[From King Orry to Queen Victoria, 1899]
BISHOP MARK HILDESLEYTRANSLATION OF THE BIBLE INTO THE MANX LANGUAGEBISHOP CLAUDIUS CREGAN AND THE SCANDAL OF THE DUCHESS OF ATHOLAPPOINTMENT OF BISHOP MURRAY.
BISHOP WILSON was succeeded by Dr. Mark Hildesley, in 1755 A.D., who was a man of kindred spirit and a worthy successor.
Dr. Hildesley had the translation of the Holy Scriptures into the Manx tongue completed. During the period the good work was in progress he frequently expressed a wish that he might be spared to see it finished. His wishes were granted.
On Saturday, November 18, 1772 A.D., the Bishop received the last sheets of the translation, whereupon, in the presence of his family, he sang the Nunc Dimittis.
The following day being Sunday, he preached in his own chapel 'on the uncertainty of human life,' and on the next morning, Monday, was seized with a fit of palsy, which deprived him of his intellectual faculties, and he calmly departed this life on December 7, deeply regretted by the inhabitants of his diocese.
Sunday-schools were first introduced into the island by Bishop Hildesley.
In the Manx version of the Bible, in Isaiah Xiii. QI, the name of the good and unfortunate Manx fairy ' Phynodderree' is used for satyr:
'The wild beasts of the desert shall lie there; and their houses shall be full of doleful creatures, and owls shall dwell there, and satyrs shall dance there.'
'Agh beishtyn oaldey yn aasagh nee cammal ayn: as bee nyn dhieyn lane dy chree toom agglagh; nee hulladyn baghey ayn as phynodderree dawsin ayns shew.'
It is related that the Rev. Dr. Kelly, on a voyage from Ramsay to Whitehaven, whither he was proceeding with the latter portion of the Manx translation of the Bible, for the purpose of having it printed, was overtaken by a sudden and violent storm, which wrecked the vessel. The only thing besides the lives of the passengers and crew that was saved was the MS. translation, which Dr. Kelly had contrived to hold above the water for a period of five hours.
At a meeting of learned divines, where the subject of Dr. Kelly's action was mentioned, one of those present jocularly compared the saving of the MS. to the circumstance of Ceesar saving his Commentaries at the naval battle of Alexandria, when he swam on shore with one hand, and held his Commentaries out of the water with the other.
Dr. Mark Hildesley was succeeded in his bishopric by Dr. Richmond in 1773 A.D., who was not at all a favourite with the Manx people or his clergy, being a haughty and very unamiable man.
In 1780 A.D. he was promoted or translated to another see, much to the gratification of everybody on the island; but they merely exchanged Bishop Log for Bishop Stork, as Dr. Richmond was succeeded by Dr. George Mason, who during the four years of his tenure of the mitre of Sodor and Man was perpetually in hot water with one or another of his people.
On the vacation of the see again in 1784 A.D., the appointment of a new Bishop was attended with some very curious circumstances that only narrowly escaped being a great scandal.
The Rev. Claudius Cregan, M.A., was of very humble origin, being the son of a tailor in Omagh, County Tyrone, in Ireland. He was the chaplain of an infantry regiment that formed the garrison of St. Lucia, in the West Indies, where he married the widow of a rich planter. He resigned his militar, chaplaincy, came with his wife to England, and settled in Liverpool, where he was preacher in a chapel in the outskirts of that town. In all probability the same outskirts have long since been swallowed up in that wonderfully expansive place.
At the time of the See of Sodor and Man becoming vacant, the Duchess of Athol, the wife of the Lord or King of the Isle of Man, being, as usual with her Grace, in monetary difficulties, thought she would turn it to her advantage, and with such a view, wrote to a Mrs. Calcraft, formerly a confidential housekeeper in the noble Athol family, who was then residing in Liverpool, and in a very business-like manner asked that lady to make due inquiry where she might probably light on a 'good chap ' for the episcopal preferment'one who would bleed freely.'
Mrs. Calcraft, being acquainted with the Rev. Claudius Cregan, and knowing that his wife had means, if she only had the inclination to part, put the question to Cregan:
'Would you like to be Bishop of the Isle of Man ?' and would you be grateful to her Grace of Athol if she appointed you ?'
He bowed, and hoped her Grace would never have any cause to alter her good opinion of him.
'I have not the least doubt of your gratitude, Mr. Cregan, as well as of your moral and religious character,' replied Mrs. Calcraft.
'I trust not,' said his reverence, putting his hand to his heart.
'Ah ! I guessed you were just the man the Duchess wanted. I will forthwith write, and tell her what has taken place between us two, and the result will be that I may announce, Doctor, that you will be Bishop of Sodor and Man,' said the Duchess's ambassadress, rising from her chair with all the dignity she could assume.
Of course she mentioned 'lo direct specified Stt~T]t, anything of the kind being delicately avoided; but after the appointment was made and announced, her Grace thought it was high time to look out for the rouleaux of notes she expected, before finally having the seal fixed to his viaticum.
When the newly-appointed Bishop was all ready to start for Bath to pay his homage to the good Duchess, Mrs. Calcraft again made her appearance, and openly avowed her Grace's orders to ascertain how far his gratitude was going to carry him.
The would-be Doctor of Divinity, whose face was as difficult to read as a brick wall, very deliberately replied that:
'As far as a man can do so, to express my obligation to her Grace, I will first proceed to Bath, and lose no time in '
'Bless my heart, Doctor !' hastily interrupted the old housekeeper, 'you seem to quite misunderstand me. Her Grace of Athol expects your gratitude to be something solid. As to you starting to Bath merely to thank her, that's all humbug!'
' Madam,' said Cregan, gravely and solemnly, 'do you come to insult me ?'
' Indeed I do not, Mister Cregan,' replied the lady, dropping the Doctor, and strongly emphasising the Mister; 'but if your reverence does not come down with a good round sum, and that very quickly, her Grace desires me to inform you that she will never confirm her appointment of you to the Bishopric of Man.'
With that parting shot, Mrs. Calcraft bounced out of the house in unmistakable anger.
The Rev. Claudius Cregan was quite a match for her Grace the Duchess of Athol. He sent her a copy of the Consecration Oath of a Bishop, together with several direct passages he had carefully culled from her correspondence with Mrs. Calcraft, and threatened to publish the whole matter, and lay it before His Majesty's Privy Council.
There was no further demur to the ratification of his appointment, and the sealing of his viaticum. Mr. Claudius Cregan, MA., was duly consecrated Bishop of Sodor and Man, the only British Bishop who has ever been appointed without having taken his degree of Doctor of Divinity, since the Reformation.
Her Grace of Athol took very good care never to allow the Bishop an opportunity of doing personal homage to her for the favour conferred.
Bishop Cregan for some time suffered a load of obloquy respecting his appointment, which was really quite undeserved; but he has left a reputation of being an amiable and polished gentleman, and was afterwards much liked by his clergy and the Manx people, who are quite as ready to appreciate the good qualities of a man, whether he be Bishop or aught else, as to condemn him for his bad deeds.
On his death in 1813 A.D., an, if possible, greater 'job ' was not only attempted but carried out by the Duke and Duchess of Athol, in the appointment of their nephew, the Hon. George Murray, D.D., who was under the prescribed age of forty years, to the vacant see, and whose escapade about the potatoes has already been related.
Probably his experience in the Isle of Man taught him a lesson, for on his being translated to the very much better seeas far as income is concerned of Rochester, he became a rather popular Bishop among both his clergy and his people generally.
Certain it is the failure of his attempt to tax the potatoes of the Manxmen deterred him from trying on any such claims upon the hops of the men of Kent.