Penrith Before 1750

Economic Development before 1750: In 1223 Henry III granted the right to hold a market on Wednesdays, and a fair. In addition, special great fairs for cattle and horses were held. Outbreaks of the plague and devastation caused by marauding Scots had serious implications for Penrith’s population in the 14th century, and again during the Great Plagues of the 16th century. By 1688 a population figure of 1,350 is recorded. In 1400 Bishop Strickland had a water supply diverted from the river Petteril to Penrith, benefiting local industries as well as the general population. Dyeworks and weaving shops were recorded as early as 1310; tanneries were mentioned in deeds from 1379 to the 1550s. The markets generated a considerable amount of Penrith’s trade and commerce. By 1687 there were four guilds: merchants, tanners, shoemakers and skinners. Stone quarries and slate quarries were located on Penrith fell. During the second half of the 17th century and the first half of the 18th Penrith also appears to have been the centre of the pewter industry in the county.  In 1687 the town’s population was estimated to be 1,350.