[taken from Chapter 1 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

WILLIAM RUSSELL (1348-1374)*

The third Manx bishop of the diocese, WILLIAM RUSSELL, Abbot of Rushen, was a notable man, and probably one of the ablest bishops that the island has ever had. He was elected by the clergy of Man " in the Cathedral Church of St. German, in Holm of Man, and was consecrated at Avignon by Pope Clement VI."1 When in Italy, he obtained leave from the Pope to mortgage the Church revenues in order to pay the " great and burdensome outlay . . . for the successful carrying on of the affairs of the Sodor Church.2 On his return he issued six canons, which were passed at a synod held in Kirk Michael in 1350. They may be summarised as follows: (1) If a clergyman dies, all his brethren without any pretence or excuse, must attend his funeral; and each must daily, for thirty days, celebrate mass for the dead. (2) God's Word is to be preached, children to be instructed, and the Sacrament to be administered on Sundays and Holy Days. (3) Churches and their books and ornaments are to be kept in good order. (4) All parish churches are to have a residence for a clergyman attached to them, especially those appropriated to the abbeys. (5) Foreign clergymen are only to officiate when they have given proof of their ordination and good character, and have received an authorisation to do so. (6) At least one person from each house is to attend church on Sunday, under a penalty of three shillings and fourpence, unless a reasonable excuse is given.3 These stringent rules probably indicate a tightening of the Church's discipline. Mr Quine says: " The period seems to have been one of orderly and organised church life, of prosperity and extension . . . and from the canons we may infer a close strictness in the habits of the clergy."4 Bishop Russell's influence had, no doubt, much to do with this state of affairs. He was buried in Furness Abbey.

* Date of episcopate.
1: Chronicle of Man
2: Manx Soc., Vol. XXIII., pp. 351-4
3 Abstract from Manx Soc., XVIII., pp. 188-193
4 Ramsey Church Magazine, May, 1896.


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