The lords and lordships of the English West March : Cumberland and Westmorland from circa 1250 to circa 1350
Cumberland and Westmorland differed significantly from the rest of Mediaeval England. They were subjected to the English crown later than the rest of England and as a result the lordships of the region retained extensive powers comparable to those exercised on the March of Wales. Thus local lords played a larger role in government than elsewhere and they also enjoyed political dominance. Seigneurial officials bore the main burden of law enforcement. Cumbria evolved its own customs for law enforcement but crime remained a serious problem. In the early reign of Edward I the region enjoyed peace but since lordship there was of limited financial value, it was also largely neglected by its lords. In Cumberland, especially, absentee lordship was common. In Westmorland the Clifford family, which had gained land there, attempted to establish local dominance. This resulted in disputes both with the borough of Appleby and the lords of Kendale. Robert de Clifford was able to complete his family's acquisition of land in the reign of Edward II but these gains were temporarily negated by the rebellion and forfeiture of his son Roger IV in 1322.The outbreak of war caused enormous material damage and rendered absentee lordship impossible. Edward II's failure to defend the border and minorities in leading local families left the region specially vulnerable. Scots raids resulted in the total disruption of local government and leadership was exercised by a series of military commanders the most notable of whom was Andrew de Harclay. These commanders enjoyed enormous opportunities for self-advancement, but they defended the Border badly. After Barclay's fall his place was taken by Anthony de Lucy and Ranulph de Dacre and with the resurgence of English power under Edward III they emerged with the Cliffords as the dominant local powers. The pattern for the region, thus, remained that set in the reign of Edward II.