I found that childhood memories of a little girl who sat for hours at her grandmother's knee listening to tales of long,long ago people', end especially of another little girl who wore long braids, hand-knitted black stockings and button-up boots, persisted even to womanhood. Yarns beginning 'When I was a girl..' or 'My father used to...' drew me irresistibly, and I struggled (with an eight-year-old's scent knowledge of the 19th century social history) to picture their way of life. My destiny to seek out these people and build up a family history was sealed on the day I asked my Granny 'What did you wear on your wedding day?', and a story unfolded of a young woman dressed in a blue polkadot dress and a strew hat trimmed with blue ribbons, who saw nothing strange in the fact that a wedding party had to climb out of the carriage so that the horse could get up the hill!
It was years later when as a married women with children of my own I decided that these wonderful stories should be preserved end handed down to my children; somehow it didn't seem right that the colourful characters of a century ago who had set the pattern for what I am should be allowed to fade into forgotten nothingness.
However, stories alone would not suffice; to clarify the picture I must also have facts end dates. So I began, to the great delight of my Granny, who at the grand age of 85 is a mine of information and still good for a yarn.
Our most illustrious end enterprising ancestor (indeed our only illustrious end enterprising ancestor, to date') Was my gt-gt-gt-grandfather, James Qualtrough, who with his wife Catherine (Kitty) Clague and eight of their children left their beloved 'Mannin Beg' in 1859 and emigrated to the Antipodes on a sailing ship called the 'Mermaid'. One of their daughters, Catherine, who had been raised with an aunt elected to remain on the Island, and thus at the tender age of fifteen bade the rest of her family farewell. No doubt they all realised that they would never meet again; such a journey was not lightly undertaken.
It was while talking to my grandmother about James and his voyage that she mentioned that he had kept a diary whilst aboard the 'Mermaid'; the original now being in the possession of an elderly relative in Port Erin, but a copy was also kept in the Museum. My feet scorched a trail all the way there, and it was with real tears that I sat and read his words and his very own story.
Over the months I had come to feel that I already knew the family well, even a sense of belonging and affection, but here was an experience which closed the gap of years like magic;suddenly I was a working-class Dr Who, travelling 12,000 miles and 120 years in an afternoon.
The account of the voyage was moving and exciting; James had been a Wesleyan lay preacher and several times records that in their divine service he preached 'just as well as I could'.
He quotes the scriptures frequently and in spite of the sickness end discomfort suffered by all, never failed to thank God for his goodness to them. He also makes a fervent wish that although they are surrounded by evildoers on every side, that none of the Manx will do anything to dishonour their country.
The 'Mermaid' left Liverpool on Monday July 11th and the emigrants did not touch dry land again until Wednesday, October 19th, when they docked at Auckland. Exactly 100 days at sea in a ship where the living (and dying) conditions left a great deal to be desired.
On September 12th James writes that Ned Gale's little girl who had been ailing for 7 weeks (there was whooping cough among the children on board) finally passed away, and a sad account of the little girl's funeral is given. Eight days later Mrs Gale was delivered of a baby boy in a terrible storm which smashed the ship's ventilator windows and soaked everyone's clothing and beds, and of which the Captain was later to declare that he 'had never known such a night at sea'. Only three days after, this little infant in his pathetic little coffin was consigned to the deep 'in sure and certain hope of the resurrection'. Altogether 4 children died.
The Qualtroughs obtained land at Pakuranga, Auckland, through the New Zealand Government's 40-acre scheme', whereby immigrants who had paid their own passage out were granted 40 acres per adult, and 20 per child, and so they settled down to farm their fairly large portions out of which they donated land for a Wesleyan Church to be built.
In 1863 routine farm life was rudely interrupted by the Maori wars, which made necessary the burying of all family treasures and the departure of the womenfolk to Auckland, the nearest town. The form was safely defended and life returned to normal, until 1881 when James and Kitty both died and were buried in the little graveyard.
My research had carried me back in James' line to the letter half of the 17th century when events took another exciting turn. From out of the blue we received a newsletter from an Elizabeth Barlow in New Zealand, rallying all Manx descendants of the Qualtroughs to a huge reunion and celebration of the 120th anniversary of the Qualtrough family in Auckland. Elizabeth told of all the plans and the expected 600 people who would gather, and asked for some information which was missing. She also told of her great interest and research into the Qualtrough family history.
Here was real joy!~At the other side of the world was a relative, albeit a distant one, a kindred spirit who shared the same interest, the some desire to search end to know. I wrote giving answers to her questions; she replied, also happy to discover 'another genealogical nut'! We have filled gaps in each other's jigsaws. I sent copies of wills and s map; she has sent (the greatest miracle of all) copies of photographs, genuine snapshots taken of James and Kitty in the 1860s, and also photographs of all their children. Treasures indeed!
How I long to join with all these 'cousins' in their celebration; my heart cries out that I should be there proudly waving the Manx-banner, the only one with a genuine Manx accent;but my purse mocks me with hollow laughter. Financially the trip is impossible, but I'll be with them in spirit.
Our family history research can prove to be more to us then an opportunity to spend a fascinating and absorbing couple of hours in a warm place on a wet Saturday. It provides us with a real sense of identity; we can truly say "I am .. ", and can see in our own lives the echo of our forebears' interests, talents, livelihood and character traits. He can appreciate the hardships, sufferings, sacrifices and social injustices which have built a foundation for our-much improved society. Lastly, and perhaps best, it can lead us to renew relationships and friendships which could otherwise have passed unrecognised strengthening and uniting our families. Long may the work roll on.
[see vol 1 no3 p15]
In 1760 Lezayre badly needed a new church. The cost had to be divided round the parish, 'by quantity and quality, as they put it. It would be the best part of a decade before the whole operation was finished. Thomas Arthur Corlett, of Glen Trammon, Church Warden, and of the family from which parish clerks were traditionally taken has left us a record of the whole business, accounts and all, Among the Presentments of the 1760s.
On June 26th 1760 they assessed each of the 42 quarterlands at £1.10.0. each, but on the 6th March the next year, they had to raise it to £2.10.0. With the figures of the Lord's Rent to guide him, Thomas Arthur Corlett made out a list of all the Quarterlands end the Intack holders, and fixed their fair Assessments. On February 4th 1766 he drew up a similar document for paying for the new seating. Quarterland and Intack holders were allocated to one or other of the 20 seats in order to raise the necessary £73.13.0. Capt John Llewellin had to pay his £3.13.7¾ for one seat, but most of the parish found themselves sharing with 30 or more others the like sum,
In all this, Thomas Arthur's life was complicated by a demurrer successfully upheld by the tenants of the 4 Grange Quarterlands, ie those adjacent to Cronk Sumerk and Abbeylands, that by tradition they were not allocated seats in the church, and so need only pay half their Assessment.. It is one of the mysteries of history why this should have been so, and maybe it could throw light on the question of the lost Abbey of Myerscough, but that is not to be dealt with here.
Rather these documents throw fascinating light or the population of Lezayre in the eighteenth century, for over 300 individuals are on the lists. We can therefore compare them with the Lezayre names that are found in the earliest lists in the Manorial Roll of 1510/14 and (in the case of the Abbeylands) in the first volume of the Liber Monesterium which was begun in 1610) There are 44 different surnames for the 32 quarterlands of the Manorial Roll, and 12 in the Liber Monesterium for the 10 Abbeylands of these last, 7 names occur also in the Roll, We may infer then that at the end of the 16th century the landholders of Lezayre shared 49 surnames, viz Ap Ithel, Bradshagh, Cristalson, Goldsmyth, (Mac preceding) Caley, Casmund, Caw, Comas, Conylt, Corkell,, Corleot, Cowle, Crayle, Cristen, Curghy, Curry, Gilchrist, Gilhonylt, Gilvorre, Kinrede, Ke, Keg, Kellag, Kenag, Kerd (Kerrsd),,Kerrous, Kewley, Killip, Kym, Marten, Nedragh Nele, Nyven, Oboy, Otter, Reynylt end Skerf, Martyn, O Barron, O Fayle, Orme, Rede, Sele plus,(from the Lib Mon) Kewney, Kyssage, McYlcarane, Standish and Skillicorn.
In 1761 the quarterlands were herd by 56 surnames. Only some 20 of the above survive. Gone were : Ap Ithel, Bradshagh, Cristalson, Caw, Comas Conylt, Curry, Gilchrist, Gilhonylt, Gilvorrs, Ke, Keg, Kellag, Kerrous, Kym, McYlcarane, Nedragh, Nyven, Oboy, Otter, Reynylt, Skerf, O Barron, O Foyle, Orme, Rede, Sale. The most surprising disappearance is Nyven, which, according to Quine, had been prominent in the Roll. However, 7 of these still appear among the Intack holders viz; Camaish, Crennill, McYlcarene, Mylchrist, Keig, Kee and Sayle though McYlcarene resides in Ballaugh.
There are 34 new names in the Quarterlands: Calow, Clague, Clerk, Corteen, Corris, Cowley, Crain., Cry, Gawn, Gill, Harrison, Howland, Kelly, Kenny, Kewin, Kewn, Kermode, Kewish, Kneen, Knickel, Llewellin, Moor, Oats, Quayle, Quark, Quine, Stevenson, Strachen, Tear, Vandy, Wade, Wattleworth, Wilson and Woods. And in the Intacks there are 41 new names:- Baker, Black, Brew, Crellin, Calllster, Cannell, Cannon, Castill, Cleator, Clucass, Cormoad, Crebbin, Ferragher, Frissell, Gomery, Heywood, Hughes, Johnston, Joughin-; Keighin, Kerrown, Kerruish, Kinley, Lace, Lawson, Loony, Major, McNeen, Moughtin, Mylrea, Nelson, Phinlo, Poland, Qualteragh, Quillian, Quigin, Radcliffe, Steward, Taubman, Wallace end West.
To concentrate for a moment on the Abbeylands we look at 10 out of the 42 quarterlands, in boundaries following the Sulby River from Block Eary to Glentremmon and into the mountains along the line of the Glentremmon stream and the Royal Road to Block Eary. When first settled, these lands must have been some of the best in the parish, before reclamation from the curraghs along the line of the lower river opened out even better. In the Liber Mon., 12 families held them, the Kyssages, Kewneys., Crows and Garretts holding between them about two thirds of the whole; in 1761 this proportion was in the hands of Corletts, Garrets, Casements Kinredes and Christians. The Corletts on their own held one third of the area.
The assessments of Thomas Arthur Corlett forms an accurate guide to family eminence and wealth. The top five names. would be Corletts, Christians, Curpheys, Garrets and Crows. The greatest single landholder was Capt. John Llewellin. his. three quarterlands of Milntown cost him £7.3.0... and his intacks another £3.19.7. Mrs Heywood paid £4.10.0. for hers, (the average was 4/9), the Stevensons £2.9.0. and John Frissell £1.15.0. - indications of how wealth in land was passing away from the indigenous Manx families, mainly by the snapping up of intacks.
Thomas Arthur Corlett could not keep social distinctions out of his accounts. Many of the Christians. are Captains., Thomas, Daniel, Matthew, and Edmund; as are Thomas Corlett of Glen Trammon, Quayle Curphey of Ballakillingen and Thop. - as Radcliffe. He writes Mrs Sarah Christian, Mrs John Christian, Mrs Nicholas Corlett, but Widow Curphey, Crow or Looney. Even,. in one case just "Gomery's widow". And it is Mr Philip Garret, Mr Daniel Cowle, Mr John Frissell; yet "Wm Crow", Patk. Howland", and (to his honour) Thomas Arthur Corlett
The overall social picture then is the ominous one of anglicised families gathering more and more land, and forming big estates, such as Milntown, on the one hand, while on this, other the limited land in the parish is being divided among an ever growing number of holders. In the Abbeylands 26 holdings in 1610 had become 69 a century and a half later, and the names of the families that held them increased in the same proportion from 12 to 31. In this way life could only grow worse for the crofter.
On the 17th June, 1595, Averick Steane, the daughter of Thomas Steane, was buried in what is known as the Old Church, Ballaugh. She was followed to the grave only five days later by her mother,-Joney, whilst her sister-Anna was buried the following year. This triple tragedy in one family occurred at time when the Church in Mann was going through one of its periods of upheaval. In the parish of Kirk Maughold "the last popish priest" (John Stevenson) had only recently been succeeded by the "first Protestant Minister" (John Christian) - an incumbent who, nevertheless, was a few years later destined to earn for himself a second footnote in history by having the misfortune to fall foul of the strict discipline then wielded by the Church and being fined "three shillings end four pence for presumptuously eating fflesh upon Fryday" -
However, despite the momentous events taking place around that time Averick Steane's death commands a unique position in the Church history of our Island for a totally different reason - the recording of her burial in 1598 is the earliest entry in any of our Parish Registers.
A genealogist is of course primarily interested only in tracing certain names and dates and he tends to gloss over any other information shown in Parish Registers as being, at best, only incidental to his main search,Such an attitude is perfectly understandable - and yet how few extra hours spent in deeper study of the registers can be very rewarding indeed. If we remember that the histories of our parishes, and what they are today, are a direct result of the lives and works of our forebears, then we will look beyond the stark names end dates appearing one after another in the pages of the registers and seek instead the little items of interest that will help to give us a fuller understanding of our ancestors and the lives they led.
As I write these notes I have in front of me the Ballaugh "Register of Burialls in ye year of out lord God 1598" and it is, for instance, immediately apparent that infant burials were preponderant. In fact, out of 21 burial entries relating to the year 1599 no loss then 10 were those of infants. If we now turn to the Baptismal Register, we find that in 1611, apparently the first year that reasonably full records survived, only 16 entries are recorded. Even allowing for the appallingly high rate of infant mortality then prevalent it is hardly likely that over 60% of all children died whilst infants, and we must accordingly assume that our ancestors were much more ready to entrust their children to the tender care of the church after their deaths than they were during their lifetime!
It was not only in relation to infant mortality however, that families suffered in-those far off days but: on many occasions a whole family was wiped out within a few days. Thus, 1629, -"Christian, wife of Dollin Gawne, buried 15th April. "Marjorie, daughter of Dollin' buried 15th April. "Kathren, daughter of Dollin, buried 19th April. "Dollin Gawne, buried 24th April".
The number of instances such as this point inevitably to the ravaging effects of either cholera or small-pox, in later centuries the former recurring at intervals, so that we read that on one day alone in 1832 no less than four persons were buried as a result of that disease. The burials for Ballaugh also list for a period of four months during 1765 total of twenty-seven deaths in the parish from small-pox.
Another interesting item that appears in these very old records is a note showing how the churchyard land had been allocated among the eight treens of the parish. This had been done by "the most ancients men of the parish then living in 1600",. and their concern that each treen was allocated its fair share of land is quaintly shown by their regret that they had found it necessary to curtail the area in one instance in order to allow a passageway into the church!
Before leaving these early registers mention should be made of an intriguing note inserted in the Baptismal Register of 1709 by the then Rector of Ballaugh the Rev. Wm. Walker - a scholarly and highly respected son of the Church, who was later to attain the office of Vicar-General. It would appear that his ecclesiastical wrath had been aroused by the Vicar of Kirk Michael, and there ensued a "long and tedious controversy" between these two reverend gentlemen. Eventually the Lord Bishop found it necessary to intervene and at his commend a total of sixteen families were obliged to attend church and perform all parochial duties as ye other parishioners do". Bearing in mind the awe in which the clergy were then held, particularly in country parishes such Ballaugh and Kirk Michael, we can well imagine the. parishioners watching this battle of giants with bated breath!
In the year 1778 the Rev. D. Gelling succeeded as Rector of Ballaugh and he has left his individual imprint on the Parish Registers because of his curious habit of adding touches of local colour to the entries. Thus, the burial of John Corlett, bachelor, in January, 1778 is elaborated by the phrase that he died "on the mountain" in July 1778 Philip Craine was "drowned in a deep Dub on the mountain by going in to swim with other young lads"; Ann Kinread was found "buried near her own house and supposed to have been murdered"(1782). He was also nothing loathe to mention a lady's age if he felt it sufficiently newsworthy, although to be perfectly truthful, the ladies in question were hardly in a position to do anything about it - 'died April 3 1784, Margaret Cain (90 and upwards). "Died November 1789, Jane Cottiman (Pauper, aged 91)".
Another rector who also had the quaint habit of enlivening the registers by adding his own brief notes was the Rev. Kisseck who held office for a comparatively short length of time a century after Rector Gelling. The following are examples of his margin comments taken from the Register of Burials (1893)'.
Mary Ann Gardiner, buried May 22nd "This the poor girl whose death was caused by her leap from the top-storey window at Bishopscourt on the occasion of the fire, May 16th 1893"( It is notable that the Bishop himself conducted this burial, no doubt his final mark of respect for his late-departed servant).
Daniel Corlett, buried November 16th "This parishioner carted the first cars of stones-to build the new church, and the first buried after its restoration'.
The parish records for the current century tend to be more precise and matter of fact. This may be due, at least in part,to the remarkable man who held the rectorship for no less than 37 years, Rector Kneele. He died in 1935 and is still remembered with affection and respect by many in the parish. He was a men who presided over his flock in a firm but kindly manner, a men who would brook no-nonsense and was apparently always ready to call a spade a spade.
It should be remembered that Rector Kneele and, to a considerably greater degree, his predecessors were in their capacity as the representative of the Church in the parish, very important men and this degree of importance was increased greatly by the fact that Ballaugh, being a country parish, was comparatively isolated from the larger centres of population on the Island. The effects of this isolation can be seen in several ways, one of the most amusing being the refusal of the Church Wardens to permit any church-pew to vary in size or height, as happened in some of the town-churches where the more important families demanded, and got, bigger and more splendid pews in recognition (so they claimed) of their relative importance!
It would be possible to go on adding item after item of historical footnotes extracted from the parish registers but space and time do not permit However, it is sincerely hoped that your own researches will in future include diversion such as this into the side-lines of parish history. If you can only read between the bare entries of names and dates, you will find s veritable wealth of information that will surely repay, in added awareness of bygone days, the extra time involved.
[see also Manx Note Book vol i p55]
Margt daughter of Robt Quark of B.Cashin in Kk Braddan June 16th
The mother of this child being well in health went to Douglas this morning with a burden of ling & upon her return home from thence was seized with the throes & pangs of travail which increased so violently that she was obliged to lie down by a hedge near John Skillicorn's House where she was under Heaven safely delivered by the assistance of two women who were there in her company.
Wonderful are Thy Works O God!
In the name of God Amen
This is affirmed to be the Last Will and Testament of the late Margaret Blackburn who being weak in body but of sound mind and memory which she made and declared in the presence of Charles Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson on the first day of November one Thousand eight hundred and twenty one.
First she commended her soul to God in hopes of a blessed
resurrection and her body to a Christian burial at the discretion of
her executors hereafter named.
In the second place she left end bequeathed to her sister Hannah four bedgowns four smocks two pairs of black stockings two pairs of shoes two petticoats the best blue one and the best black one. Her bonnets piece of new silk two brats six caps half the new stuff she had-to-make caps and her-best shole.
In the third plece-she left and bequeathed to her daughter Margeret her-petticoat best check brat the remainder of her caps hell' the new stuff she had for caps end her black shole.
Fourthly she left and bequeathed to her son Charles' daughter and her daughter Margeret's daughter the gowns to be divided between them.
Fifthly she left and bequeathed to her son David the bed and bedding as it stood on which he lay.
Sixthly she left and bequeathed to her three sons namely William, John and Charles two shillings end sixpence each and
Lastly she left' to her husband a house and garden in Mill Street in Castletown and nominated, constituted and appointed her Loving Husband whole and sole executor of all the rest of her effects movable and immoveable. This is committed to writing November 7th 1821.