Letter – Robert Hopper Williamson to Rowland Burdon – 11 Apr 1799

Document Type: Letter
Date: 11 Apr 1799
Correspondent: Robert Hopper Williamson
Recipient: Rowland Burdon
Archive Source: DUL CCB B 182 121
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[at head of letter in a different hand, possibly of a later archivist:] To Mr Burdon

Dear Sir,

      Before this reaches you Mr Scruton who I understand is on his way to town will probably have explained to you the real situation of the Weardale business. The Consent Bill which he carries with him includes the stinted moors & pastures only, and the infranchising clauses have consequently been withdrawn from it, not indeed from the motive suggested in Mr Hildyards letter, but because in the present state of the Bill there is nothing left upon which such clauses can operate You will I am sure have it perfectly in your recollection that the original proposal for a Division embraced two species of property totally distinct from each other, namely, the stinted moors and pastures and the two Commons generally called Stanhope Common & Bollihope Common. The former of these (namely the stinted moors & pastures) do not partake anything of the nature of Wastes or what are usually called Commons, as the Proprietors claim the Soil as well as the herbage which they hold by a freehold tenure subject to certain small rents to the Bishop of Durham as Lord of the Manor and Who is also intitled to the Lead Mines under such stinted moors and pastures; so that in fact they are in the nature of Common Pastures or parcels of land held by the Proprietors in undivided shares, and not claimed in right of or as in any manner belonging to any antient enclosed Estates. The latter description (viz: the Commons of Stanhope & Bollihope) are merely the Wastes of the Lord in whom the soil remains vested and upon these commons various persons claim a right of depasturing their cattle in respect of their antient Estates, which are of several tenures, freehold, copyhold, & leasehold.

      In order to forward the plan of division upon this extensive scale the Bishop made a liberal offer that a clause sh[oul]d be inserted in the Bill enabling him to infranchise not only such of the allottments as sh[oul]d be set out in respect of antient Copyhold and Leasehold Estates but also the antient estates themselves in respect of which such allottment sh[oul]d be made. Upon Mr Mowbrays going to London in the Winter I suggested to him the propriety of enquiring how far such clauses of infranchisement w[oul]d tend to increase the expence of the act, as it had been suggested to me from a Gentleman of considerable experience in matters of this nature that in consequence of such Clauses the Bill w[oul]d be considered as a Double Bill, and this enquiry seemed to me the more necessary as much opposition was raised against the division and the probable expence attending the enclosure seemed at that time to be one of the principal and most popular grounds of objection to the measure. Whether any such enquiries were made or what was the result of such enquiries if they were made I really do not know, as the further consideration of that part of the subject became afterwards immaterial by the resolution of a considerable majority of the Proprietors interested in Stanhope and Bollihope Commons to refuse their consent to the division of either of these Commons. This refusal of course put an end to the plan of enfranchisement for the present, as the stinted moors & pastures are wholly of a freehold tenure, and no part of the Copyhold or Leasehold property in Weardale is comprehended in the enclosure provided for by the Bill as it is now settled.

      I am extremely concerned that the enclosed letter sh[oul]d have given you or the Bishop a moments uneasiness – as far as it relates to acts within my knowledge it is evidently written under a total misapprehension of the subject, as appears by the statement I have above submitted to you; and I am enabled by Mr Harvey himself to correct Mr Hildyard in that part of his letter which refers to Mr Harveys conduct, as he says that the proposal of the bishop of Landaff was laid by him before the Proprietors interested in Bollihope but they continue firm in their resolution to object to the division of any part of that Common.

      I have the honour to be, Dear Sir, your very ob[edien]t h[um]ble servant

      Rt Hopper Williamson


11 April 1799

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The Dukesfield Smelters and Carriers Project aimed to celebrate and discover the heritage of the Dukesfield Arches & lead carriers' routes between Blaydon and the lead mines of Allendale and Weardale. A two year community project, it was led by the Friends of the North Pennines in partnership with Hexhamshire and Slaley Parish Councils and the active support of Allendale Estates. It was funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the generous support of other sponsors. Friends of the North Pennines: Charity No:1137467