Isle of Man Family History Society Journal Vol 1 No 1 Jan 1979


Starting Your Research


Are you Manx by birth or descents or resident in Mann and interested in your family history? If you are, then a warm welcome will await you as a member of The Family History Society of the Isle of Man. As a member of this organisation, you will share the knowledge which individual members have gained of their particular fields of research and the results of your own investigations, in time, will assist other family historians.

Having joined this society, your first step should be to gather all oral information which you can concerning your family history. Elderly relatives are usually pleased to find an interested listener to their reminiscences, and provided that due care is exercised and information checked with contemporary written records, their testimony can be invaluable. I have found that in some cases the sole proof of a connection is unwritten family knowledge.

Information from written records preserved by your family, including accounts, letters, family bible entries, and copies of wills and deeds should be added to your data, and the results plotted in a chart form - leaving plenty of room for further discoveries to be added. If you know of the whereabouts of any family graves you might be advised to seek them out, and copy their inscriptions before progressing to the inspection of public records

Most people are familiar with the form of modern birth, marriage and death certificates, and the information they contain. The system of Civil Registration began in England in July 1837, and copies of all entries and indexes to them are housed in the General Register Office London. Compulsory registration was introduced in the Isle of Man in 1878. Transcripts of these records and indexes to them are housed in the General Registry, Finch Read, Douglas. By carefully searching through the indexes and obtaining all the particulars from the relevant certificate you should be able to verify and add to the knowledge gained from family sources You may well have to return to the death records at a later date, to find. further particulars of earlier- ancestors dying after 1877

Compensation for the late commencement of Civil-Registration in the Isle of Man is afforded by the copies which were made of the Parish Registers then extant, by the Registry, last century. These copies are held in the General Registry, while the Manx Museum Library posses Microfilm of the copies.

The earliest Parish Register-dates from 1598,but some registers are missing or defective, and coverage of the Island only exists from about 1799. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has indexed the Baptismal Records, from microfilm held in Salt Lake City, and the parish Printouts have been deposited at the General Registry. (Microfilm printouts may be consulted at the Manx Museum Library, Kingswood Grove, Douglas -Errors and omissions have been detected, however, and particular care must be taken in cases where variant spellings of surname have been separated in the printout, or separate names combined. Used as an index, rather-than as source,though, these are a valuable tool;-for the researcher

The first official census of the Isle- of Man took place in 1821,but the records of this year and of 1831, are purely statistical, and of little value to the family historian . The enumeration books of the 6/7 June 1841 census are preserved in the Public Record Office London but microfilm copies are held by the Manx Museum Library. This is a particular valuable source for descendants of emigrants as there was much migration from the Island, especially to the USA, in the 1840's The records give the name and (approximate)age of all residents., who are listed by household.

The original enumeration books for 30/31 March 1851, 7/8 April 1861, and 2/3 April 1871 are housed at the Museum. Library, Douglas. These give slightly more information, including details of the place of birth (usually the parish) and relationship to the the head of household, of each person listed.

If you find that all your-ancestors in the lines you are tracing were Manx., you should be able to make the transition from Statutory Registration-records to the Census,and thence to the Parish Register, without too much difficulty. If you,or any of your forebears entered the-Island from elsewhere, after collecting all information from Manx sources you will be obliged to advance your enqiries by reference to records in the country of-origin. As this Society receives publications of other organisations within the-Federation of Family History Societies a number of useful addresses will become available to members in this position

All the records hitherto described were intended to be comprehensive in their treatment of the population. The following sources will be found to contain information on a more restricted. group of people but. there are many exceptions tot his tendency.

Wills, and the administration of estates were the responsibility of the Church in Mann from the time of the earliest records until 1884. There were two Ecclesiastical Courts with Testamentary Jurisdiction; the Episcopal Court, with records from 1600, and the Achideaconal-Court whose records date from 1629. The records of these Courts down to 1846 are held by the Manx Museum Library, and may be consulted there on microfilm. All later wills, from both Ecclesiastical Courts, and from the High Court Probate Division, are at present in the General Registry.

This Island is fortunate in possessing, in the "Manorial Roll" an accurate and comprehensive record of the ownership of land over quite a long period. There were many landed proprietors with small acreage's in the 18th and 19th centuries due to the development of the Manx Customary Freehold Tenure, and study of the Rolls can provide proven lines of descent for many families from around 1600 to 1916. The original volumes of the Manorial Court Records are presently at the General Registry, but microfilms of most of them are held by the Manx Museum Library.

The entry of a landowner's name in the Manorial Books was regarded as proof of his-title to the land concerned. Nevertheless, deeds of sale of the property began to be deposited among the records of the civil courts in the 1580's and may be found in the Manx Museum Library.... Under the act of Settlement of 1703, provision was made . for the enrolment of deeds and mortgages, and are now held by the Museum Library (up to 1846) and the General Registry, (1847 to date). Among deeds of sale will be found Settlements, and contracts of marriage, of great genealogical value. Mortgages often provided details of landowners who did not necessarily sell any off their property

Besides these major sources, there are, as family historian will discover, numerous additional Materials (particularly in the Manx Museum Library to help verify lines of descent, and add the meat to the genealogical bones of his family history. It is hoped that the Society will be able from time to time, to publish articles examining individual sources in more detail, such suitable contribution will be welcomed

[FPC: for more details see my Genealogy Pages]


Clans and Families


A Family History Society in the Isle of Man should start its life with a grateful recollection of the contribution of earlier generations to subjects to men such as W. Cubbon, David Craine and J. J Kneen and earlier to such as P. M.C Kermode and Canon J. Quine, whose brain-children survive perhaps only in the form of minutes in early numbers of Yn Lioar Manninagh

I am thinking just now of the attempt made by Canon Quine then Vicar of Lonan, in 1907 to bridge the gap between the Clan era in our history, and emergence of families with names identifiable with those we use today. He suggested that an examination of the 1511/1515 Manorial Roll could reveal valuable information to link families with areas of land after the analogy of the Scot's Clans, whose system survived well into the 18th century.

By totting up the size of holdings of certain families in the different parishes, he ventured to infer that some families held areas significantly large to indicate that they were the survivals of Clan territories as held two or three centuries before

P. M. C. Kermode (Yn Lioar Manninagh[sic Proc IoMNHAS], vol 1, pp 477ff) had outlined a tribal pattern of life in the Island when he had reconstructed the conditions under which Christianity was first established here. He based this not just on the analogies of better evidence of social structures in neighbouring Gaelic countries, but also on linguistic traces in Manx itself. Thus the basic Gaelic tribal features of Toisech (Leader), Tanist (Heir apparent), the classes of Cine- (Kinsman), Flaith (optimates), Ceile (retainer), Bottach(Cottager), and Fuidhir (Stranger refugee), he felt were to be found in the pattern of Manx Society

Kermode has sketched something of the inter-relation of family and landholding under the Clan Ecosystem. As ever, families were in a perpetual process of growth and decays continuously jostling each other for power and territory. Wealth was in cattle and cattle needed land, and land men. A demographic law seems to have emerged. It took three generations at least for a family to establish themselves as contenders in the power and wealth race. Seventeen also seems to have become the number by which clan viability was reckoned, originally it represented the strength a family might conceivably develop in three generations, a grandfather three or four sons and some dozen grandsons.

Such a fortunate family could consider itself on the way to being the nucleus of a clan. At any rate as the generations went on, Seventeen was the recognised size of the group of kinsmen, or descendants of the Founder:(the Aires), out of whom future chiefs would be chosen. After five generations, relationship to the founder counted for nothing, unless a man was chosen to be one of the Seventeen. The rest ranked no more than the in-laws or the retainers

Kermode believed that to be politically and militarily viable, a Clan needed to field about 300 fighting men, and this might entail a total community of 2000. Gaelic tribes would also amalgamate into a mortuath, or great tribe. Alexander I of Scotland conflating Gaelic and Norse Patterns graded the heads of Mortuath as Earls, and of Tuath as Thanes. Mortuath groupings could produce the Cuisidh (Provincial Kingdoms), such as the Anglo Saxon Heptarchy and the Five Kingdoms of Ireland

Clearly this indicates a scale of Clan evolution far too complicated and large for Man. The power game here would be played by alliances of families strengthened by intermarriage. Canon Quine read our medieval history as conforming to this pattern, finding vestiges of it in the Chronicon Manniae and his concern was to look for direct evidence in the records of Manx families as they first emerge in the documents of the Stanley government which began about 1400. Could they throw any light on the Clans and their lands? .

The security that the Stanley regime brought to the Island society inevitably doomed the Clan system. This was essentially a defence organisation. Now lands need no longer be fought for, and private armies must be suppressed Wealth might still be in land, but this must soon alter too. Yet land need no longer be held in large adjacent stretches. But right up to the Act of Settlement of 1703 which confirmed landowners in their freehold, families can still be found resorting to every device to keep their holdings whole, and in the family.

There is good reason then for believing that for a long period the close attachment, of families to land continued; though the rise and withering of families, the subdivision of estates, inheritances through heiresses and consequent change of surname, were forces which inevitably erased the Clan demarcations

Quine used the first book of the Liber Aessedationis (1511/1515), and (since this did not cover the tenants of the considerable Abbeylands) a 1540 document relating to these.

His studies enabled him to identify families with significantly large holdings in certain areas. He mentions the names of McKye, McKerron and .McQuyrke in connection with Patrick; McQuayne, McCane, McGell, Symyn and McCauley in German: (between them these possessed the equivalent of half the whole parish). In Lonan the McStoles held one seventh , the McSkerfs one ninth, the McQuynes held in Braddan and Santan the equivalent of 10% of the total area of both parishes. The McHellys and the McGannons had significant holdings in Braddan and the Diks in Santon. In Marown it was the McKewleys and the McLucases; in Malew Farghers and Bridsons. The McWhaltraghs held one seventh of Rushen, and the name seems confined to the parish.

He found the pattern clearer in the North. The McFayles held one sixth of Michael, and the Mylreas one ninth In Ballaugh the McCorleots had 10 holdings, the McCraynes nine. The McNivens had ten holdings in Lezayre, the McCrays and Mc Corleots being also prominent. He links the McCristens with the MacCorstens; together they held one sixth of Maughold as well an considerable lands in Andreas, Bride and Lezayre. But it is North of the Curraghs that he found the surest traces. Here he named the McBrews who held one fifth of Jurby:; the McCowes who had one sixth of Bride, while the McTeres and the McNeles had holdings which stretched along the coast from Bride to Michael; the McTeres had 26 holdings, but the McNeles 40, totalling an area equal to the whole parish of Jurby.

A reader can find the minutes of Canon Quine's paper in Vol. 1 of Liaor Manninagh [sic Proc IoMNHAS], p 54 and in the Appendices of J. J. Kneen's Manx Personal Names, the lists of the family names as found parish by parish.

(To find how many members of each family held land and where, and how much involves a study of the Lib Assed itself. ;) Recently I have been studying Kneen's lists,: and have formed interesting impressions that pose problems for genealogists to explore.

I find, for instance that some 800 family name appear listed under the parishes. They range from 100 different names in Malew to only 21 in Jurby. It is remarkable that the majority of them, 80% indeed in Malew, do not seem Manx names at all. Even with all the philological subtlety that Kneen provided in his book, I am hard put to be able to identify more than about one third of them with as modern Manx Surname. Only after the Parochial Registers began to be kept in the 17th Century did these begin to be standardised.

Leaving out the Abbeylands, I have counted the names of some 780 families of whom some 500 bear the prefix 'Mac'. Preponderantly the recognisable Manx names fell into this class, and this seems good evidence for Canon Quine's contention that Manx patronymics were almost exclusively formed on a tribal pattern. Yet these Manx family names only account for about one half of the Mac names, and this is a problem to be looked into.

The roll of course deals only with landowners, and we do not know how many of the population were not owners of property. But clearly as far as individual owners went, bearers of Manx names in the 16th century were outnumbered by quite two to one; we can therefore be grateful for Canon Quine's researches showing that even so the bulk of the land remained in the names of Manx families .

I was interested to see how the various family names were spread over the parishes at that point in our history. I noticed that out of 508 Mac prefixed names,there are only 68 singletons (i.e. names found only in one of the 17 parishes.) Out of 275 non Mac names, therefore as many as 133 singletons. This suggests that, while some very Manx names, e.g. Fargher and Moore, are non Mac in form, and quite half of the Mac names are not Manx nevertheless as a class the non Mac families were relatively recent arrivals, and had not put down family roots. Much of this could illustrate the fact that a century after the Stanley regime had already begun to change the composition of our population . The greater part of the old Manx families on the other hand had established themselves on land in more parishes than one. The McTeres are to be found in. all the parishes except Rushen, Bradden and Lezayre. The McNeles, McCurleots, McCanes and McKerrons were in 8 parishes, and the non Mac Mores in 9.

The picture then that emerges suggests to me
1. that a century of Stanley rule had greatly increased the Island population, attracting families from Scotland and Ireland as well as from the Lancashire and the Derbys. These must have speeded up the process: of the anglicisation of the Manx tongue and the Manx way of life. Many of these new families settled in the South round the capital.
2. It suggests too that the break up of the old Clan system must have been rapid, the distinctly Manx families already spreading over the whole Island.
3. But it also invites the Family Historian to follow for himself the line Quines research, and try to locate from what point in our Island subsoil, his family roots first emerged There is no lack of moments of frustration in our attempts to trace back our individual tap root through the family tangle; but to be able to look at a stretch of Manx landscape and say; this is our patch, can be a great compensation





It, is difficult to devise projects that will please and involve every member of a society and more difficult whereas society is only in its earliest formative stage. However, the following suggested topics are. given as an indication as what may be possible to achieve.

As with most Family History Societies, our existence will depend on the goodwill and cooperation of the Museum and Church Authorities, without whose facilities very little research can be done So perhaps some projects should provide constructive assistance to these institutions. The Society might put itself at the disposal of the Manx Museum in recording information and providing family trees that are either complete or being currently researched, especially if Millennium Year brings a sudden influx of ancestor hunters from all parts of the worlds. A more specialised project would be to help the Museum in indexing and cataloguing any of their records at present not done, all naturally under supervision, yet the experience could reveal vital clues in one's own searches.

After the Museum the next most valuable source of information is the Church records, and particularly the Church yards. Many of these are old, and many gravestones are decaying rapidly. Here is a verital mine of information. The older stones may record items of ages residence, etc., missing from the written records. It is essential to retrieve this information before it is lost for all time. A worthwhile and enduring project would be to transcribe every gravestone on a systematic basis, from area to area. Many of the churches records are fairly vague as to the exact burial plot, and perhaps the project might incorporate the provision of a plan lay-out system. This would. be helpful to present Society researchers and to future followers, and perhaps to overseas visitors for whom a visit to the exact spot where their ancestors are laid has a very special meaning . Many of the older stones have become bedded down, but with careful probing they might be found, raised, and with proper permission, their details recovered. Some of our societies have done this on the mainland and at least one incumbent here has indicated his willingness to cooperate in such a project.

This is Millennium Year, and so perhaps one project should be organised to mark it. Seemingly as. yet no organisation has offered to assist the Millennium Committee to organise any get together (or cumallyer) of the Manx Clans.

It had been hoped to arrange such an occasion in the Villa Marina Gardens on Saturday, June 30th in the week preceding Tynwald , when representatives . of all Manx families could meet, discuss lineage, and exchange ideas amongst themselves . This Would be an ideal project for the whole of our society, for everyone has an ancestry. It would be a peoples occasions devoid of political implication for meetings helping perhaps unknown relatives from all over the world. It could initiate new and lasting friendships if the Society were to adopt such a projects it could no doubt rely on the assistance of the Millennium Committee, and probably of the Douglas Corporation.

It is intended to set up a library system for the general use of the Society and to help in future research. Family records, family trees, family bible inscriptions, clock inscriptions, every sort of snippet can build up vital clues. Perhaps the example of the Gorry family in recently producing a booklet will inspire others, one or two interested members might combine in such a work. It is intended too to liaise with other such societies with common interests and through the Family History Federation we can find access to off the Island Records We shall have special guest speakers and in better weather arrange outside excursions.

It is your Society It cannot succeed without your active contribution and participation.

All ideas however trivial are welcome. So keep the ideas rolling in,.


Mr. E.W.Q. Cleator, a born and bred Manxman returned to and enjoying the Island's quiet life after exile on the mainland pursuing a University and Industrial career. Interests include Manx Gaelic language, Manx Folklore, painting and amateur wine making In him blend Cleator, Quine,Corvette Quayle, Comaish, Mylcraine and Corkill,


The Good Old Days


Who among us has never daydreamed of living in an earlier and more romantic or adventurous age?

Remembering an elderly relative tell of. emigrating to Canada for half a crown brings out the wanderlust in me, even if he did end up working on the railways all day and sleeping in the open, listening to the coyotes all night. .

Oh, for the days when inflation was unheard of and the following provision could be included in a will in 1938 to my brother in law John Corrin £5 British in trust for the benefit and use of the children of my late brother Wm. Crebbin~the said sum of £5 to be laid out for the said chat the rate of one pound 10/- a year till the said sum of £5 be thus expended on them. .

Money was scarce and. what few possessions one had were truly appreciated. Many people bequeathed not only each item of furniture but each crock and each pan in the kitchen A feather bed "whereon I lie" was a choice item as was ones "best dress and petticoat" old dresses and petticoats going to less favoured or more distant relatives and friends. The following are extracts of 19th century wills.

'... to the wife of my said brother John, a shawl'
. to the wife of my said brother Richard, a marino dress
. bequeth to cousin Thomas Holsay in Kk. Patrick a suite if wearing close.
2/6 to my sons that is off the island if they will come to the island and claim it
." to my grandson Richard the sum of one pound manks
".:.. to tine poor of Andreas 20 l. to be distributed among them "

The sum cost of having a baby was apparently about £5 in the early 1800s. .: Besides clothing, this included "messenger on horseback to fetch the midwife" and provisions for the christening following :

However, there the daydream ends for infant mortality was high in the 19th century., there were no routine vaccinations or inoculations, and diphtheria and other childhood ailments took their toll. Who could help but feel sorrow for the parents who lost three small children from smallpox on one day in 1878? Another unfortunate woman lost three children in infancy, the primary cause of death of the first child stated by the doctor to be "dentition". Her fourth child was only six months old when she was widowed

Research into family history becomes increasingly interesting as more is understood of the conditions under which our forebears lived. It may even help us to better appreciate life in our own time.


Gorry a Family Search

Madeline & Wm. Scatchard

It is very appropriate that the first number of the Journal of the Family History Society of the Isle of Man should be able to salute the efforts of Madeline and William J. Scatchard in producing privately a typescript book of eighteen pages telling of their search for the origins of the Manx family of Gorry. They have given a copy to the Society, and it will form the nucleus of our library in the hands of Mr. John Musgrave who serves us as our Librarian. We will not tell you why a family named Scratchard is: interested in the name Gorry, nor where the search led them; but Mr. Musgrave appends here his reactions to the book. Try, try, and try, again! Was the story of Robert the Bruce and the Spider the origin of this saying or did the maxim come from other sources?

It matters not. So if you want to take up a serious study of your family tree your motto must always be to try, and try again .

Lots of avenues will be offered to the searcher so many that the task will seem impossible, and like the Scatchards brick walls will be found in abundance

To help would be searchers several things must be born in mind. .

First a visit the the Manx Museum to search Parish records for births, marriages, and deaths.

Secondly census forms for 1841, 1851 and 1871. Thirdly searching documents in the Rolls Office, where wills, inquests and Coroners Courts "provide more meat to put on the bare bones" which you will find in the Registers as Madeline Scratchard so nicely puts it

The authors of A FAMILY SEARCH also suggest it would be good for family tree searchers to work as follows. Use plain blank library cards for writing down information. Do not use a notebook which might result in a compilation of unconnected references. Use cards of several different colours.

Many families who have researched a little of their ancestry will vouch as does the writer of this note, that oral tradition of history does play a very vital part: in building up the family tree. So if you have grandparents and great grandparents alive question them most thoroughly, drain their memory banks. In this way much family history can be gleaned

Many local families meet a dead end, or full stop about 1700-1750., This was the brickwall the Scratchards met round the date 1776-1789. The authors are to be highly commended upon their refusal to, cease searching, and so over a period of years diligent deductive work asking seeking and travelling to the Scottish Isles, the vital link was found which enabled them to prove a "legend was true.". What a marvelous feeling of satisfaction the Scatchards must have felt upon achieving the final ground roots of their family tree.

Every credit and praise is due to this young couple who surmounted every difficulty they encountered and went on,triumphantly to the finish of their search Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Bill Scatchard may your endeavours light a candle of hope and promise to those who would follow in your footsteps


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