PM World 14 Mar 1907 pp173

The Story of Primitive Methodism
in the Isle of Man.

By Rev. W. Curry.



V.-The Story of Laxey Circuit - Continued.


The mainstay at Baldrine for many years was Thomas Lewin, in many respects a remarkable man. In his time he was the best known and most popular local preacher on the Island. He was much sought after to speak at Camp Meetings and open-air school anniversaries. His great earnestness and abundant. vigour, made doubly forcible by large intelligence, made him a most interesting personality and effective speaker.

Baldhoon is a little hamlet which nestles snugly on the declivity of Snaefell, where our cause began with a cottage prayer meeting and its " Plan-Beg." A class was raised which met in the cottage of Mr. Jas. Kinnish, A service was also held for many years every alternate Sunday afternoon in the kitchen or barn of Mr. Thomas Kinnish. The houses of the Brothers Kinnish were, like " village halls," the gathering :places of the clans, where not only religious but Temperance meetings were held. The little Society ebbed and flowed, and was reduced in 1868 to only four members, three of whom attended class. The three, of whom one was Edward Quine, and two old people, felt that something ought to be done to improved Society. It was decided to have a week of prayer, followed by a fortnight's revival services. The week of prayer was attended by the three only, and for the first week of the special services no one else came. On the second week a woman attended and was converted. From that the Work went on until nearly everybody in the neighbourhood was converted.

To find a permanent home for these converts steps were taken to build a chapel. John Mylroi gave the land, the Laxey miners quarried the stones, the farmers round about did the carting, and Edward Quine went round the parish for subscriptions, so that in 1870 a comfortable little chapel was opened almost free of debt. This Bethel was soon consecrated by the Holy Ghost in the salvation of many people. Two good Society classes were formed, and a congregation of from eighty to one hundred regularly assembled for worship on Sunday. A Sunday school of about eighty children was gathered, well staffed with devoted teachers.


The romantic hamlet of Baldhoon was the birthplace of Edward Quine, where the sensitive Celtic nature of the boy, moulded in solitude, only waited for the Primitive Methodist cottage prayer meeting to give it the true direction. He was converted at eleven, and has been a member ever since. When the Society had almost died out he set to work, promoted a revival, and built a chapel adjoining the house where he was born. Mr. Quine was destined for a larger sphere, but it was in his native village he received his chief training in the Sunday school, as teacher and superintendent; in the Society as Steward, Trustee, Secretary, and class leader. In 1870 he received a note to accompany Mr. John Killip, of Ballacollister, to his appointments, and became an approved and very acceptable local preacher, so much so that the Douglas Circuit recommended him for the ministry, and he entered the Sunderland College in 1872.

Mr Quine possesses rare qualities of mind and heart. His mind is of the philosophic and logic turn, and yet, true to his Celtic origin, he is most responsive to the sublime. He can revel in Kant, Herbert Spenser, and Hamilton, but those who know him would never be surprised to find him some sunny springtime day in some quiet, shady glen, sitting by the murmuring stream, enrapt and stirred by a sense of the sublime that only could be expressed in tears. He has pondered much on the deep things of God, and with a keenly logical mind has laid bare for himself the root principles of the religious life. His ministerial life has been interrupted by severe physical affliction. This has not embittered, but rather mellowed, his spirit, and out of a deep experience he continues to speak with power the Word of Life.

In telling about the missioning of Laxey mention was made about those who were leaders in the Church, but we may add Mr. and Mrs. Kewley, hard and honoured workers, a daughter of whom is the wife of the Rev. W. Spedding; the Brothers Williamson, loyal and generous; and Mr. John Kinrode, a man of wide intelligence and many gifts.

But it is impossible to name all. The Laxey Circuit has a long list of brave men and women, beloved, not only within their own Church, but by all who knew them.

There is a story told on good authority which is a sidelight on holy our people were regarded by those without. The Vicar of the parish once called to see a sick man, who was regarded as a." character " in the district. In the course of the conversation the sick man talked as though he were an infidel.

Said the Vicar: " Do you believe that there are any good people at all?"

" Oh, yes," said the sceptic; " there's T. Kelly and J. Gelling, Primitive Methodists; if they are not, then the Lord help the likes of you and me."

From the Circuit report of March, 1906, we find: 149 members, 1 minister and 13 local preachers, 3 chapels, 680 sittings, and 515 hearers, property valued at £3,430, 317 scholars, and 50 teachers.




Now we must bring our story to a close. It has been no small pleasure to live through the past days with the brave men and women, mostly poor, who have made our history in the Island. We have watched our Church grow from the tiny seed sown by Butcher, the well-nigh' wrecked missionary, until it has become a-great tree with branches in all parts of the Island; today one out of every eleven of the population is a Primitive Methodist. There have been great difficulties, the most discouraging of which has been the continued emigration of the energetic young people from our churches on the Island to the mainland, America, Africa, and Australia. These have discouraged, but not daunted, our people. They trusted in God and went forward.

Let it not be thought that the only care of Primitive Methodists has been to build up their own Church. They have cultivated the wider outlook and ever thrown their influence on the side of political and social progress. The Methodist local preacher on the Island has espoused the people's cause and been their effective spokesman so much so that the friends of the liquor traffic have learned to fear the " Plan-Beg " man. As to our hopes, they are as "bright as the promises of God." If our fathers, with their small numbers, poverty, and mud chapels, could accomplish such great things, surely, with large chapels and schools, larger numbers, and all-round better equipment, their children should far outstrip them. And if only they can catch their spirit of faith and self-sacrifice, which led them forth in a reckless abandon, the exploits and triumphs of past days will be repeated.

We have gathered some notes and incidents from the minutes and magazines which may be added here. For reasons which will be apparent the names of well-known persons and places have been excluded.

The Rev. Thomas Jobling tells us in his brief diary that Butcher was so much discouraged when he first went to the Island that he thought of returning and pronouncing the mission a failure. But he had a peculiar dream, the scene of which was the village where he had preached. Butcher took this as an intimation of success, and the next time he went to the village there were several converted and a Society formed.

Some of the minutes of the Quarterly Meeting read a little strangely today. The intense seriousness of our fathers was not always relieved by humour. What do you make of this ?

" That Bro. A--- be admonished for being ' late ' and ' long.' "

We suppose he was " late " for the service, and preached a " long " sermon to compensate, unlike the workman who arrived late one morning. " John, " said his master, " you are fifteen minutes late." " Yes, master, but I'll make up for it tonight by leaving off twenty minutes earlier."

In one of the Circuit documents it is said: " We have many evils to contend with, and one of the greatest is 'long' preaching." Evidently some of the Manx preachers lacked " terminal facilities."

What had Bro. J-,- been saying when the meeting passed this peremptory order ? " That Bro. H--be asked to send his views on justification to the next Quarter.Day."

In those days it did not pay to be absent-minded. " Preachers planned to make collections and omitting them shall refund the amount out of their own private purse".

Conditions are better in most places than those reflected in this minute, " That sixpence per meal is allowed for preachers who go to B."

We have a sample of the stuff of which passive resisters are made: " That we object to make collections for the House of Industry because the management is in the hands of the Church clergy."*1

One of the most popular and powerful of our local preachers tells himself how he was cured of his fear of man in his preaching. Conducting a service at F---, he noticed a leading Wesleyan local preacher who had dropped in to hear him. " Now," he thought, " I must let this man see that I can preach; I must give my big sermon, the 'Dry Bones.' " But in his anxiety to make a " big " impression he forgot the vital part of his sermon. He got bone to bone, sinew to sinew, but did not put the breath of life into them. It cured him. He sought afterwards to be, not a great preacher, but a humble messenger for his Master.

It was one very hot Sunday in summer time. Brother J--had to preach at X--. It was an important pulpit, and the preacher was much absorbed in the subject. His wife accompanied him, and asked if he had all-his notes, spectacles, and handkerchief-yes, everything. The walk was a rather long one, the chapel very hot, and the preacher one of those " bulbous men that sweat, "so during the opening prayer he used his handkerchief very freely. After prayer, when the people looked at the preacher, in spite of the solemn occasion smiles could not be hidden, and the poor wife was horrified to see her husband's face covered with great black streaks. He was a shoemaker by trade, and in his pre-occupation had picked up one of his finishing cloths instead of the handkerchief laid for him.

The annual tea meeting was always a great occasion; the after meeting was a time of oratorical display, and speakers were brought from all parts of the Island. The meeting at Y--- was on Good Friday, and the two leading speakers had to walk several miles. They accompanied each other,-and the conversation turned on the subject of their address'es. Brother G--intimated he had succeeded in preparing rather a special speech. " What is your subject ?" asked Brother W--in all appreciating tone? The subject was given, the outline and illustrations. After tea Brother W-- said to the Secretary, "Now, put me on first to speak tonight." And to the blank amazement of Brother G-- when Brother W-- - began speaking what was it but the precious address he had gone to such trouble about, and innocently had retailed in the afternoon. It was taken in good part, however, and served both of then for many a good laugh among their friends

It was a travelling preacher this time, And I don't know that we need keep his name back, for it was George Herod. It was cold weather, and Mr. Herod was going his rounds among the villages, staying at night often at some farmhouse. He had not been long on the Circuit, and was not known by all his people. So when he landed into the farmyard of his Steward at R-- with his black bag he was received with, "I want nothing with you nor your fraternity "; his Steward had mistaken him for a peddling Jew.

It behoves Society Stewards to be careful in their preparations for the various services. At one chapel the Steward kind handed down the wrong bottle in preparing the wine for the Sacrament, and the astonished preacher got a mouthful of turpentine.

And Trustees cannot be too careful about their clerk of works. While about to build a little chapel, one of the wealthiest farmers in the neighbourhood came forward and assured the Trustees if they would only let him have control he could get it done cheaper. They trusted him completely. 'He superintended all the work. And although they collected more than paid for the little Sanctuary, the " clerk of works " put them in debt by sending in a bill for his services. And when they hesitated to pay it, threatened them with legal proceedings '' '


The property in the Island was held in trust by a deed which provided that deceased Trustees were succeeded by their heirs or assigns, so that it could easily happen that ultimately property might come into the hands of persons as Trustees neither fit for nor in sympathy with our Church. Chiefly through the exertions of the Rev. T. M. Pinnock, a new Property Act has passed through the House of Keys putting the property in the Island into the " Model Deed." It meant great trouble; all the property had to be conveyed to one set of Trustees, and again reconveyed to local Trustees elected. An abstract of the Act is given in English and Manx, as promulgated at Tynwald:-


An Act to amend the Law relating to Primitive Methodist Trust Property.

The Act provides that, from and after its promulgation, all churches, chapels, meeting-houses, schoolhouses, and ministers' residences, and sites therefor, held exclusively upon any trust or trusts for Primitive Methodist purposes, or any real or personal property to be hereafter acquired for such purposes, shall vest in the persons named in the Act, upon the trusts declared in and by the " Model Deed." It also provides for filling vacancies in the office of Trustee and for the retirement of Trustees. The schedule contains forms to preserve evidence of the choice and appointment of new Trustees.



Slattys dy chaglaa yn leigh mychione Saasilagh Hoshee Clooid Treisht.

T'nn Slattys kiarail, veih as lurg e hoilshaghey, dy jean ooilley kialteenyn, cabbalyn, tllieyn-haglee' thieyn-schooil, as thieyn shirveishee, lesh ynnydyn son shen, cumnist ynrican er treisht ny treishtyn erbee son cooishyn Saasilagh Hoshee, ny cooid erbee real ny personal dy ve lurg shoh cosneyit son. lheid ny cooishyn, ve currit dyne pooar ny persoonyn enmyssit 'sy Slattys, er treishtyn hoilshagit magh ayns as liorish yn "Model Deed." Te kiarail myregeddin son lhieeney olkyn follym fud ny fir-hreishtee as son faagail-oik jeh fir-hreishtee. Yn rolley cum~mal cummaghyn son coadey feanish jeh'n reih jeh fir-hreishtee noa.

 (To be continued. )

The tenth and final part was a list of Travelling Preachers (Ministers) who had served on the Island - this may be found elsewhere




Back index


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001