[Chapter 4 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

Law and Medicine.



We may mention that a descendant, in the fifth generation, of " Illiam Dhones " grandson, William, who went to Ireland, became a distinguished judge. This was the RIGHT HONOURABLE JONATHAN WHITBY CHRISTIAN, P.C., who was first Lord Justice of Appeal in Ireland. He lived at Ravenswell, Bray, Co. Dublin,, and Merrion Square, Dublin.


SAMUEL CHRISTIAN NELSON (b. 1818, d. 1883),

son of the Rev. John Nelson, Rector of Bride, belonged to an old Manx family which, for centuries, held landed property in the parish of Rushen. In early life he was apprenticed to his elder brother, Thomas, who, for many years, practised in Douglas. He then studied in Dublin and London, taking the diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1845. For two years after this he held the position of medical officer at Chorlton-upon-Medlock, where he won golden opinions. From thence he returned to the Isle of Man, and, after practising in Castletown for a short time, he took up his residence in Douglas, where he quickly gained and maintained the largest practice. In 1862, he took his doctor's degree at St. Andrew's, and in 1863 Governor Loch appointed him " Physician to the Household," a position which he held till his death. He was for many years one of the surgeons of the Isle of Man Hospital, and was medical officer to the Lunatic Asylum from its opening until the appointment of a resident medical superintendent. He was a noble and benevolent man, being especially distinguished by the unpaid services he never grudged to the poor. His sterling professional abilities and his thorough goodness made him the object of love and respect among all classes.

CHARLES BLAND RADCLIFFE (b. 1822, d. 1889),

may fairly be claimed as a Manxman, as both his father and mother were Manx, the former belonging to the well-known family of Radcliffe, of Ballaradcliffe, in the parish of Andreas. His father, Charles,a Wesleyan minister, happened to be stationed at Brigg, in Lincolnshire, when Charles Bland, his eldest son, was born.* The following account of him is taken from the " Dictionary of National Biography."

Charles completed his education, begun at home, in the Grammar School near Leeds, and was subsequently apprenticed to a general practitioner at Wortley. He finished his medical training in Leeds, Paris, and London. In Paris he studied under Claude Bernard. He Graduated U.B at the London University in 1845, when he is said to have been the first student from a provincial medical school who succeeded in obtaining a gold medal. He graduated M.D. in 1851. He became a licentiate of the Royal College of Physicians of London in 1848, and was elected a Fellow in 1868. He filled the office of Gulstonian lecturer in 1860 and of Croonian lecturer in 1873. He subsequently became a councillor of the College of Physicians, and in 1875-6 he acted as censor.

In 1853 he was appointed an assistant physician to the Westminster Hospital, where he succeeded to the office of full physician in 1857, and he was elected to the consulting staff in 1873. He lectured upon botany and materta medics in the medical school attached to the hospital. In 1863 he was appointed physician to the National Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic in Queen Square, in succession to Dr Brown Sequard, and it was in connection with this institution, and the diseases of the nervous system which it was founded to relieve that Radcliffe's name was best known. He died very suddenly, and was buried in Highgate Cemetery

Charles Radcliffe, whose personal appearance was extremely striking was a type of all that is best in a physician of the old school modified by a modern scientific training. His mind was essentially metaphysical with a strong bias towards novel theories He was one of the earliest investigators in this country of the electrical physiology of muscle and nerve, but he was too much occupied with abstract theories to do much by way of experiment He was as Dr Burdon-Sanderson points out, essentially a vitalist but with this difference—that in his doctrine electricity took the place of the vital principle. Theological speculation also interested him, and he read with almost equal zest the works of Plato Aquinas, and.Maurice.

* Two of his brothers were distinguished Wesleyan ministers and another was an antiquarian.

JOHN NETTEN RADCLIFFE (b. 1826, d. 1884),

epidemiologist, son of Charles Radcliffe, and younger brother of Dr. Charles Bland Radcliffe, was born in Yorkshire, in 1826 and received his early medical training at the Leeds School of Medicine. Shortly after obtaining his diploma, he went to the Crimea, as a surgeon attached to the head quarters of Omar Pasha, and remained there till the close of the war. He received for his services the order of the Medjidie, as well as the Turkish and English medals, with a clasp for Sebastopol. On returning home, he became medical superintendent of the Hospital for the Paralysed and Epileptic in Queen's Square, London.

In 1865, he was selected to prepare a special report on the appearance of cholera abroad, and, in 1866, he was busily engaged in investigating the outbreak in East London, which he traced to the infected supply of the East London Water Company. This report appeared as a Blue Book in 1867, and gained RADCLIFFE, a wide reputation. He was elected a member of the Epidemiological Society in 1850, was its honorary secretary 1862-71, and president 1875-7. In 1869, he was appointed to the second of the two public health inspectorships then created by the Privy Council, and, on the formation of the local government board in 1871, he was made assistant medical officer. Owing to ill-health, he resigned this post in 1883.

Not only an expert in the distribution of oriental diseases, RADCLIFFE, was an authority on all questions pertaining to public health. Of remarkably simple and straightforward nature, he was a most cautious worker, but where rapidity was essential, he showed himself equal to the situation. * (Dictionary of National Biography.)

*'the same preliminary remarks apply equally in this case as in that of C. B. Radcliffe..


Herbalists, "fairy" Doctors, and Bonesetters.

A few Manxmen and Manxwomen have attained considerable skill in the practice of surgery and in the use of herbal remedies, these being occasionally accompanied by "charms," both for curing diseases and for counteracting the spells of fairies, sorcerers, and witches. The powers thus possessed were supposed to be hereditary, and were handed down in the same family for generations, it being said to be necessary, in order to preserve them intact, to pass them on from a man to a woman, and then, in the next generation, from a woman to a man, and so on. The best known family of herbalists and fairy doctors is that of TEARS, of Ballawhane, in Andreas, and, of bone-setters, that of CLUCAS, of the Strang, in Braddan. The most famous of the TEAR' family is described by Train, in his " History of the Isle of Man,"+ as follows:—

The seer is a little man, far advanced into the vale of life; in appearance he was healthy and active, he wore a low-crown slouched hat, evidently too large for his head, with a broad brim; his coat, of an old-fashioned make, with his vest and breeches, were all of loaghtyn wool, which had never undergone any process of dyeing; his shoes, also, were of a colour not to be distinguished from his stockings, which were likewise of loaghtyn wool. He is said to have been the most powerful of all these practitioners, and when their prescriptions had failed in producing the desired effect, he was applied to. The messenger that was despatched to him on such occasions was neither to eat nor to drink by the way, nor even to tell any person his mission. The recovery was supposed to be perceptible from the time the case was stated to him.

Marvellous tales are told about the cures performed by him.*

+ Vol. II,, pp. 161 2,


The first of the CLUCASES of whom we hear anything was WILLIAM (b. 1782, d. 1832). An obituary notice of him declares that his "services as a bone setter, &e., which he has practised for so many years with great success, will long be remembered by the inhabitants of this island." The same profession was carried on by his son and grandson. It is remarkable that women as well as men seem to have attained distinction as bone setters. One of these, MRS. RADCLIFFE, of Ballacrebbin, Andreas (b. 1771, d. 1862), was spoken of as "the celebrated bone-setter of the north," who was " deeply regretted by the poor, to whom she rendered innumerable services. " Another was widow MYLECHAINE,of Douglas(b. 1781, d. 1858).



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