[from Isle of Mann and Diocese of Sodor and Mann, 1837]
BISHOP OF SODOR AND MANN
His Majesty's Commissioners appointed to consider the State of the Established Church with reference to Ecclesiastical Duties and Revenues."-1836.
I FEEL myself called upon thus publicly to address your Honourable Board, as the only way open to me of recording my most solemn remonstrance and protest against that recommendation of your Second Report, by which provision is made for the future annexation of the present See of Sodor and Mann to that of Carlisle. Since in my opinion this union of the two Sees would be highly inconvenient to both, and most detrimental to the spiritual, as well as to the social interests of that people, over whom the providence of God has placed me, I should consider myself wanting to my duty, did I ever silently concede the point, or cease to press it upon the attention of the Church, so long as my life offers an impediment to its accomplishment.
Although this proposition has now become prospectively the law of the land, there are two reasons, which induce me to bring it before the Board at this present time. I am informed by an eminent legal authority, that your commission did not extend to the Isle of Mann, and that therefore so much of the Act of last session, as refers to that Island, is virtually repealed, and must be re-enacted under a new commission: but even if this were not the the case, there is, I apprehend, a power vested in your Honourable Board of altering or modifying any of its former recommendations: it is under the hope therefore, that the proposition affecting the Isle of Mann may be reconsidered on either the one or the other of these grounds, that I beg to lay before your Honourable Board my own views of this question in as strong a light, as is consistent with the respect due from me to His Majesty's Commissioners.
I propose, in the first place, to give some reasons for the preservation of its ancient privileges to the Isle of Mann, and afterwards to consider in their order all the objections, which have been urged on the other side.
The First reason for the preservation of that Bishoprick rests upon its antiquity: there are authentic records of an almost uninterrupted succession of insular Bishops for more than 1400 years.
Secondly, from its geographical position the Isle of Mann is entitled to retain its Bishop.
Thirdly, as a distinct people, the Manx are entitled to continue in the enjoyment of this among their other ancient privileges: their laws, ecclesiastical and civil, are different from those of England; their legislative and executive government is distinct from and their legislative independent of, the English: the Church therefore, as well as the State, requires a distinct governor.
Fourthly, the constant presence of the Bishop is necessary as head of the Council, the principal branch of the Legislature in the island, and as leading trustee of all the insular charities: these are duties, which cannot be exercised by an Archdeacon, or any other deputy. Fifthly, there is another reason, in some measure connected with the last, which should have some weight, when we are making new laws for an old people, and invading their long-established rights. The Bishop is one of the principal resident gentlemen in the island, whose station in society, whose connexions in England, and whose property give him the power of befriending the necessitous, and that the more effectually, because, from living among them, he knows their wants and their characters, from personal observation.
In the Sixth and last place, from reasons moral and religious a resident Bishop should be retained in that island. his presence there has necessarily a great moral influence upon society in all ranks, because his authority extends to all ranks. But most especially would the absence of the Bishop affect the interests of religion: the Bishops of Sodor and Mann have hitherto maintained those interests almost single-handed. There is not a Church or Chapel, nor an institution for the advancement of learning, which is not a monument of the careful munificence, and charitable exertions of some Bishop of the Island. Not to speak of more ancient remains, the "monitus locorum" of ruder, but not less pious ages; since the restoration Bishop Barrow founded parochial schools in every parish, and also a free-school in Castletown for the purposes of general education. He also left an estate to provide for the education and partial support of the clergy: besides which, he raised funds in England for the purchase of the impropriate tithes, then in the hands of Lord Derby, since then recovered back from the clergy by the Duke of Atholl after fifty years possession, and now vested in the Crown. Bishop Wilson, the second great benefactor of the island since the Restoration, obtained by law from the Derby estates what was then considered an equivalent, but which does not now return more than a fourth part of the original value of the tithes. Besides the blessings resulting from the personal superintendence of so watchful an overseer for more than half a century, Bishop Wilson built Churches and Chapels proportioned to the population at that time, founded public libraries in every parish, and in all respects made his diocese a model not only for the Church in England, but for the whole Christian Church throughout the world. Bishop Hildersley trod worthily in his footstep, and left the Manx a precious legacy in the Bible and the Liturgy, translated, under his care, into their own language. Succeeding Bishops have built, or caused to be built, both Churches and Chapels. But it was impossible for the Bishops to find means for the building of Churches, equal to the extraordinary increase of the population, before the attention of the English public had been, as it now is, generally drawn to the subject: notwithstanding therefore the exertions of my predecessors, when I came to the See nine years ago, I found that the population of the Island had increased so rapidly, having more than doubled itself since the time of Bishop Wilson's death, that local means were wholly inadequate to furnish the necessary Church accommodation: I had recourse, therefore, to English charity, and succeeded in raising funds sufficient for the building and rebuilding of eleven new Churches and Chapels. A proposition also made by me for a more extensive application of the funds arising from the trust estate left by Bishop Barrow, met with cordial assent, and a vigorous co-operation on the part of my co-trustees, and the principal gentlemen of the Island, the consequence of which was the establishment of a College upon the estate, which his Majesty has graciously permitted to be called "King William's College;" it already contains nearly 200 students. I mention these circumstances, which refer to myself. because I am well assured, that if any benefits have accrued, or are likely to accrue to the Isle of Mann from any exertions mad,e by me, those benefits are the necessary consequence of my personal superintendence, and freedom from other duties: had I been resident at Carlisle, encumbered with the cares of that Diocese, and with parliamentary duties, none of those works (even had they been projected) could have been carried into effect. The same causes also must have operated to have diminished the exertions of Bishops Barrow, Wilson, Hildersley, and all the other Bishops of that Island, had this annexation taken place before their day : Bishop Wilson's government could not, in that case, have called forth that eulogium of the Lord Chancellor King, that " if the antient discipline of the Church were lost, it might be found in all its purity in the Isle of Mann."
If such have been the advantages resulting to the Isle of Mann from the presence of its own Bishop within its own shores, it is certainly a hard, if not an unjust, thing to deprive an ancient and a loyal, though a poor, people of their undoubted rights without the most obvious necessity. I looked, therefore, in the report of your Honourable Board for some reasons of weight sufficient to justify the proposed change. Without detracting from those advanced either in number or importance, I hope to shew you, that you have acted in this matter, on grounds insufficient in themselves, and inapplicable in the present case.
The following are the words of the Report:-" We are of opinion that the Bishoprick of Sodor and Mann may, without inconvenience, be united to that of Carlisle." Since these words stand the first in order, I must call your attention to an inconsistency in the Report, which they suggest. Speaking in your first Report of the proposed union of Bristol and Llandaff, you say " -if this plan be adopted, it cannot be denied, that the interposition off the Bristol Channel between the two divisions of the Diocese will produce some inconvenience, and that the Bishop will be resident at a considerable distance from the greater part of his Diocese." Again, in your Second Report, you say, " when the union of the Sees of Bristol and Llandaff was recommended, we were not insensible to the inconveniences attending that arrangement, and the representations, which have since been made to us against it, have operated so strongly on our minds, as to induce us, on reconsideration, to relinquish that plan." Those representations, I am informed, came from the people of Bristol and Llandaff, who laid before the Board the great inconveniences which would arise from the fact of the Bristol Channel dividing the proposed Diocese. To these representations you very reasonably yielded; yet a few lines only further on it is given as the opinion of the Board, that the Bishopricks of Mann and Carlisle, between which intervenes, not the estuary of a river, but a wide sea, of a navigation confessedly the most difficult and dangerous to be found round the coasts of the United Kingdom, " may be united without inconvenience." This is surely inconsistent with your own expressed opinion, "that the interposition of the Bristol Channel between two Divisions of a Diocese would produce some inconvenience; an inconvenience sufficiently great to induce you to relinquish the plan." Is it not also inconsistent with your objection to a Bishop being resident at a considerable distance from a great part of his Diocese " Does there not appear an inconsistency in the statements, that the Sees of Bristol and Llandaff, on account of the Channel, cannot, but that the Sees of Mann and Carlisle, notwithstanding the sea, can be united without inconvenience? "Convenient" is certainly not the word most applicable to the proposed measure; for looking at it merely as an arrangement of expediency, the inconvenience of that arrangement forces itself upon our notice in whatever way we view it; not only as regards the Clergy and the people of the Isle of Mann, but also the Bishop of Carlisle. I have myself always found it exceedingly difficult and inconvenient to exercise an efficient controul over my Diocese during my occasional absence in England, although I am intimately acquainted with all its peculiar circumstances, and am free from all other episcopal duties. I assume, therefore, that it would be much more difficult and inconvenient for a Bishop of Carlisle, who could never be supposed to have the same opportunities of local information, as a resident Bishop must necessarily possess; and who has, moreover, duties already sufficiently onerous, without the addition of those resulting from such an appendage as that of the Isle of Mann to Carlisle. To the inconvenience of such an addition, the Bishop of Exeter, when speaking on this subject in the House of Lords, has borne ample testimony. he said, he could speak from personal experience: the Scilly Islands had been lately added to his Diocese; and although he gladly took them under his charge, rather than suffer them to remain without a Bishop, yet the inconvenience attending his superintendence of them could only be known by one, who had experienced it: at that very time he was in great perplexity as to the right course to pursue; either he must defer his visitation to those Islands till another summer, a delay which would be greatly prejudicial to the interests of the Church there, or he must neglect some most important duties in other parts of his Diocese. Such are the inconveniences attending the annexation of the Scilly Islands to the Diocese of Exeter Islands small in themselves, and of little importance compared with the Isle of Mann. These inconveniences, however, were unavoidable; it was necessary, that those Islands should have a Bishop. But with the Isle of Mann the case is far different: the Bishop of Carlisle is not called upon to receive under his care this most inconvenient appendage to his present large Diocese, because the people of that Island are destitute of a spiritual overseer; but an independent Bishoprick of fourteen hundred years duration is to be swept from the English Church, an important and populous Island is to be deprived of its own complete system of civil and ecclesiastical government, principally, as it would appear, for the purpose of making an addition to the See of Carlisle. The only other reason advanced in your Report rests upon the same ground of territory. You say, that "the Isle of Mann contains only eighteen parishes, over which the Archdeacon, who is resident, and has a respectable income, can exercise an effectual superintendence." With reference to this it has been said, that the Commissioners in equalizing the ecclesiastical divisions of England and Wales could not overlook the Isle of Mann. But in the First Report, in which the new divisions were all proposed, you did overlook it; for Carlisle received considerable additions, but the Diocese of Sodor and Mann was not mentioned; and in the map of England and Wales, attached to the Report, the Isle of Mann only is left uncoloured, as though it had nothing to do with the ecclesiastical divisions of England and Wales: this is the point, to which I wish to call your attention. The Diocese of Sodor and Mann does not interfere with any of the English Dioceses; the arrangements for the re-division of those Sees were all made without reference to the Isle of Mann. It is doubtless perfectly right, that the twenty-six ecclesiastical divisions of England and Wales should be made more equal; but it does not therefore follow, that the twenty-seventh Bishoprick, separated geographically, morally, civilly, and for 1400 years ecclesiastically, from the other twenty-six, should be abolished, because it is smaller than the rest. For although the Diocese of Sodor and Mann is small in comparison with the English Bishopricks, yet the assumed advantage of a new division of territory is not a sufficient reason for destroying a sacred institution of 1400 years' duration, unless it can be shown that such an institution is either useless, or that it interferes with other necessary arrangements. I have already shown, that it is not useless : neither does it interfere with other necessary arrangements, because they were all originally made without reference to it; and from its geographical position it never can. One only reason can be urged on the ground of territory, that abstractedly speaking (for we must speak of the Isle of Mann abstractedly from England) the Diocese of Mann is too small, and its territory unworthy the undivided care of so high a dignitary as a Bishop. The history, however, of the Christian Church in its earliest and purest days, sufficiently refutes such an opinion. Such was-not the opinion of the pious founder of that Bishoprick in 440. Such has not been the opinion of succeeding ages. Such was not the opinion of the great and good Bishop Wilson, who, when he was offered an English Bishoprick, refused to accept it; " my wife," he said, "is poor, but I will not forsake her in my old age." The Isle of Mann was not thought unworthy of his care by that primitive Bishop, the benefit of whose learned labours is now reaped by the whole Christian world. Such, again, is not the opinion of the late Bishop, who declared last session in his place in the House of Lords, that, from 14 years' experience, he considered the retention of its separate Bishoprick as essential to the well-being of the Church in the Isle of Mann. My own opinion is sufficiently expressed in this Memorial. But it is said, that the people of the Island are indifferent as to the loss of their resident Bishop, because they have sent up no petitions on this subject. Your Honourable Board is aware, that the Archdeacon, the Clergy, and the great body of respectable inhabitants have memorialized both his Majesty and the Board: and if the interested, the indifferent, and the disaffected would rejoice in the Bishop's absence, there cannot be brought forward a stronger argument for his retention; for those, who most require the coercive power of either the civil Magistrate, or the spiritual overseer, are not the first, but the last, who will make a voluntary effort to retain that ~power among them. Much has been said lately in England against the non-residence of the Clergy, and his Majesty charges the Commissioners, "that the best mode should be devised of providing for the cure of souls, with a special reference to the residence of the Clergy on their respective benefices;" but, notwithstanding, you now propose to deprive the Isle of Mann of its peculiar privilege of a Bishop, with his Clergy, constantly resident, and to supply his place by an Archdeacon. But is it not a degradation of the Episcopal character? Is it not an indignity cast upon our Apostolic office, to say, that an Archdeacon can effectually fulfil the superintending duties of that Office ? An Archdeacon is only primus inter pares; he is not a spiritual overseer; that people, therefore, whose resident Bishop is supplanted by an Archdeacon, lose whatever spiritual advantage is to be gained by the presence of a spiritual overseer. I trust that your Honourable Board will now see, that this proposition is not defensible on the ground of " territory." With regard to the Episcopal "revenues" of the See of Mann, the Board, of course, saw the injustice of alienating them for the benefit of Carlisle: you will also, I think, see the injustice, as well as the - impolicy, of scattering those revenues among the inferior Clergy. It is surely impolitic to admit the principle, that, if the Clergy of a certain Diocese be poor, they may claim the Episcopal revenues, because there is not a Diocese in the united Church, to which this principle would not be applicable; and it is dangerous to tempt men with expectations which they ought not to desire to see realized. In this case, however, such a measure would be unjust towards the people, even should it in a temporal point of view benefit the Clergy. I have already shown the great advantages derived to the people from the residence of their own Bishop among them : their forefathers purchased these advantages for them, by dedicating a portion of their property to his support to take this portion, therefore, and apply it for the benefit of any other order of the ministers of the Church, would be unjust, not only to the present, but to all future generations of Manxmen. But to the Clergy themselves this proposed benefit would be more specious than real ; they are doubtless very poor, but they would not be compensated by the small portion they could each receive, at the most £50 or £60, from the subdivision of the Bishop's revenues, for the loss of the only person of rank or property among them far from gaining the comforts or the influence property, they would still remain poor; while, by this scattering of all its revenues, the Church would lose the important station it now holds in all insular affairs. There is a source indeed, from which the Clergy might receive temporal benefit, without spiritual detriment, either to themselves or the people. I have already mentioned certain impropriate tithes, once the property of the Clergy, but now vested in the Crown. to gain these tithes for the poor Clergy, I have not hesitated to employ the most urgent importunities with every successive government during the last nine years. Could I live to see this boon granted, and the insular Church secured in all her rights and privileges, I should go down to my grave without a doubt of her future welfare and prosperity.
From the prospect of what might be, I revert with pain to the proposition of your Honourable Board. When I first heard of your intention, I looked anxiously for some benefit proposed, as likely to accrue either to the Isle of Mann, to Carlisle, or to the Church generally, thinking that the Church of Mann had an undoubted right to expect such a reason at your hands; but I looked in vain neither in the Report, in the House of Lords, nor elsewhere, was any such reason advanced.
Could the Diocese of Sodor and Mann have been made in any way subservient to the relieving of any English Bishop, from the burden of too oppressive duties, even to its own detriment, my voice should not have been raised against such an arrangement. But when you take from the Church of Mann her spiritual Father, you take that which does not enrich you, but makes her poor indeed: when therefore I can see or hear of no possible advantage, either to the Church generally, or to the Sees of Mann or Carlisle, in particular; but the contrary to all, to the Church generally the loss of a Bishop; to Carlisle a great additional burden; to the Isle of Mann great temporal and spiritual loss for the present, and a gloomy prospect for the Church in future. When I see an ancient institution disturbed, without any plea of improvement when I see a Bishoprick, coeval with the Church itself, about to abolished, and that to the detriment of the Church-when I am told, that those revenues, which, in a former age, independent islanders set apart for the support of their own Bishop, are either to be alienated from the soil to a foreign Bishop, or perverted to other uses than those, for which they were originally granted when I enquire into the authority, with which this was done, and find, that his Majesty's Commissioners have so far departed from the spirit, if not from the letter, of his Majesty's instructions, which demanded "the suggestion of such measures as might be most conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church," as actually to diminish, rather than to increase the number of its chief officers ; and when, to accomplish this, I find, they have carried their powers across the sea to an island, to which their Commission did not extend: when I hear this defended on grounds, which, even were they tenable, which they are not, would be altogether insufficient to warrant the disturbing of any ancient institution, much less to sanction the extinction of an independent Church, which ages have hallowed, and which the great Head of the Church has blessed in a peculiar manner, both in its Bishops, its Priests, and its People-when I see and hear all this, and remember that the providence of God has appointed me Overseer and Guardian of that Church; and that I am responsible to Him, if, through wilful neglect, or treacherous dereliction of my duty, that portion of his Vineyard should suffer any hurt, either in the present or the future time; I should indeed be wanting in the duty which I owe, not only to my Church, but to yourselves, did I cease to press this most solemnly upon your consciences, that this is not a mere question of convenience or of inconvenience, but, that in this and every act to which you put your hands, is involved the welfare of many million souls. You are intrusted with the interests of the fairest pi)portion of Christ's Church-our Sovereign is bound by the most solemn oath to preserve those interests in their full integrity he has committed his conscience into your keeping he has charged you to suggest such measures only, as shall "be most conducive to the efficiency of the Established Church." Can you then, unwarranted by any pretext of improvement, venture to remove the mar of God from before the altar, where he has ministered without reproach, for 1400 years ? Can you answer to your God for dismembering His Church? Can you answer to your King, for detracting from the efficiency of the Church by diminishing the number of its officers? Can you answer to the Bishops of the Church for weakening their order, and adding to, rather than lightening their burdens ? Will you one day be able to answer to future generations of Carlisle and the Isle of Mann, for leaving them to the divided care of one Spiritual Overseer, when, but for your arrangement, they would have for ever continued to enjoy, each their ancient spiritual privileges, and their birthright ? Can you persevere in this, and be at peace ? God, and your own consciences alone can tell; but this others can tell also-the whole Church is witness to me, that you have not been left unwarned thus far I have done my duty perhaps I may appear to some to have exceeded my duty be it so the praise of God is of more value than the praise of man. I will never cease to repeat the warning with the greater earnestness, as the approach of my death hastens the accomplishment of this measure to avert the threatened calamity from my Church I am prepared to make any sacrifice, even of friendship; for l believe most solemnly, that in a very few years after the removal of the Bishop, the name only of a Church will be left to her, and her empty walls will stand as sad memorials of an arrangement, needless and uncalled for in itself, burdensome to Carlisle, and destructive to her own best interests. But it shall be never said that the last of this long line of Bishops stood by with folded arms, without an effort, in the name of God, to arrest the stroke, before it fell.
While, then, my many years give serious warning, that I must speak as a dying man, and when I tell you that, after all other earthly cares are forgotten, my fears for this the Church of my affections will add a pang to my dying hour, I have a good hope, that my words will not pass unheeded. but that the Church of Mann may even yet be spared, as a memorial of happier days, that are passed, and as an earnest of brighter days to come.
To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal.
The Humble Petition of the Archdeacon and undersigned Clergy of the Diocese of Sodor and Mann for the preservation of their Bishopric as a distinct and independent See,
SHEWETH, That whereas by an act of the late parliament, commonly called the English Church Bill, it has been determined by the civil power, on the removal of the present Bishop of Sodor and Mann, to annex his Diocese to the See of Carlisle, your Petitioners beg leave humbly to represent that, in their judgment, such an annexation would be inconvenient and injurious, not to say uncalled for and unjust. With great inconvenience would the Bishop of Carlisle receive so burdensome an addition to his duties, and be obliged, most probably, in advanced age, and with a large family and establishment, to cross and recross continually a wide channel, confessedly one of the most stormy and dangerous near the British shores. With equal inconvenience would his clergy and laity be able to communicate with him, either personally or by post, during two-thirds of every year, on those numberless matters , in which, as Bishop of their insular Church, head of its council, and leading trustee of its college, schools, and various charities, he would have to be consulted. Hence your Petitioners are fully persuaded that embarrassment to all classes in the island, from its legislature down to its poor, and consequences injurious to their temporal and spiritual welfare, would inevitably arise from a non-residence of its Bishop, so large, necessitated, and authorized, as must follow from the annexation of this See to Carlisle.
Such an arrangement, therefore, they earnestly deprecate being carried into effect ; the rather, as it appears to them uncalled for by any serious ecclesiastical advantage. To remove an ancient landmark, to sink an independent Bishoprick almost coeval with Christianity itself, they would deem, under any circumstances, a grave measure, justifiable only from the extreme exigency of the case , but here the exigency seems all the other way. The lsle of Mann~ is rapidly increasing in population and importance, and in consequent requirement and employment of a resident Diocesan. Never were his presence, advice, and ministrations in the Church and council of his people, so urgent as in the present day. To secure his services and benison, independent islanders of a former age, at the same time that they enjoined his residence by statute law, rendered it easy and honourable by baronial dignity and liberal emoluments. Having made this provision for an independent Bishop of their own, that their posterity should be deprived of him, in their hour of the greatest need, your Petitioners humbly represent would at least be hard, they even venture to think unjust. Their constitution would be infringed, their statute law would be broken, England's compact with them would be violated, and their own Episcopal revenues would be either abstracted from the soil, or converted to other ends than those for which they were plainly given. And for risking all these evils, your Petitioners humbly submit that no imperious necessity has been shown, or can be made out. A diocese which filled the hands of an apostolic Wilson, cannot reasonably be deemed too small, especially when its population is more than doubled since his day ; the duties of that Diocese could not with propriety and adequacy be discharged by the Archdeacon ; and as to enriching its parochial Clergy by the spoils of their Bishoprick, your Petitioners dislike the principle, and dread the example ; they affect not indeed to conceal that the vicars of the Diocese are in straitened, in very straitened, in lamentably straitened circumstances, from which they humbly solicit, and would gratefully accept, honourable relief; but they disclaim a wish to procure temporal advantage at the expense of spiritual loss. And they beg respectfully to suggest, that there seems an opening by which, without trenching on the independency; of their Bishoprick, themselves and their large families might be placed in comparative comfort through the benevolent intercession of your Lordships with the Crown. Would her Majesty be graciously pleased to increase the value of the ten vicarages in her Majesty's gift to £150 a year out of the Insular Crown Tithes at her Majesty's disposal, since the Bishop would increase the four in his gift to, the same amount, and the like arrangement might be made with his successors, the whole body of the parochial Clergy in the Island would be placed more nearly in that situation of temporal disembarrassment which is so all but indispensable to their integrity and usefulness. If, therefore, by an act of your Right Honourable House, the apprehended evils to this Island could be averted, and the boon here suggested procured, your Petitioners would rejoice, and thank God, and ever pray, &c.
HUMBLY SHEWTH,-That your Petitioners humbly beg leave to approach your Right Honourable House, upon the first meeting of Her Majesty's Parliament, ,with this early declaration of their loyalty and attachment to their Sovereign, and their respect for your Right Honourable House.
That your Petitioners, in common with a great body of their countrymen, are filled with a most lively regret, at learning, that by an Act of the British Legislature, in which they have neither voice nor influence, the ancient See of Mann, which has been a distinct Bishoprick from the earliest ages of the Christian Church is, upon the decease of our present Bishop, to merge into the See of Carlisle.
That your Petitioners are duly impressed with those higher and holier reasons for the retention of their Spiritual Head, which are expressed in the general Petition from this Island to your Right Honourable House, and to which your Petitioners have also affixed their names ; but in addition thereto, they respectfully offer as a professional body such further observations, as (they with diffidence submit) their personal knowledge and practical experience qualify them to lay before your Honourable House.
That your Petitioners, from a thorough conviction of their theoretical excellence and practical utility, are devotedly attached to the ancient institutions of their Country, which, after every brief interval of interruption in time of trouble, have always reverted to their present condition, and are now as (with those few exceptions) they ever were in all their leading features.
That the constitution of this Island, as handed down to us by our forefathers, is based upon an intimate and felicitous union of Church and State. That the Bishop has ever been an influential Member of the Legislature, and your Petitioners cannot in their knowledge or experience point out a single instance in which that influence has not been exerted to the public good, whilst their daily practice as lawyers calls upon them continually to remember with gratitude, that it was the benevolent councils, persevering exertions, and benign influence of their excellent Bishop Wilson, which were mainly instrumental in procuring the most important Act of the Manx Legislature, the permanent settlement of their estates descendible from ancestor to heir.
That to the personal exertions of her Bishops in past times, the Island is indebted for the institution or endowment of the most important of her public charities.
That to the personal exertions of our present Bishop, we are indebted (amongst other things) for the timely erection of new Churches, and the rebuilding and enlarging of old ones, to meet the wants of our growing population.
That the history of our Island proves, that our Bishops have been our best friends and benefactors.
That these exertions of our Bishops for the benefit of our Island have ever been superinduced by perfect knowledge of our wants, derived from personal observation during actual residence on our shores.
That the Bishop is ex-officio a principal or sole trustee in the most important of our public institutions and charities.
That, not to weary your Honourable House, with reference to minute particulars of the legal and constitutional objections to the measure, your Petitioners have further to state, that the Bishop of the Island is ex-officio intimately connected with the guidance of her councils, the enactment of her laws, the administration of justice in departments of consequence, and that practical inconvenience must necessarily arise from his permanent non-residence, and the fulfillment of important trusts.
That your Petitioners do, in conclusion, most humbly and respectfully submit to your Honourable House, that to take away their Bishop, and to deprive them of the benefit of his wisdom in council, his impartiality in the administration of justice, his faithfulness in the performance of trusts, and his sympathy with the wants and afflictions of the people, whilst it would confer no earthly benefit upon the See of Carlisle, would inflict a grievous injury upon the people of the Isle of Mann.
Wherefore your Petitioners humbly pray your Honourable House favourably to receive the representations of your Petitioners, and to preserve to the Manx people the full enjoyment of the benefit and privileges of their distinct and ancient Bishoprick.
And your Petitioners will ever pray, &c.
To the Right Reverend and Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled,-
SHEWETH, That your Petitioners, trusting that the accession of Her Most Gracious Majesty to the throne of these realms will be the commencement of an era auspicious to the Church and people of this kingdom, are led to entertain the hope that their ancient Bishoprick may be perpetuated, and that those spiritual privileges which they inherit from their fathers may be confirmed to them in all their primitive integrity. Therefore they are induced, on the assembling of her Majesty's first Parliament, humbly to petition that your Right Honourable House may be pleased in your wisdom to take such measures as may secure to your Petitioners the continuance of the See of Sodor and Mann.
Your Petitioners humbly represent, that the Bishoprick of Sodor and Mann is one of the most ancient in the British dominions, having been founded so far back as the year of our Lord 430: That both in times long past as in more recent days, the Episcopal office, so vitally important to the welfare of the Manx Church, has been filled by many Prelates whose names will be handed down illustrious to posterity for their piety, their benevolence, and the many institutions which they have been the means of founding for the maintenance of Religion, the advancement of Education, and the relief of the Poor, as well as for the general happiness and prosperity of this people; and that venerable from its antiquity, sanctified by time, and by long usage endeared to the Manx people, it would be most painful to their feelings to see the Episcopal office abolished, or that it should be placed as a small appendage to another See.
Your Memorialists feel it to be a just tribute to the Clergy of this Island, to testify that as a body they are highly. respectable for their moral character and conduct, and for the faithful discharge of their sacred functions: but whilst they are scarcely adequate in number to the pastoral superintendence of their people, they are, with a few exceptions, so miserably provided for, as to be wholly unable to support with respectability their station in society as Christian Ministers; and that even in this cheap country they cannot, in many instances, with the strictest economy, maintain their families in decent comfort. Hard, indeed, is the lot of many a worthy man, Who from youth to age has faithfully, but in poverty, sustained his holy office. Still, from circumstances almost peculiar to the Isle of Mann, the duties of most of the Clergy cannot be discharged by the Natives of any other country, as in many of the Parish Churches Divine Service is conducted in the Manx and English languages alternately, and generally speaking, the Livings of those Parishes are so poor, that there is not a single instance on record of a Clergyman from any one of the three kingdoms qualifying himself for these duties by learning the Manx language. Hence your Right Honourable House will observe the indispensable necessity of such Clergymen being natives of the Isle of Mann, and ordained there, as from the insufficiency of their personal means and the miserable provision they have in view, they can neither afford a University Education, nor receive Holy Orders by the hands of an English Bishop. Whilst your Petitioners could scarcely contemplate that an English Bishop would often cross the stormy seas with which they are surrounded, still less could they expect a prolonged visit from him to this remote part of his Diocese. Nor could they view with indifference the expenditure in another country of so considerable a revenue derived from this Island, and which from time immemorial has reverted to the benefit of the people by the charity and munificence of a long line of worthy Prelates. Your Petitioners therefore conceive that means might be found by the wisdom of Parliament, and with the consent of the Crown, to provide funds amply sufficient to place the minor Clergy in corn fort and respectability.
Further, your Petitioners humbly represent, that whilst the remotest colonies of Britain have recently had Bishops appointed to them, to give firmness and efficacy to the Established Church, this, the most ancient of all her Sees, has a far stronger claim for the continuance of privileges already enjoyed so long; and, knowing from past experience, and the testimony of their ancestors, the benefits resulting to this Island from the presence of their own Bishop within their own shores ; knowing also the stability and authority which his permanent residence can alone give to that portion of the Established Church, your Petitioners regard his removal from among them as most injurious, if not absolutely ruinous, to the interests of the Church. Could this loss have benefited any portion of the united Church, your Petitioners must still have felt that it was a hard, even were it a necessary, measure: when, however, it is proposed to deprive them of their most sacred birthright, without any pretext of improvement, either to themselves or to any other portion of the National Church, but solely because this Island, now at the end of 1400 years, is declared to be too small for a separate See,-its territory and its population not worthy the individual care of so high a dignitary as a Bishop they would indeed be regardless of their own dignity as an ancient, distinct, and independent people ; and careless of their best interests, both temporal and spiritual, did they hesitate to come forward, respectfully but earnestly, to remonstrate against this uncalled-for and unmerited degradation of their Church.
In conclusion, your Petitioners humbly represent that this measure is wholly unconnected with any other plans of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners for the more equal distribution of Episcopal Duties and Revenues, they being all originally projected and published without any reference to the Isle of Mann. The question, therefore, affecting the See of Sodor and Mann can be advisedly re-considered by your Right Honourable House, without at all interfering with any other necessary arrangements. Your Petitioners, therefore, humbly hope that your Right Honourable House will be pleased to listen favourably to the prayer of this Petition, and confirm to the Isle of Mann her long-enjoyed and most sacred rights.
And your Petitioners will ever pray, &c.