Life and times of Adam de Blencowe

The middle ages were cruel and you had to fight to survive. Northumbria was mostly forest with clearings of pasture lands.  Norse and Flemish migrants were settling amongst the Saxon tribes and William the Conqueror had decided it was prudent to keep Saxon overlords to control the people.  The king expected everybody to be ready to defend their land and if you owned 2 acres, you had to own a spear or bow.  There was constant catholic/protestant and Scottish/English conflict, border raids and marriage based land bargaining in Adam's long 78 years.



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Adam de Blencowe















All this and he still went off to war so this might explain the reason for the motto.


1311         Robert the Bruce ‘burnt all the land of the Lord of Gillesland’. Inhabitants of Irthington and other parts may have been forced into subjection  to the Scots.

1314         After English defeat at Bannockburn, the English borders were defenceless and victorious Scots poured into and devastated northern Cumbria and Northumberland, ravaging Tynedale

            Robert the Bruce came again but was bought off with money.

1315         High Crosby raided by Scots.

1315-22   Sustained economic decline in the North in 1300’s and 1400’s, particularly after harvest failures and famine in 1315 – 1317 and then livestock plagues in years 1315- 22.

1317         Dacres gained Gilsland by marriage.

1318         The Abbott of St Mary’s, York, asked to sell surpluses of his tithes of grain from Westmoreland to keeper of the king’s victuals at Carlisle.

1319         Scots raided again, devastating north-west England and burning Gilsland and carrying off inhabitants.  ‘The best and richest of the country about Gillesland and Lidell’ reported as having

            changed sides and allied themselves to Scots, following Scots invasion  and their abandonment by the English king. Protection extended by Scots to men of Gilsland and Liddel.

1322         Widespread devastation by Scots including Skelton, Greystoke and Blencow.

1328         Treaty of Edinburgh concedes Scottish independence.

1333         Particularly savage burning and ravaging of Gilsland by Scots led by Archibald  Douglas.

1334         Naworth became main seat of the Dacres for next two centuries; an impregnable castle.

1337         Lord of Gilsland raided and burned into Scotland with counter attacks on his  lands.

1341         Inquisitiones Nonarum  blames county’s impoverishment at this time upon many men having become horsemen and archers in wars against the Scots, and also extensive disease of murrain affecting sheep in all parts of the county except in Crosby and Stanwix parishes.

1345         Great Scots raid on Gilsland and the Eden Valley, with burning of Penrith, Blencow, Greystoke and Skelton.

1346         Lanercost Priory ransacked by Scots.

1349         First outbreak of Black Death, which killed at least a third of Carlisle’s people by 1352.

1350         Production  of wool goods concentrated in southern Cumbria around Kendal and subsequently ceased to be an extensive cottage industry in northern Cumbria.

1352         Income from demesne land at High Crosby remained low because ‘it could not be demised better after the pestilence’.

            (1357 – Arms awarded to Adam)

1361-62   Second major outbreak of the Black Death, whose worst effects may have been limited to the Carlisle area and the Eden Valley.

1369         Plague revisited Cumbria.

1377         Poll Tax return records 678 names of over-14 year olds living in suburbs as well as inside Carlisle city walls.  Ropes made at Naworth.

1379         Almost entire population of Newton in Northumberland killed by the Black Death, which had reached Durham in 1349.

1388         Cumberland and Westmoreland devastated by Scots. Destruction at Irthington and at other settlements.


This is an extract from the Wannop family site








John Fitz Adam de Blencowe












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