Elizabeth Senhouse, a venerable lady

May 6 1890 saw the death of a venerable lady (as she was termed) from a famous Cumbrian family: Elizabeth Pocklington Senhouse.

Mrs Senhouse of Netherhall, Maryport, was 86, and what had started as a head cold took a fatal turn.

Venerable as she was, as a woman she was still described in the news report without a Christian name. Although unusually, she had kept her maiden name when she married.

Famous families

Elizabeth Pocklington Senhouse was part of a family who had been prominent in Cumbrian history for centuries.

Marriages with other ‘big’ families included that of one of the Humphreys (it was a Senhouse family name) to a Fleming.

Humphrey Senhouse (1705-1770) married Mary Fleming, daughter of Sir George, the bishop of Carlisle.

Senhouse, Fleming, Carlisle Cathedral,
This memorial in Carlisle Cathedral give a lot of family detail


Sir George Fleming may have been a bishop and a baronet, but he could be economical with the actualité – as our family discovered to their cost. But that’s a story for another time!

It was 1707 Humphrey Senhouse who developed the old town of Ellenport and renamed it after his wife – as Maryport. 

A later Humphrey married Elizabeth Frances, daughter and co-heiress of Robert Charles Greaves, of Ingleby Hall, Derbyshire. Their only son died young, leaving eldest daughter Elizabeth (born April 28, 1805)  to become Lady of the Manor of Ellenborough.

Elizabeth married, in 1835, Joseph Pocklington, of Nottinghamshire, who took the name Senhouse. He was one of the principal promoters of the Maryport and Carlisle Railway, and as chairman of the Town and Harbour Trust, did much to boost the town. It was through his part in promoting the first dry dock, opened in 1837, that it got its name: Elizabeth Dock, after his wife.

Elizabeth Pocklington Senhouse the benefactress

After his death in 1874, Elizabeth continued to support Maryport, giving more than £2,000 to enable a new church to be built at Netherton, and further money to restore the parish church.

She also gave, two months before her death, £20 towards the appeal to acquire Tullie House,  Carlisle, in trust for the public as a home for the arts and sciences.

She was survived by a son, Humphrey Pocklington Senhouse, and three daughters. They were: Mary, Lady Lawson (wife of Liberal politician Sir Wilfrid Lawson); Fanny (wife of barrister Beauchamp Prideaux Selby), and Ellen (wife of Colonel Robert Henry Curzon Drury-Lowe). Her other daughter, Blanche, had died some years earlier. She had married Lord Scarsdale (Alfred Nathaniel Holden Curzon) and left 11 children, including the then Conservative MP for Southport, and later viceroy of India, George Curzon. 

Widespread mourning

The flags were at half-mast across Maryport following the news of Elizabeth’s death – on churches, shops, offices, the railway station, and ships in the harbour.

On the day of the funeral, businesses shut for the afternoon and hundreds lined the street and took part in the procession which carried the coffin to the church.

Her personal estate, in her will, was worth more than £20,500. She asked for family heirlooms, including three court dresses worn by an ancestress in the reign of George II, to remain part of Netherhall.

Too much information!

A little less dignified was a short report in the Carlisle Patriot on June 20 1890 about the Netherhall heir, Humphrey Pocklington Senhouse:

‘We are glad to say that Mr Senhouse, who has been confined to the London house of his brother-in-law Sir Wilfrid Lawson by a severe attack of rheumatic gout, is doing well, though his illness has left him very weak.’

The words “thanks for sharing” come to mind! 

This bulletin was followed, without a break, by the important news  that Mr Joseph Bond, of Aglionby, had sold home-grown new potatoes in Carlisle market on Saturday at 3s (three shillings) per stone. These were the first locally grown new potatoes in the market this season.

Humphrey survived the gout, dying aged 60 in December 1903, two months after a ‘paralytic seizure’.

Joseph Bond, born Aglionby, in 1848, seems also to have died in 1903.

The reports of Humphrey’s death and funeral were more muted than those of his mother. It’s unlikely Joseph got any mention at all.