He would appear to have moved to the Island by 1814 as the baptism of his first son, John Brown, is recorded at Braddan on 12th Nov 1814. According to Cubbon first appearance as a printer was in 1820 when he printed blank pass forms for those about to leave the Island. However his major achievement was to print the Manks Rising Sun or Mona's Herald (generally referred to as the Sun to prevent confusion with the later Walls/Fargher Mona's Herald) which commenced 24 April 1821. Penrice remained associated with this paper until 1827. During this time he published some fine books - The Manx Sketch Book of 1825 with lithographs from drawings of Lady Sarah Murray and a book of poems both by Thomas Ashe, are two praised by Cubbon.
The years from 1827 to 1836 would appear to be a blank - I can find no publication of his for this period. Quiggin's 1836 guide gives him operating a lodging house (though this would appear to be a common side interest for printers!) at an address on South Quay.
From 1836 until 1849 he was associated with Joseph Ritson Wallace in publishing the Manx Liberal. Cubbon describes Penrice as the 'practical man' whilst Wallace was the editor. Their advertisement in the first issue described themselves as Letterpress and Copperplate printers - the Manx Liberal was published from an address in Great George Street which was also the home of Wallace's museum. Their partnership was dissolved in May 1849 when the Liberal was in financial difficulty - Wallace agreed to be responsible for the debts and Penrice stated that he would continue the Liberal on his own. The last copy in the Manx Museum is dated 2nd Nov 1850 though Cubbon thinks it may have continued a little longer. On 25 March 1851 the coroner of Middle sold, at public auction, John Penrice's printing equipment (see Manx Sun 22 Mar 1851).
He would appear to have left the Island at this time as he does not appear in the 1851 census; according to Cubbon he was supposed to have died in poverty though he gives no dates.
In 1841 census listed (as John Penice) with wife Martha (age 55), son George 17 and daughter Mary-Ann 19. His daughter Jane had married Hugh Williamson of Whitehaven who c. 1836 had established a ship-yard on the Tongue at Douglas (to expoit the considerable differential in import duty on timber between the Island and the UK) - the Manx yards went into recession c.1842 and Williamson moved to Whitehaven where it is possible that John followed them - his wife Martha died at Whitehaven in October 1854, whilst John himself died at Green Moore Side, Beckermet on 1st January 1863.
Manks Rising Sun or Mona's Herald 1821-1827
Manx Liberal 1836-1850
W. Cubbon Bibliography of works relating to the Isle of Man Vol II section L4 Douglas:1939
Private communication from Henry Fancy.
| Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received
© F.Coakley, 2006