M.P. & M.J. Backwell

Matthew Price Backwell, 1801-, started in business in February 1845, in Duke Street, Douglas, next door to the Wellington Market (i.e. Strand Street end) . Non-Manx, born Bristol, according to Cubbon was editor of Port of Tyne Pilot before coming to the Island. In Februray 1848 advertised in Manx Liberal for subscribers to a new publication - Isle of Man News and Christian Recorder - proposed first issue 1st March 1848 - this publication did not appear to have been printed. Wrote guidebook 'Handbook for Vistors', first published 1849 and which ran into several editions.

By 1850 had moved to 3, Strand Street and advertises the possession of a lithographic press. Cubbon quotes his grandson, A.C.Backwell, as saying that he wrote several articles for English magazines as well as for Shirrefs and Russell's Isle of Man Times. He also wrote some poetry as well as doing his own wooden block and some copperplate engraving. In 1861 census shown living with wife Frances (b. 1798). He apparently retired to Lancashire - married much younger (2nd) wife Phoebe Gathercole (born April 1, 1838 Lakenheath, Suffolk, daughter of John and Ann Gathercole) in Liverpool, March 1866 (he was 65 to her 28!) - in 1881 census he is found at 36 Hicks Road Litherland, with his wife and neice. Interestingly his next door neighbour is Annie Quayle (age 41,Widow born London) - possibly a daughter from first marriage ?.

In 1863 Thwaites directory M.P.Backwell shown as bookseller and engraver, as well as operating a lending library at Prospect Hill, Douglas. M.J. Backwell is shown as engraver and bookbinder, and agent to British and Foreign Bible Society at Malew street Castletown.

Matthew James Backwell, 1829-1908, was son of M.P.Backwell and when only 22 opened business in Malew Street, Castletown which continued for a long time under the direction of his sons Alfred Corlett and Frederick Corlett Backwell.


Backwell's Handbook for Visitors - editions in 1849,1853, 1854, 1858, 1861, 1862, 1864 (though last 3 n.d.)

Several of the Views from Guide Book are on-line.


W. Cubbon Bibliography of works relating to the Isle of Man Vol II section L4 Douglas:1939

Manx Note Book   [Index of Printers]

Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley, 2006