Notes on Thomas Kelly and Famaly's Journal

These notes are a record of my own, and continuing, investigation into the Journal - prompted by Tim Davis, a reader, who had hoped that it was his family that accompanied the Kellys, and having seen both versions asked me why the differences?. I must emphasise that all opinions here are my own. I had originally transcribed the journal to satisfy another questioner about costs incurred in emigration and had given little thought to the text except to note its rather tear-jerking ending and somewhat strange reason for the emigration (for more discussion on this point see my emigration section.

From even a cursory review of the two documents (version originally printed in IoM Examiner and the transcript of Manx Museum MS5200C provided at one can note the great similarities in small details but major differences in surrounding text. Anticipating my conclusion I will call MS5200C the diary and the Examiner text the 'journal'.

Several possible explanations of the existence of two different texts are:

I will first look at the Kelly Family before looking at others in their party. Consideration of the 'journal' will be postponed until after these biographical details.

Thomas Kelly, Senior and Family

The following dates are taken from the IGI and need final checking against parish registers.

Note that spelling of names was generally somewhat lax - Kelly, Kelley and Killey all appear though 'Kelley' would appear the most general for the 1780-1820 generations. The numbered persons were those on the voyage
  Thomas Killey married Margaret Sayle 30 Dec 1760 at Jurby
He would appear to have died 1797 (a Thomas Kelley was buried 26 April 1797 at Jurby) but a legacy was recorded to the poor of Jurby in the 1831 Isle of Man Charities.
(1) A son Thomas Killey was christened 14 March 1761 at Jurby - this was Thomas Kelly Snr
  Thomas Kelly married Joney Kermode/Cormode 16 Jul 1791 at Jurby their children were:
(2) Thomas Kelley christened 6 May 1792 at Jurby - this was Thomas Kelly Jnr;
  Catherine Kelley christened 26 April 1795 at Jurby    she married Wm Teare 1816
(3) Isable Kelley christened 5 December 1801 at Jurby
    Thomas Kelly married (4) Jane Boyde 5 May 1815 at Ballaugh - their children were:
(5)Jane Kelly christened 1 Jan 1817 at Jurby
(6) Ann Kelly christened 10 Oct 1819 at Jurby
(7) Margaret Kelly christened at Jurby
(8) Isabel Kelly christened 18 July 1824 at Jurby -died on voyage
(9) Maria Kelly christened 3 June 1827 at Jurby - she was just a month old at the start of the voyage.

Thomas Kelly Jnr was one of five trustees to whom Thomas Kelley and Joney Kermode sold (at a low price) some land in June 1822 in order to build a Methodist schoolroom/chapel for which purpose money had already been covenanted by other farmers [NorthSide Sales 1826]. This was Sandygate built in 1822 which provided both a chapel and a day school.

Joney Kermode signed with a X; she died, (buried at Jurby 25 Mar 1826) before the sale of the farm in 1827.

Thomas Kelly, snr, died Saturday 5 Jan 1828, after a long illness (see Thomas Kelly's letter [from note in Painesville (Ohio) Telegraph].


Other members of Thomas Kelly's party

The diary (not the 'journal') gives the following:
John Quayle
Ann Quay
Christiana Tear, niece to Thomas Kelly Snr
John Cannell
John Cannell's wife - not named but Ann Mylechrane and his family
John Cannell
Ann Cannell
William Cannell
Thomas Cannell.

Christian Teare daughter of William Teare and Cath. Kelly was christened 1 Jan 1789 at Jurby which if correctly identified makes her just over 38 at departure.
A Catherine Kelley also married William Quay in 1791 - this may have been the same Catherine - their putative daughter was Anne Quay christened 10 Jan 1798 which if the identification is correct puts her 29 on departure.
The John Quayle has not yet been identified.

The Cannell family

John Cannell married Ann Mylecharane on 4 November 1820 at Jurby, their children were:
John Cannell - presumed the Cannel .. (unreadable name?) christened 30 Jan 1821
Ann Cannell christened on 3 November 1822 at Jurby
William Cannell christened on 12 December 1824 at Jurby and
Thomas Cannell christened on 20 May 1827 at Jurby

The most likely identification for Anne Mylecharane is for her to be the daughter of William Mylecharane and Elizabeth Christian, christened at Jurby 1 Jan 1800 which makes her nearly 21 at marriage (typical age) and thus 27 on departure.


Others mentioned in the text

Discussion on the Diary

Thomas Kelly wrote a letter home on 2nd Jan 1827 - reading this places a completely different light on his motives and truely makes nonsense of the introductory material. In this letter he is very critical of the situation back on the Island and comes across almost as a proto-chartist.

Once the interpolated text is removed the diary takes on a very different aspect - the text is very laconic, even the death of his 3 year old daughter rates few words. Nowhere is the impact of this sudden death on his wife or daughters. The text is very factual - almost as though he was dealing with the accounts at Sandygate Methodist Chapel and School where he had been a trustee. Even the enforced two weeks sightseeing around Liverpool - which at that time was one of the most impressive cities in England with immense docks (built on the proceeds of slavery) and impressive public buildings - rates "Nothing to do but looking on the Wonders Through the Town" - compare for example Hulbert's description of Liverpool in 1822.

Other than the unexpected death it would also appear to have been relatively uneventful journey - just one day of gales and it would appear no sickness on board (they got through quarantine very quickly). It is obvious from reading the diary that the family knew what to do - they change their money in Liverpool, quickly book the necessary journey along the canal and lake etc. In fact they are effectively working to a pre-arranged script as is apparent from the published letter of 15 February 1827 in the Manx Advertiser which gives this as the best route.

Instead of the weak and over dutiful 35 year old son portrayed in the 'journal' it is much likelier that Thomas Kelly, Jnr, was the driving force - his father was 65 and recently widowed whilst he had been a trustee in the local Methodist Chapel and School. Almost certainly poorly educated - Jurby parish school reported only 20 pupils c.1826 [1831 IoM Charities] - yet obviously interested in schooling as evidenced by his trusteeship and also the comment asking about the schoolhouse in a reply from Ohio to an enquiry from Thomas Kelly [Manx Advertiser 15 Feb 1827].

They sailed on the 'John Bull' from Ramsey to Liverpool - Mona Douglas [see later notes not finding it in Lloyds Register surmised that it was a local fishing vessel. However with 10 adults and 9 children it would have to be a large vessel - most manx fishing boats were small and had 8 crew being designed for work close to land. Possibly it was the 'John Woods' which was one of four vessels that ran a regular service from Ramsey to Greenock and Liverpool (alternately - four sailings a week not on Tuesdays) [see Hainings Guide 1834].

Mona Douglas is more likely to be correct with her description of the ANACREON, which was built at St. John, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1824, and first registered in Liverpool in 1825. She was a fully rigged wooden ship of 429 tons, and in 1827 her owners were Gibson & Co., and her master was Captain Bewley. Her official description was: Decks, 1; masts, 3; length, 113-8/12 feet; breadth, 78-11/12 feet; depth, 20-6/12 feet; Big, ship; bowsprit, standing; stern, square; build, carver; galleries, sham; head, man's bust. The vessel was registered de Nova as No. 164 in 1828, and registry was finally closed when she was lost on Hog Island, April 5th, 1883.
Note here that Thomas Kelly has First Mate Mr Bewley yet Mona Douglas quotes the Liverpool Courier

"Anacreon " entered for loading, Captain Bewley, 427 tons. W. Gibson, from New York. On Wednesday, 25th July, the announcement read: " Anacreon " sailed Monday, 23rd July, Captain Bewley, for New York

The voyage of 47 days would appear to slow compared with other packets (see statistics for 1819-1823) and as already noticed relatively uneventful in terms of weather though in his letter Thomas Kelly mentions two brief but very strong storms..

Consideration of 'Journal'

The opening paragraph should have sounded warning bells - Doolough to Peel is around 10 miles - a minimum of 4 hours return trip; Doolough is also nearly two miles from the sea so an early morning swim in April when the water is freezing is also difficult to accept. Likewise the acceptance of Bunyan - the Kelly's were Methodists, Thomas Kelly would be very familiar with the hymns of Charles Wesley in which Calvinism was attacked and was unlikely to accept Bunyan as a model - interest in Bunyan resurfaced in the 1830's and later. Likewise Shakespeare - it is unlikely that he had ever seen a play - Milton would have been a less surprising choice.

The 'nature worship' is also strange coming from a 1820's Wesleyan Methodist - Romanticism really only began to penetrate into Evangelical thought after the 1830's - as Bebbington phrases it 'Reason not emotion had been the lodestar of the Evangelicals' up to that time [D.W.Bebbington Evangelicalism in Modern Britain 1989].

Much of the opening section reads like a guide book introduction! There is nothing here that is not wellknown, no detail of farm life, no mention of Methodist meetings which probably would have busied him on several nights of the week.

Cozy villages and pleasant towns were not the usual description of Mann - as many have pointed out the Manx settlement scheme was not that of the English village centred around the church and pub but consisted of isolated (though relatively dense) houses usually a significant distance from their parish church. Only two settlements could be described as villages - Ballasalla near Castletown in the south and to a lesser extent Kirk Michael strung out along the road from BishopsCourt. Pleasant towns ? Douglas was then a major port, the resort of many half pay Army officiers for whom a better class of accomodation was being built but most of the population lived in the rabbit warren of buildings clustered above North Quay. Ramsey had not yet entered its late victorian heyday and had seen a significant part of the town innundated. Peel is an old town but 'pleasant'? Only Castletown really fits the description.

The appearance of the word 'Viking' at least 25 years and some 50 years before its general use as noted by the OED, has already been noted. Likewise Thomas Kelly is remarkably prescient in attributing the climate of the Isle of Man to the effects of the Gulf Stream. This was first noted by J.G.Cumming in the late 1840's and picked up by every guide book since (prior to him the equitable climate was always stated to be due to the nearness of the sea). Likewise the rise of the Island as a tourist resort - the Duke of Atholl had only just started investment in Douglas towards these ends.

Isn't it surprising that he could wax so strongly about the beauties of Mann and the possible emigration when he would be extremely busy with farm work yet during two weeks of enforced idleness in Liverpool can find no time to report on the sights! Likewise it is obvious from the published letter by William Tear and others that one of the Thomas Kelly's (and by implication the younger) had written to William Tear at the latest sometime around October/November of 1826 asking for directions - no hint of this in the 'journal'.

On a small detail - his latest daughter is given as born (somewhat prematurely!) on June 4th yet she is recorded as having been christened on June 3rd at Jurby (as were all her sisters) - not Ballaugh as so lovingly described. Ballaugh was his wife's parish and thus where, by custom, they were married. Jurby was the Kelly's parish - his grandfather having even given a legacy of £4 for the poor of the parish in 1797. June the 3rd was a Sunday - the general day for christenings in front of the congregation unless the baby's life was in danger. Thus it is likely that his daughter had been born some days prior to this. It is also extremely difficult to believe that a Methodist Trustee had been working on the Sunday - it was generally accepted that Manx fishermen did not work on Saturday Night or on Sunday.

The 'journal' gives the impression that Thomas Kelly, Snr, could have sold the farm without Thomas Kelly Jnr's agreement - Manx Law would not have allowed this thus if the later had not wished to go, then as eldest son, the farm must have been left to him after the death of his father.

I suppose one can be surprised that a second edition of the 'Journal' could appear in 1965 without any comment on the historical veracity - edited by Margery West, the historical notes were by Mona Douglas, then in her 70's, a veteran journalist, staunch Manx nationalist, and rightly respected proponent of Manx Dance. However as she showed elsewhere, e.g. in her short lived Manninagh magazine of the 1970's and various books on Manx traditions etc., historical research was not her strong point especially if it got in the way of a good story. She does not , for example, note the paper by Kinvig on 'Manx Emigration' that had appeared a decade earlier, which paper noted the photostat of MS5200C though he, too, had obviously not bothered to compare the two texts. Margery West published a futher article in Manx Life [July/Aug 1973 pp47/50] which is heavily based on the 'journal' without any questioning of its veracity - however she includes photographs of Thomas Kelly and Jane Boyde/Kelly and of their children together with a short family tree. Although the reference to Thomas Kelly's letter was by then sitting in the Manx Museum card index she appears to have done no additional research.

Although the 'journal' is general lighter on detail some additional details are given

Quayle is a common name - no neighbours of this name are mentioned in the deeds of sale of the farm - I suspect it comes from the mention of John Quayle.

Moore's Manx Worthies 1901, in a brief section on emigrants notes that two families, the Kellys and the Cranes came in 1826; the Corletts (of whom the most famous was Rev Thomas Corlett) are also mentioned though these Corlett's were from Orrisdale in Michael. Cubbon in his bibliography notes only the three letters and no mention in the newspapers of Kane/Craine though one of the authors of the latter was William Kelly.
The inclusion of subsequent family names indicates that the author of the 'journal', probably writing in the 1920's/30's was very likely a family member.

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