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



NOTHING can be more perplexed and difficult than the inquiries after truth in those darker ages of the world, wherein it is probable the Christian religion was first planted in this Island. There is such a mixture of fables in the monkish writers of these times, where the legend and romance, the knight errant and the saint, are so much of a Piece, that they too often make the truth rejected for the sake of falsehood, and as often the falsehood embraced for the sake of truth. This vein of writing, in which superstition, credulity, and interest had no little share, has corrupted the ecclesiastical history to such a degree, that it is almost impossible to trace the true original of these Western Churches; or, when found, to continue a true succession of those that governed them.

The first mention I find made of Christianity in this Isle is in Capgrave, in the Life of Joseph of Arimathea, in which he tells us of one Mordaius, a King of the Isle of Man, converted to Christianity, who had his residence in a city called Sodora. If this story be true, Christianity was planted very early, about the year 63.

The name of this city is greatly cried up by those that look for a Sodor(87) in the Isle of Man. But it is wonderful that this early conversion of the King should not have a more general influence on the people; for we hear nothing of Christianity in near four hundred years, except it be in the story of Amphibalus, never dreamt of but by Hector Boetius, and his Veramundus, and rejected by most men of learning, except Archbishop Spotswood, from whom I transcribe the following account, Lib. I., fol. 3 :-

" Cratilinth, coming to the Crown in the year 277, made it one of his first works to purge the kingdom of heathenish superstition, and expulse the Druids, a sort of priests, held in those days in great reputation. Their manner was to celebrate sacrifice, and perform their other rites, in groves, with leaves and branches of oak, and thence, saith Pliny, they were called Druids(88), which doth signify an oak. Caesar, in his Commentaries, doth further write that, besides the managing of sacrifices, which were committed to them, they were trusted with the decision of controversies, private and public, and that such as would not stand to their judgment were interdicted from being present at their sacrifices and holy rites, which was taken for a grievous punishment.

" It is likewise testified of them that they were well learned in all natural philosophy, men of moral conversation, and, for religion, not so grossly ignorant and superstitious as other heathen priests, for they taught that there was one only God, and that it was not lawful to represent him in any image; that the souls of men did not perish with their bodies; and that after death men were rewarded according to the life they led on earth. Some also have written that they did prophesy of the conception of a virgin, and of the birth of him who should be Saviour of the world. But that such mysteries were revealed unto them, and so plainly as the Prophets of God in the Old Testament had scarce the like, is not credible. They lived likewise in great respect with all people, and ruled their affairs very politiely, for, being governed by a president who kept his residence in the Isle of Man (which was under the dominion of the Scots), they did once every year meet in that place, to take counsel together for the ordering of afflairs; and carried matters with such discretion, that Cratilinth found it difficult enough to expulse them, because of the favour they had among the people.

" But that which furthered not a little the propagation of the Gospel in these parts, was the persecution raised by Dioclesian, which at that time was held in the South parts of Britain. This brought many Christians, both preachers and professors, into this kingdom, who were all kindly received,by Cratilinth, and had the Isle of Man given them for their remaining, and revenues sufficient assigned for their maintenance. In this Isle, King Cratilinth erected a stately church to the honour of our Saviour, which he adorned with all necessary ornaments, and called Sodorenses Fanum-that is, the Temple of our Saviour; hence it is that the Bishops of our Isles are styled Sodorenses Epicopi. For so long as that Isle remained in the possession of the Scots the Bishops of the Isles made that church their cathedral; after their dispossession, the Isle Iona, commonly called I-Columb-Kill, hath been the seat of the bishops, and continueth so unto this day. In this Isle, Amphibalus sate first Bishop, a Briton born, and a man of excellent piety. He lived long, preaching carefully the doctrine of Christ both among the Scots and Piets, and after many labours taken in promoting the Christian religion, died peaeeably in the said isle."

There are so many improbabilities in this story, that I cannot but observe some of them. First, Hector Boetius says Amphibalus fled the persecution of Dioclesian, Anno 280, whereas Dioclesian did not obtain the empire till the year 286, neither did the tenth persecution arise till the year 302; and Gildas and Polydore Virgil say expressly that both St. Alhan and Amphibalus suffered martyrdom Anno 305; and the general stream of British writers (with some disagreements in the time) concur in his martyrdom. Neither do we find. any Scotch writer mention Amphibalus in the life of Cratilinth, before Hector Boetius and his followers. And it is almost impossible the Manks nation should preserve no memory of so considerable a blessing as their first conversion to Christianity; but their tradition is directly against it. Besides, Matthew Paris affirms the body of Amphibalus was found at Radburn, near St. Albans, in the year 1178; and many other marks of his martyrdom at Radburn strongly conclude he died for his religion in England, and never fled to the Isle of Man to erect a bishopric and Fanum Sodorense. And this at least must appear a wonder, that no memory of Christianity nor ruin of any such church should appear, or so much as mention be made of them at the time that St. Patrick landed here. But, as all the ecclesiastical writers of any credit in those ages agree, St. Patrick was the first who planted the Christian religion in this Island, and since their most ancient and, authentic national traditions concur with them, I cannot but allow him to be the apostle of the Marks nation. The story thus:-About the year 434 Pope Celestine the First sent St. Patrick with twenty more to convert Ireland-or rather Scotland, for it is probable he came not to Ireland till the year 441 ; but, finding the harvest great and the labourers too few, he transported himself into Britain, from whence returning Anno 444, with thirty religious and learned persons in his company, he landed in the Isle of Eubonia, where he found the people, at least the rulers, given to magic, but, being overcome, or convinced by his preaching and miracles, they were converted, or else expelled the Island; and St. Patrick going for Ireland Anno 447, left

Germanus, a holy and prudent man, "ad regendum et erudiendum populum in fide Christi," says Jocelinus, which, for the honour of the Manks nation, was sixty-nine years ancienter than Bangor, in Wales, which was the first bishopric that we read of among the Britons, and one hundred and fourteen years before Austin the monk. He introduced the liturgy of the Lateran, and so absolutely settled the business of religion, that the Island never afterwards relapsed. He died before St. Patrick, who sent two bishops to supply his place, Conindrius and Romulus, of whom we have little memorable; but that one or both of them survived St. Patrick five years is very probable, for then it was 494.

St. Maughold-by some written -Macfeld, by Dr. Heylin -Machilla, by the Latin authors Macutus-was elected Bishop by the universal sufrage of the Manks nation, but by whom consecrated is very uncertain; for, as the former bishops, by right of conversion, were consecrated by St. Patrick, so whether the Archbishop of Armagh continued the same, does not appear; neither can I afrirm it done by the Archbishop of York, because the Bishopric was not erected by St. Paulinus till the year 622, which was above 100 years after St. Maughold, whose legend I studiously omit, and only mention a third error in Hector and his followers. who style him Bishop of Sodor, and therefore will have the Episcopus Sodorensis and Man the same; whereas this bishopric was erected many ages before St. Columbus, who is acknowledged by all writers to be the founder of the Abbey of Hye, in the Island of Iona, which from him was called I-ColumbKill, which monastery was the cathedral of the Bishop of the Isles, who was from that time styled Episcopus Sodorensis, from a village called Sodor, adjoining to the monastery, in which the Bishop had his residence; for Mr. Cambden says expressly, in his British Isles (in which he contradicts himself), that they were called Insulae Sodorentses when the Bishops were ordained in Sodor; and with him both Harrison and Mercator agree. After the Isle of Man was made the seat of the Norwegian race, the Bishoprics were united with the titles of Sodor and Man, and so continued till conquered by the English, since which the Bishop of Man keeps his claim, and the Scotch Bishop styles himself Bishop of the Isles, anciently Episcopus Insularum Sodorensium.

How long St. Maughold sate Bishop, we do not find, only Dr. Heylin says he was Bishop Anno 578, so that it is probable he sate more than four-and-twenty years; neither have we any certainty of a successor till the year 600 ; his name was

Conanus, tutor to the three sons of Eugenius, the fourth King of Scotland, as Bishop Spotswood informs us. After him the succession seems wholly broken till the eleventh century; yet during this long vacancy a new error arose, viz., that the Bishopric was erected by Pope Gregory the Fourth, Anno 840, into which mistake most of our English writers-as Mr. Cambden, my Lord Cook, and Dr. Heylin-have fallen, without any ground in history that I have yet met with, except that the Bishopric of the Isles had its beginning about that time.

In a very ancient manuscript, (89) which was put into my hands by the Reverend Mr. Henry Jones (Nephew and executor to the Right Reverend Doctor Fell, late Bishop of Oxford), I find an exact succession for above 200 years, which, in my own opinion, was extracted from the roll of the ancient Abbey of Rushen. This manuscript, by way of introduction, informs us that, though they had a traditional succession of bishops from the time of St. Maughold, yet, as it was not certainly known who they were, or in what order they sat, it was thought more proper to omit them; and begins with one Roolwer. To him succeeded

William. After him, in the time of Goddard Crownan,

Hamundus, by some written Vermundus or Wymundus(90), who probably was the first Bishop styled of Sodor and Man. He was the son of Jole, a Manksman. Matthew Paris says he died in 1151; but Mr. Challoner informs us that his eyes were put out for his cruelty, and he himself expelled the Island. It is not certain by whom he was consecrated, nor his successor,

Gamaliel, an Englishman, who lies buried at Peterborough. After him succeeded

Reginald, a Norwegian. To him the thirds of all the livings in the Island were granted 'by the clergy, that from thenceforward they might be freed from all episcopal exactions. It is probable that he was the first Bishop that was consecrated by the Archbishop of Nidrosia, or Dronthiem. His successor was

Christian, a native of --(91) , who lies buried in the monastery of Bangor, in Ireland. To him succeeded

Michael, a Manksman, a person of great merit and exemplary life(92). He died in a good old age, and was honourably buried apud Fontanos, Anno 1203. To him succeeded

Nicholas de Melsa(93), Abbot of Furness. He lies buried in the Abbey of Bangor. After him,

Reginald (94), a person of Royal extraction, sister's son to good King Olave, was consecrated Bishop, Anno 1216, who, though he laboured under great infirmities of body, yet governed his church with prudence and resolution. At last, with an exemplary resignation, he yielded up his soul into the hands of his Creator. He lies buried in the Abbey of Rushen; and was succeeded by

John, the son of Hefare(95), who, by the negligence of his servants, was unfortunately burnt, apud Jerewas in Anglia. After him,

Simon, of (96) a person of great discretion, and learned in the Holy Scriptures, governed the Church. He held a synod Anno 1239, in which thirteen canons were enacted. Most of them relate to the probate of wills, the clergy's dues, and other inferior matters. He died at his Palace of Kirk-Michael, in a good old age, and lies buried in the cathedral dedicated to St. German. After him, .

Laurence(97), the Archdeacon, was elected Bishop, and after great disputes, consecrated by the Archbishop of Dronthiem; but was unfortunately drowned with Harrald, King of Man, his queen, and almost all the nobility of the Isles; so that the Bisliopric continued vacant almost six years, when Richard, an Englishman, was consecrated at Rome by the Archbishop of Dronthiem(98). He consecrated the Abbey Church of St. Mary, of Rushen, Anno 1257. After he had governed the Church twenty-three years, returning from a general council, Anno 1274, he died apud Langallyner in Coplandiâ, and lies buried in the Abbey of Furness. In his time the Scotch conquered the Island. He was succeeded by

Markus Galvadiensis (99) (commonly written Galloredinus), at the nomination of Alexander, King of Scotland, for which reason (I suppose) he was banished by the Manksmen. During his absence the Island lay under an interdict, but at last being recalled, he laid a smoke penny upon every house, by way of commutation. He held a synod at Kirk-Braddan, in which thirty-five canons were enacted. He lived to a great age, and was for many years blind, and lies buried in St. German's Church, in Peel Castle. It is probable he was succeeded by

Mauritius, sent prisoner to London by King Edward the First, therefore not put into the catalogue of bishops. In his room was substituted

Allen (100) (Bishop Spotswood calls him Onanus, but mistakes the year of his consecration), of Galloway, who governed the Church with great honour and integrity. He died the 15th of February, Anno 1321. He lies buried at Rothersay, in Scotland. To him succeeded

Gilbert, of Galloway, who sat but two years and a half, and lies buried near his predecessor, in the Church of Rothersay. After him,

Bernard, a Scot, held the Bishopric three years; and lies buried in the Monastery of Kilwining, in Scotland. His successor was

Thomas(101), a Scot, who sat Bishop fourteen years. He was the first who exacted twenty shillings of his clergy 'by way of procuration, as likewise the tenths of all aliens. He died the 20th of September, 1348. The same year

William Russel(102), Abbot of Rushen, was elected by the whole clergy of Man, in St. German's Church, in Holme, vulgarly Peel Castle. He was consecrated by Pope Clement the Sixth, at Avignion, and was the first that shook off the yoke of the Archbishop of Dronthiem, by whom his predecessors had for many ages been consecrated. He held a synod, Anno 1350, in Kirk-Michael, in which five articles were added to the former canons. He died the 21st of April, 1374, and was buried in the Abbey of Furness. He was Abbot of Rushen eighteen years, and Bishop twenty-six. After him,

John Duncan. (103) a Manksman, was elected by the clergy of Man, and going to Avignion, was confirmed by Pope Gregory the Eleventh, and consecrated per Cardinalem Prenestinum dudam Archiepiscopum. In his return home he was made prisoner at Bolonia, in Picardy, and laid in irons for two years, and at last forced to ransom himself for five hundred marks; so that he was not installed till the year 1376, in which Mr. Jones's account determines. It is probable he was succeeded by

Robert Welby (104) (as Dr. Heylin, in his Help to English History, informs us), Anno 1396, who, it is believed, sat twenty-two years, and had for his successor

John Sprotton(105), who is the first Bishop mentioned in our records. After him we find no Bishop named till the year 1503. in which

Evan, or Huan, was elected by Sir Thomas Stanley. It is probable he was succeeded by

Hugh Hesketh(106), for I find in the roll of the family of Rufford, Hugh Hesketh, third son to Robert, Esq., a Reverend Father in God, the Bishop of the Isle of Man; and " Hie jacet Robertus Hesketh Armiger, qui obiit primo die Jan., A.D. 1490."

Robert Ferrier (107) sat Bishop Anno 1554, says Sir Richard Baker; he was afterwards removed to St. David's, says Grafton. He was succeeded by Henry Man, Anno 1555. Our records make mention of one Dr. Man, Anno 1583, who had been formerly Bishop of Man(108). He died Anno 1556, says Dr. Heylin, and was succeeded by

Bishop Salisbury, (109) the year uncertain, whose successor was

Thomas Stanley, son to Sir Edward Stanley, first Lord Monteagle, who was second son to Thomas, first Earl of Derby. How long he sat, is uncertain, but it appears, by record, John Merrick was sworn Bishop of this Isle Anno 1577. He it was who gave Mr. Cambden the history of this Isle published in his Britannia,, which I have transcribed, with very little alteration, in my historical collections. He was succeeded by

George Lloyd, Anno 1600, who was afterwards removed to Chester, and had for his successor

Bishop Foster(110), as Dr. Heylin, in his Help to English History, informs us. He was succeeded by

Dr. John Phillips, Anno 1605, a native of North Wales, who was sworn Bishop the same year. He translated the Common Prayer (111) (at this time to be seen) into the language of the natives, and Mr. Challoner says the Bible, though now not extant. A man famous in his generation for his great pains in preaching, his charity, and hospitality, even to the meanest of the people. He was succeeded by

Dr. Richard Parr, Anno 1635, a Lancashire man, sometime Fellow of Brazen-Nose College, in Oxford, who, whilst he continued in the University, says Mr. Challoner, on his own knowledge, was an eminent preacher. He was the last who sat before our late unhappy civil wars. Next to him

Samuel Rutter (112) was sworn Bishop, Anno 1661. He had been Archdeacon, and governed the Church with great prudence during the late wars. He was a man of exemplary goodness and moderation. He sat Bishop till the year 1663, which shows the Oxford editor egregiously mistaken in affirming Bishop Barrow to be the first bishop after the Restoration.

Anno 1663 Dr. Isaac Barrow was consecrated Bishop of the isle of Man, and sent over Governor by Charles, Earl of Derby; a man of a public spirit, and great designs for the good of the Church, to whose industry is owing all that little learning amongst us, and to whose prudence and charity the poor clergy owe the bread they eat, as will appear more largely in the catalogue of the benefactors. This good man, to the great loss of the Island, was removed to St. Asaph, and was succeeded by

Dr. Henry Bridgman, Anno 1671.

Dr. John Lake(113), Anno 1682; removed to Bristol.

Dr. Baptist Levinz, Anno 1684. He died 1693.

The Bishops of Man, besides their spiritual jurisdiction, are sole Barons of this Isle; in all trials for life, they may assist in the Temporal Court till the sentence. They hold courts in their own names for their temporalities. If any of their tenants are tried for life, they may demand them from the Lord's Court, and try them by a jury of their own tenants; and in case of conviction, the lands are forfeited to the Bishop.

The arms of the Bishopric are upon three ascents: the Virgin Mary standing with her arms extended between two pillars, on the dexter whereof a church, in base the ancient arms of Man(114). The Archdeacon is the second spiritual magistrate; he has in all inferior cases alternate jurisdiction with the Bishop, and many other privileges, as well in temporals as spirituals. He holds his courts either in person or by his official, as the Bishop does his by his Vicars-General, which are always two(115), one for each division of the Isle, and are in the nature of chancellors to the Bishop; these, with the Registrars, compose the Consistory Court, and have under their jurisdiction seventeen parishes.


Kirk Patrick Dedicated to those saints.
Kirk German
Kirk Michael.
St. Mary of Ballaugh.-A Parsonage.
St. Patrick Jurby.
Kirk Andrews.-The Archdeaconry.
Kirk Bride.-Dedicated to St. Bridget. A Parsonage.
Kirk Christ Lez-Ayre(116).


Kirk Maughold.-Dedicated to St. Maughold, the third Bishop.
Kirk Lonan.-Dedicated to Lomanus, said by the tradition to succeed St. Maughold in the Bishopric, the son of Tygrida, one of the three holy sisters of St. Patrick, and thought to'be the first Bishop of Trym, in Ireland.
Kirk. Conchan (117).-Dedicated to Concha, sister to St. Martin, Bishop of Tours, and mother to St. Patrick.
Kirk Braddan, (118) which signifies "a salmon" in the Manks tongue.
Kirk Marown (119).-Declicated to that saint.
Kirk St. Anne.
Kirk Malew.-Dedicated to St. Lupus.
Kirk Arbory (120).-Dedicated to St. Columbus.
Kirk Christ Rushen.

There were formerly several chapels(121), and in each town one is yet standing, as also one in the centre of the land dedicated to St. John, in which they hold their Tynwald, or public assembly; but above all, the abbeys seemed to have exceeded the ability of the country, among which the Abbey of St. Mary of Rushen was the chief. It consisted of twelve monks and an abbot, who at first were meanly endowed, and lived by their labour; but in process of time they had good revenues, the buildings very handsome, the rooms convenient, and the chapel larger than anything (the cathedral excepted) in the Island. It was called the daughter of Furness, which is said to be the mother of this and many other abbeys in the Isle of Man. I find in our records one John Fargher, Abbot of Rushen, Deputy Governor; and in a piece of timber in Kirk Arbory, which separates the church from the chancel, one Thomas Radelig, Abbot of Rushen. These Abbots were Barons of the Island, held courts for their temporalities in their own names, might demand a prisoner from the Lords Court, if their own tenant, and try him by a jury of their own tenants, as the steward of the Abbey lands may do at this day.

The Prioress of Douglass was a Baroness of the Island, and enjoyed the same privileges. The Priory was said to be built by St. Bridget, when she came to receive the veil of virginity from St. Maughold. The situation of the Nunnery is much the pleasantest in the island.

There were likewise the Friars Minors of Beemacken, and a small plantation of the Cistertian Order in Kirk Christ Lezayre(122); but neither of these had baronies annexed to them. There were likewise several foreign Barons(123), as I have already mentioned in my historical part. To conclude, the Church of the Isle of Man is strictly conformable to the doctrine and discipline of the Church of England; and though it is as far short of its learning as it is of its revenue, yet, without vanity, it may be said that in its uniformity it outdoes any branch of the Reformed Churches(124).


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