
Blennerhasset Mill, Green Bank, Aspatria, Cumbria CA7 3QQ, UK

Andy also exhibits at model fairs and at festivals such as the annual Green Man Festival, a popular independent music and arts festival held annually in August in the Brecon Beacons, South Wales.
Please note: the boats are not obtainable from this website.

Blennerhazel Farm 
A farm at Gosforth, Co.Cumbria, 30 miles from Blennerhasset village, is named "Blennerhazel Farm" and has carried this name since 1901 and earlier.  That the name was once "Blennerhasset Farm" is confirmed in "The Place-names of Cumberland and Westmorland", by W.J. Sedgfield [PNCW] which reports, of Blennerhazel, "...Dr. Parker tells me the house was built by the Coalbanks [family], who came from Blennerhasset..." 

A Blennerhasset Village Poet

"Bewley's DAY DREAMS, a series of Poetical Pieces, by John Bewley, of Blennerhasset"

poems written in the 1880s/1890s about people of the Blennerhasset area.

This was printed at Mealsgate for William Tate in 1891 and sold for 1 shilling.

Reprinted by Mick Jane 2013 to help raise funds for the Allhallows Archive Project


"John Bewley of Blennerhasset was a remarkable man. For many years he could neither read nor write, yet he became a tradesman, earning his living as a shoemaker at Crookdake near Fletchertown and also at Mealsgate.

As his eyesight left him, he took work as a farm labourer in Blennerhasset, before having to retire by the age of about 56 years with 8 children to support. He then learnt to read & write and began penning these poems. John died in 1896 at the age of 63. Poems include "George Moore" and several other of his friends and villagers.

Yes, John Bewley was only an amateur writer, but I think you will find his poems worth reading. This is a copy of the original booklet."

Mick Jane

local historian

Cockermouth and Fletcherland


reprints of this and other works of local interest are obtainable

from Mick Jane at:



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