Extract from H.B. Kendall "The Origin and History of the Primitive Methodist Church"

pp37/41 Chap XIII Vol II Book II continued n.d. [1905]

[The Rev Kendall obviously did not have anyone proof-read his section on the Isle of Man - one hopes that other sections had fewer errors in personal/place names.

The short extract following contains all that he wrote re the Island - drawn entirely from Conference minutes and Magazine articles. See brief comment by Curry]

Extract relating to Isle of Man

..the Bolton Circuit had the courage in faith in resolving, six months after its becoming a circuit, to send John Butcher a missionary to the Isle of Man. Probably it is without a parallel that mother and daughter-circuits should come on the stations together, as was the case with Bolton and Castletown, Isle of Man, in the Conference Minutes of 1823.

John Butcher landed at Derby Haven, and "opened his mission in nearly the first house he came to." A Mr. Kelly, we are told, received him into his house, for which act of good-will he was unchurched by the denomination to which he belonged. The missionary’s Journal shows that he began his labours at Castletown on Friday, January 10th, 1823, and that he went on holding services at Colby, Ballasalla, Howe, Port John [sic Port Erin], and other places in the south-west of the island.

In this Manx Mission of the Bolton Circuit we have an early and normal example of the Circuit-mission. By this is meant that the circuit has looked beyond its own doors and, assuming the functions and responsibilities of a missionary executive, has conceived the plan of sending its accredited agent to some more distant sphere. The mission is the outpost to which the circuit serves as the base. Thus regarded, the mission to the Isle of Man was the boldest thing a Primitive Methodist circuit had as yet attempted. It anticipated the Irish missions by ten, and the Edinburgh and Glasgow missions by four years. Leeds’ mission to London, which took place about the same time, is the only instance we can recall that can be compared with it for boldness. The London mission was a venture that failed; the Manx mission succeeded. And yet, in some respects, the latter was the bigger venture; for the Isle of Man, though not far away as mere miles count, was over-sea, and Mona was then, much more than it is now, a little kingdom apart, with its own customs and laws and even language, so that it was thing of the nature of an experiment whether Primitive Methodism would commend to these islanders of Celtic race, and take hold of their rich and fervid nature. experiment succeeded. The evangel the two Butchers—the son soon joining the father—had to offer fitted the Manx people as perfectly as the ball fits its socket. There was scarcely the shadow of persecution, unless the occasional exhibition of suspicion and prejudice may be counted such. "As we sang through the town some cried, ‘Shame shame !’ We get nothing much worse than this. And on the other hand, we hear many more saying, ‘It is like the old times, when the Methodists first came to the Island.’" They recognised and welcomed the primitiveness of the Methodism brought them. How the work spread in this corner of the island during these first months of the year may be gathered from a joint-letter written on May 5th from Kirk Arbory, and addressed: "Dear brethren and fathers in the Gospel." The letter, of which unfortunately only the initials of the signatories are given, is a document that cannot well be omitted.

"We have the pleasure of informing you that the preachers you have sent over to us have, by their preaching and the blessing of Almighty God, been rendered instrumental in the salvation of many souls. We have now in society about two hundred members, and the work appears to be prosperous, and as if it were just beginning; for the people flock to hear them, ‘as doves to their windows,’ from the distance of four or five miles, and are crying, ‘Come, preach for us.’ But as we have but two preachers, they can only compass about twelve or fourteen miles in length, on one side of the Island. And as we have no local preachers, we cannot reach the places as we could wish. We have some who are nearly ready for exhorters. We have begun to have some prayer meetings, and they are a great blessing unto us.

"We have begun preaching at Douglas; one of our preachers has preached there at the market-place these five Sabbaths last past, and the services have been attended by amazingly large congregations.

"We remain, in the bonds of love and fellowship,
"A. C.; J. G.; J. C.; C. C."

At Midsummer, Henry Sharman was added to the staff of preachers, and from his Journal it is clear that already the towns of Douglas and Peel had been fastened upon and made the strategic points for further evangelistic labours. During the remainder of the year, Sharman had his "rounds," foreshadowing the branches and circuits of a later time. First, we find him labouring on the Castletown side, and then, after a time, he goes into the Douglas "round," which included Laxey. It is interesting to note that Thomas Steele was very helpful to Sharman while he was in this part. He records that "he has been made a blessing to our society in the Island," and that "we preachers believe the Lord sent him." Finally, Sharman goes for a month to more distant Peel, "a place noted for its wickedness and hardness, which gave him some concern." Land had already been secured for a chapel at Douglas. Just before the Christmas of 1823 Castletown chapel was opened; four other chapels are said to be in course of erection, and the number of members in the Island is reported as six hundred and forty-three.

For two years only Castletown stands on the stations, then it is simply "Isle of Man." Evidently Douglas soon began to take the lead, and became the residence of the superintendent. In 1842, differentiation began to show itself. We have Douglas; Ramsey Branch; and Peel Mission. In 1849, Ramsey is a circuit, with Peel as its branch; later, Peel is re-absorbed. In 1851, Castletown is a branch; and, in 1868, both Castletown and Peel have become independent stations. Finally, when, in 1887, Laxey was made a station, the present number and order of stations were arrived at. These changes reflect the vicissitudes through which our Church in the Island has passed, and the numerical returns bear similar witness. In 1832, the number of members given is 339; next year the npmber is 1,000, which is also that of 1842; but, in 1837, the number had sunk to 756. It is singular that our present numerical position in the Island is practically the same as in 1842, viz., 1,089, while the number of ministers is also the same. Seasons of spiritual declension alternating with seasons of revival do not altogether, or perhaps even mainly, account for these fluctuations. Of course they have operated and left their mark on the periodic returns. But the chief explanation will probably be found in the action, more or less acute, of economic and industrial conditions determining the flow of emigration from the Island, which has right along been a serious hindrance to the steady advance of the societies. Yet, despite this hindrance, the Isle of Man still contributes one-ninth part of the total membership of the Liverpool District, and it has strongly rooted itself in the religious and social life of the Island, as the advance the Church has made on the material side during late years strikingly shows. illustrations of this later phase of our history we hope to give hereafter; but, even confining ourselves to the earlier period, Bolton’s mission to the Isle of Man must be pronounced a success both in its direct and indirect results. Names which at once betray their Manx origin are found on the muster-roll of our workers, past and present, both in the Isle and out of it. They stand side by side with the plain Saxon patronymics we know so well. The blend and association of racial qualities in Christian communion and service thus indicated has been all for good. Names such as Clucos [sic Clucas], and Quayle, and Cain are unmistakeably Manx, and they are the names of some out of many who might be named, who served the interests of our Church in the Island during the earlier days. Philip Clucos [sic Clucas] (born 1809, died 1885) was a noted pioneer worker and evangelist in his day, and as such he traversed the Island, winning many converts. The hospitality of the Quayles, of Glenmaye — of which society Mrs. Quayle was the first member—is reported of to this day. Of John Cain, of Rinshent [sic Renshant], Foxdale, it is said he opened his house for services, and when the farm-kitchen was too small he fitted up his barn. He was the leading spirit in the erection of the first chapel at Foxdale. His house was always open to the servants of God, and his horses at their disposal to lighten: their journeys.

Glen Maye Old Chapel
Glen Maye Old Chapel

Through the biographies in the Magazines we get glimpses of other early workers and befrienders of the Cause. There are Jane Cubbon, who welcomed John Butcher to her father’s house at Colby; Patrick Cannal [sic Cannell], one of his first converts at Kirk Michael, and trustee and steward of the chapel built in 1824; Ann Quirk, who united with the first class at Douglas, and Ann Kaown, "whose house was unspeakably valuable in the introduction of Primitive Methodism into Douglas; John Corlett, local preacher, who, as a sailor, during ten years preached in the Shetland Isles, at the ports of Scotland and Ireland, and was afterwards for three years a devoted town missionary at Douglas; John Clague, of Ramsey Circuit, who preached for twenty-one years in his native Manx, and Robert Tear, also of the same circuit, "whose addresses, principally given in his native tongue, were full of originality, pointed, homely and pious, aptly illustrated by references to agricultural customs."

Returning to Bolton Circuit. In December, 1823, Henry Sharman writes: "We were enabled to send the money we owed to Bolton Circuit, and were very little short in paying all besides." So that not only was Bolton nothing out of pocket by its venture, but it had also the satisfaction of knowing that by its enterprise it had added a miniature kingdom to the Connexion, and set a worthy example before other circuits.



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