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


RICHARD PARR, bishop of Sodor and Man (1635-1644), was probably not a Manxman, but there can be little doubt that the two most conspicuous clergymen of that name, ROBERT and Thomas PARR, were Manx by birth. They belonged to a Lancashire family, who were first officially connected with the island in the middle of the sixteenth century, when William PARR was comptroller. Both ROBERT and THOMAS PARR were remarkable for the ease with which they accommodated themselves to the changes in public worship resulting from the establishment of the Commonwealth, and Thomas was also remarkable for his quaint entries in the Malew Register.

ROBERT was Vicar of Malew from 1633 to 1640, and Rector of Ballaugh from 1646 to 1673. He was appointed vicar general in 1646. It would seem that he was in sympathy with the rising against the Countess of Derby in 1651, since it was sworn in evidence, in 1662, that, when the Lezayre company of militia proposed to " sett a guard on him," he declared that they need not do so, " as he knew more of the risinge than they did."* He was evidently in good odour with the new regime, seeing that, in 1665 [sic 1656 ?], Deputy Governor Cadwell writes: "I have received direcons from the Right Honourable Thomas Lord Ffairfax, Lord of this Isle, for the allowinge you MR. ROBERT PARR., publicke preacher of this Isle. I expect your faithful care and diligence therein."" Mr PARR, on receiving this appointment, applied for an increase of salary, and, in response thereto, Lord Fairfax writes: " I am willing to allow MR. ROBERT PARRE, minister for preaching it to the people of the Island in Mankes or English, as he see best for the propagatinge of the Gospel, five pounds yearly."§ In 1657, Governor Chaloner appointed him one of his examining chaplains, and, in his " Treatise of the Isle of Man," he mentions that he had received some assistance from him in elucidating the derivation of Manx placenames. + He was sponsor to the Governor's son, James. Just after the Restoration he appears to have been equally in favour, since he was one of the four Manx clergy appointed by the ministers of Charles, Earl of Derby, to act as their substitutes in managing the Church affairs of the island. In 1661, however, he got into trouble for some unknown cause, for which he was confined in Peel Castle. On the 23rd of December in that year, he was released by order of Bishop Rutter, " in respect of his health, and the near approachinge of these festivals."*

Thomas PARR, Robert's brother, held the Vicarage of Malew from 1641 to his death in 1695. He too, rendered himself acceptable to the ruling powers during the time of Lord Fairfax, being one of the commissioners appointed early in 1660 to examine Lieut.Hathorne, who had imprisoned Governor Chaloner in Peel Castle. In consequence of his supposed sympathy with the rebels of 1651, he was. in 1662, brought before the court which was then inquiring into the circumstances connected with the rebellion of that year. He stated that he " never had any knowledge of the risinge,"+ and that he had declined the oath tendered to him by the conspirators. The chief record that he has left of himself consists of the quaint and racy entries he made in his Church Register. As Archdeacon Gill remarks: " Sir Thomas Parr has so impressed his own character upon almost every page of the book that it reads more like an autobiography than a Parish Register and the very self of the worthy vicar stands out vividly before us. We picture him to ourselves as a somewhat pompous personage with a strong sense of his own dignity, and very jealous of his official rights amusingly subservient to the higher powers, at one time falling down on his knees with gratitude, as he records the 'miraculouse pservacon' of 'our right Honourable Lord' the Earl of Derby, and, at another, actually canonising the newly appointed Bishop, Samuel Rutter, who landed at Ronaldsway, 'on the 21st Sept., 1661, beinge St. Samuell's Day', easily accommodating himself to the changes of government in Church. and State expressing astonishment at the use of the Book of Common Prayer at a marriage in 1654 yet hailing with evident pleasure the restoration of King Charles in 1660; delighting in sonorous and wellrounded sentences, as when describing the proclamation of James II. 'with great congratulacons and repeated acclamacons '; fond of airing his Latin (such as it was) a bit of a quack doctor, a believer in witchcraft and astrology, careful to note the position of the planets, the direction of the wind at the time of the birth of one of his own children, yet withal an honest, kindly gossipy old gentleman, who wins upon our affections while we laugh at his foibles, and from whom we part at length with sincere regret."" There were several other members of this family in the Manx Church. The three following were sons of Robert: CHARLES (b. 1644, d. 1684), who succeeded his father as Rector of Ballaugh in 1673. In the latter Year he was made vicar general and died JOHN was Chaplain of Ballure in 1688, Vicar of Rushen from 1691 to 1700, and Rector of Ballaugh [sic Bride] from 1700 to his death in 1723. [Both the following section and the third son appears to be confused by Moore as there were two Rev Robert Parr's - (1) Vicar of Lezayre 1686 to death 1712 b. Lezayre; and (2) Robert Parr vicar of Arbory 1713-1723 and then Rector of Bride and Vicar General 29 March 1723 to death in 1729]] Another CHARLES, perhaps a brother of Robert's and Thomas's, was Vicar of Lezayre in 1653. ROBERT, grandson of the first Robert, and son of the second, was Vicar of Lezayre from 1698 to 1713, and Rector of Bride and vicar general from 1713 [sic 1723] to 1729.

This ROBERT PARR (ie (2)) was one of the only two clergy who were on Lord Derby's side in his dispute with Bishop Wilson. In 1722, Lord Derby refers to this by noting that " Parr and Brightson" (i.e. William Bridson, Vicar of Marown) were "good" in a letter to the governor. In the following year, Robert Parr in writing of Bishop Wilson's party to Lord Derby says: " These are the patriots who under a colour of religion and the Church would have sacrificed your Lordship's Regalia [? regal powers] to their private disappointments or resentments. From the power of such implacable mortals Libera Nos Domine*

1 Manx Soc., Vol. xxvi., p. 17. ;
2 Lib. scacc.
3 ibid.
4 ibid. It should be explained that it had been the practice for the Earls of Derby to maintain two public preachers-one for the garrison and the towns and the other for the country churches.
5 Manx Soc., Vol. xxvi., P. 17.
6 Lib. .Scaccar.
7 Manx Soc.,
Vol. XXVI., p 22
The Manx Note Book, Vol. Il. pp. 73-4
9 Loose papers Knowsley

In a deposition dated 29 April 1639 (inquest re goods of George Johnson ( in film EW09) Sir Robert Parr noted as aged 37 years or thereabouts thus born c, 1602 + d 1673 (administration in Book2 episcopal wills 1673)


Back index next

see also Old Manx Families

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001