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).
1840-1846 Thomas Marshall Postlethwaite Eton College; BA, Queen's College, Oxford; later Perpetual Curate of Witherslack. Matriculated at Oxford in March 1819 aged 18. Son of the Reverend Thomas Postlethwaite of Warton, Lancs. Licensed, 1842, to reside at Millwood, "being three computed miles distant ... there being no house at Walney".
1846: Venn's Alumni Cantabrigienses suggests that William Spence, BA., of St John's College, Cambridge; formerly assistant master at Manchester Grammar School and curate of Dalton-in-Furness, was appointed perpetual curate. However he died shortly afterwards on 18 May 1846 aged 38 and his burial was recorded at Dalton. There is no record of him ever conducting a service at Walney, and the suggestion is not supported by the diocesan records at Chester, although Spence had served at Dalton since 1844. William Slater (see above) returned to officiate for much of the year.
On 5 March 1848, local diarist William Fisher of Barrow recorded that "the Revd. William Slater of Northscale Isle of Walney was drowned in comming from the Marriage of T J Woodburn's Daughter of Bigger he had got out of the rode [i.e. ford] and was mired and could not Extracate himself" [sic]. Slater's burial was also recorded at Dalton - on 9 March aged 53.
1846-1875 John Park. Non-graduate; St Bees Theological College, 1828. The bishop's act book at Chester states that he was licenced on 8 September 1846 to "the perpetual curacy of Walney, void by the cession of Rev. Thomas Postlethwaite". Monumental inscription: died 30 March 1875 aged 70, "thirty years incumbent of Walney". Born at Hawkshead. Died shortly after arriving at Wolverhampton, following his sister's death there on the same day.
Vicars of St Mary the Virgin, Walney
1875-1894 Henry Martyn Burgess (BA, Trinity College, Dublin; formerly Curate of Dalton-in-Furness; later moved to Hampshire)
1894-1898 Nigel Francis William Buchanan (BA, Exeter College, Oxford; later Vicar of St Stephen's, Carlisle, died c1904)
1899-1903 Richard Hindle (London University, later Vicar of Winster; subsequently Vicar of Crook,Cumberland)
1903-1907 Charles Lacy Hulbert (BA, Trinity College, Cambridge; formerly Vicar of Brathay, later a curate in Halifax and Vicar of Great St Mary's, Cambridge).
1907-1910 Godfrey Scott Smith (MA, Magdalene College, Oxford; formerly Curate of St George's, Barrow and Curate of Grange-over-Sands; moved to Cartmel)
1910-1920 Stephen Liberty (MA, Christ Church, Oxford, formerly Sub-Warden, St Deiniol's Library, Hawarden; later Perp. Curate of Helsington& Underbarrow)
1920-1926 Frederick Salmon Vaughan (formerly Chaplain to the Forces and Vicar of Underbarrow; later Dean of Christ Church, Port Stanley, Falkland Islands)
1926-1948 Charles Williams (MA, St Edmund Hall, Oxford; formerly Curate of St James's, Barrow, and Curate of Dalton-in-Furness; later Vicar of Beetham)
1949-1955 James Holland Eckersley (BA, Keble College, Oxford; formerly Vicar of Holy Trinity, Millom; later Chaplain of Selly Oak Hospital and Vicar of King's Heath, Birmingham).
1955-1963 John Needham
1963-1970 John Noble Davidson
1970-1976 David Ridgway
1976-1983 Richard Brian Hill
1983-1990 Philip Percival Ford Ward
1990-2000 Robert John Williamson
2000-2012 John David Hodgkinson
2013- Andrew (Andy) George Batchelor