[From Chrononhotonthologos, Phantasmagoria. Cotillions and Supper Entertainment in the Isle of Man 1793-1820 ]
We are fortunate today that if we are unable to work through sickness, disability, infirmity or old age the State will provide for us. Yet it is little more than 100 years ago that if people fell into one of those categories and their families could not support them then they would have had to seek charity. In the Manx press in 1817 there was a sincere wish to relieve the necessities of the indigenous poor. The Manx Advertiser supported a subscription Ball, "Among the laudable means reported to, for raising a fund for the relief of the poor of this town, we notice with pleasure, a subscription Ball to be held in the Assembly-room on the evening of the 14th instant, under the direction and superintendence of Mr. Head, (as Treasurer) and several benevolent gentlemen, whose active and philanthropic exertions, we trust, will be crowned with the most liberal support"
Here is the advertisement that appeared in the Advertiser dated 9th January 1817, "A Subscription Ball
For the Benefit of the Poor At the Assembly-room, Douglas, On Tuesday, the 14th instant Ladies to draw for places at half-past 7 o'clock. Ladies' Tickets 5s. - Gentlemen's Do. l 0s
No person to be admitted without a ticket, which may be had of Mr. Head, Cambrian Place; who suggested the measure and liberally offered his services.
Sir John Palmer, H. Cosnahan, Esq., Stewards
In this time of scarcity and distress, it is hoped that all charitable persons will avail themselves of every opportunity of bestowing their mite, in whatever shape it may appear.
Douglas 8th Jan 1817."
The Manx Advertiser reported the following week, the 16th January, that "the Douglas Ball, on Tuesday last, for the benefit of the poor of the town, was very numerously and respectfully attended; the proceeds amounted to fifty pounds; which sum has been added to the funds of the Society for Bettering the State of the Poor. The wording of the advertisement indicates that the Ball was held under the auspices of the Dancing Assembly.
The following year the Assembly held another charity Ball in aid of the poor of Douglas on the 18th June 1818 which also commemorated the anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo. The event was held at Mr. Dixon's New assembly Room. The Manx Advertiser stated that "the Charity Ball, announced for this evening will, it is expected, be numerously attended. Douglas, 11 th June, 18 18.
Under the section on Theatres I have recorded references to funds raised by theatrical performances for the benefit of the poor in Ramsey and Douglas.
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