10th aniv special May 1989





Cholera was probably endemic in Lower Bengal from remotist antiquity, from time to time it spread as an epedemic over the rest of India. In 1819 the British army in India brought the cholera from the Ganges with them as far as the Himalaya mountains.

During the next ten years this disease spread along the eastern trade routes killing thousands in every place it visited. In 1830 it had reached Astrakan and on September 14th 1830 had reached Moscow.

In a short time it had spread over Europe and early in October had reached Hamburg. The first case of cholera in the British Isles was reported on September 23rd 1831. The ships arriving to this port from Hamburg had some of their crews either suffering from cholera or incubating the disease.

In a matter of days the disease had spread to the surrounding countryside and three months later had spread to Edinburgh, from there to Glasgow. It was reported as having reached London, February 1832 and in Dublin on the 22nd March.

The newspapers in the Isle of Man gave full coverage to the spread of cholera, warning the people to take precautions to prevent its entry into the Island. On May 29th the Manx Sun reports that cholera has broken out in Liverpool.

The first report of the outbreak in Douglas is on July 3rd. Thomas Woods age 24 years died on June 28th, he was buried in Braddan. The first of 83 people recorded in the burial register with a 'C' meaning they had died of cholera. Thomas Woods lived in Fancy Street, he was a blacksmith. His father died of cholera a few days later.

The Manx Sun of July 31st reports that the cholera is confined to Sand Street. A wooden building was erected on the Hill's estate for treating cholera patients. Dr. Quine and two nurses were appointed for this. (It was used again in 1833, was sold three years later and in a report of 1866 the High Bailiff of Douglas says that the cholera hospital if still there would have been near Mr. Dumbell's house). That is on the Peel Road.

Week by week the number of cases increased. A large pit had been dug in St. George's churchyard for cholera victims. That people fled from Douglas to other parts of the Island is true but the following article from the Manx Sun of September 4th is interesting:-

"The prevalence of the Asiatic cholera has increased during the last week and which we believe is to be attributed mainly to the extreme thougthtlessness in the surviving friends of those who die. We witnessed in the course of the last week a bin in Sand Street waiting to receive a cholera corpse and the house was crowded with persons, mostly women and children who were eager to see the dead. Several of these have paid the fatal foreiture for their curiousity.

The eagerness with which the friends follow the infectious coffin is culpable but infinitely and atrociously more so, are those who use the occasion to get drunk. The very hearse that conveys the contagious remains to the grave has frequently been observed to return laden with six or seven of the deluded followers intoxicated by drinking drams at every public house they come to......... The article continues giving suggestions about how the infectious case should be treated.

A Board of Health had been. appointed in October 1831, they arranged for the houses of the poor to be white washed and lime to be given out to spread over the middens. This was done early in 1832. One of the Committee said that if the disease broke out tar barrels should be burnt and cannon fired in the streets. This was done in the most affected parts of the town on September 3rd 1832. The cholera in Douglas ended by the beginning of October. The north of the Island had escaped but Castletown and the south were infected. Castletown's first case occurred on August 20th. The first two cases were women from Douglas. 27 persons died in Queen Hithe Street. It spread through the town and out of a population of two thousand - ninety died. The last victim was the doctor who had been attending the sick, he was Dr. Richard Jones who died on October 13th.

During the prevalence of the disease a Board of Health was established, large sums of money raised, a hospital prepared on the Claddagh, the poor were supplied with comforts, medicine and clothes. The beds and clothes of those who died were burned. The dead were wrapped in tarred sheets, confined and buried immediately and the graves to prevent them being reopened marked 'cholera'.

Castletown and the south of the Island escaped the 1833 outbreak.

The above is taken from extracts of entries in the vestry book by the Rev. G.S. Parsons and Thomas Kewley, Vestry clerk. It ends thus:-
During this period (1832) have died, a Governor (he died 28 November 1832 and had been ill most of the year), an Archdeacon, a Receiver General, a High Bailiff and five Advocates.

The entry for 1833 reads thus:
Douglas and Ramsey were visited by that fearful disease, the Asiatic cholera, but its ravages were not so great as in 1832. The winter has been most wet and stormy... on 31st December at 11 o'clock a.m. a most awful storm of wind W.N.W. came on stripping houses and doing great damage throughout the Island.

The cholera outbreak of 1833 started about the beginning of August but there is very little evidence to prove this. There were 19 deaths in one week in Douglas reported in the Manx Sun of August 23rd but cholera was not mentioned.

In the next week's edition the readers are informed that Douglas has one case of cholera but is in a healthy state, fifteen deaths are recorded on another page.

A small note at the end of the register of deaths for St. George's church gives the following:- 36 deaths in August and 27 deaths in one week in September.

Cholera had broken out in Ramsey, it had been taken there from Douglas by a visitor. This is reported in the Manx Sun of September 6th.

Reported in the press of June 18th 1833 is a case of a lad, Joseph Bailey, (An apprentice in the shipyard) who was brought to court by the father of Mr. Richard Jackson, deceased. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson lived in Lord Street and both had died of cholera in 1832, they are buried in Braddan churchyard. Mr. Jackson senior, told the court that the lad had been allowed to sleep in the house after the death of his son. (Mrs Jackson was the first to die). The boy had been wearing Mr. Jackson's clothes that had been left in the house after the man's death. Mr. Jackson senior accused the lad of stealing his dead son's clothes, said they were worth 20 shillings. The jury decided they were worthless as the deceased had died of cholera, result a case of 'Petty Larceny'. The boy warned that he has had a narrow escape from transportation.

On June 25th under the heading 'Fashionable arrivals' there is a list of people such as Mr. and Mrs. Mostyn, R.N. Lord Gort etc. Cholera has not got space even in the back pages, but on Sept. 20th it is reported that "cholera in Douglas has ceased. Not one fresh case had been reported for the last five days". The article goes on to thank the magistrates, the Board of Health, the officiating surgeons, the medical gentlemen for their zeal and anxious attention. This article ends thus:- "We should feel more grateful if we could report as favourably of Ramsey. During the last week four or five fatal cases have occured, and one at Kirk Andreas."

The stranger who had gone to Ramsey taking the cholera to that town had been put up in an Inn. He must have become infected in Douglas and was incubating the disease on his way to Ramsey. This means that he must have stayed in Douglas either with friends or at an inn. (The visitors arriving by ship were taken past the infected area of Douglas on route to the new popular 'Castle Mona Hotel'. An unlikely place to pick up cholera as it had its own water supply which at that time was probably quite safe to drink). The incubation period of cholera can be as short as a few hours, the time it takes for the ingested vibrio cholera to get to its natural habitat, the human intestine but this can be as long as a few days. (In 1832 it had been worked out by the port authorities that a ship arriving having cholera on board, if no further cases after four days, the ship was considered to have no need to be in quarantine and allowed to continue its normal journey. Thus breaking the forty day rule).

The stranger must have drank water or other drink which had been contaminated by the excreta from the bowel of a person suffering from cholera. Due to the diarrhoea of cholera, a patient can lose up to 20 litres of fluid in a day. That fluid would be teaming with active cholera germs in search of another human being. In 1832/33 Douglas was getting its water supply from water carts and wells, (the men filling their carts from the river just below the place where the women were washing the infected linen), there was no sewerage disposal. Farmers were asked to clear the middens before midday. The cholera vibrio does not travel to any other part of the body, it remains in the gut, does not injure the intestine but makes the cell lining the walls to pour out the body fluid (said to be due to the toxins made by the germs).

How did this stranger cause the outbreak of cholera in Ramsey? Eight people died from the disease within one week. This makes it more than probable that the drinking water had become contaminated by the 'stranger's infected excreta'.

The High Bailiff had a very difficult task coping with the outbreak. The panic was so great that he himself had to help to lift the bodies into the carts and to accompany them to the grave, even at times had to assist in burying the dead. By the beginning of October with the colder weather there were no more cases of cholera.

There were outbreaks of this disease in the surrounding countries from time to time. The Isle of Man, although alerted, only had two other outbreaks, one in Port St. Mary in 1849 and in Peel in 1866.

Port St. Mary

In the 'Isle of Man' guide for 1839 Port St. Mary is said to be a very busy port, sending considerable quantities of fish to Liverpool, and Dublin markets; also lime was being shipped to Irish and home ports.

From the end of August to October 3rd 1832, the Rushen Parish register records 35 deaths due to cholera, all from the Port St. Mary area. There was no outbreak in 1833.

In 1846 cholera had again reached Europe. It spread from around the ports around the Caspian Sea and reached Britain in 1848. A year later it had spread to Ireland, Devon, Liverpool and in September had reached the Isle of Man.

The Governor was in active communication with the High Bailiffs and Port Officers trying to prevent cholera breaking out on the Island. A Board of Health had been formed which met each week. The only place affected at this time was Port St. Mary.

There were 29 burials in Rushen during September 1849 compared to 3 in June; 1 in July; and 5 in August. 21 of the burials in September took place in the space of 8 days. 26 of the burials were from Port St. Mary. Of the remaining three, two came front Port Erin and one from Bradda. The government were reluctant to admit that the outbreak was cholera, but sent Dr. Ring and Dr. Sale to attend to the sick.

The first person to die of the disease was James Quayle, he was 34 years old and was a seafarer. One of the women was the wife of a mariner, but in the 1851 census she is a widow with young children. There were other young widows in this census, belonging to Port St. Mary.

Of the 26 deaths recorded 20 were adults, the remainder children all over the dangerous age of summer diarrhoea; the deaths of some of the husbands of the widows found in the 1851 census are not recorded. From the ages of their children they were alive just before the outbreak of cholera. The first death occurring on September 3rd. From oral information some of these men died and were buried at sea. It is probable that James Quayle left a ship that had had cholera on board, seemed well on coming ashore, but was already infected, bringing the germs ashore. How was the disease spread? It is said that a well which was situated near the junction of Fistard Road and the High Street was the culprit, that most of the victims lived near this place. Sewerage containing the cholera germs must have leaked into the well.

The Manx Sun of November 3rd 1849 records that there is to be a thanksgiving service to be held on November 15th for the ending of the cholera outbreak, as in England.

The money collected from this service, some to be given to the survivors of the outbreak in Port St. Mary.


There were two outbreaks of cholera in Peel, the first was in 1832. In the register of burials, Kirk Patrick, it is recorded that Anne Kermode age 33 had died of cholera. She was buried on August 8th. On October 5th Widow Cringal was buried and Margaret Cringal, her daughter on October 18th. Both recorded as cases of cholera.

The Manx Sun of October 30th reports the death of Judith Cringal of cholera. This article is headed 'Most Awful Death', goes on to say 'it has seldom, if ever, fallen to our lot to record a death more dreadful'. She returned to her home in Peel to find her mother and brother in law had died of cholera, she went to her sister's house and was refused admittance. She was next seen at a window of a ruined house three miles out of Peel. The neighbours watched her throwing her arms in the air, looking upwards as if in prayer but were too afraid to go to her. After three days she was seen lying at the side of the house. She was dead. The church wardens of Peel got a butcher to inter the victim. He put a rope around the corpse, dragged it to a nearby field where he had dug a grave. The people planted a tree on the grave, which was still there a few years ago. The place is marked on P.M.C. Kermode's map and is marked 'Joney's grave'.

The second outbreak of cholera occurred in November 1866. There were cases of cholera in Ireland and Liverpool. The Governor and the High Bailiffs were in frequent communication. They were trying to prevent ships bringing the disease to the Island. On October 27th Mr. Moore, the High Bailiff of Peel wrote to the Governor, he had been given information that cholera had broken out on the Peel fishing boat, the Annie. The master Thomas Waterson and one of the crew, John Hill had died of the disease. When this happened the Annie was at Balbriggin with two other boats. The dead men were 'canvassed' and buried at sea. The Annie was then put in quarantine at Kingston, this news caused a lot of panic in Peel, afraid of the in-coming boats would spread the disease. Six Peel boats arrived in the harbour, they had not been expected. Their news was that cholera had broken out on the Irish and Scotch boats. The crews of these boats were examined by two doctors, there was no sickness reported, all said to be healthy. The Annie arrived on November 7th. The crew were examined, told that they were in a sound state of health and allowed ashore. The boat was scuttled, it was kept under water until the tide turned that afternoon and the process repeated the next morning. The materials and bedding had been left on board. This was considered to make the boat safe. One of the boats had arrived in Douglas Harbour. One of the crew was thought to have cholera. He was taken to the Fort Street Hospital and was examined by two doctors. Their verdict was, 'Definitely not cholera'.

Fifteen days after the arrival of 'The Annie'.the High Bailiff Mr. Moore had to tell the Governor that a woman called Boyde had died from cholera. On the sixteenth he had to write again to inform him that William Boyde, the woman's husband was ill and Mrs. Gorry was also affected and not likely to live. Mrs Gorry had been nursing Mrs. Boyde, she became ill at ten in the morning and was dead at three a.m. the next day. Mrs. Corris, the wife of William Corris had also been helping to care for Mrs. Boyde. She became ill at ten o'clock at night and died at 8 the next morning.

By November 18th William Boyde, in spite of his age, (he was 59) recovered. There were no other cases. William Boyde's son was highly praised for his nursing care of his father. The son died on February 7th 1927

Census 1861 K.K. Patrick St.
Wm. Corris 42, Labourer, born Peel
Cath Corris 48, born Peel
Thomas Corris 20, son, boatbuilder, born Peel
Henry Corris 17, sailmaker, born Peel
Cath Corris 15, daughter, dressmaker, born Peel
Lydia Corris 3, born Peel

Charles St., Douglas St.
William Boyde, mariner 53, born Patrick
Cath Boyde, wife 60, born Peel
Wm. Boyde, son 22, mariner born Peel
Emily Boyde, daughter 20, dressmaker, born Peel
George Boyde, son 15, scholar born Peel
Thomas Gorry, 56, mariner, born Patrick
Margaret Gorry, 46 wife born Douglas [census + other records have wife as Mary als Kaighin]
Henry Gorry, 21 son mariner born Peel
Joseph Gorry, 18, son mariner, born Peel
Thomas Gorry, 7 son scholar, born Peel
Elizabeth Gorry, 24, daughter, dressmaker, born Peel

by Mary McHardy



My mother, Peggys was born a Pilgrim. The only girl amongst 5 boys. Their father was George Henry, a very special person.

He was an all-round sportsman, only football not being of particular interest. What he achieved in life was done by power of personality. People liked to have him around, partly because of his cracking sense of humour. It was a bye-word in his younger days that it was no good having a party without George.

As well as being a good all-round sportsman, he had a remarkable singing voice. The neighbours used to hang around in their back gardens for his bathroom renderings. In public, he sang in the church choir and had the offer of an audition for the BBC, but regrettably, for some reason, apparently didn't go. He also played instruments, including the trombone.

There was a fine sense of public duty. He rescued a man once from drowning and the tale goes that when he returned to the riverbank, it was to find a dog had run off with his clothes!

At a more formal level, the public service extended to being a night-time special constable on horseback around the City.

In spite of having a wife and young family, he volunteered in the lst World War and apparently, my grandma only knew about it afterwards. Couldn't wait to get to France but, in the event, he did all Home Service. The Army saw him in the Redcaps and he also ran a canteen. Any surplus was immediately shared out amongst his comrades. The Second World War say him firefighting and in his later years on the East Coast, he immediately became involved with the coastguard.

He was always in the thick of things, a state occasion did not pass without his observance.

There was also a remarkable abundance of energy - to help feed his family although he worked long hours, he ran no less than 2 allotments.

His children were kept enthralled with his yarns: in his young days he would be given 6d by the office to ride in a hansom cab, but he would keep the money and hang on the back!

I regret that I did not see more of him, but we were divided by a strip of water known as the Thames..

Now Grandad was one of five. Firstly, there was Fred who died young..... He is reputed to have liked a drink!

Then there was Aunt Alice and Aunt Charlotte. Aunt Alice I never knew, but she married a dashing character who had gone into diamond prospecting in South Africa. Times were hard and he sent his wife and 2 children back to England. Aunt Alice never saw him again. She lived with her mother who went out to work in Clarnico's sweet factory to help keep them. When the children were older, the roles were reversed and Aunt Alice went out to Clarnico's. Aunt Charlotte lived in Leyton in a big, old house and was a widow for many years. She had a small appetite and looked after herself. Her husband had been Uncle Will and there were no children. At one time she had bred Fox Terriers and apparently in their early married days, my parents had one of them as an overnight guest. The said guest was very restless all night, and that was even after being offered the Lloyd Loom chair to sleep in!

The youngest was Aunt Florie. The nicest-looking who made the best match. Uncle Fred had died on a golf course in Scotland. He had been a master builder, so her family lived in a gorgeous 4 bedroomed detached house on the Monkhams Estate at Woodford Green. The bedrooms went around the landing and there was a large terrace. She had 2 boys - Freddie who tried dentistry and disliked it and Ronnie who went to work on the Green Lines - and Joyce who became my godmother. A childhood memory is of a post-war Christmas when they had fruit salad on the table. Cor!

That was all that was known at the start. That was 'the state of play' in 1966. ...... My first move was to extract a copy of Grandad's birth certificate. This told me that his father's name was Frederick. Knowing that his father had died before my grandfather married, I searched for Frederick's death entry. This told me that Frederick had died when Grandad was 16 and explained why nobody knew much about him.

Later on, I found Grandad's parents' marriage entry - thirteen years previously To digress, Frederick's parents were given as kenry, a turner, and Sarah (formerly Rothwell). I have been unable to find their marriage, but I am sure there was nothing 'tacky' there.

Matters rested until around 1977 when I took myself up to town for the day. On the marriage certificate for Frederick and Jane, their addresses had been given as Camden Passage. This gave me a boost as Camden Passage is known to Londoners as a home of antiques. So, one of my 'calls' was to look around it. After that I made my way out into Islington High St.Spotted a massage parlour and rushed past! Couldn't get into the parish church - where Frederick and Jane were married - as the door was locked and you could say I am still waiting 19 get in! Blue Anchor Alley, Finsbury (birthplace of Frederick) had been built over and was a G.P.O. site. I haven't told you yet that Frederick was married on his birthday.

We turn now to the 1980's . I managed to obtain a print-out of the Mormon IGI showing Pilgrims in London. A bit later on the person in Utah found the full entry for Frederick's christening. Apparently he wasn't christened until he was 6. The nearest Census entry revealed siblings called George, Jane and Thomas. He also had a brother Henry, sisters Emma and Sarah Ann and probably a sister Anii.

Furthermore, the print-out told me that Henry, the turner, started out in life as Henry Wheeler Pilgrim and was christened at St. Giles Cripplegate in the City. He was the son of Isaac Wheeler Pilgrim and his wife, Ann. The American suppier of the print-out was excited by the discovery of Isaac and informed me that a middle name in the 18th century denoted gentry. However, searches along this avenue proved negative. Isaac and Ann were married in the City in 1799. He was an ivory turner by trade and has been found in a commercial directory.

As a side issue, their wedding church - St. Mary Woolnoth - has a claim to fame, as the vicar at that time was a reformed slave trader. Isaac's known other children were:- Ann Emma Debe John and Sarah who were twins Ann Eleanor and Samuel John Weddell

A search for Isaac's baptism in the London fiche proved negative. So, I asked my American assistant to look in the Home Counties. In Hertfordshire, she found a plain Isaac Pilgrim who seem to fit the bill. Furthermore, she was able to prove that they were one and the same by means of a Will.

She also found in the Herts. fiche, a marriage for Isaac's grandparents. John Pilgrim and Mary Wheeler. It turned out that Mary's paternal uncle Isaac left his estate to the children of Mary, possibly because she had been left a young widow.

So, we have a situation whereby Henry who had been given a middle name seemed to drop it later in life and his father, who had been christened plain Isaac, who went and adopted a middle name.

At about this time, my 2nd cousin sent me some material which had come down to them from her grandmother Alice and Aunt Lottie: Aunt Lottie being she who was known to us as Aunt Charlotte. Amongst the material was evidence that Frederick junior had been apprenticed to Bergers the paint people, copies of original marriage certificates and photographs. Both Aunts Alice and Charlotte had said they were younger at marriage than they were. A family trait! And I wonder what the registrar made of a diamond setter apparently resident in Hackney!

Rosemary also recounted that Aunt Charlotte told them that the older girls used to think that Aunt Florie was highly priviledged to sleep in the parental bed. It was years afterwards that they found out the reason was not priviledge, but the fact that Grandma Pilgrim didn't want any more children!! Is this the stuff that legends are made of?!

To return to Isaac (Henry's father), it is apparent that he was taken to the big city as a child. His father was John Junior who had a wife called Sarah. I say a wife, but so far I have been unable to trace the marriage - but I am sure there was nothing 'tacky' there. John went from Hitchen to Buckinghamshire to be apprenticed to the trade of cooper. I am presuming that he subsequently went to London to look for employment.

John junior's known siblings were:- Elizabeth, Thomas, Joseph, William and Charles.

John senior who was married to Mary Wheeler was a turner by trade and might have been a son of Thomas Pilgrim. I say might have been because a Thomas obliging left a Will, but did not add the detail of the names of his children.

To this end, I asked my London agent to track down apprenticeship records for me. This he did and came up with evidence of same for the two Johns, but as luck would have it, there is no mention of the name of John Senior's father.

Another example of, how shall I say, half-information is the fact that I have managed to find a marriage for a Joseph Wheeler Pilgrim. He must fit in somewhere, but I wasn't actively seeking the event and I don't know who he was. Oh, the frustrations of the hobby!

Coming back to Frederick's father, I asked a helpful member of Essex Family History Society if he would try to find Henry's death entry for me. He found him and ordered the certificate for me. When it arrived, SHOCK! HORROR!! Henry died in a London workhouse. SO, I had gone from the gentry to a workhouse! My London agent found that the workhouse records were incomplete, but Henry's were there. I was sad to read that he had been admitted a short time previously suffering from TB and had been put on a light diet. My mother felt that this workhouse information was 'all right', as there was nowhere else for those who needed nursing. I don't know what happened to his widow. In their records he was described as an instrument maker. So, we have a musical tradition stretching from Isaac and the ivory for piano keys to Henry to Frederick, the sometime pianoforte maker down to Grandad who could even get a tune out of a comb.

There the research rests, I hope sometime to be able to do some work on Thomas, if only to possibly discount him from the 'canvas'.

by Diane Manning

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