[From Manx Soc vol 1 Sacheverell's Survey c.1692]


IN selecting "SACHEVERELL's ACCOUNT OF THE ISLE OF MAN" as one of the works of the first year's issue of the Manx Society, the Council has been influenced mainly by the consideration that the work itself is extremely scarce; that it is full of interest to the general as well as local reader; and that it furnishes an opportunity of pointing out, by means of the references in the Notes which I have appended to it, the extensiveness of that series of documents connected with the history of this little Island, which it is the purpose of the Society, in due course, to lay before the public.

In undertaking the task with which the Council has honored me, of editing this work, I have felt glad of the occasion presented to me for correcting, in the notes, some of the conclusions at which I had previously arrived, respecting one perplexing portion of Manx history-viz., that of the fourteenth century. Many of those ancient records, which are now for the first time, by means of the Manx Society, being brought into public notice, had not met my eye at the time when I drew up the Memoirs on the Civil and Ecclesiastical History the Geology, and Antiquities of the Isle, which I have at various times ventured to send to the press. I have thus too often been obliged to take upon trust the statements of the different authors who have written upon the same subjet, including Camden, Challoner, and Sacheverell. I hope it will be seen that in the notes attached to this volume I have been enabled to arrive at more accurate information, and to place the obscure points of Manx history in a more satisfactory position.

My first inquiry, when entering upon the duty assigned to me by the Society, naturally was as to the personal history of the author of this work; and here I was met at once with the difliculty of determining the identity of the William Sacheverell, the Governor of the Isle of Man in 1693-4, with a William Sacheverell of Barton, whose genealogy I have given in one portion of this work. In my first note I have given some account of this branch of the Sacheverell family, and my reasons for believing that our author was a younger half-brother of the Robert Sacheverell, of Barton, to whom the book is dedicated.

Amongst the Norris papers preserved in the Town Hall, Liverpool, the chests originally kept at Speke, along with letters of our author, are several documents pertaining to William Garway, who is mentioned by Thos. Heywood, Esq. (the editor of those papers), as having represented either Arundel or Chichester from 1660 to 1689. It is stated in a note to the Oxford edition of Burnet, written by Speaker Onslow, that Sacheverell (of Barton) and Garway were the Tory leaders of the House of Commons. Presuming the connection of the Governor of the Isle of Man with the Barton family, we can easily understand how the Garway papers became mixed with his; but hardly otherwise. The two volumes containing the Sacheverell letters are at this present time missing.

When the Sitwell (Renishaw) library was sold some little time back, I am informed by Mr. Heywood that there were several books therein bearing on their fly-leaves the name of Alicia Sitwell, the wife of William Sacheverell, of Barton. On one of them, a tract written by C. Ellis, on Christianity in Short, &c., was noticed the following writing - "E. libris Wilmi. Sacheverell, ex dono charissimi fratris Francisci Sitwell, Anno Domini 1708." On referring to the genealogical table given in this work, it will be noticed that Francis Sitwell, of Renishaw, was the brother of Alicia Sitwell, wife of the William Sacheverell, of Barton, presumed to be our author.

I transmitted through Mr. Thomas Heywood to James Crossley, Esq., of Manchester, a tracing from the autograph signature of William Sacheverell, in the Rolls Office, Isle of Man. On comparing this with the writing of William Sacheverell, of Barton, on the fly-leaf of a volume of sermons from the Sitwell library, he pronounces that the writing appears the same, and that there can be no ground for doubting that the Governor of the Isle of Man was connected with the Sitwell family. I think, therefore, that his identity with William Sacheverell, of Barton, half-brother of Robert, is well established.

In the same library was an extensive collection of tracts relating to the famous Dr. Henry Sacheverell, whose connection with the Barton family I have pointed out in the genealogical table appended to this volume.

My friend, J. Burman, Esq., Advocate, and Secretary to the present Lieut.-Governor of the Isle of Man, informs me that, on searching the records in the Rolls Office, he finds that on May 9th, 1692, William Sacheverell, our author, was sworn Deputy Governor; that on the 8th June, 1693, he took the oaths as Governor; and on the 15th October, 1696, he was appointed one of the Commissioners of Revenue. At this latter date Colonel Nicholas Sankey was Governor, to whom immediately succeeded the Hon. Capt. Cranston.

Presuming the identity established, and that the Governor of the Isle of Man was the son of William Sacheverell, Esq., of Barton, near Nottingham (M.P., and Minister of William III.), by his second wife, Jane Newton, daughter of Sir John Newton, Bart., we are struck with the fact of the very early age at which he was called on to exercise his responsible functions in the Isle of Man.

His father's first wife did not die till 1664, so that he, the son of the second wife, could hardly be more than 27 or 28 in the year 1692, when he entered upon his office as Deputy-Governor. That he had for some time previously been connected with the Isle of Man, appears from his "Voyage to I-Columb-Kill," which is printed at the end of this work, and which is dated "Isle of Man, Sept. 7th, 1688,"-a year which at once connects us with that William III. whose Minister his father was, and who was, all but shipwrecked on the Bahama Bank, off the northern shore of the Isle of Man, on his way to the famous battle of the Boyne.

Our author kept up a very familiar correspondence with Richard Norris, a younger scion of the House of Speke, near Liverpool, a good old Lancashire family, now extinct. The two following letters, addressed by him from the Isle of Man to Richard Norris, are of some interest. They have been published by the Chetham Society amongst the Norris papers, edited by Thomas Heywood, Esq.


To Mr, Rd. Norry,, at Mr. Poole's, L'pool,

I think myself extremely Obliged to you for your kind letter, and especially that you are not forgetfull of me in my absence; and assure you, could I thinke myself any way serviceable to you in this place, I should gladly receive the least, of your commands.

As to your question, What sucess I have had ? I can at present answer very little; the necessary business of keeping courts, and acquainting myself with tle nature of the government, has hitherto so imployed my time, I have scarce had leisure to think of any improvement.

On Midsummer-day I held the Tynwald Court, which is our parliament, when I passed two Acts-one for setting up a linen manufacture, another for regulating moneys; which last will be thus for advantage to straingers, that it will be worth six per cent to any Man who buys the commodities of the country, to pay for them in new money. I would now begin some proposals for foreign trade but was first in hopes to have received Mr. Poole's thoughts upon it, of which I desire you to put him in mind.

I please myself in your promise of seeing you heare, and in the meantime assure you according to the best of my capacity, that you shall always find me, &c.,

Castle Rushen, julii 4, 1692. WILL. SACHEVERELL.

P.S.-I have ordered Billy to bring you some lobsters and a dozen bottles of Manks ale. My service to all my acquaintance, especially Jos. Wilkins."

We are interested in observing that Manx ale (jough) and lobsters were as notable in that day as they are now, and that the ceremony of Tynwald-hill has belonged to the Feast of St. John the Baptist at any rate for the last 200 years. The second letter has reference to his being deprived of the office of Governor, which can hardly have been from want of confidence in his integrity, otherwise the Earl of Derby would not immediately have appointed him a Commissioner of Revenue. It might be the result of some family intrigue, or the apparent desirableness of having a military man rather than a civilian at the head of affairs at this particular time.

" To Mr. Richard Norrys, Liverpool. trouble in

" Dear, Mr. Norrys,-I am extremely obliged to you for your great care and trouble in assisting my wife in her passage hither, which as it was a great comfort to me, so I doubt will be very short, for I hear that I am out of imployment, after all my care and diligence. All I can say is, I have served an unthankfull man, and I doubt it will turn very much to my prejudis ; but, God's will be done. I cannot yet leave the Island myself, but would have her goe for England; but she resolves to stay a winter with me.

" I desire my service to your brother, when you see him. Pray remember me to Mr. Cooke and Mr. Holt, and believe me, &c., WM. SACHEVERELL.

" Castle Rushen, 15 Aug., 1694."

The Richard Norris to whom these letters were written was Bailiff of Liverpool in 1695, Mayor in 1700, and represented the borough from 1708 to 1710; was High Sheriff of Lancashire in 1718, and was living in 1730. At the time when Sacheverell was Governor of the Isle of Man he was learning to be a merchant in the office of David Poole, and was aged about 22.

The familiarity existing between him and Governor Sacheverell affords some evidence that there could not be any great disparity in their years, and that therefore Sacheverell himself, when Governor of the Isle of Man, was but young; and thus there is removed the difficulty which would at first sight present itself in endeavouring to identify our author with William Sacheverell, of Barton; in fact, it strongly confirms the identification.

The deplorable poverty of the Manx Church seems deeply to have affected our author. In the letter introductory to Bishop Wilson (page 80 of this work) he says "this Church has been sinking into a heap of ruins," and he expresses the hope that the good bishop is " designed by Providence to rebuild and beautify it, and heal the 'breaches of the devouring Reformation" of the 16th century. I have been favored by Dr. Oliver with a copy of a letter from Governor Sacheverell to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the original of which is in the Lambeth Library, amongst the "Codices MSS. Gibsoniani." It is dated from Oxford, sine anno; but since Baptist Levinz, Bishop of Sodor and Man, died in 1693, the internal evidence fixes it for September 1st of the year 1696. It is deeply important, as proving that the Earl of Derby did not keep the Bishopric vacant for his own individual profit, but with the view of devoting the proceeds to the repairing of the Cathedral at Peel and the building of churches.

The statement of one portion of this letter, relative to the erection of the Chapel of St. Mary, at Castletown, is remarkably borne out by a document in the Rolls Office, Isle of Man, which I have printed in my Story of Rushen Castle and Rushen Abbey (published by Bell and Daldy, London), in which William, ninth Earl of Derby, authorizes and appoints his Commissioners of Revenue in the Isle of Man to pay to Thomas Wilson (Bishop of Sodor and Man) and others "the rents, issues, and profits of what kind soever, belonging to the Bishopric, due and payable in the vacancy of the said Bishopric for one whole year, ending Lady-day, 1697; to be laid out in the building and erecting a new chapel in Castletown."

The following is the letter of Sacheverell.-

" May it please your Grace,--

The charge with which the Earl of Derby has entrusted me, in the Government of his Isle of Man, forces me to lay before your Grace the necessity the poor Church of that place labon under, not only in the want of a Bishop, by the decease of our late Reverend Dr. De Levinz, but at my coming over I found the ancient cathedral down, several churches ruinous, to the repairing whereof the Earl of Derby has kept the Bishopric vacant for near three years; and though the churches are already repaired, yet the necessity of a chapel at Castletown will force his Lordship to continue the vacancy at Kil Crest [Kirk Christ Rushen?] till Easter next; and yet even that will fall infinitely short of the real and pressing necessities of the clergy of the place.

" For, as the finishing of the designs of Dr. Barrow, late Bishop of St. Asaph, would be of great use, not only in building a library (towards which work there are two hundred pounds in the hands of his executors), but some convenient lodgings for the academic youths, who are forced to diet in public-houses in the town, which is very inconvenient. But were these our only misfortunes, they ought to be borne without complaint. But the poor clergy here so absolutely depend on His Majesty's benefaction of £100 a year,, which has for more than two years been unpaid, so that the greatest part are fallen into poverty and debt; and three churches are already vacant, the pensions (which are but three pounds per annum) being so small. And what increases our misfortunes, three of the hopefullest of our young men that ever the island bred have deserted us, for fear they should be imposed on them. I know I need no other argument to so great a patron of the Church than to open the misery of our condition, and that your Grace would at least be pleased to retrieve His Majesty's benefaction; and if, by the charity of the Church of England, a means could be found to raise a £1000, it would add some tolerable endowments to these poor livings, furnish Bishop Barrow's designed library, and build some convenient academic lodgings, and put us out of condition of making our miseries further troublesome.

" I hope I need no excuse for my importunity (tho' a stranger), which proceeds only from a sense of my duty; and on my knees I beg your Grace's benediction, and that you would at least grant your pardon, if not encouragement, to

Your Grace's most dutiful, most humble,

" And obedient servant,

Oxon,.Sept. 1st." "WM. SACHEVERELL.

The academic lodgings mentioned in the above letter have grown into King William's College, Castletown, erected in 1830, partly from funds accumulated in the hands of Bishop Barrow's trustees, out of the rents of the Ballagilley and Hango-hill estates, partly from contributions collected by Bishop Ward, and amounting to about £2,700, and partly by mortgage of the above estates. The academic library occupied the upper portion of a house which stood on the site of the present House of Keys, the Keys meeting in the lower portion of the house, which they rented from the academic trustees. In 1818 the whole of the house was purchased by the Keys, and the library was removed to the Grammar School, and thence to King William's College, where it was destroyed by fire January 14th, 1844.

The above letter leads us to the conclusion that, though Sacheverell received in 1694 notice of removal from the office of Governor, yet he continued to hold the seals of office till the appointment, in 1696, of his succesor, Colonel Nicholas Sankey.

I have not.been able to trace the history of the Governor of Man after 1696. That he had not lost all connection with the Island when he wrote his book appears probable from the langnage he addresses to Bishop Wilson, in the letter introductory to his account of the ecclesiastical government of the Isle of Man, Essay IV. of this work.

It will be seen by Note I that the two sons of William Sacheverell, of Barton, by his wife Alicia, who was also his cousin, were born, the elder, William in 1707, and the younger, Henry, in 1709, and that they died at the ages respectively of 16 and 15. He himself died, on the 5th September, A.D. 1715, shortly preceded by his wife. If this William was our author, since he was married in 1692, as is plain from the letters just given. it seems probable that either he had other children, or that Alicia Sitwell was a second wife.

The present volume (printed from the edition of 1702) will be found, on reading the notes along with the text, to give in itself a complete general history of the Isle of Man up to the end of the 17th century. The Manx Society will furnish other works for the more particular study of it, including the principal documents contained in the Archives of Castle Rushen, and in the parochial registers of the Isle of Man, also, a collection of charters and grants, formed under the editorial care of Dr. Oliver, from the 'Patent Rolls, the Rotuli Scotim, Rymer's Foedera, the Harl. and Cot. MSS., in the British Museum, as well as MSS. in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, and documents connected with the Abbey of Furness, in Lancashire, discovered in the Archives of the Duchy of Lancaster in Chancery-lane.

I have to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Oliver for the valuable assistance he has given me in the collation of most of the charters contained in the notes to this volume. The very kind contributions of the Rev. Sam. Fox, the Rector of Morley, to the genealogical table of the Sacheverell family are gratefully acknowledged; thanks are also due to Dr. Dodd, of Great Corringham, Thomas Heywood, Esq., Dr. Hume, of Liverpool, and Paul Bridson, Esq., of Douglas, for their most valuable additions to it. The eminent services of the last-named gentleman, in the laborious compilation of the Index of the present volume, require more special thanks.

I desire, on behalf of the Manx Society, to acknowledge also the kind services rendered by Mr. Gilbert French, of Bolton, for preparing the vignette on the title-page; and to Mr. John Pendlebury, of Manchester, in executing the designs for the covers of the Society's volumes.


Queen's College, Birmingham,

June 1, 1859.


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