A Branch from Cumberland and Anglesey

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




were married by Licence on 12th October 1859

at the Parish Church of St. John the Baptist, Corney

by Rev. John Fox, Vicar of Haile, Robert's uncle

another uncle, Rev. Clement Fox, had been Vicar of Corney until his death in 1848

The small, unpretentious parish church of Corney stands in a dramatic position high on Corney Fell with sweeping views over the surrounding countryside.  It was chosen no doubt, apart from family connections, as Ann's family lived at Langley Park in that parish near to Waberthwaite on the coastal plain.   



Although the church is now quiet, one can picture the scene with the happy couple centre stage, Robert's uncle John Fox in his ministerial gown, his mother Catherine with numerous Fox and Mossop cousins and relations.    Ann, for her part, may have had her younger sisters Tamar and Eliza Jane as bridesmaids.    Her parents John and Elizabeth were undoubtedly present with their five younger sons.    Ann came from a large, extended family centred on the Cumberland village of Bootle and so no doubt other guests were present from that area.     In all one hopes it was a very happy occasion.    Maybe the wedding breakfast was laid out in preparation at Langley Farm or a local hostelry.

ANN had been born at Bootle on 18 September 1833 so was nearly four years the junior of Robert who had been born 8 October 1829 at Sandwith, St. Bees and so had just passed his 30th birthday.   

Ann's parents were WILLIAM BROCKLEBANK, a Farmer and Miller and ELIZABETH GRICE and so she brought a whole new dimension of ancestral background into the Coulthard family.    The importance of the Brocklebank and Grice families will be discussed in a later chapter but for the present we continue with Robert and Annie as they start their married life at Town End Farm, Haile.

Their first year must have been somewhat clouded in gloom as on 2nd November 1859, only three weeks after he had married the couple, Robert's uncle Reverend John Fox died at St. Bees aged only 52.   It may also be that Robert's uncle Reverend Robert Coulthard and his wife Henrietta had journeyed from Berkshire to be present at his only, much loved nephew's wedding but in any case only shortly after, in February 1860,  Robert and Ann would have heard the sad news that Henrietta had died very suddenly at Sulhamstead Rectory, leaving Rev. Robert as a childless widower.  

On a much happier note, on 30 January 1861, fifteen months after their marriage, Robert and Annie as well as all their family and friends welcomed the arrival of KATE FOX COULTHARD at Town End.   She was baptised at Haile parish church on 17 March which was no doubt another occasion for a family celebration.

The Coulthard side of the family would have convened again at St. Bees on 3 April for the marriage of Robert's cousin, Mary Mossop of Rottington, to Arthur Brewin, a schoolmaster at St. Bees School.

In June 1862 Robert and Annie travelled to London to see the "Exhibition" in the company of Rev. Robert Coulthard and his relations on his late wife's side.   They had obviously not made forward arrangements as on arrival on Monday 23rd they were unable to find lodgings and so were kindly accommodated by Albert Neate, Rev. Robert's nephew by marriage who was already accommodating Rev. Robert, similarly placed.   Albert had given up his own house and went to sleep with friends.    On Tuesday Robert and Annie managed to find lodgings with Mrs. Price at Brixton and remained there until the following Saturday when they left with Robert's cousin Annie Mossop for Sulhamstead.

Rev. Robert records that "Robert and his wife went with us to the Exhibition on Tuesday and there remained 3 or 4 hours.   On the following day, Wednesday, he went to the Agricultural Show in Battersea Park and on the Thursday to the show of dogs.  On Friday they went to the Crystal Palace."    Rev. Robert himself went home that day and waited for his young visitors to arrive the following evening which they did by the 7.30 train from nearby Theale.

Thereafter they spent a pleasant few days at Sulhamstead during which time Robert negotiated to buy some sheep which were to be sent by Rail to Lancaster.    They left on 7 July  for the train via Reading and Birmingham.    It must have been a welcome and interesting break for them both.   No mention is made of the eighteen month old Kate so one presumes she had been left at home with her grandmother and a nurse.   Cousin Annie Mossop remained another fortnight at Sulhamstead whereafter she travelled home by way of a visit to her married sister Mary Brewin then living with her husband at Settle, Yorkshire where he taught for the rest of his working life.

In September that year Rev. Robert was pleased to hear that his nephew had obtained First Prize for his Ram and a Challenge Cup for his Cow and 5/- for his Pig at a local agricultural show.    In a letter of 1863 Rev. Robert mentions that both he and his nephew were shareholders in the Cleator Railway Company.   He also includes family news that Mary Brewin had given birth to her first child on 22nd February "a fine bouncing boy" and "quite a marvel of a baby" as his besotted father had described him.   He ends the letter with much love to them all and a kiss for the chattering and mischievous Katie.

HAILE CHURCH  (courtesy )




On 22nd August 1863 Katie was joined by ROBERT again born at Town End Farm.   His baptism certificate shows that he was christened at Haile Parish Church on 8th October by his great-uncle and godfather Rev. Robert Coulthard.   Roy Coulthard in his family notes, says that all the children were baptised at Haile by the Rev. Pratton and were all held by an old woman Betty Thompson who was the Postwoman.   However, on this occasion it seems that Rev. Pratton must have stood aside for the actual naming ceremony.

In August 1865 Rev. Robert again paid a long visit to his relations in the north, staying with Robert and Annie at Haile and joining in family celebrations at Rottington where Arthur and Mary Brewin were currently visiting.   There were also social occasions with the Fox family at St. Bees and during this period the second birthday of young Robert and the 68th birthday of Rev. Robert were duly celebrated.   He also met Mr. and Mrs. Grice, some of Annie's relations.     During the latter part of the visit Robert was very busy harvesting his crops but was obliged on one occasion to leave off his first stack of oats on account of heavy rain showers.   On 31 August Rev. Robert left for home after what must have been a very happy and relaxed visit with a welcome opportunity to renew old acquaintances.

Rev. Robert and his nephew continued to correspond and one letter in October 1865 reveals the older man's displeasure at having heard second hand from Robert that his niece Annie Mossop, Mary's younger sister, was engaged to marry John MacQueen another schoolmaster at St. Bees.   Rev. Robert is quite caustic on this issue but gives his good wishes for their future and comments on his favourable impression of the groom to be when they played a rubber of whist together at the Fox family home of High House, St. Bees.    Rev. Robert later received a letter from his niece Annie in which he notes she singularly omitted to mention her forthcoming marriage.    Why she was slow to inform him herself I do not know.    She finally managed to write and tell him on 28 December at which he comments "Her last chance!".   As Annie was only 27 at the time maybe it says something about the Victorian attitude to women's marriage and even more so about Rev. Robert's brand of humour.

In April 1866 Robert's side of the family suffered two more bereavements when on 11th his uncle William Fox, last remaining brother or sister of his mother Catherine, died at St. Bees after a lingering illness aged 65.   He was followed closely on 18th by Robert's great-uncle and grandfather of Annie Mossop and Mary Brewin, Moses Mossop of Rottington at the grand old age of 93.

A lighter note was struck on 18th July when Annie Mossop did indeed marry John MacQueen at St. Bees.    Robert and Annie were of course family guests but unfortunately the letter Robert wrote to his uncle describing the events does not survive.

In September of that year, Robert and Annie paid another visit to Sulhamstead.   Rev. Robert had not been in the best of health over the past few months but had obviously recovered sufficiently to entertain his guests.   Although social arrangements had been made, Annie declined to meet any visitors as she was "far advanced in the family way".    As well as being a social visit, they had also been summoned by Rev. Robert in a more businesslike fashion as he wished to change his will to give the married names of his nieces and also for Robert, in his capacity of Executor, and his wife Annie to make an inventory of his belongings.    As Rev. Robert was now sixty-nine years old and in failing health, he obviously thought these wise precautions.

On 7 January 1867 Annie was confined of a "thumping boy" as Rev. Robert describes him perhaps in the words relayed by the proud father.    This was JOHN again born at Town End Farm and baptised 2 February at Haile.   John was eventually to become the father of Frank Coulthard and grandfather of John and Elizabeth "Liz" Coulthard.    This was to be the last grandchild whom Robert's mother Catherine held in her arms.

In August 1867 Rev. Robert declined to make the long journey north to visit the family on account of his health.    Later in the year, mid November, Robert promised to journey south to visit his uncle but was delayed by a severe cold until 18 December.    It is not known how long Robert stayed on this occasion but he was there or shortly after when Rev. Robert died on 22 February 1868 at Sulhamstead having reached his 70th birthday the previous August.

Whilst there, dealing with his late uncle's affairs, Robert received a telegram from his cousin William Fox of St. Bees on 7 March telling him that his mother was dangerously ill and to return home at once.    One hopes and expects that Robert was able to leave immediately as his mother died on 9 March after what appears to have been a short, unexpected illness.    She was buried with her family at St. Bees.

Mary Brewin and Annie MacQueen were each left 250 by their uncle.    Robert was the residuary legatee but despite the quantity and quality of goods both indoor and out of the sale at the Rectory, the resulting inheritance was much less than would have been assumed by Rev. Robert's standard of living and some had been dependent on the marriage settlement made on his wife.    Although Robert was undoubtedly very fond of his uncle in his own right, this news appears to have come as a very unwelcome shock.

Catherine Coulthard died intestate with just over 80 in the Whitehaven Joint Stock Bank but with what other property is not known.

The eleven year lease taken out by Robert on Town End farm had been due to expire at Candlemas 1867 the day their son John was baptised but it appears that they must have negotiated a short extension.   Robert and Annie may have continued to go ahead with already formulated plans to leave the farm despite his disappointment at the size of his uncle's legacy.   Farming on the wet Cumbrian fells does not seem the ideal occupation for a man prone to frequent colds and chest complaints although this is not mentioned as a reason for their decision.   Meanwhile on 5 August that year, 1868, LIZZIE was born at Town End, their fourth child and second daughter.   She was baptised on 6 September again at Haile.  

On 18 January 1870 there was a Sale of the whole of farming stock, crops etc. at Town End Farm, the property of Robert.   Items included farming equipment, stable equipment, cows, sheep, horses, hat, oat straw, wheat straw, mangel-wurzels, swede turnips, a dog car, hens, ducks etc. which sold for a total of 697.14.4.  Amongst those purchasing were several members of the Mossop and Fox families.

On 28 January came the Sale of household furniture, dairy utensils etc.   Nothing was bought by the immediate family.   Items included candlesticks, decanters, kitchen and dairy equipment, curtains and bed hangings, chairs, dining room table, card tables, other tables and beds.   The whole sold for 17.3.0.

Whilst at Haile, Robert had kept a notebook of the pedigree of some of his stock.   Names of his cows included Victoria, Princess Alice, Prince Alfred, Princess of Prussia, Prince Arthur, Duchess, Princess of Hess, Princess Royal, Princess Alice, Princess Helena, Kate and Townley Duchess.   Whether Alfred and Arthur were bulls or cows suffering a masculine name I am not sure.

The family then moved to Egremont where their story is followed in the next chapter.