[taken from Chapter 7 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]

JOHN COWELL (b. 1786, d. 1863),

son of a northside farmer, was carried off by a press-gang from Douglas and became one of the crew of the "Temeraire," on board which ship he lost his right arm by a cannon- shot which struck him just as he was in the act of ramming home a cannon charge. On his return home, duly pensioned, he became a student, acquiring a knowledge not only of navigation and the Manx language, but of science and the classics. Notwithstanding his physical disability he was invited to enter the ministry of the Wesleyan Methodist Church, but he preferred the profession of a schoolmaster. He was also a land surveyor, and conducted a survey of the island for the English Government. As a lay preacher he was both able and eloquent. For many years he was parish clerk of Bride, thus uniting, like many of the early Wesleyans, service in the Church of England with fidelity to his own denomination. On one occasion his zeal in holding religious meetings brought him into collision with the archdeacon, who complained to the bishop. The latter, who thereupon summoned him to Bishop's Court, on finding that he was well versed in the old English divines, and was able to give reasons for his faith and to make it clear to others, sent him away with his blessing, telling him to continue his good work. During the epidemic of cholera at Dalby, he distinguished himself by his tender care of the sufferers whom others shunned. We may mention that he was a brother-in-law of William Kennish, (see p. 118), that several of his grandsons are now in the Wesleyan ministry, and one, Mr. J. T. Cowell, is a Justice of the Peace and a member for Douglas in the House of Keys. Endowed with real genius, JOHN COWELL was also a man of the highest character, and he has left an honourable name behind him.


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