The Parishes And Townships Of North Tynedale
In the usual manner of county histories, volume XV of the Northumberland County History (NCH XV (1940), 234-80) discusses the history of North Tynedale primarily within the framework of ecclesiastical parishes and their constituent townships, following the example of all the previous volumes in the series and John Hodgson’s History of Northumberland before that. Yet these 19th century parishes and townships were relatively recent creations in North Tynedale.
The townships of Charlton West Quarter, Tarretburn and West Tarset, which all feature as a territorial units in the Northumberland County History, were established in 1729 by Thomas Sharp, Archdeacon of Northumberland, specifically to administer poor relief, taking advantage of the 1662 Poor Law Act which had designated ‘every Township or Village’ in northern England as the unit for poor-rate assessment and collection (Charlton 1987, 98-9; cf. Winchester 1987, 27). Each of these townships was henceforth responsible for the maintenance of its own poor and setting a separate poor rate. Prior to 1729, the Chapelry of Bellingham had been subdivided into four wards for more convenient collection of the poor rate, but these wards had not set a separate rate.
Some of these townships may have been based on earlier territorial units, but their names have a rather artificial character - West Tarset or Plashetts and Tynehead indicative of institutions established by bureaucratic fiat.