[From H Stowell Brown, Notes of my Life, 1888]



BEFORE taking leave of our life in Douglas, I may here mention a curious event which occurred in 1830, and which shows that my father held rather free notions as to Churchmanship. That the event of which I am about to speak occurred in 1830 I know from the well remembered fact that on the day of its occurrence I was vaccinated a second time, and this operation was performed at the age of seven years. I, my brothers Robert and William, and my sister Dora, were privately baptized by my father, each, I suppose, a few days after birth. But we had no godfathers or godmothers until I was seven years old, and my brother Robert ten, William five, and Dora three. I never knew what led my father to alter his views; I don’t think they were altered, but probably his friends were anxious about us, and to humour them he gave way. At any rate, in that year, 1830, the lack was supplied. There was a great christening; I remember nothing of the ceremony, but have some recollection of the feast that followed it. It was my lot to have as my godfathers, the Rev. Hugh Stowell, Rector of Ballaugh, after whom I was named, and Mr. Nelson, Rector of Kirk Bride; I have not the least idea who my godmother was. My brother Tom was then an infant in arms, and he was baptized on that occasion, and not merely received into the congregation as we were. He is Thomas Edward, after his godfathers, Mr. Howard, Vicar of Kirk Braddan, and Mr. Craine, Vicar of Kirk Onchan. The ceremony took place at St. Matthew’s Chapel, and I dare say that when it was over and the guests had left the house, my father laughed at the whole business as a piece of humbug. It will be seen from this that I never could have answered the second question in the Church Catechism, "Who gave thee this name?" "My godfathers and my godmothers in my baptism." My godfathers never gave me any trouble; their appointment was only a matter of form, and although they were most evangelical clergy men, they never took the slightest notice of me. My father was one of the lowest of the Low Churchmen, who took such liberties with Church rules as would make most Low Churchmen of these days stand aghast. I never heard him read the Athanasian Creed. When the lesson for the day was a chapter that contained anything that he did not think fit to be publicly read he passed it by and chose another. He took not the slightest notice of Ash Wednesday or of Lent. I do not think that he always had service on Good Friday; Holy Thursday was like any other Thursday; and as to honouring the saints by the observance of the days appointed in the calendar, he would never have dreamt of it.


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