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The Birtwhistles of Craven and Galloway

 

 

 

 

 

The failure of the Ayr Bank in 1772 revealed John Birtwhistle, drover as a bank creditor (private communication Dr David Steel). The bank failure caused financial distress to many

Galloway landowners, and  may have provided John Birtwhistle with the opportunity to acquire the 600 acre Dundeuch estate near New Galloway, which lies at the confluence of the water of Deuch and the water of Ken. In the family inheritance dispute which we shall discuss later it was claimed that John’s third son, Alexander, moved permanently to Scotland in 1772; this move  may have been associated with the acquisition of Dundeuch.    

 

In 1774 £29,400 was raised by public subscription towards the Leeds and Liverpool canal in Skipton, John Birtwhistle being by far the largest subscriber with a subscription of £4000.

 

The Lister records for the period 1775-1786  show John Birtwhistle renting the Great Close for £135 and Langscar for £20, an area of limestone to the south of Malham Tarn, but by 1782 he appears to have been thinking about retirement. A Wakefield deed of 1782 records the handing over of property in Falkirk, Craven and Lincolnshire to sons William and Alexander, who were described as drovers. Thomas Lister seems to have been in financial difficulty in the 1780s, selling Crake Moor to John Birtwhistle for £700 in 1784 (see figure 2), and borrowing £800 from his tenant. Matters now appear to have become fraught between landlord and tenant, with Thomas Lister writing to his manager in 1786“it is impossible for me to bear my own expenses here without borrowing money”. Lister also wrote to his manager in 1786  David, Inclosed I send you Mr Birtwhistles papers. He claims a house in Airton as appurtenance of Crake Moor. From this time I never wish to have any further transactions with him of any kind as he is so unreasonable in everything he does, nothing can be more unpleasant than being involved in over-reaching people. I sincerely wish I was fairly out of his hands”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    Figure 6 Birtwhistle holding on Skipton High Street

 

 

 

With the coming of the droving trade to Craven, arable land was turned to pastoral use, and  numerous  water driven corn mills became redundant. The corn mills were however capable of conversion to textile factories for little capital expenditure, and the Pennine foothills became a favoured location for the building of cotton spinning factories in the early years of the Industrial Revolution. Cotton mills were established in Settle and Giggleswick in 1783, and in Skipton in 1785, but a feature of these mills was that they were limited by their water supplies to typically 10 horse power. John Birtwhistle might  have purchased a redundant Craven corn mill had he wished to do so, but would have been aware of  the potentially more powerful water sources in Galloway. He was unsuccessful in an approach to the

 

 

 

 

 

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