[Taken from Feltham's Tour 1797, p235 et seq]
Is an airy pleasant town, ten miles from Douglas, sixteen from Peel, and twenty-six from Ramsey; it is smaller than Douglas, containing about 500 houses, but more spacious and regular. The town is divided by a small creek, which opens into a rocky and dangerous bay. The difficulty of entering its harbour, in some degree injures its commerce. A considerable quantity of grain is annually exported hence, and a variety of merchandise imported; but rum, wine, sugar, tobacco, &c. are admissible only into the port of Douglas, from whence other towns are supplied. In the centre is Castle-Rushen, which overlooks the country for many miles; it was built in 960 by Guttred, a prince of the Danish line, who is buried in it. It stands on a rock, and before the introduction of artillery, must have been impregnable. Its figure is irregular, said to resemble Elsinore; a stone glacis surrounds it. It still braves the injuries of time, and is a majestic and formidable object. The early kings used to reside here, in barbarous pomp. The lady of James, the seventh Earl of Derby, (after his decollation for his attachment to royalty in the civil wars,) sought, in Castle-Rushen, an asylum with her children; but when the republican army, under Colonels Birch and Duckenfield, with ten armed vessels, invaded this island, this fortress was surrendered at their first summons. Her gallant defence of Latham-house was remembered; and though her pride was hurt, her captivity was softened by the generosity and respect of the officers. Apartments in it are now occupied by the Lieut.-Governor.
It is not exactly known when the castle was built, as theCountess of Derby, who was confined here, carried, afterwards, away the records of the isle therein deposited, some suppose to Copenhagen, where they were consumed by the late fire, others to some part of Norway, &c.
A ground plan of this formidable castle is engraved in plate III.
It appeared in evidence, in 1791, that Castle-Rushen was ina dilapidated state, and " that the meetings of the legislature are held in places ill-suited to the dignity of their functions; the Keys assemble in a mean small building; the courts of chancery and common-law are held in an indifferent apartment in Castle Rushen. The place in the castle used as a gaol has but one apartment to receive all persons committed for debt, or any offence less than capital; this is small, dark, without any divisions, and altogether unfit for its purpose. The dungeons in the interior ward of the castle, appropriated for the reception of persons convicted of or charged with capital crimes, are still more wretched, and improper for the reception of any offender. The gaoler has a salary of 12l. per annum, certainly too little."
The House of Keys has a public library over it, but it is blocked up, and the books of most value selected for the use of the academy. A draw-bridge, and stone-bridge, cross the river at Castletown. Formerly there was a handsome piazza in the market-place, with a cross in the middle; at the old chapel, at the upper end, was buried Raynold, son of Olave, King of Manin 1249, with his brother Magnus, and some others.
On the 16th of July, 1698, Bishop Wilson laid the foundationof a
new chapel at Castletown, which was built and paid for out of the
ecclesiastical revenues. " The Lord grant (says he), that it may,
when it is finished, continue a house of prayer to all ages."
[* The original intention of erecting crosses, whether in churchyards or in public roads, was to remind people of the meritorious cross and passion of our blessed Saviour JESUS Christ; and of the duty incumbent on them to pray for the souls of their departed brethren.- Hist. of Somerset, vol. i. p. 224, 4to.]
In 1710 the library of Castletown was finished, the greater part of the expense of which, amounting to 83l 1s. 6d., was subscribed by the Bishop. Subscription 14l. 6s. 4d.
" April 11, 1701 (says Bishop Wilson), I consecrated the chapel at Castletown, the lord of the isle being present, who desired me to give orders touching the seats, &c."
When Bishop Wilson, in 1722, suspended Archdeacon Horrobin, he authorised the Rev. Mr. Ross, academical professor, to officiate in his stead until further orders; in consequence of the Governor's conduct, a few weeks after, the following letter was addressed to him from the Bishop:
" To the Hon. the Governor of this Isle,
" Having just now had an account from the Rev. Mr. Ross, whom I appointed to officiate in Castletown chapel during the archdeacon's suspension, that the doors of the said chapel are shut up, and that you have refused to deliver him the keys, whereby the people are deprived of the public worship of God, at the chapel of that town, which has ever been subjected to me and my predecessors, is endeavoured to be made independent; I do therefore again complain against your said act, as a fresh instance of your intrenching on the episcopal authority, and which (if not speedily remedied) may open a gap for a much greater and more pernicious innovation. At a Tinwald court,22d of June, 1722."
This neat and elegant chapel terminates a wide parade; the pulpit has a satin damask cloth of crimson colour. The chapel is 81 feet by 24. The windows, notwithstanding an apparent uniformity, will be perceived, on a closer inspection, to be deeper on one side than on the other. The monuments are to the memory of Governor Horton, Governor Wood, Mr. Tyldesley, Mr. Quayle, and Mr. Callow, the latter of which is inscribed as under, on a neat marble:
" Daniel Callow, Esq. H.K.who, in discouraging circumstances, cheerfully accepted a commission to attend the business of his country in the south of England, where he died, zealously engaged in the duty of that appointment, June 18, 1790, aged 39.As a grateful testimony of their respect for his virtues, public spirit, and services, the House of Keys, with others his countrymen and friends, have caused this monument to be erected."
Castletown is the residence of John Lace, Esq. the deemster for the southern district. [See pages 36, 144.] John F. Crellin, Esq. deemster for the northern district, resides at Orrisdale. The former I had not the honour of knowing; but of the hospitality and politeness of both Mr. and Mrs. Crellin, every stranger, who visits that part of the island, must bear the most grateful and pleasing testimony.
Its general clean appearance, its society, the military, the vicinity, the pleasant walks to Reynoldsway, Scarlet, Stack,'*&c.; together with its contiguity to Douglas, Port-le-Mary, Port-iron, &c. all conspire to render Castletown a very agreeable place. It has a market on Saturdays, and a fair in July, buth as no regular butcher's shops. The harbour of Derby-haven is a natural one of great capabilities. It has a collector, comptroller, riding-officer, searcher, &c.
The free-school comprises two objects, the academic institution, and the grammar-school, free for classical education. The Rev.T. Castley, who succeeded Dr. Kippax as chaplain, is the present master. [See pages 92, 93.][* Stack, in the Gaelic language, signifies a pyramidical rook which rises out of the sea, and is detached from everything else]
The Rev. Joseph Stowell has also an academy for classical learning at the Bowling-green, near Castletown, in a pleasant situation.
The free-school was formerly a chapel dedicated to St. Mary, which was consecrated in 1200. This institution was established by Bishop Barrow, to supply the church. They receive instructions under an academic professor, who must be MA. from one of the Universities, for whom a decent salary is allowed, and provision for three or four students of the establishment.* At Douglas, also, there is a benefaction for the education of two candidates for the ministry; so that the island affords a sufficientshare of schools for teaching the classics, theology, and the art sand sciences.
* Students 1798, Mr. J. Allen, Mr. T. Stephens, Mr. Harrison, Mr. Nelson;
A short distance to the east of Ballatrollage, about three miles from Castletown, is a famous well, visited for medical aid. Near Castletown, some traces of an earthquake, and of a volcanic eruption, have been observed. According to an old historian, in the reign of Ivar, the third Prince of Wales, there happened a remarkable earthquake in the island, which much disturbed and annoyed the inhabitants.*
In the road from Castletown to Derbyhaven, you pass the ruins of Mount Strange, a kind of summer-house, in formertimes the scene of sociable festivity; the large room was about 36 feet by 24.
The rocky shore about Castletown consists of a bastard marble of a dark colour, but much intersected with lines of white spar.It yields good lime, but requires much fuel.
A place of execution, which is adjoining the town, is, happily, seldom or never wanted; the Spirit of the criminal laws is mild, and the following are the only persons who I could learn had been executed. In 1735, William and James Clucas, and William Kelly, for burglary end robbery; and in 1740, John Bridson, of Ballasalla, for the murder of a young woman, who was pregnant by him. What a contrast to the number which, in the metropolis of England, have suffered death from that period ! In one year, from 1793 to 1794, sixty-eight persons were executed in London only; and from 2,500 to 3,000 persons are annually committed for trial !
In returning from the Round Fort, and in the fields in the vicinity of Castletown, the castle and place appear to great advantage, particularly the former, which looks formidable ands ublime. " Nor is there (says Mr. Gilpin), in travelling, a greater pleasure than when a scene of grandeur bursts unexpectedly on the eye, accompanied with some accidental circumstance of the atmosphere, which harmonises with it, and gives it double value."
I have already stated, that this parish has been exposed to the incursions of the enemy; and that it did not always enjoy that sweet tranquillity it possesses at present, we may further learn from the historical documents.
When Alexander, King of Scotland, on the death of Magnus(see page 8), began to seize the isles, Ivar, who had married his widow, resolved to defend 1liar`, and met, with great resolution, a numerous army under Alexander of Peasely, and John Comyne, who landed at Rannesway, in 1270. Ivar, though inferior in number, met them with a resolution natural to the Manks, but fell with 537 of the flower of the people.
And in 1313, King Robert Bruce sat down before the Castle of Rushen, which, for six months, was obstinately defended by one Dingay Dowyll, though in whose name we do no tfind.
Of the Crownan line were nine princes, who were all feudatories to the Kings of England, and often resorted to the English court, where they were kindly received, and had pensions given them.
Alexander III. as we have seen, with the other islands conquered this (see page 8), which, as parcel of that kingdom, came into the hands of Edward I., who directed his warden, Huntercombe, to restore it to John Baliol, who had done homage to him for the kingdom of Scotland.
In 35th Edward I. is a record extant in Mr. Prynn, of our King's right and seizure of the Isle of Man for his use. It was granted, after dispossessing Henry de Bello Monte, to Gilbert de Makaskall during pleasure, who having expended 1212 l.. 3s. Id. in defence of it against the Scots, and likewise laid out 380l. 17s. 6d. in victuals, which he delivered to the governor of the castle of Carlisle, to victual it against the Scots, had both these sums allowed him, upon his petition, and was ordered to be paid.
For the succession of governors from Sir John Stanley's time see page 18.