The following letter appears courtesy of Alan Kelly of Mannin Collections

Letter from Richard Quirk, Rheaby, Kk. Patrick, Isle of Man to David H. Davidson, 1841

Utica Oneida, County State of New York, North America, written 19th-22nd February, 1841. Postmarked Isle of Man, 9th March, 1841, Liverpool, 11th March, 1841 and New York, 21st April, 1841. Manuscript ‘By Way of Halifax and Boston, Mass’.

My dear friend

I have received a letter from a little girl at Paddy Thorn Vhaish to direct to you and a great part of it left blank that I might if I thought proper to write to you to make it up but it was so dirty that I thought it best to copy it and the following is word for word of the original.

Dear friend.

I hope you will excuse me for taking the liberty to write these few lines to you hoping to find you in a good state of health as it leaves us at present, but wishing to know if you can give us any information about our son John Corran as we have not heard from him now upwards of two years and we are very uneasy concerning him. We were told last month that a letter was in Castletown post office and before we got to know they were returned as gone amiss so we enquired in all the post offices and can get no account of them so we thought to write to you as you are settled there. We thought maybe you could see or hear of him. The last account we heard of him from others that he was mate on a steam boat up the river Mississippi but we are doubtful by inquiring for John Corran as he fled Her Majesty’s Ship some years back and went by the name of John Kelly and if you can hear anything about him you would let him know we wished him to write and please to return an answer and to let us know what is the price of this letter and we will leave it in the hands of your agent for you. So pray excuse me for disturbing you. Your humble servant. Patrick Corran.


I intended writing a letter to Mr. Thos. Martin but on account of having some room to spare in this letter I will transmit through the kindness of your agency such information concerning the affairs of his grandfather as is in my power at present to transmit. I suppose he is aware of this. Wm. Quirk and John Kelly are guardians of his cousin John Quirk. Wm. Gill, Thos. Shimmon, Wm. Quirk and Thos. Clucas his uncles are administrators of his grandfather and John Kelly Knockdoo Greeba was administrator of his uncle the late John Quirk. At the death of his grandfather they found among his papers a promissory note granted by the late John Quirk to his father for the sum of fifty pounds for a bargain at Trelgy and another promissory note granted by him to his father for the sum of one hundred and seventy pounds for the crop and stock at that time on the premises and there was found in the house at the time of his grandfathers death the sum of one hundred and sixty eight pounds. Some time ago his grandfathers advisors summoned John Kelly Knockdoo for the amount of the aforesaid note of one hundred and seventy pounds before Vicar General Hartwell where the Vicar was pleased to grant an order against John Kelly, the Administrator.

He then proceeded to a Chancery Court and the former judgement was set aside on the first Thursday of this month on account of it being shown in Court that John Quirk never got but a very small portion of the stock that he had purchased of his father. Wm. Gill told me the other day that the way was now just open before them and that they were to file a bill in Chancery now against the guardians for the aforesaid amount. So you may understand that the Advocates makes a good harvest amongst them and the probability is that there will be some time before matters will be brought to a close. I believe all the parties would wish to get something done to avoid law except Wm. Gill and Thos. Shimmin but law and nothing but law it appears to me to be their delight and the parties are so much at enmity with each other that they were passing each other on the high road some time ago and one would not speak to the other and you will be no doubt surprised to understand that Wm. Quirk and Wm. Gill were the persons, when it may be well understood that what would be in favour of one would be as much for the other. I went one night to meet Wm. Gill and Thos. Shimmin to endeavour to persuade them to try some means to avoid law and I found both men in Thos. Shimmin’s holding a fireside Court and they really were carrying every thing in their own favour in a most astonishing manner. I saw at last that further argument against them was useless and I said supposing every thing they said was correct that the probability would be that each party would have to pay their own cost and that they might depend upon the cost would be heavy. The only answer I got was that their opinion was that matters would be all settled the next Court day and that if all the money should be spent at law that they had lived until now without the old man’s money and that they could live now without it even if it should be all spent at law. I would wish Thos. Martin to inform me what am I to do in regard to the payment of the two advocates as it is most likely there will be some contention between the parties as I think it is sure the law allows cost for. Wm. Gill spoke to me the other day concerning that and I told him I could only do as I would be directed by Thos. Martin and his brother but I think it is time enough for him to answer when the affairs will be brought to a close but he might merely state that he should like to understand how the affairs would turn out or what the rest of the parties intended to do before he would answer so that I might tell them what his answer was but I am not certain what the law allows in a case of this nature. I have also the pleasure of informing him that I have received the powers of attorney that his brother John Clague sent me. Thos. Clucas released the power of attorney that John Clague sent me and never told me he had it until I inquired of him the day after I received Thos. Martin’s letter. I was glad in having the pleasure of a letter from his brother John and another letter directed to Thos. with the power of attorney enclosed in. I think some of the parties are dissatisfied that I have got the power of attorney but for what reason I know not. I told Thos. Clucas and Thos. Shimmin that I thought his position was that he thought I might manage in forwarding the money better than they could as I had a friend in Manchester that could deposit the money in a bank there to be drawn in America. I see I must make patch work as I wish to give you all the information I can about the Island. Just as I was writing the above a messenger came and told me that there were three letters in the post office for me and that there was one of them from America. I threw my pen aside and sent one of our servants down and I have now the pleasure of informing you that I received your kind letter and I am glad to hear that you and Thos. Martin are well with the exception of your ankle which I hope is well by this time. Widow Cowell is dead – she died about two months back. W’m. Quirk (billy dick) departed this life on Friday last after a lingering illness. W’m. Fell of Ballacain is dead – he died on Sunday morning last not being more than six days confined to the house with pains. He was out of bed the evening before he died. Thos. Teare’s wife is also dead – she died yesterday not being more than four days ill. Eliza Stephen daughter of Parson Stephen and a little girl granddaughter of the name of Corlett died at the vicarage about five weeks ago of a typhus fever. Captain Philip Gill of Kenna died in September last on his passage home from Calcutta. Your old servant Catherine Quayle is married to John Cubbon tailor and lives now in the stone parlour of your old house. Bill Cubbon is married to a servant that we had from Kk. Malew of the name of Cringal. Jane Gill is the cousin that Thos. Martin had that is dead. John Leece told me he thought Thos. Carran (a Cottier) was the person that the 2/6d was due to for mowing hay. John Cottier and Thos. Shimmin are still proof Testators. Cottier has been very ill for some time past. The Doctor was of opinion some time ago that he would not recover but I hear that his health is improving again. I have not heard whether or not Parson Stephen has received the newspaper you sent him. Wm. Shimmin has received his sons letter. He speaks of going to America. Henry Kelly that is to be transported for the riot at Peel is a son of Harry Balladha. I never heard of him being drunk at the time. The case of rape that was in that paper the parties were all strangers. I was at that Gaol Delivery Court for three successive days but fortunately escaped all the cases with the exception of the young woman that got clear. I was allotted in Kelly’s jury but I was challenged. I made a pretence to his advocate before the Courts came on that he would run a bad chance if I was taken on account being among the mob the night of the riot. Clucas that was fined for not attending Court was a son of W’m The Chainey.

The cause of temperance keeps just in the same state as it was when you left the Island at our neighbourhood, but in Laxey I am told it increases fast. Thos. Moore has got a licence this year again. I think you will be now setting me down in the black book. I refused granting him a certificate. He then got a petition made and got almost every man that was a proprietor of land in Dawby to sign for him. He afterwards got Parson Stephen to sign it for him and at last myself. My space is too small to render you a full account of the whole of the proceedings but the barn was to be shut against the Sunday School and preaching if he had not succeeded.

The top lands above the Cowan Moar are let by Thos. Moore to David Crellin and Thos. Crellin, brothers to Cristy, for the sum of twelve pounds five shillings yearly.

John Quilliam’s house is left unoccupied. I wrote to Mr. Quayle that Cath Quayle would take the house at the time she married but he wrote me an answer that there were two years unexpired of John Quilliam’s lease and that he told Mrs. Quilliam if she could get a good tenant for the house he would assign the lease to him. My father, mother and wife and little Stephen joins me in sending their kind love to you and Thos. Martin and likewise to John Clague and wife and Wm. Shimmin. I have not seen Mrs. Davidson since I wrote last to you but I intend calling to see her on Tuesday next. We have had a cold winter this season and very hard frost but little snow. Your daughters are all well at health. How thankful we ought to be that we are enjoying good health and so many of our acquaintances gone to eternity. Wm. Gell’s mother is also buried on Thursday last.

I write now on Monday 22nd. When you write again let me know something about Mormonism. There was one of the Mormon preachers that preached in your barn twice but he got no followers and left us, but they got a great many at Lamfell.

God bless you. All is well enough.

Yours truly,

Richard Quirk

I hope Mr. Martin and you will be secret in what I have related concerning his friends.

I forgot to mention that they have been five days in Chancery about the note of fifty pounds and without any decision yet.

The letters are presumeably written by Richard Quirk, dep Receiver General 1837 and MHK 1847-1867

David Davidson could be the David Harris Davidson, wife Isabella Brew (married Braddan 10 Dec 1833 with daughters Maria bapt DSM 10 Dec1834 & Amelia 15 Oct 1837 , his son David bapt DSM 8 Mar 1836 died in infancy and is buried 31 July 1836 - presume he is a son of Harris Davidson and Ann Gell (other children bapt Patrick 1819 to late 1820's) but no obvious found in baptism in IGI . There is a note in Manx Annals [by Goodwin ?] that "[Mr Lewis] married a Mrs. Davidson, a native of Whitehaven, whose son by first marriage married Miss Gell of Ballelby, There are a number of Mr. Davidson's descendants living is the Isle of Man and in America."
The writer implies that his daughters were left behind on the Island - an Isabella Davidson (age 35) and Maria age 6 are found in Douglas, though Amelia does not appear.

In 1841 census is a Patrick Carran, wife Jane Killey, age 70 (died age 77 and buried at Patrick 10 Feb 1848, m Patrick 2 December 1800) - however no son John can be found in IGI (Carran/Karran entries are rather fouled up)

Widow Cowel could be Catherine Cowel d age 96 bur Patrick 17 Jan 1841

Judith Teare d age 66 bur 20 Feb 1841

William Quirk d age 54 bur Patrick 8 Feb 1841

Ellen Eliza Stephen d age 32 bur Patrick 10 Jan 1841

William Fell ?= William Fayle d age 48 bur Malew 9 Feb 1841

 Manx Note Book   [Family History Index]

see related letter to Thomas Martin

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© A Kelly, 2005