[From Manx Annals,1901/2]

MANX ANNALS OF NINETY YEARS AGO.

A valued correspondent has sent us a aeries of notes of Manx events of other days Their compilation represents a great deal of research and we are greatly indebted by permission to print them: We are sure they will greatly interest our readers.

CHAPTER I.

The words "Ninety years ago" are rather misleading, as the following notes do not cater to the year 1811 alone but to many other years in the early part of the nineteenth century.

On the 11th of November, 1811, during a gale, a sloop [The Margaret and Ann, David McFaul, master, of Larne] with cattle struck on the "Wart" at Peel, where she was every moment expected to have gone to pieces. Several seamen belonging to Peel went off in a boat, and succeeded is rescuing the whole of the crew and passengers. They had only left the vessel a very short time before she became a total wreck. The men who particularly distinguished themselves in the rescue were — Joseph Parr Crane, John Kermode, Wm. Corkan, Thomas Gracey, Wm, Boyd. James Holiday, and John Corkan. Lieut. Donaldson, who commanded a detachment of soldiers in Peel, remained with a guard most of the night protecting such wreckage and cargo that was found.

Mention is made above of soldiers. The Manx Fencibles were disbanded the same year in March, in September, a transport brought three companies of the 11th Royal Veterans, who were quartered in. the four towns till barracks were fitted up in November. The Peel barracks are now cottages at Mrs. Lucas's on the Shore-road. In January 1812, George Sutherland informs the public that he has opened "Lord Nelson's Hotel, opposite the Barrack Gate:" This was where Mrs. Fayle new lives

Those were days full of trouble. War had been carried on for many years with France, and several Manxmen were at this date in captivity on the continent. A letter dated "Longwy, September 23rd, 1811," from Thomas Crellin, of Peel, then a prisoner in France, to Robert Cannon, of Douglas, runs as fellows : —

" Dear friend, — Your favour of the 11th of June came to band, also a remittance of £40, for which I received 661 livres 8 sols. I wrote to the different depots, and find there are 27 of our countrymen, among whom I impartially distributed the money. The following are the names of the prisoners : At Cambray — John Lace, Onchan; Thomas Farragher, Peel; Thomas Kermode, Port St. Mary ; Robert Quaye, Maughold ; Robert Kelly Braddan ; Robert Kail, Ramsey. At Givet — Ross McKissack Castletown; Robert Creer, Castletown ; Wm. Garrett, Douglas ; Wm. Benally, Foxdale. At Verdon — Daniel Clarke, Peel ; John Clague, Douglas. At Besaucon — Thomas Radcliffe, John Parr Whittam, Wm. Johnston, John Corlett; all of Douglas; Thomas Taubman, Castletown ; Thomas Cannell, Peel ; Edward Moore, Andreas. At Longwy — Thomas Cummins, Castletown ; Patrick Kewley, Ballaugh ; Michael Cowin, Peel; Robert Quayle, Ballasalla ; Thomas Crellin, Peel. At Arras — Wm. Kegg, Castletown. At Sarra Louis — Thomas Clucas, Marown. There is another, John Lace of Ramsey, not yet found.

THOMAS CRELLIN."

Of these Thos, Faragher, of Peel, was captured is 1809 ; Thos. Cannell (son of Robert. of Peel) — captured in 1805, when in H.M.S. Calcutta ; Michael Cowin (son of Thomas, of Peel) was a sailor on the Sophia when captured in 1804 ; Thos. Crellin, the writer of the letter. was on the ship Hamilton, captured 1806, All these, except Daniel Clarke, were still prisoners in 1811. Clarke had either died or escaped. Two of the men, Wm. Garrett, of Douglas, and Robert Creer, of Castletown, were then in captivity ten years, both having lost their freedom in 1803. Eventually most of them round their way back to the Island after the peace of 1814. On the 6th April that year Bonaparte abdicated, and rejoicing reigned all over the kingdom. On Thursday, April 14th, the Peel detachment of troops assembled at neon in the Market-place, and fired three vollies "in a very superior style," as the " Isle of Man Gazette" remarked. In the evening the inhabitants illuminated their houses by request of the High-Bailiff, when a number of transparencies were displayed, whilst at Robert Grant's "Liverpool Coffee House" all the gentlemen of the vicinity dined. Of course Douglas outdid the rest of the Island, when on the following Monday that town " exhibited a scene of splendour never seen before" so said the " Manks Advertiser:' "All the joiners in town were in requisition" for days making frames in the windows of the principal houses, whilst at the lower class dwellings the bustle occasioned by cleaning the panes and decorating them with laurel and evergreens surpassed everything ever seen by the oldest inhabitant,"

Balls, races, festivities were the order of the day. The people seemed to have gone mad. ' Not content with feasts in the towns, they must have one on the top of Sneafell. Witness the following: —

"SNEAFIELD BOVEN !

A number of ladies and gentlemen have proposed, to meet on Friday next, the 1st of July (1814) to partake of a cold collation at two o’clock, on the summit of Sneafeld (sic) in commemoration of the late glorious events ; and Mr. Dixon, of the British Hotel, having agreed to provide the same for gentlemen at 10s 6d, ladies 5s each, all expenses and amusements included ; it is therefore requested that those ladies and gentlemen who wish to join the party will subscribe their names, To remove the fears of the public in respect to the access to Sneafield, it is ascertained by four respectable gentlemen from Douglas, who rode to the summit yesterday (June 24th) that it is perfectly accessable with carriages to within a quarter of a mile off the base, and with horses to the top."

It was announced that an "air balloon" would be sent off from top of the mountain.

The first of July came round; the weather was favourable; and everything went off satisfactorily, except the balloon, which would not go off at all, it having met with an accident on the way up the mountain. At ten o'clock the tents were pitched and the Union Jack displayed from a flagstaff — at the same time another was hoisted on North Barool. The crowds poured in, on foot, on horseback, and in carriages. Soon after noon the Lieut.-Governor arrived at the top, and was saluted with cannon and cheers — the band of the volunteers playing "God save the King," At half past two a cannon announced that dinner was ready. A hundred and twenty sit down — John Wade, Esq., in the chair, the Governor (Col. Smelt) on the right, and Gen. Goldie (who had fought under Wellington) on the left. Amongst the ladies were the Governor's daughter, Mrs. Stowell, Mrs. Wade, the ladies of the late Bishop's family, — &c, Toasts began with " the King" and a salute of twenty, one guns, and so on, to "all friends round Sneafield" — as it was then spelt.

The festivities, etc., is Manxland in honour of the British victories inspired many, of the local poetasters of that time, one of whom must needs ridicule his brother poets in a poem of some length, the opening lines of, which ran : —

Like a broad — — — in dirty puddle placed,
Mona lies snug, amid the watery waste ;
'While at her sides whole droves of herrings snore,
And nightly nets do drag them to the shore.
An isle ! ere little poets may be seen
Like fairies or fanordries (sic) all quite green.
Old dotards here, and boyish rhymsters range,
And many gossips too — uncommon strange —
As all may tell.'.

In 1815 peace, was again broken, Napoleon had escaped from Elba and defied Europe once more. The Royal Veterans, who had been stationed in the Island since 1811 were ordered to hold themselves in readiness to go to Ostend. But on the 18th of June the battle of Waterloo was fought and the crisis was over, so the troops only got so far on Chatham. After they had left the Island the volunteers under Capt. Stewart did garrison duty "in their usual handsome and soldierlike manner." But the Prince Regent hearing that a prolonged service might be inconvenient to the officers and men, ordered two companies to be reduced, and one additional company raised in Castletown and another between Ramsey and Peel, so that the original strength of the regiment was still preserved.

Two or three years afterwards, when all anxiety had vanished, the war stores of the Island were sold by auction, when amongst the material at Peel were two 18 pounders and 50 pound shot,

In 1808, the Isle of Man suffered from the press-gang, and the inhabitants for some years after lived in terror of being impressed. Early in August, 1811, the tender "Maria" arrived it Douglas in command of Lieut. Hawes. The lieutenant, on being applied to by Mr. Norris Moore, the then high-Bailiff, assured the latter that he did not intend to impress any of the fisherman or to interfere with the fishery. Consequently, the fishermen continued their occupation till the night of the 17th. when several fishermen, workingmen, and others were impressed after a hard fight, in which several of the men were dangerously wounded. The "Maria' set off early in the following morning for Ireland. A meeting of the principal inhabitants of Douglas was then held. and a memorial presented to the Lieut.-Governor calling for an investigation of the business. Mr. James Drinkwater, who was then mayor of Liverpool, sent a letter to the lords of the Admiralty begging for the release of the fishermen, etc., impressed, and got the following reply : —

" Admiralty Office Aug 20th, 1811. Sir, — In answer to your letter of the 24th instant respecting sundry persons impresser in the Isle of Man by Lieut. Hawees of the Maria tender, I am commanded by my Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty to acquaint you that their Lordships have determined not to discharge these men on account of the very improper conduct of the people of Douglas. — I am sir, your most obedient servant.

T. W. BARROW — . To James Drinkwater, Esq.,
Mayor, Liverpool."

Mr. Drinkwater married Miss Leece, daughter of Mr. William Leece (formerly of Braddan but at this time a merchant in Liverpool). Messrs Leece and Drinkwater owned a line of sailing packets between Liverpool and the Isle of Man.

However. the "volunteers" who were impressed and carried to Dublin were a few weeks afterwards, liberated by an order from Government, and arrived at the Island about the middle of September, to the great joy of their families and friends.

In February in the following year Douglas had another fright, when on the arrival of H.M. schooner Alpha, some men and boys deserted. The Lieutenant gave orders to have them sought for, or to have a like number impressed, The press-gang turned out for this purpose and paraded town and country. Some of the deserters were found and put on board; that stopped the press-gang, but the country was in suspense till the schooner sailed.

Press-gangs were prohibited a year or two after this, when England proved victorious in the wars that ended with Napoleon's downfall.

These wars caused great distress in many families. For their benefit funds were raised all over the kingdom. In August. 1815, the Manx Bishop ordered sermons to be preached in all the churches in the island in aid of the Waterloo Fund. A large sum was raised by these means en Sunday the 27th, Subscriptions were got up in Douglas and Castletown. In the Douglas Let were the following : 'The Bishop, £10 10s ; John Taubman, £10 10s; Officers, Drummers, and Privates of the South Manx Volunteers. — £15 16s 2½d; General Stapleton, £8 8s ; Countess of Kinnoul, Thomas Gawne, Wm. Scott, John Cosnahan, Wm, Jenison,Mrs. Bacon. John Quane, Col. Steward, G. and S. Callow, Robert Cannon, £5 5s each ; and so on. By the middle of September the total reached a few shillings short of £300.

The Castletown subscriptions totalled £71 16s 6d. Wherein were: — The Governor, £10; Deemster Crellin. Major-General Cumming. Lieutenant-Colonel Cunninghame, Captain Woods. and Miss Stevenson, £5 each ; Robert Quayle, £4 4s ; James Wilks, £2 10s,; Edward Cotteen, P. Lightfoot, John Taubman, Mrs. Gelling. Mrs. Qayle, £2 2s each ; and so on down to smaller sums.

Eighty and ninety years ago the inhabitants of the Isle of Man were more inclined to horse racing than they are now. On Easter Monday, April 15th, 1811. races were held at Peel. The Manks Advertiser" of March 30th that year has the following : —

" HORSE RACES AT PEEL.

On Easter Monday a given prize of two saddles, value five guineas, will he given for the first horse, the best of two three-mile heats. Entrance, one shilling to the pound, for any horse that never was known to win the sum of ten pounds, catch weight. Any gentleman who wishes to enter a horse must apply before 11 o'clock; if not, double entrance — at the post. The horses will be called to the post at 12 o'clock. In the afternoon, a sweep for ponies under eleven hands high. Entrance; half a crown. The prizes, which will be lodged in the hands of two respectable gentlemen of the town, will be advertised on the post"

The press of the period said that these races " afforded most excellent sport, and attracted a greater concourse of people there than has been remembered on any former occasion whatever."

In 1813, horse racing in the Island flourished more than over. On Easter Monday, at Peel, there were a number of races run. These per card were as follows: —

" No. 1. — For horses — a saddle, value three guineas, and a bridle, value one guinea,
2, — For horses that have never raced before — a saddle, value three guineas.
3, — A pony race for a bridle and whip.
4. — A sweepstakes for the beaten horses.
5 — A pair of breeches, raced for by men in sacks,
6. — Three yards of linen, run for by women.
7. — Six pounds of tobacco, grinned for.
8. — A pig, run for,"

The " Isle of Man Weekly Gazette" of April 22nd that year, gave the following extraordinary account of these sports: — "in the second heat for the Maiden Plate, the hors,es had not run half a mile before one of the jockies (Paddy), who rode Lord Doelittle's horse, was thrown into a dangerous position by the saddle slipping. His feet having quitted the stirrups, he actually held the saddle with one hand. He lost that heat; to console him a subscription purse was handed to him containing three and sixpence. The sweep was run for (course, one mile, horses rode by gentlemen) by the following thoroughbred mares :—; Mr. C — tt's Long Back, Mr. H — d's Physic, Rev. Mr. M — — d's Mountaineer. They went off at score, and continued neck to neck chief part of the heat, wlich Mountaineer won by it length and a half. Many hundreds were depending on this race, though the mares were all 'broken winded.' The course was attended by most of the nobility and fashionables of the Island, and the banks on each side of the course were filled with beauty and' elegance The ordinary at Grant's Liverpool Coffee House was sumptuous, and conviviality was the order of the day."

I do not knew where these races were held, I but I fancy it was at Close Chiarn.

Races were run at Douglas and at Ramsey the month following. On Whit-Monday, 1814. Douglas sands were " crowded with beauty and fashion," the ladies appearing in the newest up-to-date attire — Wellington bonnets. Blucher handkerchiefs, De Berry slippers, etc. — all to witness the races, when there was run for " an elegant embossed cup," value ten guineas. In July, same year, horse, pony, and sack races were contested on the " old race ground" at Peel. Horsemanship in days of yore was considered an essential in one's career. To attain this art, ladies and gentlemen, "who ride their own horses" were taught at Peter Ripp's riding-school, Old Bowling Green, Douglas, at a guinea a month.

Dancing was mach in vogue at this period. and masters in the art paid regular visits to their classes all ever the Island. In February, 1811, Mr. Drenan publishes the fact that his pupils' ball would be held in Peel on March 4th, when he would dance a very fashionable petticole with a young lady of his own teaching, and a hornpipe m the newest manner to that old tune ' Patrick's Day in the morning.' Cards to be had at Mr. Long's Liverpool Coffee House Peel.

Mr. Marshall Drenan married, in 1821, a Castletown lady. Mr. Thomas Long, of the Coffee house, came to the Island about 1803. In December, 1811, he left Peel, and commenced a coffee house to the "Parade" (now Parade-street) Douglas. His wife having died in 1814, he married about the end of the same year a Miss Hastings of Douglas. and returning to Peel in 1815; opened "the New Inn" — the Coffee House in Peel having been taken in 1812 by Robert Grant, Long dying in 1817, his widow carried on the hotel. and, I believe, shortly afterwards married Captain Norris, who ran the packet Charlotte between Peel and Ardglass.

What! you don't believe there were packets sailing from Peel at that time?

The "Isle of Man Weekly Gazette" of September 3rd, 1812, states that the "Friends" of Peel. a new packet between the Island and Ardglass, " sailed from Peel on Sunday morning crowded with passengers. The fares were ; — cabin. 10s 6d ; steerage 4s ; horse, 5s ; carriages, 31s 6d ; and the" Manks Advertiser" of January 16th. 1811, says that "a new cutter, elegantly fitted up', sails between Ardglass and Peel, in winter, from Peel every Thursday — from Ardglass every Monday, In summer, from Peel every Monday and Thursday — from Ardglass every Wednesday and Saturday."

The passengers from Ireland were not always welcomed by the Manx. In July 1812, " a number of passengers having the appearance of vagrants who were landed at Peel, were ordered by the High-Bailiff (Hugh Clucas, died 1817) to be conveyed back by the vessel that brought them." No doubt they came across hoping to get work as harvesters and to make harvest out of the visitors.


 

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