[From King Orry to Queen Victoria, 1899]



THE ecclesiastical history of Mona for the next few centuries assumes a fogginess that is difficult to penetrate or disperse. We certainly hear of a long list of bishops, some of whom viz., St. Lomanus or Lonan, St. Rooney or Marooney, St. Connans or Conchan, and St. Brandon-have given their names to the four parishes of Lonan, Marown, Onchan, and Braddon.

In the reign of Godred III., in the middle of the twelfth century, the two sees of Man and the Southern Isles were first united under the title of Sodor and Man.

It will be well here to explain the meaning of Sodor and Man, the title given to the bishops of the present day. Many have supposed that Sodor was the name of a place. It is a corruption or abbreviation of Sodoran or Southeran Isles, and is now as meaningless as the Emperor of China's title of Brother to the Moon. The isles are not included in the See of Man at the present day at all.

The union of the two sees in King Godred’s time, however, seems to have had such an effect upon the Bishop in posse, one Wymund or Highmund or Raymond, the son of Tole, a Manxman, that it made him particularly obnoxious to the King, who very summarily first put his eyes out and then ex pelled him from the island altogether, and appointed a Norman monk named John in his stead.

From 1100 to 1181 A.D. the Bishops of Man were suffragans, and were always consecrated by the Archbishops of York; but in the latter year Bishop Reginald was consecrated at Drontheim, in Norway, by the Archbishop of that place; and from that time till 1334 A.D. they were suifragans of that see. In 1247 A.D. a Bishop Simon died on February 28, and was buried, after filling the see for twenty-one years, in Peel Castle. His tomb was discovered amid the ruins in 1871 A.D., and he was reinterred.

One Bishop, named Lawrence, was drowned with Harold, King of Man, and his Queen, together with a large number of the nobility, on their return voyage from Norway.

The Scottish Bishop Markus Galvadienses, who figured as arbitrator between the Scottish army under Alexander Stuart and the patriot Manxmen, in 1270 A.D., was banished and imprisoned by King Edward I. of England. He was afterwards released, and reinstated in his bishopric, but in opposition to the expressed wishes of the people. As a sort of penance for their conduct in so giving vent to their distaste to him, he imposed on the Manx people a tax, called ‘Smoke Penny,’ or chimney tax, upon every house, which has never been repealed, and is still collected, as their own perquisites, by the clerks of each parish.

In 1348 A.D., William Russell, Abbot of Rushen, was elected Bishop by the unanimous vote of the clergy. He had been Abbot of Rushen for eighteen years, and was afterwards Bishop for twenty-six years. This prelate it was who freed his see from Norway, and shook off the yoke of the Archbishops of Drontheim. He died 1374 A.D.

Rushen Abbey consisted of an abbot and twelve monks. The chapel was the largest place of worship in the island except the cathedral in Peel Castle.

The first Bishop who is mentioned in the Civil Records of the island as having been appointed by Sir Thomas Stanley, in 1428 A.D., is Dr. John Spotten, from whose time the clergy no longer elected their Bishops, the patronage resting with the Lord of Man for the time being. The appointment is now in the gift of the Crown.

In 1542 A.D. Thomas Stanley was Bishop, and he dared to oppose the Bluff King Henry VIII. in his operations of taking all the prerogatives of the Church into his own hands.

Robert Ferriar, afterwards Bishop of St. David’s, was one of the wearers of the mitre of Sodor and Man. This prelate was burned as a heretic on March 30, 1555 A.D., at the Market Cross of Carmarthen, for his Lutheran opinions, by order of the wretches who surrounded the throne of Bloody Queen Mary.
[This is not the case Ferriar was never Bishop of Man - the attribution is on a mis-reading of Man for Mon]

In 1633 A.D. died a very eminent man, Dr. John Phillips, Bishop of Sodor and Man, who translated the most essential portions of the Holy Scriptures into the native Manx language. He was buried in Peel Castle.

There were also buried in Peel Castle Bishops Mash, died 1303 A.D.; Huan, or John, Hesketh, died 1510 A.D.; and Richard Parr, who succeeded Bishop Phillips, and died 1643 A.D., and was buried by his own express desire in the same tomb as his predecessor.

In 1663 A.D., Dr. Isaac Barrow not only held the Bishopric, but was appointed Governor by Charles, eighth Earl of Derby. He was a man of piety and learning, and during the short period of his holding the dual offices—only two years—the rendered eminent services to religion, and was a great benefactor to the island, but a bitter persecutor of the Quakers.

He was the first to found Parochial Schools, and he obtained an annual grant of £1,000 from the Royal Bounty for the poor clergy. He made collec tions in the various churches in England, and with the proceeds he not only purchased from the Earl of Derby, the Lord of Man, the one-third of the tithes which had hitherto been appropriated to the Lord of the Island, but he erected the free Academic School at Castletown.

He likewise repaired all the churches, and augmented out of the tithes he had purchased from the Lord, the salaries both of the clergy and the school teachers. Not satisfied with that, he gave two estates of his own, called Ballagatty and Hango Hill, which he placed in the hands of trustees, for the maintenance of three boys at the Academic School.

These estates, together with those afterwards given by Bishop Wilson, have been so well cared for by the trustees, and their revenues so increased, that in 1830 A.D., with some other assistance, the trustees were enabled to pull down the old Academic School and establish the King William’s College, near Castletown. Dean Farrar, of Canterbury, so well known for his ‘ Life of Christ,’ was educated at this now famous college, and has given an excellent description of it in his charming tale, ‘St. Winifred, or the World of School.’ [? Eric, or Little by Little ]

To the great regret both of himself and the whole Manx people, Dr. Barrow was transferred to the See of St. Asaph, and was succeeded by Dr. Henry Bridgeman. He in turn was succeeded by Dr. John Lake, who afterwards became Bishop of Chester, and was one of the seven Bishops imprisoned in the Tower of London by James II., in 1688 A.D., for petitioning against the publication of his celebrated ‘Declaration of the Liberty of Conscience.’

This was about the last of this misguided and unfortunate monarch’s acts of tyranny previous to the landing of William of Orange on the coast of Devon, and his own flight from England.

Dr. Samuel Rutter, the next Bishop, was born on the Stanley Estate, and was the son of a miller. He was sent to Westminster School by Lord Derby, and elected thence in 1623 A.D. to Christ Church, Oxford. On leaving the University he became the tutor to Charles, a younger son of the seventh, or Great Earl of Derby, and was constantly with the family till 1646 A.D., when he was appointed Archdeacon and Rector of Andrew’s Parish in the Isle of Man, but seldom resided there.

He shared the dangers of the siege of Lathom House, in Lancashire, by General Ireton, together with Charlotte, Countess of Derby, and after her liberation from imprisonment after the betrayal of Castle Rushen by William Christian, he remained with her in London and Knowsley till November, 1660 A.D., when he was appointed Prebendary of Lichfield; and on September 21 of the following year he arrived again in the Isle of Man, and was installed Bishop of Sodor and Man October 8, 1661 A.D.; but only survived his installation six months. He was buried on May 30, 1662 A.D., in the centre of St. Germain’s Cathedral, on St. Patrick’s Isle, Peel, where the following quaint inscription is on his tomb:

"In this house, brethren, in hope of the Resurrection to Life,
I lie, Sam, by permission, Bishop of the Island.
Stop, Reader! Look and Laugh at the Palace of a Bishop."




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HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001