[From Brown's Directory, 1881/2]


The Primitive Methodist Connexion is generally, but incorrectly, supposed to have originated in a secession from the Wesleyans. Messrs Hugh Bourne and William Clowes were both expelled from the "old body " on account of their holding Camp Meetings, after the fashion of the American Methodists as encouraged by that veteran open-air preacher, Lorenzo Dow. Encouraged by the decision of the Conference, which stated that "such Camp Meetings might be allowed in America, but were highly improper in England, likely to be productive of considerable mischief, and, therefore, disclaimed all connection with them," the Burslem Circuit expelled Mr. Bourne on the 27th of June, 1808. Two years after, Mr. Clowes was expelled for a similar reason. It is worthy of remark that these " founders " of Primitive Methodism neither encouraged in themselves nor others any resentment against those who took the lead in their expulsion, but continued to preach in cottages and in the open air, advising their converts to unite with the Wesleyans. Nor did they entertain the thought of founding a new sect when they commenced their evangelistic labours. In time, however, this was forced upon them, and in March 1810, a new "class" of ten persons, none of whom had been previously members of the church, was formed. This was the commencement of the church which, in the ‘ ‘ Methodist family," now ranks next to the Wesleyans in number and influence. Now (1881) it employs—

Travelling Preachers 1,149
Local Preachers 15,597
Class Leaders 10,709
Members of Society 185,312
Sabbath Schools 4,100
Sabbath School Teachers 59,272
,, ,, Scholars 383,350
Scholars, members, above 14 years of age 12,921
,, ,. under 14 years of age 12,042
Connexional Chapels 4,366
Other Chapels and Rooms 1,855
Value of Church Property £2,620,599 15s. 10d.

The Isle of Man was first "missioned" in 1822, by the Bolton Circuit, which employed Mr. John Butcher for that purpose. Very interesting stories are told about Mr. Butcher’s perilous voyage, his landing at Derbyhaven, his preaching at Colby, at Castletown, Howe, and Douglas, and the remarkable success which attended his earnest ministry. In twelve months the society formed contained 360 members, amongst whom were many plain but earnest workers. The year after the introduction of Primitive Methodism into the Island, the Wellington-street Chapel in Douglas was built at a cost of £935. To this chapel, amongst others, Mr. Clowes refers in his journal in the year 1828—" I was greatly interested in my visits to the Island. The scenery was fine ; but the spiritual work which God had wrought by the ministry of Butcher and others was still more interesting to my soul. Hundreds of persons had been converted, and several chapels built." This may be regarded as the mother of the other societies in Douglas and the Island, and she has rendered good service not only to Primitive Methodism, but to the cause of religion generally. Although the thoroughfare has somewhat deteriorated, the old chapel in Wellington-street is venerated by hundreds, who regard it as a consecrated spot. Since its alteration and improvement it accommodates a thousand persons, and has an average Sunday evening congregation of about 700. In 1878 the new church on the Promenade was built, at a cost, inclusive of land, of £3,300. This handsome Gothic structure is erected on a site of land where Mr. Butcher 60 years ago preached in the open air. It seats about nine hundred persons, and the schoolroom underneath gives accommodation for four hundred scholars. At first the venture was considered bold on the part of its promoters, but its success up to the present has more than reached their hopes. Its Sunday evening congregation will average 600, and during the summer months, on account of its position, it commands a large congregation of visitors. It has already a Sunday-school with 200 scholars, and a Band of Hope with 160 members. At Castletown and at Ramsey the places of worship have done good service in their day, but hopes are entertained of new and improved buildings, and at the latter place arrangements are in progress. At Peel a beautiful and commodious church was opened in 1879 in place of the old one which had become too small, and promises well to be a great success. For a village chapel, Laxey may be taken as a model, it has sittings for 450 persons, most of which are occupied, has a membership of 120, and a Sabbath school with 300 scholars. Kirk Michael has a beautiful sanctuary, and few places are prettier than that of Kirk Onchan. These Primitive Methodist sanctuaries are endeared to the memory of hundreds of Manxmen as the places where they received their early religious education and their later religious convictions. Some of the smaller and less elaborate structures are equally precious in the remembrance of others, as marking the turning point in their history, and as the places where sainted fathers and mothers sat and worshipped in the years gone by. Some of the earlier as well as later ministers have an honoured place in the esteem of the Manx Primitives. Such are the departed John Butcher, J. Moss, Jonathan Clewer, Thomas Jobbling, Samuel Atterby, and Samuel Smith, whose names are " as ointment poured forth. " The Revs. John Graham, James Peet, and J. Openshaw have, in their spheres, rendered excellent service in the formation and consolidation of the Connexion in the Island, but declining age or failing health has rendered it impossible to continue their " abundant labours. " Subjoined is a statistical account of the different circuits, as per the last returns (1879)


Name of Circuit.

No. of chapels and preaching places





Local Preachers

Class Leaders



Douglas 1.—Wellington-street.










,, II.—Loch Parade








































From the above returns it will appear that the Primitive Methodists in the Isle of Man have now six ministers, two superannuated ministers, 41 places of worship, the total value of which is given at £15,107 ; they provide accommodation for 8,067 worshippers, and have an average Sabbath attendance of 4,570. There are 91 class leaders, 131 local preachers, 593 Sunday-school teachers, 1,228 church members, and 2,679 Sabbath scholars. The following are the places which appear on the plan as places preached at :-—

Douglas I.—Wellington-street, East Foxdale, Newtown, Strang, Quine’s Hill, and Braaid.

Douglas II.—Loch Parade, Laxey. Onchan, Baldrine, Balldoon, and Tromode. Castletown.—Castletown, Port Erin, Port St. Mary, Colby, Ballasalla, and Clougher.

Peel—Peel, Glenmaye, Knocksharry, Close-e- Geary, Patrick, Eary, Barrule, and Marown.

Ramsey—Ramsey, Michael, Ballaugh, Keirow Moor, Coma, Leodest, Bride, Agneash, Regaby, Ballalhieh, and Orrisdale.

Names and addresses of Ministers

Douglas I.—Rev. B. Dam, 20, Oxford-street, Douglas.

Douglas II.—Rev. E. Newsome, 1, Oxford-street, Douglas. Rev. W. Brass, Minorca, Laxey.

Castletown.—Rev. R. Hilton, Malew-street, Castletown.

Peel—Rev. E. Cairns, Stanley-road. Peel.

Ramsey—Rev. R. B. Howcroft, Chapel-street, Ramsey.

Superannuated Ministers —Rev. James Peet, 2, Oxford-street, Douglas ; and Rev. James Openshaw, The Green, Castletown.


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