[Chapter 9 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901 - individual biographies on separate pages]


Reformers, Farmers, Merchants, Emigrants, &c.


Manx reformers have mainly concerned themselves with four questions: (1) The right of the House of Keys to a share in fixing the amounts of the customs duties; (2) the right of the Tynwald Court to control the expenditure of the surplus revenue; (3) the reform of the House of Keys *; (4) temperance.

Of these, the first dates from the end of the 17th century; the others are comparatively modern. There were, of course, other important questions, mainly constitutional, which arose from time to time, and especially the land question, which was brought to an end by the Act of Settlement in 1704, with which the names of JOHN STEVENSON and EWAN CHRISTIAN (see p. 71) are connected, but, as, except in the case of the land question, little is known of the chief actors in them, they do not supply any material to an account of " Manx Worthies." This, indeed, also applies to the first of the four above-named questions also, which was sturdily contested in the Keys, headed by John Stevenson, till it was conceded in 1737, only to be again taken away in 1765. The second question was one which began to be agitated about the year 1802. With this period of its history the name of JOHN CHRISTIAN CURWEN (see p. 73) will always be honourably connected. It then fell into abeyance for a time, but was revived in 1837, and it resulted in at least partial success in 1866. The chief Manxmen connected with this movement at a later date were JOHN JAMES MOORE, ROBERT FARGHER, JAMES G. GELLING, and WILLIAM CALLISTER (see p. 76).

JOHN JAMES MOORE, of Baljean, Lonan, was one of the deputation who went to London in 1837 to interview Lord John Russell, and, though they did not gain their object, they were successful in preventing an increase of the customs duties which was then threatened.

 * See Edward Christian (p. 60),

The next question, that of the reform of the House of Keys, which is now usually associated with the name of JAMES BROWN [ He was not a Manxman.] of the " Isle of Man Times " newspaper, has in reality had several leaders, and dates from 1791, when a petition from most of the principal people in the island, asking that they should have the right to choose the Keys, was laid before the Royal Commissioners who were at that time investigating the insular constitution and revenue. Petitions were also presented in 1834, 1838, and 1845. The chief leaders from 1834 onwards were the five men we have just mentioned, together with WILLIAM KELLY, who founded the Union Mills; JOHN W. S. CLUCAS, of Mary Voar, Santon who was a captain in the merchant service; F. B. CLUCAS, advocate, Ramsey, THOMAS KNEALE, merchant, Ramsey [Welch credits him as leading group that produced St Paul's Square by filling in old harbour]; JOHN DUGGAN and JOHN DUFF, merchants, Douglas; J. S. MOORE, of Lhergydhoo,* and WILLIAM CALLISTER. Except WILLIAM CALLISTER (see p. 76), the only one of them about whom we are able to give more than a mere mention is

* In Manx Soc. Vol. XVI., pp. 112-117 will be found a clever satire on some of these reformers by John Kelly, late High-Bailiff of Castletown.

The last reform movement, that of temperance or total abstinence, has also had a very considerable measure of success. At the present day, fortunately, we are scarcely in a position to understand the terrible amount of drunkenness, chiefly the result of the consumption of rum, which prevailed in this island during the first forty years, or so, of the last century. Any one wishing to verify this statement has only to peruse the " Life of Hugh Stowell Brown," which affords the most easily accessible evidence on the subject. We believe that the earliest advocate of temperance (not total abstinence) in the island was the venerable Rector of Ballaugh. HUGH: STOWELL (see p. 29). Then followed the teachers of total abstinence, among whom were the Rev. WILLIAM CORRIN (see p. 35), Vicar of Rushen; the Rev. WILLIAM GILL (see p. 36), Vicar of Malew; the Rev. WILLIAM CHRISTIAN, Chaplain of the Dhoon, the ever active ROBERT FARGHER; J. S. MOORE, of Lhergydhoo; and, at a somewhat later date, the Rev. THOMAS CAINE, Vicar of Lonan; EVAN CHRISTIAN, of Lewaigue; WILLIAM SAYLE, ROBERT CANNELL, and JAMES TEARE. Of these JAMES TEARE was, no doubt, the most remarkable, but the greater part of his work was done outside the island. We append brief accounts of him, EVAN CHRISTIAN, and the Rev. THOMAS CAINE.

+ It must be remembered that at this time there was no distinct line of cleavage between Churchmen and Methodists.

Among other temperance reformers were ROBERT CANNELL, who did much to forward the cause of temperance among his English speaking hearers by his poetry; while WILLIAM SAYLE, an excellent Manx scholar, performed the same office by his tracts and poems in Manx for the Manx speaking section. Nor should we forget how nobly Colonel HENRY MURRAY, M.H.K., used his influence to induce the Legislature to pass the Taverns Act in 1857, by which public-houses are closed on Sunday.*

* See " Temperance in the Isle of Man" 1884; a pamphlet by James Cowin.

The most distinguishing characteristic of the two Manxmen, whose names follow, was their philanthropy.


It is only at a comparatively recent date that Manxmen have earned a reputation for ability in forming. At the end of the 17th century, and during the greater part of the 18th century, smuggling and fishing were the most attractive and profitable occupations, leading, even when farming was not totally neglected, to its occupying a very secondary position. At the beginning of the last century the high price of corn induced a greatly increased culture, but this was most successfully carried on in the island by English and Scottish farmers, who had either bought or rented land at lower rates shall prevailed in their own countries Gradually, however, the Manxmen learned their methods, and by steady economy and persevering industry have succeeded where the Englishmen and Scotsmen, owing to their less careful and economical methods have. in many cases, failed. It is indeed remarkable how much of the land, which fifty years ago was in strangers' hands, has since then reverted to natives, both as landlords and tenants.

It must be remembered that it was not till towards the end of the eighteenth century that anything like scientific farming was introduced into the Isle of Man. Its pioneers should not be forgotten. They were Sir G. MOORE, of Ballamoore, Patrick (see p. 72); SENHOUSE WILSON, of Farm Hill, receiver-general, JOHN CHRISTIAN CURWEN (see p. 73); Deemster CRELLIN (see p. 84); J. J. BACON, the Rev. JOHN CRELLIN, the Rev. DANIEL GELLING, and BASIL and THOMAS QUAYLE (see p. 100).

A local newspaper* remarked, in 1793, that BASIL QUAYLE's land afforded "the best example of a complete farm carried on upon the system of the best cultivated counties in England, especially in turnips and other winter green food." Of our own time we may mention EVAN GELL (b. 1806, d. 1887), a useful member of the Legislature and Highway Board, both before and after 1867, who was the principal insular breeder of shorthorns, nearly all the best strains in the island, at the time of his death, being from his stock. He had an unrivalled knowledge of the value of land. and was therefore appointed one of the valuers under the Tithe Commutation Act. He was a justice of the peace and captain of the parish of Michael, where he resided at the Whitehouse.

* The Manks Mercury,

Merchants &c.

The Isle of Man cannot boast of many sons who have made fortunes in commerce. Of trade there was practically none till smuggling began; we know something of Manx merchants who made a good thing out of it, but their names are, perhaps, best left in oblivion.

EDWARD CHRISTIAN (see p. 60) amid the varied occupations of his adventurous life, seems for a time to have been engaged in commerce.

PHILIP CHRISTIAN (see p. 190) was evidently a successful merchant.

Next in order of date is

We may mention that the late Sir MARK WILKS COLLET, Baronet, whose father's name was Corlett, was a Manxman by descent, being connected with Colonel Mark Wilks and, we believe, with the Corletts of Loughan-y-yei, in Lezayre. He attained the distinguished position of Governor of the Bank of England.


Perhaps the best heading for those who follow is that of Oddities."

Manx Women.

Manx women have quite as many " Worthies " in their ranks as Manx men, but, from the nature of their chief vocations, they are naturally less conspicuous, and so accord little material for the biographer. Some of them have been mentioned under the head of " Literature,"* and we now select three from their number, the first of whom was conspicuous for courage, the second for beauty, and the third for bountiful charity, qualities which may also be found among many of their countrywomen. - Nessie Heywood, Margaret Crellin, Mrs Kerruish, Esther Nelson, and Bellanne Stowell.


No account of " Manx Worthies " would be complete without some, reference, to the Manxmen who have emigrated to America and the British Colonies. The large proportional number of able and distinguished men among them is very noticeable. It is, indeed, remarkable how wonderfully Manxmen have developed and succeeded in larger fields than are afforded by their own little island. Nor is their strong feeling of love, even after the lapse-of many years, for their old home less remarkable. This feeling has been strongly shown recently by the liberal contributions to the Snaefell Disaster Fund by Manxmen in South Africa and Australia.

The earliest Manx emigrants, if we may believe tradition, were

Since 1828 there has been a steady emigration to Ohio and other States in America, though not on such a large scale as at that time. Many Manxmen, whether born in Man or in America, served in the Civil War, and one of them, CASEMENT, attained the rank of general. Another, GEORGE BROWN GELLING (b. 1841, d. 1864), second son of Edward Gelling, of Douglas, merchant, went to New Orleans in 1857 to enter the counting-house of an uncle there. When the war broke out he volunteered his services and joined the Hampton Legion of South Carolina as a private. He was in twelve general engagements, among which were Bull's Run and Antietam. At the latter battle he was wounded and taken prisoner. He was soon exchanged, and continued in active service, attaining the rank of lieutenant and adjutant, till he, with three brother officers, was killed by a shell when in the trenches at Petersburg, Virginia, in 1864.



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