A Branch from Cumberland and Anglesey

Written by Jill Coulthard, wife of Captain John M. Coulthard, Master Mariner


For Maps see 5a


I now digress to the ancestry of the Mossop family of Rottington Hall.   A great deal of research has been carried out into the various branches of this large family by George Kendall Gillberry, Marshall Mossop and myself.  The surname appears to have originated as Moscrop (and variants) in a compact area around Gosforth, West Cumberland and gradually changed to Mossop around the late 18th century.   More information can be gained from Marshall's Home Page, linked from below.  The descendants of this family are too numerous to describe in this manner so this is only a short paraphrase of the ancestors of those who farmed Rottington Hall near St. Bees.  

More comprehensive information on this family can be gained from my MOSSOP FAMILY HISTORY pages.

In these pages the surname is universally given as MOSSOP because frequent changes in the spelling in parish registers record the same people under different spellings until a consistency was reached in the early part of the 19th century.



The earliest proven ancestor is a widow, MARGARET, who died at High Prior Scale, the home of her son WILLIAM, in 1638.   It is almost certain that William was the son of one of the Gosforth families, probably of William of Bankhouse farm in that parish, but so far nothing can be proved.   Margaret's administration documents were taken out by William and his brother BARNARD who farmed at Dixonhill in nearby Haile.

William himself died in January 1684/5 (old/new dating).   He had been married but was widowed by the time he made his will so his wife's name is not known.   He had three sons, JOHN, CLEMENT and HENRY as well as three unnamed daughters who married into local farming families.

JOHN and his descendants farmed at Low Prior Scales, close to the River Calder in the valley below.   It stayed in this branch for about 250 years.


CLEMENT inherited  High Prior Scales and was married to ABIGAIL, a name which also continued down the family.   If the marriage was the one recorded in Dublin on 4th July 1682 between Clement Mossop and Abigail Williams, this would account for the unusual combination of christian names and also be of an appropriate date.   However, this would mean that Clement was working as a mason in Ireland at the time.  It might also explain the story which I have not heard at first hand but have read in Cumbria FHS magazine of the legend of these Mossops and a pot of Irish gold.   Williams is more of a Welsh name than an Irish one which suggests that Abigail's family were not natives of that country.   However, all this is still unproven.

HENRY, the youngest son, farmed at Beckcote, also in the Calder Valley, the common link being the stream which rises on Kinnisdide Common, Ennerdale and flows down the to sea at Sellafield together with its tributaries.   In the nineteenth century, nearly all the farms in the valley upstream of the village of Calder Bridge were occupied by one or other of these Mossop families who were descendants of William and therefore close relations.



Clement and Abigail had about five sons and five daughters, their wills not being entirely consistent on this point.   They died within weeks of each other, Clement being buried 16th September 1737 and Abigail  on 2nd November.  They were buried as generations of Mossops were baptised, married and buried at the old chapel of St Bridget, west of Calderbridge and south of Beckermet.  It was not until the 19th century that Calderbridge also had a church of its own, also dedicated to St. Bridget but with no graveyard attached, the old serving still for all burials.


Clement Mossop, one of the sons of Clement and Abigail, died at Prior Ling in the Calder Valley in late December, 1788.   "The Paquet" local newspaper reported that at his funeral on 1st January 1789, 98 descendants, including his widow, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren were in attendance.   As no doubt this number was augmented by other relatives and friends, it is hard to imagine how they could all have squeezed into the tiny church.

However, we are concerned with Clement's elder brother, MOSES MOSSOP, probably the fourth son of Clement and Abigail.   It appears that his eldest brother may have died young, the second, John, was married and established elsewhere in the district, the third son, William, inherited High Prior Scale.

MOSES farmed at Thornholme, further up the valley.   It was a leased farm but in later years other descendants of the family preferred to live there rather than at their ancestral home.   The story of Moses is continued in the next instalment.