[taken from Chapter 5 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

JOHN KELLY (b. 1750, d. 1809),

only son of William Kelly, farmer and cooper, and Alice Kewley was born on his father's property of Algare, in Baldwin. He received his early education under the Rev. Philip Moore, of whom, since he displayed a remarkable aptitude for learning generally and especially for his native tongue, he was a favourite pupil. He was thus marked out as a suitable person for taking an important part in the work of translating the Holy Scriptures into Manx. It would appear that he entered, at the age of sixteen, in collaboration with the Rev. Philip Moore, on the arduous work of revising, correcting, and preparing the second volume of the Old Testament (from Job to the end, including part of the Apocrypha) for the press. KELLY also transcribed the third volume, containing the New Testament, and corrected the proofs for the press of the whole of the Old Testament. When making a voyage from Douglas to Whitehaven for this purpose, with the MS. of the Bible from Deuteronomy to Job, he was shipwrecked, but managed to save the MS. by holding it above water for five hours, till he was rescued from the sinking ship. At this time also he began "to collect and form the rules" of a Manx Grammar, being, as he says, without any printed or written documents to help him, except the Gospel of St. Matthew which was published by Bishop Wilson in 1748. This grammar was finished in 1780, but was not published till 1804.+ Judged by the critical standard of the present day, it is wanting in many particulars, but it is, nevertheless, a praiseworthy and useful publication. To return to the Bible—the translation of the Old Testament was practically complete in 1772, and Kelly, having received a well earned gratuity from the S.P.C.K. for his work, was thereby enabled to fulfil his long wished-for scheme of entering a University and so, in October of that year, we find him at St. John's College, Cambridge. Of his University career we know nothing, except that he took his B.A. degree in 1776. In 1776, he was ordained deacon and appointed to the charge of the episcopal church in the town of Ayre. In 1779, he became tutor to the Marquis of Huntley, afterwards the last Duke of Gordon. During the period between 1779 and 1790, he accomplished the greater part of his magnum Opus, the Triglot Dictionary of the Gaelic languages of Scotland, Ireland, and Man, with an English translation. The printing of this book we. begun in 1807, and had proceeded as far as the letter L, when a fire broke out and destroyed the whole impression except one or two copies." The Manx-English part of it was reprinted, with emendations* and with an English-Manx part,: by the Manx Society, in 1866. The same criticism may be applied to this publication as to the grammar. In 1791, JOHN KELLY was appointed Vicar of Ardleigh, near Colchester. He took his LL.D. degree at Cambridge in 1799, and became Rector of Copford, near Ardleigh, in 1800, being, at the same time, placed on the Commission of the Peace for the county of Essex. Of Dr. KELLY'S later years but little is known. He appears to have been a man of some mark in Essex and to have been generally respected as an earnest and liberal-minded divine. He married, in 1784, Louisa, eldest daughter of Peter Dollond, and granddaughter of the famous John Dollond, F.R.S., the inventor of the achromatic telescope, by whom he had an only son, Gordon William afterwards Recorder of Colchester. It was Gordon William Kelly who gave the " Manx Prize " which is still competed for at King William's College.

* These were by the Revs Hugh Stowell. Howard, and Fitzsimmons in 1811, and by the Rev W. Gill in 1869

+ by Messrs J.Clarke and I Moseley

see also Memoir in Manx Soc vol 13


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