Bishop's Demesne

This was the private property of the Bishop - comprising some 500 acres (245 in Michael and 345 in Ballaugh) it straddles the boundary between Kirk Michael and Ballaugh parishes around Bishopscourt, the boundary between the parishes was the stream that runs down Bishopscourt Glen and under St Nicholas's chapel attached to Bishopscourt - no tenancy records exist, as those living within the demesne were merely tenants of the Bishop. In Bishop Hildesley's will of 1772 he mentions "two maps of the Episcopal demesnes taken since I came, I leave to my successor" ; but these do not appear to have survived. The Bishop also owned a large turbary called 'Curragh-an-Aspick,' (Bishop's Turbary) which was one of the largest turf plots in the Curragh in Ballaugh.

St Nicholas's chapel at Bishopscourt would have acted as a Chapel of ease as Kk Michael was about 2.5km to the south-west whereas Old St Mary's (Ballaugh parish church) was some 4km away to the north. It would appear that the tenants in the Ballaugh portion were accustomed to use Kirk Michael but after much dispute Bishop Wilson signed an agreement in 1709 with Wm Walker then Rector of Ballaugh that the families concerned would in future use Ballaugh.

1709. March 15th. This day, Dr. Thomas Wilson, Lord Bishop of this Isle, issued a decree enforcing a former decree of ye Ld. Bishop Bridgman's, obliging all the Tennts. of ye Bps. Demeen, who are inhabitants within ye precints of Ballaugh, to come to this Church as to their proper parochial Church, and to perform all parochial duties, as other ye parishioners do. Note this is ye final result of long and tedious controversies between ye Vicar of Kk. Michael and myself, The papers relating to this debate, are in ye Church Chest, and ye originals of ye 2 Decrees in ye Ld. BPs. Registry. (Signed), Tho: Sodor and Man."

There is an entry in Ballaugh burials dated 1600 that the burial area "for the Court belonging to the Lo. Bishop next the entrance, and now lately made by the Cotters, and that upon the East side of the goeing in".

In Ballaugh register under 1699

This year the Bops part of the church yard of Ballaugh (according to the table in ye Register Book) being out of repaire was sufficiently made up by Jon Cottier, Gilbert Callister & Adam Cannell of Court Land sent hither (as they said to yt end by the Rt Reverend Father of God Tho Ld Bop of Man) Tho: Tere, Jon Stephen, Wm Bodaugh Church wardens, Tho Christian Curate

In June 1760 the walls of Ballaugh churchyard needed repair and the following were noted as tenants of the demense who were to rebuild their section : Dan Corkill
Wm Brew
Pat Cowley
John Cannel
Pat Crain
Pat Kelly
John Killip
Pat Callister
Thos Callister
John Grimshaw
Pat Cannel

The dispute concerning the affiliation of the tenants in the Ballaugh portion appears to have been of long standing - the following document is quoted by Rector Kermode in his unpublished Memorabilia


In Lib Ir 1678

Upon a solemne & tedious audience of the tenants of my Ld Bps Demense together with most or many of the most ages & most substantiall parishioners of the parish & parish church of St Mary of Ballaugh in the Isle of Mann touching a controversy concerning the performance of parochiale rights & the payment of Parochiale duties betwixt the sd tenannts & the rest of the parishioners aforesaid which difference have now continued to be agitated betwixt them for many years. It was finally sentenced and determined upon the second day of February 1677 by the Right Revd Father in God Henry Ld Bp of this Isle before whom it was clearly proved by the oaths of Thomas Craine of the Glaick in Ballaugh aged seventy one years or thereabouts & of Thomas Kinred of Ballaterson in the same parish of Ballaugh aged sixty years & of Thomas Cowley of the Knockan in the psh aforesaid aged about fifty five years many other aged persons of the said parish being ready to confirm the same by their respective oaths had they been thereunto admitted or required which was forborne for the said Ld Bps tenants did before his Lsp then & there confesse and acknowledge the verity of their assertions vidt that they had for severall years known the respective Parsons of Ballaugh & Vicars of K.K. Michaile meet together upon severall Asseasion dayes together with their respective parishioners for the respective distinction of the conterminations of these two respective parishes at the gate of Bsps Court and in their perambulation goe into the chappell of the said Ld Bp and there unanimously agree that the upper or East end thereof did stand & was of Antient time held to be within the precincts of the parish of St Mary of Ballaugh and the tower or West end of the said chapell was of auld time accounted & esteemed to be within the site & precincts of the parish of K. K. Michaell & that the said respective Parsons & Vicars did severally officiate divine service the one at the one side or end of the said chapell and the other at the other side or end of the same chapell alternately upon the said same dayes of perambulation. The Parsons of Ballaugh coming down by a well called Auleaugh als Phinlowes well and so along by the river or Miln-damn of the said Ld Bps demense up to the said chapell: & from thence with a considerable part of his meadow called Ballaugh third conterminating upon the middle third of the said medow & thence to a parcell of land called John Gawn's croft & so to Broughgarges lands which goes along to the strand or seaside whereby it did evidently appaer unto the said Ld Bp that all his tenants upon the Demense aforesaid which were inhabitants within the sd perambulation of the Parson of Ballaugh were and ought to be esteemed abd are now by his Lp accordingly adjudged to be parishioners of the parish & parish Church of St Mary of Ballaugh & so subject & liable to all parochoiale dues duties and performances unto the said church as the rest of the parishioners of the said parish are (excepting onely the payment of such tythes as now are & of ould usually have been due & payable unto the Ld Bp) and more particularly yt it is incumbent upon them (as such) to make theier proportionable part of the church yard hedge or ditch of the said parish of St Mary's of ballaugh according as it is apportioned them in ye register book of the sd church in the year 1660. And it is now ordered abd decreed by the said Ld Bp that henceforth all the said tennants shall repaire unto divine service and all the offices of the holy Church upon every Lds day every Holy day and other extraordinary dayes of publick fasts & thanksgivivings unto the said church of St Maries as to their sole proper parish chruch; and yt if they shall absent themselves frequently from the same upon such days (without a lawfull & sufficient cause & reason to be allowed of by the sd Ld Bp and his succession or his or the Vicr Genle) that they shall be presented by the churchwardens of the said parish for the time being (whose consciences are hereby overated to deall faithfully therein) unto the Bp or his Vicr Genle that they may be punished or fined 12d a piece for every such dayes absence whereof they cannot give a reasonable and satisfactory account. Provided alwayes that ye decree be no longer of force after they shall produce an antient sufficient & legall execution, which some of them seeme to pretend unto but are not or have not yet been able to produce, or make good & in the intervine they are hereby required to yield punctuall submission and obedience hereunto upon paine of Excommunication.

Given under the Episcopall seal of the said Ld Bp this second day of February in the seaventh year of his consecration & in the year of our Ld 1677 John Allen Actuar & secretia Dni Epi

A copy whareof is hereby enjoyned to be entered in the severalll Registers of both parishes & the Originall to be kept in the Ld Bp records (copied from a copy lent by Robert J, Moore Esqre, High Bailiff of Peel 1882).

In Ballaugh Presentments for 1758 the old wardens were presented for not obtaining the Court's determination that the Demesne tenants were liable to pay Church cess from which they had for some time claimed an exception though could not produce any record or evidence in their favour - the new wardens must have prosecuted this matter as noted 2 March 1758 that the tenants promised to discharge their proportion of the assessment.

Return to Index

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2006