[Chapter 8 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]


The Merchant Service.

"The distinction," says Captain Mahan, "between the merchant seaman and the man-of-war's man, or even the naval officers, in those days of sailing ships and simple weapons, was much less sharply marked than it has since become. Skill in seamanship, from the use of the marlingspike and the sail needle up to the full equipping of a ship and the hiding of her under canvas, was in either service the prime essential. In both alike, cannon and small arms were carried ; and the ship's company, in the peaceful trader as well as in the ship of war, expected to repel force with force, when meeting upon equal terms." It is well to bear the truth of these remarks in mind, as regards the period up to 1815 at least, when reading about the gallant Manxmen who served in the merchant navy. It was the service, of all others, especially in its bye-paths of smuggling, privateering, and slave trading, which Manxmen took up most enthusiastically, because it was attended with excitement, danger, and, not its least attraction, excellent profits.

The first Manx merchant seaman we hear of is the EDWARD CHRISTIAN who has already bjohrieen mentioned (see p. 60).

HENRY SKILLICORNE (b. 1678, d. 1763)

is the next. Nearly the whole of our information about him is derived from the following long and curious epitaph in the old parish church at Cheltenham~ :

In Memory of Captain HENRY SKILLICORNE, deceased, born at Kirk Lonan
In the Isle of Man in 1678, taught by Dr. WILSON,
Bishop, and justly called
the good Bishop of that Island. When young he
went to sea and was many years
in the employ of and concerned with JACOB ELTON
Esq., Merchant in Bristol
Whose relation SARAH GOLDSMITH of that City he married. She dying in Childbed
with two Children, He in 1731 married ELIZABETH
MASON, then at Bristol,
Daughter of WILLM. MASON of Cheltenham Gentleman by MARGARET SURMAN
Daughter of JOHN SURMAN, of Tredington in this County Esq.,
He quitting the sea after 40 Years' Service, they resided together some years
at Bristol, and in 1738 came to live upon their Estate in this Town,
where he gave his Mind to increase the Knowledge and extend the Use
of Cheltenham Spa, which became his Property. He found the Old Spring open
and exposed to the Weather. He made the Well there as it now is, made the
Walks, and planted the Trees of the Upper and
Lower Parades,
And by Conduct ingenuous & Manners attentive,
He, with the Aid of Many worthy Persons of the Town and Neighbourhood,
brought this most salutary Water to just estimation
& extensive Use,
and ever presiding with esteem in the Walks, saw it
visited with Benefit,
by the greatest Persons of the Age, and so
established its Reputation,
that the Present Most Gracious Majesty King GEORGE
The Third,
With His Most Amiable Queen CHARLOTTE, and the
Princess Royal,
AUGUSTA & ELIZABETH their Daughters visited it.
Captain SKILLICORNE was buried the 18th of October
1763 with his Son
HENRY, by his last wife, at the West Door on the
Inside of this Church,

[Here follow a number of lines not intimately connected with Captain Skillicorne.]

Aged 84 years. He was an excellent Sea-man, of
tryed courage.
He visited most of the great Trading Ports of the
Mediterranean, up the
Archipelago, Morea & Turkey, Spain, Portugal,
& Venice, and severil of the
North American Ports, Philadelphia & Boston
& Holland
And could do business in seven languages. He was
of great Regularity
and Probity, and so temperate, as never to have
been once Intoxicated.
Religious without Hypocrisy, grave without
Austerity, of a Cheerful
Conversation without Levity. A Kind Husband &
tender Father,
Tall, erect, robust & active. From an Ill-treated
Wound while a prisioner,
after an Engagement at Sea, He became a strict
He lived and dyed an honest man.

The epitaph also informs us that his wife-

Mrs. ELIZABETH SKILLICORNE a Quaker was buried
in the Quakers' Grave Yard, upon the 14th of April, 1779,
A Virtuous Woman, A good Wife, & tender Mother.

From this we gather that he was practically the founder of Cheltenham as a watering-place. We know also that he did not forget his native parish of Lonan, being a liberal contributor to the erection of a new church there in 1733.

[fpc: see James Hodson Facts and fallacies: a reappraisal of the early years of the Cheltenham waters The Local Historian vol 47 #2 April 2017 pp138/148]

The only Manx pirate we know of is ROBERT CROW (b. 1679, d. 1722) ; and let us say that, in the event of any objection being taken to his being called a "Worthy," the " " deprive the epithet of all significance in his case ! He seems however, as far we can judge from a very obscure account, to have been a seaman engaged in ordinary commerce, when, in 1720, he, with his vessel, the " Happy Return " sloop, was captured by the notorious buccaneer, Captain Bartholomew Roberts.* But, for two years after this, he served under his captor, in the pirate ship "Royal Fortune," till it was taken by H.M.S. "Swallow," when he, (briefly referred to as " Robert Crow, 44, Isle of Man ") and some forty of his fellows " were executed, according to their sentence, without the gates of Cape Corso Castle, within the flood marks."*

*" The Buccaneer"; and Marooners of America " (T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1892),. "" My attention was called to this book, which is a reprint from various old "chap" books, &c., by Mr. John Frowde.


Before giving, an account of Captain Skillicorne's successors in merchant service, we will briefly refer to Manx Smugglers, Privateersmen. and Slave-traders.

The Smugglers

The most flourishing period of Manx smuggling was between 1715 and 1765, and it still continued, notwithstanding numerous revenue cutters, to be a profitable business between 1765 and 1798, and, to a less extent, between 1798 and 1815, or even later.

It is curious how little we know of the exploits of individual Manx smugglers, though those of such men as Yawkins, the Dutchman, are the subject of rugged verses. Manxmen were, however, his most successful rivals, and the fact that one of the best known smuggling creeks on the Kirkcudbrightshire coast is called the "Manksman's lake" indicates that they were well known in this trade. The verses, already referred to, record their presence :-

Oft at the Ross, with Yawkins and with Doal,
And Manksmen gabbling from the manor hole,
What noggins I have drank of smuggled rum
Just from the little " Isle of three legs" come.

We are only able to give accounts of three Manx smugglers, and they belong to the last of the periods we have mentioned.

It is for our readers to decide whether such Manxmen are "Worthies" or not.

The first, THOLLAN RADCLIFFE, of Cronk Breck, Andreas, attempted to run his lugger, with a whole puncheon. of French brandy1 in her, over to Galloway, but was captured. The captain of the cutter put one of his crew on board the lugger, which he took in tow. Night came on, and, RADCLIFFE calling to his men in Manx, to "hoist the clout," a small square sail, the only sail which the lugger2 carried, seized the cutter's man, threw him overboard, cut the tow-rope and stole away, ultimately disposing of the brandy as he had originally intended.3

1 French brandy was, after 1798, openly imported into the island on payment of a small duty, and was then smuggled out again.
2 The luggers at this time were no more than large open yawls without cabins.
3 Fargher's "Annals of the Isle of Man." [fpc - not identified this ref]

The second, JAMES MOORE, was lying in his lugger in Douglas Bay, where a revenue cutter happened to be at the time. In talking to some of the cutter's crew, MOORE boasted that his craft would beat theirs in a race. This reaching the captain's ears, he accepted the challenge, as he thought it would be a good opportunity of showing MOORE and his fellow smugglers that the speed of his boat was such that they had but little chance of escaping. MOORE's preparation for the race consisted in buying a crock of butter, and in smearing his boat to the water-line with its contents. The result, whether it was owing to this manoeuvre, or the natural speed of the lugger, was that she not only out-paced the cutter, but actually sailed round her' The chagrin of the cutter's Captain may be imagined.1

1 Fargher's "Annals of the Isle of Man." [fpc - not identified this ref]

Of the third, QUILLIAM, the following story is told: " one occasion his vessel, loaded with spirits, bound for Ireland, was chased and overhauled by a revenue cutter, but he paid no attention to the summons to bring to, and even when a blank shot was tired from the cutter, he sailed on without taking any notice. Then a cannon ball was fired, which fell into the sea not far from QUILLIAM's vessel. On seeing this QUILLIAM ordered his crew to get below, but remained on deck himself and brought up his vessel in the wind. The revenue cutter then lowered a boat. which came alongside, and its officer angrily demanded why he did not bring his boat up when first signalled. QUILLIAM replied that out of his crew of six four were dead of cholera, and that the two remaining were dying. Horror-stricken by this news, the officer ordered his boat back to the cutter, which sailed off. When it was out of Sight, QUILLIAM called up his men from below and made off for the Irish coast.*

* "From King Orry to Queen Victoria." p. 143.

Privateersmen and Slave-traders.

The businesses of " Privateering" and Slave-trading seem to have been intimately connected, is we find the same men and ships sometimes engaged in one and sometimes in the other. The most conspicuous Manxmen engaged in them were SIR JOHN TOBIN, WILLIAM LACE, and HUGH CROW.

JOHN TOBIN, Knight (b. 1763, d. 1851),

was a member of a family which settled in the Isle of Man, at Middle and Oakhill, in the parish of Braddan, about 1700. He was born in the island and entered the merchant service. One of his first adventures was being captured by a French privateer, but fortunately its captain, an Irish-Frenchman, called KELLY, knew his father at Douglas, and so released him. In 1793, we find him as captain1 of the privateer "Gipsy," and in 1797 he was captain of the "Molly," also a privateer and slaver. In both these vessels he made numerous captures. In 1803, he settled as a merchant in Liverpool**, and entered upon the African slave and palm oil trade. But he also continued the lucrative business of privateering. One of his vessels, the "John Tobin, " privateer, had, in 1812, a vigorous fight with an American, when the latter got the worst of it. We may mention that the chief mate of the "John Tobin," judging by his name, CANNON, seems to have been a Manxman. The captain, writing of his conduct in this fight, said he could not speak too highly of him."2 JOHN TOBIN next turned his attention to steam navigation, and built and launched at his own expense the largest steamer which had ever been launched on the Mersey before 1851. This fine vessel, which was called the " Liverpool," made several trips to New York, and was then sold to the Oriental Steam Navigation Co. JOHN TOBIN, who was Mayor of Liverpool when George the Fourth ascended the throne, was knighted on that occasion. He was one of the promoters of the docks on the Cheshire Side of the river.

We may mention that it was on board one of JOHN TOBIN's merchant vessels, the "William Heathcote," that a MR. KEWLEY, probably a Manxman, killed three men with his own sword, when she (in 1804) was captured by the French privateer, "General Augerau." The William Heathcote" was re-captured by an English vessel, but KEWLEY had been taken by the privateer, and it is not known what became of him.3

1 We give the courtesy title of " captain", the correct title of a merchant captain being, of course, "master."
2 Williams' "The Liverpool Privateers," P. 437.
3 ibid., p. 393.
** [fpc - in Gore's 1796 Directory of Liverpool a Capt. John Tobin, Duke Street ,appears (not in 1790 ed) so it would appear he moved to Liverpool somewhat earlier than 1803]

The following account of

WILLIAM LACE (b. 1763, d. 1850)

is given by Mr Williams in his interesting book on " Liverpool Privateers ":- He " was the son of Mr. Ambrose Lace, merchant and ship-owner. of St. Paul's Square, and brother of Mr. Joshua Lace, the founder and first president of the Liverpool Law Society. He had a life full of adventure, for in the time of the war with France he fitted out privateers and took command of one himself. In 1797, when in command of the ' Lovely Lass,' he took part in beating off two French privateers. After taking many prizes, he was himself captured by the French fleet, and carried a prisoner to France, from which country he , afterwards escaped, after enduring great hardships. On another voyage he lost his ship, and was fourteen days in a small boat, part of this time without water, and, when picked up, was one of the few survivors. He was one of the early African explorers, and, we believe, the first to give us an account of the gorilla, long before Du Chaillu. He was in enthusiastic botanist, and largely contributed to the founding of the Liverpool Botanical Gardens, the freedom of which [city] was presented to him in recognition of his gifts. Members of his family repeatedly refused the office of Mayor, and the last Bailiff of Liverpool was his cousin, Ambrose, Lace."* Mr. Williams gives illustrations of a fac-simile of an original sketch made by CAPTAIN LACE of the palace and stockade of an African king, of whom he purchased slaves ; also of the private signal code of a slave-ship in his handwriting. These were lent him by Mr. C. K. Lace, no doubt a descendant.

* "The Liverpool Privateers," &c., pp. 615-16.

[FPC Gore's Liverpool Directory of 1790 gives Ambrose Lace, Merchant, 12 St Paul's Square Liverpool and my copy (owned at the time by Thomas Golightly the Town Treasurer, has inked in 'died 9 Decr 94'); his son, also Ambrose Lace, junr, was a sailmaker at same address (also indicated as died 14 April 1796) - in the 1796 edition of the Directory a Capt. William Lace is shown at that address; also in 1796 a Mrs Mary Lace is given at 2 St Paul's Square , the same address is given for Stanley Lace, Brazier (shop 26 James Street). Joshua Lace is given as Attorney in 1790 at 9 Rainsford's Garden and in 1796 at 1 Camden Passage. Possibly connected is the Firm of Lace and Slinger, Wine and Brandy Merchants, 4 Oldhall Street (which was the address of John Slinger, Merchant; which by 1796, (possibly following the death of John Slinger ? as he is missing from 1796 directory and the death of Ambrose) has become Lace & Co Wine, Rum and Brandy Vaults, 1 Matthew Street with a Robert Slinger Wine Merchant Edge Hill.]

We come now to the most famous of our Manx merchant seaman:

HUGH CROW (b. 1765, d. 1829)

was a native of Ramsey. He lost his right eye in infancy ; and nearly lost his life, by drowning at the age of twelve. He was apprenticed in his native town to the trade of boat building; spent two years at it; and then, at the age of seventeen, went to Whitehaven, and was apprenticed to the sea. In those days Whitehaven had a great foreign trade : and was as a port relatively of more consequence than at present. Crow's first voyage was to the West Indies. The ship sailed with others under convoy. At Cork, where they joined the convoy, he witnessed the impressment of seamen for the Royal Navy. All his life he nourished hatred, and uttered rough denunciation, of the press-gang.

In the West Indies the ship's carpenter deserted; and CROW, with his boat- building knowledge, took the carpenter's place. He came home to Whitehaven ; thence to Memel, and back to Whitehaven, where, through bad fare, he arrived in condition " thin as a lath." His next voyage was to Charleston. He was aloft handling a sail with a fellow apprentice, between whom and himself some words occurred, and " the villain letting go the sail exerted his utmost strength to throw CROW off the yard into the sea. " In Charleston he became " a victim to the political jealousies of the times ": was thrown by the police into a filthy prison, among hundreds even more wretched than himself, not to be released but by the payment of jail fees to the amount of all his voyage wages.

From Charleston he sailed to Liverpool thence to the Baltic; back to Whitehaven; away to Drontheim back to Belfast; and off again to Memel.

At Elsinore the ship was got aground by a drunken captain and got afloat greatly by CROW's exertions ; then she was driven by adverse winds into a Norwegian port, where she lay for eleven weeks. When she got to sea again, captain and crew were drunk, and the ship left to the apprentices, and by their good guidance, and by much good luck, was brought into the port of Stornoway. The voyage was tedious and disastrous: " had the brandy and gin lasted they had never got home at all." Finally the vessel got on Lancaster sands. This voyage completed CROW's apprenticeship. He then sailed as carpenter to the West Indies; and made some voyages to Ireland,-" by which time he had saved-.d enough money to buy himself some articles of clothing and a quadrant." On the next voyage to the West Indies, " the captain placed in promotion over him a second mate certainly not better qualified than himself." sense of injustice wrought in CROW's mind : he determined to leave his captain ; and did so at Kingston, by engaging himself as second mate on another ship. But the old captain with bailiff, constables, and soldiers boarded his new ship, and soon had Crow into noxious prison; then into the workhouse; and at last had him carried on board his ship by force, his " articles of clothing and quadrant" lost. He saved the ship from foundering on the home voyage ; and all the same was "fairly cut adrift in Lancaster without a farthing in his pocket."

Bent on recovering his " ' articles of clothing and quadrant" he went out again to Kingston; by the hardy Norse blood in him, quite cheerful and even joyous. The voyage was stormy, "a succession of dreadful giles," and he did not find what he sought. But the tide of fortune had turned. He joined a Liverpool ship as second mate, then in Kingston, Jamaica, 1788. On the voyage home, in a tremendous gale in the night, the water rushed in upon the main deck, and we had the utmost difficulty and toil to save her from foundering. " I wais on the main deck up to the knees in water toiling and cheering on the men, and the chief mate slung in ropes over the bows endeavouring to stuff the hawse holes."

After his return, a ship grounded in the dock mouth at Liverpool. CROW volunteered his services She was lightened in an incredibly short time; got afloat and saved. It was considered a "smart achievement. " CROW received from the underwriters " a SUM OF MONEY," with which he bought the first respectable suit of clothes he ever possessed." He was now twenty-four ; and at this time had several offers to go as second mate to the coast of Africa. He had what he calls " prejudices"; and went to Jamaica in unexceptionable trade. At sea he had a short effective method with the men who were backward to perform hazardous or difficult duty aloft. " I went to the mast-head myself and down by the lift." Of course "lie in; and no grumbling" was then the word."

In 1790 his friends overruled his " prejudices " against an African voyage. He was twenty-five; and was appointed chief mate of a beautiful brig. They sailed to Rotterdam to take in spirits as cargo for the Gold Coast. Here begins the second epoch of his life. As mate, he made four African voyages ; but, on the fourth, was captured by a French ship, and brought to L'Orient.

He spent whole year in France-at L'Orient, at Quimper, and in the hospital at Pontoise. At Pontoise he improved himself in arithmetic, and acquired a knowledge of logarithms from an English fellow-prisoner. At last, being well again, he contrived to escape ; wandered through the country with a tricolour cockade in his hat, answered in Manx all questions, and passed for a Breton; at last got to Havre, and thence on a Danish vessel to England.

CROW was at sea again in 1795, as mate in the African trade. On the third voyage the ship was lost ; but immediately on his return to Liverpool, a mark of high approbation on the part of the employers, he was appointed captain of the "Will," and in 1798 sailed on his first voyage in that ship.

The confidence his employers felt in him is shown by the following story. A Liverpool shipowner complained to Mr. Aspinall, owner of the "Will ":-

" I give my captains very long instructions," said he, " yet they can hardly make any money for us . . what kind of instructions did you give your captain?"-" Why we had a pint of wine together at at's Hotel and I told him 'Crow! mind your eye . . for you will find many ships at Bonny./"-" Crow?-I know the young man well . . he has only one eye."-" True I but that's a piercer ! " My instructions, in effect. were nearly as brief as " Crow ! mind your eye."

Long before the suppression of the African trade, Mr. Wilberforce had obtained from Parliament in 1792, laws for its better regulation. One of his regulations was that a bounty of £100 should. be paid to all captains who should land their cargoes without losing a certain percentage on the voyage. On his first voyage CROW received his bounty ; and again and again on subsequent voyages.

The Guineamen of those days went armed. On his second voyage "a fast sailing schooner brushed up alongside, hoisted French colours and began to fire;" " we cooled his courage with a few broadsides and he sheered off before the wind."

When the " Will " was ready to leave Bonny for the West Indies, CROW's brother arrived in command of the " Charlotte," bringing intelligence that three French frigates were on the coast, and might be expected at Bonny. There were nine Guineamen in all there.

We ventured to drop down, and come to anchor in a line within tour or five miles of the Frenchmen. There we lay seven days without their daring to attack us. They at length weighed anchor and stood from the coast, and when I thought all was clear I put to sea.

On the same voyage in the latitude of Tobago, the " Will " fought an action, lasting nine hours, with a French privateer brig.

All our top-gallant masts were shot away, our sails cut up, and our top-masts wounded ; three shots in the main-mast, four in the mizen-mast, our rnain-crosstrees shot away, our hull much injured, and ciur rigging so much cut up that we had hardly a brace or a stay left standing. One of the enen:iy's nine pound shot went into the men's room below and wounded twelve blacks.

Still he got his bounty of £100 for the condition of his cargo.

Two more voyages in the " Will " were equally successful though less adventurous.

" CROW has come again, and as usual his whites and blacks are as plump as cotton bags," was a saying in Kingston, when Crow arrived. About this time he received two public presentations :-A piece of plate from the underwriters and merchants of Liverpool, for his meritorious conduct in the river Bonny ; and a piece of plate from the underwriters of Lloyd's Coffee House, for his gallant defence of his ship in the action at sea with the French privateer.

In 1803, he sailed in the " Ceres. " The " Ceres " was well armed; and Crow by mistake nearly fought an action at sea with an English Indiaman, who had mistaken him for French. On this voyage he fell ill ; and at its conclusion spent a year on shore.

In 1806, he was at sea in the " Mary," a fine ship, armed with 28 guns, and a crew of 60 seamen. On the middle passage, in the latitude of Tobago, the " Mary " fought a running action from ten in the evening till daylight, with two English sloops of war, the "Dart" and the Wolverine," mistaking them for French privateers from Cayenne.

The man at the masthead saw two sail a long way ahead; we hauled our wind to southward ; they both tacked . . I distinguished them to be powerful vessels of war. At 6 p.m. night came on, dark. with heavy squalls and rain . . at 9 p.m.,a sail to windward . . we bore away westward,1, and made all sail . . he stood after us. and made signals to his consort . . he loomed large in the obscurity, came up astern and hailed us, ordering us to bring to . . well aware that French cruisers had a trick of hailing in English, I replied "that I would not, and that no one should bring us to in those seas, and in the night." (Admirable and honest Manxman.) He fired two shots, and we returned him one . . a few minutes after, I saw a ship close to us with her star-board tacks on board, evidently the consort . . she passed under our stern, and also hailed us . . I answered "that no strange vessel should bring us to in those seas during the night " - . she held on her course, and spoke the other vessel they both made sail after us. The first came up very fast she was a large brig she again hailed us . . I made the same answer as before she then rounded to and poured a broadside into our starboard quarter . . we returned her fire at close quarters for some time . . she then took her station at some distance, and we fought for an hour when her consort, the ship, came up, on our larboard side they both closed and simultaneously engaged us. I was employed animating the crew by all the cheering language I could muster, and in giving directions for the elevation of the guns . . while thus engaged I received a violent blow from a splinter on the left arm, near the shoulder, which staggered me a good deal my crew stood boldly to their quarters and fought like heroes it was now past midnight . . no fatality had yet occurred amongst us . . then a large shot took off the boatswain's both thighs . . another, entering the men's room below, wounded a great number of blacks, five of whom died . . several of my crew were soon wounded . . we continued to blaze away . . at length, after nearly six hours, the ship all at once backed her topsails and dropped astern . . but . . she made sail again . . came up to us and resurried the action as fiercely as ever . . we engaged them both, tooth and nail, till the grey of the morning . . when I was struck violently on my left side by a splinter, then I fell breathless and senseless on the deck the man at the helm sang out that the captain was killed all began to leave their quarters and gather round me before I could recover breath, the chief mate said, " Sir, we have struck the colours!" . . I besought them again to hoist the colours three or four more broadsides we might carry away their masts my entreaties were in vain a lantern was hoisted at the peak to signify that we had struck I was carried from the deck and laid on a mattress in the cabin When their boats came alongside, those who boarded us were found to be our own countrymen . . we had been fighting all the while two English men-of-war, the "Dart," sloop of war, 30 guns, and the "Wolverine," 18 guns." Our main-mast was nearly gone, and our bowsprit was in the same state . . three of our guns were dismounted . . our sails and rigging were nearly cut to pieces . . the lower fore-studding sail was burned to tinder . .

He arrived in Liverpool on the 2nd May, 1807; the African slave trade had been abolished the day before his arrival. But on landing he was solicited to take command of the "Kitty's Amelia," which had been cleared out previous to the passing of the Abolition Act. It was his last voyage, like all the others successful, and even more arduous. He rescued the crew and some of the cargo of another ship that had been wrecked. They brought sickness with them, which attacked CROW's cargo and crew. Fire broke out in the middle passage :-

A dense cloud of smoke was issuing from below. I found the people in the act of cutting away the stern and quarter boats . .

Is it possible, my lads ! that you can desert me." . . I was the first man to venture below . . the fire was blazing on the starboard side, there were forty-five barrels of gunpowder in the magazine . . a thrill of despair ran through my whole frame . . by a strong mental effort I suppressed my feelings . . and only thought of active exertion unconnected with the thought of imminent danger. . . Our spare sails were stowed at hand. These were dragged out, and by extraordinary activity we succeeded in throwing them over the flames, which they so far checked that we gained time to obtain a good supply of water down the hatchway . . .

On our arrival at Kingston I found sixteen sail of African ships, some of which had been there five or six months with the greater part of their cargoes unsold. . . The first thing I saw on landing was an advertisement in both the Kingston papers that " Captain CROW had arrived with the finest cargo of negroes ever brought to Kingston." On the fifth day after we began to sell not a single negro was left on board.

It was his last voyage. He sent the "Kitty's Amelia" to Liverpool in charge of another ; and came home as a passenger.

The third epoch of his life remains to be told. He had got his son into the navy, Dr. Kelly using his influence with his brother-in-law, Admiral Russell, to further his interests "Tell the warlike CROW to send me his son, that I may train him to be such a man as his father." The boy, however, turned out a disappointment. He died at Lisbon in 1812.

Meanwhile Captain CROW had retired from the sea. He bought a small estate near Ramsey ; and set himself to improve it.

In 1812 he was proposed and appointed a member of the House of Keys, but declined that distinction. " After the melancholy death of my son, I continued to lay off and on, and to wander about seeking to divert my mind."

In 1817 he went to Liverpool again, where, among sights and society more congenial, he spent his remaining years. He is buried in Kirk Maughold Churchyard.*

* From the account by the Rev. John Quine in the Manx Note Book. For full particulars see the " memoirs," from which the extracts given above are taken. See also Williams' ' 'The Liverpool Privateers," pp. 626-90

Of less note were the privateer captains, QUIRK, GILL, CANNELL (2), BACON, CREBBIN, and QUALTROUGH; and the slaver captains, AMBROSE LACE, CHRISTIAN, WM. CROW, and EDWARD CLARKE. We will take the privateersmen first --

In 1752, Captain QUIRK, of the " Prussian Hero," of 18 guns and 60 men, fell in, near Guadaloupe, with three French privateers, viz., a sloop of 10 guns, a sloop of 8 guns, and a schooner of 6 guns. After two hours' fight they sheered off, and, though joined by two others, took to flight. Before this cruise CAPTAIN QUIRK had commanded the ship,, " Betty," a privateer, of 10 guns. She was taken on her passage to Jamaica by a French privateer, but was re-taken by the "Royal Hunter," privateer, of New York.+

In 1779, WILLIAM GILL, captain of the "Jenny," assisted by its namesake under Captain Walker, had a smart fight with an American frigate, of 28 guns, off the Banks of Newfoundland. The frigate, after getting the worst of the contest, was glad to escape.1


f "The Liverpool Privateers," p. 159.

' Ibid, pp. 278-9.


In 1793, Captain CANNELL, of the "Eliza," in company with the " Tarleton, " took the " Le Guerrier, " a French privateer of 8 guns and 72 men.*

Another Captain CANNELL commanded the " Mary," of 14 guns, her lieutenant being QUAYLE CREBBIN'. In May, 1793, she captured a " St. Domingoman," of 1,020 tons burden, laden with sugar. Later in the same year a feat is recorded as having been performed by Captain BACON and his crew, who sailed in the sloop "Christian." The "Christian" was captured by a French frigate, and Captain BACON and some of his crew were put on board another prize which the Frenchman had also captured. On the voyage, however, they rose upon the French crew, took the vessel, and brought her into Penzance.

In the same year the "Phoenix," commanded by PAUL CREBBIN, captured the French Indiaman, "La Pauline, " valued at £30,000.

All these privateers seem to have been successful, but the most curious account of Manx privateering is connected with an unsuccessful privateer, the " Tyger," of which RICHARD QUALTROUGH was captain and JOHN MOORE, lieutenant (see p. 101).

As her brief and unfortunate career throws some light on the nature of the commercial speculations which our ancestors occasionally indulged in, we will describe it at some length : -§

In March, 1778, the French ambassador was withdrawn from London, and, shortly afterwards, war broke out between France and England. The English Government proceeded to do as much injury as possible to the enemy's commerce by issuing what were called " letters of marque " which permitted merchants and others to fit out armed ships, or privateers, and to retain any of the ships or merchandize which they might capture.

Some Manx merchants thought that a venture of this nature would be a very profitable one, and so they clubbed together and purchased a ship called the " Tyger " for the sum of £3,465. The chief owners were Messrs. HUGH COSNAHAN and LEWIS GENESTE, of Douglas, but, according to the ballad, a number of small owners and her captain, RICHARD QUALTROUGH, had also a share in her. She had a crew of 70 men, 25 of whom were able seamen, and carried 16 guns, fourteen of which were 6 pounders, and two 4 pounders. Such cannon in these days would be considered mere pop-guns, but they then formed an armament which would have rendered the " Tyger " a formidable opponent to any vessel not a man-of-war.

In December, 1778, Captain QUALTROUGH wrote a letter, headed "Tyger,Ramsey", to Lewis Geneste, in which he expresses regret that he could not verify the report of the 'Tyger' having made a prize, " and he continues," the Dutch, or rather Prussian, ship, is clear'd out of Wirewater and no cargo on board," a remark which looks much as if he had in mind what was afterwards to get him and his owners into trouble, i.e.. the pillage of a vessel belonging to a neutral power. But he had designs also on a smuggler, " alongside of which we were making ready to steal the next morning, and did not despair of taking possession of her from our own ship's height to command her decks, tho' she mounts 16 sixes, and 50 men, but she sailed that night. Should a similar incident occur, your orders shall be strictly complied with. We still find sufficient employment. but are now pretty ready, and wish for a fair wind. If convenient I will call in your bay (Douglas) by the way. The ship makes little or no water. I have given the sides a good coat of tar. The crew are pretty expert in their exercise and in good harmony. If it would be agreeable I would prefer calling at Montaga (?) Bay prior to Kingston, as at the latter place they would sweep away officers, seamen and all." This refers to the impressment of merchant seamen to the Royal Navy. He also suggested to Mr Geneste that the crew should not be informed that their destination was, Kingston (seemingly Kingston in Jamaica), because, if they were, they would speedily " make off." On arriving off the Land's End they encountered a terrible storm, which is graphically described by John Moore, lieutenant, in his ballad :-

The sea was big and foaming,
Stormy beyond measure,
Our cross-tree fell overboard,
We could not keep our course.
After a spell of blowing,
The storm again took rert;
On Old Christmas Eve* we cast
Our anchor in Mount Bay.1

A few days later they fell in with and captured the Dutch galliott, " De Jonge Jessie Wittween de Lemmer, " Captain Heere Anskes, bound from Bordeaux to Dieppe, loaded with 289 hogsheads of tobacco. After a quick run the " Tyger" and her prize arrived in Douglas, where they were greeted by the populace with great joy, a joy, however, which was speedily turned into sorrow as the governor declared the capture an illegal one, and at once sent John Cosnahan, son of Hugh Cosnahan., as representing the owners, together with Captain A.nskes and three of his crew to. Whitehaven, where they appeared before the Commissioners of the " High Court of Admiralty' An agreement was entered into between them and the commissioners thatt, on the owners of the " Tyger " paying £60 to Captain Anskes, and engaging to put biln and his crew " free of expense into full possession " of his vessel, he should " exonerate and for ever quit all clain-is upon the captors and owners " of the "Tyger". The Dutch captain remained in Douglas refitting till the middle of February, when he sent in his bill of costs for 30 days, amounting to £45 8s. 8d., which was duly paid by Hugh Cosnahan. So ended the "Tyger's" first unfortunate venture.

Nothing daunted, however, her owners, in the following summer, commissioned her for a tour months' cruise. Three days out from, Douglas she fell in with the British fleet under the command of Sir Charles Hardy, off the Scillies, and was brought to by the " Romney," Captain Johnstone, who tried, but in vain, to induce some of the crew to volunteer. On their refusal, he took all the able seamen except one, " who had been disabled by an accident," on board his own ship. These men he afterwards spoke of as "the finest fellows he ever saw." Captain Qualtrough, having thus lost the pick of his crew, found himself unable to navigate the ship properly, and so he returned to Douglas. This last disaster proved too much for the owners, who at once endeavoured to sell the "Tyger," and they at last parted with her for only £1,260, this being " the most money they could get for her." It would seem that they had some hope of recouping their loss by a lawsuit against Captain Johnstone, but they had to wait till that officer returned to England, which was not till October, 1780.

When the solicitors of the owners of the "Tyger " had an interview with him, Capt. Johnstone expressed his regret for "having been under the necessity, but the service of the state required . . . he admitted that the concerned had a claim upon the public for such a loss, but was not able to advise how to get it." He, however, recommended "a petition to Parliament, " and said "he would with great willingness support it all in his power." The solicitors then advised that a statement of the "Tyger's " case should be laid before Mr Erskine and Mr Dunning for their opinion as to whether or not an action could not be supported against Captain Johnstone. The opinion of Mr Erskine, afterwards the famous Lord Chancellor, has not been preserved, but that of Mr Dunning was unfavourable. " Admitting the right of pressing," he says, " it seems a vigorous exercise of that right, taking all the seamen, a measure very likely to be attended with worse consequences to the property of the owners than those which it actually produced. On the whole I think it very doubtful whether the owners will recover in an action for consequential damages. Pressing seanen out of merchant ships is often very injurious to the interests of the owners, but I believe it to have been generally submitted to."

We do not know whether any lawsuit ensued or not, but we may note that Lord Eldon, then John Scott, who had been called to the Bar in 1776, was about this time engaged in a Manx case, which may just possibly) have been the case of the " Tyger, " to which he refers as follows : " Now I had been reading in Coke, and I found there that the people of the Isle of Man were no beggars- Lord Coke's words are :-'The inhabitants of the isle are a religious, industrious, and true people, without begging or stealing,' so in my speech I said, 'the people of the Isle of Man are no beggars ; I therefore do not beg their rights but demand them !' This. so pleased an old smuggler who was present, that, when the trial was over, he called me aside, and said, 'Young gentleman, I tell you what, you shall have my daughter, and £100,000 for her fortune.' That was a very handsome offer ; but I told him that I happened to have a wife, who had nothing for her fortune ; therefore I must stick to her."*

It is not known what became of the " Tyger, " and, as to her crew, all that can be discovered is that CALLISTER. was the name of one of the lieutenants, JOHN MOORE, already referred to, being the other ; that JOHN CALLOW, who had been one of the petty officers, became master of the brig " Hope "; and that three of the crew were called QUAYLE, KELLY, and HARRY MOORE.

* The Liverpool Privateers," P. 316.

t ~Fargher's "Annals of the Isle Man."


Our information about it is mainly derived from documents and letters, formerly in the possession of the Rev. Philip Moore (see pp. 25-26).

1 5th of January.
2 In Cornwall.
* Life of " Eldon the judge."

The following were more especially slavers :-

In 1762, AMBROSE LACE, father of the William Lace already referred to, was master of the " Marquis of Granby," but, before 1773, he seems to have settled down as a merchant in Liverpool. Mr. Williams gives some amusing letters from " Grandy King George" to him in that capacity.+

+ " The Liverpool Privateers," PP. 541-7.

The next captain on our list -CHRISTIAN, of the " Othello had an unfortunate career. His ship, which in 1794 had recaptured an English vessel from the French, two years later caught fire at Bonhy and blew up, several whites and about 120 blacks, among whom was a brother of King Pepple, perishing. His next ship, the "Parr," blew up at the same place, and on this occasion he lost his life.+

+" The Liverpool Privateers,", PP. 331, 631, and 634

WILLIAM CROW, brother of Hugh, was chief mate on the "Othello" when she blew up. He afterwards commanded the "Charlotte."

Another well known Manx navigator was EDWARD CLARKE, captain of the "Reindeer," who in 1806 was presented with a piece of plate by the Liverpool underwriters for his gallant conduct in beating off a French privateer, after a conflict of two hours, on his voyage from Africa to Jamaica, in 1805, with a cargo of slaves. He afterwards commanded the "Charlotte." The " Manks Mercury," in 1793, mentions that " Captain SHIMMIN is going out as commander of the ' Tom,' a Guineaman [or slaver] mounting 12 pounders."

The story of JOHN CLAGUE, of Douglas, who was taken prisoner by Algerine pirates and kept as a slave, shows one of the dangers to which navigators were then subject. He was employed at a slave factory on the coast of Guinea, from whence he came home as captain of a Guineaman. Unfortunately the " Mercury," which gives this information, does not explain how this remarkable change of fortune came about.

The three Manxmen whose names follow: THOMAS MOORE, JOHN QUANE, and JOHN GELL, do not seem to have been connected with either privateering or the slave trade.


General Traders

THOMAS MOORE (b. 1750, d. 1808)

belonged to the family of that name which was settled at Pulrose in Braddan. He went to sea when very young, and in 1778 became master of the "Fame," an armed merchantman. It was in this vessel, two years later, that he performed one of the most remarkable and gallant feats during the war. He was sailing down the English Channel, when he made out five sail on the starboard bow. They were a long distance off when night came on, but at daybreak they were only about three miles away. He made straight for them and, when he was within gunshot, they hoisted French colours, and let fly their broadsides. He reserved his fire until he was within pistol shot of the largest, when he plumped shot after shot into her, until she struck, after having been engaged for three quarters of an hour. Without stopping to send any of his men on board, he proceeded to engage the second ship, and took her after a short resistance. An officer and seven men were placed in this prize, and ordered to keep an eye on the first ship till the "Fame" returned from pursuing the remaining three vessels, which were crowding sail to get away. MOORE overhauled two of them and forced them both to strike ; the third escaped. The rest of his career contains nothing remarkable.

JOHN QUANE (b. 1757, d. 1838)

Was another successful merchant seaman. According to a quaint obituary notice in the " Manks Advertiser," " he left his home for sea quite young, with only a stocking full of clothes' and one quarter's schooling." He first served on a coal brig, getting a salary which only averaged 45/- per annum. During the American War he was taken prisoner, and no sooner was he released than he was "impressed" into the English Navy. From this service he was set free by the Peace of Versailles in 1783, and the prosperous part of his career began. He went to India, " where he became pretty successful in the private trade permitted in that country,"* by which is probably meant such trade as was not monopolized by the East India Company. But in 1796, " just as his business was beginning to be extensive," he was compelled by ill-health to return to his native island, where, as he had made a handsome little fortune,"* he was able to live in what the " Advertiser " considers to be " a state of genteel affluence."* He became a member of the House of Keys in 1812, and was noted for his great liberality to the poor. The obituary notice already referred to concludes with the curious statement that " a deep conviction was impressed upon his mind that the success which befel him was mainly to be a tributed to uprightness in his parents."*

* Manks Advertiser..

JOHN GELL (b. 1761, d. 1845)

spent his early life at sea. He was the only son of the Rev. Samuel Gell, Vicar of Lonan, who sent him when he was seven years old to be taught at the Grammar School in Douglas by the Rev. Philip Moore. He remained there till he was fourteen, and was then sent to "Captain" Fannin,+ by whom he was "perfectly instructed in navigation," and at sixteen he was "bound an apprentice" to John Joseph Bacon, merchant in Douglas, " to serve five years in the seafaring line " He relates his adventures at sea as follows :-

Upon Monday evening we sailed in a ship called the "Six Sisters," bound to Barbadoes; on the Sunday following we fell in with a French privateer about two leagues off Cork, after two hours' desperate engagement our ship was obliged to surrender, our ammunition being exhausted, and she was made a prize by the enemy, and was ransomed for £1,500, and one month allowed us to proceed on our voyage. Owing to severe weather and contrary winds, and our ship being much damaged, the month allowed us was expired before we arrived at our intended port, and we unfortunately fell in with a large Spanish fleet homeward bound from Buenos Ayres, and were again taken by them Prisoners, and landed in Cadiz, in Spain, and then imprisoned during nineteen weeks and upwards, upon very short allowance.

There happened at that time to be an exchange of prisoners, and we were marched, 240 in number, to Port Saint Lucas, a distance of many miles, and put on board a Cartel* bound to Portsmouth. When we arrived near to Cape Clear, in Ireland, we took by force possession of the Cartel (for which there is no law), and brought her into Douglas Harbour.

Some weeks afterwards "again sailed from Douglas in a large cutter, the property of the said merchant, Mr. Bacon, and bound to South Carolina, and within three leagues of that place we fell in with three American ships, well armed, bound to France, and were by them taken prisoners and landed in Lorion [L'Orient], in France, and from thence marched to Donan [Dinan] prison, a distance of scores of miles, and closely confined with hundreds of prisoners of different nations nearly in the way of starvation, having very little to eat, and no beds, but merely a trifle of straw, without any covering but our own clothes, some of the prisoners dying daily, from eight to twelve in number.

Nine weeks we remained in this deplorable situation, until, to our great joy, 200 of us were marched to a harbour called Saint Maloes and put on board a Cartel bound to Plymouth, and we airived there, near the king's ship lying at anchor, the night being uncommonly dark, four of us took the Cartel's small boat, and got on shore unnoticed, and, being young and able, we made the best of our way to Liverpool, travelling by night, through fear of being seen and impressed, and keeping in hidlands+ the most of the day.

Passing through Bath, Bristol, Kingswood, Accon, Salisbury, Monmoutlx, Shrewsbury, Nantwich, Northm,Ich, Chester, and Runcorn, and owing to our taking such roundabout roads to avoid press gangs and soldiers, we travelled 414 miles from Plymouth to Runcorn, nearly exhausted with fatigue and hunger, having no more than two shillings during the whole of our travels, which I procured for a black silk handerchiet which I sold off my neck. When we were about an hour in a public-house in Runcorn, invited by a boatman to take some refreshment, we were seized by a press gang from Liverpool, consisting of six men, with whom we crossed Runcorn river, patiently pretending to be perfectly satisfied to enter into His Majesty's service; but when we had walked with then) more than a mile, and no others in sight, as we were well provided with good sticks, we made a sudden stop, resolved to conquer or die on the spot, and forthwith a desperate engagement took place. Two of them had cutlasses, and four of their bludgeons, and we with our sticks, until one of them had his arm broken, and another desperately wounded in the head, and the rest sadly bruised by blows and falls. None of us were very much hurted excepting me, who received a cut in my head with a cutlass, which caused the blood to flow over my eyes and down my cheeks, that with difficulty I could see to hit my mark as I wished. Well battered and bruised, they at last made off, and our bloody engagement ended leaving us the glory of the field.

We then with all speed set out in quite a contrary road, and concealed ourselves in a farmer's barn, by the farmer's liberty, until night, when he gave us a good supper, the only sufficient meal we had made use of during three weeks and more. The next morning he sent a man and horse with a letter from me to Mr. Leece, merchant in Liverpool, who sent for us to Liverpool in the night, and were put on board a Manx trader commanded by Edward Kegg of Castletown, and landed the day after in Derby Haven, when we were treated with great hospitality by Mr. Afflick and family, and he lent me his horse to ride to my father's in Kirk Lonon, as my head was so severely cut and bruised.

After I had been about a month at home Mr. Bacon sent for me, and informed me that he had employed Captain Barnes in Whitehaven to purchase a ship for him, and although I had two years yet to serve, that I should go mate of her, and as I was well instructed in navigation I consented to his proposals ; but on my return home, having made these proposals known to my parents, they very much disapproved of them, as I had been so unfortunate in the seafaring line, and they advised me to return to the Grammar School in Douglas, where I had been formerly, to which I consented; and Mr. Bacon generously giving up my indenture, I repaired forthwith to school, an(l my former master, the Rev. Mr. Moore, being dead,* I was then under the tuition of the Rev. Mr. Quayle,+ where I continued until I was twenty years of age.~

At the end of 1783 he was appointed reader at St. Mark's, Malew, by the governor and archdeacon, there being then a vacancy in the bishopric. In 1786, he was licensed Chaplain of St. Mark's, where, in 1789, he is said to have written the foregoing account of his seafaring life. Some years later he seems to have resigned the chaplaincy, but to have been again appointed to it in 1797. This time he held it until 1809, after which, till 1835, when he was appointed Chaplain of St. John's, German, he was a curate in Liverpool. It appears that his early life had " unsettled him and rendered him rather unfit for the ministry."§

1 See P. 132  
2 A cartel was a ship employed in time of war to convey prisoners for exchange, and[ was looked upon as a neutral vessel, and as such was considered safe from molestation by all parties.
3 Hidlands is a very expressive term, commonly used by Manx people, meaning keeping out of sight, hiding; a debtor keeping out of the way of his creditor, or a criminal out of the way of an officer of justice, is said t, be in hidlands.
4 He did not die till 1783, so this seems to be a mistake.
5 The Rev. Thomas Quayle.
6 From his own journal, re-published in
Manx Soc., Vol. XXX., with an introduction by William Harrison.
7 This is the opinion of Mr. Harrison, who knew him personally.

The " Manks Mercury," in 1793, states that " five of the finest ships in Liverpool were . . commanded by Manxmen," i.e., the " Trelawney, " by Captain HARRISON ; the " Ann and Susannah, " by Captain QUILL; the "James," by Captain WILKS; the "Hope," by Captain TAYLOR; and the "John," by Captain COWLE. We do not know what trade they were engaged in.

[FPC Gore's Directory 1790 has Capt Thomas Quill, 7 Paradise Street (not in 1796 ed); there were two Captains Cowell Joseph at 117 Frederick St and Philip at 23 Drury Lane, Water St. (in 1796 at Bevington burth); The only Captain Taylor was Capt. James Taylor of Jackson's Lane, Union St. There were 4 Captain Harrisons in 1790; but no Captain Wilks in either 1790 or 1796]


Salt Fish Traders

Another trade in which Manxmen had engaged for centuries was that with Spain, Portugal, and Italy, in salt fish. Manx sailors took out fish to these countries and brought back wine with them. A story is told of one of the Manx skippers in this trade, named PRESTON, being, when sailing in the Mediterranean, stopped by a French man-of war. Her lieutenant came on board, insulted Captain PRESTON, whose foot he pinned to the deck with his sword. Captain PRESTON drew out the sword, and then knocked the lieutenant down. He did not, however, suffer for this, since the French captain, when the matter was reported to him, saw that the Manxman was not to blame, and though, as there was war between England and France, he and his crew were taken prisoners, he was exchanged in due course.*

* "Old Manx Sea Captains," in the Isle of Man Examiner, by the Rev. John Quine.

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.

Among Manx navigators of recent times those who have been connected with the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company have come most prominently into notice, though the first two captains of that company, GILL and QUAYLE, had already established a reputation as commanders of the Manx sailing traders, which before 1830 were the chief means of conveying passengers as well as goods between the island and England.

WILLIAM GILL, (b. 1795, d. 1858)

was brought up in Ramsey to the trade of a ship carpenter, but he soon took to the sea. He became a very skillful navigator, and rose to be captain of one of the sailing vessels, the "Duchess of Atholl,"1 which carried the mails between Liverpool and Douglas. He was then appointed to a new and larger vessel of this class, the " Douglas." In 1830, the now famous Isle of Man Steam Packet Company was established, and GILL was selected as captain of its first vessel, the " Mona's Isle," which was 108 feet long, and of 90 horse power. Under GILL's capable command she surpassed the rival company's steamer, the " St. George," in speed, the contest being terminated by the wreck of the latter vessel on Conister, on the 30th of November, 1830. As the company gradually purchased other vessels, GILL was always put in charge of the largest. He will be remembered as the discoverer of the Queen's Channel into the port of Liverpool.

Capatain William Gill
(from The Manxman 1911)

1 There is a picture of this vessel in the Peveril Hotel, Douglas [now in Manx Museum FPC].

EDWARD QUAYLE (b. 1803, d. 1862)

was equally distinguished in his profession, having sailed in many latitudes. He was in 1833 appointed to the command of the "Mona," of 100 tons, which had been purchased to take the place of the "Mona's Isle" during the winter, as the latter was considered too large and expensive a boat for that service. The " Mona's " average passage was about fourteen hours. The epitaph on his tombstone in Kirk Braddan Churchyard describes him as being " a prompt, fearless, faithful, and brave sailor, who felt and acted like a man." Another sturdy navigator,

JOSEPH SKILLICORN (b. 1811, d. 1877),

was for many years connected with the same company, but for some time he commanded the well-known steamer " Ellan Vannin," which belonged to Castletown. Let me quote a characteristic story of the Rev. T. E. Brown's about him:-" I remember sailing with him one day from Ramsey to Douglas. The captain was sitting on an inverted bucket, cutting some tobacco. We were passing under Kirk Onchan. 'Do you know the ould name?' he said. 'Yes,' I said, 'Kionedroghad.' ' Do you remember Parson Craine'~' ' Of course I do,' said I, 'be was my godfather.' 'Well,' said the captain, 'that's the first man that ever hove the water in my face!' " (i.e., baptized him.) He was, indeed, a grand old "salt." He lies near Captain Quayle under a stone erected to his memory by some friends.

When writing of the captains in the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company's service, we naturally think of the ships they commanded, and so, perhaps, it may be worth recalling the facts that the first " King Orry " was built in Douglas, at a building yard which afterwards became " Bath Place," and is now part of the approach to the Victoria Pier ; and that the first " Douglas," a vessel very remarkable for her speed, was bought by the Confederates, during the American Civil War, for the purpose of running the blockade. They painted her gray and re-christened her the " Margaret and Jessie. " She was a successful blockade runner, but she at last succumbed when only fifty yards from the harbour at Nassau, having received one shot through her boiler and another through her bow from the guns of the Federal gunboat, "Rhode Island."

The Orange Traders

About 1840, a large and increasing demand sprang up in England for oranges. To supply this it was necessary to build swift vessels, and Manx builders, especially those of Peel, were remarkably successful in doing so. This was the great era of Manx ship-building, when vessels built in Peel, Douglas, and Ramsey, not only for this trade, but for the American cotton trade and the Chinese tea trade, were ordered in large numbers by English ship-owners. It is curious, however, that, though the Manx ships had a well deserved reputation for swiftness, they did best when commanded by Manxmen. Many tales are told of swift runs back from the Azores, Madeira, and Spain. One of the most famous vessels launched in Peel at this period was the " Vixen." We will quote the Rev. John Quine's account of her:-

Gold was discovered in Australia about the year 1850, and of course a good many Manxmen went abroad to try and get some of the gold. The " Vixen " was a schooner of about 120 tons burden, and was a very beautiful vessel. She was a sort of joint-stock or co-operative concern. About 34 men, all in search of the Golden Fleece. left Peel in the year 1853. She had a very interesting voyage to Australia. One little incident had been related to him by one of the crew. It appeared that whenever they sighted another vessel and came close to, it was absolutely necessary for the crew of the " Vixen" to lie down on the deck, for the schooner had such a rakish appearance, and had such a large crew as 34 on board, that she was taken for a pirate. On one occasion the crew wanted to send letters home, and they sighted a large American brig oft the coast of South America The fast sailing of the "Vixen" and the number of men that were on her deck, aroused the suspicions of the Yankees, and they made all sail to get away. But the " Vixen " overhauled the brig, and the Yankees were obliged to stop. Then a boat with the letters was rowed from the " Vixen " alongside the brig, and when the boat's crew reached the Yankee they found her crew armed with guns, and ready to blow out the brains of the desperate Manx pirates it they attempted to cot-ne on deck. The fate of the "Vixen" was a very interesting one. Arrived at Australia, they found large ships carrying cargo could not come to within ten miles of Melbourne, and that there was a pot of money to be made by any men who had a small vessel that could be used as a lighter. So the" Vixen" went into that trade. Afterwards her speed caused her to be taken into the mall service for the carriage of malls between Melbourne and Sydney, and while in that service she invariably (?)beat the steamboats. Then the Manxman who had charge of the "Vixen" suddenly saw his way to make a fortune. There was not such a thing as a potato in the colony, so the " Vixen " was taken to New Zealand to get a cargo of potatoes. In the skipper's haste he must have made some sort of a mistake as to the quality or stowage of his cargo, when he got back to Australia his potatoes were in such a condition that they were not worth anything. Years after the " Vixen " came home, and this was her fate: One Saturday afternoon she was lying in Peel at the quay. It was blowing a gale, and the crew were all in the public-house waiting for high water to get out of the harbour. When they came on board they were certainly not in a fit condition to go to sea, and experienced men on the quay expostulated with them that in the state of the weather they should not go out of the harbour. The skipper of the " Vixen " was reported to have said that if the first port he arrived at should be in the other world he was going to sail. And so they went out of Peel in the height of the gale. The Peel nen went across to the hill, and from the hill watched the " Vixen " until she was lost in the thickness that accompanied a squall, and she was never seen again. And so she went around the world to come back and go down almost in sight her own port.*

[fpc - Canon Quine's tale for all its colour does not appear to be correct see my Vixen page]

At the present day, when sails have had so largely to give way to steam, the number of Manx-owned vessels, apart from herring smacks, is not large, but numerous Manxmen are found in both the English Royal Navy and Merchant Service, where many of thein have distinguished themselves. Amongst these Mr. Quine especially mentions Captain KERRUISH and Captain BELL, of Sydney, the latter of whom on two occasions, when the vessels he was connected with were wrecked, succeeded in saving every man of both crews from drowning. It may be mentioned that CAPTAIN OATES, of Mullin-y-cleiy, near Ballacraine (St. John's), who died in 1873, was in command of the "North fleet" just before she sailed on her last fatal voyage.

We conclude this short and imperfect sketch of Manx merchant captains with a brief mention of two typical men of this class who have recently died :-

ROBERT EDWARD CHRISTIAN (b. 1817, d. 1891)

was born at Baldromma in Maughold, which belongs to his family. When a boy he was apprenticed as a ship's carpenter in Taggart's. yard at Ramsey. He utilized the experience obtained in this way in repairing a schooner that had been damaged by having been run down by another vessel, and then ran ashore near the Point of Ayre, which he bought. This vessel he sailed as master for some years. He was afterwards master of numerous other vessels which were, for the most part, engaged in the North American timber trade. He was generally considered to be a most expert navigator. About 1876, he retired from the sea and conducted a ship-broking business. But Captain CHRISTIAN was remarkable in other ways than for skill in his profession. He had read and thought a good deal, and was an earnest student of his native language having translated many of the old Manx songs and carols. Some of these translations of the latter appeared in the book of Manx Carols which was published in 1891. He was a tall active man, and his physical strength was very great.

* "Old Manx Sea Captains."

WILLIAM J. GELL (d. 1895)

was born in Patrick, and brought up in Peel. On leaving school he went to sea, and was for some time in the East India Company's service. About 1855, he became a mate on one of the vessels belonging to Messrs. Thomas and James Harrison, of Liverpool, and he served that firm for the greater part of the rest of his life, being one of their most trusted captains and, finally, their marine superintendent for many years. He had great skill and boldness as a navigator and had also some mechanical ability, having patented no fewer than five inventions for the preservation of life.


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