[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
This parish has one village of' its name, through which the great road passes from Peel to Ramsey, which has an excellent inn; but it is most distinguished for its being the residence of the bishop. Bishop's-court is on the road side, about one mile from the village. His lordship's domain is extensive, between 300 and 400 acres. The house has been modernised by the present bishop, who has expended much money to render it comfortable. Though not very striking in appearance, it possesses every desirable appendage; The garden and walks are pleasing, and the detatched offices convenient; a corn-mill serves the family, and the tenants around. There is a small chapel annexed to the house,* which has a large silver flagon, value about 20l. given in the last century by Dr. Thurscross, prebendary of York, for the use of the bishop's chapel successively, until Peel cathedral should be in a condition to receive it. [* A convocation of the bishop and clergy of the diocese is, by the statute of 1704, ordered to be held yearly at the bishop's chapel, on Thursday in Whitsunweek, if his lordship be in the island, or as soon as convenient after his return. -See Stat. Laws, p. 121, 8vo, 1797.]
In a spot not particularly distinguished either for good soil
(being mostly a light sand) or for luxuriancy of verdure, the
umbrageous shades and pleasant walks around the palace receive a
double effect, which is farther enhanced by the hospitality of its
[ In a late novel we have this description of the bishop's house, which, however, is too highly coloured: " At length we reach a row of venerable trees leading to the bishop's palace, which is a stately edifice, and commands from one part a picturesque view of great extent and beauty. Its lofty walls are richly clothed with the choicest fruit trees, in their most luxuriant state; with a grotto, cascade, and beautiful flower garden, surrounded by an extensive moat, which, while it renders the breezes cool and refreshing, adds to the beauty of the enchanting scene; there is likewise a beautiful pavilion, with a small lawn fringed with plantations. Here we spent a most delightful hour, in all the sweets of rural innocence which such a delightful situation could inspire, and departed with the utmost regret."-Clara Lenox, vol. ii. p. 86.]
Under the bishop are an archdeacon, two vicars-general, and an episcopal registrar; who with the prelate compose the Consistory Court.
The arms of the bishopric are, on three ascents the Virgin Mary, her arms extended between two pillars; on the dexter, a church; in base, the ancient arms of Man.
In the grounds are two posts, erected in 1760 by the then bishop, to commemorate the action of Thurrot off this coast; the bishop having thence seen the contest, placed these to show in what direction off shore it took place.
Two prints, 24 by 15, of this celebrated action, were painted by R. Wright, and engraved by Millar and Goldar, representing the action, and the ships in Ramsey bay afterwards. The one dedicated to Capt. Elliot, the other to the merchants of Liverpool. Capt. Elliot gained a complete victory; and Thurot, the French admiral, was killed in the action: his ship, of 32 guns and 220 men, taking Thurot's, of o0 gems and 600 men; this ship was 176 feet in length. Capt. Clements, in the Dallas, of 36 guns, took the La Terpsichore, Capt. Defravendois, of 26guns. And Capt. Loggie, in the Brilliant, of 36 guns, took La Blonde, Capt. Kayce, of 36 guns and 400 men. Thurot's body was thrown overboard, probably by his own order, and sometime afterwards was supposed to have floated ashore on the coast of Scotland, and was privately interred there.
The sea bounds this parish on the west; Ballaugh on the north-east; Braddan on the east; and German on the south-west.
Kirk-Michael is six miles from Peel the coast road, but near eleven the best road. The pleasant village of Glenwillian is only a few minutes' walk from the inn.
In this, as in almost every parish, the vestiges of the Druids, the Danes, &c., are observable.
It has slate and stone quarries. The Gill of Lunnon is pleasing; and a cascade on the old Castletown road may attract notice as you pass it. It is about one mile and a half from Kirk-Michael.
The coast supplies laver, which they term sluggane; and another sea weed in use is called dullish, somewhat of the like kind; samphire is also plentiful, but whether of the rock or the golden sort, I had no means of informing myself.
Within these last two years, the sand bank has suffered considerably from the encroachments of the high tides.
It has three creeks; Glentrunk, Glenwillian, and Glenbelegawn.
There are no records to prove when the church was built. It is 60 feet by 16, with a side-aisle 22 feet long; neat within, and having only one inscription in the chancel, to M. Christian Norris and her five children, 6th of July, 1695. The schoolhouse is 28 feet by 12.
The register begins in 1611; but is a copy of the original, which, it says, "being abused in the parliament's time, was forced to be transcribed by Mr Henry Norris, vicar, 1712."Donations to the poor are about 80l. principal. The chalice was given by the late Rev. Dr. Wilson, to the place of his nativity, 1755.
The vicarage-house is pleasantly situated, with improved gardens, and a glebe of about eighteen acres.
In the churchyard on a plain tomb, railed in with iron, is the following inscription:- " Sleeping in Jesus: here lieth the body of Thomas Wilson, D.D. Lord Bishop of this Isle, who died March 7th, 1755, aged 93, in the 58th year of his consecration. This monument was erected by his son Thomas Wilson, D.D. a native of this parish, who, in obedience to the express command of his worthy father, declines giving him the character he so justly deserved. Let this island speak the rest."On the sides the same repeated.
Also, the following inscriptions on plain tomb-stones:
`'Elizabeth Hyldesley, alias Stokely wife of Bp. Hyldesley, died Deb. 27th, 1763. Mark H. Lord Bishop, died Dec. 2cl, 1772, in the 17th year of his consecration, aged 74."
" Philip Moore, Norway merchant, and citizen of London, died at Bishop's-court, Dec. 20,1728, aged 78."
" Hic jacet Rev. Cleve Quayle, eccles. hujus diaconus primordiovitae sperabilimus pietatis primitias promittens, Juvenis insignitermodestus et docilis integer vitae scelerisque gurus omnibus caresnobis, cilius Deo aliter visum sibi faelicius Xto. quiescit curiaespiscopi oh. Jan. 19, 1751. An 21 aet. Pater interens posuitveniet iterum qui me in lucem reponet dies."
Also, a head-stone erected by bishop Wilson, for John Riddyard, who died at Bishop's-court, April 21st, 1738, aged 47;whose master hath here given this testimony of his integrity, that in twenty years' service he never found cause to charge him with eye-service, fraud, or injustice.
There are also many tombs to the name of Cannell, which is an ancient one in the island.
In this churchyard, are also buried nineteen persons between 71 and 80; and eleven between 80 and 90.
1670, Sir Hugh Cannell, buried February 25th. Sir Edward Nelson, buried October 26th, 1685. Rev. Henry Norris, vicar thirty-one years, buried January 25th, 1717. Rev. John Allen, buried July 12th, 1735. Rev. John Woods, vicar-general, removed to German, and buried at Peel, :1739. Rev. Edward Moore, vicar-general, buried 1749. Rev. James Wilks, vicar general, promoted to Ballaugh in 1772, when the present vicar,the Rev. John Crellin, succeeded, who is also episcopal registrar.
" The Right Rev. Father in God, Dr. Thomas, Wilson, Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, buried near the east gable of the church, March 11th, 1755. His Lordship's grave, agreeably to directions left previous to his death, was made nine feet deep, and walled round with brick.
" This great judge and eminent pattern of primitive Christianity, was born December 20th, 1663, at Burton, near Chester, in which city he had his school education, and from thence was sent to the University at Dublin, where he took the degree of B.A.; and in 1686, was ordained deacon by the Bishop of Kildare. He continued in Ireland to serve the Church, till the disturbance in King James's reign drove him into :England, where he became curate to his uncle, the Rev. Dr. Sherlock, rector of Winwick.* After some years he was tutor to Lord Strange, son of the Earl of Derby; and afterwards was promoted by the said Earl to the bishopric of Sodor and Man. [* Winwick, near Warrington in Lancashire, is the richest rectory in England, being worth near 3000l. per Annum in the gift of the Earl of Derby.]
"He was consecrated by Doctor Sharp, archbishop of York, assisted by the Bishops of Chester and Norwich, in the Savoy Church, London, on the 16th of January, 1697, and on the 3dof March following was created D.D. in a full congregation at Oxford. He immediately passed over to the Isle of Man, where he resided mostly ever since, in great reputation and honour for his piety, exemplary life, hospitality, and extensive charity.
"He sat in this see upwards of half a century, and died universally lamented, in the 58th year of his consecration, and 92d of his age."
In addition to what has been noticed in page 101, see also Dr. Knox's " Winter Evenings," vol. i. for an Essay on Bishop Wilson and his writings. Dr. Knox condems the Bishop's zeal for ecclesiastical discipline as intemperate, and of a severity rather wonderful in a man of his exemplary benevolence.
Offenders of all conditions in his time, who did not submit to Church censures, were imprisoned or excommunicated, tic. I have already mentioned that at present spiritual authority is exercised with lenity and judgment; though the obliging offenders to convict or acquit themselves on their own oath, where there is no other evidence, is still practised.
Mr. Townley tells us that he found " outside the churchyard a venerable stone, displaying, in the rude chisel work, the figure of some mighty Danish chief in complete steel. I instantly (says he) rescued the warrior from his ignominious concealment, bringing him to a safe place, where I could easily on my return take him into my carriage, and convey him to more respectable quarters. It had received some little injury. The figure is in complete armour, with a helmet on, and a tremendous broad sword, suspended by straps from a studded belt, to make him invulnerable at all points; his arms uplifted, with the fingers griped in a solemn, supplicating posture."
A stone cross in the churchyard has this inscription_ UIeifanfuntre gudean nom ilean Reinti crund; son ststr met murufuntre mus tolirluf cetlan cone in e. Which Mr. Beauford, of Ireland, translates: " The hope to live through the holy Turns of God, and by means of the mysterious tree on which his son suckered an evil death our sorrows shall be washed away."
The other Runick* monument before the churchyard has the following inscription on its edges. (See next page):_
This cross is ornamented with various devices; the inscriptions
are in a mixture of the Teutonic and Celtic languages. It was
evidently erected by the Canes during their residence here, after
their conversion to Christianity, sometime in the 10th or11 th
century. At the top of a similar stone in Braddon, there were some
characters which Mr. Beautord did not understand.* * Vide Gough's
edit. Camden, vol. iii. p 704.
" Thus o'er some antique ruin, time defaced,
The sons of science oft delight to stray,
To trace the inscription on the desert waste,
And pierce time's dark veil by its lucid ray.
" But vain the labours of the inquiring sage,
If thence the mind no moral truth sublimes;
Nor learns from heroes of a distant age,
To love their virtues, and to shun their crimes."LOVELL+
+ Poems by Lovell and Southey, 8vo. 1796. Dilley.
This parish has some ancient barrows; the Karn Viael is composed of small stones heaped together.
* In the 10th and 11th centuries, the Runick gave way to the Roman character; but it is said to he still retained among the mountaineers of one province of Sweden. It is a term generally applied to the language and letters of the ancient Goths, Danes, and other northern nations.See new edition of Chambers's Dictionary, which has a column on this word
Slieau Dhoo; i.e. The Black Mountain, from its gloomy or
Slieau ny Fraghane; i. e. The Black-Berry Mountain, from the abundance of them that grow there.
Yn Vaaiyll; the English of it uncertain.
Sartall; in English, Sartfield, which is the name of the worshipful Deemster Lace's estate in Jurby, or St. Patrick's Isle.
I believe I may also add Slieumenagh, and Slieucurn.
Cronk-Urley; i. e. Mount-Eagle, is a hill in this parish, where the Legislature used to meet. In 1422, a court was held on it;in the records it is termed the Hill of Reneurling
Rye is grown by the vicar; the turnip tillage has been found to answer.
"In the north side of the island, there have been attempts made in this cultivation. At Bishop's-Court the steward has raised large crops of turnips for some years past, where near forty head of black cattle, and above a hundred sheep, have been fed for near five months, viz. from October to March, principally upon turnips; but even upon a smaller scale, several individuals have raised very good crops. Mr. Gelling, Rector of Ballaugh, Mr. Registrar Crellin, and Deemster Crellin, at Orrisdale, have tried the turnips with great success."*[Manks Mercury, signature Mannan, 1793.
Yew trees, which are so generally found in our churchyards, are
not to be found in those of Man. This tree is thus prettily addressed
by a late pedestrian traveller through Wales :+
_- " Et toi, triste cypres,
Fiddle ami des morts protecteur de leur cendres
Ta tige chore au coeurr melaneholique et tendre,
Laisse la joie au mirthe et la gloire au laurier:
Tu nes point l'arbre heureux de l'amant, an guerrier,
Je le sais, mais ton deuil compatit a nos Seines.,
[+ A Tour through part of South Wales, by a Pedestrian; with views designed and etched by the author, Its. London, Baylis, 1797. No author's name; but I understand they are by Mons. Penhouet, an ingenious emigrant.]
I am not certain whether the extensive and deep glen, that lies between Kirk Michael and St. John's, is in this parish or not; it is a curious sequestered spot, and if adorned with trees and cottages, would have a picturesque effect.
In the presbytery of Lochmaben, in Scotland, is a parish of a similar name, for an ingenious account of which, by the Rev.Dr. Burgess, the minister, see Sinclair's " Statistical Account of Scotland," vol. i. avow 17~)1.
That this island was once the seat of learning, we know from the circumstance of the early princes of Scotland sending hither their sons for education; and the concurrent testimony of the Saxon, Scots, and Irish writers, show that it was at that period famous for wise and virtuous prelates. Its monks were learned, and in the early list of bishops we notice natives; but in the biographical annals, I recollect no particular eminent Manksmen that have flourished, nor has traditionary reports left any such on my memory; but to the honour of this parish, it may be mentioned, that it gave birth to Dr. Thomas Wilson.
James Earl of Derby mentions, in a discourse to his son, a grand design he intended to have executed here, that of establishing a University, but it has not been effected.