[From Diocesan History, 1893]



MODERN CHURCH (1827-1892)


WE now enter upon the last period of Manx Church history, and, as a considerable portion of it is within the memory of those now living, we will be compelled, for obvious reasons, to touch but lightly and with circumspection on much that has taken place during it.

The period opens gloomily

The early days of this period were gloomy ones, as the agricultural depression mentioned in the last chapter still continued, and the unsettled state of the tithe question tended to alienate the people from the Church. This was well understood by the clergy, who remarked, when addressing Bishop Ward on the tithe valuation, "We doubt not that a considerable augmentation may take place in the Revenues of the Church of Man in future years should a kind Providence send prosperity to our little Island, but no material augmentation can reasonably be expected at present in the deeply depressed state of the country. We are confident that if your Lordship witnessed the indigent circumstances of the people, and beheld, as your clergy do, many of the peasantry unable to obtain employment, or procure food for themselves or their families, and a large proportion of the Land-holders emigrating1 to distant countries to procure the necessaries of life, your L'p would concur in the opinion that this unquestionably is no time for the rigorous enactment of dues whether civil or ecclesiastical. We feel constrained to observe, that to have recourse to coercive measures for the recovery of disputed tithes would be attended with disastrous consequences, and not only produce general disaffection throughout the country, and materially disturb the peace of the community, but inflict a wound on the Church of Mann which the lapse of a century would scarcely heal."

Tithe Commutation Act.

Such being the state of affairs, it was not found possible to settle the tithe question till 1839, when the "Tithe Commutation" Act was passed. By this Act, it was decided that the tithe rent-charges should "be deemed to be of the value of such quantities of wheat, barley, and oats as the same would have purchased in case one-third part thereof had been invested in the purchase of wheat at seven shillings and one farthing per imperial bushel, one-third part thereof in the purchase of barley at three shillings and elevenpence half-penny per imperial bushel, and the remaining one-third part thereof in the purchase of oats at two shillings and ninepence per imperial bushel, and to be regulated, increased, or diminished from year to year, according to the average prices of wheat, barley, and oats, as advertised in the London Gazette;" also that the average price was to be that of the preceding seven years. An agent was appointed on behalf of the bishop and clergy, and the "Commissioners of Woods and Forests"2, to collect these charges, the bishop, archdeacon, commissioners, and clergy having each one vote (or four votes in all), and the bishop, if required, a casting vote, in his election. This appointment of an agent for collecting the tithe was a wise provision, as it relieved the clergy from the odium and inconvenience of collecting it themselves, to which they have been, and still are, subjected in England and Wales. And we may note also that, according to the Manx Act, in the event of the non- payment of these charges, proceedings could be taken against the landlord in a court of summary jurisdiction instead of against the tenant by distraint, as was the case in England and Wales till recently. The total amount of the valuation was £5,575, which was divided as follows. To the Crown £525, the Bishop £1,515, the Rector of Andreas £707, the Rectors of Bride and Ballaugh £303 each, the fourteen Vicars £141 8s., the Trustees of Dr. Thomas Wilson's charity for clergymen's widows £141 8s.3, the Minister of St. Jude's, Andreas £1014.

Thus was accomplished an important and beneficial reform in the Manx Church, by which any friction between the clergy and the tithe-payers was rendered improbable, and the monetary position of the clergy, who had been previously described as "so miserably provided for, as to be wholly unable to support with respectability their station in society as Christian ministers,"5 was considerably improved.

Present position of clergy.

During the last few years, however, owing to the very low price of corn, their incomes have been considerably reduced, and, as the cost of living has greatly increased, the clergy are, at present, very inadequately provided for.

Of Bishop.

The bishop, too, got a more secure, if not a larger income, at least till 1878, when, by the "Bishops' Temporalities" Act6, it was arranged that, if the bishop's income amounted to £2,500 or more, he was to pay £500 to trustees to form a fund for the augmentation of benefices, but, if his income were less than £2,500, he had only to pay as much as it exceeded £2,000. As, however, his tithe has been affected in the same way as that of the clergy, there has latterly been no surplus available.

Character of clergy.

The clergy, as regards their character and conduct, and the "faithful discharge of their sacred functions,"7 were, in 1837, described as "highly respectable,"7 and, at the present day, there is, most certainly, no need for a different verdict.

Their numbers.

Their numbers — at first through the exertions of the Isle of Man Diocesan Association, which was formed in 1839, mainly through the exertions of Bishop Bowstead, and latterly chiefly through the assistance of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Additional Curates8, the Church Pastoral Aid Society, and the income of the Impropriate Fund9 — may now be regarded as sufficient for their work.

Proposed annexation of Sodor and Man to Carlisle.

And now we have to record two attempts to annex "Sodor and Man" to an English diocese. The first was in 1836, when, by Act of Parliament, it was, on the death or translation of the then bishop, to be united with that of Carlisle. This was vigorously opposed by the Manx, whether clergy or laity. An endeavour was made to induce the clergy to assent to this change by the prospect of the revenues of the bishopric being divided amongst them, but they absolutely declined to consider the proposal.

Protest of clergy and laity against it.

In the words of their petition to Parliament: "As to enriching the Parochial clergy with the spoils of their Bishoprick, your Petitioners dislike the principle, and dread the example: they affect not, indeed, to conceal, that the vicars of the Diocese are in straitened, in very straitened, in lamentably straitened circumstances, from which they humbly solicit, and would gratefully accept, honourable relief; but they disclaim a wish to procure temporal advantage at the expence of spiritual loss."10 The Manx laity also petitioned Parliament against the proposed junction of the sees of Man and Carlisle.

It is cancelled

In consequence of this, the Earl of Ripon, in 1839, brought forward and carried a motion in the House of Lords, that so much of the Act as related to the Isle of Man should be repealed.

Proposal to unite it with Liverpool.

In 1875, a proposal was made to unite this diocese with that of Liverpool, but it met with similar opposition on the part of the Manx clergy and laity, and was consequently negatived, though, when the scheme was afterwards fully explained, there was a considerable reaction in its favour among the clergy.

Church building.

This last epoch of the Manx Church has been signalized by the energy and zeal with which the work of church building has been carried on. What the state of affairs in this respect was before this epoch, we learn from Bishop Ward, the inaugurator of this good work: "It was impossible for the preceding Bishops to find means for the building of churches equal to the extraordinary increase of the population11, before the attention of the English public had been, as it now is, generally drawn to the subject; local means were wholly inadequate to furnish the necessary church accommodation. I had recourse, therefore, to English charity."12 In this way, the bishop, assisted by the Rev. Hugh Stowell, who was sent to England to solicit subscriptions, succeeded in raising between £8000 and £9000. "A further sum of £3000 was raised under the laws of the island from the different parishes, and, by the judicious application of their combined resources, several additional churches have been built, some enlarged, and others, in a state of dilapidation, substantially repaired."13 Yet, even after these churches were completed, it was seen that there was urgent need for chapels in the more remote parts of the larger parishes, with chaplains to administer the services, and parsonage houses for them to live in. Several of these were provided by the Isle of Man Diocesan Association, and were, for the most part, built between 1839 and 185614. During this period two churches were also built, viz. St. Thomas's, Douglas, in 1849, and Marown parish church in 1853. Since 1856, church building has gone on steadily, especially during Bishop Hill's episcopate, so that not only are there additional churches in the towns of Ramsey15 and Peel16, and new parish churches in Braddan17, Bride18, and Patrick19, but such places as Port Erin, Port St. Mary, and Foxdale have been provided with chapels, while many of the previously existing churches and chapels have been repaired and enlarged.


This, too, has been a period during which education has received considerable attention. In 1830, the scheme originated by James, seventh Earl of Derby20, and, carried on by Bishop Barrow20, resulted in the foundation of King William's College, which was erected by means of accumulated funds derived from the academic school and academic master's trusts, together with £2000 collected by Bishop Ward, and a mortgage of £2000 upon the estates.

King William's College.

The college was opened for students in 1833. The greater part of it was destroyed by fire in 1844, but was speedily rebuilt, chiefly through the exertions and liberality of Bishop Short. It provides an education similar to that of the great English public schools, not only for the sons of the Manx clergy and those wishing to enter the Manx Church, but for many others21. In 1858, a school which took the place of the old grammar school in Douglas was provided through the liberality of Mrs. C. Hall.

Theological school.

In 1878, the "Sodor and Man Theological School" was established by Bishop Hill, in connexion with King William's College, for the training of candidates for orders in this diocese, so that the design of Bishop Barrow, which the foundation of King William's College had not entirely carried out, might be accomplished. Since then, in 1889, the theological school was transferred by Bishop Bardsley to Bishop's Court, under the title of "Bishop Wilson's Theological School," and has recently been affiliated with Durham University.

Agencies for the improvement of parochial schools.

Nor were the parochial schools neglected. Among other agencies obtained for their improvement was that of the National Society22, which made numerous grants towards building and fitting up school-houses, teachers' residences, etc., in the island, and received several schools into union with it. We may note also that, during the period between 1832 and 1868, no less than twenty-nine schools received Imperial Parliamentary grants for building, enlargement, improvement, or fixtures23. Elementary education at this time also received a great impetus from the interest taken in it by the able and energetic Bishop Short, whom we find addressing Convocation on this subject in 1845: "My great object has been to improve existing schools, trying to render those schools where I found tolerably efficient masters more efficient, in the hope that when people see respectable teaching by the side of inefficient schooling, they may become dissatisfied with the latter and try to improve it. . . . I do not yet know of any school which I could exhibit as a pattern; there are several which are very respectable, but they are all wanting either in instruction or method."24 Yet, in spite of the good bishop's efforts, the state of education in Man, judging by the report sent by the Rev. H. Moseley to the "Committee of Council of Education " in 184725, was still far below the English standard.

Act of 1851

The next step with reference to these schools was the passage, in 1851, of an "Act26 for making better provision for Parochial and other school-masters, and for making further regulations for the better government of Parochial and other Schools."27 By this Act, rates could be levied by the parochial vestries for the support of these schools28, of which there might be more than one within a parish, and committees appointed for their management. The chairman of this committee was to be the incumbent of each parish, or district in the towns, who was to have charge of the religious instruction in the schools. The committees were also granted borrowing powers, which enabled them to enlarge many of the schools and build houses for the masters.

Education Act 1872.

In 1872, by the "Public Elementary Education" Act29, which was on the same general lines as the English Act of 1870, public elementary non-sectarian schools, called board schools, were established30. Under its provisions, a grant is given in aid of the expenses of education from the insular revenue in addition to the rates levied by the school committees of the various parishes or towns, who are elected by the people, or in the case of the denominational schools, to the funds supplied by subscriptions or otherwise; and the committees, whose schools earn a grant, are, whether managing a denominational or board school, subject to the control of a central board, elected by and responsible to the Tinwald Court. The examination of such schools is conducted by inspectors appointed by the English Council of Education. Finally, in 1892, elementary education was made free to all. The results of these changes have been that a considerable share of the conduct of elementary education passed from the hands of the Church to that of the State31, and that, as education was made compulsory32, the number of children in the schools has largely increased.

Relations of the Church with Methodism.

The relations of the Church with Methodism still continued intimate during the first part of this period. Of the state of affairs in this respect, Bishop Short wrote, on his arrival in 1841: "The diocese had been overrun with Wesleyan Methodism, and the tone of some of the better clergy had been that of imitating dissenting practices and plans. I heard of one (dead before I came there) who rented a seat in the chapel in his own parish, and was in the habit of attending the evening service there when there was none in his church. The plan was not merely to live on friendly terms with the dissenters, but to say to all who divided from the Church, 'There is no difference between the two.'"33 But, after this date, the divergence between these two bodies became more marked, though, probably owing to the pronounced evangelical feeling which was gradually increasing in the Manx Church, it has never extended to nearly the same extent as in England. This divergence has been accentuated by the following Acts of Tinwald: "The Dissenters' Marriage" Act34, in 1849, by which the governor may cause places of worship, other than those of the Established Church, to be registered for the celebration of marriages. By the "Civil Registration" Act35, passed in the same year, births, marriages, and deaths could be registered in these places; and further, if any objected to be married in such registered places, they might be married in the office of the deputy registrar; and, by an Act of similar title, passed in 1876, regular civil registration districts were formed, where registration was made compulsory, and does not take place in any building dedicated to religious worship36. In 1881, the Burials Act was passed, by which burials might take place in churchyards37, without the rites of the Church of England.

Conditions of the Church

During the early portion of the period under review, it is clear that the condition of the Church itself still left much to be desired, as we find the clergy, in 1828, telling Bishop Ward that "the Manks Church has been for some time past in a very tottering condition, and unless conciliatory measures38 be speedily adopted, her ministers have every reason to apprehend deserted pews, alienated flocks, and a general contempt for the ordinances of our venerable Church." And, thirteen years later, we have the evidence of Bishop Short to the effect, that "the churches in the seventeen parishes of which the diocese consisted were generally empty; . . . the tone of morality was low, and the people falling into indifferentism."39 And again, "Our people are estranged from the Church, I do not say alienated, for I believe that there does not exist any feeling of hostility towards the Church, but many have wandered from us; and they who still hold with us are bound to us in a loose, uncertain way."40 Nor, judging from the remarks of Bishop Lord Auckland, who spoke of the wide-spread spirit of indifference to Church doctrines and discipline, and of the small number of communicants, was there any great improvement by 185441.

Its improvement.

Since that time, however, we hope and believe, though it is most difficult to fairly appreciate the conditions of an epoch in which we are living, that there has been great improvement and progress. The position, in fact, of the Manx Church at the present day may be regarded as, on the whole, fully equal to that of the English Church, below the general level of which it had possibly fallen as much, at the beginning of this century, as it rose above it during the time of Bishops Wilson and Hildesley.

Its constitution.

We may appropriately end our account of the Church with a brief sketch of its constitution at the present day, and, as a preliminary to this, we will quote Bishop Short to show what it was fifty years ago:

Bishop Short's account of it.

"The constitution of the Church in the Isle of Man is very different from that in England. When I went there it seemed to resemble what an English diocese was before the days of Charles I. There were no visitations, but the Bishop held an annual Convocation, which could enact canons binding on the clergy in foro conscientiae, but not in foro legali, till they were confirmed by an Act of Tynwald. But as there was no expense and little difficulty in passing an Act of Tynwald, there would have been no practical hindrance to altering any of the local constitutions of the Church. There was a great deal of parochial discipline still kept in the island.42 The ecclesiastical courts not only regulated those subjects which are brought before them in England, as marriages and wills, but the administration of the property of the deceased belonged to them for a year and a day. In addition to this, as there were no poor-laws, the whole provision for the poor was in the hands of the churchwardens, as it was in England before the Act of Elizabeth. A collection was made in church every Sunday, and the proceeds of this were administered by them. When a poor person had relations able to support him, and who neglected to do so, these were brought before the ecclesiastical court as neglecting a Christian duty, and the court settled what allowance they should make. Such cases were of frequent occurrence, and I never knew the right of the poor relation denied, whatever excuse they might plead for themselves. The temporal court used to support the ecclesiastical by allowing persons condemned by it to be sent to gaol; and if they would not go with the summoner, the governor was asked to lend his assistance, and always did so; but I believe this practice has now been stopped."43

Changes since Bishop Short's time.

Since this period, the jurisdiction of the ecclesiastical courts has almost disappeared. The first change was the transference by the "Ecclesiastical Courts" Act, of the jurisdiction of the Archdeacon's Court to the Episcopal Court in 187444. In 1884, by the "Ecclesiastical Judicature Transfer" Act45, probate and other jurisdiction as to the estates of decedents, and all jurisdiction in matrimonial matters, was transferred from the ecclesiastical to the temporal courts, district probate sessions being substituted for the chapter courts. The jurisdiction that now remains to the ecclesiastical court, which is presided over by the vicar-general, as representing the bishop, is mainly concerning affiliation questions, the swearing in of churchwardens, and the granting faculties.

Among other changes, we may note that by the "Church Act" of 188046, four Rural Deaneries were established, and Commissioners constituted as trustees of endowments for Church purposes.

The system of poor relief47 as regards the country districts and the towns of Castletown and Peel remains the same as stated by Bishop Short, but, in 1890, a permissive poor-law was introduced, of which the towns of Douglas and Ramsey have availed themselves.

Convocation48 still meets on the Thursday after Whitsunday, and we may note that its power of making canons, though not exercised since 1704, has never been abrogated, so far affording a token that the Manx Church is a separate National Church49 governed by its own laws50, which, however, must be approved by the Insular Legislature51.

The bishops between 1827 and 1892.

The bishops during this period have been: William Ward (1827-38); James Bowstead (1838-40), translated to Lichfield; Henry Pepys (1840-1), translated to Worcester; Thomas Vowler Short (1841-46), translated to St. Asaph; Walter Augustus Shirley (1847); Hon. Robert Eden, who became Lord Auckland in 1849 (1847-54); Hon. Horatio Powys (1854-77); Rowley Hill (1877-87); John Wareing Bardsley (1887-92), translated to Carlisle; Norman Dumenil John Straton (1892).




1 There was a very large emigration to America between 1825 and 1840.

2 For the Crown's share.

3 See p. 217 note 1.

4 Statutes, vol. ii pp.114-123.

5 Ward, p.172.

6 Statutes, vol. iv pp. 514-18.

7 Ward, p.172.

8 It votes about £700 yearly, about £300 being remitted to it from the island.

9 Contributes about £80, receiving about £50 from the island.

10 See ch. vi pp.158-61.

11 Ward, p. 69.

12 In 1757, 19,144; in 1784, 24,924; in 1821, 40,081; and in 1831, 41,758.

13 Ward, p. 61.

14 Ward, p. 182. (Speech of Lord Ripon in the House of Lords.) These churches were Ballaugh, Conchan, Lezayre, Michael, and Lonan, and, in Douglas, St. Barnabas; and the chapels were St. Luke's (Baldwin) and St. Thomas's (King William's College).

15 Viz. St. James's (Dalby), St. Jude's (Andreas), St. Stephen's (Sulby) (a new chapel was consecrated in 1880), St. John's (Cronk-y-Voddy), Christ Church (Dhoon), Christ Church (Laxey), St. Catherine's (Ballure); also a chapel at Tinwald (St. John's), a chapel (St. Nicholas's) built by Bishop Powys at Bishop's Court, and (St. Thomas's) at King William's College.

16 St. Olave's, licenced, 1862, consecrated, 1881.

17 Opened for service in 1884, but not yet consecrated.

18 1875.

19 1870.

20 1879. This is not really a parish church though it takes the place of one for the present.

21 See pp.145-6 and 163-5.

22 The number of boys at present is 189.

23 This Society receives schools into union with itself on condition that the children are instructed in the principles of the Church of England, subject to the superintendence of the parochial clergyman, and that they attend the Established Church. The managers of such schools have to report annually to the Society with reference to the state and progress of their schools.

24 For full particulars, see Educational Endowments, Isle of Man, 1887. (Blue-book.)

25 Broadside.

26 Pamphlet.

27 Previous to the passing of this Act, the common law or customary obligation on a parish was considered to be the maintenance of one school-building in the parish." (Manx Soc., vol. xii., p. 235. Note by Sir James Gell).

28 I.e. not only the maintenance of the building, but all school purposes.

29 Statutes, vol. ii pp. 274-7.

30 Ibid., vol. iv pp. 57-93.

31 Among the conditions as to admission of children to these schools, and as to grants, are the following: It shall not be required, as a condition of any child being admitted into the school, . . . that he shall attend any religious observance or any instruction in religious subjects in the school, or elsewhere. . . . The time or times during which any religious observance is practised, or instruction in religious subjects is given, at any meeting of the school, shall be either at the beginning or at the end, or at the beginning and end of such meeting . . . provided always, that in every public elementary school, other than any school in connexion with the Church of Rome, provision shall be made . . . for instruction in religious subjects, and for the reading of the Holy Bible, accompanied by such explanation thereof . . . as may be suited for the capacities of the children, and for the employment or for the instruction in secular subjects of such children as may be by their parents withdrawn from religious instruction. Such grant shall not be made in respect of instruction in religious subjects;" and to obtain it, it shall not be required "that the school shall be in connexion with a religious denomination, or that religious instruction shall be given in the school."

31 In 1891 there were 3,652 children in average attendance in board and 2,842 in denominational schools ; the total number of children in average attendance in 1872, before the passage of the Act, having been 3,279, the population (in 1871, 53,763; in 1891, 55,598) having slightly increased.

32 Though, as we have seen (p. 214), education was made compulsory by Bishop Wilson, it had long ceased to be so, except in name.

33 History of the Church of England, Introduction, p. lxiv.

34 Statutes, vol. ii pp.231-42.

35 Ibid., vol. ii pp. 246-53.

36 Ibid., vol. iv pp. 462-5.

37 Act not yet published in book form. There are, as yet, no public cemeteries in the Isle of Man.

38 As regards tithe.

39 History of Church of England, Introduction, p. lxiv.

40 Convocation address, 1842. Pamphlet.

41 Ibid., 1875, quoted by Bishop Powys.

42 See chap. ix, note 2, p. 254.

43 Short's History of the Church of England, Introduction, pp. lxiv, lxv.

44 Authority is left to the archdeacon "with reference to visitations, or," what is judiciously styled "the performance of other duties pertaining by the laws ecclesiastical to the office of Archdeacon" (Statutes, vol. iv., p. 329).

45 Not yet published in book form.

46 Not yet published in book form.

47 Valuable assistance was given to voluntary poor relief by the establishment of the House of Industry, where the aged and infirm poor are cared for, in Douglas, in 1837, chiefly through the exertions of Dr. Carpenter, Incumbent of St. Barnabas.

48 A Diocesan Conference was established in 1880, but has been for some years in abeyance. During the present year (1893) it has, however, been reconstituted, and sends three delegates to the House of Laymen at York.

49 As proofs of this see Bishop Wilson's special prayers (pp. 226-7), and note that a special prayer for the Insular Legislature has been recently put forth by Bishop Bardsley.

50 It should be noted, however, that canons passed by the Convocation at York are binding on the Manx clergy.

51 Sir James Gell has shown (Manx Soc., vol. xxix., pp. 36-49) "that the Insular Legislature has hitherto exercised full control over the temporalities of the Bishop and Clergy within the Isle, and jurisdiction as to the regulation of . . . the external affairs of the Church in the Isle of Man."


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