[from IoM & Diocese of Sodor & Mann, 1837]

[Atholl Succession .. Bishop Hildersley]

Thus it continued till An. 1739, when Bishop Wilson was 76 years of age, at which time the following change, recorded in his life, took place :-

 "In the year 1739, the Clergy of the island were thrown into great trouble and perplexity by the death of the Earl of Derby, who, dying without issue, the Lordship of Man (as a barony in fee) became the property of the Duke of Athol, who had married the heiress of a late Earl of Derby. This had well nigh deprived the Clergy of their subsistence ; for the livings of the Isle of Man consist of a third of the impropriations, which had been originally purchased of a former Earl of Derby, by a collection made in the episcopate of Dr. Barrow, in the reign of Charles the Second. At the same time, to strengthen the title, and secure the purchase, an estate in England, belonging to the Earl of Derby, had been collaterally bound for the payment of the Clergy.

" Now, on the alienation of the island from the Derby family, the Duke of Athol claimed the impropriations as an inseparable appendage of his estate and royalty, of which it could not be divested by any right that had or could be shewn.

" The deeds of conveyance from the Earl of Derby to Bishop Barrow, by some means or other, had been lost from the records of the island, and the Clergy were in danger of losing all their property ; and to such distress were they driven, that unable to contest their rights by law, they would have taken a very trifling consideration for their loss.

" The Bishop, in a letter to his son,1 says, ' What we can do with regard to the impropriations I cannot possibly tell; we would be content to take any reasonable consideration, rather than lose all. Lord Derby offered a thousand pounds, a sum very inadequate to the value of the impropriations.'

" In another letter, he says, 'I have little reason to complain of any indisposition but what always attends old age. I preached yesterday at Kirk-Michael church, and am to do so next Sunday; Mr. Christian, of Jurby, died about a week ago, when I served at his church; so that we are sadly put to it for proper persons to serve the churches. The fear of losing the impropriations for ever discouraging parents from educating their children for the Ministry.2 "

" This distress was very considerably alleviated by the kindness of the Duke of Athol, who allowed the Clergy to take the impropriations, giving the Duke bonds of indemnification. But this was no permanent security, and in the end might have been attended .with consequences very fatal to the happiness of their several families, if they could riot have recovered their right."

" The Duke of Athol's claim was incontestible; and the deeds which secured the impropriations to the Clergy were lost; nor could Bishop Barrow's will or heir be found. But by the pains and industry of the Bishop, and his son Dr. Wilson, they were at last discovered in the Rolls' Chapel, where they had been deposited pro salvá custodiâ. This put an end to the dispute, and in the year 1745, the deeds were exemplified under the Great Seal of England, and every precaution taken for the future payment of the money."


"By Indenture, dated the 1st November, 1666, made between Charles, Earl of Derby, of the one part, and the Right Rev. Isaac, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and Jonathan Fletcher, archdeacon, of the other part, reciting, 'that the revenues and ecclesiastical promotions and maintenance for the ministers of the gospel settled within the said Isle of Man are very small ; by reason whereof, many of the ministers within the said Isle are enforced to live in mean condition, far unbecoming their callings ; and,likewise are necessitated, for the gaining and obtaining of a livelyhood for themselves and their families, to betake themselves to mean and inferior employments, to the diminution of the honour of their function and profession, and to the prejudice of religion and ecclesiastical government by law established within the said Island, and his Majesty's dominions ; whereof the said Right Hon. Earl of Derby, Lord of the said Isle, and the said Right Rev. Father in God, taking notice, and duly considering the great inconveniences arising from the small encouragement and maintenance of the ministers within the said Isle of Man ; and for the increase and further augmentation of the maintenance for the ministers of the gospel exercising their functions within the said Isle of Man, at the several churches and cures there, the said Earl and Right Rev. Father in God, the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, have used their great care, and pious and religions endeavours and bounty, as well in their own particular and liberal contributions, as in procuring, upon their Lordships' endeavours and earnest solicitations, other large and bountiful contributions, for the furthering and encouragement of the same pious and religious works, by the Most Rev. Archbishops, and the Right Rev. Bishops, and other pious and well disposed persons within the realm of England ; by which contribution the sum of one thousand pounds of lawful English money is already paid, for the furtherance and advance of the pious and charitable Work above mentioned :'-The said Earl of Derby, for and in consideration of the said sum of one thousand pounds, and of the several yearly rents, reservations, trusts, and agreements, in the said Indenture mentioned, granted, bargained, and sold unto the said Lord Bishop of Mann and Jonathan Fletcher, archdeacon, their exors. and assigns, all that the Rectory of Kk Christ Lezayre and Kk Marown, with their and either of their appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk Lonnan with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk Conchan with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Malew with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk Maughold with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk Arbory with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk Christ Rushen with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk Michael with its appurtenances, all that the Rectory of Kk.Santon with its appurtenances ; together with all and singular tenths and tithes of corn and grain, yearly renewing, growing, and increasing within the Rectories above mentioned, and all and singular other tithes and tenths whatsoever -To hold to the said Right Rev. Father in God, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and Jonathan Fletcher, archdeacon, their exors. and assigns, for and during the term of 10,000 years next ensuing;--Yielding and paying to the said Earl of Derby and his heirs, for the said Rectory of Kk Christ Lezayre and Kk Marown, the yearly rent of £14. 16. 6., and also for the Rectory of Kk Maughold the yearly rent of £8. 0. 0., and likewise for the said Rectory of Kk Lonnan the yearly rent of £6. 0. 0., and likewise for the said Rectory of Kk Conchan the yearly rent of £1. 6. 8., and likewise for the said Rectory of Kk Malew the yearly rent of £12. 0. 0., and likewise for the said Rectory of Arbory the yearly rent of £3. 0. 0., and likewise for the Rectory of Kk Christ Rushen the yearly rent of £8. 0. 0., and likewise for the said Rectory of Kk Michael the yearly rent of £8. 0. 0., and likewise for the said Rectory of Kk Santon the yearly, antient, and accustomed rent ;-And also yielding and paying for all the said Rectories tithes and premises, every thirtieth year, to the said Earl of Derby and his heir,:, the rent of £130. 0. 0. lawful English money :--, In Trust that the rents, issues, revenues, and clear profits of the said Rectories, tithes, and premises above mentioned, over and above the payment, satisfaction, and discharge of the yearly and other rents hereby reserved, shall be from time to time, and at all time and times hereafter, during the said term, converted, ordered, paid, employed and disposed of, for the encrease and augmentation of the maintenance, and better support and livelyhood, of the Ministers of the Gospel settled and exercising their functions within the said Isle of Man ; and for or towards the erection of a Free School within the same Isle, or the maintenance of some Schoolmaster or Schoolmasters there, in such sort, manner, and form, and to be paid and distributed for the uses aforesaid, by such proportions, and in such manner, and to such persons, as the said Lord Bishop of Mann, during his continuance in the same see and Bishoprick of Sodor and Mann, and the said Jonathan Fletcher, during his continuance in his Ecell. promotion within the said Isle of Man, and afterwards, as the several successors of the said Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and Archdeacon of the said Isle of Man, together with two other persons resident and inhabiting within the said Isle of Man for the time being, and to be nominated for that purpose by the said Earl of Derby, or his heirs, under his or their hands and seals respectively, or as any three of them, whereof the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann for the time being to be one,-shall yearly think meet and convenient to pay, order, distribute and dispose of the same.'-And the said Earl of Derby covenanted to grant and assure to the said Lord Bishop and Jonathan Fletcher, Lands and Hereditaments within the County of Lancaster, of the value of two thousand pounds, as a collateral and further security for the quiet enjoyment of all the said Rectories and tithes. And the said Earl, in pursuance of the said latter covenant, did, by Indenture of Lease and release, bearing date the 26 and 29 of January, 1666, made between the said Earl of Derby of the fast part, the said Isaac, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and the said Jonathan Fletcher, of the second part, and Thomas Patten, and Thomas Sympson, of the third part,grant, sell, and release unto the said Isaac, Lord Bishop, and Jonathan Fletcher, and their heir,., all that the Manor of Bispham), in the County of Lancaster, together with the farm or tenement called Methop ;-To hold Manor and farm and tenement, In Trust that they and the said assigns, their heirs should permit the said Earl, his heirs and peaceably to hold and enjoy the same, until the said Bishop and Archdeacon should be interrupted in the quiet possession of the said Rectories and tithes by the said Charles, Earl of Derby, or any lawfully claiming under him, or James Earl of Derby. And in case the said Bishop and Archdeacon, their exors. or assigns, should be interrupted in the peaceable occupation of the Said Rectories and tithes, that then it should be lawful for them to re-enter into the said manor of Bispham, and tenement called Methop, and the rents thereof to receive, until they should have thereby received such sums of money as ,should(l sufficiently satisfy all losses, damages, and expenses, by reason of such interruption.

" On the death of James, Earl of Derby, in the year 1735, James, Duke of Atholl, look possession of the Lordship of Man, and of the Rectories and tithes comprised in the said Indenture of the 1st of November, 1666, claiming the same as heir-at-law of James, Lord Stanley. Whereupon Thomas Wilson , Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and John Kippax, Archdeacon, in the month of November, 1742, exhibited their Bill in the High Court of Chancery, against Edward, then Earl of Derby, James, Duke of Atholl, and Isaac Clapton, the personal represent ative of Bishop Barrow ; praying, on behalf of the Clergy and Schoolmasters, that they might be decreed to have the benefit of the said Collateral Security. And the said Edward, Earl of Derby, filed his Cross Bill, to establish a title to the said isle, Rectories and tithes * -Which causes were heard before Lord Chancellor Hardwick, on the 12th, 13th, and 15th days of July, 1751, who dismissed the Cross Bill, so far as it sought to impeach the Duke of Atholl's title to the said Isle of Man, and to establish the said Lease for ten thousand years, made on the 1st November, 1666. -And as to the relief sought for by Lord Derby's Bills touching the estate and lands in Lancashire, comprised in the Collateral Security ; and as to the demand made against the said Collateral Security by the Clergy, in the original Bill ;-it was referred to a Master to inquire when the Clergy were evicted of the tithes in question by the Duke of Atholl, and from what time they ceased to receive the rents and profits thereof. And the Master %,;- to take an account of the tithes which had accrue(l since the eviction of the Clergy ; and also to take an account of the rents and profits of the estate in Lancashire, comprised in the Collateral Security ; and to compute the annual value of the Rectories and tithes for the time to come . and so much as the Master should compute to be the annual value thereof, should be paid by Lord Derby, for the time to come, to the Bishop and Archdeacon yearly, upon the trusts in the said demise; with liberty to apply to the Court to enforce payment thereof.-In pursuance of the said decree, Master Eld made his Report, dated 7 July, 1757. And by a subsequent order made in the said causes, (11 May, 1758,) it was ordered, that upon the Earl of Derby's consenting to pay to Hugh Hammersley, gent., by the consent of the Bishop and Archdeacon, to be disposed of and paid by them, according to the directions of the said decretal order, the sum of 41,132. 11s. 0d. sterling, the clear amount, settled by the said Master's Report, of the damnification sustained by the Clergy down to Easter, 1751 ; (after deducting the sum of £1 ,442. 15s. gid., before paid by the said Earl of Derby, pursuant to an order made the 2d of August, 1750 ;) and also the sum of £1,087. 1s. 10'fd. sterling, the amount of the clear yearly value of the said Rectories and tithes for five years, from Easter, 1751, to Easter, 1756, at the rate of £217. Ss. 41,d. a year ; and also the further sum of £430. 15s. 9d. sterling, being the amount of the clear yearly value of the said Rectories and tithes for the two succeeding years, from Easter, 1756, to Easter, 1758, at the yearly rate of £219. 7s. 10-lid. :-and upon the said Earl of Derby's undertaking to pay to the Bishop and Archdeacon of the said Isle the said yearly sum of £219. 7s. loid. sterling, on every Easter Monday, at the Town-hall, in Liverpool, the said Earl of Derby should be continued in the possession of the said manor and farm, called Bispham and Methop, subject to the further order of the Court.

"The said yearly sum of £219. 7s. lo~d. was regularly paid up to Easter, 1809 : when a Bill of Revivor was filed by Claudius, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and the Rev. Daniel Mylrea, Archdeacon, against Edward, Earl of Derby, and Sir Vicary Gibbs, Attorney General, the said Isaac Clapton having departed this life without heirs, and without devising his legal estate in the premises : --and after various proceedings had in the said cause, articles of agreement, dated the 16th day of February, 1811, were entered into between the said Earl of Derby of the first part ; John, Duke of Atholl, of the second part ; and Edward, Lord Stanley, Claudius, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Mann, Daniel Mylrea, archdeacon of the said Island, William Scott, Receiver General, and John Cosnahan, Esqrs., which said William Scott and John Cosnahan had been appointed Trustees by the said Duke of Atholl, for the purposes mentioned in the said indenture of the 1st November, 1666, and the Vicars General, and the Vicars of the different parishes of the said Island, of the third part :--by -which it was agreed, to prevent further litigation, that the sum of sixteen thousand pounds sterling should be paid by the said Earl of Derby ; and that the said manor and farm called Bispham and Methop, should be discharged from the payment of the said annual sum of £219. 7s. 10'2d. And an Act of Parliament of the 51 Geo. the 3, cap. 207, was obtained to confirm the said agreement . by which it is enacted, that the said sum of £16,000. should be paid into the Bank of England, to the credit of the Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and the Archdeacon of the Isle of Man, for the time being, in the iname and -with the privity of the Accountant General of the said Court of Chancery ; and that as soon as conveniently may be thereafter the same shall, upon petition, to be preferred in a sum mary way by the Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and the Archdeacon, for the time being, be laid out and invested in the purchase of Freehold Messuages, Lands, and Heredits., situate in England, or of Freehold or Customary Messuages, Lands, and Heredits., in the Isle of Man, which shall be approved of by the said Court of Chancery; and that such purchases shall, under the direction of the said Court, be conveyed unto, or to the use of, or vested in, the Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and the Archdeacon of the Isle of Mann, for the time being, and their successors ; upon trust to pay and apply the rents and profits thereof, upon such and the same trusts, for such and the same purposes, and in such and the same manner, as by the said Indenture of the 1st. of November, 1666, are declared of and concerning the respective Rectories and tithes therein mentioned and demised. It shall ' all be lawful for the Bishop of Sodor and Mann and Archdeacon of the said Isle, by Indenture under their hands and seals, to demise or lease all or any part or parts of the said lands, so to be purchased, for any term not exceeding twenty-one years, in possession for the best yearly rent that can be reasonably had for the same ; and so as in every such lease there be contained a clause of re-entry, in case the rent thereupon to be reserved be unpaid by the space of twenty days ; and so as the lessee do seal and deliver a counter-part of such lease.

" Until a proper purchase 'can be found, the said sum of £16,000. shall from time to time be invested, under the directions of the Court of Chancery, in the purchase of Exchequer Bills, &c.

" It shall be lawful for the Court of Chancery, on petition to be presented for that purpose by the Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and Archdeacon, to direct any part of the said Exchequer Bills, &c., not exceeding £219. 7s. 10½d. per arm. to be paid to the said Bishop and Archdeacon, to be by them paid over to the persons who would for the time being be entitled to the yearly rents of the said hereditaments, if the same had been purchased.

Estimated annual value of the Impropriate Tithes in the Isle of Man, subjoined to the said Act of Parliament :-

£. s. d.

Net.annual produce

663 8 0

Twenty-five years' purchase upon the net annual produce of the Impropriate Tithes, amounts to

16575 0 0

Thus, through the exertions of their aged Bishop, the Clergy of the Isle of Mann recovered from the Estate of the Earl of Derby, which had been collaterally bound for their payment, who at was at that time considered an equivalent for the tithes purchased by Bishop Barrow; namely, £219 per annum : but, as Lord Derby had granted to Bishop Barrow " all tenths yearly renewing, growing, and increasing within the Rectories " mentioned in the Indenture, Bishop Crigan, in 1809, demanded a revisal, in consideration that since 1735 the said tenths had "increased" greatly; and upon investigation the net annual amount of them was found to be £663, for which sum the Clergy were only receiving from Lord Derby's estate, as an equivalent, £219. Lord Derby, therefore, agreed to pay somewhat under twenty- five years' purchase upon that £663, viz. £16,000; that his estate might be released from the annual payment, this £16,000 was laid out upon very unwise purchases of land, which return now only £400 per annum, these purchases, however, were made at the request of the Clergy themselves, and therefore cannot be complained of by them; but the hardness of the case was, that while the Lay Impropriator was reaping all that "increase" in the tithes', which had been expressly granted by Lord Derby to Bishop Barrow for the Clergy, they, the Clergy, were for ever fixed by an arbitrary standard, taken in 1809; from that date whatever " increase " might take. place in those tenths, purchased for them by their good Bishop, they were not to benefit by such " increase," as the Lord Derby, who gave the collateral security on his estate, expressly said they should; but the Lay Impropriators; the Duke of Atholl, and those to whom he had sold part of these tithes. Now then, we are arrived at the present day. and how does the case stand ? Before he sold any portion of these Impropriate tithes to the Crown, the Duke of Atholl had sold one half of them to different persons; but that hap~ which he sold to the Crown amounts now to upwards of £800 per annum, more by £200 than the whole sum upon which the twenty-five years' purchase was calculated in 1809; so that supposing the Clergy to he now receiving an equivalent for the full amount of £663 per annum, which they are not, but supposing it, they are even in this case receiving £200 per annum less than the half of that which Bishop Barrow purchased for them. Now I do say, that I have made out a fair claim, if not on the justice, certainly on the generosity of the Crown, on behalf of the Manks Vicars: the Crown by purchase has become the Impropriator of the half of those tenths originally sold in 1666 by Lord Derby to Bishop Barrow; the other half is sold to various private persons; the Clergy, instead of receiving the whole £1600 per annum, are not receiving any thing like the half of that sum : had Bishop Wilson accepted a commutation of Lord Derby, in 1736, the twenty-five years' purchase would, as I find by a document of that date, have been calculated upon an average of '£104 per annum ! and this would have been received in 1837 as equivalent for what amounts to £1600 per annum! But Bishop Wilson was not so improvident, the commutation was not made with the Clergy till 1809, and then the tenths which in 1736 amounted to £104 per annum produced £663. At that average then the twenty-five years' purchase was calculated and fixed for ever; and this is received in 1837 as an equivalent for what amounts to much more than double that sum ! Again, thirty years hence every one, who knows the Isle of Mann, knows this £1600 will be again doubled; yet while all around them are improving with the times, the poor Clergy will still in 1867 be fixed, as they are in 1837, to the low standard of 1809: the case would have been only a few decrees harder had they been fixed in 1736 ; the hard principle of the case is the same at whatever date it could be fixed, whether in 1736, in 1809, in 1837, or in 1867. Nor was this commutation forced upon the Clergy under any plea of encouraging improvement in agriculture; the tithes have still been rigidly collected, receiving a yearly increase, by the Lay Impropriator: the Clergy, therefore, have been defrauded of all improvements upon their property for the sole purpose of relieving the estate of an English Nobleman from a tax laid upon it by his forefather, and liable to which he inherited it. The Earl of Derby seized the tithes of Rushen Abbey; his heir sold to Bishop Barrow for the poor Clergy all these tithes " yearly growing and increasing," and " as a collateral and further security for the quiet enjoyment of all the said tithes," he did grant to the Bishop certain farms, to be held by the Earl and his heirs " until the said Bishop should be interrupted in the quiet possession of the tithes by the said Earl, or any lawfully claiming under him." The Duke of Atholl, in 1739, did lawfully claim under him, and the law allowed his claim, and ejected the Clergy from the quiet possession of these tithes : they came upon the collateral security, and as an equivalent for a revenue which was, and is " yearly growing and increasing " they received a fixed sum, an average of £600 per annum, as an equivalent for what is now £1,600, and in thirty years will be £3,200. The Crown is by purchase the heir of the Duke of Atholl, and is in possession of £800 per annum and upwards of these very tithes I do say, therefore, that the poor Vicars of the Isle of Mann have a claim upon the generosity of the Crown of England.

Received by Clergy.

A. D.


Amount of tithes sold by Lord Derby to Bishop Barrow in the year




Ditto valued, and equivalent fixed in




Ditto revalued, and equivalent again fixed.




Value of ditto in




Probable increase in




* The Clergy do not actually receive this £66:, but only about £400. as this, however, has been through their own improvidence, I give the full amount of what the commutation granted them.

But to return to the history; when Bishop Barrow was, to the great loss of this Island, removed to St. Asaph, he was succeeded by Henry Bridgman, to whom succeeded John Lake, translated to Bristol, 1684, he was one of the seven Bishops, committed to the Tower, and afterwards, maintaining his allegiance to King James, was deprived. To him succeeded Baptist Levinz. Who was followed by that great Prelate, that learned Doctor,and holy Confessor, Bishop Wilson : his "praise is, in all the Churches," it is needless therefore in this place to enlarge upon those "untold benefits," which not only this See, but " the whole Church has derived from his labours." Whether we consider him sacris privatis, in his study, in his family, in the cottage of the poor, in his pulpit, in his high Episcopal Ministrations, in the Synod of his Diocese, in the Court of England, or in Prison, he is, in all, the same admirable Bishop.*

I have already mentioned his struggle to secure the temporalities of his Clergy. Another of his public actions I must mention, as I shall have occasion to make -use of it in another place. When in 1698 he was made Bishop, he found his church, as Sachervell says, from the necessary consequences of "the destructive knowledge of the sixteen th century, fast sinking into a heap of ruins," and anxiously did he cast about, seeking how best he might rebuild and beautify her walls, " and heal the breaches of so devouring a Reformation; " and, under God, he found the power for that work nowhere, but in the return to first _principles : following therefore the example of the greatest Bishops of the Catholic Church, as also of his own predecessors in the Isle of Mann, of Simon, An. 1239; of Marcus, An. 1275; but more especially of William Russel, An. 1374; he held a Synod at Bishop's Court, An. 1703; where, together with his Clergy, he so settled the order and discipline of the Church, that nothing has since been wanting but a vigorous executive.



At a Convocation of the Clergy, at Bishop's Court, 3rd Feb., 1703,

In the name of our great Lord and Master, the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the glory and increase of His kingdom among men:

" We, the Bishop, Archdeacon, Vicars-General, and Clergy of this Isle, who do subscribe these Articles, that we may not stand charged with the scandals, which wicked men bring upon religion, while they are admitted to, and reputed members of Christ's Church; and that we may by all laudable means promote the conversion of sinners, and oblige en to submit to the discipline of the Gospel: and, lastly, that we may provide for the instruction of the growing age in Christian learning and good manners: We have formed these following Constitutions, which we oblige ourselves (by God's help) to observe; and to endeavour, that all others within our several cures shall comply with the same."

Here follow ten Constitutions, providing for the discipline and instruction of the Church; and at the end of them are these words:-

"Now, forasmuch as some of the Orders and Constitutions, in this Synod agreed unto, are such as do require the Authority of the Civil Power to make them effectual to the ends they are designed; the Bishop and Archdeacon are earnestly desired to procure confirmation from the Lord, his Council, and the twenty-four Keys, to the glory of God, and welfare of his Church.

"And for the better government of the Church of Christ, for the making of such Orders and Constitutions as shall from time to time be found wanting; and that better enquiry may be made into the execution of those that are in force; there shall be (God willing) a Convocation of the whole Clergy of the Diocese, on Thursday in Whitsun-week every year after this, at the Bishop's Chapel, if his Lordship be within this Isle, or as soon as conveniently after his return.

"And that by these Constitutions we may more effectually oblige ourselves and others, we do each of us subscribe our names.


At a Court of Tynwald, holden at St. John's Chapel,
4th Feb., 1703:

"The above Constitutions being this day offered by the Lord Bishop and -Archdeacon of this Isle, unto us the Governor, Officer., and twenty-four Keys, for our approbation; and having perused the same, we do find them very reasonable, just, and necessary; and do therefore approve of, and consent to them, as far as concerning the Civil Power.


"I am well pleased with the before Constitutions, and do confirm the same, and require that they be published at the next Tinwald-Court in usual manner.


These Constitutions," says his Biographer, " planned and framed by his Lordship, will afford and exhibit to the world a specimen of that primitive discipline, which existed in this Diocese during his Lordship's Episcopate, and long after; superseding virtually the preface to the Commination Service. Lord Chancellor King was so much pleased with these Constitutions, that he said, " If the ancient discipline of the Church were lost, it might be found in all its purity in the Isle of Man."

Such was the groundwork, which Bishop Wilson laid for the government of his Island Church, and through his long Episcopate of fifty years he relaxed not in the smallest point of discipline here laid down, as his Charges, delivered in Convocation " every Thursday in Whitsun-week," abundantly testify, as also do the records of his actions. And when he was gone to his rest, Bishop Hildersley worthily succeeded him: but when that Bishop came to the See in 1755, he found that Church, which fifty years before the then Governor of the Island had described as fast " falling into ruins," rebuilt and beautified, her breaches healed, and her discipline reformed; so that nothing was left for Bishop Hildersley, but to preserve and strengthen those things, which he found.

His Biographer says, that, " he made it the great and invariable rule of his conduct, through his whole Episcopate, to tread as nearly as possible in the steps of his excellent predecessor." On his coming, to the Diocese, he undertook the arduous task of getting the Scriptures translated and printed in the Manks language; a work which had been begun by Bishop Wilson.-

"At first he only printed the New Testament, the Common Prayer, the Christian Monitor, Lewis's Catechism, and Bishop Wilson's Form of Prayer for the Herring Fishery ; 'but the benefactions coming in beyond his expectations, he was encouraged to set on foot a translation of the Old Testament entire, which, with the assistance of his Clergy, he also happily accomplished. The Clergy of the Island were particularly active in this good work, apportioning out their several parts, which they finished with zeal and judgment.

" Bishop Hildersley had this work so much at heart, that he often said, 'He only wished to live to see it finished, and then he should be happy, die when he would. He received the last part of the Bible on Saturday, the 28th of November, 1772, and emphatically sung his Nunc Dimittis in the presence of his family ; and next day, in the evening, after family prayers, lie preached a lecture on the uncertainty of human life, how many instances were constantly happening in which people were deprived of their senses in a moment. Thus, in a prophetic manner, fortelling his own death; for on Monday, after dining cheerfully at Bishop's-Court -with his family and one of his clergy, he was seized with a stroke of the palsy, which in a moment deprived him of his senses, and in this situation lie remained till the Monday following, when he died.

" According to his own desire he was buried as near his predecessor as could be, wishing to be united in death with that man, whose example he had endeavoured to imitate while living."

It is impossible to describe the state of the Church of Mann so well, as in Bishop Wilson's own words:

" There is nothing more commendable than the discipline of this Church.

" Publick baptism is never administered but in the Church, and private as the rubrick directs.

" Good care is taken to fit young persons for confirmation, which all are pretty careful to prepare themselves for, lest the want of being confirmed should hinder their future marriage ; confirmation, receiving the Lord's Supper, &c. being a necessary qualification for that state.

" Offenders of all conditions, without distinction, are obliged to submit to the censures appointed by the Church, whether for correction or example (commutation of penances being abolished by a late law) and they generally do it patiently. Such as do not submit (which hitherto have been but few) are either imprisoned or excommunicated ; under which sentence, if they continue more than forty days, they are delivered over to the Lord of the Isle, both body and goods. In the mean time, all Christians are frequently warned not to have any unnecessary conversation with them; which the more thoughtful people are careful to observe.

" The Bishop and his vicars-general having a power to commit such to prison as refuse to appear before them, there is seldom occasion for passing this sentence for contumacy only ; so that people are never excommunicated but for crimes that will shut them out of heaven ; which makes this sentence more dreaded.

Before the beginning of Lent (which is observed here with great strictness) there is held a court of correction, where offenders, and such as have neglected to perform their censures, are presented, and if there are many, or their crimes of a heinous nature, they are called together on Ash-Wednesday, and after a sermon, explaining the design of Church Censures, and the duty of such as are so unhappy as to fall under them, their several censures are appointed, which they are to perform during Lent, that they may be received into the Church before Easter.

" The manner of doing penance is primitive and edifying. The penitent, clothed in a sheet, &c., is brought into the Church immediately before the Litany, and there continues till the sermon be ended, after which, and a proper exhortation, the congregation are desired to pray for him in a form provided for that purpose ; and thus he is dealt with, till by his behaviour he has given some satisfaction, that all this is not feigned ; which being certified to the Bishop, he orders him to be received by a very solemn form for receiving penitents into the peace of the Church.

" But if offenders, after having once done public penance, relapse into the same or other scandalous vices, they are not presently permitted to do penance again, though they should desire it ever so earnestly, till they shall have given better proofs of their resolution to amend their lives; during which time, they are not permitted to go into any Church in time of divine service, but stand at the Church-door, until their Pastor and other grave persons are convinced by their conversation that there are hopes of a lasting reformation, and certify the same to the Bishop.

" There is here one very wholesome branch of Church Discipline; the want of which, in many other places, is the occasion that infinite disorders(. go unpunished; namely, the injoining offenders purgation by their own oaths, and the oaths of compurgators (if need be) of known reputation, where the fame is common, the crime scandalous, and yet not proof enough to convict them ; and this is far from being complained of as a grievance: for if common fame has injured any person, he has an opportunity of being restored to his name, (unless upon trial the court find just cause to refuse it;) and a severe penalty is laid upon any that shall after this revive the scandal. On the other, if a man will not swear to his own innocency, or cannot prevail with others to believe him, it is fit he should be treated as guilty, and the scandal removed by a proper censure.

" In order to secure the discipline of the Church, the Bishop is to call a Convocation of his Clergy at least once a year; the day appointed by law is Thursday in Whitsun-Week, (if the Bishop be in the Isle;) where he has an opportunity of enquiring how the Discipline of the Church has been observed, and, by the advice of his Clergy, of making such constitutions as are necessary for its better government."




1 Dated March 9, 1741.

2 Dated St. John Evangelist, 1742.

3 "In summing up the character of this truly great man," says one of his Biographers, "every part of his life affords a display of the most genuine charity and benevolence. Whether we consider him as a son, a husband, a parent, a master, or a Bishop, we shall find few equal,-no one superior to him.

" Having the precepts of his divine Master constantly before him, with the Lives and Writings of the Apostles and primitive Christian Fathers ; he from them laid down his plan of life, and steadily copied their example.

" There is scarcely a part of human science that could be valuable or serviceable to his diocese, which he did not understand. He was well acquainted with the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew Languages.

" He had studied and he practised Physick with success. For some time after he settled there he was the only physician in the island ; keeping a shop of drugs for general use, which he distributed, as well as his advice, gratis ; but when some Gentlemen of the Faculty came to settle on the island, he gave up to them that part of the practice which alone could conduce to their ernolument-attendance on the rich, but the poor he kept always to himself.

" He instructed young Candidates for Orders, and maintained them in his house under his own immediate care ; nor did he ordain them, until he found, on a strict and careful examination, that they were perfectly qualified.

" He was an able Mathematician ; an excellent Botanist ; and if we view him as a Farmer, we find, that by a judicious and successful cultivation, from the ecclesiastical demesnes (which before his coming to the island produced little or nothing) he in a few years fed and clothed the poor of his diocese. The whole was a sheep-walk, but by tillage and manure, it bore excellent corn ; and his coffin was made from one of the elm-trees that he planted soon after his coming to the island, which was cut down and sawed into planks for that purpose a few years before his death.

" He was so charitable, that it was not unaptly observed by a Gentleman of the island who knew him well, that 'he kept beggars from every body's door but his own.'

" He always kept an open hospitable table, covered with the produce of his own demesnes, in a plentiful not extravagant manner. As the friendly host or master of that table, he was the most entertaining and agreeable, as well as instructive of men ; his manners, though always consistently adorned with Christian gravity, were ever gentle and polite ; and from his natural sagacity, and distinguished erudition, he seemed to have the world in his possession. He was the Divine, the Scholar, and the Gentleman.

" In the year 1750, Dr. Pocock, after his return from his travels, went to see the Bishop of Man, and sent him his Works, handsomely bound, to announce his arrival. The Bishop received him with a graceful welcome ; but told him, he ought not to address the poor Bishop of Man with a present as to an Eastern Prince.

" Cardinal Fleury wanted much to see him, and sent over on purpose to inquire after his health, his age, and the date of his consecration ; as they ware the two oldest Bishops, and he believed the poorest, in Europe ; at the same time inviting him to France. The Bishop sent the Cardinal an answer, which gave him so high an opinion of him, that he obtained an order that no French privateer should ravage the Isle of Man.

" He often on a Sunday visited the different parishes of his diocese without giving them notice ; and, after doing the duty of the day, returned to Bishop's-Court to dinner ; and this after he was eighty years of age on horseback. This was a constant obligation on the clergy and the people to be mindful of their duty. And four times in every year he made a general visitation, enquiring into the behaviour and conduct of all the parishioners, and exhorting them to the practice of religion and virtue. And at his annual Convocations, he delivered his Charges with the divine pathos, grace, and dignity of an inspired Apostle.

"He was so great a friend to toleration, that the Papists who resided in the island loved and esteemed him, and not unfrequently attended his sermons and his prayers. The Dissenters too attended even the Communion-Service, as he had allowed them a liberty to sit or stand ; which, however, they did not make use of, but behaved in the same manner with those of the established Church. A few Quakers who resided on the island visited, loved, and respected him.

" He was so fond of his flock, and so attached to his diocese, that no temptation could seduce him from their service, no offers could remove him.

" I have already mentioned that Queen Anne would have given him an English Bishoprick ; King George the First made him the same offer; and in the year 1735, Queen Caroline was very desirous of keeping him in England ; but though he was much bound to her Majesty's goodness, he would not be persuaded. One day, as he was coming to pay his duty to the Queen, when she had several Prelates with her ; she turned round to her levee, and said, ' See here, my Lords, is a Bishop, who does not come for a translation.' ' No, indeed, and please your Majesty,' said our good Bishop, ' I will not leave my wife in my old age because she is poor-.'

" He never interfered in temporal or political concerns, unless when called upon at the request of the inhabitants to serve them on particular occasions. The whole conduct and every action of his life shewed him to be no otherwise a man of this world, than as a Minister to do good to his fellow-creatures, while living in it ; and the people of the island were so thoroughly persuaded of his receiving a larger portion of God's blessing, that they seldom began harvest till he did ; and if he passed along by the field, they would leave their work to ask his blessing, assured that that day would be prosperous. Nor was this opinion confined to the obscure corner of the world where he resided ; in Warrington, nay, in London, there are those now living who can remember crowds of people flocking round him with,h the cry of ' Bless me too, my Lord !'

" The charities he bestowed himself, and the contributions he obtained of others, are proofs of his munificence and the benevolence of his disposition. -

" The Author of an Appeal to Common Reason and Candour, in behalf of a review of our Liturgy, published in the year 1750, having taken notice of the state of Christianity in the North of Scotland, and in some parts of Ireland, proceeds thus :-

" 'It will be unpardonable, after these, to mention the Isle of Man m any other expressions than those of gratitude and praise, delight and joy. Happy island ! May thy worthy Bishop live, and continue with the assistance of his God, to make thee an example of religion and holiness to all Islands and Kingdoms of the world ! May his works also live, and the good effects of them continue to a thousand generations ! When he has been long dead, he will yet speak ; and the happy influence of his works will remain in this world, whilst he is enjoying the glorious reward of them in another. May I live the life, and die the death of that righteous Man ; and may my latter end and state of eternity be like his!'

" Thus, by living a sober, righteous, and godly life, this excellent Divine attained to the ninety-third year of his age, and the fifty-eighth of his consecration, and gently expired on the 7th March, 1755.

" The immediate cause of his death was a cold caught by walking in his garden in very cold damp weather, after Evening Prayers ; dying as he lived, praising God in Psalms, and detached sentences of the Te Deum.

" The tenants about his demesnes were the persons appointed to bear the Bishop to his grave ; and each had a mourning coat given to him for the occasion : But from the Palace to the Church, which is a distance of two miles, he was attended by all the inhabitants of the island as mourners, except those whom necessity, age, or sickness, confined at home ; and at every resting-place was a contest among the crowd, to bear him on their shoulders ; and happy were they who could pay this last sad office to their friend and benefactor.

" He was interred at the east end of Kirk-Michael Church-yard, near to the Chancel, which being in a ruinous condition, was taken down and entirely rebuilt in the year 1776, at the sole expence of Dr. Thomas Wilson, the Bishop's son.

" Over his grave is placed a square marble monument, surrounded with iron rails, through which may be read the following too modest inscription :



Who died March the 7th, 1755, Aged 93, and in the Fifty-eighth Year of his Consecration.



Who, in Obedience to the express Commands of his Father, declines
giving him the Character he so justly deserved.


And so it will! When turning to the stranger, or their children, the grateful Manksmen will relate a tale of the wondrous goodness of their dear, their much-loved, much-lamented Bishop. Telling them, (and witnesses they were) whose hunger he had satisfied ; to whose thirst he had given drink; what strangers he had relieved ; whose nakedness he had clothed ; whose sickness he had administered to ; and what prisoners he had visited.

" The widow, comforted by his bounty, with her lisping orphans, shall declare the praises of their pious benefactor.

" And perhaps some faithful Minister of the Gospel may conclude the story, by saying that he was a Bishop ' blameless as the steward of God ; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre ; but a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate ; holding fast the faithful word as he had been taught ; and that he was able by sound doctrine, both to exhort and to convince the gain-sayers.' "



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