[From Manx Quarterly, #11 Oct 1912]


Died May 13th, 1912,

The Ven. Archdeacon Gill, doyen of the clergy of the Isle of Man, died on Monday. May 13th, the scene of his passing being his rectory of Andreas. Nearly three weeks ago he was seized with illness, and though he rallied occasionally, the apparent improvement of his condition was followed by relapse, and towards the end of last week all the indications pointed to an impossibility of recovery. He bore himself in his trial with Christian fortitude and resignation, and almost to the end his concern was not for himself, but for the Isle of Man and the Manx Church. On Saturday he was visited by Bishop Denton Thompson, who had hurried home from York Convocation in order to be with his veteran and faithful Archdeacon. The interview was a most affecting one, and left a deep impression on the mind of the Bishop. On being at St. George's Church, Douglas, on the following day, the dying dignitary asked his Lordship to request the prayers of the people on his behalf, and on Sunday, in all the churches of the Island, the supplications of the congregations went forth that, if it so pleased the Almighty, their Archdeacon might recover. His appointed time had, however, come, and in the sorrowing presence of such members of his family as were on the Island, Archdeacon Gill on Monday morning fell into his last long sleep, his deathbed being of the peaceful character which might be expected in the case of a man whose long life had been blameless and devoted to the service of Heaven and his fellows.

The late Archdeacon was a son of the late Rev William Gill, for many years Vicar of Malew. He was one of three brothers who all entered the Church, another being the late Rev Thomas Howard Gill, who was well-known as Chaplain of the British Embassy Church in Paris. Born in 1830, the late Archdeacon was educated at King William's College, of which institution he was at the time of his death the eldest boy. Throughout his life he maintained a profound affect on for his school, and was never so happy as when taking part, in his capacity of trustee, at the annual prize distribution. On completing his career at King William's College, he entered Trinity College, Dublin, where he in due course graduated, and eventually obtained the degree of Master of Arts. One of Archdeacon Gill's ancestors was the Rev Henry Corlett, Vicar of German, who was by the deathbed of the great and venerated Bishop Wilson. In fact, the Archdeacon came of families which for generations had been intimately connected or associated with the Manx Church. His uncle was the famous Canon Stowell, the author of many beautiful and popular hymns. His relationship to this well-known Churchman resulted in the Archdeacon receiving the second of his Christian names: — he was baptised as Hugh Stowell. In 1853 he was ordained deacon by Bishop Eden, at that time diocesan of Sodor and titan, who subsequently became Lord Auckland. Archdeacon Gill thus served in the Manx Church under seven bishops — Bishops Eden, Powys, Hill, Bardsley, Straton, Drury, and Thompson. On ordination, he was licensed to the chaplaincy of St. Luke's, Baldwin, and in 1856 he was appointed first chaplain of Christ Church, Laxey, and took priest's orders. Further preferment came in 1859, when he was offered and accepted the vicarage of Rushen, and in 1872, on the death of his father, he became Vicar of Malew. He was appointed Diocesan Inspector of Schools in 1879, and was elected Proctor of the Manx clergy to York Convocation in 1890. His last advancement in the Church en earth came in 1895, when he was appointed Rector of Andreas and Archdeacon of Man, in succession to the Ven. Archdeacon Hughes-Games. On the resignation of the rectorship by Archdeacon Hughes-Games, the position was first offered to the Rev T. E. Brown, the celebrated Manx poet-patriot, who was then living in retirement at Ramsey, and readers of Brown's " Letters " will remember how he declined the offer on the grounds that acceptance would mean a curtailment of his hard-bought liberty of action — " With a great price have I purchased this freedom, and not lightly will I part with it " ; how he urged the clams of " my cousin Gill " to the post; and how be broke out into rhyme in his eulogies of the other candidate —

Gill for Archdeacon ! sounds the fiat clear.
A Manxman he, and, Manx-like, loves the Manx.
A stranger's voice my people will not hear;
Let them hear Gill's grand voice, and give God thanks.

The allusion in the last quoted line of verse will bring to mind that Archdeacon Gill was endowed with one of the finest speaking voices ever possessed by man. Strong and sonorous, rich and clear were his tones, and his reading of the liturgies and litanies of the Church and of Scripture lessons was something to give thanks for. Especially was he magnificent in the conduct of the burial service. A master of elocution, he gave each superb sentence its full weight, and ofttimes his impressive recital moved others than the immediate mourners to tears. Also he had a fine presence. Commanding of stature. his features were cast in somewhat rugged mould, but indicated a combination of firmness, gentleness, and sincerity. He was a sound and sensible rather than an eloquent preacher, but his pulpit discourses were ever acceptable and helpful. In his parochial work he was a great believer in the value of personal influence, and he made it a point to make himself acquainted not only with his parishioners, but with their virtues and idiosyncrasies, and this knowledge of home life was a great advantage to him in advancing the religious and moral welfare of the people committed to his spiritual charge. He was throughout his life a hard worker, and though he always avoided the limelight, he gained considerable fame for the courageous and firm stand he took in regard to the extension of the Rushen burial ground accommodation nearly fifty years ago. Firmly convinced of the necessity of the extension, he pleaded and fought for it strenuously in the face of influential opposition. The chef opponent to the project was a large landed proprietor, and after various abortive attempts had been made to come to an understanding with this gentleman, the Vicar said, " Well, I give notice that if the churchyard is not extended within six months, I shall open Mr — 's grave and bury the next corpse in that." The threat was sufficient, and the work of extension was soon proceeded with. He initiated and almost brought to completion the erection of the Abbey Church at Ballasalla, the foundation stones of which were laid shortly after his removal from Malew to Andrews. It was during his residence at Andreas that the Lhen Mission Hall, built with moneys left by the late Mrs C. H. E. Cowle, was erected, and that the curacy of Andrews was permanently provided for by a legacy of £200 per annum, while the Manx Church Sustentation Fund received a welcome accession of strength by the bequest of practically the whole of an estate worth about £10,000, all from the late Mrs Cowle. It is a matter of regret that the late Archdeacon was the last of the Manx clergy able to converse and preach in the Manx Gaelic. In private life Archdeacon Gill was an exceedingly genial gentleman, with a rich fund of anecdote. He told his stories well — especially those which told against himself; also he was kindly of disposition, and charitable in thought and deed By the clergy of the diocese he was very highly respected, and the laity regarded him with something akin veneration. On the occasion of his eightieth birthday, two years ago, he was the recipient of a handsome presentation from the people of the Isle of Man, which Lady Raglan handed to him on behalf of the a~subscribers. Archdeacon Gill's last official act of moment was to bear the chief part in the enthronement and installation of Bishop Denton Thompson, about a month ago, but a week afterwards he presented the Andreas candidates for confirmation, when the Bishop administered the rite in his parish church. He leaves a widow, a daughter of the late Mr John Llewellyn, sometime High-Bailiff of Peel and member of the House of Keys. He has one son surviving — Hugh, now of Perth, Western Australia; and seven daughters Mrs Metcalf, of Cheddar, Cheshire; Mrs Dr Statham, also of Cheddar ; Mrs Statham, wife of the Rev P. Statham, chaplain at Parkhurst Prison, and brother of Dr Statham, just mentioned; Mrs Kenyon, wife of the Rev T. Kenyon, of Lupton, Yorkshire; Miss Catherine Gill, in the Isle of Wight; and the Misses Lucy and Freda Gill, at home at Andreas Rectory.


The funeral of Archdeacon Gill on Thursday was the occasion of a great demonstration of the high esteem and affection in which the venerable clergyman was held throughout the Isle of Man. In the huge gatherings at the services in Andreas Church and at Kirk Malew, all classes of the Manx people were represented, and especially was there a large attendance of clergy and of members of the Legislature. The remains were taken in the course of the morning from Andreas Rectory to the Parish Church, where the first portion of the burial service took place, the Lord Bishop and Canon Savage officiating. All the principal parishioners were present, and indeed people from all parts of the Northern district, and from considerably further afield, came to pay their last tribute of respect. At the conclusion of the service in the church, the coffin was placed in a hearse and conveyed to Ramsey. At Ramsey it was transferred to the train which left at 1-55 p.m., and was taken via Douglas to Ballasalla, this probably being the first occasion, so far as the Isle of Man is concerned, that the railway service has been utilised in connection with a funeral. Large numbers of people travelled from Douglas to Ballasalla for the purpose of attending the final portion of the obsequies.

Punctually at four o'clock the cortege arrived at Ballasalla Railway Station. Under the supervision of Supt. Cain and Sergt. F. H. Corkill, the procession re-formed, the coffin being borne through the village (where there was every manifestation of sympathy shown for the venerable dead, and blinds were drawn on most windows) on the shoulders of members of the Manx Constabulary, representatives of the Andreas Benevolent Society (the one remaining Parish Club on the Island, and of which the late Archdeacon was an hon. member), and the general public. The clergy rejoined the procession at the Abbey Church, and the hymn. " O God, our Help in ages past," was feelingly sung en route to Malew Churchyard. Awaiting the mournful cortege at the churchyard was a large assemblage of sorrowing people, representative of all classes of the community, and of all parts, which was but another evidence of the universal esteem in which the late venerable gentleman was held. At the church gates the coffin was received by the Bishop, who recited the opening sentences of the solemn burial service of the Church of England. Whilst the coffin, upon which lay several beautiful wreaths from members of the bereaved family, and the late clergyman's cap and gown, was borne up the aisle and placed in front of the altar, the organ pealed a requiem. The Rev Canon Savage recited the 90th Psalm, and the Bishop read the solemn lesson from St. Paul's Epistle to the Corinthians in measured and impressive manner. The Vicar of Malew (Rev J. M. Spicer) then gave out the hymn, " There is a land of pure delight," which was impressively sung by the full congregation of mourners. Then followed an eloquent and touching address by the Bishop, who described the late Archdeacon as " a great man," intellectually and spiritually. He was a great Manxman, who loved his native Island as only a Manxman born and bred could love Manxland. In the course of his address, the Bishop with much emotion referred to the aged widow, who had been for fifty years the late Archdeacon's helpmeet in his life and work, and to the daughter who had ministered to him with such affection and devotion till the end. His lordship concluded by calling upon his hearers to give time for reflection, so that when their life's work on earth was over, their departure might call forth some such expression of grief and assurance of hope. Once again the remains were reverently shouldered, and borne down the aisle to the family grave, the organist (Mrs G. Abbott) rendering the " Dead March " in "Saul " with much feeling, many being affected to tears. The Lord Bishop officiated at the graveside, and after the committal pronounced the Benediction. Mourners for some time stood taking loving leave of the remains, and when they left, hundreds of people flocked to the graveside and also took a farewell look at the casket containing the remains of a stalwart Manxman and a true and venerated Christian.

The mourners were as follow: — Mr and Mrs A. Wharton Metcalf (son-in-law and daughter), Cheddar, Cheshire; Mrs Statham (daughter), Cheddar; Rev T. and Mrs Kenyon (son-in-law and daughter Lupton, Yorkshire; Miss Kathleen Isle of Wight; Miss Lucy Gill and Miss Freda Gill (daughters); Mr J. S. Gell, High-Bailiff of Douglas (nephew); Rev W. Gill, Pontefract (nephew) ; Mr Hugh Hope Gell (nephew); Mr W. H. Gill, Angmering, Sussex; Mrs J. F. Gill, Dublin; Dr Harry Gell (cousin) and Master Jim Gell (grand nephew), son of the High-Bailiff.

Wreaths were sent by the following: — Boys of King William's College; masters of King William's College; Mr and Mrs Bickerstaff and family, Castletown; Mr and Mrs H. H. Dickson, Castletown; Miss Annie Warren Gell ; Misses May and Mabel Gell; Mr E. B. Gawne; Miss Gawne ; Miss May Gawne, Castletown ; Dr Gell, Peel; Mr J. S. Gell (High-Bailiff), Mrs Gell, and Jim; Rev E. H. and Mrs Kempson, College; Rev R. D. and Mrs Kermode, Douglas; Miss McClelland. Col. and Mrs Moore; Deemster and Mrs Moore ; Mrs Roberts; Mr and Mrs W. A. Stevenson; Mrs Taggart (Mona House, Castletown) ; Col. and Mrs Thomson ; Mrs and Miss Moore-Lane.

Besides the Lord Bishop and the Rev Canon Savage, the following clergymen were present:- Revs R. D. Kermode, M.A., F. W. Stubbs, R. L. Cain, H. Walton, C. E. Barlow, J. G. F. Burnet, F. R. Whittaker, R. Wakeford, M.A., A. E. Clarke, Canon J. Quine, M.A., W. H. Gibson, Canon J. Kewley, M.A., C. H. Leece, Robert Ferguson, F. Barton Horspool, J. M. Spicer, W. W. Warren, E. H. Leatham Locke, R. Jones, T. R. Kneale, M.A., A. Morris, R. L. Collins, M.A., D. C. Woodhouse, B.D., W. A. D. S. Cowley, M.A., H. W. Young, A. S. Rolleston, M. W. Harrison, M.A., A. G. Bowerman, W. E. Davies, B.D.,D.C.L., and Jas. H. Cain.

The Church officials present were:-The Vicar-General, Mr Edw. Martin (tithe agent), Mr F. W. Briscoe (secretary, Diocesan Conference), Mr H. Cowle (Diocesan Surveyor), and Mr F. J. Johnson (Deputy Diocesan Registrar).

The funeral arrangements were in charge of Messrs Jas. Cowen and Son, Ramsey) and Messrs Taggart and Cooper (Castletown).


At the commencement of the Tynwald Court in Douglas, on Tuesday, May 10th The Governor said he thought the Court could hardly meet to-day without alluding to the fact that within the last few hours the Court had lost one of the oldest of its members by the death of Archdeacon Gill. Not only had the Court lost one of its most assiduous and devoted members, but he thought everyone who knew the Archdeacon had lost a friend whom they loved and honoured. Archdeacon Gill was, he supposed, one of the last of the Manx clergy who was able to speak and to preach in the old Manx language, and for that, if for no other reason, much had gone with him which was irreparable. He was sure he was only voicing the feelings not only of the Court, but of every one is the Island, when he said that we viewed his death with the greatest possible regret and with the utmost sympathy to those he left behind.

The Bishop said he wished, in a very few words, to supplement the kind and sympathetic remarks which had fallen from his Excellency. Other opportunities would be given to him to express personally and officially his own feelings, and the feelings he ventured to think of the whole Island. The Archdeacon was a great Manxman ; he was told that not only was he a great pastor, but that he was a great farmer, and only this morning he was informed by one of the natives of the Island that he was also a great lawyer. At any rate he was a great man, and the passing of such a great man must necessarily leave the Island all the poorer. He (the Bishop) joined his Excellency in this expression of sympathy with the widow and family, and he was sure that sympathy was universal throughout the Island with them in their great loss.

The Speaker said that, on behalf of the House of Keys, he wished to join in the expressions of regret at the death of the late Archdeacon. By the death of deacon Gill the Church in the Island lost one of its stalwarts, and the Is had lost a faithful and patriotic son. body stood higher in the esteem of Manx people than did Archdeacon He spent the whole of his long arduous life in the service of the Isle Man, and on behalf of the House he Speaker) wished to join very sincerely the expressions of regret which had fallen from his Excellency and the Bishop.


The anniversary of the Church re-opening of St. George's Church was celebrated on Sunday, May 12th. In the morning the Lord Bishop preached. Speaking in reference to the triumph of life over death, Bishop said that by the entering in human life of Jesus Christ, and by death for man, death ceased to be death and became the birth of life. Here alluded to a visit he had paid the previous day to the greatly loved Archdeacon, to whom he as Bishop and the whole Church in the Island were grateful debtors. There was, he said, something inexpressibly pathetic in seeing the great heroic warrior lying so sick and ill at the close of his strenuous life — trusting, loving; trusting God and loving his fellow man, and preparing himself for that which we call death, but which is the entrance into the fuller, larger, richer life. — The Bishop proceeded to relate that in the course of conversation, the Archdeacon asked him whether he was preaching the following day, and when he heard he was, he said, " There is no reason for me to ask you to ask the people to do, what I am sure they will do without your asking — to pray far me." He (the Bishop) need only record this instance of trust in the Manx Church people to feel that they would all, in their private intercessions, as well as in their public devotions, pray for his friend and their friend.



Died June 1st, 1912.

The man who more than any other worked hard and successfully to improve the position of the Established Church in Douglas passed away on June 1st. This was the Rev Thomas Arthur Taggart, the news of whose death overspread the town with sadness. For thirty-one years, in his capacity of Vicar of St. Matthew's, Douglas, Mr Taggart rendered splendid service to the Manx Church and to the cause of religion generally, and when, in the early part of 1909, he decided to resign his benefice, a feeling of profound regret was occasioned, not only among Douglas people, but throughout the Island. Years of strenuous work had impaired his constitution, and feeling that he could no longer do justice to a cure of souls which made such heavy demands upon the holder, he decided to retire from it, Accordingly he accepted the offer of the living of Horkstow, in Lincolnshire, and severed the long and glorious connection which had existed between him and the parishioners of St., Matthew's, The parting involved a severe strain, but his conscience assured him that he was doing the right thing, and having made up his mind to leave, there was no getting him to alter his decision, though strong influence was brought to bear to induce him to do so, He had worked St. Matthew's parish during the whole period of his vicariate without the aid of a curate, and not even the offer to secure to him clerical assistance would move him, He felt that the vicar of a poor and populous parish should be a man in the full vigour of life, and thus feeling, he concluded that he was longer the man for the position. Accordingly he went to Horkstow, and the parting was as painful to him as it was sorrowful to his flock. He was succeeded in St. Matthew's by his eldest surviving son, the Rev Hugh Selwyn Taggart, M.A., who has kept up the family tradition by maintaining St. Matthew's Church as the church par excellence of the poor, so far as this Island is concerned, The Rev T. A. Taggart's removal to Horkstow involved considerable financial sacrifice, as the living is a very poor one. Compared with St. Matthew's, the work was light, but even so, it was too much for the worn-out clergyman, who, through failing health, resigned after about a year's service, He then removed to London, and resided there for the brief remainder of his days, Towards the end of last week, the Rev H. S. Taggart was notified of his father's serious illness, and he at once left for London, When he arrived, he found that his father had passed away two hours previously, but had the consolation of learning that the end came peacefully, The funeral was on Monday, June 3rd, interment being at Christ Church, Barnet. In accordance with the character of the man, the obsequies were quiet and undemonstrative. He leaves a widow and three sons and three daughters surviving.

Thomas Arthur Taggart was born some seventy years ago in the Isle of Man, but while still a young man he emigrated to the United States, and for some years engaged in business. Always inclined to religious work, he eventually decided to take orders in the Episcopal Church of America., a branch of the Church of England, He studied in Kansas, and took the degree of Bachelor of Divinity, and was in 1873 ordained as deacon in Kansas, From 1873 to 1875 he was missionary and assistant minister in Topeka., Kansas, but in the last named year he came to England, and was appointed curate of Ilkston, a position which he held until 1878. He took priest's orders in the diocese of Lichfield in 1876, In 1878 he was appointed by Bishop Rowley Hill as Chaplain of St. Matthew's, Douglas. The responsibility he assumed in his acceptance of this office was appalling, Between the death of the previous holder of the living (the Rev John Cannell) and his appointment, there had been an interregnum of some years, the extreme poverty of the benefice and the crowded and congested character of the district, combined with the neglected condition of the church edifice, effectually operating in the meanwhile to prevent any clergyman filling the vacancy. During the interregnum the church was served, so far as Sunday was concerned, by the Rev William Drury, the famous Vicar of Braddan, and the Rev C, T. Langton, who then held the chaplaincy of St. Luke's, Baldwin, but these good ministers had of course to consider their own cures first, and could only, give of such little spare time as they had to St. Matthew's. So far as the ministerial work outside the church building was concerned, it altogether fell into abeyance, and when Mr Taggart was inducted into the living he found a condition of things which is better imagined than described. He was not, however, discouraged, and at once applied himself with zeal, enthusiasm, energy, and tact to evolve order out of something closely resembling chaos. Old St. Matthew's was then a chapel of ease to Braddan. It was a quaint and picturesque building situate in the open Market Place, and had been erected by the great Bishop Wilson at the beginning of the eighteenth century. The interior was ugly enough, and the seating arrangements were of the box pew order, while the vestry and choir accommodation were extremely circumscribed. Yet old St. Matthew's ever held a place in the affections of Douglas people, most of whom had been baptised in the church, while many of them had been confirmed there, Thus it was that once it became apparent that a real live man had taken charge of the parish — the district was constituted a parish shortly after Mr Taggart's appointment — a congregation of goodly proportions quickly came together. The new Vicar imbued many of them with his zeal, and in the course of a short time he gained lay support in encouraging quantity and quality. There was no Sunday-school in the parish when he took up the work, and he at once set to with a view to remedying the deficiency, There was attached to old St. Matthew's a building in New Bond-street, which had on been used as a Grammar School, the ministers of old St. Matthew's being, ex officio, masters of the institution. The building had been suffered to fall into a state of dilapidation, and as there were no funds available for effecting repairs. Mr Taggart had to look elsewhere for the housing of his Sunday-school. A large room in old Lord-street, adjoining and communicating with the old Cumberland Tavern, then carried on by the late Mr Richard Quirk, was engaged for the purpose, and subsequently the school was transferred to a room adjoining the Royal Hotel, and eventually found a temporary home in the gallery of the old church. In the meantime Mr Taggart had interested the late Mrs Cecil Hall, widow of a former Archdeacon of Man, and of philanthropic disposition, in his work, and she in the end provided the funds necessary for the rebuilding of the Old Grammar School, which was thus made available as a Sunday-school and for parochial purposes. Mrs Hall, too, recognised the extremely precarious position of the holder of the living so far as salary was concerned, and she came to the rescue by providing an endowment sufficient to bring in about £120 a year, which brought up the value of the living to something like £180 per annum, Early in his pastorate Mr Taggart concluded that dear as were the associations connected with the old church, the building was altogether insufficient in size and defective in structure for the needs of the parish, and he made up his mind that sentiment must give way to considerations of utility. Accordingly he set on foot a movement for the building of a new church. In this he met with considerable apposition, even some of his most earnest coworkers being extremely reluctant to lend themselves to the demolition of a fame to which so many precious associations attached. Mr Taggart's earnest pleadings, however, overcame their scruples in this respect, and he was aided in his efforts by the proposal to enlarge and cover the Market Place. This town improvement involved the pulling down of the church, and negotiations were set on foot for the acquisition of the building and site by the Corporation on. Mr Taggart had a stiff fight with regard to the price to be paid, but eventually he persuaded the municipal authorities into giving a fair figure, and the sale was completed, Long before this he had abolished the old and vexatious system of pew rents in favour of the " free and open " system. In this, too, he encountered much antagonism from persons who had prescriptive rights to pews, but there was no resisting his arguments and earnestness, and as he was supported in his endeavour by several influential members of the congregation, he had his way, and St., Matthew's was the first church in Douglas to supply the means of Grace without money or price so far as Divine worship was concerned, distinctions of class were set under, and rich and poor could supplicate Heaven side by side. Having prevailed in the matter of providing a new church, the next task which faced Mr Taggart was that of raising the necessary money; and it was his strenuous efforts to accomplish is which occasioned his premature breakdown in health, He never spared himself in his efforts to " raise the wind." Night and day he strove to accomplish the object he had in view, and his poor parishioners did their best to aid him; but the condition of their pockets did not admit of their best amounting to very much, and so the vicar had to go outside his parish to raise a considerable proportion of the necessary money. Though somewhat retiring of disposition, he overcame his innate shyness so far as to persistently press upon all sorts and conditions of people,e the need of a new church, and he pleaded so insistently for contributions as to run the risk of being regarded as importunate. But all recognised that the man had devoted his life to the accomplishment of the laborious task of raising a sum sufficient to defray the cost of erecting a church worthy of his parish, and so his incessant supplication was regarded indulgently, and even people who cared little for — perhaps even disliked — the Established Church yielded to his earnest entreaty, and subscribed, But, his self-imposed task was no light one, and several years elapsed ere he was in a position to make a start with the building. In the end a site was acquired at the junction of Ridgeway-street with the Quay, and on it was erected the first instalment of the beautiful pile of buildings which now graces the position, This first instalment consisted of the nave and tower of the church. The whole scheme contemplated, in addition, a chancel and a church room and Sunday-school. The late Sir J. L. Pearson, R.A., the eminent ecclesiastical architect, designed the whole of the buildings, and all were completed ere Mr Taggart joined the Great Majority. Shortly before he resigned from the Vicariate, the chancel became an accomplished fact, mainly owing to the splendid efforts to procure funds of the Attorney-General (Mr G. A, Ring), while the church room was finished and opened last year, It is worthy of note that new St., Matthew's stands upon a site once occupied by the chapel which preceded old St. Matthew's. The manorial records yet proclaim that Bishop Wilson exchanged the site for " an old cellar," such old cellar being filled in and applied as the site of the church which the good Bishop caused to be erected nearly two centuries ago, Than Mr Taggart, no minister of the Gospel was ever more successful in gaining the love and respect of Douglas people, Especially was he held in affection by fishermen. and seafarers, and his church, if not in name, was in fact the Seamen's Bethel. Indeed, in 1878 he was appointed by Bishop Hill as chaplain to seamen in Douglas, and he always conscientiously discharged the duties attaching to an office which was purely honorary of character, In 1891 Bishop Bardsley appointed him a surrogate for the granting of marriage licences in the Douglas district, and during Bishop Straton's diocesanship he had conferred upon him a canonry. He was not a pulpit orator, yet he preached earnestly and forcefully, his sermons being of a practical rather than ornate turn. In connection with his ministry he attacked great importance to pastoral visitation, It is not too much to say that he was on terms of intimate friendship with all of his parishioners who were associated with the Anglican Church, and with many who were attached to other religious denominations, The value of his house to house work was best demonstrated by the enormous increase of communicants which took place within a few years of his appointment to St., Matthew's, He commenced with half a dozen and ended with nearly four hundred — a best on record so far as the Isle of Man goes. In public matters outside those relating to religion, Mr Taggart did not take much interest — he had neither the time nor the inclination to do so. He devoted himself to the spiritual welfare of his people, yet he did not over-look the importance of ministration to their bodly needs, and he was a quiet but persistent supporter of the movement for providing better homes for the poor, while he had great and constant sympathy with the legitimate aspirations of labourers and artisans to improve the conditions of their employment, Indeed, though many people have in their day and generation accomplished much good work in Douglas, it is extremely doubtful whether any of them have deserved better of the townspeople than Parson Taggart. Now he has gone to his reward, and may the earth rest lightly upon his body,

T A Taggart : An Appreciation.

" Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." Truly a fitting epitaph to write over the remains of the Rev Thomas Arthur Taggart, for like St, Paul did he "gladly, spend and be spent" in his Master's service. He was indeed a faithful minister of Jesus Christ. As Vicar of St, Matthew's Church, he was unsparing of himself, and his parish knew no bounds. Ever at the beck and call of all and sundry, even those who never entered a place of worship came to feel that they had a claim on his service, Nothing was ever a trouble to him if he thought he could oblige one of his workers, and the demands made on his time in sick visiting equalled, and often exceeded, the demands made on a hard-working physician, A strict rule with him was to set aside at least a tenth part of his income for God's work, and he kept his personal balance-sheet in this particular as strictly as a banking account. His love for the poor was without limit, his forbearance with their weaknesses great, and he never hesitated to denounce those who were ready to oppress them, George Herbert wrote " All equal are within the church's gate," and Canon Taggart made it the rule of his ministry. His success in eventually securing his church to be " free, open, and unappropriated," was ever a source of gratification to him, Standing in the church porch; previous to the beginning of a service, he regularly welcomed all and sundry with a hearty hand-shake, calling them all by their Chratian names. His memory for names and faces was a gift, and a repeated absence from church was sure to be early inquired after. A common sight was to see him descend the companion way of a trading or fishing vessel in the harbour, and very often he, was followed into church by the ship's crew, The frequenters of street corners loved him and feared him, for his questioning was often not to their liking, and the remembrance of a forgotten promise to attend church smote the conscience painfully when next they met h:m. Believing that a parochial view of the work of the Catholic Church was inimical to sound Churchmanship, he regularly encouraged and accompanied a number of working men in his congregation to visit the English Church Congresses, very often paying the whole of the expenses incurred, Punctual and methodical to a degree, he forgot nothing and left nothing undone, In principle unflinching, in service untiring, in good works abounding, he was the friend of all and the enemy of none, A verse from Goldsmith's " Village Pastor " aptly describes the life's work of the dead Canon —

To relieve the wretched was his pride.
And e'en his failings lean'd to virtue's side;
But in his duty prompt at every call,
He watch'd and wept, he pray'd and felt for all ;
And, as the bird each fond endearment tries
To tempt his new-fledged offspring to the skies,
He tried each art, reproved each dull delay,
Allured to brighter worlds, and led the way.

And now he has heard and anbwered the summons, " Well done, thou good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord."

J. D.F.

The following, has been contributed by Mr W. Gell: —


The dear, familiar form has passed away,
The spirit, severed from the mortal olay,
Now waits transition.to the realms beyond,
His parish was his town — his word his bond;
No thought had he for what there was to spare,
But with the humblest soul his mite would share;
To lead his Master's work, himself a host,
Who know him beat were those who loved him most;
Inspired by him — upreared by willing hands,
His well-loved Church his monument now stands;
We little thought that we in the near past
Upon the dear old face had looked our last;
Yet let us not repine, but hold our way,
To meet him in the realms of endless day !

S. Matthew's Parish. June, 1912, Douglas,


Back index next


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received MNB Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2002