Priestly Grisdales – John Grisdale, Curate of Troutbeck

Posted: May 15, 2013 in Family History
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A truly staggering number of the Matterdale Grisdale clan became priests. Some had the benefit of an Oxford education (mostly at Queen’s College), and went on to great things. Others did not, but they were no less worthy. I have written about some of these ‘Priestly Grisdales’ already. Here I’d like to start to look at some others. I’ll start with John Grisdale, who between 1694 and 1722 was the curate, or ‘parson’, of Troutbeck Chapel in Westmorland, as well as the schoolmaster of the village school.

John Grisdale (an e was latter added to the name) was born in 1654 in Hollas in Matterdale. He was the son of Michael Grisdale (abt. 1615 – 1694) and his first wife Dorothy. Hollas is now the farm called ‘The Hollows’, near Matterdale Church.  The Hollas Grisdales were to have many connections with the Church. John’s uncle, also called John (1609 – 1682), was himself a ‘clerk’; quite possibly one of the early curates of Matterdale. Our John’s older brother Thomas (1643 – 1718) was himself a long-serving curate of Matterdale, while his younger half-brother Richard (b. 1667) was very likely also the curate of Crook Chapel near Kendal.

John married sometime prior to 1685 and his son Michael Grisedale, named after his father, was baptized in ‘Kendal’ on 23 March 1685. The baptism record shows John being ‘of Kentmere’

Kentmere Church

Kentmere Church

‘Johannes Grassdale’ was licensed in 1682 as curate of Kentmere Chapel in Westmorland. In 1691 he ‘exhibited’ there. Each clergyman was obliged to ‘exhibit’ his ordination, institution and induction papers once in each Archdeacon’s incumbency. A number of exhibits were usually taken at each spring Visitation. ‘Exhibit Books record the dates and places of the clergyman’s admittance as deacon and priest, and details about his institution to his current benefice.’ Some clergymen, particularly curates, will appear more than once, since their licences were regularly renewed.

John was still curate of Kentmere in 1701, but it was noted that, “Johannes Grisedale was also schoolmaster at Troutbeck; he had exhibited in 1691 for Kentmere but was described as ‘really serving without licence at Troutbeck.’” John had become the curate of Troutbeck and the village schoolmaster in 1694. He would remain curate until 1722, when he probably died.

In George Henry Joyce’s Some Records of Troutbeck (1924) we read:

1694-95. Mr. Grisedale came to be Minister at Troutbeck this year at a Salary of £10. The said John Grisedale agrees to perform all things belonging to the office of a Minister and diligently to keep and teach a School, as well for Petty, as for Gramar Scholars. The Articles of Agreement by John Grisedale and 43 other names have been duly subscribed to, and are well approved by Wm. Wilson, Rector of Windermere.

Joyce, who was Troutbeck’s schoolmaster for over forty years, adds, ‘The Schoolmaster was required to teach English, latin, greek, and the first four rules of arithmetic. He had to sign a Bond in the sum of Ten Pounds of lawful English money to do his duty, or else not to be admitted to his office’.

Town Head, Troutbeck

Town Head, Troutbeck

Before telling a little more of Troutbeck Chapel and School, what more do we know of John’s life on Troutbeck? Except that he was married with at least one son I know little, but we do know where he lived. In A Westmorland Village (1904), S. H. Scott wrote that after having visited the important Browne family house on the main road in Town Head, the northern most hamlet of Troutbeck, we can proceed:

Up the lane, round a sharp corner, we come to a house very much overgrown with creepers and roses. In the eighteenth century it was the house of Parson Grisedale, parish priest of Troutbeck, and its interior, for it has been very little altered since that time, gives a good idea of the simple surroundings of a Westmorland parson at that time. The ‘house’ has a floor of the familiar blue flags; the ceiling is low, and of course there are the oak beams and joists.

There is an oak cabinet, dated 1705, which bears the initials of John Grisedale and his wife, and a ‘locker’ in the wall by the chimney corner has the same initials and the date 1703.

The small house next Parson Grisedale’s old house was also in the possession of the Grisedale family at one time.

Troutbeck Church

Troutbeck Church

There was a chapel at Troutbeck since well before 1558. The church we see today is the result of a major rebuilding in 1736. The structures that John Grisedale had seen and served were knocked down to their foundation. The rebuilding followed a visitation from the Archdeacon of Richmond (Troutbeck was in the Archdeaconry of Richmond in the Diocese of Chester), which said the following: ‘We present the Chapel of Troutbeck the covering thereof not being in sufficient repair, the walls not being well plastered, and the windows shattered and broken.’

A plan of the former church was made in 1707, in John’s time there; it shows the design and positioning of all the windows and doors. There was also a steeple which in 1735 was ‘too unstable that it was likely to fall’. The bell was removed as a precaution.

The school where John taught was built in 1637. In the agreement to build the school it was stipulated that it should have ‘walles made to be in length eight yards within the walles, four yards and three quarters breadth within the house and four yards and a half in the side walls and to make sufficient chimney in the end of the aforesaid house from the ground of strand, and a flue’.

An article in the Troutbeck Parish Magazine of 1984 tells us:

Troutbeck School had an ancient foundation in 1637. By a piece of good fortune, exact details of the building specifications and names of the builders still exist. £5 a year was allocated to pay a master to instruct in ”English, Latin, Greek writing, Arithmetick and good disciplining” for which the parents paid sixpence a Quarter, although poor children were taught free. During the reign of Charles II, all the teaching became free, making Troutbeck one of the first free schools in the country. In 1760 a stable was built at the school for the use of those who came to church on horseback. The school was rebuilt in 1853, and then at a cost of £258, raised by public subscription and a sale of work, in 1885 it was approximately its present size.

George Joyce collected entries from Troutbeck school’s note book. Here are some I like:

One day the door was suddenly burst open, a rough head was protruded into the room, and a 72 loud voice was heard to say, “Which of you lile divvils left my yett oppen?” The irate farmer’s sheep had evidently strayed thro’ the open gate.

One Shrove Tuesday the children barred the door against the master and demanded a half holiday. This was a breach of discipline, but as there was no other harm done they got their holiday according to custom.

Many children absent—Sheepshearing—only 3 boys attended.

Snow falling heavily all day, consequently the geography lesson was omitted.

An hour lost through scholars being permitted to go hunting.

A liberal amount of cane has been dealt out this week to check a greater amount of talking than usual.

Such was the life of curate and schoolmaster John Grisedale.

Troutbeck Village

Troutbeck Village

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Comments
  1. […] died in 1682. Two of this John’s nephews also became curates: John in Troutbeck in Westmorland (see here) and Thomas in Matterdale […]

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