[from History of IoM, 1900]




IN the preceding Book (Chap. III.) we brought down the history of the Manx Church to the death of Bishop Wilson in 1755.

Bishop Hildesley.

His successor, Bishop Hildesley, was consecrated in Whitehall Chapel by Dr. Hutton, Archbishop of York, on the 24th of April, 1755, and, on the 6th of August following, he was installed in St. German’s Cathedral. We shall see how zealously he entered into every department of work in his diocese, and it is significant of this that he took the trouble to acquire something of the Manx language, so that he might make himself more generally understood by the people. He died on the 7th of December, 1772, and was buried in Kirk Michael Churchyard, near Bishop Wilson. Twenty-five years later Bishop Crigan remarked that his memory was still fresh in the hearts of the people, and that " as no pastor was more loved in his diocese, by both the clergy and laity, during his life, so no one could be more sincerely regretted at his death.1

The Bible

The great work of his episcopate was the publication of the Bible in Manx.

Other devotional publications.

As a preliminary to this he encouraged the publication of devotional works, of the New Testament, and of the Prayer Book. Thus, at Convocation, in 1758, we find him " declaring a great desire of having the Church catechism printed in the Manks tongue by itself," and earnestly recommending the clergy that they are " to use their best endeavours to improve the use and practice of the Manks tongue." He also expressed his desire of having " the ordinary service of the Church, together with the several occasional offices, translated into Manks," and " a select number of the singing psalms translated into Manks verse, fitted to the tunes used in churches, for the instruction and comfort of such persons as do not understand the English language." He soon found willing translators, but, when the books were ready for publication, he was confronted with the difficulty of providing the necessary funds.

Funds for publication, how obtained.

To meet this he approached the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, who, in July, 1762, handed him £100 " for the purpose of printing the Scriptures and other good books in the Manks tongue." He also obtained money for the same purpose from various charitable persons in England.

In August of the same year he received a letter from the Archbishop of York urging him to procure " a plain translation of the liturgy," ~ and condemning the practice of translating " the Scriptures and the Liturgy off-hand out of English into the language of the Island." 2 The archbishop also suggested that " such parts of the Scriptures as are the most necessary should be carefully translated by some able clergyman." 3

Publication of Gospels and Acts

In the following year the S.P.C.K. issued a " Proposal for printing the Holy Bible, Common Prayer, and other religious Books, in the Manks language," and, in consequence of this, the bishop was shortly able to announce the publication of the Gospels and Acts to his clergy, 4 and to inform them that the subscriptions in England towards the other publications were progressing satisfactorily. He then urged them " to take into consideration some method of proceeding with the Liturgy already begun," and to " prosecute that most necessary work of translating the remainder of the New Testament into the vulgar tongue."

Of the Prayer Book.

In 1765, there appeared an edition of the Prayer Book, and, in the same year, the bishop, encouraged by the number of the subscriptions he had received from England, determined to expedite the translation of the Bible which had been already begun. The printing of the first volume to the end of Job was completed in 1771 ; 5 the second, to the end of the Old Testament, with a portion of the Apocrypha, in 1773 ; and the third volume, the New Testament, in 1775.

And of the Bible.

The translators of the Bible, Prayer Book, &c., were, in effect, the whole of the clergy of the island, though the most arduous share of the work had fallen to the Rev. Philip Moore, who revised nearly the whole of the Bible,6 and to John Kelly, afterwards Dr. Kelly, who assisted him and also corrected the whole Bible for the press. 7

Progress of Bible and other religious books after Bishop Hildesley's death

Though, as we have seen, the publication of the Bible and Prayer~book and other religious books continued after Bishop Hildesley’s death, their production was retarded, instead of forwarded, by his immediate successors. Indeed, but for the support of the S.P.C.K., and the earnest zeal of a few of the Manx clergy, it seems probable that no further Manx books would have been published. 8

The Bishops

Among the earlier of Bishop Hildesley’s successors, Ward (1827-38) is the only one worthy of more than mere notice. He was a very earnest and energetic man, and is now chiefly remembered by his success in raising funds for Manx church-building in England. We may mention that Bishop Richmond (1773-80) was a haughty and overbearing man, much disliked by his clergy,9 while Bishops Mason (1780-83), and Crigan (1783-1811), were men of no influence. Murray (1814-27) was an able and well-meaning bishop who did much good work for the Church, but his influence was much lessened by the unfortunate position he took up with regard to the tithe. The bishops of later date than Ward come too close to our own time to render it desirable to give any account of them.10

Attempts to attach Man to English dioceses.

During this period there were two attempts to attach "Sodor and Man " to an English diocese. The first was in 1836, when, by Act of Parliament, it~ was actually united to Carlisle ; and the second, in 1875, was a proposal to unite it to Liverpool. Both these schemes were, however, defeated by the opposition of the Manx people, whether clergy or laity, and, in the former case, the Act of Parliament was repealed. 11 We shall now proceed to deal with the " discipline," the tithes, the status of the clergy, the progress of church building, &c., and, finally, with education.

The "discipline".

Bishop Wilson’s system of " discipline," as it was applied after 1736, was continued by Bishop Hildesley. But, notwithstanding his efforts, the penalties for its infringement gradually became lighter. Indeed, such entries in the judgments of the courts as " dismissed as frivolous and admonished " are often found.

The discipline falling into contempt.

The whole system was, in fact, falling into contempt.

Regulations concerning marriages.

As a means of tightening its loosened bonds the bishop ordered that " no person who is either under Church censure, or who has not received the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, be admitted to enter into the holy state of matrimony"12 ; and the ceremony of marriage was more strictly guarded. It seems that clandestine marriages had been very common, so that the bishop, in 1757, got an Act passed by the Legislature 13 to prevent them, and, at the same time, he strongly reproved the clergy for their negligence in allowing them.

Non-observance of Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Presentments for non-observance of Sundays and Saints’ days were common, and there was a vigorous effort made to check the neglect of attendance at church on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, which seems to have especially shocked the bishop, who told his clergy that he was "aggrieved as well as surprized " to see men " following their ordinary occupations on these days in yoking their cattle and tilling their land . . . during the whole time of Divine service." To this the clergy replied : (1) That it was the general custom of the people to work on those days ; (2) that they had the " late Bishop’s and Vicar-General Walker’s example for it "(!) ; and (3) that prayers were read as early as 8 a.m. on those days, so that people went to work afterwards. After Bishop Hildesley’s death, the discipline began to fail very rapidly.

It had become difficult even to get any disciplinary cases before the spiritual courts, especially such as related to non-attendance at church and to immorality.

The discipline fails.

Of this a singular proof was afforded in 1785, when a number of churchwardens complained to the court that they considered it a grievance to be " obliged to present on Common Fame, as also such persons as do not attend divine worship on holy days." In consequence of this, the court appointed a committee to " represent this to the Legislature, as soon as other matters of a similar nature are ready to be laid before them, for their consideration and amendment." The same point arose in 1796, when Bishop Crigan took " the sense of the clergy whether it might not be advisable to adopt another mode of punishing such offenders, by proposing to the Legislature to enact a law impowering the Bishop and Vicar-generals to commute their censures for a pecuniary fine." The clergy acquiesced, stating that they found " from sad experience that the censures of the Church have proved ineffectual to suppress the sins of adultery and fornication." No reference, however, seems to have been made to the Legislature, and, ten years later, the discipline was practically obsolete.14


Such presentments as we find between 1773 and 1800 were chiefly for the above-mentioned offences and for swearing, while some of them were for very insignificant misdeeds. Indeed, if contemporary writers are to be believed, the judges were frequently more in need of discipline than those who were brought before them.

Contemporary opinion of them.

One of these writers, a military officer who lived in the island between 1789 and 1794, comments on the manner of the presentments as follows : " My pen revolts . . . with transcribing such nonsensical stuff, such as must draw a smile from every person of common sense; an indignant one it must be ; that within a Protestant country, in this enlightened age, such absurdities should be tolerated."15 Occasional penances were performed as late as 1825, and, in the same year, Bishop Murray is said to have excommunicated an offender against the moral law; but, after that date, we hear no more of the discipline of the Manx Church. 16

The tithe.

Of all the questions which agitated Manxmen and their Church at this period that of the tithe was the most far-reaching in its effects.

Fish tithe question legally settled, but payment still disputed by fishermen.

Let us first consider the fish-tithe. This long-pending question was settled finally by the Privy Council, in 1769, in favour of the clergy, by affirming the judgment of the Manx spiritual court in 1767, which decided that fishermen were liable to pay full tithes for fish even though "sold at sea many leagues from the island." But, though the legal question was thus settled, the fishermen seem still to have made difficulties about the payment of the tithe, since there was a resolution passed at Convocation, in 1772, " that the rights of the Church be vigorously defended with respect to the tithe of herrings and other fish ; " and, in the following year, the clergy complained, in an address to the bishop, that they (the fishermen) still continued " obstinate," and had involved them " in fresh suits." Fish tithe was, however, usually paid up to the end of the eighteenth century, when all mention of it in the Records ceases, and it is not referred to in the Tithe Act of 1839.

Other tithes.

As regards the other tithes, trouble arose owing to the new method of collecting them which was, instead of letting them to the clergy of the respective parishes, as was the practice till Bishop Richmond came, to let them to the highest bidder at public auction. This individual then held sub-auctions to re-let the tithes, which, under this system, sold for much above their value. Thus, for instance, in 1750, the tithes of the parish of Braddan were let for £31 5s., and, in 1811, for £200 ; and the tithes of the parish of Jurby produced £20, in 1772, £138, in 1810, and £231, in 1811. This increase, however, before 1816, raised less opposition among the farmers than might have been expected, because the period (1793-1815) had been one of considerable prosperity for them. But, after 1816, when the state of affairs was altogether different,17 there was much distress and discontent among the poorer farmers. This was aggravated in 1817, by Bishop Murray’s attempt to collect the tithe of potatoes, turnips, and other green crops, which had not been demanded for many years.

The green crop tithe.

The question of his right to do so was brought before the insular exchequer court in 1821 and was decided by it in favour of the bishop. The farmers then appealed to the Privy Council, who, on the 24th of June, 1825, upheld the decision of the Manx court that, as potatoes and turnips 18 were comparatively modern crops in the island, the old custom did not extend to them and that they were therefore titheable.

Its exaction causes a riot.

A decree was consequently issued ordering the payment of tithe on them. The result of this decision was a combination among the farmers not to pay ; and, in October, when the collection began, dangerous riots broke out in Peel and other places, and, finally, a body of 5,000 remonstrants armed with bludgeons and pitchforks, and waving a " bloody ensign,"19 marched on Bishop’s Court and extorted a promise from the bishop, who was actually in danger of his life, 20 that he would not collect the tithe 21 for that year. In the following October (1826), the bishop issued a notice that, " in consequence of the failure of the crops of barley and oats," he would not " demand the tithe of potatoes or turnips," but he stated that the exemption was " for the present year only."22

It is abandoned.

In 1827, however, he left the island and no further attempt was made to collect tithe on the green crops. He had also endeavoured, in concert with the duke, to commute the tithes for an amount which the land-owners considered exorbitant.

Attempts to commute tithes fail.

The duke first brought the question before the Tynwald Court in March, 1823, when he pledged himself, with the consent of the bishops, to accept £6,000 annually in lieu of the tithes, leaving the Keys to find " ways and means of levy and payment."23 A committee of the Keys was appointed in the following May to go into the whole question, and they issued their report in November. In this they estimated the value of the tithes at £4,116, but explained that " on the one hand, considerable deductions must be made for loss by bad debts and for the expenses of collection; while, on the other hand, additions must be made for the value of prescriptions, small tithes, and other dues " ; also that " some consideration must be given to the suits now pending on the subject of green crop and other incidental increase." They then concluded by saying that the very greatest sum which they could " conscientiously advise to be given, as a fixed and clear income payable without trouble or expense to the receivers, is £5,000 ;" and they recommended that this should not be " subject to periodical revision, but be convertible into a principal sum at 25 years’ purchase . . . the proprietors of the land to have the option of purchasing the commutation to which their respective properties are liable at 25 years’ purchase at any time within 10 years."23 It was also proposed that such commutations as had not been purchased should be revised by the average of five years’ prices of grain in the London Gazette. These proposals were accepted by the Tynwald Court, which ordered them, together with an explanatory circular, to be sent to the captains of the various parishes who were to be requested to obtain the opinion of the landowners thereon. They were also accepted by the duke and bishop (who thereby practically abandoned their claim for green crop), with the exception of the redemption clause, to which they objected. The landowners, too, were generally in favour of the proposals, though there was a considerable difference of opinion about the advisability of redemption. A Bill was consequently prepared embodying the proposals, except that for redemption, and was introduced into the Keys in January, 1824. 24 Because of this omission, however, the Keys threw the Bill out. They did so, their enemies declared, to enforce the inclusion of the redemption clause, which would enable them to get mortgages on the estates of the poorer farmers and so ruin them.25

But, in the absence of any report of their debates, it seems probable that their real reason for throwing out the Bill was that they did not wish to commute the tithes before the question of the green crop tithe was decided. When, however, this did take place, it was decided to hold over the discussion on the whole subject till calmer views were likely to prevail ; and, indeed, it was evidently unwise, at a time when much distress and discontent prevailed, 26 to risk the further alienation of the people from the Church by stirring up strife about the tithe. This was clearly perceived by the clergy, who remarked, when addressing Bishop Ward on the tithe valuation, in 1828, " 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 emigrating 27 to distant countries to procure the necessaries of life, your Lordship 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."

Such being the state of affairs, it was not found possible to settle the question till 1839,28 when the Tithe Commutation Act was passed.

Tithe Commutation Act of 1839.

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 eleven pence 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 ; " 29 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," 30 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., 31 the Minister of St. Jude’s, Andreas £101. 32

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.

Condition of the clergy.

Bishop Hildesley’s first care on arriving in Man was to require the clergy to produce their " Letters of Orders, Institution, and Induction, and all other Licences or Faculties whatsoever." He then ordained that they should wear " a dress to distinguish them from the laity," and that they should not appear outside their own house or lands " in brown or light-coloured cloaths, but only in black or dark-gray and wearing a wig." 33

Increase of clergy's income.

It was fortunate for the clergy that these sumptuary laws were accompanied with some increase in their incomes, the two rectories being then worth £100, and the vicarages from £30 to £50. 34 " Upon such humble incomes," says a contemporary writer, " the frugality of the insular clergy, much to their honour, has enabled them to live very decently, to maintain themselves, and sometimes to bring up comfortably pretty numerous families. 35

Their conduct.

Their conduct seems to have been, generally speaking, irreproachable 36 during Hildesley’s life, but, after his death, they rapidly deteriorated. 37 That this was so is unfortunately only too clear from the Records, which contain several convictions against them for drunkenness and show that no less than seven of them were degraded from their office at one time. A contemporary writer, however, gives more favourable evidence remarking that the clergy were " a respectable body " and that they had " a good classical education." 38 By the time, however, that Bishop Murray came (1814) " things had fallen into a very scandalous state." 39 - He " found great irregularities practised in some of the churches, and a general carelessness pervading by far too large a proportion of the clergy." 40 He consequently " purified the Ministry of several Priests, whose lives had been a scandal to their holy Order." 40 The result of this seems to have been that, in 1816, there were " few, if any, striking instances of dereliction from their duties" among the clergy ; 41 and, generally speaking, the habits of the whole body are said to have been " consonant to the best rules of orthodoxy." 41 After the passage of the Tithe Commutation Act 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 ‘ ‘ was greatly improved." 42 As regards their character and conduct, and " the faithful discharge of their sacred functions," they were, in 1837, stated to be " highly respectable." 42

Progress in the church after 1814

Since 1814, then, we have traced a steady improvement in the clergy, and a similar, though more intermittent, progress took place in the Church itself which had sunk to its lowest depth at that time. But the Church then, owing to the reforms instituted by Bishop Murray, began to rise again, and, with a man like Hugh Stowell, " the pious and eloquent rector of Ballaugh," to assist him, it soon became evident that " the spirit of Bishop Wilson was not extinct." 43 It was, indeed, due to Hugh Stowell that, eleven years before this, Sunday schools began to be held in the Isle of Man.44

Sunday Schools

" Having heard," he writes, " of the happy consequences attending Sunday schools in the neighbouring kingdoms," t he began one in his own parish of Lonan. From thence the schools soon spread to the other parishes, and were also eagerly adopted by the Wesleyans. Good was also done in Man by branches of the British and Foreign Bible Society, established there in 1814, and of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, established there in 1818. But the good effect of these influences was checked by the discontent aroused by the way in which the tithe was exacted.

Progress checked by tithe agitation.

This was referred to by the clergy in 1828, when they told Bishop Ward that the Church " has been for some time past in a very tottering condition," and that, unless conciliatory measures were speedily adopted with regard to the tithe, they had " every reason to apprehend deserted pews, alienated flocks, and a general contempt " for its " ordinances." 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," ~ and that " the tone of morality was low, and the people were falling into indifferentism." 46 Nor, judging from the remarks of Bishop Lord Auckland, in 1854, who spoke of the widespread spirit of indifference to church doctrines and discipline, and of the small number of communicants, was there any great improvement by that time, 47 though, between 1854 and 1866, there were signs of a revival.

Church building.

We have now to briefly trace the progress of Church building since 1755. During Bishop Hildesley’s time three parish churches were rebuilt and enlarged, and the chapel of St. Mark’s was built almost entirely at the bishop’s expense, he also contributing more than half the sum then collected for the endowment of a chaplain for it. But the condition of the contents as well as of the fabrics of the churches left much to be desired. This, too, the bishop did his best to improve.

St. George’s was completed in 1781, Andreas Church was rebuilt in 1800, Jurby church in 1813, and a new church, St. Paul’s, in Ramsey, was built in 1822. With the arrival of Bishop Ward the work of church building was greatly accelerated. He states that it " was impossible for the preceding Bishops to find means for the building of churches equal to the extraordinary increase of the population,48 before the attention of the English public had been, as it now is, generally drawn to the subject ; " that " local means were wholly inadequate to furnish the necessary church accommodation ; " and that he had recourse, therefore, to English charity. In this way, the bishop, assisted by the Rev. Hugh Stowell, who was sent to England to solicit subscriptions, succeeded in raising between £8,000 and £9,000. " A further sum of £3,000 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." 49 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 1856. During this period two churches were also built, viz., St. Thomas’s, Douglas, in 1849, and Marown parish church in 1853.


Bishop Hildesley took a keen interest in forwarding education. It was during his time that Peel obtained a mathematical school. In 1811, an important addition was made 50 to the insular schools by the establishment of a large school in Douglas, under the Lancasterian system. 51 In 1813, the fees of the parish schoolmasters, which had remained on the miserably inadequate scale fixed in 1704, were raised to " two shillings and eleven pence a quarter for each and every scholar taught to read English, and three shillings and sixpence a quarter for each and every scholar taught to read and write." 52

King William's College.

In 1830, the scheme originated by James, seventh Earl of Derby,53 and, carried on by Bishop Barrow,53 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 £2,000 collected by Bishop Ward, and a mortgage of £2,000 upon the estates. 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 others. 54 In 1858, a school which took the place of the old grammar school in Douglas was provided through the liberality of Mrs. C. Hall.

Agencies for the Improvement of parochial schools.

Nor were the parochial schools neglected. Among other agencies contributing to their improvement was that of the National Society,55 which made numerous grants towards building and fitting up schoolhouses, teachers’ residences, &c., 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 fixtures. 56 Elementary education at this time also received a great impetus from the exertions of 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." 57 Yet, notwithstanding 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 1847, 58 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 " Act 59 for making better provision for Parochial and other schoolmasters, and for making further regulations for the better government of Parochial and other Schools." 60 By this Act, rates could be levied by the parochial vestries for the support of these schools, 61 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.


[generally rather weak - Moore relies totally on Rosser amd totally ignores the Primitive Methodists]

John Murlin

The first direct effort to implant Methodism was in 1758, when John Murlin, the " weeping prophet," 62 stayed about a week in Ramsey. He preached to the people, who " gave great attention," 63 but, since he decided that there was " little probability of doing any considerable good while the whole island was a nest of smugglers," 63 no preacher came to it for some time afterwards.

John Crook

The next arrival was John Crook, who was sent by a number of zealous Methodists in Liverpool early in 1775. He met with some opposition, but also with a good deal of sympathy, even among the clergy. He left the island in the autumn of the same year, when it was placed under the care of the preachers at Whitehaven, and considered as forming part of that circuit. In the following year, however, he returned and carried on his work with some success, though there was decided opposition to it, especially in Douglas, where he was attacked by a riotous mob set on by the minister of St. Matthew’s. For protection, he applied to the governor, who took his part, and told the minister " that he would suffer no one to be persecuted for his religion." 64 After this, " though the storm was now fallen, the waves . . . continued turbulent," 65 and there were yet troublous times in store for the Manx Methodists.

Bishop Richmond's letter against the Wesleyans.

In July, 1776, Bishop Richmond issued the following intolerant and violent pastoral letter to his clergy:

" Whereas we have been informed that several un-ordained, unauthorized, and unqualified persons from other countries have for some time past presumed to preach and teach publickly, hold and maintain Conventicles, and have caused several weak persons to combine themselves together in a new Society, and have private meetings, assemblies, and Congregations contrary to the divine government, Rites, and Ceremonies of the Established Church, and the civil and ecclesiastical laws of this Isle—We do therefore, for the prevention of schism and the re-establishment of the uniformity in religious worship which so long hath subsisted among us, hereby desire and require each and every of you to be vigilant and use your utmost endeavours to dissuade your respective flocks from following or being led and misguided by such incompetent teachers." He then spoke of " the crude, pragmatic, and inconsistent, if not profane and blasphemous, extempore effusions of these Pretenders to the true Religion;" he asked that the names of those attending meetings, who held " any place, office, or employment" under the Church, should be sent to him ; and he ordered the clergy, if any of the preachers should "at any time hereafter offer to be a partaker of the holy Communion," to " expel him or them so offering."

Thomas Rutherford

Fortunately but few of the clergy cared to carry out such instructions in their entirety, though, according to Thomas Rutherford, one of the preachers, not one of them " dared to give us the sacrament." And, he continues : " I have no doubt but that they would have driven us out of the island but for the Governor, who acted a most friendly part."66 Notwithstanding this opposition, they had already five hundred members, and " many of the poor people, both in the towns and throughout the country, received the truth, and much good was done." 66

Wesley's first visit.

In the following year, Wesley himself paid the island a visit, and " was received in a very friendly manner by a few persons of respectability and influence." 67 The people generally also received him well, and he was favourably impressed by them, writing, " A more loving, simple-hearted people than this I never saw—and no wonder ; for they have but six papists and no dissenters on the island." 68

Man as a separate circuit.

At the Wesleyan Conference of 1778, the Isle of Man was entered as a separate circuit, and the preachers appointed to it were John Crook and Robert Dall. During the three years the former worked in the island, the membership of the society largely increased, being fifteen hundred and ninety-seven in 1781.

Wesley's second visit.

In May of that year, Wesley again came to the island, and was very favourably received. The bishop, George Mason, was an easy-going man, and did not interfere with the new preachers, whose work prospered. Wesley’s impression of the people continued to be favourable, and he remarked in his diary—" Hardly in England (except perhaps at Bolton) have I found so plain, so earnest, so simple a people ; " n and again he speaks of " an artless, loving congregation." 69 He was also much pleased with their singing, saying —" I have not heard better singing either at Bristol or London ; many, both men and women, have admirable voices, and they sing with good judgment." 71

His opinion of Man as a circuit.

Of the preachers, who were now twenty-two in number, Wesley says—" I never saw in England so many stout, well-looking preachers together. If their spirit be answerable to their look, I know not what can stand before them." 72 And, after having visited the whole of the island, he declares that he " was thoroughly convinced that we have no such circuit as this either in England, Scotland, or Ireland."72

Relations between the Church and the Wesleyans.

The Wesleyans continued to increase and prosper. In 1805, the island was constituted a separate Relations district ; and, in 1825 it was stated that the between the Church and the Methodists of that time, " unlike their predecessors, have little opposition to expect from those who are without." Indeed, after Bishop Richmond’s time, the Church and the Methodists worked, on the whole, amicably together, and we have ample proof that this state of things continued much longer than in England. Thus, one of the Wesleyans writes in 1822, " It was judged good policy to allow the Methodists in this Island to remain under the protecting wing of the Establishment until their minds were better prepared for a separation, and now they seem disposed to imitate their brethren in the mother country." 73

We learn, however, that, in 1829, they had not yet " seceded from the established Church," 74 but that they " adhere . . . to its services." 74 Also that " in the country parishes, the Methodists attend generally more regularly than others on the public worship of the Church." 75 But in the towns, the line of demarcation had been for some time more strongly marked, and, from 1836, when the chapels began to be opened during the time of Church service, though many of the Wesleyans considered this " a great evil," 75 their separation from the Church may be dated.76 The process of separation was, however, even then a slow one, and, owing probably to the pronounced evangelical feeling which has gradually increased in the Manx Church, it has never extended to nearly the same extent as in England.

Acts relating to Nonconformists.

It has been accentuated by the following Acts of Tynwald : The Dissenters’ Marriage Act,76 in 1849, by which the governor may cause places of nonconformists worship, other than those of the Established Church, to be registered for the celebration of marriages; the Civil Registration Act, passed in the same year, by which births, marriages, and deaths could be registered in these places ; and further, if any objected to this, they might be married in the office of the deputy-registrar.77

There is no very definite information as to the numbers of Nonconformists in the island during this period. In 1862, they had 91 chapels, with 35,000 sittings, 20 ministers, and 200 local preachers.

The Independents, or Congregationalists, were numerous enough to erect a chapel in 1808, the Presbyterians were in the same position in 1813, and the Primitive Methodists in 1819. [these dates are generally wrong = e.g. PM's did not arrive until 1823]

Till about 1845, Nonconformists were satisfied to have their children taught in the Church schools, but, after that date, they had a few schools of their own.

There seem to have been no Roman Catholics in Man till towards the end of the eighteenth century, when (in 1781) there were 25. 78 By 1813, their numbers had advanced sufficiently to enable them to erect a chapel, which was completed in 1814. This chapel, dedicated to St. Bridget, was on the Castletown road, about a mile from Douglas. In 1826, there were 550 members, with two chapels, one being at Castletown. In 1857, the foundation-stone of " St. Mary’s of the Isle," in Douglas, was laid, and it was opened for service two years later. This church, which is one of the finest in the island, is in the French style of the early thirteenth century. By 1865, the numbers of the Roman Catholics had risen to 2,000, and, besides the church just mentioned, there were three chapels.79 Sisters of Mercy were introduced in 1866.


1 Hildesley’s Memoirs, p. 111. To this book our readers are referred for full particulars.

2 Hildesley’s Memoirs, pp. 425-6.

3 Hildesley’s Memoirs, pp. 425-6.

4 A few copies were issued to the clergy only, with a request " that they would insert freely their remarks on the blank pages."

5 The statement of Bishop Hildesley’s biographer, that the bishop received the last volume before his death, is incorrect (Hildesley’s Memoirs, p 51).

6 The Rev. Matthias Curghey assisted in the revision of the Pentateuch.

7 The Manx translation of the Bible is considered a very good one. Thus Vallancy in his Grammar, p. 119, writes, " The beautiful expression of the Manx, superior to the Irish translation, is visible to every Celtic scholar."

8 For full particulars about benefactions towards the publication of the Scriptures in Manx, see Hildesley’s Memoirs, pp. 257-60, or Isle of Man Charities, pp. 51-56.

9 In their letters he is usually described as " The Lama," and " The Pontifex Maximus.

10 For a list of them see the Supplement.

11 For further details see Sodor and Man, pp. 261-2.

12 This was, in effect, the third ecclesiastical constitution of 1704, which was at this time ordered to be read in the churches (see Sodor and Man, pp. 209-10.

13 Statutes, vol. i. pp. 381-5. It was on the same lines as Lord Hardwicke’s Marriage Act of 1753.

14 We may note that the chapter-quests, whose special duty it was to make presentments, disappear at this period.

15 Townley, vol. ii. p. 47.

16 As late, however, as 1847, churchwardens occasionally notified moral offences committed in their parishes to their rector or vicar, who admonished the delinquents, but did not bring them before any court " (MS. note by Archdeacon Moore).

17 See p. 553.

18 Turnips were not cultivated before 1793.

19 Manks Advertiser.

20 Some of the rioters who had committed arson were tried and punished, two being transported for life, and £180 was levied on Douglas in the form of Church cess, which was collected by the wardens of St. Matthew’s " in behalf of the damages, costs, and charges in the potato riots " in that town.

21 The potato crop had been valued in 1821 at £15,000, and, estimating the turnip crop at £3,000, the clergy would have got about £1,800 as their share.

22 Manks Advertiser.

23 Manks Advertiser.

24 The amount was fixed at £5,000, being estimated from the prices of wheat for the three years 1820-22. It was agreed that this sum was to be paid for ten years after the promulgation of the Act and that the valuation was then to be on the basis of the prices of wheat for the five preceding years, as given in the London Gazette.

25 Pamphlet (1825), p. 83.

26 See p. 553.

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

28 The Bill was first introduced in 1837.

29 In 1883, an Act was passed substituting the corn averages under the Imperial Act of 1882 for those referred to in the Act of 1839 (Statutes, vol. v. pp. 207-8).

30 For the Crown’s share.

31 See Sodor and Man, p. 217, n. 1.

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

33 Even the students of sixteen and seventeen years old were obliged to wear wigs.

34 This increase largely arose from the bishop appointing the clergy as his proctors, in their several parishes, to collect his tithes and dues, they getting a percentage for themselves.

35 MS. letter.

36 Only two presentments are recorded against them, one being of a rector and curate for non-residence, and the other of a curate for drunkenness.

37 The negligent way in which the Church registers were kept between 1772 and 1814 is very marked.

38 Feltham (Manx Soc., vol. vi. p. 89).

39 Short, Introduction, p. lxiv.

40 Ward, p. 60.

41 Bullock, p. 332.

42 Ward, p. 172.

43 Ward, p. 60.

44 Bishops Wilson and Hildesley insisted on children attending church to be catechized, but there would not seem to have been any regular Sunday schools before 1803.

45 MS. Diary.

46 Short, Introduction, P. lxiv.

47 Address to Convocation.

48 Ward, p. 61.

49 Ibid., p. 182.

50 Sodor and Man, pp. 242-3.

51 I.e., religious, but non-sectarian instruction.

52 Statutes, voi. i. p. 363.

53 See pp. 253, 470-1.

54 The number of boys at present (1900) is 185. It is, strictly speaking, a Church school, though its management by trustees, consisting of the governor, the clerk of the rolls, the southern deemster and the attorney-general, and the presentation of reports referring to the management of its estates to the Tynwald Court, gives it somewhat the character of a State school.

55 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.

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

57 Broadside.

58 Pamphlet.

59 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).

60 I.e., Not only the maintenance of the building, but all school purposes.

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

62 Rosser, p. 47.

63 Rosser, p. 47.

64 Moore’s Life of Wesley, quoted by Rosser, p. 84.

65 Ibid., p. 85.

66 Rosser, p. 89.

67 Wesley’s Journal, quoted by Rosser, p. 93.

68 Rosser, p. 94.

69 Rosser, Ibid., p. 98.

70 Ibid., p. 99.

71 Wesley’s Journal, quoted by Rosser, p. 93.

72 Ibid., p. 99.

73 Haining, Guide to the Isle of Man, p. 72.

74 Teignmouth, vol. ii. pp. 254-5.

75 Ibid., pp. 254-5 and p. 259. The same writer refers to the caution the Methodists show in holding their services at such times as not to interfere with those of the Establishment, and he comments on their large attendance at the sacramental services in the parish churches.

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

77 Statutes, vol. ii. pp. 246-53.

78 Wesley, in his Journal (see p. 677) gives the number as 6, in 1777.

79 At Castletown, Ramsey, and Peel.


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