[from Manx Quarterly, #24, Jan 1921]




The Rev. David Inglis, BA., who for about thirty years was minister of the Congregational Church, Douglas, and is now living in retirement in London, revisited his old congregation and preached in the church on Sundays, September 5th and 12th. On Monday, he delivered a lecture entitled "Manx Reminiscences : Men I have known : Ministers and Prominent Public Men." The present pastor, Mr Inglis’s next successor but one, the Rev. Martin C. Taylor, presided over a large and appreciative audience.

The Rev. Samuel Haining.

Mr Inglis opened his lecture by allusions to certain men whom he had never known, as they lived long before his time, but of whom he had heard so much that they seemed to him to be living influences in his own life. First among them was his wife’s grandfather, Mr Haining, the founder of the Congregational Church in Douglas, or, as it was then called, the Independent Church. Mr Haining came to the Island in 1808, probably because his uncle, a retired captain of an East Indiaman, had settled in the town. He began his work in a room in Fort-street, and after various changes of location, he went into the chapel in Athol-street in 1913 [sic 1813]. The cost of that chapel, land and buildings, was about £1,300. He (Mr Inglis) dared say many of them wished they could build the same kind of building today for anything like the money. Mr Haining was a man of remarkable powers. He was a fine Hebrew scholar, and he wielded the pen of a ready writer. He gathered round him a congregation which included a considerable number of very interesting people. There was Lady Macartney, and Col. Falkner, and the Crown agent of the period, and Dr. Field, and others. In those days, the congregation was not able to provide Mr Haining with a very fine living, and he was compelled to keep a school, and in that school some men who afterwards became very prominent in the Island’s public life received their training. One of them was the late High-Bailiff Harris, who had often spoken to him (Mr Inglis) about the great debt of gratitude he owed to Mr Haining; and another was the Hon. J. K. Ward. If they made a list of the eminent Manxmen of the past generation, Mr Ward would undoubtedly take a prominent place in that list. They knew how Mr Ward often visited the land of his birth, and how, also, he was a great benefactor to worthy causes in the Island. Mr Haining also published a book which was of great value in its time, a Guide to the Isle of Man. It was worth reading even yet, and from it many who followed Mr Haining had drawn copiously.

The Origin of St. George’s School.

Mr Haining was interested in education, not only in his own school, but in the town generally. As evidence of that, they might recall that he was one of the founders of the Lancasterian School in Douglas. For a great many years that school had been in the possession of St. George’s Church ; but it was originally built by public subscription and was entirely undenominational. He (Mr Inglis), as Mr Haining’s representative, was still a trustee of that school, though he was bound to say that he had never been invited to a trustees’ meeting (laughter).

He supposed his only function would be to see that the building was used for educational purposes, and that if it ever were sold, the proceeds were applied to educational purposes. Mr Haining was also one of the founders of the Manx auxiliary of the British and Foreign Bible Society.

The Parson’s Pew in the Dissenting Chapel.

Speaking of Mr Haining’s relations with other ministers in the town, Mr Inglis said that the most popular minister at that time was Dr. Carpenter, Vicar of St. Barnabas’. In those days St. Barnabas’ had by far the biggest congregation in Douglas, and that great church was crowded every Sunday. For a time there was no evening service in St. Barnabas’, and Dr. Carpenter and his family had seats in the Athol-street church. Dr. Carpenter did not attend himself, but his wife and children went quite regularly, and it seemed to him (Mr Inglis) that this was a beautiful example of Christian unity. People living in the town who were of the Presbyterian faith worshipped at Mr Haining’s church. By and bye, as was quite natural, they wanted a church of their own ; but in a certain sense, it was possible to speak of St. Andrew’s as being a child of the Athol-street church.

A Split and a Reformation.

Mr Haining passed away in 1846, and was succeeded by Mr Harrison. Unhappily, troubles came to the church. Mr Harrison afterwards went over to the Church of England, and finally became an Archdeacon. At last, the congregation came to the conclusion that the only way to end the trouble was to dissolve the church and reform it. When the church was dissolved, the old church book was retained by Mr James Haining, and he (Mr Inglis) now had possession of it, and it was his intention that ultimately that book should go back to the church, and be kept with the other church records. This book contained records down to 1850.

Mr James Dalrymple, of Union Mills, to whose memory the Memorial Chapel was built, was not a minister, but was trained for the ministry, and often preached all over the Island, including the Athol-street Church. He first lived at Kirk Michael, and later in the house of his son, the late William Dalrymple. He also received a medical training, and practised medicine to a considerable extent, without fee of any kind.

The "Old Gateway".

The next minister of the church was a man whom Mr Inglis personally knew—Mr Stallybrass, who came in 1852. When he left in 1858, he went to a church in Liverpool, and he was afterwards at Wolverhampton, and at the Bedford Chapel, London. When he (Mr Inglis) knew him, he was living in retirement at Wallasey, and he came over as a special preacher at this church, and also at St. Andrew’s. For a time, Mr Stallybrass acted as tutor in the family of Mr Jackson, who then lived at Falcon Cliff. At one time he carried on preaching work in a room over the "old gateway" on the Front, leading up to Falcon Cliff. He was invited to come to Athol street, and the people who worshipped at Falcon Cliff came over with him. Mr Stallybrass was the son of a missionary, and was born in Siberia, and he had a great command of nearly all modern European languages.

The next minister was Mr Chater, who lived in Douglas for about four years, and then went to Southport. He was followed by Mr Williamson, who was still living, and with whom he (Mr Inglis) had always been the very best of friends.

Manx Bishops.

Mr Inglis went on to speak of ministers of the Established Church whom he had known. When he came to the Island, the Bishop was Rowley Hill, a genial, jovial man, brilliant wit, and an inveterate punster. He did not come into contact with him very much, though he once went by special invitation to visit him at Bishops-court.

Next came Bishop Bardsley, a man of totally different type, somewhat ascetic, deeply spiritual, and intensely devoted to his work. He (Mr Inglis) always had the very deepest regard for him. One day the Free Church ministers went to Bishopscourt, by invitation of Bishop Bardsley, and a delightful day they had. At the close of the visit, responding to a vote of thanks, the Bishop said, " Whenever I see any of you in the streets of the town, a prayer goes up from my heart that God’s blessing may be upon you and upon your work." The day was closed by a service in the Chapel, conducted by the Bishop, and that service would always remain with him as a sweet and sacred memory.

Bishop Straton he (Mr Inglis) knew best of all. One reason was that for a time he was chairman of the Douglas School Board, and the Bishop was chairman of the Council of Education. When the Borough Cemetery was nearly ready for opening, an agitation arose to get it cut up into three divisions, a chapel to be built in each of them, for the Church of England, the Roman Catholics, and the Free Churches. This was often done in England. Happily, the Town Council put its back up against any suggestion of the kind. The question then arose of the consecration of the cemetery, and he (Mr Inglis) interviewed the Bishop and the Vicar-General on behalf of the Free Churches. The Bishop said he was very anxious to have the place consecrated, and his people would not be pleased if it were not. His (Mr Inglis’s) reply was that he had no objection to consecration as a religious ceremony ; but consecration usually carried with it certain legal consequences, by means of which one church could be put in a position of privilege as compared with the others. The Bishop said, " I have no wish that such consequences should follow, and I will give instructions that this shall be expressly stated in the consecration proceedings." He (Mr Inglis) then asked if the Bishop would join with them in having a dedication service for the opening of the cemetery. The Bishop agreed without the slightest hesitation and asked him to prepare the form of service The cemetery was dedicated the Bishop and the Wesleyan superintendent minister and himself taking part he never heard of such a service being adopted by any Bishop anywhere in England, and he had always considered it the act of a broad-minded Christian gentleman.

Passing to Archdeacons of Mann, Mr Inglis said that Archdeacon Moore left behind him a fragrant memory, but he (Mr Inglis) was only on the Island a short time before he died. He only met him once, at a Bible Society meeting held in St. James’s Hall. One of the speakers was Canon Hobson, whom they would well remembers and as the Canon was speaking, he quoted the passage, " Search the Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have the words of eternal life.; but these are they which testify of me. " The Archdeacon interrupted, from the chair, " Not ‘ but,’ but ‘ yet.’ " They would know how little used Canon Hobson was to brook interruption, and he went on as if he had not heard. The Archdeacon called out again, " I tell you, sir, it is not ‘ but’ but ‘ yet.’ "—" The strange thing about it," added Mr Inglis, " is that the word is neither ‘but’ nor ‘yet,’ but ‘and.’ (Laughter.)

Speaking of the present Archdeacon, Mr Inglis recalled an occasion when he was crossing by the boat, and Mr Kewley, as he was then, a young and ardent curate, got into conversation with him, and began to press upon him the claims of the Church of England. " I was wishing him far enough said Mr Inglis, with a twinkle in his eye for I had a presentiment that in a little while I should be otherwise engaged. By and bye as the discussion waxed hot he forgot all about his internal feelings and did not remember that he had had them till they had crossed the Bar, and were sailing up the river. There were many cures for sea sickness but as reliable as any was to secure a doughty antagonist in a good theological discussion (laughter).

Parson Drury.

The mention of Parson Drury, Vicar of Braddan, evoked hearty applause. Mr Inglis said the first time he ever spoke to Parson Drury was at one of the united meetings for prayer which used to be held at the beginning of the year in St. James’s Hall. It was not a beggarly array of people that used to go there ; time and time again he had seen the building crowded to its utmost capacity. One night he had to give the address, and he should always remember how, at the close of the meeting, Parson Drury laid his hand on his shoulder and spoke words of encouragement to him, which were very precious to one who was only a beginner in his work in the Island. Parson Drury was as ready to take a potato out of the pot in the poor man’s cottage as to sit down to dinner with his wealthiest parishioner. He remembered meeting him once on a broiling hot day, with the perspiration streaming down his cheeks, and clad in his shirt-sleeves, and with his collar off, and he said, " I am just on my way to see the Governor." (Laughter.) But he (Mr Inglis) did not need to say much about Parson Drury ; there were so many who knew him, and there was not one who did not look back on his memory with the deepest reverence.

Parson Howard.

Parson John Howard, of Onchan, was a man of many eccentricities, and many strange stories were told about him. Some were certainly not true, and others were greatly embellished. He was sure it was not true that Parson Howard swam across Douglas Bay to attend a dinner at Fort Anne, and then remembered that he hadn’t any clothes in which to sit down to dinner (laughter). When Mr William Dalrymple died, it was felt that seeing that the deceased gentleman bad occupied a very prominent place in the life of the Island, it was. desirable that the Vicar of Braddan should take part in the funeral service, The Vicar—who was not Parson Drury—declined to take part unless he had the whore service to conduct. But as they were leaving the Memorial Chapel to go to the cemetery, it was Parson Howard and Parson Hawley, of Michael, who drove with him (Mr Inglis) in the carriage, and walked on each side of him through the churchyard to the graveside, and it was the hand of John Howard which flung the first handful of dust on the coffin. Whatever his eccentricities were, Parson Howard was in every sense of the word a true Christian gentleman.

Methodist Ministers.

Speaking of Free Church ministers whom he had known, Mr Inglis said the Wesleyan ministers only stayed for a period of three years, and it was rarely that he had the opportunity of getting into close contact with them. During his early days in the town, Mr Douthwaite was one of the Wesleyan ministers in the town, and he impressed him more deeply than any other Wesleyan minister he had ever met. He had a thin, squeaking voice, and when he began, you were inclined to laugh, but he had not spoken long before you wanted to laugh for another reason, for Mr Douthwaite had a most brilliant wit ; and in a little while you felt that you were in the grip of a master of assemblies. He had heard speeches from Mr Douthwaite which were as brilliant as anything he had heard from any human being. There was one story about Mr Douthwaite which he knew was true. During his (Mr Inglis’s) married life, they had a servant-girl who, before coming to them, had applied for a situation with Mr Douthwaite. When she called at the house, Mrs Douthwaite was not at home, and she had the conversation with Mr Douthwaite. Among other things, she asked how many children he had ? When he told her, she said, " Oh, that is far too many ; I could not go to a house with so many children. " " Well" said Mr Douthwaite, " you can come back in a certain time, and in the meantime I will consult with Mrs Douthwaite, and we will see how many of them we can drown (laughter) The same shortness of stay prevented him from knowing the Primitive Methodist ministers well, but he had clear and interesting recollections of the Revs. Benjamin Dam and T. H. Hunt, the latter of whom had held the highest places in his connexion

The Founders of the Industrial Home.

Mr Inglis also recalled Mr Fettes, minister at the Presbyterian Church, a man of great ability and marked character. He was a fine scholar, and was at one time a translator of theological works from the German. While in Douglas, he took a prominent part in all sorts of public work, and one thing that would perpetuate his name was that he, along with Mr Todhunter and Mr Thomas Cubbon and Mr. Russell, founded the Industrial Home.

Deacons at Finch Hill.

Mr Inglis next spoke of deacons in his own church who had passed away. There was William Dalrymple, a man upon whom one could always rely, a tower of strength to the church. His house was his (Mr Inglis’s) second home. There was Thomas Cubbon, than whom no man was stauncher, and than whom no man did more on behalf of temperance. There was George Barber; they would all remember that glorious head of hair. People in England had often spoken to him about the man with the fine head of hair who had shown them into their seats or taken their offering. Mr Barber was not rich, but he was one of the most generous of men. He had his money invested in Dumbell’s Bank, and he (Mr Inglis) was glad that he passed away before the bank broke. There was Archibald Mathieson, who was not long a member of the church, but left his mark upon the life of the young people ; and he could not say how much, in re-visiting the church, he missed the figures of Edward Emett and Alexander Hough and D. F. Putt

Solomon and Burns.

Mr Inglis alluded to one who was not a member, but used to attend regularly on Sunday mornings. His name was Jimmy Kelly, but they would not know him by that name. They would know him as Jimmy Mashinney, and they would remember that he lived in the House of Industry. He was a queer man, and could not read, but somehow he had committed to memory the whole of the Book of Proverbs and most of the songs of Robert Burns, and he was of opinion that the greatest men who had ever lived were Solomon and Robert Burns.

The Neglected Beauties of T. E. Brown.

Mr Inglis closed with a tribute to the memory of the Manx poet, T. E. Brown.

He came into contact with him on many occasions, mainly through Brown’s sister, Mrs Williamson, being the wife of his predecessor in the pastorate of this church. The Browns were a very remarkable family, in that they all belonged to different churches. Hugh was a great Baptist minister, Mrs Williamson married an Independent minister, another sister married a Presbyterian minister, another member of the family was a Wesleyan, and T. E. Brown remained a Churchman to the end. They were very gifted, and Mrs Williamson had wonderful gifts. He did not think anybody could know the full beauty of her brother’s poems unless he had heard her recite them. Her father was Vicar of Braddan, and also had some poetic gift, and he (Mr Inglis) possessed a copy of his published poems. He did not know whether anybody in Douglas possessed them. The copy was presented by the author to Mr Haining, and was autographed. One meeting with T. E. Brown, in particular, would always live in his memory. He thought Mr Philip Christian. was also present ; it took place in the house of Mr Christian’s uncle, " The Priory." Nobody could have any conception of how racy Brown’s talk was, or the delight it was to be in his company. It was a night of riotous fun, and Brown brought the whole life of the Island before his eyes. It had always been a wonder that T. E. Brown should remain unknown among English people. He (Mr Inglis) had tried his best to make him known, by lecturing, and one night after such a lecture, a minister came up to him and said, " I never heard of the man before. " What a confession ! Brown would take his place with the very greatest poets of his generation. Only one of his poems seemed to be widely known, and though it was beautiful, it did not for a moment compare with some of the things in the " Fo’c’sle Yarns." Still, it was a beautiful thing, and perhaps he could not close better than by quoting it

A garden is a lovesome thing,
God wot!
Rose plot,
Fringed pool,
Fern grot,
The veriest school
Of peace ; and yet the fool
Contends that God is not—
Not God, in gardens, when the eve is cool?
Nay, but I have a sign;
‘Tis very sure God walks in mine.

On the motion of Mr P. Christian, J.P., and Councillor Corrin, a hearty vote of thanks was accorded to Mr Inglis. After the proceedings concluded, a large number of persons stayed behind for a brief renewal of their acquaintance with the Rev. gentleman, before his departure the following day.


Back index next

see also Manx Quarterly #12

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