The Kewleys of Ballafreer

Remarkable Record of a Kirk Marown Family.

OF more than ordinary interest is the KEWLEY BALLAFREER COMMONPLACE BOOK now in the Library of the Manx Museum. It lay on the library shelves of the Ballafreer old house for very many years. It was shown to the Librarian by the late Miss Clucas, the owner of Ballafreer, long before the Museum was established. Mrs. Kew, a relative of Miss Clucas, was a later owner, and she expressed her agreement that the manuscript should go to the Museum. The last owner of the estate who belonged to the original Kewley stock was Miss Stewart, who, soon after the death of Mrs. Kew, gave it to the Museum.

Doncan McKewley was entered in the Manorial Roll of 1511 for the adjoining quarterland of Ballavagher; and it was probably his descendant, John Kewley, who was the first scribe round about the early part of the eighteenth century. He built the fine old Ballafreer house which still stands. There is a slab over the door carved 'JOHN KEWLEY 1728.' It is apparent that he was a Latin and Greek scholar, a poet, and something of a philosopher as well. He was called in Manx Gaelic, Yn Phadeyr, `the prophet.' His son, also John Kewley, was the cleverest maker of stone sun-dials in Man, to judge from those which are in existence.

Kewley Sundial originally at Ballafreer

His finest example is in this issue (plate 100). It is of polished Pooilvaaish limestone, and is dated 1774. It records the time of mid-day at Pekin in China, Port Royal in Jamaica, Jerusalem, Boston, U.S.A., as well as in the Isle of Man. It has mottoes in Manx, Latin, and English. They are so varied and apt that they are worth quoting

Ut Umbra sic Vitae.

When Phebus on me shines
Then view my shades and lines.

Tempus Obit Mors Venit.

Moyll y Laa Mie Fastyr.
[Praise the good day in the evening.]

Baase Jiu agh Bioys Maragh.
[Death to-day but Life to-morrow.]

Quid Celerius Umbra.

Cur Geil da'n Scaa,
Shen myr to'n Traa.

Give heed to the shadow;
Thus is the time.

Nemo sine Crimine Vivit.

In the Ballafreer Book there are designs of dials, the motions of the planets, herbal lore, receipts for diseases, and a plan of 'Douglass by the River.'

Document No. 166.


In these words begin, in quaint language, an account of the women who were married into the Kewley family.

AN ACCOUNT of the Women that have been Married in this Farm for many years past, Who they were, of what Kindred They descended. And from what Parrishes They came as far as we could hear by our Antecessours brought down by word of mouth from Father to son to this present year of our Lord, one Thousand Seven hundred Sixty and Three. Jane Karralagh is the first Woman that we can say any thing of her. For before Her we can give no Account of who lived in this ffarm, Men nor Women. She was Daughter of Karralagh ny Howe in the Parrish of KK. Braddan in Balne Shlig near the Sea Shore. The Karralaghs were for many years in Balne Shlig. Nevertheless they descended of the Karralaghs of Ragaan in the Parish of KK. St. Anne. However the sd Jane was married to Heir of Ballafreer one of the Kewleys, who was an old Standard Here, Time without Memory or hearing where They came from nor who They were. The name of her Husband we cannot tell, But by him she had a son called Nicholas who was Heir of the sd ffarm. His Father died and he was left an Orphan with his Mother Jane. But by several misfortunes She was Reduced so much to Poverty that there was a house built for her below the Highway near the River on s' ffarm, But by some Accidence the house fell upon her & she died. The Field is called Old Jane's Part, or Reiyn shen Yane to this Day. Thus ended Jane Karralagh her days in this ffarm, and so much of her.

Nicholas son of the afforesd Jane, lived with an Ant of his on the father's side at Millr Corran in the Parrish of KK. Braddan, at the same Time the ffarm was Set to one Thomas Kelly Procter who dwelt therein. Now in those days all the Tenement of the Island were taking Leases of their Land, and when this ffarm was call'd to take its Lease with the Rest of the Parrish, The afforesd Thomas Kelley standing in to take the Lease in his own name, The Court hearing he was none of the Kewleys, it was Deny'd him till further enquiry would be made. Then the Court gave Orders that a Public Call should be given throughout the whole Sheading for the next of Kin of this ffarm. This being soon heard by Nicholas and his Aunt they were Troubled thereat. Whereupon they were well provided for it the next Court and brought the young Lad her Nephew before her on horseback to Castletown, but meeting with sd Thos. Kelly spoke very kindly to them offereing them A Treat of Ale if they would go with him to any Publick house in Castletown thinking with his Deluding Tongue to persuade them from attending the time the ffarm would be called to take its Lease whilst at the same time he had got friends to take the Lease again in his name. Yet with all his enticing she heeded him not, but went in to attend their buisness being hardly within when the ffarm was called to take its Lease. This noble woman stood in and said here is the right Proprietor of that ffarm. And no one said a word to the Contrary whereupon he was Entered before his Land. Had they staid Twenty minutes Longer he had never enjoy'd that Place nor none of his Posterity. Thus it was Preserved by Providence and the Woman's Assistance to him and his heirs who enjoys to this Day. And this Noble Act of that Notable and virtuous Woman shall be told to many Generations to come.

Nicholas Kewley being entered and possessed of his Land he marri'd Anne Kewley of Trolby Daughter of Mitchel Kewley. of sd Trolby KK. Marown, an Ancient Family in that Place. Her Mother was out of Baltrim in the Parrish of KK. Mahold. She was commonly called the Ven Vaane. She was first married in Ballakelley Marown. Her Husband Died. She then married Mitchel Kewley second son of Kewley Trolby by whom she had Anne Kewley wife to Nich : afforesd by whom he had sons and daughters. Their Eldest son was Wm who was married to Cathrine Scarff, Daughter to Scarff of Ballescirru or Ballescarff Lonnon who were an old standard in that Place and are there to this Day. This William Kewley Died about the year 1686, and his wife. Died about the year 1688, and left behind them one son called Nicholas. He was married to Elliner Cannan Daughter to Wm Cannan of Airey ny Goan in the Parrish of KK. Michael. The Cannans were not long There. They were out of Ball Chruink in the Parrish of KK. Braddan Baldin. Her Mother was Daughter to Stoan y Chruink in KK. Michael and the Stoans are to this Day. This Nicholas Kewley Died about the year of our Lord 1705 and his wife Died about the year 1725, leaving behind them five Sons and four Daughters. The name of the Eldest son was John Kewley. He was Baptized the 27th of Sept, 1673. He was married St. Andrews Dav 1703 to Elizabeth Gelling the Daughter of John Gelling Camlork in KK. Braddan, they being an Ancient Family There Time without memory or hearing. They are there to this day. Her Mother was Daughter of William Christian of Balne Killey in KK. Maheld. She lived in Camlorke near forty years and Died in ye year of our Lord 1724. This John and Elizabeth had Three Sons and five Daughters, the Eldest John Kewley the Second of that name he was Babtiz'd the 1st of Octr 1708. He was married to Marey Kewley Daughter of John Kewley who Purchased a part of Ballefletchers Land. Her mother was Daughter of Wm Cowil. She lived in or near the Place where sd John her Husband Purchased. This John and -aarey was married the 28th of Octr 1737, by whom he had a son called John Kewley the 3rd of that name. He was born St. Stephens Day at Night 1738. Margret a Daughter his Second Child was born the 12 day of Octr 1740.

William his Son ws born ye 13th Feb : 1743.

Thomas his son was born ye 21st of March, 1745.

Paul his son was born ye 2d of Sept 1747.
Sd Paul Died ye 6 of March 1750.

Afforesd Margret Died ye 16 of April 1753.

The afforesd Elizabeth Gelling Died ye 28th of June 1753.

Afforsd John Kewley her Husband Died the 20th of July One Thousand seven hundd fifty three.

The affores' Marey Kewley Died ye 5th June in the year of our Lord God 1759.

Ages this present 1763.

John Kewley the Second this yr ye 12 of Octr one thousand seven hundred sixty three is aged 55 years.

John Kewley the 3d of that name is this yr the 6th of January Aged 24 years, Epip : Day.

William Kewley afforesd is aged 20 yrs ye 24th of Feb.

Thomas Kewley afforess is ag' 18 years ye 1 st of April.

The afforesd John Kewley Father of Marey Kewley afforesd Died ye 3d of Octrr one Thousand seven hundred & Thirty four.

John Kewley the Third of that Name, in this dffarm of Ballafreer, was Married to Cathrine Clague of the Parrish of KK. Marown, Decem" the 11, 1763, on Sunday. She was Daughter of James Clague Clerk of the s~ Parrish. He was brought up in Crosseby in sd Parrish. The Clagues hath been there near the Term of an hundred years. They Descended from the Clagues of Ball ny Varraane KK. Lonnan. They are very Antient in That Place. Their Predecessours in Crosseby were the Norris's. They Likewise were an Antient Name There.

Afforesd Cathrine's Mother was Daughter of William Carman of Airey ny Gione. The Cannans were not very Antient There, For They Descended of the Cannans of Balla Chruink Baldin in KK. Braddan, and so much of them.

William Kewley the afforesd son of John Kewley Died in Liverpool the 3d of April 1766, near 4 o'Clock in the Morning. He was buried at St. Peter's Church, Aged 23 years one Month, six Days and about four hours.

John Kewley the fourth of that Name, Successive Heirs of Ballafreer, was born the first Day of January 1773, being Friday: between the Hours of Eleven and Twelve o'Clock in the Morning, and was Baptized in the Parrish Church the . . . day of the same month by the Revd. John Christian, Vicar of the Parrish.

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