King Williams College Isle of Man


KING WILLIAM'S COLLEGE owes its foundation to the munificence and foresight of Dr. Isaac Barrow, Bishop of Sodor and Man from 1663 to 1671 . In 1668 the Bishop placed in the hands of trustees the estates of Ballagilley and Hango Hill, on which it was his intention to found " an Academical School."

The translation of Bishop Barrow to St. Asaph prevented the scheme from being realised at the time. It was in 1830 that the foundation-stone of the College was laid by His Excellency Lieutenant-Governor Smelt, and that of the Chapel by Bishop Ward, on St. George's Day, 23rd April. The active interest of Bishop Ward in the establishment of the College renders him in a real sense our " second founder." At His Majesty's desire the College was named after him, and there is fitness in the fact that an Island school should bear the name of " the Sailor King."

John Ready
His Excellency
Colonel John Ready
Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle of Man

Rev E Wilson

THE REV. E. WILSON, M.A. The Trustees chose as the first principal the Rev. Edward Wilson, M.A., formerly Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge Bell (University) Scholar and a " Double First." The Principal compiled and published in 1836 a collection of some three hundred hymns for use in the College Chapel: one of the earliest of " public school hymnals." Mr. Wilson left in 1838 to take up parochial work in England.

Bishop Ward
The Rt Rev W. Ward
Bishop of Sodor and man 1827-38

The College began its active life on the 1st August, 1833, and was the first of the Public Schools which were established during the earlier part of the nineteenth century. From the first the School was closely linked with England. At most periods boys from England and other parts of Great Britain have formed about two-thirds of the total



The original buildings were a well-designed block in which the special qualities of the local limestone were well exploited. Lord Teignmouth, whom Bishop Ward had interested in the project of the College, said " architecturally it would be an ornament to Oxford."

Rev A Phillips

Mr. Wilson was succeeded by the Rev. Alfred Phillips, M.A., Jesus College, Cambridge; D.D., Trinity College, Dublin, and formerly Headmaster of Crewkerne Grammar School. He held office from 1838 to 1841.


The buildings were of cruciform type. The length of the building facing the Bay was 210 feet; the transept, at right angles in the centre of the building, 135 feet, including the tower which rose to a height of 115 feet.

Sketch of College
College from Creggans [sketch by E.Delamotte]

The north-west portion of the transept formed the Chapel on the ground floor; the southwest section (including the present main entrance) was the Library, in which the Principal taught the senior forms. The present Big School was used as a classroom in which two masters took four classes! A corridor led to these class rooms and to the Principal's boarding-house. To the west of the library was the " play room " and beyond that the main dining room. A stone staircase beneath the Tower led to three further classrooms over the library and adjacent rooms; and another staircase led to dormitories under the roof, divided by a passage, and a House Tutor's bedroom.

College on File (from ILN)

the main entrance was originally by a little door on northside, which went from the cloisters into the space below the Tower, and for a long period this door appera to have been the one and only entrance to the main buildings.


A disaster overtook the College when in January, 1844, the buildings, with the exception of the Vice-Principal's house, were almost completely destroyed by fire. The valuable library, which included a number of rare presentation volumes, was lost.

With characteristic courage, within a week of the fire the Trustees decided to put in hand the rebuilding and refitting of the College. During the rebuilding the work of the School was carried on at houses in the neighbourhood. The School buildings were reopened on 1st August, and the Chapel on 29th May in the following year.

Rev R Dixon

The Rev. Robert Dixon, St. Catharine's College, Cambridge, and subsequently Vicar of St. Matthew's, Rugby, and Hon. Canon of Worcester, the first Vice- Principal, succeeded Mr. Phillips and was Principal from 1841 to 1865. The new dining hall, dormitories kitchens and servants' quarters were equipped and opened in 1865.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
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