sketches, historical & descriptive
of the
Congregational and Old Presbyterian Churches in the County


Author of the "History of the Old Independent Chapel,

* * * * * *





SOME sixty or seventy miles of broad sea lie between the Isle of Man and the Lancashire coast, yet its name has become a household word in this county. Thousands of busy Lancashire toilers, set free for a brief season from the mill, the office, and the exchange, find their way each year to its quiet glens, climb its mountains, make merry upon its charming bays, and come back to life's duties charged with new supplies of vigour and healthfulness, which a visit to the Isle of Man always ensures. That fact alone makes the insertion of the story of Manx Congregationalism in the " History of Lancashire Nonconformity " not altogether inappropriate. The truth, however, is that the Congregational churches of the Island are, and have been almost from the beginning of their existence, a part of the Lancashire Congregational Union. Before proceeding, however, to give their story, the reader will probably welcome a brief account of the general ecclesiastical history of the Island.

Manx early history, like that of other countries, is shrouded in legend and myth. Hence, Mannanan-Beg-Mac-y-Leirr, the first ruler in Man, and to whom it is indebted for its name, according to the records of the Island, reigned many years, and was a "paynim," who "kept the land under mist by his necromancy. If he dreaded an enemy, he would cause one man to seem a hundred, and that by art magic."

Druidism is the first form of religious life in the Island with which we are acquainted, but precisely how and when it was introduced is not clear. According to some a descendant of the famous Mannanan first established the Druids here, considerably before the Christian Era; others, however, say that the Isle of Man was the final retreat of the Druids, " after the cruel massacre of their brethren in the Isle of Anglesey by the ambitious Romans " in the first century. Certain it is that, however introduced, and cruel as many of its practices were, Druidism exercised a very wide and beneficent influence upon the people.1 " The Druids," writes one, "greatly ameliorated the condition of the people by introducing among them the advantage of government and consequent social order. For many of those simple and admirable principles of equity which form the basis of the common law, the Manx as well as the English, are indebted to the venerable prophets of the mistletoe."2

In the fifth century Christianity was introduced into the Island by St. Patrick, who " found the people, at least the Rulers, given to Magick; but being overcome or convinced by his preaching and miracles, they were converted or else expelled the Island." After about three years' labours, he went to Ireland, leaving St. Germain, "a holy and prudent man," to complete the work which he had begun; and he " so absolutely settled the business of religion that the Island never afterwards relapsed." Equally prominent amongst the early traditions of the Island is the name of St. Maughold, who had been the captain of a hand of Irish robbers, but was subsequently converted to Christianity, and who was driven ashore in a leathern boat near the bold promontory on the east coast which bears his name. His high reputation and superior piety led to his being called unanimously to the Episcopal chair, and tradition says that St. Bridget, a celebrated Irish nun, visited these shores for the purpose of taking the veil from his hands. It is impossible to unravel the tangled mass of fact and fiction which belongs to this period; consequently, the three popular saints shall be left undisturbed in the glories which the centuries have thrown around them.

" The Reformation," says Bishop Wilson, " was begun something later here than in England, but so happily carried on that there has not for many years been one Papist, a native, in the Island; nor, indeed, are there Dissenters of any denomination, except a family or two of Quakers, unhappily perverted during the late Civil Wars; and even some of these have of late been baptiz'd into the Church."3

The Bishop of the Island about the outbreak of the Civil War was Dr. Parr, a Lancashire man, who had previously been rector of Eccleston, near Ormskirk. A high character is given to him, and it is said that during his residence many oppressive ordinances were repealed, and "many shameful practices of the clergy were reformed, in consequence of the determined opposition of the people."4 For some seventeen years after his death the see was vacant. This was the period of the Civil War in England, in which the Derby family, to whom the Island then belonged, played so prominent a part. Its story does not come within the scope of this work; suffice it to say that it was from the Isle of Man that the Earl of Derby went to join Charles at the battle of Worcester, which resulted so disastrously for the Royal cause, and ended in himself being taken prisoner and executed at Bolton on October 15th, 1651. His brave Countess, whom he had left behind on the Island, and who had so brilliantly defended Lathom House in 1644 against the Parliamentarian forces, hearing of the preparations of her enemies to deprive her of this final retreat, retired to Castle Rushen, Castletown, meaning to hold it to the last extremity. Colonels Dukinfield and Birch, members of old Puritan families in Lancashire, sailed against the Island with a large force; and Captain Christian, in whom the Countess principally confided, seeing the uselessness of resistance, it is said, without her knowledge, surrendered the whole Island. Until the Restoration the Countess was kept a prisoner.

Shortly after the Restoration Dr. Isaac Barrow was appointed Bishop, whose services to the cause of religion were very considerable; but the most eminent of all those who occupied the Episcopal chair was Dr. Thomas Wilson, a Cheshire man, born in the little village of Burton, and for some time curate of Newchurch, near Winwick, in Lancashire. " When he arrived in the Isle of Man," says the Rev. Samuel Haining, " the prospect was truly appalling: the house at Bishop's Court, which was to be his residence, was lying in ruins; the churches were in a state of dilapidation; the revenues had not been regularly collected; the clergy were ignorant; and the people, engaged in smuggling, were immoral."5 During the fifty eight years of his Episcopate, he ' never omitted the active duties of the sanctuary, and regularly visited the parishes and churches on Sundays without giving them any intimation, that he might ascertain how the worship of God was attended and the manner in which the duties of religion were performed.''6

Writing in 1848, Mr. Laughton says:-

With the name of Wilson the pen fondly lingers It is a name dear to the very stones of the Island. Not only on these lonely and storm-beaten coasts is the name and memory of that just man blessed. "his praise is in all the churches" wherever the doctrine and discipline of the primitive church are revered,7 where the character of Bishop Wilson is held in remembrance. It is impossible to convey an adequate idea of the rapturous enthusiasm which attaches to his memory in the Island. A stranger must see the sparkling eye and animated countenance, and hear the subdued and trembling accents of the natives, when speaking of their ancient father, to enable him to understand the faint eulogy with which an Englishman seeks to record his distant participation in those exalted feelings. A simple unostentatious stone covers the ashes of the great and good; and if, among the thousands who yearly arrive on these shores, there be one whose heart is susceptible of that holy emotion, which the contemplation of departed excellence is calculated to inspire; if there be one who loves to shed a tributary tear on the grave of the righteous man, who "perisheth and no man layeth it to his heart," let him wend his lonely way to the old churchyard of Kirk Michael, where he will experience a crowd of sensations, such as he could never receive from the field of " glorious victory," though a nation of his enemies were sepulchred beneath it.8

The inscription upon his tombstone reads thrust

Sleeping in Jesus,
here lieth the body of
Lord Bishop of this Isle,
Who died March the 7th, 1756,
Aged 93.
And in the fifty-eighth year of his consecration.
This monument was erected by his own son THOMAS WILSON, D.D.,
a native of this parish,
who, in obedience to the express command of his father, declines
giving him the character he so justly deserved.
Let this Island speak the rest

Men of varying degrees of excellence have succeeded to the Episcopate, hut as this account is only meant to give a general idea of the ecclesiastical history of the Island, " with the name of Wilson " my " pen " must pause, so far as the Episcopal Church is concerned. I shall only add an interesting passage from the Rev. S. Haining's pen. After pointing out that the established religion of the Island is the Episcopal Church of England, writing in 1835, he says:-

Liberty of conscience is enjoyed by the inhabitants, and the Statute Book of this Island is not disgraced by any penal laws to restrict our freedom in the worship of God. The noble struggles of our ancestors to maintain their religious freedom have secured to us the blessings of civil liberty; even Hume, the Tory historian, with all his inveterate prejudices against Christianity, has candidly acknowledged that we are indebted to the exertions of the Puritans for all the civil liberty which eve enjoy. These venerable men, however, did not regain all that had been wrested from them, and England, with all her boasted religious liberty, is surpassed by the Isle of Man. Here no preacher of any denomination is required to obtain a license for himself, or the place in which he worships; and a man's being a Dissenter is no disqualification for any civil employment.9

Wesleyanism was the first form of Free Church life to appear on the Island. In 1781 it was visited by John Wesley, and, as his account of the Island is full of interesting points, it is given here in full:-

Wed. [May] 30-I embarked on board the packet-boat [from Whitehaven] for the Isle of Man. We had a dead calm for many hours; however, eve landed at Douglas on Friday morning. Both the preachers met us here, [Wesleyanism had been introduced some six years before] and gave me a comfortable account of the still increasing work of God.

Before dinner, we took a walk in a garden near the town, wherein any of the inhabitants of it may walk. It is wonderfully pleasant, yet not so pleasant as the gardens of the Nunnery (so it is still called), which are not far from it. These are delightfully laid out, and yield to few places of the size in England. At six I preached in the Market-place, to a large congregation, all of whom except a few children, and two or three giddy young women, were seriously attentive.

Sat. June 2-I rode to Castleton through a pleasant and (now) wellcultivated country. At six I preached in the Market-place, to most of the inhabitants of the town, on " One thing is needful." I believe the word carried conviction into the hearts of nearly all that heard it. Afterwards I walked to the house of one of our English friends, about two miles from the town. All the day I observed, wherever I was, one circumstance that surprised me; In England we generally hear the birds singing, morning and evening but here thrushes, and various other kinds of birds, were singing all day long. They did not intermit, even during the noon-day heat, where they had a few trees to shade them

June 3.-(Being Whit-Sunday.) I preached in the Market-place again about nine, to a still larger congregation than before, on, " I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ." How few of the genteel hearers could say so! About four in the afternoon, I preached at Barewle, on the mountains, to a larger congregation than that in the morning. The rain began soon after I began preaching, but ceased in a few minutes. I preached on, " They were all filled with the Holy Ghost," and showed in what sense this belongs to us and to our children. Between six and seven I preached on the sea-shore at Peel, to the largest congregation I have seen in the Island; even the society mostly filled the house. I soon found what spirit they were of. Hardly in England (unless, perhaps, at Bolton) have I found so plain, so earnest, and so simple a people.

Mon. 4.-We had such a congregation at five as might have been expected on a Sunday evening. We then rode through and over the mountains to Beergarrow where I enforced on an artless loving congregation, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." A few miles from thence we came to Bishop's Court, where good Bishop Wilson resided near three score years. There is something venerable, though not magnificent, in the ancient palace; and it is undoubtedly situated in one of the pleasantest spots of the whole Island. At six in the evening I preached at Balleugh, but the preaching-house would not contain one half of the congregation, of which the vicar, Mr. Gilling, with his wife, sister, and daughter, were a part. He invited me to take a breakfast with him in the morning, Tuesday 5, which I willingly did. We read family prayers before breakfast, in a very serious manner. After spending a little time very agreeably, I went on to KirkAndrews [Andreas]. Here, also, I was obliged to preach in the open air; the rain being suspended till I had done In the afternoon we rode through a pleasant and fruitful country to Ramsay, about as large as Peel, and more regularly built. The rain was again suspended while I preached to well nigh all the town; but I saw no inattentive hearers.

Wed. 6,-We had many of them again at five, and they were all attentive. This was the place where the preachers had little hope of doing good. I trust they will be happily disappointed.

This morning we rode through the most woody, and far the pleasantest part of the Island; a range of fruitful land lying at the foot of the mountains, from Ramsay, through Sulby, to Kirkmichael. There we stopped to look at the plain tombstones of those two good men, Bishop Wilson and Bishop Hildesley, whose remains are deposited side by side at the east end of the church. We had scarce reached Peel before the rain increased, but here the preaching house contained all that could come. Afterwards Mr. Crook desired me to meet the singers. I was agreeably surprised. 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. Who would have expected this in the Isle of Man ?

Thur. 7.-I met our little body of Preachers. They were two-and-twenty in all. 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. In the afternoon I rode over to Dawby, and preached to a very large and very serious congregation.

Fri. 8.-Having now visited the Island round, east, south, north, and west, I was thoroughly convinced that we have no such circuit as this, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland. It is shut up from the world; and, having little trade, is visited by scarce any strangers. There are no Papists, no Dissenters of any kind, no Calvinists, no disputers. There is no opposition, either from the governor (a mild, humane man), from the Bishop (a good man), or from the bulk of the clergy. One or two of them did oppose for a time, but they seem now to understand better; so that we have now rather too little than too much reproach; the scandal of the cross being, for the present ceased. The natives are a plain, artless, simple people; unpolished, that is unpolluted; few of them are rich or genteel; and the far greater part, moderately poor, and most of the strangers that settle among them are men that have seen affliction. The Local Preachers are men of faith and love, knit together in one mind and one judgment. They speak either Manx or English, and follow a regular plan, which the assistant gives them monthly. The Isle is supposed to have thirty thousand inhabitants. Allowing half of them to be adults, and our societies to contain one or two-and-twenty hundred members, what a fair proportion is this! What has been seen like this in any part either of Great Britain or Ireland ?

Sat. 9.-We would willingly have set sail but the strong north-east wind prevented us.

Monday, 11.-It being moderate, we put to sea; but it soon died away with a calm.l0

Wesleyan Methodism, which thus early won such remarkable success amongst the Manx people, has retained its foremost position amongst the religious forces of the Island. The Primitive Methodists, Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptists, and even "Papists," with other small sects, have followed, and are represented by interests more or less strong; but the Wesleyan Methodists are considerably the strongest Nonconformist denomination in the Isle of Man.

Manx Congregationalism is nearly a century old, and it owes its origin to the Rev. Samuel Haining. From a document in the possession of the present minister of the Finch Hill Congregational Church, Douglas, the Rev. David Inglis, Fi.A., whose wife is the grand-daughter of Mr. Haining, the following, from Mr. Haining's pen, relating to the "commencement of the cause" and the " various discouragements " which had to be faced, is copied:-

In the year 1804, the Rev. Samuel Haining, then a student at Edinburgh, visited the Island to ascertain the state of religion, and to try what could be done to establish a Christian society regulated by New Testament principles. He preached throughout the Island for a few weeks, and then returned to finish his studies. Application was made to him by some who had heard him preach to come amongst them, and, being advised by Christian friends to do so, he complied, and laboured in the different parts of the Island. A church was formed in Douglas on Congregational principles, consisting of eight members, and he was ordained to the pastoral care of the church on the 15th August, 1808, by Rev. Mr. White, Chester, Rev. Job Wilson, Northwich, Rev. Jenkin Lewis, Wrexham, and Rev. Charles, Ely, Bury. Four places of worship were occupied before a chapel was built, which was begun in 1811, and opened for worship in the month of January, 1813. Many difficulties had to be surmounted from the ignorance of the people and their opposition to the doctrines of grace, from the attachment to the Church Establishment, and from the prevailing influence of Methodism in the Island, from the insufficiency of means of support, and the want of active pious persons to co-operate in the spheres of usefulness formed, from the removals, by death, of many attached friends, and from many members and hearers of the word being obliged to go to other places to reside; but owing to the kind Providence of God we continue a people still.

Mr. Haining was accustomed to write in the Church Book the nationality of each person admitted, and it is interesting to note that those in fellowship during 1808, the year of the church's formation, represented four kingdoms. The following is the list:-

Mrs. DOUGLAS, Scotch.
Miss KERSHAW, English.
Miss EARNSBY, English.

Athol Street Chapel, which was about two years in building, was opened January 24th, 1813, and its cost was as follows:-


£, s. d.

Purchase of the Ground

189 0 0

Building the Walls on

162 0 0

Clearing the Ground and Digging the Foundation

40 0 0


331 17 8


116 9 3


65 7 8


18 0 0

Windows, Lead, and laying it on

47 19 0


84 0 0

Ironmonger's Bill

34 0 0


28 0 0

Painting Windows and Doors

10 0 0

Stone Cutter's Bill

32 0 0

Samuel Hill, for Superintending Putting on the Roof, and Sundries

65 14 1½

Extras not included in any of the above

40 16 6



£1,265 42½







£, s. d.

Timber from Mr. Quayle, Liverpool

15 4 4

Do. from Robert Corlette

16 0 0

Workmanship for the Shell of the Gallery

24 0 0

Timber from R. Corlette for the Seats

68 13 11¾

Do. from E. Forbes for do.

15 0 0

Workmanship for Seats and Stairs

36 0 0

Ironmonger's Bill

14 0 0

Plasterers' Bill

6 10 0

Extras not included above

10 0 0


£205 8 2 ¾


Shortly after the chapel was opened, a Sunday School was commenced, probably owing to the starting of a Methodist School in the town.11 The following relates to the event:-

A Methodist Sunday School for the religious education of children of both sexes and of all denominations, will be opened in this town on Sunday next [May 2, 1813]. We understand that a Sunday School will also be opened at the Independent Chapel, Athol Street, on Sunday next, under the direction of the Rev. Mr. Haining.12

It is much to be regretted that the information respecting Mr. Haining, the apostle of Manx Congregationalism, is not more full. A native of Kirkcudbright, and, as previously stated, educated at Edinburgh, it would be interesting to know what led him to turn his attention in the direction of this Island. Settled, however, here,13 like most of the Congregational ministers of that day, being filled with the Missionary spirit, he made his church at Douglas the centre of manifold labours. In 1815 pecuniary assistance was sought from the Lancashire Congregational Union, and in the Report, ending April, 1816, appears the following interesting paragraph:-

The attention of your committee has been directed also towards the Isle of Man, from which place they received a strong appeal to their feelings on behalf of the cause at Douglas, where our faithful brother Mr. HAINING has laboured for eleven years with considerable success, amidst great opposition. Driven by persecution from one building to another, his congregation were at last compelled to build for themselves. This has, however, occasioned a debt which presses so heavy upon them, that their minister has been obliged to keep a school for his support, and has thus been prevented from itinerating, the necessity of which is felt by all there. To assist him in doing so, your committee have, agreeable to a resolution of the last half-yearly meeting, taken the case into their serious consideration, and appointed a sub committee with discretionary power to arrange this business.

The appeal was successful, the sum of £25 was granted, and as the result, we get the following report in April, 1818:-

At the last annual meeting Mr. HAINING was taken under the wing of the Union, as an itinerant in this long neglected Island; and he has laboured abundantly, in not less than twelve different towns and villages; some of them distant ten, fifteen, or even twenty miles from his residence. There are only two places in the Island in which he has not yet been able to preach, and he hopes shortly to visit them. He is in the habit of preaching five times in the week, besides the labours of the Sabbath. In his own congre. gation at Douglas, he has been more successful than in any former year, having been enabled to give himself wholly to the ministry. Among the places visited by Mr. HAINING he particularises the following: Union Mills, Kirk Onihan [Onchan ?] Ramsey, Ballaugh, and Castletown (the capital of the Island), in each of which, many who were living without God in the world, have attended the preaching of the Gospel, and have manifested a great desire to have it continued. Thus has the sum of £25 enabled a faithful minister to carry the glad tidings of great joy to hundreds who were perishing for lack of knowledge; and, with the continued assistance of the Union, he will not fail to preach among them the unsearchable riches of Christ.

Mention is made in the foregoing extract of Ramsey and Castletown, where Mr. Haining frequently preached. Congregational churches existed here for a short time, and at this point it will be convenient to give the few items of information about them which I have been able to obtain. As early as 1810, a church had been established at Ramsey, and the following is an account of the ordination of a minister to the pastorale on September 23rd of that year:-

Rev. Js. Taylor was ordained pastor of the Independent Church, Isle of Man. Mr. D. Lewis, Llanbrynmair, introduced the service. Mr. Haining, of Douglas, described the nature of a Gospel Church from Acts ix. 31; Mr. D Jones, of Holywell, asked the questions and prayed the ordination prayer; Mr. Haining delivered the charge from I Tim., iv., 16; Mr. Jones preached to the people from Phil. i., 27. first clause; Mr. Haining concluded by prayer. The congregation was large, remarkably attentive, and apparently much affected. For five years Mr. Haining occasionally preached in Ramsey. Mr. Taylor has laboured there for more than a year, with considerable acceptance: a church is formed, and the prospect is encouraging. This is the second Independent Church lately planted in the Isle of Man.14

The County Union Report, ending April, 1820, states that whilst there had been "several additions to the church at Ramsey," it had to " deplore the loss of its principal friend." In 1821 the Home Missionary Society sent the Rev. Mr. Baker to take charge of the church, who is said to have laboured with "great promise of success." In 1829 "Vacant from Removal" is written against the church, and shortly afterwards, it appears to have died out. Possibly consequent upon this, at any rate, about that time a Congregational church was established at Castletown. The Rev. Mr. Morss was minister in 1833, but he was " not yet ordained. "

The County Union Report for the year ending April, 1837, has the following respecting Castletown:-

The Rev. Mr. BERRY states, that during the past year the interest at this place has proved a source of "animation, depression, and perplexity." Full one third of the original congregation, including several of their most active and valuable coadjutors, have been removed to England. In the midst of these discouragements, however, he considers that the cause has substantially advanced in public estimation, and the people seem to be united, and deeply concerned for the welfare of the place. Mr. BERRY has preached at Port Lethary, Balla Beg, Balla Salla ,and the Strand, where the congregations have been good, though the severity of the weather and sickness have prevented his visiting them with the regularity he desired. The congregation at Castletown has varied from thirty to sixty. There are at present seventeen members in the Church; there are forty children in the Sunday School. Mr. BERRY considers the village congregations as very encouraging; usually they are about forty. At the Strand in particular, the place is always full, and the congregation remarkably serious and devout.

In the autumn of 1837, Mr. Berry resigned, and retired from the Island, and during the winter the place of worship was closed; but it was re-opened in the following spring " under very encouraging circumstances," and the Rev. Mr. Saxton, formerly a student of Rotherham College, became the minister. The church remained in existence only a few years longer

Returning to Mr. Haining, the County Union Report' ending May, 1821, states that the Home Missionary Society had " kindly expressed their intention to supply the Island with the means of itinerant preaching "; but their efforts were to be " considered auxiliary " to those of the Lancashire Congregational Union. As the result of this, Mr. Baker, as we have seen, was sent to Ramsey, with whom Mr. Haining " zealously " co-operated. From the Evangelical Magazine for 1822, the following is taken, which illustrates how anxious the little band of Congregationalists in Athol Street were to spread their principles in the Island:-

At a meeting of the friends of religion in Athol Street Chapel, Douglas, Isle of Man, May 27th, 1822, was formed ' The Isle of Man Congregational Itinerant Society," designed to spread the gospel throughout that Island by means of preaching and of schools. Mr. W. Kelly was appointed President, and the Rev. T. F. Winslow,16 Secretary. The gospel is now preached in several parts of the Island. The communication from Liverpool or Greenock being greatly facilitated by means of steam boats, they hope to receive visits from their Christian friends thereabouts. The climate is healthy, the living cheap, and the sea-bathing, they say, excellent. It is proposed, as soon as possible to procure ministers to preach to the inhabitants in Manks, their native language.17

Following this Mr. Haining was able to report to the Lancashire Congregational Union, in 1823:-

There are now, at least, four preachers in constant motion throughout the Island. And there are encouraging accounts of the places in which the word of God is preached under the patronage of this Society.

Mr. Haining continued to receive help from the Union Funds for some years after this, but no further information about his work appears in the Reports. In 1829 the following information respecting the ecclesiastical condition of the Island is given:-

Population, 50,000. Diocese, Sodor and Mann. The existing churches will not afford room for more than 9,000. In Douglas, 7,000 inhabitants, and the Episcopal churches cannot accommodate 1,400 hearers. Wesleyan Methodists, 3 circuits, 5 preachers. CONTRIBUTIONS-Bible Society, .£86 35. Wesleyan Methodists' ,£140 145. 7d. Church ditto, £25. SUNDAY SCHOOLS, 65. Scholars, 3,602




Douglas Rev.

S. Haining







Vacant from Removal.18


The Rev. A. Jack, Congregational minister of Whitehaven, paid a visit to the Island in 1833, in connection with the London Missionary Society, and in a letter to the Home Secretary, says:-

I was much gratified with the kind reception which Mr Rodgerson and myself met with in the Island, and the disposition shown to help the great cause of missions. The brethren in Douglas and in Castletown showed themselves quite alive in the work and only complained that they had so long been left out of the churches to which appeals had been made for support. There are only two Congregational Churches in the Island, one in Douglas, under the pastoral care of Mr. Haining, and the other at Castletown, under the care of Mr. Morss, who is not yet ordained. There's a Scotch church in Douglas, but in a very feeble state. I formed An Auxiliary Society for the Island at Douglas, which I hope still succeed It is placed in the hands of some active young ladies, who, I have no doubt, will work well. I formed also an Association at Castletown which promises well. They will both, however, be only miniatures, for there is not a Manchester in the Island. Will you be so kind as to send to me, by the first monthly parcel, some missionary papers adapted for circulation at Douglas and at Castletown, that the ladies may proceed vigorously in their work. I am happy that I had an opportunity of making known the society and its claims to many who seemed to have no idea that any other Missionary Society existed beside the Wesleyan. I promised that if it were in my power I would revisit the Island next year, and keep alive the impression made in favour of the Society. The Primitive Methodists showed us much kindness in granting the use of their chapels. The collections amounted to £26 5s 7d 19

Mr. Haining continued his useful labours at Douglas until they were interrupted by death in 1846. His tombstone in the graveyard of St. George's Church, Douglas, contains the following inscription:-

In Memory of JANE.Wife of The Rev Samuel Haining, of this town,
She departed this life on the 16th of January, 1843, Aged 60 Years.
Also of the Rev. SAMUEL HAINING,
A native of Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland, who came to this Island in 1804, as a Minister of the Gospel of Christ,
and was Pastor of the Church and Congregation which met
in the Independent Chapel,
Atholl Street, in this town from its erection in 1813
till his death on the
22nd of August, 1846, in the 68th Year of his Age;
Eldest Son of the Rev Samuel Haining,
Died 25th February, 1876,
Aged 67 Years.

Mr. Haining was one of the originators of the Lancasterian School, now St. George's Church Day and Sunday School, of which the Rev. D. Inglis, B.A., as his representative, is a trustee; also of the Isle of Man Auxiliary of the Bible Society,going up to London to obtain the needful information. He was the author of a capital Isle of Man Guide, which passed through two or three editions; and he published, "Mormonism Weighed in the Balances of the Sanctuary and Found Wanting;" " Strictures on the Charge of the Bishop of Sodor and Mann, Delivered to his clergy at Bishop's Court, July 10th, 1844;" and a sermon on " Regeneration." He was an excellent Hebrew scholar, and during the forty years of his residence upon the Island laboured with a fidelity which has caused his name to be still a tender memory to some of the older people. His daughter, Miss Haining, still survives.

The vacant pastorale was filled by the Rev. Mr. Harrison, who had been educated at Rotherham College. Trouble arising, he resigned after two or three years, and the chapel was closed for several months. It was about this time that the Rev. W. C. Stallybrass came to be tutor to the family of Mr. Jackson, of Falcon Cliff. Mr. Jackson had ceased to attend Athol Street, and with him came into existence Cliff Chapel, of which Mr. Stallybrass was minister for a short time. In 1850, however, the Athol Street friends invited him to the pastorale of the church there. The invitation was accepted, and Mr. Stallybrass began his labours on July With of that year. At Cliff Chapel, the Rev. Robert Chamberlain became his successor. He was educated at Hoston Academy, had held pastorates at South Shields, Petworth, and Swanage, previous to his removal to the Isle of Man, in 1852. He remained some two years, when he became pastor of the Congregational Church, at Oakharn, where he died December 30th, 1855, aged fifty-eight years, having been minister only a few days. Shortly after Mr. Chamberlain's removal the church at Falcon Cliff ceased to exist; the chapel has since been " transformed into an entrance to Falcon Cliff Hotel grounds." Immediately on the settlement of Mr. Stallybrass at Athol Street, the church was re-formed, and after a successful pastorale of eight years he removed to Wavertree, Liverpool.20

His successor was the Rev. John Chater, a student from Cheshunt College, who had charge of the church from February 20th, 1859, to May, 1863, when he removed to West End, Southport, where he is still the respected minister. His successor was the Rev. Anthony Thompson, B.A. Born at Alnwick, in 1835, and, educated at Spring Hill College, he settled at Douglas, in 1863, on the completion of his college career. A promising ministry was cut short by his death, April sth, r866. On November 23rd, 1866, Wm. Dalrymple, Esq., laid the foundation stone of the present Finch Hill Congregational Church, and on the same day the Rev. John Williamson, M.A., a student from Lancashire College, was recognised as pastor. The following ministers, most of whom had taken part in the stone laying ceremony, assisted in this second service: Revs. J. Legge, M.A., J. Fettes, A. Murdock, J. A. Macfadyen, M.A., Professor Scott, LL.B., and Professor Newth. The building was opened for public worship in 1868. It is a neat and commodious edifice, and, standing well on the hill, is a conspicuous object in the town. The accommodation provided is for 600 persons, and the total cost, including land and school, was about £5,000. Within the last three years several very handsome windows have been inserted in the church by the Dalrymple, Maitland, and Haining families, in memory of worthy members who have gone over to the majority. The old chapel in Athol Street, which had done good service for more than half a century, was sold and transformed into shops, the upper part now serving the useful purpose of a Free Library. On September 30th, 1878, Mr. Williamson closed a successful pastorale, and removed to Newland Chapel, Lincoln. His present sphere of labour is at Cardiff. On the 23rd of February, 1819, the Rev. David Inglis, B.A., from Werneth, Oldham,21 began his ministry as Mr. Williamson's successor, and still continues here. With the exception of Mr. Haining's, his pastorale is, therefore, by several years, the longest which the church has enjoyed, and it has been not the least successful. During that period a debt of £1,400 has been removed, and class rooms have been erected at a cost of about £250. About seven years ago the church was beautified, at an expense of £140, and the membership which stood at about eighty-three at the commencement of the present pastorale, is now 130. Recently the church has suffered heavy losses in the removal by death of at least two of its most prominent members-Mr. William Dalrymple, son of the Rev. James Dalrymple, of whom more presently, fell asleep on May18th, 1890, after filling many useful positions in the public life of the Island, and serving the church in the capacity of deacon for forty years. Mr. Thomas Cubbon, his brother-in-law, a " good and faithful servant," both in the church and out, died May 8th, 1893, aged sixty years, leaving a vacancy which many years will not succeed in filling, and a blessed memory which time will not efface.

Athol St Chapel

Reference has just been made to the Rev. James Dalrymple, who was educated at Edinburgh. His career was a somewhat chequered one; but, according to the passage previously cited from the Congregational Magazine, he was " pastor " of Kirk Michael in 1829. Probably all that is meant is that Mr. Dalrymple, who was a schoolmaster there at the time, conducted religious worship as he had opportunity, for there is no evidence that a Congregational Church ever existed at Kirk Michael. It was, however, at Union Mills that he spent the greater part of his life in preaching, in a very humble meeting house, the Gospel he so dearly loved.

Some humorous stories are related concerning him, one of which is to the following effect: On one occasion, whilst conducting the service, the lighted candles caught the loose folds of his gown which he sometimes wore, and Mr. Dalrymple simply remarked that for once he was "a burning and a shining light." After his death, which took place in December, 1861, the present little chapel, with sitting accommodation for 150 persons, was erected by public subscription, in memory of his long and faithful labours. The foundation stone was laid June 25th, 1862, and that building was opened for worship in the following year. Services were continued until 1873, when, " owing to the difficulty of finding suitable pulpit supply," the place was closed. In September, 1890, the Finch Hill Church took steps for its reopening. The Rev. F. R. Roberts, M.A., late of East Boldon, and formerly a student of Lancashire College, took charge of the place. After some twelve months he left, and was followed from September, 1891, to May, 1892, by the Rev. W. C. Lee, late of St. Annes-on-the-Sea.21 No successor has yet been appointed. The members are in fellowship with Finch Hill Church; and the County Union, since its reopening, has annually granted £25 in support of the work.

Until a few years ago there existed a second Congregational Church in Douglas of some importance, a brief account of which will conclude the history of Congregationalism in the Isle of Man. Respecting its origin a recent writer says:-

About fifteen years [should be about thirty] ago, the Finch Hill Congregational Church sought to extend its usefulness into the neglected parts of Douglas' and for this laudable end engaged Mr. Smith as an evangelist, who, for a long time, laboured in visiting from house to house, cottage prayer meetings and in the open air, especially on the Market-place, until at last he drew around him a number of attached supporters. After a while mission rooms were engaged; the Temperance Hall (since pulled down) and St. George's Hall, Athol Street, and the evangelist, possessing a large amount of the genius of the revivalist, gathered together large meetings. Mr. Smith becoming exceedingly popular' was persuaded by his numerous followers to enter upon a more ambitious project and a wider field of usefulness than small mission rooms afforded. Eventually a plot of ground was fixed upon in Circular Road, near Buck's Road, and the erection of a large chapel was commenced.22

 The chapel, according to an inscription upon its front, was erected in 1866, and has sitting accommodation for about 600 persons. For several years, large congregations were gathered by Mr. Smith's ministry; but in 1872 he resigned, being followed in the same year by the Rev. W. H. Hyatt, who had been trained for the Wesleyan ministry. He removed to Upper Mill, in Yorkshire, in 1874. His successor was the Rev. J. S. Kent, who held the pastorale from 1877 to 1879, removing in the latter year to Little Lever, near Bolton.23 The Rev. T. R. Quayle became the minister in 1880. He remained about three years, and no successor was appointed. The building was eventually sold to the Unitarians by whom it is now used. During several years previous to its dissolution the church received considerable help from the Union Funds; and it may be added that for some time there was a preaching station at Laxey connected with it having sitting accommodation for about 100 persons.

Such is the story of Manx Congregationalism. In some aspects doubtless it is discouraging, but in others not; in some senses it may be a record of comparative failure, but much more of persistent and courageous effort on the part of men who had the strongest faith in their principles. And if it has not succeeded in multiplying its interests as largely as some other denominations, Congregationalism is well and respectably represented by the Finch Hill Church, which for more than eighty years has borne honourable testimony to the truths of the Divine kingdom.


1: Druidical remains are not uncommon in the Island, and not less conclusive of the widespread influence of Druidism are some quite modern observances. The following respecting St. Maughold's Well, written in 1848, is interesting, and bears upon the point:-

" Beneath the rocks which form the bold promontory of Maughold is the celebrated spring called St. Maughold's Well, the water of which is remarkably clear and refrigerant. The custom, not yet obsolete, of resorting to this well on the first Sunday in August is most probably of Druidical origin. The spot is precisely such as would have been selected by those hoary prophets for an annual assembly, when, probably, oracles would be delivered to the superstitious enquirers. It was the practice of the emissaries of the Church of Rome, when carrying their religion to a new region, not to abolish heathen observances, but merely to substitute a new pretext, having some reference to the new rehgion Thus, in Ireland, they did not abrogate the custom of burning fires in honour of the Sun at the beginning and end of harvest, but instructed the benighted heathens to dedicate their fires to John the Baptist, which the peasantry continue to do to this day. So with regard to Maughold's Well. That captain of Irish Rapparees having selected this spot as his favourite abode, and having afterwards been canonised in honour of his self-imposed penances, the people were instructed to repair to his well at a particular season, as they had formerly done to receive the oracular responses of the Druids. But as it was necessary to substitute a new pretext, the well was forthwith invested with the properties of preventing and curing barrenness, to which priestly juggle the chalybeate quality of the spring gave some colouring, at least in those days of medical ignorance. The fructifying virtues, it is needless to say, have disappeared with the priests who administered the draught, but the people still observe the custom of resorting to the spot once a year, though it may be safely affirmed, that the major part of them know not wherefore they are come together." " Isle of Man Guide," by J. B. Laughton, B. A., p. ISO

2: "Isle of Man Guide," by J B. Laughton, B.A, p 8. In vol. iii, of " Lancashire Nonconformity " the reader will find an engraving of the " Cutting of the Mistletoe "

 3 The passage above cited is from an account at the Isle of Man written by Bishop Wilson for "Camden's Britannia" (vol. ii., p. 1450) Second Edition, published in 1722. The account contains some very curious information about the physical features of the Island "There are several noxious animals," says he, " such as Badgers, Foxes, Otters, Filmerts, Moles Hedgehogs, Snakes, Toads, &c., which the inhabitants know no more of than their names, as also several birds, such as the Woodpecker, the Jay the Maup, &c. And it is not long since a person more fanciful, than prudent or kind to his country, brought in a breed of Magpies, which have increas'd incredibly, so as to become a nuisance. And it is not two years since somebody brought in Frogs, which they say increase very fast." The tradition is that St. Patrick banished all sorts of vermin from both the isle of Man and Ireland

4: " Isle of Man Guide," by the Rev, Samuel Haining, p 49.

5: Ibid.

6: " Isle of Man Guide," by the Rev S. Haining, p 52.

7: And where they are not; i,e., even a Nonconformist can revere and respect the memory of so good a man as Bishop Wilson however much opposed to his doctrines.

8:" Isle of Man Guide," pp 41, 42.

9: " Isle of Man Guide," p. 55.

10: "Wesley's Journal," vol. iv, pp. 195-197, Mr. Wesley records in his Journal that the calm continuing through Tuesday, it was Wednesday morning before the vessel reached Whitehaven. How different to day when Liverpool, about twice the distance to Whitehaven, may be reached from Douglas in less than four hours, and in nearly all sorts of weather.

11: Happily the spirit of unfriendliness, which, in the early days of Methodism existed between it and other Nonconformist denominations, has long ago passed away.

12: Manx Advertiser for May 1, 1813.

13: The following extract from the Manx Advertiser for July 13th,1811, is interesting as determining the place of Mr. Haining's residence during his first years upon the Island:-

" Doctor Bible has taken a lease of and removed to the house lately occupied by the Rev. S. Haining in Muckles Gate, next door to Mr. Clegg's."

14: Evangelical Magazine" for 1811, p, 116.

15 Probably this was Mr. Thomas Winslow, who was recommended by the church at Islington, London, to the Glasgow Theological Academy, where he was entered as a student in 1819.

16: Page 363.

17: " Congregational Magazine " for 1829, p. 735.

18: Evangelical Magazine " for 1833, p. 421.

19: Vide ante p. 211.

20: Vide vol. v. of "Lancashire Nonconformity",

21: Vide vol. i. of "Lancashire Nonconformity."

22: Broadbent's " Guide to the Isle of Man," p. 190.

23: Vide vol. iii, of "Lancashire Nonconformity."


 Manx Note Book  [Full Text Index]

see Inglis's Recollections

switch to frames viewAny comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001