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A chapel on Walney had been established before the publication of Christopher Saxton's map of Lancashire in 1577.   However the Victoria County History of Lancashire suggests that in early days, any regular ministrations by a priest may have been only intermittent.  In a survey of 1650, Walney merely had a "reader", paid by the inhabitants of the island, although in 1717 they had "time out of mind" subscribed an annual sum of £9 14s to pay for a curate, this amount being based on a tax of 13½d. for each tenement. The Furness region was transferred to Carlisle diocese from Chester in 1856. 

Curates or Readers

c1650-1657  Mr. Soutwerke  (A Presbyterian  of the Commonwealth period.  In 1652 he was approached on a visit to Walney by the Quaker preacher, George Fox, "after service was done, but  he got away, and would not be seen at his house"). 

1661-1709    Thomas Thompson                       "Mr. Thomson, after holding the curacy for 47½ years, died in April 1709 and in that year Mr. Houghley became curate.  In 1712, Mr. Lodge received  the chapel wage."  [H. Gaythorpe: Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society's Transactions, New Series, vol. xx (1920) p. 99.] 

The 'Notitia' or notebook of Bishop Gastrell of Chester, 1714-1725,  gives the following names as recent clergy on Walney:

Edmund Lodge, curate 1699-?1714, "also at Dalton"

Andrew Naughley, curate 1700-1709+

John Lodge, curate in 1716 visitation ("also at Ireleth or Dalton")

William Harrison, curate 1717-1720, "then to Pennington"

William Garnett, reader or 'curate', 1720-1724; master 1699-1724; then to Middleton-in-Lonsdale

Thomas Hulme, curate 1725-1728 (also at Ireleth or Dalton)

1717/18        William Harrison  (of St. John's College, Cambridge, "elected as curate by Vicar of Dalton and chief inhabitants"). 

1720             William Garnett (?)

1725              Thomas Holme (baptised at Shap, 1702, son of Myles Holme, according to Archdeaconry of Richmond's records of Walney Chapel). 

1728              Robert Ashburner (baptised at Urswick, 1705, son of William Ashburner) 

1730-1735    George Statter (baptised at Bolton-le-Sands, 1709, son of John Statter, clerk.  Nominated to Walney 1730; stipend to be £10 "when ordained".  Subsequently moved to Woodland.)

1735-1737    John Stockdale  (nominated 1735 at stipend of £10)

1737             Christopher Gardner (baptised at Urswick, 1714, son of Thomas Gardner of Adgarby, Urswick). Nominated 1737 at stipend of £10. 

Perpetual Curates of Walney Island in the parish of Dalton-in-Furness                                     

1741-1802    Samuel Hunter.  Also acted as schoolmaster.  Received the chapel's first benefaction under Queen Anne's Bounty, 1750.  Monumental inscription: "Sixty-one years Perpetual Curate of this Island ...died 18 November  1802 aged  82", although he latterly engaged assistant curates, owing to his advanced age.  Had already resigned the curacy earlier in 1802. 

Assistant Curates (based on Archdeaconry of Richmond documents relating to Walney Chapel): 

1790-1792    James Burns (baptised at Colton 1764, son of Edward Burns), on a stipend of £15 plus the school at £16, "which the vicar thinks will  make a decent living".  


1792-1793    George Ousthwaite (baptised at Colton, 1767, son of William Ousthwaite), nominated at stipend of £30; subsequently curate at Bootle.  

1793-1794    John Harrison, already schoolmaster on Walney before seeking holy orders, and formerly schoolmaster at Houghton-le-Spring, Co. Durham. Baptised  at Urswick, 1767, son of Luke Harrison.  Subsequently curate & schoolmaster at Burnley.

1795-1797    John Hoole (baptised at Dalton, 1772, son of John Hoole of Bowsfield, Dalton).Subsequently curate & schoolmaster at Connah. 

1797-1799    S R Hartley, see below 

1799-c1800  J Troughton, see below]

1802-1804    Samuel Richard Hartley  Baptised at Millom, 1773, son of John Hartley of Beck, Millom.  Had been assistant curate of Walney

1797-1799, when he left for Norwich.  MA, Emmanuel College, Cambridge, 1801.  Curate of Marham and Dendron, Norwich, in 1801.  Licensed to Walney 1802, but also appointed as Master of  Carlisle Grammar School.  Requested in 1803 to reside at Carlisle, with John  Jackson, currently Curate of Nichol Forest, being nominated to act as assistant curate of Walney.  Remained at Carlisle until 1819; minor canon; died at Haydon Bridge 9 July 1825 aged 51.      

1805-1839    John Troughton  Baptised at Whicham, 1776, son of William Troughton of Southfield, Whicham.  Had been assistant curate 1799 and was also son-in-law to his predecessor, the Reverend  Samuel Hunter.  Returned to Walney after serving as curate of Burmarsh and Bonnington, Kent.  Monumental inscription: died 29 September 1839 in his 64th year; "incumbent of this Chapel for 34 years".  Resided at North Scale. 

In 1817, local diarist William Fisher recorded that "the Revd. John Trowton married to Betty Layland after being a disconslate awiddower 15 weeks". 

  "Mr. Troughton was an ardent sportsman; he always acted as judge and master of all the ceremonies at the athletic contests frequently held on the island, and indeed it is popularly said that the Walney clergyman used to preside at the annual cockfights in his gown and bands.   After his death, the Rev. William Slater, curate of Dalton, officiated for a time, teaching in the school and sleeping in a hammock in the schoolroom.  'Poor Parson Slater' was drowned at the stepping-stones at Christy Pool in returning from a wedding-feast at Biggar."  [H. Gaythorpe: Cumberland and Westmorland  Antiquarian and Archaeological Society's Transactions, New Series, vol. xx (1920) p. 99.]  

Slater's death was actually in 1848: he officiated once again in 1846 (see below).