Over several generations the Barony rose in influence at
Court and in national affairs; through marriage and reward
the wealth of the barony grew steadily. Aldingham Barons
were involved at Agincourt and in many of the battles of
the Cousins' War (War of the Roses).
In 1461, a baby girl of six months became the 7th Baron(ess)
Harrington of Aldingham, a wealthy heiress and ward of Elizabeth
Woodville, wife of Yorkist king Edward IV. To keep the wealth
in the family, Elizabeth arranged for Cecily to marry her
son from her first marriage, Thomas Grey, and, as women
could not sit in Parliament, Thomas took over the role of
7th Baron. Thomas is best remembered for his attempt to
rescue the "two princes in the Tower" from the
clutches of Richard III before their mysterious disappearnace.
grandson, Henry Grey, was the 9th and last Baron Harrington.
He married Frances Brandon, Henry VIII's niece. After conspiring
to have their daughter, Lady Jane Grey, made Queen for nine
days, he was executed in 1554 on the orders of Queen Mary
and all his lands confiscated. Much of the land of the Barony,
including Birkrigg, has remained Crown property to this
day. Much of the 9th Baron's property in Devon and Cornwall
forms part of the Duchy of Cornwall estates of Prince Charles.
But, although legally still owned by the Queen, Birkrigg
is administered by the Crown Estates. The Crown Estates
make large annual profits, most being given to the Treasury,
but a percentage is retained as the Civil List. Unfortunately,
Birkrigg has no economic value and therefore no importance.
Before 1974 it was leased to Ulverston Urban District Council
as an amenity; by default, the lease was transferred in
1974 to South Lakeland District Council, which takes a minimal
interest in the condition of the Common as it is not the
would have been in these medieval times that Commoners'
Rights were given to tenants of the Barony. These commoners'
rights still largely exist, although they carry no responsibility
to maintain the Common.
Common is therefore caught in limbo with no one group prepared
to take responsibility for its deteriorating condition;
in large areas it is returning to scrub which will eventually