[From ManxNoteBook vol ii,1886]
THE PROSPECTUS OF The Manx Publication Society, was issued in February, 1858. It was "to be on the model of the Wodrow, Calvin and Parker Societies, and its object to be the publication of all the valuable and scarce Books, or Parts of Books, relative to the History and Antiquities, the Religion and Laws, the Charities and Education, the Fishery and Agriculture, the Interests and Rights of the Isle of Man." The first general meeting was held in the following month when it was decided to call the Society " The Manx Society, for Publication of National Documents of the Isle of Man," and a lengthy prospectus was submitted for approval. This prospectus, which had been written by the Rev. W. Mackenzie, after a preliminary flourish describing the Island as " The chief of the multitude of the Isles, satellites to Great Britain and Ireland," as "a beginner of the great central movements of the British Isles" (whatever that may mean), and as " marching in the front rank of European progress," proceeded to state the work proposed to be undertaken by the Society, and concluded with an appeal to " all members of the Legislature, Registrars and Officials connected with public Records of the Island, Rectors and Vicars of Parishes, Chaplains and Ministers of all denominations, Officers of Customs, Captains of Parishes, Moars, Sergeants, and Members of the Setting Quest of the several Parishes, Parochial Schoolmasters, and all others holding any situation, ecclesiastical or temporal, to aid and assist the Society in affording such statistical and general information as they may possess." It was intimated that " Loans of Books, MSS., rare Tracts, Family History or Biography, or other works In any way directly or indirectly connected with or relating to this Island will be thankfully received."
We think that the best method of showing what the Society has done will be to enumerate their proposals as set forth in the above mentioned prospectus, stating which of them have been carried into execution and which have not, and then to give a brief notice of those by whom the work has been mainly carried on.
(A). To REPRINT SCARCE BOOKS RELATIVE TO THE ISLE OF MAN THAT ARE REALLY VALUABLE.
Result. Sacheverell's History (1703), edited by the Rev. J. G. Cumming, issued in 1858, Vol. I. Stanley Legislation of Man edited by the Rev. W. Mackenzie, containing the Acts of Sir John Stanley, A D. 1417-1430; Legislation of the 7th Earl, 1627-1647, and his letter reprinted from Peck's " Desiderata Curiosa," also, the Act of Settlement, 1703, issued in 1860, Vol. III. Feltham's Tour through the Island of Mann in 1797-1798, edited by the Rev. Robert Airey, issued in 1861, Vol. VI. Challoner's Treatise (1656), edited by the Rev. J. G. Cumming, issued in 1862, Vol. X. Waldron's Description, edited by William Harrison, issued in 1863, Vol. XI. Parr's Abstract, edited by James Gell, Attorney-General, issued in 1866, Vol. XII. This title is, however, a misnomer, for it was announced by the Council of the Manx Society in their report of May, 1867, that "This volume consists chiefly of preliminary matter, which the editor considered a necessary introduction to the body of his work."1 The report continues, ." The second volume, embracing an abstract of the laws, with explanatory extracts, is in a forward state, and is expected to be ready during the present year." (This has not yet appeared). The Old Historians of the Isle of Man: Camden, Speed, Dugdale, Cox, Wilson, Willis, and Grose, edited by William Harrison, issued in 1867, Vol. XVIII. Blundell's History of the Isle of Man (1648-56), edited by W. Harrison, issued in 1874 and 1875, Vols. XXV and XXVII. In the report of 1871, the early publication of "The History of the Isle of Man,from A.D. 1000 to 1805, from a MS. by the Rev. W. Fitzsimmons a native of this Island, and edited by the Rev. Theophilus Talbot," was promised, and it was stated that the greater portion had been "transcribed for the press." At the meeting in 1874, Mr. Talbot expressed an opinion that the " work should not be published in its present form, but should be condensed considerably." (It has not yet been published).
(B). TO REPUBLISH THE REPORT OF THE ROYAL COMMISSIONERS OF 1792, WITH SOME OF THE MORE VALUABLE APPENDICES AND PERMANENT MATTERS OF EVIDENCE. This has been partially carried out in The Constitution of the Isle of Man, edited by Deemster Sherwood, and issued in 1882, Vol. XXXI. This is the Society's latest publication.
(C). TO COLLECT ALL. THE MORE IMPORTANT NOTICES OF THE ISLE OF MAN, FROM CAESAR S COMMENTARIES DOWN TO THE PRESENT DAY.
The three volumes of Monumenta, numbers IV, VII, and IX published in 1860, 61, and 62, edited by Dr. Oliver, contain a considerable number of such notices,2 but unfortunately there are many inaccuracies. The Bibliotheca Monenis, a bibliographical account of works relating to the Island, Vol. VIII, issued in 1861, and its revised, corrected, and enlarged edition, Vol. XXIV, issued in 1873, both edited by W. Harrison, may be considered as belonging to this section.
(D.) TO COLLECT ALL THAT IS INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT OUT OF THE ROLLS AND SENESCHALS OFFICE, THE EPISCOPAL AND PAROCHIAL REGISTERS, AND OTHER PUBLIC RECORDS OF THE ISLAND. Under these heads but little has been done. From the Rolls' Office we have the Indenture of A.D. 1417, printed in Vol. VII. of the Monumenta; Copies of the various depositions in the case of William Christian, with the introductory notice, by W. Harrison, forms Vol. XXVI, under the title of Iliam Dhone, and the Manx Rebellion, 1651. From the Seneschal's Office nothing, as yet, but at the general meeting in 1874, it was announced that " Richard Sherwood, M.H.K., has in preparation a lot of the Manorial Rolls of the Isle of Man, extending over a period of 350 years and upwards, and which is entitled The Manx Domesday Book, which the Council venture to hope will prove a most valuable and interesting addition to the works already published by the Manx Society, and form a most useful text book." This scheme was afterwards narrowed to the facsimile reproduction of the Rolls of 1511 and 1515. The facsimiles were prepared at that time, but, till the present year, no steps have been taken to publish them with a translation and notes. Mr. Talbot, in connection with the Attorney-General, Deemster Gill, and Mr. C. W. Coole, has undertaken this, so that there is a good prospect of this valuable and interesting record being published at an early date. From the Ecclesiastical Records and other sources we have Records of St. Mark's Chapel, Vol. XXVIII, issued in 1876: The Records of the Tynwald and St. John's Chapels, Vol. XIX., issued in 1868, both edited by W. Harrison. From the Parochial Registers nothing has been extracted. Feltham's copies of inscriptions on the tombstones in the various churchyards was edited under the title of Memorials of God's Acre, by W. Harrison, Vol. XIV, issued in 1865.
(E). To GIVE IN ONE VOLUME SOME OF THE CHIEF FAMILY PEDIGREES AND LISTS OF KINGS, BISHOPS, GOVERNORS, DEEMSTERS, KEYS, AND OTHER OFFICIALS, IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER.
A short record of the Bishops, and a list of the Rectors, Vicars, and Chaplains, was given in Church Notes, by William Harrison, Vol XXIX, published in 1879. At the general meeting in 1867, it was announced that " the Journals of the House of Keys " have now been copied, and the selection of papers. which the Committee have made, placed in the hands of J. M. Jeffcott, Esq., High Bailiff of Castletown, who has consented to edit the same .
This valuable record of Manx affairs will now be put to press with as little delay as possible, and a volume, it is hoped, will be ready before the close of the year." (It has not yet appeared.)
(F). To PUBLISH COLLECTIONS OUT OF THE BRITISH MUSEUM AND HARLEIAN MSS. RESPECTING THE ISLAND.
Under this head we have the Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys in two volumes, XXII and XXIII, issued in 1872, taken from the MS. Codex in the British Museum, edited by P. A. Munch, revised annotated, and furnished with additional documents and English translations, by Dr Goss. The second volume was revised, after the death of Dr Goss, by Dr Errington. The Monumenta mentioned under (C), contain MSS, both from the British Museum and Harleian Collections.
(G). To MAKE EVERY POSSIBLE SEARCH AFTER THE MOST ANCIENT RECORDS OF THE ISLE, ALLEGED TO HAVE BEEN CARRIED AWAY TO THE TOWER OF LONDON, DRONTHEIM, OR ELSEWHERE.
We do not know whether or not this search has been made, but there are certainly no results.
(H). To ENQUIRE WHETHER THE STANLEY AND ATHOLL FAMILIES, AND THE CROWN OFFICES, HAVE IN THEIR REPOSITORIES PAPERS OF MOMENT AS TO THIS ISLAND
This enquiry resulted in the discovery that there are numerous MSS. relating to the Island at Knowsley, and that Lord Dunmore has several trunks full of them, but no efforts have been made to examine them.n1
(I). To COLLECT AND PRESERVE ALL AVAILABLE REMAINS OF THE MANX LANGUAGE.
Result. The republication, in 1859, of Dr. Kelly's Manx Grammar, Vol. II, edited, with an introduction, life of Dr. Kelly and notes, by the Rev. William Gill, vicar of Malew and, in 1864 of a Manx-English and English-Manx Dictionary, Vol XIII, the former edited by the Rev. W. Gill, and the latter by the Rev. J. T. Clarke and John Ivan Moseley, the whole being under the superintendence of Mr. Gill. It was extracted from the Triglot. of Dr. Kelly, and, in a minor degree, from the Dictionaries of Arch Cregeen and Moseley. It cannot be regarded as a satisfactory production3.
(J). To COLLECT ANY INTERESTING AND IMPORTANT HISTORICAL RECORDS TOUCHING THE RELIGIOUS DENOMINATIONS OF THIS ISLAND, WITHOUT INTERFERING IN PARTY DISPUTES; THE MONASTIC AND BARONIAL CHURCH ESTABLISHMENTS, THE CONNECTION OF THIS ISLAND WITH THE ABBEY OF FURNESS AND THE PRIORY OF ST. BEES, AND ITS RELATION TO DRONTHEIM, AVIGNON, CANTERBURY, ST. ANDREWS, DUBLIN, DURHAM, CHESTER, AND YORK.
Result. A few Papal Bulls, published in Vol. II. of the Chronicle of Man and the Sudreys, and some Documents relating to Furness Abbey, in the Monumentae
(K), To PUBLISH A STANDARD EDITION OF ALL THE STATUTE LAWS OF THE ISLAND, UNDER A RESPONSIBLE EDITOR, WITH A COMPLETE INDEX TO THE WHOLE CODE AND SERIES.
This has been commenced, but not by the Society.
(L). TO PUBLISH COLLECTIONS OF MANX NATIVE LITERATURE
Result Three Volumes of Miscellanies, XVI, XX, and XXI, issued in 1866 and 1876. These volumes contain, among other things, selections of proverbs, ballads, customs, superstitions, and legends peculiar to the Isle of Mann. Many ballads, however, remain unpublished, and only one carval, or carol, has been printed, out of nearly one hundred which are known to exist.
The following Works have been published by the Society, which were
not contemplated in their original prospectus:
Vestigia Insular Manniae: Antiquiosia, or a Dissertation on the Armorial Bearings of the Isle of Man, the Regalities and Pevogatives of its Ancient Kings, and the original Usages, Customs, Privileges, Laws, and Constitutional Government of the Manx People, by H. R. Oswald, Vol. V., issued in 1860.
Antiquitates Manniae, by the Rev. J. G. Cumming, Vol. XV., issued in 1865.
The Currency of the Isle of Man, by Dr. Clay, Vol. XVIII, issued in 1866.
Manx Miscellanies (2), Vol. XXX, issued in 1880.
The names which come into prominence at the incubation of the Society are those of Mr. Paul Bridson, the Revs. W. Mackenzie and J. G. Cumming, and Doctors Oliver and Oswald. At the first meeting in March, 1858, Paul Bridson and the Rev. W. Mackenzie were appointed Secretaries. In the following year the number of subscribers, who paid £l a year, was 235. At the General Meeting in 1861 Dr. Oliver remarked that " he should be glad to see a museum established in the Island, and also a library in connection with it." At the Meeting in 1862, Dr. Oswald's death was announced. In 1863, the Rev. W. Gill and Mr. W. Kneale were added to the Council. In 1868, the Society had £586 13s. 1d. in hand. At the Meeting in 1869, the death of the Rev. J. G. Cumming was announced, Dr. Oliver resigned his position as joint secretary, and Mr. W. Kneale was appointed in his place. An ominous sign of the failing interest taken in the proceedings of the Society was the decision " that three members should form a quorum." From this period almost the whole business of the Society was conducted by Mr. W. Harrison, assisted by Messrs. P. Bridson, J.R. Moore, late High-Bailiff of Peel, and W. Kneale. In fact, of the last 16 volumes, 12 were edited by Mr. Harrison. In 1871, the Society had £629 in hand. At the meeting in 1872 Mr. W. Farrant complained " that some of the publications of the Manx Society were very much below the level. Some of the matter published was no better than so much trash." At the adjourned meeting the deaths of Rev. W. Gill and Dr. Oliver were announced, Mr. J. Goldsmith was appointed Joint Secretary In 1873, the balance to the credit of Society was £602 12s. 11d. In 1876 Mr. Bridson died. In 1879, the balance was £525 2s. 8d.; Mr. Goldsmith resigned the Secretaryship, and Mr. E. L. Watts was appointed. The Rev. T. Talbot retired from the Council and made some vigorous remarks about the later publications of the Society. Mr. J. C. Fargher said that " it was a well known fact that many of the books published by the Society were rubbish." In 1883 Mr. E. L. Watts retired from the Secretaryship, and Mr. C. T. C. Callow was appointed in his place. During the present year two meetings have been held, at which it was decided to complete the publication of the Manorial Rolls of 1511 and 1515n1. Deemster Gill, the Revs. T. Talbot and E. B. Savage, and Mr. A. W. Moore were elected members of the Council. The balance in hand at present is £243.
It will be seen from the above resume that much yet remains to be done, but before any real progress can be made, the Society should be entirely reconstituted, as most of those who have labored for it, as well as the majority of the subscribers, have passed away. The Manx Society, under the presidency of so distinguished a literary man as our present Lieutenant-Governor, and aided by a large addition of new members, will doubtless go on and complete the good work, which, on the whole, it has satisfactorily commenced.
1: It is, in fact, made up almost entirely of
notes on the Chronicle of the Isle of Man.
2: It should be noted that many of the principal documents were discovered and copied by the late Robert Gawne, of the Rowany, whose research and industry appear to have escaped acknowledgment.
3 It may not be generally known that Dr. Kelly's Triglot was offered to to London Philological Society for publication, but was declined by their Council who stated "that although there is in the work much which, in a literary and antiquarian point of view, would be interesting, its philological value would not justify them In its publication." There is only one copy in existence, consisting of four volumes, partly printed and partly written, in the possession of the Manx Society.
n1: these are now available as the Derby and
Atholl papers in the Manx Museum - microfilming has
recently been completed
n2: the Manorial Roll was finally published in 1924 - without any notes
see [Manx Society]