[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
This is a small and pleasant parish, bounded on the west by Rushen, on the east by Malew, on the north by Patrick, and on the south by the sea. The road from Douglas to Port-iron leads through its centre. It is two miles from Castletown, about four miles and a half from Port le Mary and Port-iron.
Colby village in this parish is situated west of the church. The friary was built on land given by King Godred; the ruins of a Roman chapel are in a garden near the village. Pool-Vash and its quarry of black marble are well-known; other common stone-quarries abound.
The rivulets are not worth particular mention. There are one corn and four flax-mills.
The name of this parish is supposed to have originated from its once having abounded in trees. On this subject, a friend remarked, smiling, that the natives could have either no idea of the beauty of the Psalmist's simile of a good man, compared to a tree planted by rivers of water, bringing forth fruits, &c. as they were strangers to trees, rivers, and fruits; or that it might be to them probably a sublime image, as allusions of too remote objects of a superior nature are often more striking than those we are familiar with.
About 300l. is the principal of donations to the poor.
The vicarage-house being in ruins, Bishop Wilson subscribed and collected enough to build a new one. " I supplied," said the bishop, " the vacant vicarage for one year, and applied the income towards building a new vicarage-house; with this and what I begged, and 2l. 10s. I gave myself, and the assistance of the parish, we have erected one of the best houses in the diocese."
In the act, 1757, for the removal and rebuilding this church, the old one is stated to be in a ruinous condition, and too small for the congregation, who were, for these reasons, and also to avoid the indecency and nuisance of having funerals and interments in the body of the church, desirous of leave for taking it down, and removing it to the north side of the former, within the precincts of the churchyard. This was granted, and no person allowed in future to be buried in the body of the church; it is 72 feet long and 21 feet broad, and is dedicated to St.Columbus.
In the chancel is a handsome marble monument to Rich. Ambrose Stevenson, of Balladoole, who died Feb. 27, 1773, aged 30, erected by his wife Margery Stevenson.
On the chancel walls are some old gilt letters, and a stone tablet, on which are engraved the donations given towards rebuilding the church in 17a8. On the timber of the old church, that parted it from the chancel, was. the name of Thomas Radcliff, abbot of Rushen.
The register commences in 1670. Sir1 John Crellin, vicar. Rev. Thomas Parr Rev. Mr. Moore. Rev. Mr. Quayle. Rev. John Moore, whom the present vicar, the Rev. John Christian, succeeded in 1792.
This parish is a pleasant distance from Castletown, with a variety of agreeable objects on the south side. The spirit of conviviality which is occasionally kept up by strangers, and the friendship of the neighbouring families, show that something in the shape of sociability and happiness dwells in Kirk Arbory. Dancing is a favourite pursuit, and particularly at fair times.
" I never such festivity saw
As there, while the damsels were hopping;
For dancing is somewhat like law,
When once you begin there's no stopping."
Near Balladoole is a saltish spring, which runs very rapidly; it is a little to the south-west, near the shore, and probably issues from a salt rock.
" The soil of the three southern parishes of Rushen, Arbory,and Malew, partakes very strongly of the same warm, generous quality ascribed to the northern part; it is worked and cultivated with equal facility, and abounds in the same productions, but is not capable of equally substantial improvements, though grateful to the tiller's hand and care. 2
Parochial bounds, by a circular letter from the Bishop, in 1790, are enjoined to be perambulated on Holy Thursday, according to ancient custom.
In Arbory churchyard are buried eighteen persons between 71 and 79 (of which four are 78), and seven above 80 years of age.
A monument to Richard Ambrose Stevenson, Esq., son to Richard Stevenson, Esq., cornet of horse in the Royal Volunteers in Ireland, and aide-de-camp to Lord Shannon; grandson to John Stevenson, Esq. M.P., erected by his mother. He died Feb. 17,1773.
Adieu ! blest shades oh! cease to mourn,
Nor strive to wake the silent urn;
Rather each care, each thought employ,
To meet thee in the realms of joy.
Arms; per pale gules and ermine; a cross saltire counter changed
Mrs. Alice Stevenson, widow of Richard Stevenson, Esq.; died Feb. 26, 1785, aged 69. Richard Ambrose Stevenson, of Balladoole, died March 12, 1795, aged 33.
A stone to the memory of George Evans, of the London, his two sons, and nine mariners, who perished by sea near Stranhall,Feb. 28, 1781. Erected by Mr. Robert Marow, merchant, Liverpool.
Catherine, daughter of Henry and Jody Corrin, buried June 9, 1794, aged three years.
" Asleep in bed I laid,
Where none I did offend;
Front thence against my will convey'd,
To a plaguey pox by men.
Dear parents, cease to weep,
I innocently forgive;
Rather remember me to meet,
Where love doth ever live."
This appears to be an original specimen of mountain poetry. It may be necessary to say, that what gave rise to it was the inoculating the child (who was averse to it) when she was asleep.
I wish to remark here, that in going to the respective parishes, I took down every inscription in every churchyard, except one; but they occupy such a space, that I am deterred from printing them in this volume, yet hope to present them at a future period, as a treasure to the inhabitants, in some detached and cheap form. Those inserted are selected from the general mass.
In endeavouring to explain the singular circumstance that happened to Robert Cottier's wife, mentioned in page 150, it was suggested to me by Dr. Fothergill, of Bath, in conversation, whether it might not be accounted for, on the supposition of a double uterus, a remarkable case of which occurred in Ireland a few years since, under that eminent accoucheur Dr. Purcell, of Dublin, and which was recorded in the Phil. Trans. with plates.
*1 The title of Sir used to be formerly
added to the names of the vicars, while the rectors were styled
2 Townley's Journal