[From The Manx Quarterly, #23]


Died May 26th, 1920.

We regret to record the death of Mr Thomas Corkill, which took place at his residence, 1 Hawarden-avenue, Douglas, on Wednesday, May 26th. He had been very unwell for a considerable time. Mr Corkill was a son of the late Mr Peter Corkill, who was a shoemaker, and came from Peel about 50 years ago. Capt. Edward Corkill was a brother and there were several sisters. For many years he was principal cutter with Mr T. Halsall, tailor and outfitter, of Victoria-street, and only retired when his health failed. He was a great reader, particularly of books of philosophy and sociology, and was one of the founders of the Douglas Debating Society, of which he was a member up to a few years ago. His essay’s were always remarkable for forcefulness and advanced thinking. In his younger days he was a leading bass singer, and gave his services freely, both on the concert and amateur dramatic stage, for many, philanthropic objects. He was a great student of Nietzsche, the German philosopher, and whom he admired. He was twice married, his second wife survives. Mr Corkill was about seventy years. The interment took place at Kirk Braddan Cemetery on 28th May, 1920.


The death of Tom Corkill, after a long and painful illness, borne with heroic patience, will mean an irreparable loss to all who were his friends. Those who are left of the old brigade—and, alas I many have lost the number of their mess since the date of the late Queen Victoria’s Jubilee—will echo with sincere sorrow the poet’s paint, " Oh, for the touch of a vanished hand, and the sound of a voice is still!" It is a quarter of a century since the the writer first came into personal contact with Tom Corkill, though I had listened to his magnificent voice in various ballads when he was a professional singer. It was within a few hours of my adventure to the Island in search of a home. The privilege first of his acquaintance, and afterwards of the firm friendship of such an honest thinker and sincere student, has been a source of unalloyed pleasure and no small measure of enlightenment, and a proper conception of the word of letters when non-professionally viewed. Tom Corkill was a student and a critic of original ideas. To him, as to Pope, the Laureate of Twickenham, the proper study of mankind is man.

In the early days of the Socialist movement he was a staunch upholder of its propaganda, and a firm supporter of Robert Blatchford and the "Clarion" Fellowship, and particularly of Francis Adams, the poet and essayist. But he always rather disdained the kid-gloved faddist of the Fabian School, and had no use for the Keir Hardies, the Lansburys, the Ramsay Macdonalds, who slobber Bolshevism and would have us burn dawn our houses to roast a Socialist pig. He was an Empire man, a Manxman if you like, of the bulldog breed—a King’s man who, faced with trouble in a foreign land, would have pinned his faith to the creed, Romanus Oiris Sum," and expected his Government to back him up as such, as they did in the days when Palmerston was Foreign Secretary, and not ‘betray him as we fear place-mongers would do at the present time.

As he reached the grand climacteric, his opinions modified and mellowed in some degree. To the end, however, his admiration of Nietzsche never entirely waned, and "Thus said Zarathrusta" commenced many of the philippics which charmed all who listened to them, whether they agreed with his conclusions or not. On such abstruse subjects as Heredity, Criminology, and Psychology, he was a perfect treasure-trove of quaint information and out-of-the-way knowledge. To him, the most recondite works of such masters as Lombroso, Berahardi , Strendberg, Havelock Ellis, the great Russian and Norwegian pessimists, were not " a fountain sealed. " His conversation concerning them, their outlook, and how they have affected English art of any calibre, was decorated with apt reference and appropriate quotation, for he had a phenomenal memory, and with startling criticism.

There are many men of the younger generation in Manxland who owe to him their some of the seriousness of life and their perception, even if it is dim, of the vexed problems of existence as it confronts us bit our predetermined passage from the cradle to the grave.

Tom Corkill was not a voluminous writer. He had not the itch for the advertisement of the printed page, nor did he choose to court favour by public speaking. The one paper I heard him present was at the Douglas Debating Society on " Podsnaps." It was a great popular success, and showed that side of his complex nature which worshipped Charles Dickens’ genius, even if he revelled in Schopenhauer, Guy de Maupassant, and Oscar Wilde.

It must not, however, be supposed that Tom Corkill was either Precisian, Puritan, or Pedant. He had a Gargantuan joy of living and a Rabalaisian sense of pungent humour. " Give me," he would say, with a Homeric chuckle, " a man who knows how to drink his wine, a woman who knows how to laugh, and a raconteur who stops when his point is made." He did two of these acts very delightfully himself, and a petticoat who was facile at the other charmed him. Art, to him, was the Alpha and Omega—art in all its catholicity. Art to him was the expression of all the emotions and sensations. Art to him ranged the whole gamut of life, good and bad, ugly and beautiful tragedy and comedy. Art . he would say, therefore, inspires. or debases ; it is as powerful for good as for bad—good when it enlarges life, bad when it narrows life. The emotions discovered for him more vasty continents than the eyes of voyagers than ever behold, and he was prodigally generous in sharing his pleasures with his friends. There was hardly a subject from Shakespeare to the musical glasses on which he had not something new and interesting to say. Manx folklore—and he was proud of his descent from one Thorkil, or boat-steerer, who came to the Island from the wild North Land two hundred years B.C. (Thorkill became corrupted into Corkill) ; Vachell’s play of " Quinneys " ; Pinero’s last failure ; or such fiction as "Tarzan of the Apes" — all and everything appealed to him, and he discussed them in a provocative and suggestive way, using epigram to punctuate argument, fantasy to polish phrase, and acute analytical~ judgment to arouse and hold the attention of even groundlings.

Yet with all his gifts, Tom Corkill was very human. He had his foibles, as all of us—even the salt of the earth are not free from them. He had two’ strong fancies—he loved little children and he loathed lawyers. Both quite honourable inclinations ! It was a pleasure to hear him quote Shelley on the fraternity.

War is the statesman’s game, the priest’s delight,
The lawyer’s jest, the hired assassin’s trade.

* * * *

These, too, the tyrant serve who skilled to share
The feet of justice in the toils of law,

Stand ready to oppress the weaker still;
And right or wrong will vindicate for gold,
Sneering at public virtue which beneath
Their pitiless tread lies torn and trampled where
Honour sits smiling at the sale of truth.

To hear Tom Corkill defame this and other loved passages from Shelley was to listen to a "tour de force" of elocutionary excellence and dramatic capacity. There have been occasions in our courts which would have excited his just anger, for he was proud of Manxland. of Manxmen, and Manxwomen, and anything which brought shame on them, as this has done, would have hurt him to the heart’s care.

His love for children he had to indulge vicariously, for he had none of his own.

And now we shall see him no more, nor hear him speak—and we shall ever regret until we, too—

Lie at the last beneath where the grass grows,
Made one, in one interminable repose.

Not knowing whence we came or whither went—


[1881 census: 22 Gt Nelson St (Douglas) Thomas W Corkhill age 28 m - wife Sarah age 28 born England.]


Died May 14th, 1920.

The death took place on Friday afternoon, May 14th, of air Robert Lewin Fayle, at his residence, " Fairmount," Brighton-terrace. The deceased gentle-man, who was widely known, was in his 29th year, and was for a. considerable time confidential clerk to the late Receiver-General, Mr J. T. Cowell. Mr Fayle's demise will be received with much regret by those who know him, for his genial and pleasant disposition made him a warm favourite.-The funeral took place on May 17th, interment being in the Borough Cemetery.


Mrs Esther Kelly nee Kneen
Mrs Esther Kelly nee Kneen
[Photo © Jean Corkett]

Died June 13th, 1920.

We regret to have to record the death which occurred after a long and painful illness at Ballaqueeney on Sunday last, June 13th, of Mrs Esther Kelly, of Ballaqueeney, Port St Mary. Deceased, who had attained the ripe old age of 80, was one of the oldest and most respected residents in the district, She was a daughter of the late W. Richard Kneen, of Croit-e.Caley, Rushen, and was married to the late Mr Kelly in 1867. Six children survive to mourn her loss, the eldest being Mr W A.Kelly. T.C., and the youngest Mr H. P. Kelly, advocate.

The funeral took place at Rushen Churchyard on Wednesday afternoon, and besides that mourners ,a large number of friends of the family were present to pay their last respects. The service at deceased's home and at the graveside was sympathetically conducted by the Rev W. J. Hannam (Wesleyan Superintendent minister).


Died June 19th, 1920

An old resident passed away on June 19th, in the person of Mr John Caine, who lived at Allan Bank, Peel-road, with his son-in-law; Mr T. H. Cowin. He was unwell for some months, but was able to get about a little. He was the last to abandon the tannery business, which was formerly carried on very successfully in Douglas. Mr Caine, after leaving Douglas, lived at Port Erin, but took up his residence in Douglas on the death of his wife. He was formerly hon. treasurer of the Douglas Coal Fund, and took a great interest in Well-road Wesleyan Day School, until it closed. He was also for some time a director of the Villiers Hotel Co. He was a member of the committee of the Douglas Town and Seamen's Mission, and an attendant at Rose Mount Wesleyan Church. The interment tank place at the Borough Cemetery on June 22nd, the Rev. Frederick John conducting the service. Amongst the mourners were Mr T. H. Cowin and sons (son-in-law and grandsons), Mr Philip Caine, of South Africa (who is home on a visit), Mr J. C. Caine, J.P., of Michael (cousin), Mr T. Moore, St. John's (cousin), Mr H. Callister, Mr R. D. Callister, Mr Edward Bell, Mr J. Cowin, Mr D. Corrin, Mr A. Robertson (Town Clerk), Mr S. K. Broadbent, and others.


Intimation of the death of Mr Henry C. Cowell, of Cleveland, reached Peel last week and was received with great regret by his .relatives and those who knew him here.

Mr H. C. Cowell was born in Peel on May .7th, 1847. As a young man he worked in he employ of Mr Graves as a ship carpenter. On Nov. 25th, 1875, he married Marianne Kermode, of Peel. He with his wife and family emigrated to the United States in 1887, going direct to Cleveland, where he resided until his death. He was a reliable employee of the American Shipbuilding Co., Ltd worked for them for 27 consecutive years, and for the last six years he was active (with his sons) m the building industry in Cleveland. He leaves a widow and five children viz., Mrs J. E. Christian, John H., Philip C., George W., and Edith M. Cowell. A large circle of friends and acquaintances attended to pay their last tribute to him. The funeral services were held from his residence, 2032 W. 101st street, on Monday, June 21st. The Rev. M. J. Keyes, of Rocky-River M.E. Church, conducted the services. The pall-bearers were all men formerly of Peel:-John Q. Kneale, Wm. A. Kelly, Sam Watson, W. H. Cowell (nephew), Eb Kaighin and Jack Hyslop. The burial took place in West Park Cemetery.


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