[From Manx Church Magazine vol 2 pp xcii et seq]

St Mary's Castletown
with Extracts from the Vestry Minute Book.

Previous to the year 1677 there were two chapels in Castletown, one in Castle Rushen and the other, which was called S. Mary’s (said to have been consecrated in 1250), in School lane, part of which is now used as a grammar School.

From 1660, and after 1701, the chapel in Castle Rushen was used for the garrison chiefly, and chaplains were from time to time appointed by the Lords of the Island to officiate in it. The Rev Charles Crowe was appointed Chaplain in January, 1660, and the Rev Gilbert Holt in July, 1686.

Hardly anything is known of the chapel in the town. In the year 1577 Hugh Holland, Archdeacon, was the Chaplain, and in 1660 the Rev W. Harrison. Prior to the appointment of Dr Wilson as Bishop of Sodor and Man, in the year 1698, the see was for many years vacant, and consequently the revenues were unexpended. In this year, by warrant under the hand of William, Earl of Derby, the Earl appropriated part of his revenues (being the rents, issues, &c., for one whole year) , derived from the profits of the See for the erection of a new chapel in Castletown, and appointed Commissioners, viz., Bishop Wilson, Samuel Wattleworth, Richard Stevenson, and Thomas Huddleston to procure the building and erection of such chapel.

These Commissioners obtained possession of some:houses, amongst which was the Grammar School, adjoining the Parade, as a site. A part of the old chapel in School-lane was taken down, the materials being used in the erection of the new chapel, the remaining part being fitted up as a Grammar School. The foundation stone was laid by the Right Rev Bishop Wilson on 16th July, 1698.

The following warrant, under the hand of the Earl of Derby, dated 29th April, 1701, is recorded m the Episcopal registry :—.

You are hereby authorized to pay unto the Bishop, Mr S. Wattleworth, and Capt. Thos. Huddlestone the sum of £20 . out of the Rectory of the Bishopric during the vacancy for finishing of the new chapel besides what is already ordered for that purpose. .

To Deemster Parr, Collector of the Rector during the vacancy.

.On the 11th April, 1701, this chapel was consecrated, as appears from the following memorandum under the hand of the Registrar-General :—

At a general meeting of the Clergy of this Isle the Right Honourable William, Earl of Derby, Lord of Man, and all his officers being present, the new chapel of S. Mary at Castletown was consecrated by the Right Rev Dr T. Wilson, Lord Bishop of the Isle, when I read Divine Service and Mr Archdeacon Marsden preached the sermon.

I. Woods, Vicar of Malew,
Collection made. Registrar-General.

In the Vestry of the present Chapel there is a stone table and on the front edge of the top there is this inscription, "The gift of James IV, Earl of Derby, 1704." Owing to a dispute between the Governor and the Lord Bishop the Chapel was closed for more than two years. The Rev. John Kippax, Rector of Andreas, was appointed Chaplain 12th August, 1727.

In the year 1787, it appears from an entry in the Vestry Minute Book (Claudius Creggan being the Bishop, and the Rev Thomas Castley the Chaplain) that on the 3rd of August a visitation was held by the Bishop, when the Rev. Evan Christian, Vicar-General, was ordered to attend on the Bishop’s behalf to regulate, distribute, and dispose of the remainder of the pews, and that the Vicar.General on the 10th of August made the distribution as ordered.

From the same minutes it appears that some time prior to this, the Chapel in Castle Rushen had ceased to be used for Divine service, and that in the Chapel of S. Mary the gallery was and always had been occupied by the resident Governor, and that it was always to remain and to be continued to His Majesty and His heirs, to and for the use of the present and succeeding Governor or Lieutenant-Governor of the Isle, and that it was settled that the Governor was to pay one third. of the expenses and the proprietors of the pews two thirds. The Right Rev Claudius Creggan was consecrated Bishop on February 20th, 1784. The Rev. Thomas Castley appointed Governor’s Chaplain January 31st, 1758 ; died 1807. .

In 1800 a steeple was erected and the bell of the old Chapel of Castle Rushen was fixed therein ; the bell to be rung twice every Sunday morning, once for Evening Prayer,. and on every Holy Day ; the first bell on Sunday morning to be rung at nine o’clock; the Prayer bell to. be rung at least a quarter of an hour and continued tolling until eleven o’clock. Alexander Shaw, the Lieutenant - Governor, was present at the meeting when the above was resolved upon.

In 1809 Miss Qualtrough presented a silver salver to the Chapel with this inscription on it—" The gift of Miss Qualtrough to Castletown Chapel, 1809. In 1811 an organ was provided, Mr Philip Caley being appointed organist in 1815—having played the organ for about three years.

In 1818 the Rev Joseph Brown having accepted the living of Michael, the Rev. Thomas Thimbleby was appointed his successor as Government Chaplain and minister of S. Mary’s.

On the 22nd June, 1822, at a meeting held in the Vestry it was resolved that the Chapel should be pulled down and re-built, and for the purpose of enlarging the site, plots of ground adjoining the Chapel were purchased. The Chapel was taken down in 1824, the first stone of the new Chapel—the present one—was laid by His Excellency the Lieutenant. Governor on the 9th of April of the same year, and was opened for Divine Service on Easter Sunday, 1826. The total cost appears to have been £1,678, one third. of which was defrayed by Government, the other two thirds. by the pew proprietors.


In perpetuam rei memoriam.—On Tuesday, the 18th September, 1827, died the Rev Thomas Thimbleby, A.M. , Academic Professor, Government Chaplain, and Minister of S. Mary’s Chapel, Castletown, aged 34 years, and in the ninth year of his occupancy. His remains are interred in the Church-yard of Malew. the Rev George Stickler Parsons was appointed his successor as Government Chaplain.

On Monday, the 27th day of October, 1827, the Right Rev William Ward, D.D., Bishop of Sodor and Man, was installed in St Mary’s Chapel, Castletown, pursuant to his mandate, in presence of the clergy of the Island and a large assemblage of the principal inhabitants of the town and its vicinity. The service on the occasion was performed by the Rev G. S. Parsons, Government Chaplain and Minister of this Chapel.

The foundation stone of the Isle of Man College was laid by His Excellency Cornelius Smelt, Lieuttenant Governor of this Isle, on St George’s day, being the 23rd of April, 1830 ; and the foundation stone of St Thomas’ Chapel, attached to the College, was laid by the Right Reverend William Ward, D.D., Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, at the same time, in the presence of an immense concourse of people assembled from all parts of the Island. The Friendly Societies of Rushen Sheading (seven in number), and the children of the different Charity Schools in Castletown and its neighbourhood, to the amount of five hundred, went in procession to the ground on the occasion, accompanied by bands of music and emblematical banners

In 1830 the following pieces of plate were presented to the Chapel by Robert Quayle, of West Hill, Castletown Esq.viz :- A cup with the followng inscription : " This cup was given by Robert Quayle, Esq., for the use of St Mary’s Chapel, Castletown, October 23rd, 1830," and a Paten with the same inscription. The weight of the foregoing pieces of plate is 35 ozs. avoirdupois. Besides these there are a silver Cup and Paten of which no record can be found. On the Paten there are four marks, the maker’s initials, the crowned leopard’s head, the’ lion passant, and the tune mark a "D" on a shield This last, from the formation of the letter shows that it must have been stamped in 1661-2. From this it is to be inferred that the Paten and Cup belonged either to the Chapel, School-lane, part of which is now used as a Grammar School, or to the Chapel in Castle Rushen. On the reverse side. of the Paten is an engraving of a lamb with a cross and flag.

On the 20th August, 1832, Castletown was visited with that fearful disease the spasmodic cholera morbus which for some time had been raging in Asia, Europe and America. It first broke out in Queen Hithe street where 27 persons died, it spread through the town, and out of a population of 2,000 it carried off 90 ; the last victim was Dr Richard Jones who died on the 15th October following after, having diligently attended most of the cases. His death was a universal loss to the community.

During this awful visitation a daring and outrageous robbery was committed , in Peel town, on William Kinley, Esq., advocate, by Thomas Siddleton and James Moore, who for that crime were on the 22nd October, 1832, hanged on the top of Castle Rushen.

The Almighty was pleased in great mercy to send a most abundant harvest, for which a general thanks-giving was ordered to be observed throughout the kingdom. These events of this most remarkable year are recorded at the close of it for the observation of posterity — it is termed remarkable not only from the circumstances above mentioned — but during it have died a Governor, an Archdeacon, a Receiver-General, two members of the House of Keys, a High-Bailiff and five Advocates. May these events have the effect of driving us to the only sure and sufficient refuge. Then shall we be prepared to live usefully and die happily, but without this we can do neither.


In perpetam rei memoriam.—On the 28th day of November, 1832, His Excellency Cornelius Smelt, Governor ‘and’ Chancellor. of this Island, departed this life at Castle Rushen, where his remains laid in state until Thursday, the 6th of December. They were interred beneath the altar in St Mary’s Chapel, : attended by all the constituted authorities (in the order, observed at the Tynwald Court), and by the principal inhabitants. He was buried with military honours, three vollies from a detachment of the 24th regiment of foot, and eighty-five shots, the number of years he had attained, were fired from a piece of ordenance. He lies interred in three . coffins, fir, lead, and Castle Rushen Oak, superbly covered with purple velvet. The inscription on the brass plate is as follows —


Born August, 1748 ; Died November 28th 1832.

The funeral service was performed by the Rev G. S Parsons, Government Chaplain, and a funeral sermon was preached by him on the Sunday morning following, and one in the evening by the Rev Hugh Stowell, Rector of Ballaugh. His Excellency governed this Island for a period of more than 27 years with justice and mercy : zealously supporting its rights and privileges. His successor, Colonel John Ready, arrived on Monday, 10th of December,1832.

December 31st, 1833.—At the close of another eventful year we record the events which press most upon our notice. Castletown has been remarkably healthy, nothing of an epidemic nature visited it. Douglas and Ramsey were visited by that fearful disease the Asiatic Cholera Morbus, but its ravages were not so great as in 1832.

On the 6th of June, the children of Santon, Malew and Arbory were confirmed in Malew church, by the Lord Bishop.

On the 1st day of August King William’s College was opened wth about forty pupils, it has now up-wards of eighty, and is still progressing. The masters are — Rev. Edward Wilson, A.M., of S. John’s College, Cambridge ; Rev. Robert Dixon, A.M., of Catherine Hall College, Cambridge ; Rev. John Lamothe Stowell, A.B., of Queen’s College, Oxford ; Mr. Gilmour Harvey, English master, and Mr. F. V. Grisell, French master.

Wednesday, the 30th October, was appropriated for a general thanksgiving to Almighty God for withdrawing from our land the cholera morbus. The day was observed in Castletown with the greatest solemnity, and appropriate sermons were preached in S.Mary’s chapel by the Rev. G. S. Parsons in the forenoon, and the Rev. Robert Dixon in the evening, to very large congregations.

The winter has been the most wet and stormy of any ever experienced. On the 31st December, at 11 o’clock a.m., a most awful storm of wind from W.N.W. came on, stripping houses and doing great damage throughout the Island A great many vessels were lost therein, one the Royal Duke, of Castletown, was blown from her anchors in Derby-haven Bay, and at 4 o’clock the next evening cast away at Holborn Hill, Cumberland, on the Duddon Sands. The crew, William Quine (master). Samuel Skeally and Edward Corris perished, leaving behind them eleven children unprovided for. It has been ascertained by reports from the different insurance offices that there.has been more loss of shipping this year than for the last thirty, and that a sum of. not less than two hundred thousand pounds will be required to satisfy the claims of the losers. Several fine vessels have been lost on the coast of the Island, and on Liverpool Banks the loss is melancholy to contemplate both of life and property.

31st December, 1834.—At the close of another year we endeavour to record its eventful circumstances. It has been to the Island in general a peaceable one, not much of general interest having occurred. The Island has been healthy, and not more than ordinary deaths have occurred. King William’s College has had a great increase of scholars, and is rising rapidly in the estimation of the parents and others whose children are and have been there. The church also is much improved in its members and usefulness, and religious instruction among the community is greatly on the increase.

We have had several shipwrecks, some attended with loss of life, two particularly, claim our notice, viz. :—the brig " John Fairfield " and a Swedish ship [?Russian - St Peter bound from Liverpool to Finland with Salt]. The latter parted from her anchor in Ramsey Bay and was cast ashore, some of the crew drowned, and the remainder miraculously rescued from the wreck by an intrepid crew of Ramsey boatmen, for which they were rewarded with twenty pounds from gentlemen of the town and neighbourhood, besides providing clothes and paying the passage of the crew to their homes. The John Fairfield was cast ashore at Scarlett in the same gale as the Swedish vessel. She was from Liverpool bound to the Island of Cuba with a general cargo, valued at upwards of Thirty thousand pounds, the bulk of which was lost by the violence of the sea and the evil propensity of wrecking by the lower orders near the sea coast. Such plunder was never before known, and many persons narrowly escaped being transported for the felony. The people were so daring that it was absolutely necessary to call out the Constables and Military, and provide them with arms and ammunition to protect the wreck, the consequence of which was, that on the 14th of November, about fourteen days after the vessel was stranded, John McHutchin, Junr., son of the Clerk of the Rolls, who had gone to see the wreck and was in one of the boats employed in saving the same, was accidently shot by a soldier named Thomas Rigby, to the great grief of his parents and all persons who heard of the catastrophe.

On the 14th October, 1843, Mrs Margaret Christian Quilliam, widow of the late John Qulliam, Esq., Post Captain, R.N., presented to the Chaplain and Wardens of St. Mary’s Chaplain, a pair of Silver Candlesticks for the use of the Communion Table for ever. The weight of the Candlesticks is four pounds, ten ounces, sixteen penny-weights, and engraved with her crest

On the 5th day of September, 1838, the Right Reverend James Bowstead, D.D., was in this Chapel installed Bishop of Sodor and Mann, and being translated to the See of Lichfield, the Right Reverend Henry Pepys, D.D., was on the 1st day of May installed Bishop of this Diocese He was translated to the See of Worcester, and was succeeded by the Right Reverend Thomas Vowler Short, D.D., who on the 15th July, 1841, was installed in this Chapel.

The Venerable John Cecil Hall, Archdeacon of this Diocese, in discharging his Pastoral duties contracted a malignant Typhus Fever, which on the 8th of February, 1844, terminated his mortal career, universally respected, aged 40 years. He was succeeded by the Reverend Joseph Christian Moore.

On the 27th of February, 1844, the new pier of Castletown was commenced, Mr John Tymperley, engineer, Mr Robert Cain, contractor.

On Sunday morning the 14th January, 1844, King William’s College was almost destroyed by fire. How it originated has never been ascertained. The fire spread with astonishing rapidity and in spite of all available exertions (there being no fire engine in the town or neighbourhood) soon communicated to all parts of the building, consumed the class rooms,. the house and furniture of the Rev Robert Dixon, the principal ; the chapel, tower, and the very ancient and valuable library presented to the Academic and Grammar School of Castletown by the Venerable and Reverend Bishop Wilson and other pious individuals, including our present Diocesan, who had munificently contributed thereto. When this appalling and awful event occurred there were more than 100 persons in the building all of whom through the merciful interposition of Divine Providence escaped without the loss of life or any bodily injury. His Excellency Major-General Ready, Lieut.-Governor, the High-Bailiff, and all the constituted authorities and a detachment of the 6th Royal Regiment used their utmost exertion to suppress the flames. On the following Sunday the P[Principal]., V.P.[vice-principal] Cumming, the masters and pupils attended at this chapel to return thanks for their late mercies when appropriate and feeling sermons were preached by the Bishop in the morning, and in the evening by the Rev G. S. Parsons.

A silver Cup and Cover bequeathed by the late Mrs Margaret Christian Quilliam to the Chaplain and Wardens of St Mary’s Chapel ; weight 47 oz. 17 dwts.

Received from G. A. Woods, Esq., as executor, a silver Cup and Cover, being a legacy bequeathed to the Chaplains and Wardens of St Mary’s Chapel by the will of the late Mrs M. C. Quilliam, this first day of November, 1844.

On the 10th day of November,1845, His Excellency Major-General John Ready, Lieut..Governor, departed this life at Government House, where his remains lay until the 17th of that month, when they were interred in the churchyard of Kirk Malew. He was buried with military honours (three vollies from a detachment of the 14th Regiment having been fired). His funeral was attended by all the constituted authorities (in the order observed at the Tynwald Court) by most of the gentry and an immense concourse of the inhabitants. The inscription on the plate of the coffin is :—

Aged 68 years,"

Funeral sermons were preached in this chapel on the following Sunday (July 20), in the morning by the Right Reverend Bishop Short, and in the evening by the Reverend George S. Parsons, Government Chaplain. ‘

During the period of thirteen years which his Excellency governed the Island, several important laws were enacted and many measures highly beneficial to the Island were carried. He conducted the Government with great prudence and discretion, and to the general satisfaction of the inhabitants. His Excellency (then Colonel Ready) was appointed Governor on the 11th December, 1832.

The Honourable Charles Hope, Member of Parliament for Linlithgowshire and a Commissioner of Greenwich Hospital, was appointed Lieutenant Governor of the Isle on the 8th of August — he arrived on the Island on the 26th, and was sworn into office in the Court House at Castle Rushen on Wednesday, the 27th of the same month.

On Tuesday the 1st December, 1846, there were present at the Tynwald Court at St John’s Chapel the Right Reverend Thomas Vowler Short, D.D, late Bishop of Sodor and Man, now Bishop of St Asaph, and the Venerable Walter Augustus Shirley, A.M., Archdeacon of Derby and Bishop elect of this Diocese. Neither took part in the proceedings. Two Bishops being at the Tynwald Court is a circumstance which I believe never occurred before.

On the 1st February, 1847, the Right Reverend Walter Augustus Shirley, D.D., was installed as Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man at St Mary’s Chapel. After the installation, the usual oaths of office were administered to His Lordship in the Court House, before His Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor and several members of the Council.

On Sunday, the 14th March, 1847, John McHutchin, Esq., Clerk of the Rolls, departed this life in the 60th year of his age. He filled the office of the Clerk of the Rolls for a period of 25 years with the greatest honour and credit to himself and entire satisfaction to the Island. He was a man of sound judgment and great discretion, and was universally beloved and esteemed.

April 20, 1847. Tuesday.—The Right Rev Bishop Shirley died at Bishop’s Court on this day, aged 50. years. On his returning home from Oxford, where he had been preaching some of the Bampton Lectures for this year, he caught a severe cold (it is said, by lying in a damp bed) which brought on inflammation of the lungs, and he died after a short illness of eight or ten days. From the time of his installation to the day of his death he held the Bishoprick for two months and nineteen days, the shortest time of any Episcopate since the establishment of the See of Sodor and Man. His death caused great sorrow. He was a learned, zealous and pious Prelate. His remains were removed for interment in the family vault at Shirley, Derbyshire.

On St Peter’s Day, June 29, 1847, the Honorable and Right Reverend Robert John Eden, D.D., late Vicar of Battersea, now Bishop of this Diocese, was installed at St. Mary’s Chapel. The morning service was read by the Rev G. S. Parsons, Government. Chaplain, and a sermon was preached by the Venerable Archdeacon Moore. There was a very large congregation. After the service the Bishop proceeded to the Court House, where he was sworn according to the usual custom.

On Saturday, the 17th February, 1849, Mary, the eldest daughter of the Rev G S Parsons, Government Chaplain, was married to Saml. Jas. Blencowe, Esq., in St Mary’s Chapel, by special licence. It is said that this was the first occasion of the daughter of a clergyman of the chapel being married in the chapel, consequently an immense crowd of persons attended.

The Right Honorable the Earl of Auckland, brother of the present Bishop of this diocese, died suddenly at the latter end of 1848, whereupon the Bishop succeeded to the Barony of Auckland. He was the first Bishop of Sodor and Man who was ever a Peer of the Realm.

On August 10th, 1849, St Mary’s Chapel was licensed for marriages by licence by the Lord Bishop.

On the 30th January, 1852, a Tynwald Court was held at St John’s. Amongst the persons present were an Earl, a Baron, an Honourable, and a Baronet (Earl of Selkirk, Lord Auckland, Bishop, Honourable Charles Hope, Lieutenant-Governor, and Sir Henry Chamberlain, Bart, 23rd Regiment Royal Welsh Fusiliers). I have inserted this considering it a rather singular event.

Sunday, 19th December, 1852.—The Lord Bishop held in the morning an Ordination in the Chapel; 2 Priests and S Deacons were ordained. Prayers were read by the Rev H. C. Davidson, curate; the Absolution was read by the Rev G. S. Parsons, the Chaplain (Mr Davidson being in Deacon’s Orders); the sermon was preached by the Ven. Archdeacon Moore, and afterwards his Lordship was assisted in the Ordination by the Archdeacon, the Rev G. S. Parsons, and the Rev Robert Dixon, D.D., Principal of King William’s College. At 8 o’clock in the after-noon his Lordship administered the rite of Confirmation to 112 persons. On both occasions the congregations were very large.

On the 9th November, 1857, about 4¼ o’clock a.m. the shock of an earthquake was felt in all parts of the Island ; it created very great sensation and on account of such an occurrence in these parts being very rare.

On the morning of the 27th December, 1857, the Brig Lily, of Liverpool, bound for the coast of Africa with a general cargo, including 60 tons of gunpowder, was wrecked on Kitterland in the Sound of the Calf of Man. On the morning of the 28th a party, including those who had rescued part of the crew of the Lily on the previous day, proceeded under the direction of Mr Enos Lace, as sub-agent for Lloyd’s, to the wreck to endeavour to save the cargo, and shortly after, from some cause which is not known, the gunpowder ignited on board, the vessel was blown up and 29 men lost their lives, one only survivor being left of the party, and he was very seriously injured. Amongst those who lost. their lives were John Craige, Chief Constable, of Castletown, and John Wright, Constable, and also Mr E. Lace. The men thus hurried into eternity have left behind them 22 widows and 74 orphans.

In November, 1853, died at Douglas, James Holmes, Esq., banker. He was the last surviving partner of the firm Henry Holmes & Sons, and , at the time of his death he was supposed to be very wealthy. During his lifetime the Insular official persons, the gentry, and all classes, had the greatest confidence in the stability of the firm. It now appears that the liabilities for deposits in the bank are upwards of £200,000, to meet which amounts the assets are, it is to be feared, very deficient. The insolvency of this estate has caused very great distress amongst all classes throughout the Island. Mr James Holmes resided in the Island nearly 50 years, and was a very frugal, careful man. The cause of the insolvency is alleged to be the speculations of the other members of the firm in English and Foreign Railways.:

In January [1854] John Moore, Esq., Speaker of the House of Keys, died. He was succeeded in the Speakership by his nephew, Edward Moore Gawne, of Kentraugh, Esq..

In the month of June, 1854, the Right Hon. and Right Rev. Robert John Baron Auckland was translated to the See of Bath and Wells. He was succeeded by the Hon. and Right Reverend Horatio Powys, D.D., late Rector of Warrington, Lancashire, who was consecrated at York Minster on the 25th July, and installed in this chapel on the 28th July, 1854. A sermon was preached on the occasion by the Ven. Archdeacon Moore. After the service in the chapel the Bishop took the usual oaths at the Court-house, and an address was presented to the Lord Bishop by John Kelly, Esquire, High Bailiff, on behalf of the inhabitants of the town.

On the 17th September, 1854, John Kelly, Esq., High Bailiff of this town, died. He had held office for upwards of 22 years, and was greatly esteemed. He was succeeded by Mr James Gell, advocate, who was appointed High Bailiff on the 25th September, 1854.

On the 11th April, 1855, the Rev George Stickler Parsons, a native of Petersfield, Hampshire, who was born on the 81st October, 1795, died. For upwards of 30 years he officiated as curate and minister of S. Mary’s. During that time he was highly esteemed by the inhabitants of Castletown, the welfare of which town he took an active interest in promoting Poverty and distress he was ever anxious to relieve. At his death he was not unmindful of the feeble and aged of his adopted town, and bequeathed to them lasting proof of his regard. His beneficence was also evinced in a liberal devise for the widows of the Insular Clergy. After his decease a monument was erected in S. Mary’s Chapel, to record his benevolent deeds and the respect in which he was held.

The late Rev G. S. Parsons’ successor, the Rev Edward Ferrier, of Pembroke College, Cambridge, was appointed Government Chaplain by his Excellency the Lieut. -Governor’s commission, on the 21st July, in the year of our Lord 1855.


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