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


Except for the fact that he was a Manxman, nothing is known of his early life It would seem that he belonged to the Benedictine order, and was a priest of the church of Camelyn, in the Diocese of Down, when he was, in 1367, appointed Archdeacon of that diocese by Pope Urban V. One reason for his appointment vitas that he was " skilled in Canon Law."** In 1384 he was elected Bishop of Sodor and Man by the clergy in their Cathedral of St. German. This election was confirmed by Pope Gregory XI. JOHN DONKAN then went to Italy, and he was consecrated "at the Church of the Friar's Preachers, by the Cardinal of Palestrina, formerly Archbishop of Canterbury."* On his return journey, he was unfortunately captured and imprisoned at Boulogne, not being liberated till he was able to find money to pay a ransom. It was, consequently, not till the 25th of January, 1376, that he was installed in his own cathedral, when he received " many very great offerings."+ We know nothing of his administration of his diocese, which, as regards Man at least, was then passing through a very troublous and unsettled period. It is, however' certain that he was a man of considerable ability, as well as influence since we find him receiving important commissions from English kings. The first of these was in 1388, when Richard II. empowered him to treat with Godfrey, son of John, late Lord of the Isles, concerning various matters, and, in 1405, Henry IV. appointed him, together with Jenico de Artois, to conclude peace between his Irish subjects and the Lord of the Isles, between whom and the merchants of Drogheda and Dublin a sort of piratical war had been carried on. In 1392, he was translated to the Bishopric of Down. In 1401 he received from Henry IV. the office of Seneschal of his Liberty of Ulster, which seems a curious office for a bishop, but affords proof of the confidence the king had in him. He died in 1412, and was buried in his cathedral Church of Down.

He is the last Manxman who has been Bishop of Man.

** Manx Soc., Vol. XXIII, p. 375.
1 Chronicle of Man. 121
2 Ibid.


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