Brief Biography of Canon John Quine 1857-1940

John Quine (ex Manxman 1911)

Son of William and Christian Quine, millers at Silverdale; attended King William's College and then Merton College, Oxford where he was Postmaster. Returned to Island as Curate of Kirk Michael and domestic chaplain to Bishop Hill. Entered teaching in 1883 becoming headmaster of Douglas Grammar School. Vicar of All Saints, Lonan, 1895-1940; responsible for rescue of Lonan Old Church. President of IoMNHASociety 1916-17 but Presidential address never published. Often the butt of various jokes due to his unquenchable belief in the Roman occupation of the Island. The quote from the late Professor Dolley, Queeens University Belfast (Inaugral lecture 'Some Irish dimensions to Manx History' 1976) is (as typical) rather cutting:

Clearly there was no Roman occupation of Man, and we are brought back to reality from that splendiferous occasion in 1916 when Canon Quine proclaimed to the local Natural History and Antiquarian Society Man's status as - felix lapsus linguae 'an integral part of the Roman kingdom'! The address was never printed but one gathers that the arguments involved triangulation.

The report (in Proc vol II no 2 p89 and p95)of his unpublished address runs:

Canon Quine then delivered an Address on ' The Roman Survey of the Isle of Man,' illustrated by sketch maps. He claimed that the Cronks, hitherto believed to have been burial places or fortifications, were really artificial mounds used by the Roman engineers to assist in the triangulation and plotting out of lands; they were found at regular distances of Roman miles in proper alignment, and the connecting lines formed regular parallelograms and triangles when tested on the Ordnance Map. He regarded certain Manx place-names as corruptions of old Latin designations derived from Roman emperors, goddesses and heroes.

He obviously repeated these comments in a lecture at the Manx Museum in the 1930's. Although easy to mock these views Canon Quine did much useful work and wrote several books including
Captain of the Parish 1897, a novel, much praised by T.E. Brown
The Isle of Man 1911 Cambridge University Press
Handbook en route; Isle of Man Souvenir of Coast and Mountain Electric Railways [c.1900]

A more sympathetic portrait is drawn by Mona Douglas (Chap 10 This is Ellan Vannin 1965) - in which she points out his lack of knowledge of Manx and great love of the classics somewhat isolated him from the other Gaelic-centred antiquarians. She also says that he was not an easy man to get to know who had a certain sense of grievance as his public rewards didn't come near to matching his deserts.

In his oration prior to a dramatic enactment of T.E.Browns's Betsy Lee he has the following bit of self-description " It so happened that another friend of mine, occupying an important position here on the Island, sincere in goodwill, but of a spirit too timid to breathe the air that was native to myself, came to Tom Brown, like Nicodemus by night, and besought him to prevail on me to alter my too independent attitude towards certain personages; in order that I might by a show of deference further my material interests in the direction of Church preferment!"


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