10th aniv special May 1989





Early in 1988 Mr. Fred Radcliffe retired Headmaster of Ashley Hill School in Onchan, gave the local members a talk on Manx Place Names.

Mr. Radeliffe is an expert on the Manx language and answered many questions for members; after his very interesting talk on the subject he also handed out two sheets which are on the following pages, of explanations of Gaelic and Norse Keywords which we thought would be of interest to our overseas members.



Arrey Watch
Aittin Gorse
Ard = High
Beg/Veg Little
Broogh Brink/Steep Slope
Bane/Vane = White
Breck/Vreck = Speckled
Carrick m Rock
Cronk/Knock = Hill
Creggan = Rocky Place
Cooil m Nook/Corner
Curragh/Curree = Marsh
Chiarn = Lord

Crossag = Crossing Place
Clagh/Clogh = Stone
Coan = Valley/Glen

Droghad = Bridge
D(h)ool/*Duff = Black or Dark
Dreeym/Drommey = Back/Ridge
Dhowin = Deep
Eary = Shieling/Mountain Pasture
Ellen/Allan = Island Rhullick = Burial Ground
Garee/Garey = Rough Waste
Gob = Beak/Bill/Promontary
*Glais = Stream
Glass = Green/Clear (e.g. Water) Grey/Pale Blue Glion/Glionney = Glen
Jiarg = Red
Keill = Church
Kione = Head/End
Lough = Lake
Laagh = Mire/Mud
Lhergy/Liargagh = Slope
Lhag m Hollow
Meanagli = Middle
Meayll ("Mule") = Bare/Bald
Moanee/Moaney m Turbary
(M)wyllin/Mullen m Mill
Mooar Big
,Naaie The Flat ,Neary The Eary ,Nellan The Island
Noa ("Naw") = New
Ouyr = Dun
Oaie ("oe-ee") = Grave
Poyll = Pool/Harbour

Rheynn/Rhen = Division
Rhennee = Of the Ferns
Ruy = Red

Cob = Beak/Bill/Promontary
Shellagh = Willow
Shen(n) = Old
Slicau = Mountain
Traie = Shore
Terson = Athwart
Twoaie ("Too-ee") = North


A = River (Laxa, Cornaa; Croggl; cp Greta; Rothay)
AYR (*Oyrr/*Oyrar) = Gravel Bank
BURROW (*Borg) Defended Height (Burrow Ned)
BERRY (*Berg) Rock/Mountain (Slea ny Berry; Cronk y Berry)
-BY (*Bor) m Settlement/Farm (Crosby; Grenaby; Sulby; Surby) GROG (*Kroka) * Crooked/Winding (Crogga; Cregneash)
DAL(E) (*Dalr) m Valley (Dalby; Foxdale)
*FJALL = FELL (Snaefell; Sartfell/field; Vardufjell Barrule
*GNIPA = Peak/Steep Sloping Mountain (Greeba)
*GATA = Road/Way
GIL Ravine
*GJA Creek (Giau Lang etc.)
HOW(E) HAUGP = Barrow/Mound/Hill (Banks Howe)
*HRAMS Wild Garlic (Rams-ey Wild Garlic Island)
*FOSS Waterfall (Fox dale; High Force)
-EY = Island
*KLETTR = Rock (The Cletts)
*LAX = Salmon (Laxey = Lax-a)
KIRKJU = Church (Kirby)
*BREKKA = Hill - slope (Injebreck; Scarisbrick; Warbreck)
*KAMBR = Comb/Ridge (Cammall)
*MYRR = Mire.(Mirescog; Myerscough)
*KALFR m Calf; Small thing near a larger one
NESS = Naze, nose, promontory (Ag e@ash; Creg e@ash; Langness
STACK = Rock In the sea
*STAFR = Farm/Settlement (Austi Leodest; Braust; Crest)
SKER = Isolated Rock (Mx diminutive = Skerrane)
*KUERNA = Mill (Cornaa; Cardle)
*VIK = Bay/Creek (Pleshwick; Pt. Soldrick; Perwick) *VAT = Ford (Santwat; Solway Firth)




Few Manxmen have achieved any great degree of distinction in the field of science, but one whose name stands out above the rest is that of William Kennish, born in 1799 in a humble cottage below the Corony Bridge, Maughold, who received recognition in his lifetime as an engineer, inventor, and poet.

This remarkable man, whose achievements have been largely forgotten, is the subject of a new film made specially for Heritage Year by Finnigan Productions of Laxey, with the aid of a loan from the Manx Heritage Foundation.

The son of Margaret and Thomas Kennish, who farmed Upper Cornaa Farm, William Kennish's native language was Manx Gaelic and he could speak no other until he joined the Royal Navy at the age of 21. It was through reading his poem which mourns the demise of the "Mother Tongue of Ellan Vannin" that Manx speaker, Freddie Gowle, of Ramsey was inspired to write the script for a film about Kennish's life.

Filming began last May with Peter Maggs in charge of direction and Freddie Cowle as producer. Unlike the other films which Peter has been involved with, this one has a narrative in English, with just a smattering of Manx. It is about 30 minutes in length and is shot on 16 mm film which allows for it to be projected onto a large screen.

Filming took place at several locations in the Island, from the Sound to Sulby Curraghs, and involved local actors in dramatic interpretations of Kennish's eventful life.

Kennish was a man of many talents who overcame with apparent ease his lack of early formal education; but as the film will show, he was robbed of the fame and glory that were his due. In his youth lie followed the plough and the film shows the young Kennish, played by Robbie McDonald, guiding the plough drawn by two Shire horses belonging to Mr. Stephen Strickett of St. Mark's who plays Kennish's father.

Ramsey Shipyard was the obvious choice for scenes showing the young Kennish learning the trade of ship's carpenter when he left the soil for the sea.

The event which was to have the most far reaching effect on the rest of his life was being jilted by his sweetheart, a Ramsey girl (played by Angela Kelly). Despite the fact he could neither read nor write, nor speak any English he left the Isle of Man and joined the Royal Navy.

So great, however, was his natural ability and technical knowledge of his trade that within seven yearshe, rose to become Master Carpenter of the whole British fleet in the Mediterranean. During this period he acquired not only the rudiments of education, but a considerable knowledge of science.

With John Kaneen playing the role of William Kennish the adult, the film follows his fluctuating fortunes, from the acceptance of his invention "for concentrating the fire of a broadside of a ship of war" to his return to the Island and the opening a school of science in Ballasalla which led to his imprisonment in Castle Rushen for debt. It was during this part of his life that he began to compose poems which were published as "Mona's Isle" in 1844.

Kennish rose again though, and two years later he was delegated by the Manx fishermen to deliver to London a Memorandum seeking safer harbours. He also carried out a survey of the Manx Coast for the British Government, together with plans for a harbour of refuge at the Sound. In 1849 he and his English wife Mary emigrated to America to join their only son Peter, and Kennish obtained a position with the Hope Association of New York which led to explorations in New Grenada (Colombia). These scenes were successfully filmed in Sulby Curraghs and in the upper reaches of Laxey Glen Gardens.

It was these journeys, sometimes extremely hazardous, that led him to devise a scheme for a canal across the isthmus to join the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The plan was submitted and highly approved of by the United States Government but unfortunately the Civil War intervened and as we know now, his plan was not the one finally adopted.

That Kennish was a Manxman to the last is evidenced by the fact that four years after he arrived in America he wrote to the "Manx Sun" entreating the editor to take up the petition of the Manx fishermen for safe harbours which lay dormant in London. He died in 1862 without ever returning to the Isle of Man, and is buried in New York.

To produce this assessment of William Kennish's life and achievements, considerabl research was carried out at the Manx Museum, Douglas Borough Library and at the Admiralty Library At Greenwich. Valuable insights were provided by a direct descendant, Mr. Kenny Moore of Beach Street, Peel who has been collecting information about Kennish for many years. by Sue Woolley



The handbill on the opposite page has been sent to me by Peter Lace. His Gt. Gt. Gt. Grandfather was John Lace, the brother of Joseph Lace of Cumberland and he believes a cousin of Thomas Lace of Kirk Bride. Joseph and John's father was another John Lace born at Kirk Andreas in 1765 and later moved to Cumberland.




1): What was the date and where was the birth place of my great grandfather John Collister who died in Kensington on the 9th October 1868? He was the father of John (who went to Cheltenham College, became Agent, or Manager, of the Great Indian Peninsular Railway and died in Ealing in 1900) and was the grandfather of Sir Harold, of the Indian Civil Service (my father) and Jack who was Chief Engineer of the Bengal and Nagpur Railway. Once his date and place of birth can be conclusively proved it will be comparatively easy to trace his Manx forbears back to the 18th century and probably further.

2): Circumstantial evidence points to him having been born in 1808, son of John Collister who was born in November 1776, according to his gravestone in St. Marks churchyard, IOM who married Margaret Oates, died at Shen Valley in St. Marks parish in 1839 and had a son called John who was baptised at Malew on 4th December 1808. The reasons for this assumption are:

a) I remember my father telling me that his great grandfather had drowned in a ditch in the IOM and the 'Manx Advertiser' of 26th March 1839 carried an account of John Collister being drowned crossing a marsh returning to Shen Valley on the 18th March 1839, the same date as shown on the gravestone. Shen Valley is an area within the parish of St. Marks where a John Callister still farms. The farm has been visited and although he was away we met his daughterin-law Ann and, briefly his son, who were unable to help. Unfortunately my letters of inquiry went unanswered, which is a pity as there is probably a family Bible which would have the family tree in the inside cover as was customary. As there are 16 Collister and 10 Callister graves at St. Marks - the 'o' and the 'a' appearing to be interchangeable according to preference it seems highly probable that although there are other Collister graves on the Island this is where our branch came from.

b) The Will of Esther Collister - of Shen Valley provides further circumstantial evidence. She was the sister of the John who drowned and made bequests to her sister-in-law Margaret, her niece Eleanor and nephew John, 'a surveyor from beyond the seas', who was named as sole executor and returned to the Isle of Man in 1832 after the will had been proved and successfully petitioned for his rights as administrator of the estate. 'Beyond the seas' must have been England and not America or Australia, the other great areas of Manx emigration in the 19th century, from which there was no easy return. This all fits with the assumption in paragraph 2 as surveyor John's son was born and spent his life in mainland Britain - if the assumption of parentage is correct and Kensington John was indeed son of Shen Valley John. All the evidence so far points to it for his obituary notice in the 'Times' refers to him as a 'civil engineer' and it is possible that to an elderly woman in the IOM there was no distinction between a surveyor and an engineer. If he was born in 1808 he would have been 24 when he returned to be his aunts executor, (presumably his father, who still had another 7 years to live, didn't want the responsibility) old enough to do it but still young enough to return to the mainland to resume his career. My father once told me that he thought his grandfather was an engineer on the Caledonian railway where perhaps he started as a surveyor and graduated by practical experience to becoming an engineer at a time when distinctions were more blurred and academic courses less universal. (Unfortunately all my father's papers which could have solved everything were lost after his death)

3) The 1841 census appears to overturn the theory for although it was notoriously inaccurate showing birth dates in broad bands of 5 years it does state that he was born between 1811 and 1815 which presents too great a discrepancy to be ignored despite the acknowledged imprecision of this first national census. The 1861 census is much better and would have solved the matter but unfortunately he was away from home when it was taken, for although it includes his house, 31 Victoria Road Kensington and two servants he is not shown. However the 'Times' obituaryt notice closes the gap considerably for this states him to be 62 which would have made his date of birth 1806 - still a two year difference. This does not disprove the assumption for there used often to be long gaps between birth and christening, the two of which are also sometimes confused in the records. In this case the name of the parish and of the church, St. Marks, is shown as the place of birth (in the Douglas microfiche records) which is more likely to have been at home in Shen Valley and is in fact really his date of christening at Malew. Alternatively the 'Times' notice could have been wrong and he really was born in 1808 and was 60, not 62. There were no birth certificates then, his wife had predeceased him, his son had probably already gone out to India as he was then 24, his two daughters were not living at home (unless they had also been away during the census) and whoever inserted the obituary notice might have got it wrong.

4) Although almost everything points to Kensington John being Shen Valley John's son, it is still not proven beyond all shadow of doubt. There is one, and only one other contender in the IOM, (This I can state with some confidence after a long search in the Douglas microfiche archives which show several hundred John Collister/Callisters over a period of 300 years but only one who could have been born in the years 1806-8). This is a John Collister who was christened on 12th April 1807 at Kirk Rushen and possibly therefore 62 years when he died, if he had been born the year before his christening, the son of John Collister and Margaret Maddrell. If he should prove to be 'our' man a whole new line of research has to be started, in which case the family drowing legend, the will of Esther, the 'surveyor from beyond the seas' and the many graves in St. Marks churchyard all have to be set aside. It Is unlikely but must nevertheless be pursued by a visit to Kirk Rushen and more work in the Douglas museum.

5) However, if it can be shown that John of Kensington was really 60 and not 62 when he died, and therefore born in 1808, he must be the son of Shen Valley John and the case is proved. The line to be pursued now therefore is to trace the will of William Kellett, Kensington John's father-in-law, who died in 1861. This might give details of bequests and possibly the ages of the recipients.

6) Once this problem is resolved the next one will be to trace my great, great, great grandfather. if the initial assumption is correct he is probably the Thomas Collister who is buried next to Shen Valley John (who would be my great great grandfather), he died in 1811 aged 74 as he was born in 1737. Nevertheless if the original theory is proved to he wrong there are 5 other contenders of whom the strongest claimant is John Collister, son of William Collister and Jane Cubbon, who was christened on the 15th May 1776 at Kirk Rushen, who could be the father of the Kirk Rushen John referred to in paragraph 4. It will he necessary to prove the link in that case by finding out if his wife was Mary Maddrell The other 'possibles' are:
John, son of Henry Collister and Mary Quillan, christened at Patrick in 1776
John, son of Edward and Margaret Christian, christened at Malew 23 June 1776
John, son of William and Eleanor christened at Malew October 1776 John, son of Thomas and Mary Cubbon, christened at Braddan August 1778.

by Peter Callister



Many people when consulting the census records for Douglas, find they have an ancestor who lived in Big Well Street, at some time, so I have included two different views of this street.

Altogether there were 34 houses in the street which varied in size from two to four floors. Nearly every house was divided and rented to three or four families. Large families may have been able to afford two or three rooms if the older children were working, widows may have had to live in one room with their children, all eating and sleeping in a room that only measured a few square yards.

At No. 6 was a Grocers shop, in 1871 it was run by William Quilleashg his wife and family. By 1881 it had changed hands and George Hussey and his third wife Margaret were in charge. George had arrived with his first wife Matilda, in 1850 from Ireland, at first being employed as a labourer then gradually working his way up to be a Provision dealer in Hanover Street in 1871.

In No. 34 lived the Corkill family, William the head of the household came from Abbeylands in the late 1860's, he and his wife Mary kept 6 cows in the street. They were not unusual in this there were several cowkeepers in the street, even as late as 1894 Robert Christian is recorded as being a cowkeeper!

The Corkills were unusual in the fact that they lived there for over ten years, most of the tenants seem to move in and out, sometimes changing from one house to another.

The occupations of the tenants ranged from grocers, cowkeepers, house painters, carters, gardeners to boat builders and master mariners. The women employed as dressmakers, charwomen and.bonnet makers.

There was one large well in the street, buckets of water could be purchased and delivered further afield for a 1d. There were also some smaller wells in the back yards, belonging to the houses.

Unfortunately, none of these houses remain, they were mostly demolished in 1929 for flats to be built and the street renamed Lord Street.

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