& #91;pp 1467-1493 from Cubbon - Bibliography, Vol 2, 1939& #93;

[Class L 10/2.]


Apart from a solitary tantalising reference in the Liber Cur. Monaster (1696 to 1705) to a 'Tuck Mill or Paper Mill road through Whitestone,'1 the earliest information we have concerning the insular manufacture of paper is contained in the 'Report of the Commissioners of Inquiry for the Isle of Man,' published in 1792. Of this information the most valuable part is undoubtedly that contained in the Appendix B, No. 24, which deals with quantities of articles 'the Growth, Produce and Manufacture of the Isle of Man ' exported thence during the ten years ending January 5th, 1791.

There is no mention of paper in this until the year 1784, when 370 reams were sent out of the Island. It would appear almost certain, therefore, that paper-making in the Isle of Man commenced in that year. In 1785 the total output was 905 reams, of which 731 were sent to England and the rest to Ireland. In the following year 1,197 reams were exported, and the figure again increased - to 1,896 reams - the year after. In 1788 there were 1,276 reams exported, 974 to Great Britain and 302 to Ireland; whilst, in addition, were entered 100 cwt. of paper, probably in bundles and smaller measure.

Over two thousand reams were shipped from the Island in 1789, Liverpool receiving 1,919 and Ireland 144. There was also 51 cwt. of paper in bundles. In 1790, however, the output had fallen from the previous year to 1807 reams.

There is a record of 166 reams, 166 bundles and some smaller quantities being imported into Man in 1781-1782, which was prior to the beginning of the industry locally (Appendix B, No, 25). But in 1790-1791 paper of insular manufacture was competing so successfully for the market that the imports in that year amounted to only 70 reams and some odd bundles (Appendix B, No. 27).

Between January 5th, 1791, and the same date in the following year 769 reams and 269 bundles were shipped at Douglas, 407 reams and 34 bundles for Liverpool and the remainder for Whitehaven (Appendix B, No. 28).

The only record of coastwise traffic in paper prior to 1784 belongs to 1782, when ten bundles of brown paper (which must have been imported) were carried from Ramsey to Douglas in the 'James' (Appendix B, No, 29). In 1784 and later years, however, there are several references to the coastwise delivery of paper (usually as part of a mixed cargo) at Ramsey from Douglas (App. B, No. 30):-

Year Ship Paper No. of Bundles
1785: Edward Lapping 8 rheams
Industry Brown 16
White 10
Edward Gray 1. rheam
1785 William Brown 18
Edward. Brown 3
Jane Brown 3
1787 Hope Packing 3
Betsy Gray 10
Peggy Brown 1
Success Gray 1
Brown 1 dozen
1788 Duke Paper 10
1790 Brothers Gray 20
Anns Wrapping 16
Nelly Paper 3
Eliza Paper 4
Also in 1790 the 'Nelly ' took from Douglas to Castletown twelve bundles of brown paper.

The reference to 'white' paper carried by the 'Industry' in 1784 is interesting, and suggests that the earliest manufacturers were concerned not only with the grey and brown lapping papers, but also with more superior material. The earliest piece of Manx-made writing paper we have so far traced, however, is a piece in the Manuscript Library at the Museum, having the watermark of Walker and Lewthwaite, and the date 1790.


The Manx paper was made from rags, either linen or cotton of good quality, and in the Manks Advertiser of September 11th, 1802, the following advertisement appears - almost certainly issued by Alexander Lewthwaite:-

The Inhabitants of the Isle of Man, are most particularly requested not to destroy their Linen and Woollen Rags; as a Continuance of the Importation of these Articles, must be attended with a Rise in the Price of Paper. There are persons now employed in Collecting throughout the Island, Materials for making Paper.

These rags were first roughly sorted into grades before being sent to the mill, where the final sorting was done. They were then cut into small pieces and were dusted to remove the dirt. The next step was to put them into the boilers for final cleaning, after which they were ripped into very fine pieces by a number of revolving knives and made into pulp. This pulp, after being purified and whitened, was then passed over a very fine wire gauze mould. As the pulp passed over the wire the dirty water was squeezed out and bleaching agents were added. A good deal of flowing water was used in the cleaning, and finally China clay was added to help fill the pores in the paper and make it firm. Handmade sheets were made on a wooden mould with a wire cloth stretched across (wove or laid lines being used as required), on which fitted a removable frame called a 'deckle,' the watermark being fastened in reverse to the mould. The watermarks were usually simple in design, and, being the impress of thick wires, they are as a rule strongly marked.

The vatman dipped his mould into the vat in a slanting position, pulling it through the pulp towards him, then lifting it with a definite quantity of pulp in the frame. As the water drained through the wire gauze he shook the mould, causing the fibres to ' felt,' thereby giving strength to the sheet. The water having been drained off, the contents of the mould - now a wet sheet of paper - were pressed on to a damp piece of felt. A pile of sheets, alternating with drying felts, was made and then pressed. Finally the sheets were dried in lofts, dipped into a solution for sizing, and again dried and finally smoothed.


Sometimes the Insular newspapers have interesting paragraphs as regards themselves and the Insular paper-making trade. The Manx Patriot of September 4th, 1824, apologised for the delay in the printing of the current issue, the reason being ' a want of a regular supply of paper from the mill in due time.' A somewhat similar case, in which the Manx Sun, unable to get the usual supply from Laxey, had to send an urgent message to Liverpool, is recorded in the present work on p. 1338. On February 11th, 1837, the Manx Liberal claimed the indulgence of their subscribers not only for the inferior quality, but also the circumscribed limits of the paper on which the Liberal of that date was printed. They usually got their paper from England, but on this occasion were disappointed. The Insular paper is of excellent quality and if anything is superior to that of the popular newspapers in the early part of the nineteenth century, and the only reasonable complaint was that the sheet was slightly less in size than that customarily used. It measures some 33ins. x 22& #188; ins., and is equal in colour and tougher in fibre than the English.


A 'Manks Manufactory of Paper Hangings' is advertised in the isues of the Manks Advertiser subsequent to May 4th, 1802. Robert Fell 'respectfully informs the Public, that he is now furnished with a large Quantity of Printed Paper of the most fashionable Patterns, of his own Manufacture.' In the Advertiser of March 19th, 1803, he announced that he had on sale ' a Great Variety of Paper Hangings of Manks Manufacture, having added many new and most fashionable Patterns to those of the last year.' Significantly, W. Stowell, a rival paper-hanger, who had attempted to compete against Fell with paper-hangings imported from Dublin, announced in the same issue that he had 'also fitted up a Commodious Place, with a variety of the most modern prints and all other Utensils, on the most approved plan, for the purpose of carrying on a Manufactory of Paper Hangings.' Fell's factory was over the Shambles, and Stowell's was on the Quay.

Fell announced on May 11th, 1805, in the Manks Advertiser, that he had imported from England a quantity of paper 'proper for his Manks Manufactory,' and of superior quality to the Manx paper he had formerly used. At this time the Tromode Mill of Alexander Lewthwaite was closed down-hence the change, as it is almost certain that this had been the source from which Robert Fell and William Stowell drew their supplies. At the farmhouse of Mr. Martin, Smeale, Kirk Andreas, there is in existence wallpaper which is said to have been made in the Island about 80 years ago of paper manufactured at Lewthwaite's Baldwin Vale Mill.


For long years the paper-making industry in the Isle of Man was closely associated with the name of Lewthwaite, and the first of the line, Alexander, is the earliest paper-maker of whom we have any intimate knowledge.

He came to the Island from Egremont, Cumberland, in 1789, following the death in the previous year of his wife Elizabeth, who was one of the Stanleys of Corda Bridge, near Egremont. His four younger children, the eldest of whom was a son Alexander, then about fifteen years of age, came with him.

Here he 'carried on business at Tromode Paper Mill, then the only paper mill in the Island.'2 How far this statement is to be relied upon it is difficult to say, in view of the fact that paper was being made in, and exported from, the Isle of Man from 1784 (see p. 1467), and that in 1797 Charles Moore of Billown sold a paper mill in Kirk Malew to George Quayle of Castletown (see p. 1467). Lewthwaite must only have taken the mill on lease, for in the Liber Assed of 1789 the owner is entered as 'Mr. Quayle Somervill,' and in that of 1797 ' Sir James Quayle Somerville.' It was probably the same mill as that later purchased by the Moore family and used as a sail-cloth and later linen manufactory.

At the same time Lewthwaite rented Ballabeg (now Springhill, Kk. Braddan), where the family resided; and for this reason the mill was sometimes referred to as Ballabeg, although in reality it is not in that quarterland, but across the river in the parish of Conchan, and part of the quarterland of Ballanard.

The first examples of the Lewthwaite watermark occur on sheets of foolscap size, the left-hand folio having a graceful Triskele design and the right-hand one the initials 'W & L' (see fig. 1). The first specimen of this watermark was noted in a manuscript of the year 1792; then one was found in a document dated 1791, being a jury's return of the effects of a man named Kewin of Kirk Bride; and finally the watermark was discovered in a single sheet of the parish register of Kirk Andreas, written by the Rev. Daniel Mylrea (afterwards Archdeacon) under the date 1790. That document fixes the earliest date we can trace.

The paper on which The Literary Quixote of the poet John Stowell was printed by Christopher Briscoe in 1791 has the same striking watermark. As the first Manx periodical, The Manks Mercury, was not published until November 27th, 1792, it is evident that the mill was not started to supply sheets for newspapers.

There is some uncertainty as to the full meaning of this watermark. The initial 'W', it has been suggested, stands for Walker, Lewthwaite's partner in the concern; but exactly who this Walker is is not clear. Possibly he was connected with a Liverpool firm of wholesale paper dealers who later financed Thomas Topliss at the Laxey Paper Mill (q.v.), but there are no records of him that we can trace.

page1472 fig 1 Cubbon Bibliography
Fig. 1

Several of the early issues of the Manks Advertiser are printed on Manx-made paper, a slightly smaller sheet than the customary imported one, and rather darker, but of equal texture. The sheet measures roughly 420 x 520 mms., and is of laid paper, with a Triskele watermark in the middle of the first folio not unlike the 1790 Walker and Lewthwaite example figured, but lacking the inner circle, so that the Three Legs design occupies the full space inside the double border. There are no initials, and no date.3;

Another figure in the early history of paper-making in Man was Patrick Roche Farrill. He was a refugee from France during the time of the Revolution; he found his way to Douglas, and in 1793 married Elizabeth Lewthwaite, a daughter of Alexanden 3He was a man of considerable fortune-some 30,000-which he succeeded in dissipating in a very few years. He joined his father-in-law in the business, but his health broke down, and on July 15th, 1805, he died 'at the Paper Mill, near this town, in the prime of life.'4

In the year prior to his death; the career of the 'Ballabeg' Paper Mill came to an end, and on February 18th, 1804, the following announcement appeared in the Manks Advertiser:


To be Sold, by Public Auction, on the Premises, on Tuesday the 3rd of April next, at 11 o'Clock in the Forenoon; the unexpired Term of the Lease of the Estate of Ballabeg, the Paper Mill, &c. After which, will be put up, the Drying House, Machinery, and Utensils for Paper-Making. For particulars apply to Mr. William Banks, Douglas. February 18th, 1804.

Apparently the property remained unsold, for in the following year the premises were advertised as being to let over a period of seven, ten, or fourten years, with immediate possession.5

An interesting question arises, as to whether Banks made use of these paper-making materials when he and Gelling, Corran and Cain set up their paper-mill on Ballaoates in 1809 (see p. 1481).

Feltham, in the MS. Notebook of his Tour of 1798 mentions ' Lewthat,' Paper-maker, near Douglas,' and also a 'Michael Smith, Journeyman Paper-maker, at Mr. Lovatt's Works in the Island. This Michael Smith is as little known as John Powell Buck, whom we know to have been in the paper trade prior to 1793, when his name and vocation are mentioned in the Manks Mercury on the remarriage of his widow, Lucy Buck.6 Feltham's ' Lovatt' is obviously meant to be Lewthwaite, which took on a variety of spellings in documents of that period. The late J. J. Kneen quotes 'Lewthwaite ' from the Lonan Parish Register for 1790, and St. Matthew's Register for 1797; ' Luthwaite,' St. Matthew's, 1802; ' Lewthard ' (which represents the Manx pronunciation of the name), St. Matthew's, 1812; ' Laithewaite,' St. Mary's, Ballure, and St. Paul's, Ramsey, 1818; and Lewithwaite from the same registers in 1823.7 On a plan of Ballamillaghyn made in 1838, the name is spelt ' Lewthaith.'

Alexander junior and another son Anthony were both employed in the paper mill, and in 1797 both were privates in the Strangers' Volunteer Company.8 Alexander had married, at the age of 20, in 1794 - his date of birth was January 26th, 1774. He was apparently in England for a time, and is supposed to have returned to the Island to take over the management of Banks and Co.'s Woodside Mill in 1809. Another brother, John, was also engaged in the paper-making business. John married in 1827, at Kirk Braddan, Miss Margaret Corkill of Ulican, Baldwin.9

We know but little of the work or the family history of the Lewthwaites during the first two decades of the nineteenth century, and their association with the paper-making trade between the cessation of the Ballabeg Mill and the building of the 'Baldwin Vale' or 'Mount Rule' mill in 1819 is very obscure. In 1819 John Gelling of Ballaoates, who had been one of the four partners in the building of the Woodside Mill,10 but who had been bought out about three years after its commencement (see p. 1481), decided on the erection of another mill higher up the river adjacent to his own land. This mill the younger Alexander managed for a few years before the Lewthwaite family took over complete control in 1822.

Fig. 2

The watermark he used was ' A L ' and in the Museum is an example of one of the frames used in paper-making in the year 1826.11 It measures 35ins. by 15ins., and the watermark on wire gauze comprises the date 1826, surmounted by the initials 'A L', with a shield at the side. The four quarters of the shield represent the figure of a lion rampant, two lions passant, a unicorn, and a harp (see figs. 2 and 3).

In 1831 'J. and James Lewthwaite ' advertised 12 the sale of shop papers of good quality and reasonable price at their shop in Duke Street. James, who was only a very few years in the business, was the son of John Lewthwaite. About 1836 new machinery was installed at the Baldwin Vale mill, completely superseding the old hand or mould process. In 1845 we have a contemporary description of another piece of machinery, installed possibly at Laxey, and which was described as follows 13:-

' A cast iron cylinder, 3 feet in diameter, and upwards of six feet in length, has been cast at Mr. Ward's foundry, for Mr. Lewthwaite's paper mill, and is now undergoing the process of turning in a side lathe, ingeniously constructed for the purpose by Mr. Raper, the foreman of the establishment. When completed, the cylinder will be a highly creditable piece of insular manufacture.'

There is in the Rolls Office a tithe-plan dated 1840 of 'Murray's Close and Part of Ballamillaghyn, the property of Mr. Robert Gelling; likewise the Paper Mill Premises' at Baldwin Vale. This is shown as the joint property of Robert Gelling and Anthony Lewthwaite, with a small plot of ground and a cottage between the mill and Ballaoates belonging to Miss Ann Lewthwaite. This Robert Gelling, whose father had built the mill, died at 'the Ballaoates Mill' on March 20th, 1849. His widow lived for many years afterwards in the cottage at the Baldwin Vale Mill.

About 1846 Messrs. J. & A. Lewthwaite and Co., as the firm was then styled (there being also a third partner by the name William Haslam), took over the Lower Mill in Laxey Glen. At the same time Walker and Topliss had a paper manufactory situated in Laxey Glen, probably on the site of the Power Station belonging to the Manx Electric Railway, where, at any rate, a paper mill is known to have existed. Lewthwaite's mill must therefore have been nearer the bridge, where the existence of a mill-race on the Ordnance Survey Plan of this area rather suggests the presence of a mill.14


page 1476 fig3 Cubbon Bibliography
Fig. 3

The firm advertised in the Manx Cat of September 23rd, 1847, that they had changed their Douglas warehouse from 14 North Quay to 44 North Quay, the one lately occupied by Thomas Topliss, where they had all types and grades of paper for sale. Johnson's 'Guide' of 1848 states (p. 76) : 'At Laxey an excellent paper mill is in operation under the management of Mr. Lewthwaite. Their paper is exported in large quantities to Liverpool, where it is speedily bought up.'

The partnership was dissolved in the following year, the following statement appearing in the Insular Press 15

The partnership heretofore subsisting and carried on by us the undersigned, as Paper Manufacturers in the Isle of Man, under the firm of 'Messrs. John and Alexander Lewthwaite and Company' is this day dissolved by mutual consent.
All debts due by and to the said concern will be paid and received by the said John and Alexander Lewthwaite, who will in future carry on the business of Paper Manufacturers, under the firm of John and Alexander Lewthwaite.
As witness our subscriptions this 26th day of June, 1849, at Douglas, in the Isle of Man.
John Lewthwaite Alexander Lewthwaite William Haslam
Witnesses: James Harris, R. Kelly. Douglas, July 4th, 1849.

This William Haslam was one of the Haslams of Ballaglass, Kirk Maughold; he had married a sister of John Lewthwaite, Margaret, she being his second wife. He died on November 12th, 1863, aged 66; and Margaret Haslam was aged 77 at her death on March 1st, 1884. William Haslam was a member of the self-elected House of Keys, and his son (by his first marriage), William Holkar Haslam, became Captain of the Parish of Maughold.

In the same year that the partnership was dissolved, on September 8th, Alexander, the son of Alexander Lewthwaite of Egremont, and 'the father of Messrs. J. and A. Lewthwaite,' died at the age of 73 years, and was buried at Kirk Lonan.

The Baldwin Vale Mill, of course, was worked by the Lewthwaites at the same period as their Laxey venture, and we find in Directories of 1851 and 1853 the following references: 1851, Laxey Lower Mill, John and Alexander Lewthwaite; 1853, John and Alexander Lewthwaite, Laxey and Mount Rule Paper Mills. Also in 1853 John Lewthwaite and his son Edward are described in the same Kirk Braddan Register as paper- makers.

A fire of serious dimensions occurred in the Laxey Mill one night in August, 1851. A report in the Manx Sun of August 9th states that the building involved was the Lower Mill. The Lewthwaites suffered a severe blow as the result of this fire, which destroyed the machinery and the whole of the contents and left the building roofless and gutted. It was supposed (according to the newspaper account), that the fire originated in a spark from the boiler-room chimney falling down the adjoining flue and igniting some rags. The Lewthwaites had their stock insured with the Caledonian Office for 300, but the building, which was the property of William Broughton of Douglas, was not insured.

In the following February Broughton sued John and Alexander for the rent of the mill and premises, 35, which had fallen due on the previous November 12th. The defendants contended that, as they were unable to use the mill because of the fire, they should not be forced to pay the full rent, but the plaintiff won his case. He brought a further suit against them in the Deemster's Court on July 23rd, 1852, the result of which was that they had to put in repair the dam-head, mill race, flood-gates and fences, and pay the costs of the case, which amounted to a considerable sum.

The Lewthwaite Mill was situated on the west side of the river, just above the old bridge close to the harbour. The slope above the mill was locally known as Lewthwaite's Broogh, and the mill got the name of the Rag Mill, from the fact that rags were the chief requirements in the manufacture of the paper. Mr. Arthur Cannan Lewthwaite, whose father was Edward Lewthwaite, has heard from old Laxey people that a donkey was used on the premises for transporting the pulp and other material from point to point.

The business at Laxey failed in 1855 following these setbacks and the attendant litigation, so the Lewthwaites henceforth devoted all their energy to the Mount Rule Mill. In that year Alexander, the brother of John, emigrated to America, where he founded in the State of Oregon a paper-mill which is flourishing to-day. The eldest son of Edward Lewthwaite, Alfred William (born in Laxey), also emigrated, going to Australia.

About the year 1852 another Alexander, the son of John, became prominently connected with the firm. This Alexander was born in Duke Street, and went to school in East Baldwin. He was first apprenticed in turn to two chemists, James Quine and later Gordon Kelly, but left to assist his father and uncle in the paper business. He then became apprenticed to John Kelly, a master bookbinder in Douglas, and after serving his time went to Liverpool for six months to work as a finisher with George Philip and Son. He came back to Douglas in 1852 and took over Mr. Kelly's business, at first operating in one of the rooms of the Lewthwaite warehouse on the North Quay. Subsequently he took over the whole premises, and entered into an agreement with his father for the sale in Douglas of the paper manufactured at the Baldwin Mill. This arrangement lasted until the mill closed down in 1900.*

Anthony Lewthwaite, the last remaining son of the old Alexander, died on January 30th, 1863, at the home of his nephew John at the 'Baldwin Vale' Mill. He was in his ninetieth year, and was buried in Braddan Cemetery. Rather singularly, the same newspaper which announces his death also has the obituary notice of the Rev. Alexander Farrill, a son of the Patrick Roche Farrill who married Elizabeth Lewthwaite in 1793. This man had become licensed as a Wesleyan preacher when twenty years old and had gone out to Labrador, later becoming an itinerant preacher in the United States. After holding several positions there he retired at Mount Morris, New York, in 1848. His death occurred on January 27th, 1863, at the age of seventy.

John Lewthwaite worked the Baldwin Mill successfully until his death on July 1st, 1887. He died at the age of eighty-three, and lies buried at Kirk Braddan. Edward, John's son, was the last to run the mill, succeeding John and carrying on until his death at the age of 71 on July 6th, 1899. The last reel of brown paper - which the mill made exclusively for the last twenty or more years of its career - was run off by Ambrose in January, 1900. Ambrose, who was the youngest son of Edward, emigrated to British Columbia, and is working in the paper trade in that province to-day.

Alexander, who had acted as agent in Douglas for the Baldwin Mill, died on June 16th, 1914, aged 83. His obituary16 states that he was twice married, his first wife being Miss Elizabeth Moore, the daughter of Mr. William Moore of Balla- vere, Braddan, who died childless in 1861. Nine years later he married Catherine Eva, a milliner employed at Quine and Archer's. Six children were born of this union, of whom four survived him; one of these was a son, Mr. William Gladstone Lewthwaite, who took charge of his father's stationery and book-binding business on Market Hill.

fig 4-7


From the Chancery Book of 1829 we learn that in November, 1809, William Banks, a Douglas merchant, Matthias Corran, John Kane and John Gelling entered into a co-partnership agreement 'to erect a mill and premises for the manufacture of paper upon the estate of Ballaoates in the parish of Braddan, and therein to carry on the paper-making business for and during the term of twenty-one years commencing from the 12th day of November, 1809.'

The mill was erected on the premises then called Corran's Flax Mill, situated on John Gelling's land, he being the proprietor of one fourth of the mill. A yearly rent of ten guineas was paid to the proprietors of the Flax Mill by the members of the co-partnership. The title of the firm was 'The Isle of Man Paper Mill Company.' They solicited the custom of the insular shop-keepers in the Manks Advertiser of July 8th, 1809, and advertised 'woollen grey, tea-paper, bag cap, &c.'

There is no certain way of identifying the watermarks of the firm at this time, but, having in mind the style of the fellowship, it is likely that 'ISLE OF MAN 1810' (fig. 4) is an example. We have this in Beatson and Copeland's 'Isle of Man Almanack and Tide Table' for 1814 and 1815, the M. A. Mills sixpenny edition of 1817, and also in Beatson's 'Collection of Hymns, Anthems and Select Pieces' of Sacred Music,' of 1812. Other watermarks of the period which do not carry the name of a firm, but may belong to this company, are:-

Isle of Man Weekly Gazette (Beatson and Copeland), January 21st, 1813; and subsequent issues. Three Three Legs and the date, as last (fig. 5).
Manks Advertiser, February 29th, 1816; March 28th, 1816; Three Legs and the date, as last (fig. 5).

There is also an unknown watermark, ' M A N Ii S 1 8 1 5.' (fig. 6).

John Gelling's share was bought out by the other members in March, 1816, and the business was carried on by Banks, Corran and Kane until about August, 1823. A few of the firm's watermarks during this period are also known. In 1815 we have ' B & Co.' in bold Roman letters above the date (fig. 7) occurring in Samuel Haining's ' A Sermon in Regeneration,' which was published at the Phoenix Press for M. A. Mills in 1818. Mills's 'Isle of Man Almanack and Tide Table' for the year 1816 also has this watermark, with the figure of Britannia (fig. 14) on the opposite folio. It occurs also in Mills's 'The Criminal Statute Laws of the Isle of Man,' published at the Phoenix Press in 1817, and in his 'Ancient Ordinances and Laws of the Isle of Man,' printed in 1821.

Figs 8,2,10 p1482 Cubbon Bibliograpghy

In 1816 we get ' W B & Co ', surmounting the date, on the blue cover of The Douglas Reflector, No. 2 for February 24th, 1821, published by George Jefferson (fig. 8). This same watermark appears in George Jefferson's Lex Scripta of 1820, and in 'The New Criminal Code' issued by Jefferson in 1818 we have ' W B' only, and the date 1816. But in both The Douglas Reflector and the Lex Scripta another watermark in a very similar script occurs - ' W W & B' - surmounting the date 1816 (fig. 9), and in Mills's ' Almanack and Tide Table' for 1819 we find similar initials, but over the date 1815 (fig. 10). In the Lex Scripta this mark is to be found only in the Appendix. We find a different form of this watermark, in Roman capitals and with the figure of Britannia, in a MS. Book of Manx Verses (J 88, 6222). The date again is 1816.

It would seem likely that ' W W & B' stands for William Walker and Banks. We have no knowledge that they were ever actually in partnership, but the suggestion is supported by the occurrence of the figure of Britannia in the ' W W & B ' watermark of 1816 in this MS. of verses, and also in the ' B & Co' marks of 1815 and 1817, and again with the initials ' W W & Co' in 1824. If Walker and Banks were in partnership at all, as appears likely from these watermarks, then it could only have been for a short period at the end of 1815 and in the early part of 1816.

Banks and Company advertised in the Manks Advertiser of January 16th, 1817, that they manufactured on an improved principle 'post (wove and laid),' foolscap, pot and printing paper of different sizes and qualities, and 'blue, staining and lapping papers. They again drew the attention of local shopkeepers to their wares in the Advertiser of December 9th, 1819. The warehouse was in Church Street.

Several personal notices of the Banks family appeared in the Insular newspapers from time to time. The Weekly Gazette of August 20th, 1812, announced the wedding at Kirk Braddan, by the Rev. Mr. Howard, of Godfrey Tate, Adjutant of the South Manks Volunteers, to Miss Ann Banks, a daughter of William Banks. Two other daughters died early in the following year, and their obituary notices appeared in the Gazette of January 7th and February 11th respectively. They were Mrs. Evison and Miss Jane Banks. In July of the same year William Banks was married again to Miss Quayle, a Douglas dress-maker. In the Advertiser of January 30th, 1819, the death was announced at Glendhoo, Kirk Conchan, of Mrs. Kane, aged 30, wife of Daniel Kane, paper-maker, who must surely have been a relative of John Kane, one of the partners in the Woodside or Ballaoates Mill.

At what date William Banks withdrew from the partnership is not known, but that he had retired from active participation before October 1823 seems certain in view of a notice which appeared, dated December 8th, 1823, in the Manks Advertiser. It stated that 'the co-partnership under the firm of James Corran and William Cain, as paper manufacturers in the Isle of Man, was dissolved on the first day of October last, by mutual consent. All debts due to and owing by the said concern will be received and paid by William Cain.' This William Cain, or Kane, was the son of John Kane and the son-in-law of Matthias (James ?) Corran. He took over the business shortly after his marriage to Miss Eliza Christian Corran on August 2nd, 1823.

According to the Court of Chancery document, of which previous mention has been made, the Banks-Corran-Kane fellowship was dissolved by mutual consent about August, 1823. No settlement of accounts took place either then or on the death of William Banks in the following year. Banks died on September 9th, 1824, at the age of 72, and his obituary notice in the Manks Advertiser of September 16th described him as a merchant.

In January, 1827, the settlement of the affairs of the Ballaoates Mill was referred to the arbitration of William Quiggin and Robert Corteen of Douglas, but it was necessary to call in an umpire, whose award was issued on November 6th, 1827. This stated that William Banks had put into the business the sum of 552 12s. 7d.; Matthias Corran 745 16s. 5d.; and John Kane 307 13s. 8d. The case was one brought by Banks's executors, of which his son-in-law Godfrey Tate was one, to make Kane meet certain responsibilities with regard to the mill. The complainants accused Corran and John Kane of conspiring together to defraud the estate of Banks: Kane refused to admit that there was any claim upon him, he having sold his, right and title in the mill to his son William Cain in June 1825 for 110.

About the 1830's the mill was taken over by the Carooins, who worked it, manufacturing only paper wrappings, until about 1885. The first mention of a Carooin we can find is in the Manks Advertiser of March 6th, 1832, where there was an announcement of the marriage at Kirk Braddan in the previous week of Mr. William Carroon, paper-maker, to Miss Margaret Carron. When the Tithe Plan of this property was drawn by James Kaye in December 1862 the mill was owned by James Carrooin and Mrs. Ann Lewin. In Slater's Directory of 1857 'James Caroon ' is entered as a 'Marine Store Dealer and Paper Merchant' with premises in Barrack Street, Douglas. In 1863 Thwaites's Directory gives William Carrooin as the owner of the Woodside Mill, but the directories make no mention of the family after that date. Connected with them in paper-making for some years during the middle of the century was the De Maizer, or Demeza family, and John Demeza is mentioned in Slater's 1853 Directory as the principal at the Balla-oates Mill.


William Walker, according to Pigot's Directory of 1824, was a wholesale and retail paper dealer at 3 Forrest-street, Liverpool; by 1837 he had vanished from the list of paper-dealers, but appeared as a paper-manufacturer at 20 Upper Frederick Street. He exported to Douglas about 1820 a good deal of paper for sale by his agents, who were Anthony Lewthwaite, Fort Street, and Thomas Topliss, New Paper Mill - probably the newly-erected Lower Mill at Laxey. This paper, according to an advertisement in the Manks Advertiser of November 2nd, 1820, consisted of 'Tea Cap, Purple, and Blue Lapping, Bag Cap, Crown, Writing (a Post Paper of the best quality),' and the notice concluded with the following announcement:-

W. W. has rented the large Spinning Mill, situate on Laxey River, which he intends speedily to convert into a Paper Mill, and expects to be able to supply the Public with Manks Manufactured Paper, of a good Quality, and on the most moderate terms. Oct. 18th, 1820.

Walker's converted mill - which was successively Spinning Mill, Paper Mill, and Power-House for the Manx Electric Railway - was working by July of the following year, and in that month he opened a warehouse on the premises formerly occupied by Mr. Mark Cosnahan, near the Douglas Market- Place, where he kept his stock of English and Manx-made paper, comprising 'wove and laid posts, pots and foolscaps, and printing and lapping papers of all descriptions.'* This warehouse was open on Wednesday and Saturday; at any other time paper was obtainable from Mr. Topliss at the Laxey Mill.

The Laxey Mill manufactured the paper on which The Rising Sun newspaper was printed. The first issue is dated Tuesday, April 21st, 1821, and the next is Saturday, April 24th. Subsequently the Sun appeared each Saturday, on paper supplied by Walker and Topliss, measuring 510x370 mms, A curious mishap occurred to the isue of May 11th, 1824, Topliss failing to supply the necessary paper. An urgent demand for paper had to be sent to Liverpool, and sufficient material was forwarded by the next packet, probably from Walker's warehouse there. The sheet, however, was smaller than the customary one, measuring 500x365 mms, and the printer, John Penrice, had the unpleasant task of shortening each column by several lines before sending the newspaper to press.

It was on very excellent hand-made paper that Mark Anthony Mills' ' Statute Laws'* were printed in the year 1821. A portion of that used in the magnificent folio edition has the watermark ' W W 1821' surmounted by the Three Legs device (see fig. 11). 'The Isle of Man Almanack and Tide Table' published in 1822 and 1823 by T. Davies at the Phoenix Press is on paper with the same watermark.


The Phoenix Press, under Beatson and Copeland, then Mark Anthony Mills and later T. Davies and John Penrice, used a good deal of Manx-made paper for their work. Probably also a fair amount of William Walker's imported English paper was employed, for some watermarks cannot be reconciled with the known Manx firms. A list of the probable Walker watermarks to be found in the 'Isle of Man Almanack and Tide Table ' is given below*:-

1811 M. A. Mills and Co., 1817, and on one page of the 1819 issue, ' W 1811' (see fig. 12). Probably an imported paper.
1818 M. A. Mills and Co., 1818. ' W W & Co' on one sheet only. This is obviously William Walker, but is two years earlier than the start of the Upper Mill at Laxey.
1821 T. Davies, 1822 and 1823. ' W W 1821', Manx-made at the Laxey Upper Mill. Also John Sumner's 'Isle of Man Diary and New Almanack,' 1824.
1826 John Penrice, 1828. Monogram of ' W ' and ' T ', and date 1826 (see fig. 13). Probably Walker and Topliss, Laxey Mills.


Several examples of the William Walker watermark for the year 1824 are known. The MS. of the Case in Chancery relative to the Ballaoates (Woodside) Mill, quoted under the last heading, is on a laid foolscap with the watermark 'W W & Co' surmounting the date 1824 on one folio, and the figure of Britannia, in an oval surmounted by a crown, on the other (fig. 14). John Penrice's piracy of the poet Lord Byron's 'The Corsair' (see Bib., p. 1451) has the watermark ' W W & Co' over the date 1824, and a similar one is to be found in Eliza Craven Green's 'Legend of Mona' (see Bib., p. 848). Other sources are ' Sermon Preached at Kirk Braddan Church by T. Costain,' published by J. Quiggin in 1828, and 'An Act for Preventing Tumults and Riotous Assemblies,' published by John Penrice at the Manx Sun in 1826. Another form associated with the quartered shield (fig. 15) occurs on laid paper in John Penrice's 'Isle of Man Almanack ' of 1827, and the Rev. Thomas Howard's sermons were written on laid paper having the watermark and the figure of Britannia. The latest ' W W & Co ' mark we have found is dated 1829, and is to be seen in a MS. Account of Prisoners in Castle Rushen, 1833-38.


The firm suffered a serious setback on February 16th, 1824, when the mill 'together with the old machinery for spinning linen yarn, and a quantity of paper, rags, &c.,' was consumed by fire. The Manks Advertiser of February 19th, 1824, reported the disaster:-

Manx Sun, February 17th, 1824.

It is with sincere regret we have heard of the loss which has lately befallen to the proprietors of the Laxey Paper Mill, which was burnt to the ground on Monday night. It is not known whence the accident originated, but the loss is considerable, and estimated at 2,000. Every friend to honest diligence and fair dealing, will be concerned to hear of this event, as the firm of Walker and Topliss was in these respects unexceptionable.

In a later issue readers were informed that the Norwich Union Fire Office had with the greatest promptitude and alacrity paid the amount of the insurance.

Walker and Topliss were not long in recovering from the effects of this fire, and the following announcement is to be found in the Manks Advertiser and Manx Sun, dated June 22nd, 1824:-

Walker and Topliss take this opportunity of returning their most grateful thanks to their friends and to the Public, for the encouragement they have received since they commenced the above establishment; and beg leave to acquaint them that having completed the erection of the mill upon the most modern and improved tsencisn Principle, they feel confident in stating, that they are enable to manufacture all descriptions of paper in a style much superior to anything ever attempted in the Isle of Man.

They evidently anticipated an improvement in business, for they also announced that the warehouse on the North Quay would in future be kept open regularly from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Previously - in April - the warehouse had been open two days only, Wednesday and Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., but orders for paper could be left with 'Mr. Brown, Innkeeper, North Quay.'22

In Pigot's Directory of 1824 the following names of paper- makers are given: George Ellis, Laxey; Walker and Topliss, Mill, Laxey Glen, Laxey Paper Warehouse, North Quay; and William Walker, Laxey Glen. There is a watermark of the firm of Walker and Topliss known for the year 1828, comprising the initials ' W & T' surmounting the date. It occurs in Sir William Hillary's 'Letter to the Trustees of the Academic Fund,' published by George Jefferson in 1830. The paper is of poor quality, being exceedingly thick and tough, and the water-mark is very faint.

About this time, though exactly when is not known, Walker and Topliss took over the Woodside Mill on Ballaoates, Kirk Braddan, and their warehouse on the Quay became known as the Laxey and Woodside Paper Warehouse. In October of 1829 this warehouse was broken open and a quantity of paper was stolen.23 From the end of January, 1829, it was open for business three days a week, namely Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. In the advertisement stating this, dated January 30th, 1829, they offer the highest value for rags, ropes, &c. In an announcement 24 shortly after the fire in 1824 they had said that 'No rags, Scrap iron, &c. taken in for the Future,' a policy to which they later returned, for Lord Teignmouth, in ' Sketches of the Coasts and Islands of Scotland and the Isle of Man' (vol. ii, 1836), wrote that the rags used at the Laxey Mill were imported.


Walker and Topliss were desirous of letting the ' Woodside Paper and Flax Mill' in March, 1830 'with Immediate Possession given, with the Moulds and Felts ... from Ten to Twelve Tons of Raw Material may be had at a Valuation.25It is doubtful if they succeeded in this aim, as Topliss was still in possession in 1840 - although an advertisement dated January 27th, 1831, is headed ' Laxey Paper Mills,' and has no mention of the Woodside. It intimates that the warehouse on the Quay will be open daily, and that 'As T.T. intends immediately importing a ruling machine the public can be accommodated with Ruled Paper to any pattern at moderate charges.26

In Ramsey Mr. Edward Corlett, of the Post Office, acted for some years as Thomas Topliss's agent, and in Castletown his representative was Mr. William Kewley.27 John Welch, the eminent architect, mentioned 'Messrs. Topliss & Co.' in his little guide booklet published in 1836, adding that the mill was half a mile from the Bridge.28: The mill is in fact actually marked on the folding map which was published in the 1837 edition of Pigot's Directory, and also Slater's Directory of 1857, and it occupies the same ground as the M.E.R. Power-house of later years. This Directory (1837) mentions the following paper-makers: Alexander Lewthwaite, North Quay and Laxey and Mount Rule Paper Mills; William Topliss, North Quay and Laxey Paper Mill; and William Walker, Laxey Glen. As has already been mentioned, there is also a William Walker, paper manufacturer, at 20 Upper Frederick Street, Liverpool.

It was in June of 1837 that the control of the Laxey paper mill passed from Thomas Topliss to his son William, who announced that he now carried on the Paper Warehouse on the North Quay on his own account, and there kept a stock of 'Writing, printing, ornamental and wrapping papers, cards, shalloon, and mill boards, and every other article in the Paper and Stationery line.'29



Fig 15

Meanwhile his father carried on at the Woodside Mill, and his death on October 1st, 1840, seems to have been due in a large measure to business worries. We read in the news- papers:-

We regret to record the death of Mr. Toplis, paper-maker, Woodside, near the Strang, who was found on Thursday last in his own mill, suspended by the neck and quite dead.30 . . . He had resided long and industriously on the Island, and was a man of irreproachable conduct. We believe that the embarrassment of his affairs induced a morbid state of nervous irritability, which led to the final catastrophe. He has left a widow and family whose affliction we commiserate.31

Topliss appears to have been twice married, for the death of ' Sarah, wife of Mr. Topliss, occurred in Laxey on September 27th, 1824.32She was aged 32. A daughter, Mary, married Mr. Henry Taubman, brewer, of Ballaugh, on August 23rd, 1831.33

Further references to the Laxey Paper Mills are very scanty, and the name Topliss has not been traced beyond 1846, when William is mentioned in Slater's Directory as a dealer, not a manufacturer, in Douglas. In the early forties it appears likely that Walker again entered the business, with a new partner called Tilsley, for in Pigot and Slater's Directory for 1843 Walker and Tilsley were paper manufacturers at 39 Upper Church Street, Liverpool. They are not mentioned in the Liverpool Directory for 1846, nor subsequently with the exception of the following passage in Dillon's Guide of 1846, copied in the following year by Johnson:-

At Laxey an excellent paper mill is in operation under the management of Messrs. Walker and Tilsley. Their paper is exported in large quantities to Liverpool, where it is speedily bought up.

There is mention of 'paper-millers' at Laxey in W. Cooper Dendy's 'Beautiful Islets of Britain' (p. 108), which was published in London in 1860, and that is the last reference we are able to trace.


1 Ballawhetstone, near Billown, Kirk Malew. There is a record for the year 1797 of the sale of a Paper Mill at Ballasalla, by Charles Moore of Billown to George Quayle of Castletown, with lands of eleven acres, but this is the only indication we are able to trace other than the one quoted that a paper-mill existed in the eighteenth century in Kirk Malew. What is undoubtedly the same property is described in the 1703 Manorial Roll as follows:-

' Capn Cha. Moore for a Tuck Mill and a Croft now a Small meadow of 10s. 4d. rent compounded for in . . by . . . ffine then . . . .

The entry is incomplete, as though some doubt existed about the property.

2 Mona's Herald, February 4th, 1863, p. 3.

3 See the following issues in 1801: October 3rd, 10th; November 21st, 28th; December 12th and 19th.

4 Manks Mercury, July 16th, 1793: 'Yesterday was married at Kirk Braddan, by the Rev. Mr. Quayle, Peter Farrill, Esq., to Miss Lewthwaite, daughter of Mr. Alexander Lewthwaite, formerly of Egrernont.'

5 Manks Advertiser, July 20th, 1805. Manks Advertiser, September 28th, 1805.

6 Manks Mercury, December 10th, 1793, announcing the marriage of 'John Cannell of Bibaloe Beg, Conchan, and Lucy Buck, widow of the late John Powell Buck, paper-maker.' The wedding was at Kirk Michael. Buck was probably of the same family which owned a brick-works on the site now occupied by the House of Industry, and then called Finch's Brick Field (see Manks Advertiser, May 29th, 1802). The family name was given to Buck's Road.

7 J. J. Kneen, The Personal Names of the Isle of Man, 1937.

8 Manx Museum Journal. Vol. ii, p. 219-220.

9 Manks Advertiser, December 28th, 1827.

10 Which later became Litts' Manure Factory, and more recently Bimson's Soap-works.

11 From the estate of Miss Sarah Lewthwaite.

12 Manks Advertiser, February 15th, 1831.

13 Mona's Herald, July 6th, 1845.

14 O.S. Sheet xi/2, Nos. 1831 and 1868.

15 Manx Sun, July 4th, 1849, p. 8.

16 Manx Quarterly, No. 14, Sept. 1914, p. 199.

17 Mona's Herald, February 4th, 1863, p. 3.

18 Manx Quarterly, No. 14, Sept. 1914, p. 199.

19 Manks Advertiser, August 9th, 1821, and Manx Sun, August 18th, 1821.

20 See Bibliography, p. 278.

21 For similar watermarks see under the last section, pp. 1482-1483.

22 Manx Sun, April 26th, 1824

23 Manks Advertiser, October 20th, 1829.

24 Manx Sun, April 26th, 1824.

25 Manx Sun, March 16th, 1830. It is interesting to note that in the same year Edward Moore tried to let 'those for the most part newly-erected mills situated on the estate of Castleward...premises particularly well adapted for being converted into a Paper Manufactory.'

26 Manks Advetiser, February 1st, 1831.

27 Manx Sun, January 22nd, 1833, and Mona's Herald, August 15th, 1834. Also Manks Advertiser, August 9th, 1833.

28 (John Welch) ' A Six Days' Tour Through the Isle of Man, By a Stranger.

29 Both in Manks Advertiser, June 27th, 1837.

30 Manx Liberal, October 10th, 1840.

31 Manx Sun, October 9th, 1840.

32 Manks Advertiser, September 23rd, 1824.

33 Manks Advertiser of the same date. They were married at Kirk Braddan by the Rev. T. Howard.

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