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

JAMES WILKS (b. 1719, d. 1777).

Nothing is known of his early life till 1742, when he was ordained by Bishop Wilson, and appointed Curate of St. German's " with power to dispose of the Glebe and all other profits to the best advantage " As there was no school in that parish, he at once interested himself in the matter, and obtained a piece of ground near St. John's, where it was ultimately built. In 1745, he became vicar of the parish, and, in the same year, he was sent by the bishop to Dublin to obtain arrears of interest on some money left to the Academic Fund under Bishop Barrow's will, which had been invested in that city. His mission was successful, and his conduct of it received the bishop's approbation. In 1750, he was appointed episcopal registrar;. and, in 1752, Vicar of Michael. He was very intimately connected with Bishop Wilson, who, in his later years, greatly depended upon him. As surviving curator of his will, to which he had been a witness, he carried out the bishop's instructions respecting his funeral.

He went to London in 1755, and again in 1756, in connexion with the chancery suit against the Earl of Derby for the recovery of the impropriate tithe. His diary of these journeys, and the business transacted during them, is of considerable interest. On his first journey, he dined with the Duke of Atholl, who asked him many questions about the island and the bishopric, and, a few days after, introduced him to Dr. Hildesley, Vicar of Hitchin whom he had appointed to succeed Bishop Wilson. The bishop elect entered into a long conversation with him, and was much pleased with what he heard. In 1766, he undertook another journey to London, to assist in the defence of the clergy in the dispute between them and the fishermen concerning the fish tithe, the latter having appealed from the decision of the governor, which was against them, to the King in Council. The governor's decision was, however, confirmed. On this occasion, he had an interview with the Archbishop of York, to whom he represented the deplorable state of the island, where there had been a very bad harvest; and he laid before him various proposals with regard to trade, which, he contended, would benefit the people, and m no way prejudice the revenue. The archbishop and the Bishop of Durham promised to do what they could, but it was late in the session, and Parliament was embarrassed with North American affairs, so nothing was done at that time. However, in the next year, an Act was passed for the encouragement of Manx trade and manufactures.

At this period there were disturbances and riots in London caused by a constitutional struggle, in which John Wilkes was the most conspicuous character. JAMES WILKS was, consequently, often questioned as to his relationship to his namesake. Referring to this, he says " For my own part I would wish for the present, my name was any other than Wilks, for wherever I have occasion to tell my name I am stared at, and asked whether I am not a relative of the 'Great Wilkes,' as he is called." In 1769, he became one of the vicars general and in 1771 Rector of Ballaugh. On his appointment there, he and the Vicar of German perambulated a great part of the boundaries of their parishes. attended by a large number of parishioners, and fixed the limits in several doubtful places. He had taken part in the translation and revision of the Manx Bible, having translated Joshua and the Epistles, and he also translated part of the Liturgy.

In 1772, Bishop Hildesley died, and JAMES WILKS was left executor, together with the bishop's sister

JAMES WILKS died in June, 1777, and was buried in the old churchyard of Ballaugh. On his tombstone is the following epitaph :-

Sleeping in Jesus.
Translated hence the good man never dies,
But like the daystar only sets to rise.
Rector of this Parish and Vicar General,
Aged 58 years.
Was buried June 21st, 1777.


Next to Philip Moore, JAMES WILKS could be considered the ablest Manx clergyman of his time. Like him, he was the devoted friend and assistant of both Bishop Wilson and Bishop Hildesley, and like him, he was possessed of some literary power.* (An abstract of the account by Rev. S. N. Harrison in the "Manx Note Book," vol. iii., pp. 67-72.)

* See his account of "The Inhabitants of the Isle of Man and their language" in the Manx Note Book, Vol. III, pp. 178-180


Rev james Wilks
Rev James Wilks

George Wilks was from Dublin and had married Ann Christian of Peel probably in Dublin . According to the article in JMM #57 John married Margaret Moore of Billown (daughter of Deemster Charles Moore) - no marriage found but in Charles Moore's will he leaves £5 to grandson James Wilks.

Ann Wilks als Christian died in Dublin in 1719 leaving three children John, Mary and Ann - the two daughters remained in Dublin - John is first noted as a father of son John in Malew in 1717 (John died young and is buried Malew in Nov 1724 - in the probate of his mother Ann he is given Powers of Attorney from father George and sisters in Dublin dated Oct 1720; by May 1721 George appeared in court and acknowledged the Power of Attorney - George and family unsuccessfully sued Ann's siblings for a share of certain property in Peel but eventually came to agreement and the property is sold to Hugh Cannon in 1729. John in a deed dated 30 Sept 1720 buys from Nich Woods(Ballasalla) for £10 a dwelling house + garden with a little house adjoining to north end of dwelling house situtate at lower end of Ballasalla adjacent to a field of Deemster Moore's known as Bwolley Muck,rent 3d - John is noted as smith now in Ballysally - in April 1721 he buys a little croft known as the Small Croft (lds rent 4d) and sells the property acquired from Nich Woods for £13 'to supply our own necessity' to pay off a £5 mortgage on the first property. This property would appear to remain his home until sold in 1740 when described as a dwelling house,brewhouse + cowhouse lying near the cross in Ballasalla(intack rent 4d); George and first son John were engaged in minting of 1733 currency at Derbyhaven - George died 1743 in Ballasalla.

Second son of John was James Wilks (born at Ashehold, Santan, 26 July 1719) - first marriage was to Margaret Woods (daughter of Vicar General Woods) by whom had 6 children. second wife was Elizabeth Christian (daughter of William Christian of Ballamoore Jurby and Ann Mylrea (daughter of Deemster Mylrea).


'One of the most able Manx Clegymen of his time' J. Manx Museum IV #57 Dec 1938 pp71/2


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