From: William Nelson Clarke, A Collection of Letters addressed by Prelates and Individuals of High Rank in Scotland and by two Bishops of Sodor and Man to Sancroft Archbishop of Canterbury in the reigns of King Charles II and James VI, Edinburgh, R. Lendrum & Co, 1848. The extract is from a section entitled "Mankish Letters to Archbishop Sancroft."
[These extracts first appeared in Church Leader Aug 2000-2001 and appear by permission of Ian Faulds then editor - some sections tba]
As the House of Keys argues over the "political" future of the Lord Bishop, we turn back the clock 150 years to a little known "Scottish" commentary on the Diocese and its bishops by William Nelson Clarke. The views expressed - and the letters quoted - throw an interesting light on a turbulent period in the Island's history...
THOUGH comparatively little was known of the Isle of Man beyond its own limits, before the application of that wonderful power which has brought all countries into contiguity, the Church of that Island had sent forth a voice which made itself heard wherever pure Catholicity was known: and if all other traces of the Mankish Church were to be for ever lost - were the Island itself, by some new convulsion of nature, to sink into the depths of the British Channel - the pure apostolical character of Bishop Wilson would rescue its fame from annihilation, and throw a lustre around the Church in which he presided, which neither the degeneracy of posterity, nor the corroding power of time could destroy.
Bishop Wilson seems to be as completely the embodied representation of the excellencies of the Mankish Church, as he was the general impersonation of an apostolical Prelate. His brilliancy so effectually outshines all his predecessors and successors, that scarcely any other Mankish Prelate's name survives in the memory of his countrymen, and certainly none other has acquired a celebrity beyond the insular shores.
Latterly, indeed, the See of Sodor and Man has attained the unenviable notoriety of being an ecclesiastical stepping-stone, a convenient portal, whereby the fortunate object of ministerial favour may be enabled to enter the apostolical fold, and wait in patience, (not often long-tried) until a vacancy may allow him to glide, facili passu, into the richer pastures of the Anglican hierarchy.
This seems to have been the natural consequence of the transfer of patronage from the ancient Lords of the Island to the Crown. When it remained the gift of a subject, an occupant of the See was not likely to become an object of ministerial patronage; and, as may be seen in the history of the different incumbents, men of extraordinary merit only then achieved extra-insular preferment. The circumstances of the Bishop having no vote in the House of Lords was, under the old system, a happy exemption from the danger of becoming a candidate for ministerial favour, as he could not recommend himself to the ruling powers by political subserviency, and might so avoid that bane of all independence. In fact, there never existed, within the limits of modern Christianity, a more favourable sphere for the exercise of apostolical Episcopacy than this sea-girt diocese, where a pastor of the flock might perform his duties with ample occasion to employ his time and faculties without overwhelming them, and yet far removed from the conflicting turmoil of political ambition, and the selfish pursuit of temporal advancement. Nor is this mere theory, or dreamy speculation. It is a brief description of the course which Bishop Wilson pursued for more than half a century. But how different is the system now, although the advantages and facilities are incalculably greater!
It was a great and important privilege, as belonging to a private individual, though fettered with the most solemn responsibility, to possess the nomination of the spiritual father of a diocese, a successor of the apostles, upon whose judgement and conduct might depend (under Providence) the welfare of unnumbered souls: but since, after all, the nomination was necessarily committed to fallible hands, - as the alternative lay between the head of an ancient aristocratic race, and the ministerial creature of a day, - the change would not, prima facie, seem likely to insure improvement..
THERE would, it is presumed, be little hesitation in choosing between, on the one hand, a patron who could derive no personal advantage from conferring the appointment, who had no future promotion to offer, and whose feelings would naturally incline him to set over a people whose interests were so closely connected with his own, a Prelate who would fear the Lord, and have at heart the spiritual welfare of his flock; and, on the other hand, a stranger official, having no interest in, or care for the people - no object beyond strengthening his interest, by gratifying a ministerial colleague, as for instance, in advancing the brother of a Lord Chancellor, the protege of a parliamentary supporter, or a minion of the Court. And so it has happened. It was an Earl of Derby who nominated Bishop Wilson. It was a political Minister, from time to time, from whose fiat proceeded in succession the ephemeral Prelates, who of late years have touched at the Palace of Bishopscourt, and ere they were well acquainted even with the names of their clergy, were moved away into new and richer climes:
"Animae, quibus altera fato Corpora debentur."
I argue generally from the facts before me. Had the Episcopal nomination of the Isle of Man remained vested in the ancient race, who held it previously to the re-vestment in the Crown, there certainly is no guarantee that the subsequent possessors of their titles and domains would have worthily fulfilled their trust in this respect; but eminent merit has, in innumerable instances, found favour in the sight of weak and even vicious individuals, although it might rarely alter the routine of a list of candidates for ministerial favour.
But to come to the subject of the letters, which have given rise to these remarks. They are interesting, as throwing some light on the state of the Church in Man, before the era of Bishop Wilson's fame. And assuredly, if a want of the comforts of life could justify complaint, the state of the diocese at the start of the seventeenth century, was such as to appal a mind of less than determined vigour. Bishop Lake, in 1683, represents the condition of the Island, as one of extreme poverty, the Bishopric poor, (its revenues were not above £280 per annum, and a great portion of that sum paid in provisions,) the clergy poorer, and the people poorest of all. "Yet," he philosophically adds, "they are happy in this, that their mind beareth proportion to their fortune, and as they have not known much better, so they aspire not to it." In one respect they were fortunate; there was not a dissenter in the Island, with the exception of a few inconsiderable quakers in one parish, and their extinction seemed probable.
Bishop Lake, whose name became subsequently connected with those important national events, in which his conduct has been stamped with imperishable honour, presided only two years over the diocese, and was succeeded by Dr. Baptist Levinz, a Prelate of very inferior mind and capacity, if we may trust his own correspondence. In his Episcopate, the fear of Romanism seems to have reached the distant shores of Man; and the good Bishop gives a somewhat ludicrous description of the terror which was entertained of an incursion of some Jesuits there; though the chief burden of his correspondence is the pitiable misery which he endured from a residence during winter in his diocese. Whether the Jesuits came or not, does not appear; but under any circumstances, if they did so, their stay must have been brief, and success unimportant; for this happened in the year 1688, and subsequent events speedily destroyed all hopes which they might have cherished of experiencing favour in high quarters.
After the death of Bishop Levinz, the See remained vacant for nearly five years, the state of the diocese being perhaps such as would have given little encouragement. to any one to face so rugged and unpromising a charge. Once, indeed, Thomas Wilson refused, (not on that account, as he afterwards proved, but from a diffidence of his own worthiness,) and it was not until Sharp, Archbishop of York, in whose province it lies. had urged the necessity of filling up the vacancy, that he finally accepted it. He was consecrated January 16th, 1698,and on the 11th of April following, enthroned in the Cathedral Church of St. German in the Castle of Peel, being the last Prelate whose enthronement took place in that ancient edifice, now a roofless ruin.
THE early ecclesiastical history of the Isles is involved in obscurity. The original seat of its Bishops was in the Isle of Man, and they were styled Episcopi Sodorenses, a name given to the Island Prelates by the Norwegians, as holding a southern diocese, and retained both by the English and Scottish lines, into which the succession divided. When the Isle of Man and the Hebrides were yielded to Alexander III of Scotland by Magnus IV, King of Norway, in 1266, the right of patronage of the Bishopric of Man was transferred to the, King of Scots ; but whatever rights and jurisdiction the Church of Drontheim had over it, were expressly reserved. The subsequent occupation of Man by the English had probably the effect of changing the ecclesiastical superiors of the island. The Bishops who remained there became suffragans of York; and the Scottish line, which finally fixed its seat in the holy island of Iona, gradually lost its connexion with the metropolitans of Drontheim, and became an integral part of the Scottish Episcopate. The Scottish Diocese of the Isles included Arran, Bute, and all the Hebrides, except the few which were attached to Argyle. The last Bishop who exercised jurisdiction over the Isles alone, was Archibald Graham, who was ejected at the Revolution in 1688. He maintained the title of Episcopus Sodorensis to the last.
BISHOPS OF SODORAND MAN FROM THE REIGN OF HENRY VIII.
(Name of Bishop, Name of See. Date of Consecration.)
John Salisbury, Thetford, March 19,1535. Translated to Man, 1570.
Henry Man, Sodor, 1546.
James Stanley, Sodor, 1573.
John Meyrick, Sodor, April 15, 1576.
George Lloyd, Sodor, 1600, Translated to Chester, 1604.
John Philips, Sodor, Feb. 10, 1604.
William Forster, Sodor, March 9, 1633.
Richard Parr, Sodor, June 10, 1635.
Samuel Rutter, Sodor, March 24, 1661.
Isaac Barrow, Sodor, July 4, 1663. Translated to St. Asaph, 1669.
Henry Bridgeman, Sodor, Oct. 1, 1671.
John Lake, Sodor, Jan 6,1682. Translated to Bristol, 1684, to Chichester, 1685.
Baptist Levinz, Sodor, March 15,1684.
Thomas Wilson, Sodor, Jan. 16, 1697.
MarkHildesley, Sodor and Man, April 27, 1755,
Richard Richmond, Sodor and Man, Feb. 14, 1 7 73.
George Mason, Sodor and Man, March 5,1780.
Claudius Crigan, Sodor, April 14,1784.
George Murray, Sodor, March 6,1814. Translated to Rochester, 1827.
William Ward, Sodor, March 9,1828.
James Bowstead, Sodor, July 22,1838. Translated to Lichfield, 1840.
Henry Pepys, Sodor, March 1, 1840. Translated to Worcester, 1841.
Thomas Vowler Short, Sodor, May 30, 1841 Translated to St. Asaph,1846.
Walter Augustus Shirley, Sodor, Jan. 10, 1847. Died April 21, 1847.
Hon. Robert John Eden, present Bishop
JOHN, BISHOP OF SODOR AND MAN, TO ARCHBISHOP SANCROFT,
York, Febr. 14th,1682. MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE, Although it is some kind of religion to me to trouble your Grace with impertinent 1. addresses, who have so many cases and affairs of the greatest importance always incumbent upon you, yet I may not commit so much against good manners and common gratitude, as not to render my most thankful acknowledgment, to your Grace for those favours and honours, by which your Grace hath so signally obliged me, especially for the imposition o£ your Grace's hands, the grateful remembrance whereof will be as indelible with me, as the character imprinted by it, (for this, in a sober sense, I presume, may be allowed,) and my constant monitor to imitate, (I dare not be so ambitious as to say emulate,) in my little sphere those virtues and graces which first commended you to, and now adorn that greater orb, wherein your Grace shineth so illustriously. I am very sensible that it is no easy matter stare loco Pauli, tenere locum Petri, or to copie out those other primitive patterns, which are equally monuments of, and arguements for Episcopacy; and no less conscious to myself how incompetent I am for these things. But God, who hath called me to this high and sacred office and employment, (for such I esteem it, to be a Bishop of the Catholick Church, and at Eugubium 2. as well as Rome,) I hope, will assist and enable me to doe him some acceptable service in it, and that he who hath given me a willing mind, will crown my weak endeavours with success. To this end, as I shall be bold (upon occasion) to crave your Grace's counsel and conduct, so at present I humbly begg the assistance of your prayers, together with your blessing upon
Your Grace's most obliged and most zealously devoted Servant,
My Id Archbishop of York, notwithstanding that at London they have buryed him alive, is (God be blessed) very well: which I make bold to add, because I knew it will not be unacceptable to your Grace.
1. Impertinent ;not in the modern sense of ill-mannered, but in the old meaning-"of no relation to the
matter in hand." It is difficult to understand in what sense the word relion, as used above, is to be taken.
2 Eugubiuim is the modern Gubbio, in the duchy of Urbino. The meaning of the phrase is, that a Catholic Bishop is a Bishop everywhere; it is a quotation from St. Jerome.
York, Nov. 10, 1683.
MAY it please Your Grace, Altho' I am not so happy as to be of your Grace's province, yet I am ambitious to be of your clientele, and the many favours reflected upon me in reference to the Bishoprick of Man have justly rendered me so, and I send this as a piece of that homage and service which, as such, I ow to your Grace ; and beg your Graces acceptance of it. And as the first particular accompt I had of the jurisdiction and revenue of the said Bishoprick was imparted to me by your Grace, so I take myself obliged to tender your Grace such further accompt as 3 moneths knowledg and observation hath made me capable to give, and your Grace shall require. Indeed, the accompt communicated to me by your Grace hath anticipated much that might be said, and is so full and clear, so farr as it goeth, that I find little to be added to, or altered in it. Only I crave leave to acquaint your Grace, that altho' the Archdeacon hath the ordinary jurisdiction for the winter half year, yet there are some Episcopal causes, as they are called, (of which sort they reckon 15,) which are not of his cognisance and there is no dispute of these, but only touching licenses for marriage, which the Archdeacon wholly challengeth to himself for his half year, exclusive of the Bishop, and the Bishop wholly denieth to him. In point of revenue, your Graces accompt is no less exact in the main; but the computed value there much exceeds the real value as now it standeth, as your Grace will perceive by a just accompt of the whole revenue for this present year 1683, which I have presumed to inclose; and even of that, I have hitherto received but 41i. 5s., and shall not receive as much more until Easter next, or a moneth after. Yet is not the Bishoprick so poor, but the clergy are still poorer, and the people poorest of all. Only they are happy in this, that their mind beareth proportion to their fortune, and as they have not known much better, so they aspire not to it; and yet more happy, in that this is probably one means to keep them in an humble obedience to the orders of the Church, from which there is not one dissenter in the Isle of any denomination, except a very few inconsiderable Quakers in one parish, and all possible care is taken that they may neither propagate themselves nor their sect, so that we hope fanaticism in that Isle will expire with them. But I trespass upon your Grace, and those great affairs wherein you so eminently serve God and the King, and therefore shall add no more of this kind to your Graces trouble, without special direction ; and then, at your Graces command, I shall send you copies both of the spiritual statutes, or ecclesiastical written laws, and of the customs, or ecclesiastical unwritten laws of the Isle, which have many singularities in them not elsewhere known or practised. At present, I humbly crave your Graces pardon for this importunate address, and that your Grace will please to esteem me, as your Graces most obliged, so
Your Grace's most zealously devoted and most obedient Servant,
(The following statement of the proceeds of the diocese of Sodor and Man is in Bishop Lake's own hand-writing, and was sent to Archbishop Sancroft with the preceding letter.)
|Tithes and Thirds of Tithes.|
|Jurby, the whole Rectory,||
£26 00 00
|KK Bradan, the whole Rectory,||
|KK German, the whole Rectory, and KK Patrick, 2 Thirds of Tithes, (beside 21. allowed to the Vicar of KK German,)||
|KK Christ Aire, one Third,||
|KK Bride, one Third,||
18. 10. 00
|KK Lonan, one Third,||
8. 10. 00
|KK Conchan, one Third,||
4. 00. 00
|KK Marrown, one Third,||
|KK St. Ann, one Third,||
6. 00. 00
|KK Arbory, one Third,||
11. 10. 00
|KK Christ Rushen, one Third,||
|Ballaugh, one Third,||
|Rents, boons, and other Services.|
|For rent of the tenants on the north side of the Isle, 3||
|On the south side||
|Customs, estimated at about||
|The house and demesn lands, (beside 6l allowed for land sowen before Easter last,) which the late Bishop's Administratrix had, beside all the profits of the foregoing year,||
|proxies from several Churches.|
|From Ballaugh, KK Michael, KK Maughal, KK Bride, and KK Christ Rushen, each 1 lib in all,||
05. 00. 00
|From KK Mallew, (which is omitted in your Grace's accompt,)||
£282. 15. 09
It is possible the revenue may be somewhat advanced, but not to above 3001i, and if the Island be impoverished for the time to come, in proportion to what it hath been for some years last past, it will rather abate.
There is also due to every Bishop at his first coming in, from the tenants of the temporalties, out of every quarter of land, l ox, or 40s, but whether, is not yet agreed, and few of the oxen which they tendered were worth 20s a piece, so that of this I have received nothing.
IN 1663, at the age of 19, Baptist Levinz was elected Demy of Magdalen College; and in the following year, being then Bachelor of Arts, was elected Fellow of the same. In 1676, he was one of the Proctors of the University ; in 1677, Reader in Moral Philosophy; and about the same time, Prebendary of the Church of Wells. In 1682, he became Rector of Christian Malford, in Wiltshire; proceeded in Divinity in 1683 ; resigned his Fellowship on St. Mary Magdalen's day, in the same year; and within a few days afterwards, married.
Upon the translation of Dr. John Lake to the See of Bristol, he was appointed Bishop of the Isle of Man, and consecrated at Lambeth on the 15th of March 1685. He retained the See till his death, and kept his prebend, which was Haselbeare, in the Church of Wells, and his rectory, in commendam. In July 1691, he became Prebend of Winchester, (a situation he had long solicited, as will appear by his correspondence,) by the favour of Dr. Mews, Bishop thereof, in the room of Dr. William Hawkins, deceased; and dying at Winchester, Jan. 31, 1692-3, was buried in the Cathedral there.
The following reasons were given for supporting the petition of Baptist Levinz, D.D., and Chaplain in Ordinary to the King; for commendams to be held with his Bishopric:
1. The smallness of the income of the Bishopric, little more than £200 per annum, a great part whereof is paid in provisions.
2. He requested a licence to retain what he now had, with a clause of permutation, and licence of receiving, when he can get it, something more than he now hath. His parsonage in Wilts is worth £200 per annum, and a petty prebend in the Church of Wells of £6 per annum, both of them far distant from the Isle of Man; and the necessary charges of journeying being heavy, he requests his Majesty's licence to accept something more, if at any time (which yet he knows not when it will happen) he shall be collated or presented to it.
Accordingly the King issued a mandate to William, Archbishop of Canterbury, to grant a dispensation to Baptista Levinz, Doctor in Divinity, and Bishop of the Isle of Man and Sodor, that he may hold together with the said Bishopric the rectory of Christian Malford, in the county of Wilts and diocese of Salisbury, and the prebend of Haselbeare, in the Cathedral Church of Wells, with licence of permutation of them, or either of them, provided he hold not more than two benefices, with cure, at one and the same time ; to be held in commendam. Dated at Whitehall, 1st Feb. 1684-5, 37 Car. II.
April 19th, 1688, Oxon.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE, I received your Grace's letter with great joy of mind, though under some indisposition of body, with wich I have labour'd since my returne, butt doubt not the cordiall of your Grace's kindnesse will give mee a speedy recovery, tho' at present I am forc'd to write this in bed. My Lord, I am most humbly thankfull for your gracious recommending race to my Lord of Winchester, which your Grace has been pleas'd to couch so much to my advantage, that nothing can be added to it, such is your Grace's goodnesse. I send it back to your Grace, that it may come from your own hand; for should it come from hence, it might cause some umbrage in my Lord by double postage. I question not but coming from your Grace it will have its effect; and then, can I butt obtayne 100lib. per ann. and a house to dwell in, (wich, I think, that prebend will amount to,) my ambition is fild ; and I shall not envy any man in England, tho'neverso largely provided for. I begg one favour more, that your Grace would be pleased to send mee word what answer you have from my Lord of Winchester. I present my most humble duty toyour Grace, and humbly take leave,
Your Grace's most obedient, dutifull, and humble Servant,
B:SODOR AND MAN..
My Lord, my parsonage is not in Dorsetshire, butt in ye dirtyvale of Wiltshire. If your Grace thinks fitt, you may please to take notice by postscript, that the present chaplayns of my Lord of Winchester are very plentifully provided, and so there is the more room for your Grace's putting in for mee to him.
OXON, May 20th, 1688. ...
.I am very shortly (.within a moneths time, or thereabouts) retreating to my own poor diocesse, wheer I must this year not only pass my summer, as usually, butt my winter too, if God shall give mee strength and health to undergoe the severe colds and other incommoditys of, that rigorous clime: but necessity has no law; and to tell your Grace a sad truth, I am no longer able to maintayne my selfe and family heer in England, suiteable to my character, and , so must retire into that disconsolate sollitude till I can recruite agen .......
OXON, June 5th, 1688.
MAY IT PLEASE YOR GRACE; What your Grace mentions of a summons, 1 I had, to my great regrett, heard off before, and tho I question not butt that your Grace will come off with all safety as well as reputation in that affayr, yett to confesse the truth to your Grace, it was thought advisable by, such friends as I talked with, that the confirmation in your diocese should bee put off till that businesse was ended, least it should give the King fresh matter of disgust,2 if new undertakings were sett upon your Grace during the contest; and accordingly, I am content to respite my voyage to the Island a little longer, (tho' long it cannot bee, for a reason I shall anon tell your Grace,) that I may then bee in readinesse to transact this duty for your Grace, when it may bee done with the same advantage to the people, and less danger, if your Grace thinks ftt to take this course. Butt notwithstanding all this, if your gests be layd for the time att first prescrib'd, and your Grace (to whose better judgment I shall ever sacrifice mine) still continues in your opinion that this businesse ought and may bee justifiably perform'd according to that modell and agreement, I will, by God's grace, bee with you att Lambeth the 13th instant, to receive and persue the comands you shall give for this good worke, and therefore I begge your Grace to signify your pleasure to me either by the next post, or by Satturday's att farthest, for I will so lay my matters, the ordination and the appendixes of it being once over, I will bee ready to take horse in order to my wayting upon you at an hours warning. My Lord, the reason I above mentioned why I must make all convenient haste to my diocese is, bycause I had a letter the very last post from the Governor of the Isle of Man, to presse mee to it, bycause, as bee words it, there are two Jesuits andfour priests expected there every tyde, to make converts in that poor place, in order to wich they have sent a Popish gentleman of quality before them, to view a piece of ground to build a convent on, wich, bee says, bee hears they have the King's license to doe, and therefore he thinks my presence there very necessary, to prevent mischiefe. I present my most humble duty to your
Grace, and doe most heartily and constantly pray to God for your safety and protection, nor doe I the least doubt of it, both for your own sake, and the good of this whole Church, wich I am sure depends upon it, and therefore I am very confident God will preserve and blesse you, and for my own. part, I shall ever, by respects and obedience, bee ready to testify how much I am,
MY GOOD LORD,
Your Grace's most dutifull Son, and humble Servt,
B : SODOR AND MAN.
My Lord, in a confirmation, (wich is the only thing you mention,) there is no need of a speech to the clergy, and so I shall prepare none.
1 On account of the Primate and other Bishops resolving not to com-ply with the order for reading the Kings declaration for liberty of conscience.
2 Strange timidity this; that the King should be affronted by the Archbishop performing the ordinary duties of his office. But that Prelate was a man of very different mould from his correspondent of Sodor and Man.
There is something amusing in this letter, although it does not afford very exalted notions of the moral courage or acuteness of the writer. The Mankish Governor's wish to have the Bishop in his diocese, to prevent mischief from the two Jesuits and four priests, seems to represent his Lordship somewhat in the light of a court juror whose presence was necessary to watch the tricks, and counteract the devices of an antagonist party of perfomers ; but although every tide was expected to land this formidable battalion, the Bishop does not seem to consider the matter very urgent, as he only meditates going over in all convenient haste. Probably the Governor was a victim of what in modern times is designated a hoax, for the enemy had not appeared by the 12th of September, though still daily expected, as we learn by the Bishop's letter of that date. Fears of this kind were not, howevevr, limited to the reign of James II, as an apprehension was expressed to the Editor , not many months ago [ie in 1846], by a gentleman resident in the Island, that an old house about to be vacant would be taken by Jesuits.
CANT.June 18th, 1688.
Though I am, God bee thanked, in full imploy under the character your Grace has pleased to trust Mee with, yett-now that I have butt one moments time, I cannot but make use 'ont, to send my most hearty congratulations to your Grace for your safe deliverance from your confinement. Wee heare seen what publique testymonys there were of joy for it in London, and I know every good man keeps a privatejubileeupon this occasion. I am sure I returne my hearty thanks to God for it and most heartily pray that bee would ever protect you, with the rest of the Prelates, and the whole Church, from the malice and designs of all the evill willers of our Sion.
My good Lord, wee have, ever since wee began our good worke, had our hands very full 'ont ; att Sittingborne wee confirmed att least 500, and that afternoon att least 1500 at Feversham; yesterday att this place, I had above four hours worke in the afternoon, this morn above three, and yett have left considerable businesse for this evening, so that wee have, and shall, I believe, afore wee have done, confirmed 5,000 in this place.
To morrow morne early wee sett out for the Isle of Thanett, and so forwards, and that God's blessing may goe along with
us throughout this progresse in his owne worke, after my most humble dutypresented toyour Grace, I most humbly begge your
prayers for, and blessing upon,
Your Grace's most dutifull Son, and most obedt humble Servt B:S:M
[Part Ten - final]
MY Lord, I know nothing heer what is doing in Church matters in England; if then your Grace would condiscend to order my friend Dr. Battely or Dr. Morris to give mee notice if any remarkable Ecclesiasticall matters happen, it would bee a great and perchance necessary charity to prevent mee from running into inconveniences. They may direct to mee at Bishopscourt in the Isle of Man, to bee left with Dr. Richmond att Liverpool, Lancasshire, and hee will take care to send it to mee, I present my most humble duty to your Grace, heartily pray for your health and happiness, and humblybegg your blessing upon,
Your Grace's most dutifull Son, and most obed humble Servt B : SODOR AND MAN.
LIVERPOOLE, March 10th, 1688-9.
MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE, After a most terrible winter spent in my Island, that had almost quite destroy'd mee, I am now, God bee thanked, just arriv'd on English shoar again. Heer I find strange revolutions hapned since I left England, such as I could not have imagin'd; but amongst all these alterations, there is none I more dread than that least by some ill fate or other, I am become so unfortunate since I left your Grace, as to bee fallen into your disfavour; bycause, tho' your Grace was pleas'd to permitt mee the liberty to write to your Grace, and I accordingly did write severall letters to your Grace out of my Island, yett I never had the happinesse and the honour to receive one tittle from you there. This fear do's much afflict mee; and therefore, if there bee no just ground for it, your Grace would bee very charitable, and doe me a most obliging favour, if you would please to condiscend so far as to give mee one line to satisfy mee to the contrary. I am making what hast I can to Oxford, wheer I should bee proud to receive your Grace's commands, if you can have any to so inconsiderable a creature as,
MY MOST HONOUR'D LORD, Your Grace's most dutifull, most obed. humble Servt,
BAPT: SODOR AND MAN.
OXON, March 28th, 1689. MAY IT PLEASE YOUR GRACE, Your Graces of the 19th instant found mee att Oxon, and was most welcome upon all accompts, but especially upon this, that it assures mee of the continuance of your Grace's favor to mee, an honour I am humbly thankful to your Grace for, and is the only thing I have in the world to value my selfe upon. Besides the kind expressions in your letter, I humbly thank your Grace for the care you tooke to have mee recomended to his Majesty's favour in my absence; and indeed if your Grace knew what a dismall place I was forc'd to reside in last winter, and the inexpressible severitys of that inhospitable clime during that rigorous season, I am sure your great goodnesse would commiserate mee, and think, if possible, I ought to bee redeem'd from the necessity of ever passing such another tryall; but as things now stand, I see little hopes for mee of so good fortune; and therefore'tis but for mee to returne and passe tother winter in my diceesse, and that will cure mee att once of all my miserys, and rescue mee from the sad apprehensions I now lye under, not only for myselfe, but for the Church itselfe. 1 I thank God I am of none of the weakest, none of the tenderest constitutions ; and yett the hardships I underwent in my last winter's exile have so broak it, that by my phisitian's advice, I am now entred into a long course of physick to re-establish my health,2 by that means much impayrd. As soon as well, I bring my thanks in person to your Grace for all your favors; in the meantime, begge your Grace to accept of all humble duty and acknowledgements from,
MY MOST HONOURD LORD, Your Grace's most dutyfull Son, and obedt humble Servt,
B: SODOR AND MAN.
1 Probably his Lordship here intends a melancholy sort of jest that another winter in the Isle of Man would finish him, sorrows, fears, and all.
2 A fair specimen of the notions entertained of medical practice in those days. One can imagine the necessity of something of the kind at the end of a London season, replete with civic and aldermanic dinners; but after six months' starvation in the Isle of Man, it seems a work of supererogation. A modern patient, moreover, would probably reverse this order of things, and visit the searching breezes of Man to correct the effects of a long course of physic.
The appalling descriptions given by Bishop Levinz of the storms and tempests which he encountered in the inhospitable climate of Man, when placed in contrast with the character frequently attributed to it at the present, time, might induce a reader to suppose that the climate had really undergone a change; whereas the only alteration which seems to have actually taken place, has been in the means and appliances, whereby the inhabitants moderate the rigour and break. the force of these storms. There is no reason for supposing that the surrounding elements have altered their character within the last 150 years; but during that period a greater change has taken place in the condition of the Island than can be traced in any other part of the British dominions.
A strange belief is entertained by some, and perhaps occasionally encouraged by those who wish to attract strangers to its shores, that the climate of Man is peculiarly mild and genial. But a glance at the map of the British Isles must be sufficient to convince any one, that a mountainous island, lying within sight, and also within a few hours' sail of the mountains of Cumberland, Westmoreland, and Galloway, is not likely to present so complete a contrast to the natural climate of those districts; nor indeed does it. True it is,that owing to the surrounding saline atmosphere the snow seldom remains long unthawed upon the ground, although it often falls to a considerable thickness, nor does frost continue long uninterrupted; and this is pretty nearly the only advantage which the climate enjoys; for winds are frequent, violent, and bitterly cold, and very prejudicial, when any liability to pulmonary disease exists, especially in the spring. The spring is generally cold, and vegetation late. Any one who passed the winter of 1846-7 in the Island, could vouch for the existence of a degree of cold not to be surpassed anywhere within the British seas.
Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received
© F.Coakley , 2009