Description of Kirk Michael in the year 1774

Interesting particulars by Rev. John Crellin


AMONG the collection of valuable documents recently given to the Museum by Mr. Arthur Moore, of Hornby, Lancashire, there are descriptions of the parish of Ballaugh and Kirk Michael. That of Ballaugh, written by Vicar-General James Wilks in 1774, was printed in the last issue of the Journal.’ The account of Kirk Michael given below was the work of the Rev. John Crellin, Episcopal Registrar, who followed the Rev. James Wilks in Kirk Michael in 1771 and became Rector of Bride in 1798. Both accounts were written for the eminent naturalist and traveller, Thomas Pennant (1726-1798), who while making a series of tours in the British Isles, came to the Isle of Man in 1774.

While in Man he appears to have made arrangements with the vicars to supply him with a description of the features of their respective parishes, but only the accounts of Ballaugh, Kirk Michael and Kirk Marown have survived.

According to an account of Pennant’s work, which appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine of 1798, the accounts written by the Manx vicars were lost.

From the Cronkbourne Collection.

Document No. 198.



KK Michael so Call’d from its being Dedicated by St. Maughold to the Arch Angel St. Michael being about four miles in Length & nearly the same Dimensions in Breadth is Bounded by the Irish Sea & a Part of K German on the North & the West, by Ballaugh & Lezayre on the East, & by K Braddan & German on the south:

It is Divided into Eleven Trins & these into forty four Quarterlands, which Contain one Hundred and Fifty Dwellings and these eight Hundred & Seventy Souls:

This Parish is very irregular with Valleys & hills, a Cross it runs a continued Ridge of Mountains, the Southside of which is thinly inhabited, it being remarkable moist & Misty owing to Mountains on all sides, the Soil likewise is light & Turfish yielding good Pasture for sheep but not fit for Corn.

The Northside of these Mountains the Weather is Clear & serene and the Air Healthy, the Soil which is partly Earthy & partly Clay mixed with sand when duly improv’d & Cultivated Produces good Crops of Wheat, Pease, Barley & Oates:

on the Lowlands are kept for the most part the Cattle & on the mountains the sheep, the Flesh of both is extremely fine, especially the Mutton which is very Delicious & exceeding the rest of the Sort in the Island.

In this Parish is the Residence of the Bishop of Sodor & Man, now Call’d Bishop’s Court & formerly Balrury [Balicury], the Building is of an Antient Standing & form.

At a Miles Distance from thence is a small Village nam’d Ballakilley consisting off Twenty one Houses ; In this Village is a School and a Schoolmasters House Built & Bestow’d on the Parish by the late Bishop Hildesley ; it likewise Consists of a Church.

In the Church Yard at the South East Corner of the Church is Erected a Monument to the Memory of the ever-memorable Father in God Thos. Wilson : he was Bishop of the Diocese of Man upwards of half a Century & died universally Lamented in the fifty eight years of his Consecration & ninety second of his Age, & was Buried on the Eleventh of March one Thousand seven hundred & fifty five.

His Successor & Worthily so, the right Revd Mark Hildesley has likewise a Tomb erected to his Memory at the North East Corner of the same Church ; he Died in the seventeenth year of his Consecration & seventy fourth of his Age & was Buried on the Tenth of Dec’r. one Thousand seven hundred & seventy two.

In a Vacancy near the Church yard Stands Erected a stone of nine feet high, six Inches thick & twenty broad : on one of the thick sides are Inscribed several Danish Characters, & on its sides are seen Hieroglyphicks, such as Horse-Men, Dogs, Dears, Birds and the like ; this stone was Dug up at half a Miles Distance from the Place it now stands in the side of a hill call’d Cronk-y-chrogherey1 & is suppos’d to be the Tombstone of a Prince interred there : This Hill has its Name from a Gallows formerly Erected thereon for the Execution of Malefactors.

The Rivers belonging to the Parish are four, two of which taking their rise in the Mountains at the same fountain, the one running South West & the other North East make their Exits at Peeltown and Ramsey & are abounding in Trout : the other Two are Spoot-vane & Gliawn willin, the former takes its name from the Water which Descends From a Precipice upwards of thirteen Fathoms in Depth:

Between two Branches that form the Latter is a hill commonly known by Cronk-urley. The Tinwald was holden thereon for several years in the Beginning of the fifteenth Century, then call’d Revenuling [Reneurling] , where all the Laws respecting the Tents. & Commons of Man were published & Confirmed : The Reason Assigned for removing the Tinwald from hence was a riotous Mob, who incensed at the yearly Taxes impos’d on them rose up in open Rebellion & Expell’d the Hill the Governour with all his Council ; there is a Tradition amongst the Inhabitants that the Romans fixed their Standards on this Hill (in the Time that Julius Cesar Visited the Island) & that it Derives It’s Name from the Eagles Display’d in their Colours.

The only Fuel made use of is Turf which when properly sav’d is exceeding good Fire & reckon’d much Cleaner & Brighter than Coal.

The Game of the Parish is Hares, Patridges, & Growse.

The Sea near the Shore is Shoal & Sandy not Capable of receiving any Ships of Burthen, in the Creeks indented by some Brooks are a few fishing Boats which Supply the Parish only, with Saltwater Fish.

The Sea Coast which is generally steep & Sandy often falls down (by its being Undermin’d by the Sea), which is afterwards Washed away by the Tide, the Land adjoining the Sea has sensibly Decreas’d after this Manner, & the Owners thereof sustained Damages. In a Place called four-town is the remains of a Church, not long since remote from the Sea, but now so near that Several Stone Coffins, where human bones were Deposited tumble down in the Strand.

The forenamed Gliawn Willin Derives its Name from three Millns.

1 Marked on the Ordnance Maps as Cronk-y-Croghee, a tumulus, on which a Methodist Chapel used to stand. It is probably a keeill site.

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