Samuel Reveley [cce-id 6229], vicar of Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland 1757-1809: an exiled cleric

Sarah Reveley


Ralf Lawson Reveley researched the history of the Reveley family for twenty years, and published the American Reveleys in 1987. He always hoped to establish our English connection, but passed away before he had the opportunity. In 2001 I began the task for Ralf, and, thanks to Ted Relph of Crosby Ravensworth, I was able to find out about Samuel Reveley, Thomas Reveley’s young son who returned to England. The Record Offices in Whitehaven and Kendal, Paul Reveley and his nephew Graham Barnes, and my internet genealogy friends provided me with information, and I thank them all.

Sarah Reveley, 2006

Citation Information

To cite this article:
Sarah Reveley, ‘ Samuel Reveley [cce-id 6229], vicar of Crosby Ravensworth, Westmorland 1757-1809: an exiled cleric’, CCEd Online Journal N&Q 1, 2007.



Tombstone of Samuel Reveley

Fig. 1. Tombstone of Samuel Reveley in Crosby Ravensworth churchyard

The Rev. Samuel Reveley reached Crosby Ravensworth in Westmorland and the diocese of Carlisle in a most circuitous fashion.

Samuel was born in Cumberland in 1757, the youngest son of Thomas and Elizabeth Reveley. ((Cumbria Archive Service, Westmorland IGI.)) The Reveleys were in the iron trade at Low Mills near Egremont, ((Cumbria Record Office, Kendal, WDX264, Acc. no. 650, ‘Papers of the Reveley family’, uncatalogued [hereafter RF].)) close to the Cumbrian coast and in that part of the county then situated in the diocese of Chester and archdeaconry of Richmond, and decided that there were better opportunities in the colonies. Thomas and his children and their families left for America in 1765. ((Ralf Lawson Reveley, The Reveleys of America (1987) [hereafter RA].))

Samuel was the youngest of the family, only 8 when the family emigrated. Francis, 12, would be remembered by family on both sides of the ocean for his service in the American Revolution in the Maryland regiments. His brother John, 33, was an accomplished forge man and brought along his wife and son Joseph. Mary Reveley Purdy came without her husband. George came with his wife and two sons, and daughter Elizabeth was born in Virginia. William, 22, moved to Spotsylvania County, Virginia and became a well-to-do farmer. Samuel’s sisters Sarah and Nancy emigrated as well. ((RA.))

Some of the Reveleys stayed in England. James, 29, and his family stayed in Whitehaven, a bit further up the Cumbrian coast from Egremont, but still in the diocese of Chester. Elizabeth Reveley remained in England with her husband, George Hudson, a school teacher, but after George died in 1787, Elizabeth and her daughters joined her family in America. ((RA.))

The Reveleys made their home in Stafford County, Virginia, near the town of Falmouth. They called their home Woodend. It was near the Rappahannock River, across from Fredericksburg, Virginia, and upstream from George Washington’s mother’s home, Ferry Farm.

They were successful in the iron forge business, and in 1775, when it was time for Samuel to receive his formal education, he was sent back to England to attend school at St. Bees, situated in close proximity to Whitehaven. ((RA.)) The family had not dreamed that the next year the American revolution would keep Samuel from returning home to Woodend. The Reveleys in America were patriots, and fought for American independence. Samuel’s brother John was commissioned by the Continental Congress to build a forge at Westham, near Richmond Virginia, to produce cannonballs. His brother Francis enlisted for the duration of the war, and received a musketball in his chest that eventually caused his death.

In 1778, the following poem appeared in the Cumberland Pacquet:

For the CUMBERLAND PACQUET The following lines were written by a Youth who came from America to England, for Education: and now detained on Account of the present disturbances. ((The words ‘Mr Reveley’ have been added in pen and ink to the copy now held in the Kendal Record Office Reveley folder.))
LONG have I labour’d big with anxious Care,
Rack’d by two passions, Hope and dull Despair;
Far from my Kindred and my native Home,
Doom’d a sad Exile, in strange Lands to roam:
Not the soft language of a feeling Friend,
To ease my sorrows one sad sigh to lend;
Nought but fell rumours of a horrid War,
Of slaughter’d Thousands, and of civil Jar;
Of bleeding Heroes, and of death-bed Groans,
The Shrieks of Orphans, and the Widows Moans ;
Of Fathers weltering in their Children’s Gore;
All is Distraction and confus’d Uproar!
Such Ills, alas! – what pious Soul can name,
And not be struck with Dread and inward Shame!
That Men, like Beasts, should on each other prey,
In search of Honours and imperial Sway;
A Heap of Bubbles, that are blown away!
O thou Almighty! hear a Suppliant’s Pray’r,
And place a Period to a Load of Care;
Let Peace and Plenty now, once more abound,
The Bow be broke, the Trumpet cease to sound.

St. Bees ((RF.))

It is not known how Samuel returned to England, or with whom he stayed. Family stories differ. One says he was accompanied by his brother James, and there was a James Reveley in Whitehaven. Another has no mention of James and says Samuel never came to America because he was studying to be a vicar. ((Robert Croughton, Reveley – Croughton History (1858).)) There were Nicholsons in Blasterfield, in Crosby Ravensworth parish, but it is not known if they were related to his mother Elizabeth Nicholson from Frizington just to north of Egremont. It is assumed that Samuel attended St Bee’s School and boarded there, but no documentary evidence survives. Samuel’s sister, Elizabeth Reveley Hudson, was also in England, but her whereabouts were unknown. She emigrated to America when her husband died in 1787. ((RA.))

There is a letter in the Reveley file in the Kendal Record Office dated 1756. ((RF.)) Was it a letter originally meant for one of his older brothers, John, George, or William, and Samuel took it back with him as a reference?

Carlisle, July 18th 1756
To the Reverend Mr. Gillbanks at Wetherall [probably George Gilbanks]
Good Sir,

The bearer is the young man, whom I am encouraged to recommend to you, and by your means, to the gentleman of Crosby Ravenside, as their Schoolmaster. You are so kind, as to tell me, in your obliging letter of yesterday, that you are confident, I would not recommend any person I did not think deserving. Indeed, I would not, and therefore it may be less necessary to inform you, with regard to the young man who presents this to you, that he is a sober, studious, sensible Lad, and a good scholar. As to what concerns this last article, however, it is but justice to this kind recommender to inform him that he has not gone through very many Classics, either in Latin or Greek; an objection which, whatever some others might think of it, will, I am confident, appear very slight in your eye, who will know, how greatly preferable a thorough acquaintance with half a dozen good authors is to the superficial reading of half a hundred indifferent ones. He is besides very tolerably versed in the subject of Antiquities, Geography, and History; ancient as well as modern, which he has had an opportunity of collecting from some of the best English authors upon the respective heads; having enjoyed the privilege of my own library, ever since he was under my care. In a word, if he is not at present all that I could wish him, I am confident his sober, diligent turn, added to a retentive memory, and solid parts will enable him, in a very short time, to answer every reasonable expectation of his patrons.
I am, Sir,
Your Obliged Humble Servant,
N. Wennington [probably Miles Wennington, shortly thereafter appointed a minor canon at Carlisle cathedral]

Samuel is first recorded at Crosby Ravensworth in the diary of the Rev. George Williamson, the vicar there since 1747, on 25 June 1779, and was obviously staying at Barnskew (a local farm) with the Holmes family, the immediate family of Williamson’s wife. On the 26th, Williamson noted ‘Mr. Reveley here Vesperi.’ ((These details are drawn from Barnskew transcriptions by Ted Relph.)) These evening visits to the vicarage, about five in all, continue until the end of the year. Many clerical careers began with a period of schoolmastering at the time, and several teachers at Crosby Ravensworth were in orders. And this was how Reveley’s professional association with the parish commenced:

Oct 8th [1779] Mr Reveley elected schoolmaster.
Oct 17 Mr Reveley & others vesperi…

Two years later, Samuel was ordained to deacon’s orders by the bishop of Carlisle, Edmund Law, on 29 July 1781 in the chapel of Rose Castle, the episcopal palace of the bishops of Carlisle [CCE Record ID: 13658]. His title was Williamson’s nomination to the assistant curacy of Crosby Ravensworth to which he was licensed by the bishop on the same day [CCE Record ID: 26360]. A year later he took priest’s orders at the same venue and from the same hands on 18 August 1782, again on the title of his assistant curacy [CCE Record ID: 13687].

Licensing of Samuel Reveley to the curacy of Crosby Ravensworth

Fig. 2. Licensing of Samuel Reveley to the curacy of Crosby Ravensworth, 1781. Cumbria Record Office, Kendal WDX264: Acc no. 650, ‘Papers of the Reveley family’, uncatalogued.

Institution of Samuel Reveley to the vicarage of Crosby Ravensworth

Fig. 3. Institution of Samuel Reveley to the vicarage of Crosby Ravensworth, 1783. Cumbria Record Office, Kendal WDX264: Acc no. 650, ‘Papers of the Reveley family’, uncatalogued.

In 1783 his fortunes changed with the death of Williamson in post. On 18 August 1783 the episcopal register records that Law instituted Reveley to the vacant vicarage of Crosby Ravensworth on the presentation of Lady Mary Howard, Viscountess Andover, née Finch (1716-1803) ((Early portraits of Viscountess Andover can be seen on the National Portrait Gallery website).)), who resided some distance away at Elford Hall near Tamworth in Staffordshire [CCE Record ID: 26551]. Just over two years later, however, the 22-year-old Cambridge graduate James Dowker was instituted to the vacant living following Reveley’s resignation [CCE Record ID: 26448], being ordained priest on the title having previously served as a curate in Norfolk where he had been ordained deacon 8 months previously. This was not to be the end of Reveley’s association with the parish, however, for just four years later Reveley was once again instituted to the living on 17 December 1789 by John Douglas, the newly appointed bishop, once more on Lady Mary’s presentation, the unfortunate Dowker having died before he saw 30 [CCE Record ID 26551]. Reveley would now remain in continuous possession of the post for the next twenty years.

How do our sources shed light on this slightly curious sequence of events? It is clear that Reveley’s promotion related to local rather than Staffordshire connections, and a clear hint of his assimilation into the Crosby community and its continuation beyond his resignation in 1785 is given by the fact that on 26 June 1786 he married Ruth Williamson, George Williamson’s daughter. The couple had five children – Thomas, born 1787; Elizabeth, 1790; George, 1791; Francis, 1795; and Ruth, 1796. ((Cumbria Archive Service, Westmorland IGI)) Perhaps the most likely explanation of his resignation is ill health, which was to vex Reveley in subsequent years. He took on his first curate, the literate George Smith, who was ordained deacon on the title in August 1794 [CCE Record ID: 14006], probably after his illness developed.

Revd Mr REVELEY [Householder] M
[unnamed] REVELEY Wife F
[unnamed] REVELEY [Son] M

Mrs WILLIAMSON[Householder]Widow F
[unnamed] WILLIAMSON [Daughter] F


Reveley’s surviving papers throw interesting light on the transatlantic connections which could matter even to an incumbent who remained unmoving in a remote parish in the north west in the immediate aftermath of the American revolution. In 1789, Samuel received news from America concerning his brother William. William Reveley owned three pieces of property. The first was at Woodend, 144 acres where the Reveley family lived and where the Reveley cemetery lies unlocated. William also had tobacco plantations at Pinnfield, 446 acres, and New Port. He had married the widow Ann Towles Carter c. 1782-3. But now Samuel learned that his brother was dead. The letter came from Eliza Hudson, daughter of Samuel’s sister Elizabeth who had emigrated with her daughter Margaret on the death of her schoolmaster husband George in 1787, and told Samuel of his brother’s death the previous year:

20 January 1789

With pleasure could I address my dear Uncle if I was not the Harbinger of news that distresses me even to think of. Alas you have lost a brother [William], he has left two fine children and a sufficiency to support them. At his dying moments he requested that my Mamma might have the use of his plantation until his son [Thomas, then 3 years old] is at an age which will enable us to live without the fatigue and toil which I have hitherto been obliged to labor under … never if you value your own happiness come to this country, for I had rather live in a cottage at home than possess riches that would enable me to live here without industry… I have not seen or heard from Cousin Tommas [Thomas] since my arrival in Virginia. Uncle Frank [Francis] is very well and is at present living with us. Aunt Newall [Nancy, married to Adam Newall] and Robinson [Sarah, married to Israel Robinson] are well.>

P.S. Uncle Billy’s complaint was consumption. Margaret is always writing letters to you but somehow or another they never are sent off. Mrs. Reveley received the clock and other items and will return a remittance by post. ((RF.))

William was buried at Woodend, but his family moved to Pinfield, closer to Ann’s family, who lived in neighboring Orange County. Elizabeth Reveley Hudson, William’s widowed sister, remained at Woodend, as did Frank. ((RA.)) The clock Mrs. Reveley received is still in the family and stands proudly in Seattle, Washington.

The Reveley family clock

Fig. 4. The Reveley family clock.

The Reveley family clock, detail

Fig. 5. The Reveley family clock, detail.

In about 1794, Samuel Reveley suffered an unknown illness that left him paralyzed, according to the introduction to his Treatise Against Forestalling and Monopoly, written in 1801.

The author of the following discourse humbly hopes ——— that the candid public will consider his sincerely good intentions and debilitated State of Body as a sufficient apology for any Inaccuracies and Imperfections which may appear therein. The Author has been, for more than seven years, unable to write so much as his own name; having entirely lost the use of all his limbs: And the only Means he had of bringing forth the following literary Production was by communicating his thoughts to his son, (a Boy of little more than 12 years of age) in order to have them committed to paper. ((Samuel Reveley, A Moral and Religious Treatise against Forestalling and Monopoly (Penrith, 1801), pp. iii-iv. ))

His illness left the doctors mystified.


Dear Sir,

I am extremely sorry that absence from home, on indispensable professional duties, has, for a few days, retarded my answer to your very accurate narration of the case of Mr Revely… The case is not only extremely interesting, but of a rare and very complicated nature. I should suspect the affection to be compounded of Rheumatism and Herpes: but whether by long continuance of disease ancylosis may not have taken place in some of the joints you will be best enabled to determine: but I should suspect that, in most of the joints, their immobility may be owing merely to rigidity and want of muscular action.

From the history of the case I dare not form any conjecture concerning the remote cause of the disorder. If the patient had been exposed to catch cold, there would be reason to suspect the pains at first to have been Rheumatism – if the patient, on the contrary , had not been exposed to cold, but had been born of Gent[lemanl]y parents, or had lived in a luxurious manner, the pains in the joints might more reasonably been imputed to a Gent[lemanl]y habit. I shall not take up time with offering any theory concerning the Cutaneous affection, for, however troublesome it may be, I consider the general diseased state of the joints, to be the more formidable part of his distemper.

For the removal of so complicated and so long a continued affection, I should place the chief dependence on Mercury, pushed to such an extent as intimately to pervade the system. With this view let the patient take Two of the Pills * [* R Calernilanes.; Sulph. praecip: ant aa 13; Cons: Nescr q.s. f. Pilullee. No. Lx] every night and morning, giving an adequate Opiate every night at Bedtime. If the Pills do not occasion a soreness in the mouth in a reasonable time, the dose should be increased. But if they run to the bowels, in spite of Opium, then let Mercury be used in the form of Inunction. But whether the one or the other be preferred, let some degree of salivation be induced, and the action of the medicine be kept up for several weeks. At the same time, the patient should go into a Bath of water, heated to about 96 degrees every second night; and he should drink a Bottle of the Decoction of Mezeon (made agreeably to Edinburgh Pharmacopeia) milk warm every Twenty four hours. During the Mercurial course, the strength should be supported by Broths, Jellies and wine in Sage, Saloep &c. taken very frequently.

With respect to your enquiry in your P.S. give me leave to inform you, I shall think myself amply rewarded if I can be of the least service in restoring the gentleman to health or to usefulness. From a Clergyman, of his preferment in the Church, I am not in the custom of accepting fees: therefore I beg that you may write to me as often as you please.
I am yours very truly,
John Clark ((RF.))

The apothecary’s suggestions did not cure Samuel, and more family problems were occurring with Samuel’s relatives in America.

It appears that Samuel was financially involved with his late brother George’s property in Virginia, and George’s daughter Betsy was very concerned. George’s son married Martha Lakeland, and her family may have been the Lakelands that helped them buy the property. Charles Croughton, who had married Margaret Hudson, the daughter of Samuel’s sister Elizabeth, was also trying to get the property.

Portsmouth, Virginia, 14th March 1801

Dear Uncle,

I have repeatedly wrote to you, and am very much surprised, at not having received my answer. I wish to know wheather you purchased that house, and half an lot of ground, from Lakelands heirs or not, that my father lately occupied ~ as I understand that you purchased it for my Father, and he not having settled with you for it ~ if you will send over the title papers for it to any person you think proper, in this part of the world; I will give you the price it first cost, with interest from that time untill I receive the papers ~ for which sum you may draw on me for at any time you please, as the money is ready for you.

I understand that Mr. Charles Croughton has applied to you for it which I think is very wrong in him, as I have possession and my father and all my relations are buried on the spot makes it of more consequence to me than to anybody else. I am a widow and have one child to support and no income, I think it was very ungentlemanly in him to attempt getting possession ~ I suppose that you have been informed that Mr. Croughton has married Cousin Margaret Hudson. My father has been dead five years and his widow has been dead three.

If you could write by the return of this ship I should be certain to get your letter as I am intimately accuainted with the Captain, he will be in Liverpool sometime ~ Direct to Captain Richard Owen on board ship Juno. My love to my aunt and all my [letter ends]
[Betsy Linnel] ((RF.))

Charles Croughton had received the deeds from Samuel’s son Thomas, but had no authority to proceed as indicated in a letter to Thomas:

Fredericksburg 28 June 1801

Dear Sir:

Your two much esteemed favors in September and October last were received and also the deeds respecting the property in Portsmouth to the care of Mr. Maury were received. Betsy Reveley still is in possession of the house and will no doubt keep it until the law disposseses her, which I hope the writings received will be competent to effect ~ hitherto nothing has been done in the business ~ in my next, perhaps I may have it in my power to communicate something certain on this read, in the meantime your father may be assured that the interest he claims in the property shall not be neglected. We sincerely hope his health by this reestablished and that he will long enjoy it. His relations here are in tolerable health and join me in kind and affectionate remembrances to all of you at Cosby. Soon again I shall repeat this pleasure-in-task.
I am Dear Sir
Yours Sincerely
Charles Croughton ((RF.))

In 1806, however, Samuel’s American relatives were still fighting about the property. Thomas had been ignoring them. Obviously unfamiliar with the Westmorland Reveleys, Croughton sent another letter, explaining in detail how the problem must be resolved.

Fredericksburg Virginia 30th July 1806

Dear Sir,

I had the pleasure of writing you some years ago, acknowledging the receipt of John Lakeland’s Deeds of Lease & Release to you of a house and lott in the town of Portsmouth and also of your deed for the same to your Sister Hudson. Since then I have written you that your brother George’s daughter refuses to relinquish possession of the premises, to which letters we have not been favoured with a reply. At the particular and urgent request of Mrs. Hudson I went a few days ago to Portsmouth for the purpose of knowing what she had to depend upon respecting that property. George’s daughter is married again to a Mr. Clements ~ they both refused giving up the house and lott to any person not legally authorised, they have possession and know the papers in our possession are not sufficient to eject them. They reside in the same town in a house of their own and rent yours out. The Tarr Pitts are filled up and one of the outhouses (of wood) Mr. Clements has sold and removed from off yours to the adjoining lott. Upon reference to Counsel I find the papers beforementioned forwarded by you are insufficient to convey the property even to yourself which therefore remains in John Lakeland or his heirs, the best mode therefore to adopt now will be to obtain his deed at once to Mrs. Hudson which will lesson or prevent any dispute between you and your brother’s heirs and the expense & trouble of you executing a deed to her will be avoided.

You have herewith a deed of conveyance made out which you will please get John Lakeland to execute by his signature and seal, the blank in the third line is left for the purpose of filling up with the wife’s name (if he has one) thus ‘and Mary (or whatever her name may be) his wife’ ~ the blank in the last line but one is left for the same purpose and the two other blanks in that and the last line are left to be filled up with the singular or Plural Pronoun, with the word ‘his’ if unmarried and ‘our’ if married, in which latter case his wife must also sign the Deed and seal it. When this is done, John Lakeland must go before the Mayor of Appleby and acknowledge the execution of the deed, the mayor will then write underneath the deed as follows viz:

Appleby Westmorland County England to-wit~

John Lakeland personally came before me the Mayor of the Borough of Appleby in the County of Westmorland in that part of Great Britain called England and presenting the above writing, acknowledged it to be his act and deed, and that he delivers it to the use and behoof of the Grantee therein named ~signed by the Mayor of Appleby and the corporation seal to be annexed. Should John Lakeland be a married man, his wife must be examined by the Court, Mayor, or Chief Magistrate separate and apart from her husband, as to her willingness to execute the same (it being made & sealed by both) and the Certificate of the Mayor should also go to that point.~

Should John Lakeland not go himself to the Mayor for the purpose, the deed must be acknowledged before three witnesses who will sign their names under the words ‘signed, sealed, and delivered in presence of~’ then three witnesses must then go before the Mayor and make oath that John Lakeland acknowledged the writing to be his act and deed and deliver it as such to the use and behoof of the grantee therein named in their presence, which must be expressed and the witnesses named in the Certificate of the Mayor, instead of the name of the Grantor. The certificate must express they made oath and must be signed by the Mayor and sealed as in the first instance. Should John Lakeland be dead, this business must be done by his next heir. Should his wife object he execute the deed, have it notwithstanding executed by him, and put your son or some person to copy the deed now sent and have them both execute in the same manner and at the same time, which may be forwarded by different conveyances in case one should be lost in the passage. No stamp is requisite here. The deeds thus executed you will lose no time in forwarding for unless recorded here within a certain time from the date, they cannot be admitted to be read as evidence of title in our court, to which as Mrs. Hudson’s friend I will have recourse should possession be denied her, and when obtained forward you or yours the money required.

I forward this under cover to James Maury Esq of Liverpool, to whom I also returned Lakeland’s Deed of Lean and Release to you, and your Deed of Conveyance to your sister. The letters enclosing the Deed, to be executed, you can send to that Gentleman requesting him to forward them to me immediately by different vessels. By this, we all here hope your health is reestablished and that your good Lady and family are also well. You know not the pleasure it would afford Mrs. Hudson to hear more frequently of you and them. It is getting late ~ the person who is the bearer of this across the Atlantic starts before day, I must therefore assure you how much I am, Dear and Reverend Sir,
Your Obligated and Honorable Servant,
Charles Croughton ((RF.))

Croughton had two drafts of this letter, one added the phrase, after no stamp is required: ‘You should in dispatch for the property belonging to an alien, they were talking when I was at Portsmouth of confiscating it, and Clements who may injure the property, I am afraid will too soon not be in circumstances to make reparation. The original deeds forwarded by you may be had of Mr. Maury if wanted.’ The second copy was sent by different vessel, and forwarded to Reveley in a correspondence amply illustrating the difficulties involved in such long-distance negotiation:

Fredericksburg 30 July 1806

Dear Sir,

I take the liberty of troubleing you with a deed of lease & release from John Lakeland to Samuel Reveley and his deed to Mrs. Hudson for a house and lott in Portsmouth in this state. Possession without any right in the property is kept by another & the papers are insufficient to eject them. I will thank you to retain them in case they should be wanted, and forward the inclosed letter to some friend in Appleby to be delivered to Mr. Reveley whom I am afraid from his situation some years ago when we last heard from him, may be dead, in that case will you be so obliging as have the enclosed letter delivered to Mrs. Reveley, his widow, informing him or her of the papers you retain & which if required you may deliver to them only.
Charles Croughton

Liverpool 12th Sept 1806


Annexed you have the copy of a letter I have lately received from Mr. Charles Croughton of Fredericksburg in Virginia & herewith the letter he alludes to. I am ready to deliver up the papers in the manner he has directed.
I am your most obedient servant,
James Maury

Liverpool 15th October 1806


I send by a private conveyance to be delivered at the Bank of Messrs. I & I Wakefield in Kendal the documents which I received from Mr. Croughton as annexed. Very respectfully I am Sir
Your most obedient servant
James Maury


Lakeland to Reveley conveyance

Samuel Reveley to Elizabeth Hudson

Lease for a year

Lakeland to Reveley ((RF.))

A year later the irritation in the correspondence was rising, with Croughton waiting until the end of the letter before relaying news of the deaths of Samuel’s brother John and niece Margaret, Croughton’s wife. In fact Croughton was married to both of Elizabeth Reveley Hudson’s daughters, having married Margaret only when Eliza died. Here, for the moment, this story peters out. Croughton owned a large plantation in Virginia which I have seen, so his concern over this property remains a mystery.

Fredericksburg 25 April 1807

Dear Sir,

I received a letter today from your son Thomas dated the 6th February last acknowledging the receipt of the deeds of your property in Portsmouth. The deeds themselves, as to the mere wording of them would have done, the fault was in their execution. In that letter is this observation, speaking of their defect ‘you say the Legal Estate still remains vested in Lakeland or his heirs, in what particular part this defect is to be found, you do not acquaint us, consequently we are not able to rectify it provided it should become necessary.’ ~ A reference to mine to which that is an answer fully points out the defect and its remedy. In order to convey a fee simple right to real property in this state, certain legal requisites are necessary, the form of the deed I wrote and sent is without any lean or stamp at best, the same number of witnesses, the same acknowledgements of those witnesses or of the parties executing the deed which are mentioned in my letter as requisite from John Lakeland to Mr. Hudson, as necessary to be observed in the conveyance of him to you, which not having been done, the property is still in him instead of you. To save trouble, expense therefore, and with no other view, it was proposed that Lakeland should in the manner therein pointed out convey it at once to Mrs. Hudson but should John Lakeland so convey to you, you must in the same manner convey to your sister, taking especial care to have the deeds dated as forward as possible because if not recorded within a certain time from their execution, they cannot be read in evidence of a right, should that right be contested, and it is probable the present occupant may keep adverse possession ~ in that case he can only be ejected by a suit of law, when we shall be put to the proof of the right being in Lakeland who conveys to you, or Mrs.Hudson as the case may be.

Now in tracing the title down to him we must prove his identity ~ also that his brother was entitled to and had a right to bequeath this property to him ~ for as Clements and his wife have acquired the Lease possessions, the law will suppose the right to be in them unless a better right in us shall be proved. Thus in purchasing this estate we also probably purchase a Law suit and therefore I do not think you should exact payment before possession. If you choose to make or have the conveyance made in the manner fully pointed out in my last letter, and your sister in consequence obtains possession, the sum requires vis sixty guinea (£63 Sterling) shall most assuredly be immediately forwarded to you, to the payment of which the sum I hereby bind myself, my heirs so, provides I am constituted the attorney to receive and deliver possession of the tenement to Mrs. Hudson, in the manner expressed in the deed written by myself and forwarded to you. You are to recollect that I am in fact doing your business, for your right must be established if your sister is to hold under you, before she can have any, and the stir we have made in the affair has given use to those offers you have since had ~ the expenses of postages, lawyers fees, traveling from this to Portsmouth 200 miles & back, have already cost me one tenth part of the purchase money. A power of attorney from you to some person here to dispose of it would be a nullify until you were in legal possession yourself, and to that power what respect would be paid by Mr. & Mrs. Clements, after the treatment your conveyance to your sister met with because it was legally informal?

Not a moment’s time shall be left in availing ourselves of the conveyance to take the property if you choose to send them in as directed ~ it is indeed a pity so much has already been lost, and is certainly prejudicial to your interest, for from recent circumstances, I do not believe Clements (if you should be disposed to let him have it, after I have had so much trouble and your sister or me has incurred so much expense in the business) has it in his power to purchase it properly.

Situated in a remote corner of the island where commerce has not made large sums familiar, it is perhaps natural that so great a stress should be laid upon the small consideration of 60 guineas, which however, as aforementioned, you may rely shall be forwarded to you through some safe channel at Liverpool.

Your brother John died at his Sister Hudson’s the 10th day of April 1804 aged 71 years, and was by his own request buried at the feet of his mother. Margaret Hudson also departed this life in the month of October 1805 of a Phthisis Pulmonalis, so that the old lady has only heaven & herself to rest upon. She is truly sorry for your present imbecility of body & prays for the return of all your powers ~ With compliments to all your family and wishes for their and your happiness & health I have the honor to be Dear & Reverend Sir,
Your Obedient Humble Servant,
Charles Croughton ((RF.))

Knowing he was in poor health, Samuel had a will prepared:

In the name of God Amen. I Samuel Reveley of Crosbyravensworth in the County of Westmorland Clerk, being not well in bodily health but of perfect Understanding considering the uncertainty of this a Mortal Life and being desirous to leave that fortune which God has been pleased to bless me with, in my family, with as much peace and union as may be. I do make this my Last Will and Testament in manner following, hereby revoking all former wills made by me. And first I resign my soul to the great and merciful God who made it, in hopes of eternal life & happiness through Jesus Christ our Lord, and my body to be decently interred at the discretion of my Executrix hereinafter named, as for my Temporal estate I give, devise, and dispose of the same as followeth.

First I give, bequeath, and devise to my Eldest son Thomas Reveley and his heirs forever all that my freehold estate called Blasterfield with the appurtenances situate lying and being in the Parish of Crosbyravensworth also one other close or Inclosure of Freehold Land called Barncroft with the appurtenances situate lying and being in the Parish of Crosbyravensworth aforesaid, subject to the payment of all my just debts – and certain Legacies hereinafter Mentioned, which the better to enable him to do. I also give him the sum of Ninety pounds, sixty-five of which sum is now in the hands, or lodged upon the property of the late John Yates of Kirkbystephen by mortgage, and Twenty five pounds, which will make up the remainder is due to me by a security on the Borrowbridge Turnpike Road both which sums of money he shall have a just right to receive when my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley shall have arrived at the age of twenty-one years.

I also give and bequeath to my son George Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds. I also give and bequeath to my son Francis Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds. I also give and bequeath to my daughter Elizabeth Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds.I also give and bequeath to my daughter Ruth Reveley the sum of four hundred and fifty pounds, all which above mentioned legacies I will shall be paid to them by my son Thomas Reveley when my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley shall have attained the age of twenty one years, or when she would have attained if living. I also will that my wife Ruth Reveley shall have a right and full power to receive all the rents profits, and interests arising from all my above mentioned lands & money and to dispose of the same at her own discretion, to her own and my children’s use as may appear to her most prudent and necessary, till my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley either shall or would have attained the age of twenty one years.

And lastly as to all the rest, residue, and remainder of my property of what kind or nature soever they be. I give and bequeath the same to my beloved wife Ruth Reveley whom I hereby appoint sole Executrix of this my Last Will and Testament, she paying all my funeral expenses.

And it is my further will and desire that my wife shall have power to name and appoint another Executor and in case of her death before all my children are become of age, that the whole income arising from all my estate personal and real may be applied to the maintenance and support of my children in manner above mentioned, till my youngest daughter Ruth Reveley shall or would have attained the age of twenty-one years. And when my children shall all have received their several legacies, their respective claims upon the income at large shall cease. In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal this fifth day of November in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and nine.

Samuel Reveley X his mark and seal

Signed, sealed published & declared by the above named Samuel Reveley to be his Last Will and Testament. In the presence of us who have subscribed our names as witnesses in the presence of the testator and of each other,

Thomas Gibson George Gibson Ann Jackson

proved 3rd July 1810 ((Carlisle Record Office, will of Samuel Reveley.))

The will clarifies the property Samuel had accumulated in his lifetime. In 1800, Samuel had purchased farmland in Blasterfield, which was leased to others. Blasterfield Farm lies exactly two miles, as the crow flies, SSE of Crosby Ravensworth Church, adjoining the part of Crosby Fell which forms Orton Scar, and is in the parish, township and manor of Crosby Ravensworth. Most probably purchased as an investment, Blasterfield was a source of worry for Samuel’s wife Ruth.

Crosby Nov 6

My Dear Son,

The miller did not receive the deeds till last Sunday when I got your letter: he has said nothing of paying yet. We are still very badly off as we get so little from Blasterfield. Elen still continues to stand Appleby market she sent me down on Sunday £2 in values which I sent to old Susan Ded which she objected takeing particularly two 5 – 6 pence she demands full interest without alowing any thing for the property two which I should think must be wrong as I payed it in July tell me what you think. I got Dr. Beatham to go up to Blasterfield on Sunday to look at the houses he says he thinks there will be no danger till spring when something must be done at them. I do not know what to advise about leting the farm one never can get them to say what they would give we shall now want a full years rent and Dr. Beatham tells me that Tomey Tothergill about a £ 100 he had nothing to show for it. They have now given him a note for it and he said he was determined to have it payed soon. So that with what we want now and another year I fear they would not have to pay without things sell better than they do at present. I hope you will have some chaps at the fair and you must do what way you think best yourself. G. Wilkinson will be at the fair and I should think Cagestick the man from Bampton had said at Blasterfield he thought his wife would not like it but he said no such thing hear nor found fault with anything we thought him a very nice man indeed,if you let it I would not wish you to grant a long lease for there never sure can be worse leting. Crosbygate is again advertised. Mr Preston estate was not let there was not a single chap except a son of Tomey Swansons. I cannot expect to hear any thing from you by Jim but you can perhaps write by Rudick and let me know how you have come on. You have never sent the flannel waistcoat to make one by. I cannot get any yarn yet for your gloves but will as soon as ———.

Your sisters begs if you have any ——— trowsers that you have done wearing you would send them. I think I have now nothing more to add but that I ever remain
your affectionate Mother,
R Reveley ((RF.))

Another letter was written to John Richardson regarding the Farm:

Crosby June 24 1805


Mr Reveley having been informed that the writing concerning Matthew Hewartson to which he affixed his name some time since has been looked upon by Lord Lowther and you as a recommendation of him respecting his Farm. He desires me to inform you that he did not consider the writeing alluded to in that light. And therefore he begs leave to withdraw his name from the paper as he will not in any shape be answerable for any consequences that may arise from Matthew Hewartson’s conduct.
I am Sir With the greatest Respect Your Obet. Sert.
R Reveley ((RF.))

Samuel left Blasterfield to his son Thomas, and it remained with his family until Thomas’s great nephew Thomas Reveley sold it to Robert Nicholson of Gilts, the tenant in 1904. It was mortgaged for some years but redeemed eventually. In 1898 the field called Ox Close, which had belonged to the Gathorn Hall Estate was purchased for £200 and became part of the farm. ((Barnskew transcriptions by Ted Relph.))

In spite of his illness, Samuel continued to hold the vicarage. In 1801 he wrote A moral and religious treatise against forestalling and monopoly which was published at Penrith and sold for the benefit of the poor of his parish, a conventional wartime protest against those profiting from the emergency. Save for his signature to the customary address congratulating Archbishop Vernon on his appointment printed in the Carlisle Journal in 1808, the other most enduring evidence of Reveley’s tenure at Crosby Ravensworth is that he appears to have been, with George Gibson of Oddendale, the instigator of well-meaning, if perhaps mediocre, alterations to the church, although the work had barely begun at the date of his death, according to the Chronicles of Crosby Ravensworth. In the Vale of Lyvennet, the alterations are described.

The next most important change in its architectural history was in 1811. In this and the following year it was in a great measure rebuilt. The roof of the old church was leaded, and where the present new chancel Arch is, near to the roof, were twelve small round-headed windows, representing numerically the twelve apostles; these were entirely removed. Most of the other windows were also taken out and replaced by the present ones, which are of a character that deservedly comes under the style The Debased. At this time the embattlements were removed from the tower, and some elaborate work introduced surmounted by pinnacles ornamented with crotchet work; many of the buttresses are also surmounted by similar ones. The porch and chancel doorway were ornamented with elaborately carved work, which though highly creditable to those engaged in the good work of remodelling the sacred edifice, are far from being in accordance with ecclesiastical architecture of the present day. The interior sittings, pulpit, &c., were refitted at the same time, and the interior decorated with texts from Scripture, scroll work, &c., chiefly done by George Gibson, Esq. ((John Salkeld Bland, The Vale of Lyvennett, its picturesque peeks and legendary lore (Kendal, 1910), p. 49.))

Samuel Reveley died on 11 November 1809 at the age of 52. After Samuel’s death, Ruth lived in the cottage called ‘The Fernery’ next to the Vicarage on Post Office Lane in Crosby Ravensworth. It is basically Georgian but whether Williamson or the Reveleys built it is unknown. It was built on a field which had belonged to the church; Williamson records making hay in this field. The present owners had new windows put in and gave local historian Ted Relph one of the old sashes which has some names or initials scratched on the glass, possibly done with a diamond ring! Ruth died on 5 April 1830, at the age of 72.


Ralf Lawson Reveley researched the Reveleys for twenty years and published the American Reveleys in 1987. He always hoped to establish our English connection, but passed away before he had the opportunity. In 2001 I began the task for Ralf, and, thanks to Ted Relph of Crosby Ravensworth, I was able to find out about Samuel Reveley, Thomas Reveley’s young son who returned to England. The Record Offices in Whitehaven and Kendal, the Clergy of the Church of England Database, Paul Reveley and his nephew Graham Barnes, and my internet genealogy friends provided me with information, and I thank them all.