CROSBY RAVENSWORTH AND THE HARSH WINTERS OF THE C18th

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darrog
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CROSBY RAVENSWORTH AND THE HARSH WINTERS OF THE C18th

Post by darrog » Fri Mar 16, 2012 9:03 am

Just thought that I would share the following with you. I am knocking up a 'local historical weather history' for my immediate area, which is already on its 3/4th re-write as I get more info'.
Whilst it does not contain any 'hard data' it is nonetheless interseting and will probably be the earliest ever account that I shall get of local weather:

'The very earliest information that I have found (and I'm unlikely to find anything earlier) comes from the diaries of the Reverend George Willimason who was the vicar at Crosby Ravensworth from 1747 - 1783.
These diaries are obviously a vitally important source of information, but alas do not contain 'hard data' such as temperature or rainfall amounts, but Dr. Lance Tufnell of Huddersfield University who first brought the diaries to the attention of Ted Relph (local man of unparalleled knowledge, author and president of Cumbrian dialect society) makes the following observation:

'Despite its limitations, George Williamson's diary is the most important source of data for the study of climate in north west England between 1740 and 1780.'

Tufnell makes the following observations about the weather realted entries in these diaries:

'All the weather information recorded...is purely of a desciptive nature, apart from one entry which attempts some measure of quantification and precision (ie. his observation of "snow near a yard deep" on 24th January 1744/5).'

Tufnell goes on to explain problems with Williamson's use of the terms 'fair' and 'stormy' and the inprecise way in which they were applied. One intriguing point that Tufnell does make is regarding Williamson's use of Latin and of old English words that are now largely obsolete. Williamson used 'serenum' (clear, cloudless sky), 'jucundus' (pleasant), 'pluvia' (rain) 'procella' (storm), 'venti' (winds) and 'nix alta' (deep snow), albeit they are are only used a handful of times.

The use of old English amounts to: 'lowering' (gloomy, dark threatening), 'clashy' (with heavy and sudden falls of rain), 'blustering' (boisterous blowing of the wind), 'midling' (moderate/tolerable/average sort of day), 'droppy' (rainy, wet) and 'misling' (very fine rain/drizzle) - also most of his entries record just one weather type within a 24 hour period.

The obvious periods to look at though in the diaries are for the harsh winters of 1765-66 and 1779-80 and I repeat these below along with January 1767 which was also very harsh. But Williamsons account of the severe blizzard of 21st February 1762 that caused much loss of life in Cumbria is only described by Williamson as "a sad storm of wind and snow."


1762 - Cold February/March

It appears that the two month's were cold, especially February which had seen snow and frost before that fateful storm of the 21st.

5th and 6th - 'frosty' ............ 7th - 'windy and frosty' .......... 11th - 'a cover of snow... a thick snow in the night' ........ 12th - 'a thick snow' ............ 17th - 'stormy' ............. 20th - 'stormy'

21st - 'A sad storm of wind and snow' .................... 22nd - 'very frosty' .............. 23rd - 'snow and keen frost' ............ 25th - 'frosty' ........... 26th - 'frosty and fine day'


Williamson does not make mention of a thaw, but moving onto into March the 5th is described as 'frosty and cold' with 'frost and snow' on the 7th. The cold spell continued with the 9th seeing 'A storm of wind and snow', the 10th 'stormy and snowy all day' and the 11th 'keen frost and snow'.

A thaw is finally mentioned on the 12th and the 13th is described as a 'very fine day' and the month continues in a generally 'fine' manner until an entry on the 30th reads 'snow not all gone, more fell but wasted'.


1766 - Cold February

1st - 'Wet and stormy afterwards a flight of snow' ........ 2nd - 'Very stormy' ........ 3rd - 'very frosty and cold.' ......... 4th - 'frosty' ......... 7th - 'Frosty and a cover of snow' ......... 8th - 'Thaw'

10th - 'Wettish p.m.' ......... 11th - 'Very cold' ............ 12th - 'A deep snow' .......... 13th - 'Snow deep, continued laying and very cold' .............. 14th - 'Snow continued laying and very cold'

15th - 'fine thaw' ............ 16th - 'thaw'


1767 - Cold January

2nd - 'Very stormy' ............ 3rd - 'Grandfather weatherbound' ........... 4th - 'very frosty and snowy.' ............. 6th - 'frost' .......... 7th - 'snow by thaw' ............ 8th - 'Very hard frost and stormy' ........... 9th - 'Frost keen'

11th - 'Went to church but none came on account of an uncommon storm of snow' ............ 12th - 'very deep snow' ............. 13th - 'Snow continued' ............ 14th - 'Storm continued, very cold'

15th - 'storm continued' ......... 16th - 'snowy all day, but wind lower' ........ 17th - 'frost and snow continued, now clear' ......... 18th - 'Very hard frost still' ............... 19th - 'no sign of thaw'

21st - 'thaw, froze at night again' ............ 22nd - 'fine thaw' .............. 24th - 'thaw again, fine day, rather frosty' ........... 25th - 'thaw and high flood'


It must have been an interesting month with hard frosts, snow to keep everyone away from church and then the flood - but I'm sure one that the folk could very well have done without.


Winter 1779-80 - Severe cold and death

Whilst not knowing just how cold it really got, the descriptions tell the story and Ted Relphs further research adds a poignancy to the harshness and the grim reality of such weather in the 18th century.

December 1779 .......... 21st - 'Stormy and frost' ........ 23rd - 'keen frost' ........ 24th - 'very keen frost' ...... 25th - 'Thank God better of cold' ............ 26th - 'keen frost but no snow' .............

28th - 'Thaw' .............. 31st - 'frosty'


January 1780.......... 3rd - 'A hazy dark day' ......... 6th - 'fine thaw' .......... 8th - 'frost' ......... 9th - 'very frosty' ........
11th - 'keen frost and snow at night' ........ 12th - 'Intense frost and very cold' ...........

15th - 'thaw at night' ........... 16th - 'fine thaw, God be thanked'


The thaw continued upto the 18th, with the frost returning from the 19th and whilst a 'keen frost' is mentiond on the 22nd and 'frosty' on the 28th, the diary entries become a little devoid of weather observations.

Ted Relph makes the point that in January of 1780 there was five funerals, three of which were of children - one can only make the assumption that the severe cold was a significant factor in these deaths!!


February 1780 still sees mention of frost on the 2nd with a thaw for the next few days before the 6th is 'snowy' followed by a thaw. But the 11th sees a 'keen frost again' and a few days of frost before a thaw until a 'frost returned, hard' on the 19th. The month ended with some stormy weather and a general thaw although the 27th is described as being 'Very cold day'.

As my time allows I will endeavour to read the diaries and extract from them what I can to add to this page.
Darren Rogers - he who submits the most interesting posts, AKA Mr Data
Maulds Meaburn

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