[This short biographical note, by J.G.Cumming, is extracted from Manx Soc vol X where it forms note 2]
NOTE 2. -" JAMES CHALONER." (Epistle Dedicatory, page 2.)
James Chaloner (our author), was fourth son of Thomas Chaloner, of Guisborough, in Yorkshire (Knighted in 1591, and died 1615), by his first wife Elizabeth, daughter of William Fleetwood, Esq., Recorder of London. He was born in London in 1603,and at the age of 13 years, he became a Commoner of Brazenose College, in Oxford. According to Wood (Athenae Oxonienses, vol. iii., p. 161), he continued there three or four years, and then went either to travel or to the Inns of Court. On the breaking out of the Civil War, he joined the fortunes of the Parliamentary party, and was chosen as a Recruiter to sit for Aldborough, in Yorkshire, in the Long Parliament. He took the Solemn League and Covenant, and sided with the Independents .Having married Ursula Fairfax, daughter of Sir William Fairfax, of Steeton, in Yorkshire, he was thus brought into loose connection with Thomas, Lord Fairfax and with him was chosen one of the Judges of King Charles the First; having, in the previous year, 1647, been appointed Secretary to the Committee for the reformation of the University of Oxford. The Isle of Man having been granted by Parliament to Lord Fairfax, Chaloner was named by him, August 17th, 1652, a Commissioner (along with Robert Dinely, Esq., and Joshua Witton, Minister of the Gospel,) for administering his Lordship's affairs in the Island. The present treatise is the result of his labours on that occasion; and his diligence appears to have been so fully appreciated by Fairfax, that he was appointed to the Governorship of the Island, in 1658, and continued in that office till 1660. He does not appear to have taken as much interest in the Restoration as his patron. On being sent for to London, apprehending the consequences of the leading part he had taken in the sentence on Charles the First, he anticipated judgement by taking poison. Wood says, that in March or April, 1660, messengers were sent from the Superior Power to take James Chaloner into custody, and to secure his castle for the use of His Majesty; " but he having received timely notice of their coming, dispatched away himself by poison, taken, as 'tis said, in a posses made by his concubine, whom he then for several years had kept; leaving behind him a son named Edmund, of about 19 years of age, begotten on the body of his lawful wife."
He, at any rate, died in 1660, in his 58th year; and besides the son Edmund, born in 1635, left three daughters.
Of his literary abilities, and his zeal in antiquarian pursuits, we have both the testimony of his contemporaries, and evidence in the present work. He was esteemed, says Wood, as an ingenious and singular lover of antiquities. He made divers collections of arms, genealogies, seals, and monuments, from ancient evidences, of which he left records in various papers and books, which were afterwards perused by the learned Dr. Robert Sanderson, an eminent antiquary. He also made collections of arms, monuments, &c., in Staffordshire, Shropshire, and Cheshire; which came into the hands of John, son of Augustine Vernon, Windsor Herald, and were by him entitled Chaloner's Collections for Staffordshire, Salop. and Chester, and marked J C. In the present work, Chaloner tells us that he caused several of the tumuli, with which the Isle of Man abounds, to be opened; and he has given us his views respecting their age and the people to whom they may be assigned. His devotion to heraldry and genealogical investigations, are seen in the documents which he has furnished as to Lord Beaumont, and the plate he has given us of the coats of arms of various branches of the Beaumont family. Very little of party bias can be observed in his writings. Not a word is written against the Earl of Derby, or the Governors appointed by him; and the candour of his statements respecting the condition of the Manx Church; the piety, zeal, and talents of the Bishops Phillips and Parr, and the inferior Clergy, is very remarkable. It is nevertheless said in Gough's History of the people called Quakers, (Dublin, 1789,) that " He had been a violent persecutor; and was heard to say a little before his death, that he would quickly rid the Island of Quakers."
A document of the muster roll for Peel Castle for 26 July 1660 states the 'late' James Chaloner who was known to be in Peel on 2nd July that year. So it would appear he died, of natural causes, in Peel.
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