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ESTMORLAND, Westmoreland, or as it is
anciently written Westmerland, hath its name, according to common acceptation, from its being a western moorish country. The learned archbishop Usher, in his Antiquities of the British churches, page 303, quotes several authors as deriving it from Marius a king of the Britons, who in the first or second century defeated Roderic or Rothinger a Pictish general from Scythia, upon the mountain now called Stanemore; in memory whereof (he says) Reicrois or Rerecrosse (a red, or royal cross) was erected : and from him that part of the kingdom was called Westmerland. But Mr. Camden treats this notion as chimerical, and says, it is only a fancy that some people have taken in their sleep, and is positive that the county hath received its name from the barren, mountainous, uncultivated,
* This is for the most part extracted from Nicholson and Burn's History of the County, with such emendations and remarks as time and circumstances call for included in + +
moorish land (as he is pleased to represent it). Nevertheless, there is not one ancient record that we have met with, wherein it is not expressly called Westmerland, and not Westmorland, or Westmoreland ; which doth not altogether favour Mr. Camden's supposition: the Latin termination is Westmaria, sometimes Westmeria, which hath still less resemblance of the moor. If the county had bordered upon the western sea, it might have been conjectured that it had received its name from thence; but as Cumberland lies between this county and the sea on the west, it can scarcely admit of that derivation. Therefore we must be content to leave it in the same uncertainty as we found it.
This county is bounded on the East by the counties of Durham and York; on the South, by the counties of York and Lancaster; on the West, by the counties of Lancaster and Cumberland ; and on the North, by the counties of Cumberland and Durham.
The length of this county, from Heron-sike in the parish of Burton on the South, to where it adjoins to the counties of Cumberland and Durham on the North, is about forty miles; and the breadth thereof is nearly the same, from the top of Stanemore on the East, to Great Langdale on the West; according to the English standard of 1760 yards to a mile, and not according to the customary measure of the country, which is after the
tion of about two computed miles to the three measured ones. From what source this difference in the length of miles did arise, we have not been able to discover. It hath no reference to the Roman mile. Theirs was somewhat short of the English statute measure, in the proportion (according to Mr. Horsley) of about 13 to 14. Mr. Horsley further observes, that through the most part of England, three computed miles make four in the Itinerary (that is Roman miles). Near Wales, and in the western as well as northern parts of England, two English computed miles make three Roman. It is nearly the same also in Scotland, and in some cross-roads. About London and twenty miles round, they are near equal, or not above one or two in twenty different. Horsl. 382, 383.
There is also in the counties of Westmorland and Cumberland a mensuration of acres, called customary measure, which varies from the statute measure, and is itself also diverse in different places. The most general customary measure is that of 6760 square yards to the acre, whereas the statute measure is only 4840. In some parts of Westmorland, the customary acre is measured to 7840 yards; as if where the land is bad, they were willing to give so much the greater measure.
And there was good reason for this, inasmuch as they proportioned the military duty according to the number of acres that a man possessed. But this could be no rule as to the miles: there being no reason, where the
road was bad, that therefore they should make the miles so much the longer.
The air in this county (especially in winter) is somewhat sharp and severe, but withal very healthful; and people live commonly to a very great age.
The soil of this county is in many places, as Mr. Camden describes it, barren and unfruitful; there being much uncultivated waste ground, and much of it incapable of cultivation. Yet there are many fruitful and pleasant vallies; and the bottom of Westmorland (as it is called) hath a considerable quantity of level ground, though surrounded on every side with high mountains*.
Lying near the western ocean, it is much exposed to RAIN, brought by the South-west winds, which blow in this part for above two thirds of the year. Hence their crops are later by three, four, and in
Within the last few years the Statesmen and Farmers have been inoculated with an amazing spirit of improvement, and, owing to the Agricultural Societies, the improvement in the breed of cattle and sheep has more than kept pace with more congenial climates; yet, as regards the average annual value of land per acre, the returns for 1843 shew that it is still by far the lowest on the scale of English Counties. The average annual value of land in Westmorland per Statute Acre being by that census only Nine Shillings! By the same the average of all England is Eighteen and Tenpence ; and of all Wales Nine and fivepence : Cumberland ten and twopence; Middlesex thirty-three and ninepence. The recent Act for the Inclosure of Commons may probably have the effect of raising the average. The area of the County is 762 Square Statute Miles, and consequently 487,680 acres.