[From Manx Soc vol 28, 1878]
The following graphic description of St. Mark's, at the time Mr. Clarke took possession of the incumbency, is given in his own words
Never was a clergyman of the Church of England appointed to a more deplorably wretched situation in the church than that at St. Mark's. The chapel itself had never been comfortably finished. The ground-floor of the chancel, of the aisle, and the pews, was made of clay instead of wood. The gallery remained unceiled, and admitted the dust between the boards of its flooring upon the heads of those who sat under its roof. There had never been any paint used on the interior of the chapel to make it a decent place of worship. There were but few doors to the pews, and with the exception of two or three of them, they had neither desks nor kneeling- boards.
The whole of the revenue of the chapelry did not exceed thirty pounds per annum, which arose from pew rent in the chapel, and the interest of about sixty-two pounds British of surplus money of the original building-fund raised by Bishop Hildesley, which amounted together to about ten pounds per annum. The remainder was annual-rent of the glebe, and such a glebe!
The parsonage-house, erected on the ruins of an old cottage, the dampest and most unhealthy site which could be selected on the glebe, consisted of three rooms in length on the ground- floor, with a loft on it from end to end, having the bare roof exposed to view in the bed-rooms from one gable to the other. One-third of this building, burlesquely termed a parsonage- house, was converted into a cowhouse, the loft of which was used as a hayloft. So infested was the whole building with rats, that its walls were burrowed from the foundation to the eaves; consequently the gables bulged considerably out of perpendicular line, and the side-walls were crazy and full of fissures. A pail of water poured into the rat holes on the loft of the bed-rooms would freely flow down through the side walls and come out on the ground-floor at the foundation. The stench admitted from the cowhouse into the parlour so- called was insufferable. One comfort existedthere was no want of spring water, inasmuch as with high springs, there was one emitting its current out of the sunken hole for ashes, along the kitchen fireside at the east gable, and out of the west gable a powerful stream flowed perpetually out of a rat- hole in its foundation.
As to the glebe, it had never been attempted to be cultivated. It was a parcel of mountainous waste land, covered with heath and gorse, plentifully supplied with spring water, and abounding in huge granite rocks. The gentlemen who had been appointed to this chapelry, with the exception of three, the Revds. David Harrison, John Gell, and my predecessor, Wm. Duggan, were unmarried men who lived where they best could whilst in this kind of stepping-stone to preferment, until they were removed to a more tolerable situation in the church. The Rev. Wm. Duggan was the only chaplain who had a large family who resided in the glebe house. Fortunately for him, he was the only child of a widowed mother, whose circumstances were such as to enable her to share her affluence with her son, and preserve his numerous family from starvation, but could not enable him to cultivate his glebe.
The chapelry thus passed from one incumbent to another, from the year 1772 to 1827, without any attempt being made to augment its revenue, or to elevate it by any means to the scale of respectability. On my appointment to such a situation as this, the feelings of my mind may be more easily conceived than truly felt. The first temptation which presented itself to my mind was to relinquish the church for ever, and to turn my attention to secular business for the support of my wife and three children. But God ordained it otherwise, and overruled the temptation to the benefit of St. Mark's, and I hope to the glory of His own Great Name.
In the midst of melancholy reflection, but under the influence of a prayerful frame of mind for wisdom to direct me, I became solemnly impressed with the conviction, that deserting the Church of God would be a dereliction of duty which would haunt my mind with awful forebodings of futility, and plant my dying pillow with excruciating anguish. I started from my reveries and determined in the name of God to attempt the augmentation of my living, by soliciting subscriptions from a Christian public to erect a new parsonage-house and to cultivate my glebe lands. I reversed the text, "Be hold how great a matter a little fire kindleth," to my own advantage, and from it believed that great results frequently arose out of small beginnings.
I reflected, situated as I was, even if I did fail in such a laudable design, that the world at large would sympathise with me. At all events, I believed that God, in the hollow of whose omnipotent hand man, and the purposes of man, are safely lodged, would "go before me and make the crooked paths straight, would break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron." That He would say to St. Mark's as He did to the City of Judah, "Thou shalt be built, and I will raise the decayed places thereof." Under this impression I communicated my thoughts to my much-lamented friend the late Bishop Ward, and by his encouragement and under his auspices I commenced.
The sequel of this history of St. Mark's constrains me to
acknowledge the goodness and power of God, and to declare my firm
belief that my success has been from the " Lord that maketh all
things." J. T. C.
Total amount of Revenue belonging to the Chapelry of St. Mark's,
16 Pews at 10s. Manx per pew . . . £8 0 0
42 Acres of glebe land, let at . . . . 23 0 0
Balance of subscription money, £72: 7:10, secured by bond and mortgage on the estate of BallaKissack in Santon, at 6 per cent . . . 4 6 10
Impropriate offerings of Marown . . . 1 10 0
Manx . £36 16 10
British . £31 11 7
Lord's rent . . £0 3 7
Abbey Rent . . 0 1 2
Prescription . . 0 0 11
Manx . £0 5 8 British . 0 4 10
Net income . £31 6 9
NB.The offerings of Kk. Marown of £1 : 10s. per annum are now lost to St. Mark's. Cordeman Pew was overlooked for many years, although in the original bond. It was restored in 1848.
On the 29th of July 1827, I was requested by letter from Bishop Murray, who was then about to be translated from this Diocese to the See of Rochester, to take charge of the spiritual duties of St. Mark's, and its school, and as soon as our newly appointed bishop, the Right Reverend William Ward, was settled down in this Diocese, I received the annexed license.
Whereas the curacy of St. Mark's, a chapel of ease in the parish of Malew within our diocese, hath become vacant by the removal of the Rev. William Duggan to the parish of ( Marown, we therefore do hereby nominate, constitute, and appoint the Rev. John Thomas Clarke in and to the said chaplainship or curacy, and invest him with all and singular the rights, members, and appurtenances to the same belonging. In testimony whereof we have caused our seal Episcopal to be hereunto affixed, and have subscribed the same this 27th of October in the year of our Lord One thousand eight hundred and twenty-eight, and in the first year of our consecration. W., SODOR & MANN.
At the first vestry held at St. Mark's Chapel (after my appointment), on the 7th of April 1828, I moved and obtained a resolution for a new Manks Bible for the use of the chapel, and also a new register book, in which I copied the whole of the baptisms, and funerals contained in a little insignificant and mutilated register book, so tattered that it could be scarcely rebound; I also got the other chapel books bound anew.
I then commenced the cultivation of the glebe with more ardour; I erected at my own expense a new back kitchen to the old house, having the summer previously built a new barn and a cowhouse, and converted the former cowhouse into a stable. J. T. C.
In order to improve the convenience of the glebe lands, an exchange of road was effected with the adjoining pro prietors, John Callister of Sheun-valley, and Esther Callister of the Cleigh-ronyr; and a deed was passed on the occasion, by the aforesaid, and the Rev. John Thomas Clarke, and the trustees of the Chapel, setting forth the boundaries of the said road, dated 19th November 1828.
In Ar. Epis., A.D. 1828.
To the Right Reverend Father in God, William,* by divine permission Lord Bishop of the Diocese of Sodor and Mann;
* William Ward, D.D., appointed Bishop in 1827, died 26th January 1838.
The humble Petition of the Rev. John Thomas Clarke, Chaplain of St. Mark's Chapel, in the Parish of Malew, ShewethThat on or about the year of our Lord 1771, some of the inhabitants of the parish of Kirk Malew, whose places of residence were from four to six miles distant from the parish church, petitioned Bishop Hildesley and his Excel lency Governor Wood for liberty to raise voluntary contributions for the purpose of erecting a chapel of ease and schoolhouse at Dreem-freaie in the said parish.
That leave was accordingly granted them, and a chapel erected, with the consent and approbation of their Graces the Duke and Duchess of Atholl, then patrons, and of the Rev. Daniel Gelling, then vicar of said parish of Malew.
That the aforesaid Bishop Hildesley also nominated and appointed Hugh Cosnahan of Kew and Thomas Fargher of Shen-valley, gentlemen, trustees of the said chapel, with full power and authority to act as such, and also to elect and nominate, upon the death of one of them, such person as the survivor of them should think proper to supply his place or room.
That the present trustees are Daniel Kinnish and John Bridson, Esquires.
That on the representation of the trustees and chaplain of said chapel to the Right Rev, the Lord Bishop of this diocese, and with his lordship's approbation and consent, alterations and improvements have from time to time been made in the said chapel and glebe.
That your petitioner begs leave to represent to your Lord ship that the dwelling-house belonging to the said chapelry is at present in so dilapidated a state as to require to be pulled down and rebuilt.
That the sum received for dilapidations, and the subscrip tions which your petitioner has collected and expects to receive from piously-disposed persons through your Lordship's diocese, are, he trusts, sufficient to build a new house, using such of the old materials as are fit for the purpose.
May it therefore please your Lordship to allow your petitioner, with the consent of said trustees, to pull down the present dwelling-house, with a small barn and cowhouse or shed, and rebuild the same in a more convenient situation, and also to alter the road leading to the dwelling-house, for which latter alteration your petitioner has already obtained the consent of the trustees, as also of John Callister and Esther Callister, widow, as by the prefixed deed duly attested before a magistrate will more fully appear. And your petitioner, as in duty bound, will ever pray, etc. etc. JOHN THOMAS CLARKE
Ordered that the foregoing petition do come on to be heard before our vicars-general at a special consistory court to be holden at Kk. Michael on Thursday the 18th instant. And hereof the trustees of St. Mark's Chapel to have due notice. And our vicars-general to report to us if the prayer of the petitioner ought to be granted.
Given at Bishop's Court this 11th of December 1828. W., SODOR & MANN.
At a Consistory Court holden at Kk.-Michael, 18th December 1828. are of opinion that the sumner of Malew ought to convene a jury of two masons and two carpenters to view the premises in this petition mentioned, and report whether the same are worthy of being repaired or not.
Ordered that the buildings belonging to the chapelry of St. Mark's in this petition mentioned be viewed by four suf ficient workmenviz, two masons and two carpenterswho are to be sworn on the premises by the sumner of Malew or St. Anne; and said jury to examine whether the said buildings are in so dilapidated a state as to render it absolutely necessary to pull them down, and rebuild the same on some part of the said glebe; and the said jury to return their verdict to our vicars-general.
Given at Bishop's Court this 18th day of December 1828. W., SODOR & MANN.
We, the undersigned, having been sworn by order of the Lord Bishop of this diocese, to inspect and examine the old mansion-house of St. Mark's, in the parish of Kk. Malew, have executed said order, and do give it as our verdict in the premises that it is so dilapidated and insufficient that it ought to be thrown down.As witness our names and subscriptions this 19th December 1828.
THOMAS GELLING, Mason.
JOHN CREER, my X mark, Mason.
WILLIAM KISSACK, House Carpenter.
JOHN KISSACK, House Carpenter.
The above verdict returned on oath 19th December 1828.