PM World 28 Feb 1907 pp 132

The Story of Primitive Methodism
in the Isle of Man.

By Rev. W. Currry.



[please note a small section of the original newspaper page is missing and the rest is not in good condition]


THE Ramsey Circuit has the great-drawback of comprising the most thinly populated part of the Island. There are eleven places in the Circuit, most of them small and scattered villages. Within the wide area of the Circuit, of fifteen miles by nine, there are not more than about seven thousand of a population. All the villages have decreased, and Ramsey has grown very slowly. . In 1821 Ramsey had a population of 1,523; in 1841, 2,104; in 1861, 2,891; and in 1891, 4,866.

In the first year of our history on the Island, Ramsey was missioned and a chapel built in 1823. The old chapel, in an out-of-the-way place, with several alterations, served the Society for seventy years; when a bold venture was made, and a site taken in the principal street, and a good chapel, with schoolroom underneath, was built, at a cost of £2,200, in the time of the Rev. H. B. Howcroft's ministry.

Before Ramsey became a Circuit it was the headquarters of our Church in the north of the Island, [ missing text ] made it his residence. In [missing text] sixteen places, [ missing text] income of £19. In [ missing text] a Circuit, with 563 members, and the quarter's income had gone up to £27. In 1861 Peel was made into a Branch, and left Ramsey with 200 members and the same number of places as today.

The formation of the Circuit was the outcome of a. remarkable revival, which began in the most unexpected manner.

James Bottomley was appointed by the Conference as third minister on the Isle of Man Circuit. He left the mainland by steamer, expecting to be landed at Douglas, but by some means found himself at Ramsey instead. Bottomley, a man of - great religious fervour and determination, made the best of the situation, and began work in Ramsey right away.: Special services were announced and a barn hired to hold them in. Why the barn was hired he does not tell us, possibly because the chapel was expected to be too small. Everything was cold and dull. and the preacher much discouraged. It was only with great difficulty he could fix on his text: there was no inspiration in the service; all he hoped for was to drag on until the end, and find relief in pronouncing the benediction The last hymn, was finished, and he was about to pronounce the benediction, when suddenly a blind man rose, and shouted "I see; I see," went forward to the front. and, falling on his knees, cried for mercy. He found liberty, and his conversion was the beginning of a great revival. The revival spread through the whole of the Branch,: and the following year there was an increase of 500 reported, and steps taken to make Ramsey an independent Circuit. The fervent spirit continued for many years, which may be judged from a, minute of the Quarterly Meeting in 1845, " Agreed that we get sixty souls saved during the next three months "

With regard to the other places on the Circuit a few words must suffice. Of Kirk Michael, the next largest place, we have given some account before.

At Ballaugh a good Society was formed, and a chapel built in 1832. At Leodist, Mr. T. Mylrea and his family kept the Society vigorous. To this Society belonged Mr. Cowley, of Cramag, farmer and local preacher. and his wife was one of the mothers in Israel; Not far from Leodist is Regaby Gate, where Mr. Brundred, a Deed Poll member, lived. He was the means of forming a Society and building a small chapel.

At Kirk Bride there was a strong Society for many years, which was the centre of a powerful religious influence for miles round. Mr. Christian a strong man, was the mainstay. He unfortunately met with an accident and was killed; many others had to leave to seek work, and the Society was much weakened At Cornea (Ballagorry) our Church became well established, where Mr. Kinnish lived, a hard worker and an acceptable local preacher.

Agneash is a quaint village at the foot of Snaefell. A vigorous cause was established, composed chiefly of miners, and many victories won over the Prince of Darkness. Mr. Oliver was a man of remarkable power, who unfortunately, with his son, a promising local preacher, lost his life in the Snaefell mine.

The vicissitudes of Ramsey have been greater than any Circuit on the Island, and the battle is unceasing to repair the depletion made by the heavy emigration from the villages. The Circuit is, however, once more on the up grade, and there is good hope of continued success. In 1906 there were: Members, 160; one minister, one superannuated minister, and nineteen local preachers; eleven chapels and one manse, valued at £4,330; 2,170 Sittings; 890 hearers, 301 scholars;and 67 teachers. The Circuit has had manly good workers; some that have passed away, and others still standing by the cause-Andrew Cubbon, W. Corlett, Patrick Connell, of Orrisdale-and no account of Ramsey :would be complete without the mention of the Rev. R. B Howcroft, who has toiled hard in all weathers and piloted the vessel safely through many a storm.

Primitive Methodist Church, Parliament Street, Ramsey
Primitive Methodist Church, Parliament Street, Ramsey, I.O.M.


Peel became a Circuit in 1863, with 219 members and a quarterly income of £19. . Twenty years before, the Section of which Peel formed the head had received some measure of self-government, as it was called Peel Mission; After the great-revival of 1841-3, which touched the whole Island, Peel became a branch, but in 1858 it returned under the wing of Ramsey Circuit, and remained for five years, until, it could stand alone. The Circuit has had an uphill struggle, and they same battle to fight against the distressing difficulties of removals. It is most discouraging for ministers and leaders, for just as young men and young women. attain to adult age and begin active work in church and school, they are compelled to leave to find work. This has been going on continually. To this must be added the failure of the fishing industry at Peel, which set in twenty years ago, but recently has become most acute. The failure of fishing has more than counteracted the gain from the slight increase; in the residential population. When our Church was founded, in 1823, there were 2,000 inhabitants in Peel; today it stands about 3,630. But those who know the Peel of today only can form littlest idea of the town when the fishing was brisk. The aspect has changed. Peel was the centre of the Manx fishing industry, and its fishermen and fleet renowned throughout the British Isles. The great event was the beginning of the fishing season, When the boats left Peel. The whole town was astir for days in preparing. There was the hum of a beehive about to swarm. When the time for leaving came there was one very great difficulty. It was considered that the third boat out was unlucky, because of some previous wreck. The difficulty was surmounted by there being no third boat. The thirds and fourth boats were joined as one, and went out together.:

Once out into the open sea, as the cool evening came on, and before the nets were shot, at a signal: from the skipper the whole fleet fell on their knees and, with bared head, implored the humble protection of Almighty God, and upon the evening air would peal out their minor. ''Eaisht oo as Clashtyn'" (Listen and hear);

Hear us, O Lord, from Heaven Thy dwelling place
Like them of old, in vain we- toil all night
Unless with us Thou go, Who art the light;
Come then, O Lord,. that we may see Thy face.

Thou, Lord, dost rule the raging of the sea.
When loud the storm, and furious is the gale,
Strong is Thine arm, our little barques are frail;
Send us Thy help; remember Galilee.

Our wives and children we commend to Thee;
For them we plough the land and plough the deep,
For them by day the golden corn we reap,
By night the silver harvest of the sea.

Sow in our hearts the seeds of Thy dear Love,
That we may reap contentment, joy and peace;
And when at last our earthly labours cease,
Grant us to join Thy harvest home above.

It was of these fisher-folk, strong, fervent, and godly-that our church at Peel was mostly composed. In the old chapel, built in 1833, there were many stirring scenes in the revivals, as hundreds through great spiritual conflict entered the Kingdom of Christ.

The old chapel was superseded by a large, new building, which was opened in 1878. It provides sittings for 700, and cost £2,500, and until the depression in the fishing industry, was regularly attended by a large congregation.

Reference has already been made to some of the places on the Circuit, Glen Maye and Knocksherry, but there are some interesting items relating to others.

There used to be a place in the plan familiarly called Poor Town,. properly named Close-e-Garey, which is near to Peel Road Station. There was a Society at this place, and a chapel, built by a gentleman who collected the money and paid, part out of his own pocket. Through the decline of population it has had to be given up.

About midway between Peel and Glen:Maye is the village of Patrick, where, since 1860 a Society has existed. It was formed when the Rev. W Harris was in the Circuit. A revival was in progress in Peel and several of the people from. Patrick who came to the meetings were converted, and were anxious that more regular service should be held at their village. For this purpose an old disused smithy: was rented from. Mr. Quirk , at £1 which was returned as a donation. The minister, with some of the Peel officials, J. Preston, W. Buchanan; and Pete Corkill, set to work to convert the smithy. into a chapel. They hired a horse and cart, and brought clay from the riverside, and levelled and smoothed the mud floor. They borrowed and: begged windows and benches: and an other piece of furniture that was suitable. And so the old bellows still in this rude sanctuary [...] furnished, was opened with much enthusiasm, and became the gate of heaven. to many a weary soul. The Society grew, and now the there stands, a neat little chapel on the same site. The old smithy was almost pulled down, and the chapel built and comfortably furnished.

Foxdale was opened about the same time as Patrick, owing to work being found in the lead mines, about sixty Primitive Methodists had removed to Foxdale and neighbourhood. East Foxdale was too far off, and so some of them asked the Peel minister, Mr. Harris to come and start a mission.

Complying with the request, Mr. Harris, accompanied by Mr T. Quine, brother of the Rev. E. Quine, walked over the mountains to Foxdale. On nearing the village they met a man that was partly intoxicated; and entered into conversation with him.
" Who are you, and what do you want?" he asked.
"We are Primitive Methodists. This is the Peel minister, the English preacher," said Mr. Quine, "and we want a place to preach in."
" Oh, I, used to belong to the Primitives, but it; is some time since."
" Well, can you tell, us where we can get a place to hold a service in. There are some people who will. be glad to come. You can have my barn if you. will; I'll clear it out for you."
All right, we will come and hold a service next Tuesday evening." .

When the day fixed came Mr. Harris went to the farm, but when he arrived the barn was not cleared , and he was feeling keenly disappointed, when the farmer who had made the promise came forward , and said: " My parlour is not a bit too good. Come and have the service there."

Greatly relieved, Mr. Harris went into the house, and the parlour was soon filled, and a helpful and inspiring service was enjoyed, by all present.

The following. week Mr. T. Quine took. the service which from that time was held regularly. The work prospered beyond all expectation. A revival broke out, and Mr. Harris went night after night for two months. The services were crowded, the :whole village roused over one hundred converted and a vigorous Society established. The family who owned the farm where the services were held gave land, and in 1865 an attractive and comfortable chapel was built.

Peel Circuit has a creditable history for self-denying work and honourable mention should made of John Preston, W. Buchanan, J. Quirk, John Killey, and Thomas Kelly, good men and true, pillars in their church, and enthusiastic workers on the station,. The brothers Gorry (William and Thomas), fishermen, who have done much evangelistic work on the Island and for their Master, have been very successful in catching men.

The present position of the Circuit may be judged from the statistics of 1906: 204 members, sixteen local preachers and one minister, five chapels) with sittings for 1,310, 750 hearers, one manse, 284 scholars, and 69 teachers; value of property, £4,330.

(to be continued)


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