[From Manx Quarterly, #11 Oct 1912]



(From the Isle of Man Examiner, April 27th, 1912,)

General regret will be felt throughout the Island that Superintendent John Cain, the doyen of the Isle of Man Constabulary, is about to sever his active connection with that very useful and efficient force. Supt. Cain has sent in his resignation, which takes effect as from the end of May, when he will retire upon a well-earned pension. Though in appearance a more youthful man than many of his subordinates who in point of years might be his sons, Supt. Cain is approaching the age of three score and ten. He joined the force as a constable on August 5th, 1864, upon the appointment of the late Capt. George Goldie, the then Head Constable. His father, the late Mr Thomas Cain, had been for 21 years a constable, and dying in the full vigour of manhood, and leaving a young family unprovided for, the maintenance of his brothers and sisters devolved in large measure upon John Cain, who was the eldest son of his father. It was this responsibility falling upon a young man who had just achieved his majority which impelled him to accept Capt. Goldie's offer of a constableship. After leaving school, Mr John Cain was apprenticed in the foundry which, in those days, existed on the Parade, Douglas, and was controlled by the late Mr F. S. Jackson. On the Parade Foundry being abandoned, Mr Cain proceeded to Ramsey, and for eighteen months worked in the Shipyard, which was then in full swing in the Northern town, and it was while thus engaged that Capt. Goldie's offer came to and was accepted by him. While an apprentice in the foundry, Mr Cain joined the Douglas Artillery Volunteers, and became a member of the famous band of that splendid corps of citizen soldiers, his instrument being the trombone. On going to Ramsey he joined the Ramsey Rifle Volunteer Corps, which was under the command of the late Capt. Aspinall, and also became a member of the Ramsey Town Band. Upon his association with the Constabulary, he was stationed in Douglas, and by his faithful and tactful performance of his duty he gained the confidence and respect of his superior officers and the esteem of the townspeople. His first advancement carne after he had been in the force for eleven years, he being, on November 1st, 1875, promoted to the rank of sergeant, and placed in charge of the new police station which had been erected at Laxey On August 1st, 1884, he was transferred to Douglas, and placed in a more responsible position as sergeant, and on September 1st, 1888, he was promoted inspector of the Peel division, and was appointed inspector under the Weights and Measures and Adulteration Acts for his division. He became very popular in Peel, and when, on November 2nd, 1891, he was transferred to the inspectorship of the Douglas division, with the post of inspector under the Weights and Measures and Adulteration Acts attached, Peel people were exceedingly loth to lose him. As an Inspector in Douglas, he continued to earn golden opinions from his superiors and subordinates of the constabulary, and from the general public. Consequently when, on the death of Supt. William Boyd, he was, on January 1st, 1906, appointed Superintendent of the Isle of Man Constabulary, general satisfaction was expressed. Since then Supt. Cain has continued to perform his responsible dirties in fashion which has gained him the goodwill and respect of all law-abiding citizens, while even the criminal classes have a kindly feeling towards him. Always zealous in the discharge of his office, he has brought to bear a tact and merciful spirit which have contributed to the preservation of law and order, and have at the same tame tended in enormous degree to prevention of crime and the reformation of criminals. In cases of first offenders, he has ever so ordered his prosecutions as to afford transgressors a chance of mending their ways without incurring the prison taint, and his kindly expressed remonstrances have frequently had the effect of causing young people on the verge o£ criminality to see the error of and mend their ways. He has always been for giving budding criminals a chance, and though his goodness of heart has sometimes been taken advantage of, it has in the great majority of cases been attended with results beneficial alike to the individual and the community. Soon after he was stationed in Laxey he had to deal with the serious position of affairs which arose out of the great strike at Laxey Mines. Danger both to life and property was imminent, and it was in large measure due to Sergt. Cain, as he was then, that it did not materialise. He felt compelled to arrest a number of men on strike upon charges of intimidation - charges which were afterwards inquired into by the Criminal Courts of the Island. His finest service while at Laxey was, however, in connection with the terrible outbreak of smallpox in the mining village during the late 'seventies. It devolved upon him to remove persons stricken with the dread disease to the temporary isolation hospital which was established at the old King Orry Hotel, on the Ramsey road, and to preserve the isolation of such patients as were treated in their own homes. He performed these duties in conscientious and fearless fashion, keeping the afflicted ones supplied with food and other necessaries, and vigilantly securing that, so far as it was humanly possible, the spread of disease was prevented. After a severe fight, which must have involved a great strain upon the brave and devoted police officer, the epidemic was stamped out. While Inspector at Douglas, he arrested George James Barker Cooper, the son of a Manchester merchant prince, on a charge of having murdered his wife in the Regent Hotel, by stabbing her with a corn knife. When Cooper was put upon trial on the capital charge before the Court of General Gaol Delivery, he was ably defended by Mr Thomas Kneen, now Clerk of the Rolls, and Mr G. A. Ring, now Attorney-General, the prosecution being in the hands of Mr J. S. Gell, now High-Bailiff of Douglas, and Mr J. M. Cruickshank, now High-Bailiff of Ramsey. The jury found Cooper guilty of manslaughter, and he was sentenced to penal servitude for a term of ten years. Supt. Cain has taken a prominent part in Wesleyan Methodist Church life. He has been a member of the Well-road Church congregation since his return to Douglas in 1891, and has actively engaged in work having for object the welfare of that place of worship. For some years he has been superintendent of the Sunday-school connected with the church, his service in this capacity being much appreciated by his fellow-Methodists. Supt. Cain is still full of activity, his body is as lithe and supple as that of most men half his age, his pleasant face is scarcely lined, and if there be any grey hairs upon his head and face, they are exceedingly rare. Everything points to him enjoying yet many years free from the cares of police administration, but ever in some way devoted to the benefit of his fellows. The connection of the Cain family with the Manx Police Force is maintained by Supt. Cain's son, Constable W. S. Cain, a very respected officer, who is stationed in Douglas. It will be remembered that some two or three years ago, Constable Cain was shot by a Russian shoemaker whom he was about to arrest. The assailant, on conviction of attempted murder, was sentenced to penal servitude for ten years.


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