In old writings, spelled Ulnesby, Ullesby, or Ulfsby, contains the neighbouring hamlets of Ousbyshire, Bradley, Fell-side, and the Row, with some scattered houses, distant nine miles E.N.E. of Penrith, and 12½ miles S.W. of Alston. Mr. Denton says the proper name, is Ulfsby, habitatio Ulfi filii 0lavi Dani, from Ulf, a Dane or Norwegian, who seated himself here before the Norman conquest. The parish extends westward from Cross Fell, about six miles east, and is about two in breadth, containing nearly 8000 acres, of which about 2000 are enclosed and cultivated, and the rest forms a large common, and the Green Fell, which rises to the height of 2500 feet above the level of the sea, and lies between Hartside Fell and Cross Fell. The cultivated portion of the parish is tolerably fertile, having generally a red marly soil, and in some places a light sand; and the principal crops are oats, barley, turnips, &c. The number of rateable acres is 1539, of the rateable value of £1757. The largest owners of the soil are the Rev. H. J. Hare, of Dockring Hall, Norfolk, and Mr. Joseph Barker, of Rayson Hall. As the parish adjoins the mining districts of Alston Moor, several attempts have been made to find veins of lead ore, but none have as yet been discovered sufficient to defray the necessary expences. A coal mine was formerly wrought at the foot of the Fell; and in the parish is a mineral water of very brackish taste. The land has a gentle inclination from the Fell towards the Eden, and from its vicinity to lofty mountains in very subject to cold and stormy weather, and is often severely affected by the helm wind. Many of the farms here are occupied by their owners, but Wm. Crackenthorp, Esq., of Newbiggin Hall, Westmorland, is lord of the manor. On the estates of Mr. John Spedding and Mr. Jas. Shepherd, in the western extremity of the parish, appear vestiges of an ancient British fort, consisting of an outward and inner rampart, with a ditch between them, and enclosing a pentagonal area, in which an urn, and many fragments of ruined walls have been found. The Church, which is dedicated to St. Luke, consists of a nave and chancel, with a bell turret at the western end, carrying two bells. In the chancel is the figure of a crusader, cross legged, carved in oak, in mail armour, and in the attitude of prayer. It is now placed before three stone seats or sedilia, formerly used by the priest, the deacon, and subdeacon, during part of the service of high mass. On the east side is a piscina, corresponding with the seats. The bishop of Carlisle is the patron, and the Rev. John Fenton, M. A., is rector, who resides at the rectory-house, which is a good building, contiguous to the church. The living is valued in the king's books at £13 13s 4d., but is now worth £353: the tithes have been commuted for a yearly modus of £315, and there are about 32 acres of glebe. The Revd. Thomas Robinson, A.B., rector of Ousby, who died in 1719, is well known to the literati by the works he published on the Natural History of Cumberland and Westmorland, and of "This World of Matter, and this World of Life."
Mannix & Whellan, History, Gazetteer and Directory of Cumberland, 1847
A reference to the local charities has been omitted.
The Helm Wind will be described in a separate entry.
30 March 1999
© Steve Bulman