[from Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol 4 #2 1936]The Annual Meeting of the Society was held at Clifton House on 25th March, 1937. The President, Mr P. W. Caine, presided.
The accounts were presented by the Treasurer, Mr W. Gordon Cooper, and adopted.
The retiring President gave an addresse on "John Stevenson, of Castletown," which was greatly appreciated.
The officers for the ensuing year were elected as follows:Patron, His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor; President, Mr P. W. Caine; Vice-President, Mr Ralph Howarth; Treasurer, Mr
W. Gordon Cooper; Committee-Messrs J. J. Kneen, M.A., J. R. Bruce, B. E. Sargeaunt, W. Cubbon and Gibbons; Librarians, Messrs G. H. Neeley and G. H. Quiggin; Auditor, Mr Jas. Bell; Editor of Proceedings, Mr R. B. Moore. Leaders-Archaeology, Mr W. C. Cubbon and Mr Heaton; Natural History, Mr R. Howarth; Physiography, Mr R. Lace; Photography, Rev E. H. Stenning and Mr P. J. Prideaux; Secretary, Miss Hilda Cowin.
The Committee was asked to arrange for an Excursion off the Island if found practicable.
P. W. Caine.
Read at the Annual Meeting, March 25th, 1937.
John Stevenson, of Balladoole. who lived between the years 1666 and 1737, and was Speaker of the House of Keys, was described by Bishop Wilson as "the father of his country." He voiced the grievances of the Keys and of the people against arbitrary actions by the Earl of Derby's governor and officers, and was twice imprisoned in Castle Rushen. It is not of him that this paper treats, but of another John Stevenson, who, in the next generation came into equally violent conflict with another Governor and another set of officers.
It is possible, though, with some hesitation, to identify this second John Stevenson. In some of the documents he describes himself as "John Stevenson of Castletown," and in others as "John Stevenson of Scaldaby"-the earlier name of the estate now called Scholaby, in the parish of Rushen. In the 1l anorial Roll of 1703. the person entered as the holder of Scaldaby is Thomas Stevenson; it is there mentioned that the estate was taken on lease in 1643 by Nicholas Cleage. Thomas Stevenson was a member of the House of Keys during a period which ended in 1748. Now, John Stevenson of Balladoole had a brother named Thomas, and documents exist which imply relationship between the Stevensons of Balladoole and the Stevensons of Scaldaby. It would appear, therefore, that the second John Stevenson was the first John Stevenson's nephew. This paper is based upon a printed document placed at the disposal of the Manx Museum some time ago by SurgeonGeneral H. W. Stevenson, C.S.I., C.P., J.P., of Balladoole. The title is:
"The case of John Stevenson, shewing the grievous hardships which he laboured under in the Isle of Man, in the year 1759, from the arbitrary proceedings of the late Governor and Officers, and the different methods that have been taken to shut the doors of justice against him; humbly submitted to all lovers of liberty in the Kingdom of Great Britain."
The document opens:-"The Isle of Man hath, ever since the Reformation, adhered most strictly to the liturgy and doctrine of the Church of England, as by law established; and there is no toleration there by law for any other sect.
"The late Governor Cochrane (who is now a Commissioner of Excise in Scotland), whether to favour the carrying on of trade in this island by the extraordinary encouragement given of late there to the foreign merchants, and particularly to Irish Papists, to reside and settle in this island, or from what other motive is best known to himself, did certainly, whilst governor, recommended to his lord and master the naturalising several papists and foreigners in the above island; and grants were made out accordingly, investing them with all the privileges and immunities of the natives of the said island. Which is esteemed by men of the law in England, to be a higher exercise of prerogative (for the above grants are not confirmed by any act of the legislature of that island) than ever was exercised by His Majesty in this Kingdom.
"Some of the most considerable natives there. . . presented memorials to the bishop of the diocese, and to the representatives of the commons, complaining thereof, and had the thanks of both 'for putting them in mind of their duty,' as they were pleased to term it; but the governor said that some of the memorialists deserved to be drawn alive by wild horses as for an act of high treason, for offering to give their sense, by way of memorial, of the illegality of such a measure; however the assembly did not give the least ear of attention, in good earnest, to the public remonstrance, nor take the least step afterwards with their lord for removing the evil complained of.
"Hence it was, that Mr Stevenson was deputed by several of the natives to seek redress against such national grievance in a legal way... He advised with some of the most eminent council in England upon it; and in consequence of the advice which he received, presented a petiton and memorial to His Grace the Duke of Athol, praying that he might be heard by council against the naturalisation complained of; but to this day, never could prevail upon His Grace to grant him the prayer of the petition, or any hearing by council as prayed thereby, although he had transmitted to his Grace a true copy of the opinion of such eminent council upon it, tending to show the illegality of such naturalisations."
John Stevenson was evidently prominent in the agitation which is referred to by Mr A. W. Moore in pages 7-8 and 101-194 of his "Notes and Documents from the Records of the Isle of Man." In 1757 the Keys presented a petition to the Duke of Atholl, adverting to certain naturalisations which had lately been granted, which, "however calculated to serve good purposes, seem attendant with inconveniencys. It cannot be deny'd that some of those, to whom your Grace has been pleased to grant this favour, are Gentlemen of good character, yet there are others of them who do not appear in so favourable a point of light and character. The naturalising of Papists gives occasion to represent the Disposition of the Natives in an injurious light, as if disaffected to the Government of Great Britain, and tends to the Encouragement of a Religion disagreeable to the Natives, who think it should be discountenanced."
A reply to this petition was given by the governor and cillicers, under date 13th March, 1758. Mr Moore's reproduction of it is slightly abridged, and I quote from the original, as contained in the book of the Court of Exchequer. For facilities for inspecting this and other documents bearing on the Stevenson case, I must acknowledge the courtesy of His Honour the Clerk of the Rolls.
" The Isle of Man," say the governor and officers, " was formerly an ancient Kingdom. The Lord, without the title, hath all the regalitys and prerogatives of a prince, and the people are governed by their own peculiar laws, customs, and privileges, which make a distinction between the native-born and the stranger. The native pays only half the duty to the Lord upon the importation of certain commoditys, is not to be arrested body and goods upon an action of debt without special cause, and hath the same priority of payment of debts to a stranger, as specialtys have to simple contracts in England. These priviledges extend to such as are born within the Isle, and such as are scised of a certain portion of land therein, and also to those whom the Lord doth by his prerogative naturalise and admit, upon taking the oath of ffaith and ffealty to the Lord and laws of the said Isle, with the reservation of allegiance to the King's Majesty of Great Britain, our Gracious Soveraigne
"To put the fair trader upon an equal ffooting, His Grace the Duke of Athol, Lord of the said Isle, upon the humble petitions of some of the most considerable merchants and on the recommendation of his governor of the said Isle, ordered that they should be severally naturalised and admitted to the said priviledges of a native, according to the ancient fform. And among these gentlemen, four are of the Roman Catholic persuasion, but have resided and traded in the said Isle a great many years, with a good character, and without giving offence to any person in religious matters. The few Papist strangers who reside and resort in the said Isle have very generally a priest; but if he discovers himself by any umbrage of offence to society, he is instantly silenced by the governor, of which there was a late instance (though upon a very trivial occasion), and the Governor's order still continues in force, and the Papists have not since had a priest to officiate.
"The said Isle is singularly happy in point of religion. The Reformation was universally embraced there in Queen Elizabeth's reign, and no Dissentions or seisms have been known there since. All the natives are of the Established Church, and for loyalty to His Majesty in the present happy establishment of Great Britain, this Isle may justly vye with any part of His Dominions. for which good reason they are strangers to penal and other statutes against Popery: and no restrictions thought of against any sect or religion, from purchasing or taking lands by descent, devise, gift, or intack, or discountenancing naturalisation, by which said several means an alien may attain to the said priviledges of a native.
"And as equity and justice in the trading part of this Island in general was the sole object of the naturalisations, and matters of religion in no sort were concerned, these Papists were, with other gentlemen of the same standing, admitted to the same priviledges of justice and equality in payment of debts with the natives-the only point on which a few native merchants clamour. Upon the whole, we are of opinion that common justice in the payment of debts is the right of every man, be his religion or persuasion what it will."
This is signed by Basil Cochrane, Daniel Mylrea, John Quayle and John Taubman. If time permitted, it would be a pleasure to read to the meeting a typical petition for naturalisation. The first naturalisation during this period was granted on November 3rd, 1756, and there are records of twelve from that date until November 8th, 1759. Several of the persons naturalised were "natives of North Britain."
What were styled the "Annals of the Isle of Man," published in Jefferson's Almanack and reproduced in the "Mona's Herald" newspaper of September 1st, 1877, show that in 1755 two Popish priests who had taken up their abode in Douglas, and had solemnised marriages, were taken in custody until they entered into a bond of £200; and the Protestants whom they had married to Romanists were censured. This is partly borne out by an entry in the Exchequer Book, where the names of the pries ts are given as Thomas St. John and John Faie (Fahy). In 1757 again, according to these "Annals," a priest named d'Hoy was presented at Peel, and Keble's "Life of Bishop Wilson" shows that sentence of excommunication was passed on a Popish priest who celebrated marriage in a private house in 1743.
To resume the story told by John Stevenson:
"From that time the late Governor of the Isle of Man set his face against Mr Stevenson, and soon after took occasion to summon him before himself, for writing a petition in favour of two juries, who had been fined in twenty-six shillings and eightpence each juror, for giving verdicts in a matter of view, according to their consciences. . . The Governor threatened him to have the petition burnt by the common hangman, but was not as good as his word.
"Mr Stevenson appearing before Governor Cochrane in the Court of Chancery on behalf of the appellants in a certain appeal from the Governor's judgment to His Grace the Duke of Athol, . . . the Governor without other provocation took the greatest liberties with Mr Stevenson's character (no way in judgment in the cause), by asserting before a crowded audience as follows: That Mr Stevenson undertook all villainous appeals; that he knew no villainous or rascally case in court but what Mr Stevenson was concerned or had a hand in; that Mr Stevenson was a nuisance to the country; that he had encouraged the then appellants to appeal in that case to His Grace the Duke of Athol, merely for the sake of robbing them of a guinea or two.
"Mr Stevenson thereupon begged that the Governor would not take such liberties with his character, which he said was good. The Governor then said that 'Mr Stevenson had not the least pretention to a character.' Whereupon Mr Stevenson assured His Honour 'that he was as honest a man, and had as good a character as His Honour had!'
"Then the Governor threatened Mr Stevenson with being hindered from practising in the court as an attorney. Mr Stevenson saying, 'he apprehended he was not impeached of any crime in the way of his profession to merit such treatment.' the Governor ouitted his bench, violently assaulted Mr Stevenson, and with his own hands forcibly turned him by the shoulders out of the bar, and declared he should never be allowed to plead or practise as an attorney in the same court whilst he presided therein; he then ran out of court in a great passion, and called for soldiers to commit Mr Stevenson for impertinence; but returning soon after, and a soldier being arrived for that purpose, the Governor thereupon gave verbal orders for imprisoning Mr Stevenson in the Castle.
Mr Stevenson gives a description of the "cold, damp, dark, and loathsome" cell in which he was confined. It had two narrow windows, about six inches wide, a ground or earthen floor, with "a canopy of cobwebs" over his head; and the rain came down into it. There was no bed, except some filthy straw in a corner, and no furniture whatsoever, and he was allowed neither fire nor candle.
"After Mr Stevenson had been in prison twenty-four hours he was brought up before a court consisting of the Governor, the Comptroller (Mr John Quayle), Deemster John Taubman, and the Attorney-General (Mr John Frissell). Without any charge being made against him, or any evidence heard, or a single question being asked him, they proceeded (upon his coining into the room) to read the following sentence:
"At Castle Rushen-March 10th, 1759. "John Stevenson of Castletown, for his insolent behaviour in declaring to the Governor, when sitting and presiding in the court of chancery, that he was as honest a man, and of as good a character, as he the said Governor was, or ever had been, and objecting and insisting that the said Governor had no right to turn him the said John Stevenson out of the bar, and for other his insolent behaviour, is fined in ten pounds, and ordered to remain in confinement one month, and until he discharge the fine."
Mr Stevenson observes that this punishment was inflicted by the Court of Exchequer for a contempt said to be offered to another court, the Court of Chancery, which contempt the president of the other court had already punished. The Court of Exchequer added a caustic comment upon Mr Stevenson's professional standing as an attorney. His real occupation, they, said, was that of keeping a "grocer, huxter, or dram shop," and a few years back he had given advertisement by call in the market places and parish churches that he proposed to practise as an attorney, and had since practised without admission to the Bar or any other qualification. Mr Stevenson retorts that Deemster Taubman, a member of the very court which made this remark, had in 1747 employed him as his attorney and agent in six suits heard in London, and that he had actually appeared before Lord Mansfield, acting as Commissioner for the Duke of Athol.
On the day of his second sentence Mr Stevenson tendered to the governor and officers an appeal from them to the Duke of Athol. They declined to accept it on March 12th, 1759, declaring that an appeal did not regularly lie from the matters complained of, and referred him for relief to "the proper and regular method of procedure."
Mr Stevenson, having been imprisoned for one calendar month, paid the fine and was released. He sent a messenger to the Duke of Athol in Scotland-a proceeding attended with "great trouble and expence"-and presented a "petition of doleance," asking that the fine and imprisonment should be declared illegal, that he should be given redress for the defamation of his character and the false imprisonment, that the governor and officers should pay him costs and damages, and that he should be allowed to practise as an attorney. He had fortified himself, while still in prison, by obtaining a testimonial from several persons, including fifteen members of the House of Keys and four clergymen, that he had behaved hitherto as an honest man and a gentleman, and that he was descended from one of the best families in the Island, and that his father had left him his estate. In his petition he asked that a commission should be appointed to examine witnesses in proof of his assertions.
A commission was duly appointed, but, alas, "under such circumstances as are shocking to relate." Three of the, commissioners, the two vicars--General and the Rev John Gill of Malew, were "dependent on the Governor for lettings of tythes and for livngs in the Church," and "have all since been well provided for in the Church by the Governor." "The fact is, they browbeat all or most of Mr Stevenson's witnesses."
Then the Governor took the offensive, and proceeded against Mr Stevenson for a criminal libel, on the strength of a letter written to the Duke of Athol pressing his request for a commission of inquiry on his petition. In this letter Mr Stevenson told the Duke that he might expect to have many other complaints, and that public clamour and discontent circulated through all classes of people in the island.
Mr Stevenson states that "after waiting in London at a considerable expence (from the 2nd June, 1760, to the 18th of January, 1762, to wit, one year and seven months), he prevailed on Mr Hoskins the Duke's commissioner of appeals, to hear both his petiton and the Governor's petition for libel. Mr Hoskins held five different sessions, and heard eminent counsel on each side; and on the 27th May, 1762, dismissed Mr Stevenson's petition on the ground that the Duke of Athol had no jurisdiction to award Mr Stevenson damages for the injuries complained of, and that Mr Stevenson must seek redress in the Courts of the Isle of Man. He ordered, however, that Mr Stevenson should be allowed to practise as an attorney. He dismissed the Governor's petition, also, on the ground that the Duke- had no jurisdiction but without costs. Mr Stevenson alleges that the Governor had examined a number of "common soldiers, and other low people," to traduce his character, and thereby put him to considerable expense, and he complains against the injustice of not being allowed his costs.
While awaiting the decision of the Commissioner, Mr Stevenson brought an action against the Governor and officers for false imprisonment. As he was obliged by law to begin this action within two years of the acts complained of, and as he was off the Island at the time, he caused an attorney in the Isle of Man, Mr William Makon (presumably a son of the Rev James Makon, a master in the Castletown Grammar School, and chaplain of Castletown, in Bishop Wilson's time) to present the necessary petition to enter his action, which was done on the 22nd March, 1761. He claimed damages to the extent of £3,000. On receiving the petition, the Governor held a meeting of the Lord's Council, who decided that Mr Makon must give bail of £50 that he would appear when required to answer for "so audacious an affront to the Governor." Mr Makon was consequently imprisoned for twenty-two hours in Castle Rushen until he found bail. Nothing daunted, he renewed his action, and added to it an action against the Governor only, for slander and for unlawfully turning Mr Stevenson out of the bar, claiming damages of £2,000. As the Governor at this time had received his new appointment and was leaving the Island, Mr Makon brough a suit in Chancery for the arrest of his effects until he gave security to stand his trial in the action. The Common Law Court ("which is mostly composed of the above defendants") dismissed Mr Stevenson's actions at law, with £5 costs in each; and Deemster Taubman and Mr Daniel Mylrea, Receiver-General, constituting the Court of Chancery, dismissed the suit for arrest, with costs of £10. Mr Stevenson adds that according to the nature of costs awarded in the Isle of Man, the whole three causes should not have carried costs exceeding 30/-.
And what is the Governor and officers' side of the case? As set out when the actions were brough for damages, it is to be found in the Exchequer Book. On the arrest having been applied for, the Governor apparently gave security, but summoned the Lord's Council to consider the question. They made their pronouncement the day after, and passages are as follows:
" It appeared that the said Governor having given notice that he designed to depart this Isle on or about the 24th instant, it was soon after industriously reported that an action for several thousands of pounds was to be taken out against him before his departure, and that there were two witnesses to come from Peeltown to see the same served upon him, and accordingly this day William Makon preferred the said petition, and demanded the Governor's answer or reference thereto. The cause of the said action is now a matter of litigation depending before His Grace or his Commissioners, so that till judgment be given in the said petition of doleance, the action cannot lye. - . . The Council are unanimously of opinion that the said John Stevenson and William Makon had no other intention or design than to insult and affront the said Governor immediately upon his departure from this Isle, in the most impertinent and absurd manner. Wherefore we are of opinion that the petition should be lodged upon record, and that Makon should give a bond of £.50 that he will appear when required for so audacious an affront to the Governor, who represents His Grace the Lord of this Isle, and whose office, not his person, upon the general circumstances of this case, appears to have been insulted on this occasion."
The Governor, replying as respondent to Makon's petitions, had alleged that they were brought "purposely to asperse, traduce, and bring an odium and reflection upon the defendant's administration as Governor, and also unjustly to injure him by having his effects publickly arrested, and an indignity to his publick character as Governor." The action itself, as distinct from the arrest, was dismissed for the reason foreshadowed in the judgment on the arrest, that the petition of doleance was pending before the Duke's Commissioner.
It is worthy of note that the Common Law Court of the Southside Divison consisted of the two Deemsters, the ReceiverGeneral, the Comptroller and Clerk of the Rolls, and the Attorney-General.
There was a further encounter between Makon and the officers, which is described by Stevenson or in Stevenson's name, when a little later he comes to lodge an appeal against the Court's dismissal of his suit for damages. He declares that Makon was greatly intimidated by the Governor and "your Worships, or some of you" telling him that he was the principal before them, and that Stevenson would deny everything that was done; and that they had him (Makon) in the Island, and he should not depart from them, and that he ought to have his ears cut off and be severely punished for appearing in the case.
Examination of the Exchequer Book reveals a fellowsufferer, or fellow-rebel, with Stevenson-namely, the Rev. Paul Crebbin, Vicar of Santon. Simultaneously with Stevenson's action against the Governor for damages, Paul Crebbin launched a claim of £1,000 for a punishment of imprisonment inflicted in 1756. He also followed Stevenson's example by arresting the Governor's goods. The official record is as follows:-
"The Rev. Paul Crebbin, Vicar of Kirk Santon, for insolence in this Court to the Receiver, a member thereof, is fined in the sum of £3, and ordered to remain in confinement for one month."
" The Rev. Paul Crebbin, for his malicious, scandalous, false, and insolent libel and petition against Deemster Taubman, a member of this Court, is fined in the sum of £5, and ordered to publickly to own his offence at the Barr of this Court and on his knees to ask pardon of the said Deemster, and afterwards to remain one month in imprisonment."
Mr Crebbin had been plaintiff in a lawsuit relating to a right of way, and had lost. Later he described certain conduct of Deemster Taubman as "an innovation and an open and notorious violation and breach of the constitution never before attempted by any magistrate in this Isle. . . betraying a strong inclination to anticipate an opportunity of passing premature sentence in the cause." He also declared the duty of the magistrate to be "to act according to law. . . without giving the least umbrage of his being attached to the interests of any party, or ambitious to set himself up in the place of his superiors as an imoerious, absolute Dictator and Infallible Judge."
In the course of the appeal, when the Receiver, Daniel Mylrea (here called Mcylrea) had described the defendant as "this poor man," he rejoined, "Are you his advocate?"
Mr Crebbin appealed against these sentences. At long last the case was heard before the Commissioner in London, and the appeals were dismissed in the year 1760. On the Ist May of that year he paid the fines and made the apology demanded of him.
In his appeal he remarks, as Stevenson had remarked, that the Governor had punished in the Court of Chancery a contempt alleged to have been committed in the Court of Exchequer. In the 1761 proceedings, the Court gave him the same reply as had been given to Stevenson, that the litigation pending before the Commissioner was an effectual bar to the present claim. His appeal, also, was dismissed with punitive costs-£40.
The similarity of the actions brought by Stevenson and Crebbin leaves little doubt that the two men acted in concert, and if Stevenson was the advocate who in 1756, three years before his own imprisonment for contempt, drew up Crebbin's indictment of Deemster Taubman, we can hardly feel surprised at the Governor's exclamation that he knew of no rascally or villainous case in Court but that Mr Stevenson had a hand in it.
Towards the close of the document which forms the basis of this paper, Mr Stevenson announces that he had again appealed to the Duke, and that if the Duke's Commissioner affirms these last orders against him-namely, the award of exceptionally heavy costs on his actions against the Governor for damages-he will most assuredly appeal to His Majesty in Council, "as the sure redressor of the subject's grievances." The document winds up:
"Mr Stevenson cannot help complaining of the great hardships he labours under from sustaining a suit of this nature upon his own bottom, and with a narrow fortune, against the united opulence of the contending parties, a circumstance which, for the present, makes the remedy worse than the disease; and all this merely for opposing anti-constitutional measures, and shewing his firm attachment to the Protestant interest, both in Church and State, as by law established."
Well, the appeals of both Stevenson and Crebbin were dismissed-Stevenson's in February, 1763, and Crebbin's in June, 1764. There is no record of Stevenson having carried the case to the Privy Council. It may be conjectured that by this time his money was exhausted. Possibly the document was printed and circulated in Great Britain in the hope that sympathisers, and especially people who were vigorously Protestant, might replenish the war chest.
Stevenson, agreeable to the Commissioner's decision, resumed his practice as an attorney, and we hear of him for several years further. In May, 1764, Caesar Parr presents an appeal in regard to a prosecution brought against him by Clotworthy Holliday, a stranger, and John Stevenson, of Castletown, attorney. Briefly, the pleadings assert that Parr had attempted to horsewhip Holliday for allegations made against the character of Parr's sister. Stevenson was present, and gave and received blows. He resorted to a curious legal procedure called a "handsuit," invoking an Act of 1422 and alleging that he and Holliday were "foreset, feloniously pursued, knocked down, and beat on the King's highway." He caused the Coroner of Michael to summon a jury at the Castletown Cross. Parr appeared and objected to an informality in the process, especially important to him when the prosecution was "of so high a nature, which charged him with forfeiture of his life." Parr was reported to Deemster Daniel Lace, who had issued the process, and was committed for contempt. He was released on bail. Stevenson protested against the release, and there our knowledge of the matter ends.
In February, 1765, Stevenson-here described as "John Stevenson of Scaldaby, Gent"-appeals against an order of the Vicars General directing him, under pain of committal to Peel Castle, to pay certain legacies bequeathed under the will of Mrs Margaret Stevenson, late of Castletown, of which he was an executor, and the residuary legatee. He pleads that he has not sufficient assets to pay the legacies until he has had time to realise certain effects of the testatrix in Ireland; and Governor Wood, remitting the case to the Vicars General, remarks that no neglect appears.
Finally, there is record of appallingly slow proceedings in an action by Stevenson against John Frissell, of Ramsey, merchant-possibly the Attorney-General's farther. Lands called Boalla Corraige and the Sour Close, in Malew, had belonged to David Kennedy, whose family appear after his decease to have sold them both to Stevenson and Frissell. The case began in May, 1759. There were trials by a sheading jury, a traverse jury, and the Keys, and finally by the Privy Council. Incidentally, the Privy Council refer to the Keys as "another jury of the said Island, called the Twenty-four Keys." The Keys gave their judgment on the 13th July, 1768; in the following year the Privy Council referred the case to the judicial committee "appointed for hearing appeals from the Plantations." Nothing more transpires until 1780, when the Privy Council revived the petition, and the decision of the Keys was upheld.
But by this time John Stevenson was at rest from life's fitful fever. So was his executrix and devisee, who was his sister, Mrs Margaret Whitson. Before she could play out her part in the proceedings she had married again, for the Malew register records that "Mrs Margaret Van Bixter, als. Whitson, als. Stevenson," was buried on November 6th, 1770. A guardian, namely, Mrs Grissell Cumming, had to be appointed over Mrs Whitson's heir-at-law, Thomas Stevenson Whitson, a minor (described in the proceedings as "of Castletown"), before the Frissell appeal could be heard. The Committee's report was confirmed by the Privy Council on May 4th, 1785-twenty-six years after the action had been commenced.
At exactly what time between 1768 and 1770 the hero of this story passed away, I have been unable to discover. His burial does not seem to have taken place either in Rushen, Arbory, or Malew. He may or may not have been a martyr, but he must be acknowledged to have been a warrior.
| Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB
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