Reply To: Dublin houses using coal in the 1690s

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Chris Dickinson

Many thanks for your very detailed and lengthy reply. I really much appreciate it.

My main reason for making the enquiry was that the inherent assumption in everything I’ve read is that Whitehaven coal to Dublin was for domestic use. I have wondered whether that is quite right, and thought that the best answer would come from an architectural form. In the latter, I’ve been proved right.

To comment on your comments, largely by paragraph.

There was a great period of yeoman house building in West Cumberland in the late seventeenth century onwards. Most of this is simply a consequence of newly-acquired wealth, cultural transition (such as a need to store spices), and social ambition; but I’m intrigued by your comments about a ‘drying loft’. I shall look at that further, as I will any advances in fulling in Cumbria.

To add to your list of industries, another coal intensive one was salt. I have no idea how Dublin got its salt, but here’s an Irish link:

Slade – 17th century salt production on the Hook

which gives the coal as sourced from Wales – but maybe there were other projects like this that used Whitehaven?

Thanks for your comments on Dublin-Whitehaven coal links. The 1690s saw an attempt to break the Lowther monopoly by a Fletcher-Lamplugh-nonconformist alliance based at the Parton pier. It failed – the Lowthers had deeper pockets.

There are, as you comment, a very large number of connections between Dublin and Whitehaven in this period, partly through the coal trade. Whitehaven port records are limited, but show ships, masters, traders and cargoes in the surviving years. Probate inventories also show ship names and ownership. Many years ago, I put some Cumbrian ship names (not necessarily, though probably, travelling to Dublin) at:

Thank you for the comment on ‘the sign of Whitehaven, and which was in the possession of a William Bibby in the 1720s’. ‘Bibby’ or ‘Beeby’ is a well-known Cumbrian surname, typically at this time Quaker. Just to swap information – the will of Jonathan Fletcher of Dublin (another Cumbrian) in 1745, proved 1746, (in ‘Quaker Records: Dublin Abstracts of Wills’, ed. Beryl Eustace & Olive Goodbody, Dublin Stationery Office 1957) mentions the ownership of ‘The Sign of the Black Lion’, ‘The Sign of the Golden Bull’, and ‘The Sign of the Merry Shepherd’.

Thank you, too, for the comment on troop transportation by the coal fleet. Cumbrian probate does show mariners/sailors owed wages for government services at this time. A Joseph Dickinson (of my family, lost at sea) was described in his 1718 probate as ‘Master & Commander of the Ship Westmorland’ (the ‘Commander’ shows government employment), though he may (born in 1680) have been too young for that 1703 event.


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