A Branch from Cumberland and Anglesey

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



Alexander and Mary Coulthard's youngest child and second son, ALEXANDER COULTHARD jnr (ALEX) married CATHERINE FOX on 2nd October 1827 at St. Bees Abbey Church.   They were married by her uncle DR. JOHN FOX, D.D. Provost of Queen's College, Oxford who was quite a well deserved celebrity in the family.   Presumably he had travelled up to Cumberland for the occasion.

The witnesses to this happy family celebration were Catherine's brother William Fox and his future wife Mary Anne Cooke together with Alex's sister Martha Coulthard and her future husband Clement Mossop, Catherine's first cousin.


Many present monuments in the church are in memory of the Fox family of St. Bees   

The Fox family of St. Bees could boast a very ancient lineage in the village, at least back to the 16th century and probably before.  Their descendants still inhabit the same site of High House making an unbroken occupation by the same family for nearly 500 years.

Catherine, however, was born 12 May 1802 at Abbey Farm which her father WILLIAM FOX was leasing from the Lowther Estates.   She was baptised two days later at St. Bees Church which adjoined the farm.

Three children of HENRY and CATHERINE (ROBINSON) FOX of High House, St. Bees married three children of CLEMENT and ELEANOR (WALKER) MOSSOP of Rottington Hall.

MARY FOX married MOSES MOSSOP and they were parents of CLEMENT MOSSOP who married MARTHA COULTHARD whose story we read in a previous instalment.

WILLIAM FOX married HANNAH MOSSOP and they were the parents of CATHERINE FOX who married ALEXANDER COULTHARD junior.

JAMES FOX married MARY MOSSOP but their line does not affect this present story.

ALEX and CATHERINE started married life on a small farm in nearby Sandwith, a village on St. Bees Head and it was here that their two children were born.

WILLIAM ALEXANDER (a neat combination of the names of his two grandfathers) was born 27 March 1828 and ROBERT 8 October 1829.    Both children were baptised at St. Bees at exactly a month old.

By 1832 it appears that Alex was in financial difficulty and was bought out of the Sandwith property by his brother and sister.    The three children of Alexander and Mary had been left both property and money by their parents but by this time Alex was in debt.    There is no indication of whether this came about through mismanagement or ill fortune .

The family was still living at Sandwith when tragedy struck in early February 1833.   Their eldest son, William Alexander, was fatally scalded when he pulled a pan of boiling water off the stove.   There is no indication in St. Bees burial register as to the cause of his death but this explanation has been passed down through the family.

It may be that Rev. Robert Coulthard and Martha Mossop allowed their brother Alex to continue at the Sandwith farm as a tenant.   However, at some stage they moved to St. Bees, to a leasehold cottage and garden on the east side of  Main Street, St. Bees owned by Catherine's father.


The East side is to the right of the photograph

In 1835 ROBERT COULTHARD began his education at St. Bees Grammar School.     This was confirmed from the entrance register by the late Bill Fox, long time Bursar at the school, who commented that he was "a very young starter" as he was then only six years old.

Robert left school and Cumberland in January 1846 to become a Clerk in the Liverpool General Post Office.   The Government Postmaster General from 1841 to this date had been William Lowther, 2nd Earl Lonsdale who apparently obtained posts in the G.P.O. for many young men from Cumberland.    At this stage Robert evidently did not consider a career locally in farming.

On 10 September 1847 ALEX COULTHARD died at St. Bees, precise address not known, from General Debility aged only 46.    It may be that long term ill health had contributed to the family's poor financial state.   The death was registered on 11 September by his widow Catherine's sister-in-law, Mary Ann Fox who was present at the death.

In the annals of the family it should be noted that CLEMENT MOSSOP widower of Alex's sister MARTHA died on 3 October 1847 less than a month later.   It must have been a very traumatic time for the extended family and five more closely related deaths were to follow the next year.

For Catherine these were her unmarried sister Eleanor Fox on 4 January 1848, her mother Hannah Fox on 4 February, her aunt Mary Mossop in April, her married brother Rev. Clement Fox, Vicar of Corney, on 18 April and her father William Fox two days before Christmas on 23 December.

By the time of his death, Catherine's father WILLIAM FOX had 4 surviving children to whom he left money and property as follows.

CATHERINE COULTHARD 1,500 and the Leasehold house in St. Bees, previously mentioned, which she recently occupied.

JOHN, then Vicar of Haile, Cumberland 1,200 and two Closes of land in St. Bees.   John died in 1859 by which time he had married twice and had six surviving children.

HANNAH, the wife of Rev. Edmund Nugent Bree, a Clergyman in Dereham, Norfolk, an occupied Freehold dwelling in St. Bees and interest on 1,500 in a Trust Fund administered by her brother John and cousin Henry Mossop.   After her death her husband is to continue to draw interest so long as he remains a widower and the money is then to be divided amongst her children.    Hannah died in 1852 in Hereford and after her death her husband, with their children, emigrated to New Zealand where he became an eminent and well respected cleric.   He married again with further family.

WILLIAM, Freehold Estate of High House and all other freehold and leasehold estates in St. Bees.   Residue of Estate.

In addition, the four were to share all his personal belongings.

Catherine was therefore left financially well provided for by her father in her widowhood.    Although her only son Robert was still working in Liverpool she had her brother William and his wife Mary Ann close by at Abbey Farm and her brother Rev. John and his wife Faith also living in Main Street, St. Bees.

On 20 November 1854 ROBERT COULTHARD resigned his position at Liverpool Post Office through ill health.   He suffered from bronchial trouble throughout his life.    He returned to St. Bees to learn farming with his uncle and cousin at Abbey Farm.    In September 1855 he accepted the tenancy of Town End Farm, Haile, Cumberland, a property of 55 acres, to commence the following Candlemas - February 1856.    It is very probable that his mother Catherine accompanied him to live there.

We now progress to the story of