Bridge House Papers

The Academy and Grammar School at Castletown
Their History written by a Cleric about 1815

Document No. 189.

VERY LITTLE IS KNOWN about the history of the two venerable scholastic institutions named above. For that reason it is thought to be opportune to publish one of the documents in the Bridge House Papers giving their history in detail. Unfortunately the writer is unknown. It is believed, however, to have been composed by the Rev. Hugh Stowell (1768-1835), the author of the Life of Bishop Wilson, and Rector of Ballaugh, or his brother the Clerk of the Rolls (1764-1821). It may also possibly have been the work of Colonel Mark Wilks (1759-1831), Speaker of the Keys. All three received their early education at the Academy.

It is a matter of deep regret that the old Grammar School, which has in the past so well served the educational interests of the Island, is in danger of being destroyed, w well as the adjoining residence of the academic masters Ross and Castley. Illustrations of both buildings appear in this issue of the ' Journal.'


in 1666 the then Lord Derby [Charles VIII Earl, 1660-16721 sold the Impropriate Tithes to Bishop Barrow and Archdeacon Fletcher in trust for the augmentation of the livings of the Clergy of the Island and for the maintenance of some Schoolmaster or Schoolmasters there.

In consequence whereof a Free Grammar School was soon afterwards fixed and established in Castletown and the Impropriate tithes of KK. Christ Rushen were appropriated as the endowment of the said School; and the old Chapel of Castletown was, upon the building of the present Chapel, appropriated as and for the School House of the said Free Grammar School and the said School has been there kept as a Free School in every sense of the word from that day to the present year [ ? 1815 ]-considerably more than a century.

The location of the School at Castletown is capable of proof by many documents of record, but the fact speaks stronger than any document, viz., that we find it there located in a public building appropriated to that exclusive purpose, and neither history nor tradition gives any reason to think that it ever was kept elsewhere, and another fact seems equally clear that it could not be placed in a more proper situation.

Parish Schools were also about the same time founded and endowed with small stipends from the Impropriate fund and other charitable donations, which continue to this day.

At the time of the purchase of the Impropriate tithes in 1666 doubts existed of the Earl of Derby's title to alienate them, and to secure the title a grant was made by the Earl to the Bishop and Archdeacon of certain lands in Lancashire by way of collateral security.

Upon the death of James the 10th Earl of Derby about the year 1736, the Isle of Man property belonging to that family fell to James Duke of Athol as the heir genl, and the lands given by way of collateral security and other property fell to [Edward] Earl of Derby, heir in tale male.

The Duke of Athol claimed and possessed himself of the Impropriate tithes and evicted the Bishop and Archdeacon and other Trustees of the Impropriate fund, whereupon certain suits were instituted in the Court of Chancery of England, in the result of which it was decreed that the Duke of Athol was intitled to the Impropriate tithes and that the Bishop and Archdeacon should as trustees as aforesaid be indemnified from and out of the collateral security.*

It was also decreed that the Earl of Derby and his heirs should pay to the Trustees of the Impropriate fund the sum of £219 a year as the ascertained annual value of the Impropriate tithes of which they had been evicted.

This sum was paid and continued to be paid yearly from the time of passing the decree (about 1755) until the other day, when the present Earl of Derby being threatened with an application to the Court to compel him to pay an increased annual sum according to the increased present value of the Impropriate tithes.

His Lordship being desirous to get rid of such an incumbrance altogether proposed to pay the sum of £16,000 British for the purposes of the said trust in lieu of the said annual payment and to get rid of the same forever and the said offer being considered an eligible one by the trustees and the objects of the trust was agreed to.

An Act of Parliament was passed in the 51st of his Majesty's reign for the purpose of carrying such agreement into execution.

The Impropriate fund (as it is still called) consists now of the annual rents issues and profits of the lands which were purchased with the money so paid by Lord Derby as aforesaid and distributable (as conceived) in like manner and upon the same principles as the former original Impropriate fund.

It is imagined by some however that by the terms of the Act of Parliament the trustees have a right (if they think proper so to do) to order the school to be removed from Castletown if it ever were located there (which they do not admit) and also to allow any part or no part of the Impropriate fund to the Master as they may think proper, and also to convert the said School from a Free School where the Scholars were always taught free of expense to a School where the master may charge a high premium for instruction.

How far the Act of Parliament made for the purposes and in manner aforesaid does warrant such construction or can be supposed to have had any such matters in contemplation is left to the reader, who must read the Act with very different eyes from what I have done if he can find anything in the Act that bears at all upon those questions.

It is presumed that the Trustees of the Impropriate Fund may with great propriety allow £100 British a year at the least out of that fund for the maintenance of the Grammar School of Castletown which, with the gratuities that might reasonably be expected from scholars as formerly and the rents of some old houses belonging to the School, would make this a handsome establishment as a nursery for the future clergy preparatory to the Academic Exhibition - and as a Free School for the general public as heretofore accustomed.

And as the School and the Academy do not appear to be necessarily connected, it might perhaps be better to separate them intirely, so leaving the Academic professor to give a complete finish to education of the academic scholars and such other limited number of young men as he might be disposed to take under his tuition upon any terms that may be agreed on by the parties.



Bill states Indenture of, 1 November, 1666, granting Impropriate tithes to the Bishop and Archdeacon their exors and assigns in trust for the augmentation of the livings of the Clergy of the Island and for the erection and endowment of a Free School within this Isle in such manner as the Bishop and Archdeacon and their successors with two persons resident in the Island to be nominated by Lord Derby or his Heirs or any three of them whom the Bishop to be always one shall think fit, states the Grant of Bispham and Methop by way of collateral security. The Bishop Barrow soon afterwards with the consent of the Earl of Derby and the Archdeacon fixed the School at Castletown and endowed the same with the Impropriate tithes of Rushen as a maintenance for the Master and to save trouble to the Master assigned the said tithes to certain persons called undertakers who undertook to pay the Master a stipend of £30 a year. That the par of the Church livings at that time did not exceed £17. That the Master continued to receive the said £30 a year until


to be consistent with the true spirit of the Foundation to apply a part of the overflowings of the said fund to make up for the inadequacy of the Academic Master's Fund.

It was lately resolved that the sum of £220 British a year should be allowed from the Academic Scholars Fund to increase the stipend of the Academic Professor, which will now be, with the addition of the Governmt Chaplaincy, equal to £300 British a year without having anything to do with the Grammar School.

And it is humbly submitted that the professorship might be discharged with greater benefit to the community and more satisfaction to the Professor himself if he had nothing to do with the School but merely attended to the education of the four young men intended for the Church, and such other limitted number of young gentlemen as could afford to pay for an academic education. While the School might remain what it ever was - a Free Grammar School for the General Public.

It is also with great deference suggested that the Trustees in Cheshire being at such a distance and having for perhaps a century given themselves no trouble about the Trust, and the Funds having been already nearly lost through their neglect, may be fairly considered as having abandoned the Trust and that other Trustees ought to be appointed in their room.

And it is also suggested that the Trustees of the Academic Scholars Fund would be most eligible for that purpose and that application should be made to the Chancellor of the Island to have it so ordered and decreed accordingly.


*See A. W. Moore's Hist., pp. 465-8; also Cubbon, Early Schools, Proc. Antq. Soc., vol. iii, pp. 106-129.

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