[taken from Chapter 3 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

JOHN STEVENSON, of Balladoole (b. circa 1655 [? 1670], d. 1737),

the eldest son of Major Richard Stevenson (see ch. vii), and Isabel, daughter of Deemster John Christian, of Milntown, is first heard of, in 1692, as the kindly patron of William Walker,1 then a lad on his farm. Though probably a member of the House of Keys long before 1704, since he was then its speaker and one of the commissioners appointed to confer with the Earl of Derby with regard to the land question before the Act of Settlement was passed, his name does not appear in the Statute Book till that year. He was also a member of the Imperial Parliament, but it is not known what constituency he represented. In 1719, he was again asked by his colleagues in the Keys to go and see Lord Derby at Knowsley and to call his attention to various grievances in Church and State, which had, for the most part, arisen out of the arbitrary conduct of the governor and Council.

[fpc suspect a generation missed Richard Stevenson (dep gov in 1661) died 1683, his son also Major Richard Stevenson died 1698, his son by first wife was John]

The earl declined to make any immediate reply, but he admitted, as regards some of the alleged grievances, that he saw " just cause of complaint," and he ordered the governor and officers to meet the Keys to confer about them. Nothing however, came of their interview, and consequently STEVENSON was deputed to write to the earl appealing to him for justice. He did so, with the result that he was called to account, tried as a criminal imprisoned, but was soon released. In 1722, he was, for the second time, imprisoned in Castle Rushen for assisting Bishop Wilson to suppress the " Independent Whig," a book which inculcated freethinking principles. In 1723, the grievances referred to above being still unredressed, the Keys commissioned him, with John Christian, Thomas Corlett, and Thomas Christian, to apply to the King in Council, if they could not get redress from Lord Derby. They do not seem, however, to have done anything. In 1727, JOHN STEVENSON was again in trouble, being accused of saying that the " Boon men were hardly used by the governor in weeding his corn,"* and of improper behaviour to the governor at the mustering of the Arbory militia. It seems, however, not to have been possible to find sufficient evidence to convict him of any serious misdemeanour, so he was discharged. After this we hear nothing more of him, though he lived for ten years longer. He was styled " The Father of his Country " by Bishop Wilson, and the writer of an account of him in Burke's Landed Gentry states that he " devoted himself to the religious and civil welfare of his country."3 Indeed, from all that we have been able to learn about him, it is clear that Keble's verdict that he was " an unflinching champion of popular rights and liberties,"4 is a just one.

1 See pp. 21-22.
2 lib Scat c.
3 18th edition, Vol. II., p. 1922.
4 Life of Bishop Wilson, p. 537.


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