[From Brown's Directory, 1881/2]

[Historical Chapter]


In 1860, Mr Hope was succeeded by Francis Pigott, Esq., M.P. for Reading, and brother of the late Baron Pigott, who was received upon his arrival at Douglas with great rejoicings, and was sworn in at Castle Rushen, November 12th, 1860. In 1859 the owner of Government House, Castletown, had given notice of his wish to regain possession of his property, and, in consequence, Governor Pigott, unable to obtain another suitable building in Castletown, and as the Government refused to build a Government House, removed the seat of government to Douglas, selecting as his residence the mansion-house of Villa Marina, with its beautiful grounds. Of course this important step, though in the first instance originating in a private act, had its public side and produced results of great public importance. It was undoubtedly of great public advantage to the public service, Douglas being not only the largest and most flourishing town, but also in the centre of the Island, and therefore more easy of access from all parts than Castletown at its southern extremity. But though this removal of the government to Douglas was caused in the first place by the private action of a leading Castletonian, it was strongly resented by the inhabitants of Castletown, who memorialised the Government repeatedly, and did everything in their power to bring about a return to the ancient capital; but in vain. The step once taken, its advantage and utility were at once perceived, indeed they had long been felt, and a return to Castletown was felt to be out of the question. This change of the Governor’s residence has been followed successively by the removal to Douglas of various Government Departments and also of the Legislature of the Island, as well as of several of the Law Courts.

On the 4th May, 1861, the Mr James Brown, of Douglas, issued the first number of a new liberal journal, THE ISLE OF MAN TIMEs, which at once took up its position as the earnest and enlightened advocate of social and political progress, and the decided and unflinching opponent of tyranny and oppression in whatever form they appeared. In its columns were to be seen the first signs of coining change, and supported by its powerful advocacy, the friends of progress were able to maintain their ground against both the inertia of ingrained habit and the more active resistance of officialism and its supporters. Again and again the position assumed by this journal, as the determined advocate of popular liberty and progress, has involved its proprietor in difficulties, sometimes of an exceedingly painful character; but neither pecuniary, fines nor even personal imprisonment could quench its zeal for liberty or prevent the ultimate triumph of the principles it so persistently advocated. As a consequence, The ISLE OF MAN TIMEs rapidly grew in the public estimation, and has long stood the foremost and most influential of the Insular press.

On the 17th of the same month of May a reply was received from the Postmaster-General to a memorial addressed to him, asking for a daily mail throughout the year, refusing the application on the ground that the receipts from the Manx post-office would not warrant the additional expenditure which such a concession would cause. Later, on the 17th April, 1862, a preliminary meeting of the promoters of a projected railway from Douglas to Peel, was held in Douglas to receive the report of a surveyor (Mr Finley) who had examined the proposed route. This report was adopted by the meeting, and the scheme was placed by advertisement before the public, and strongly advocated by the Manx press; but few shares were taken, and ultimately it collapsed. During the winter and spring of 1862, a very unpleasant feeling was raised by certain proceedings in Chancery which were undertaken to compel a number of influential gentlemen of local standing who had formed themselves into a committee for raising funds to preserve Peel Castle and St. German’s Cathedral, to produce their accounts. in August, 1859, these gentlemen, from a laudable desire to preserve the ancient ruins on Peel Islet from destruction, had originated a Grand Fancy Fair among the ruins in aid of the fund they represented, and it was generally believed that a large sum of money had been realised by this gathering; but no balance sheet was produced, and no account of receipts and expenditure was made public. Many attempts were made to induce the committee to publish their accounts, but without effect. All other means having failed, and three years having elapsed since the holding of the bazaar, a suit in Chancery was instituted (the costs of which were defrayed by public subscription) to compel them to render their accounts. The proceedings occupied some time, but the action was dismissed on technical grounds. But this suit awl the strong expression of public feeling which was evoked by it, had the desired effect, for ultimately the Bazaar Committee issued a balance sheet which showed that the receipts had been £1,215 6s 10d, that they had a balance in the bank of £183, and that they had expended on the ruins £14. Naturally,’ great dissatisfaction was expressed on this revelation, but the discontent gradually died away and the matter was forgotten.

The number of visitors during the summer of 1862 was about 70,000; but this number, large as it is, was considerably below the average for several years past in consequence of the distress in Lancashire and the adjoining districts (from whence most of the summer visitors to the Island then came) resulting from "The Cotton Famine." Towards the fund raised for the relief of this terrible distress, the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company gave a donation of £500, and other subscriptions were raised in other parts of the Island.

Among other ameliorative movements commenced at this time was one for making proper public provision for the unfortunate imbeciles who had hitherto been left in the charge of their relatives and friends. Many of these poor creatures it appeared had been shamefully ill-treated by those who had charge of them, and harrowing accounts were published in the Insular newspapers of the cruelties inflicted upon them, and of the wretched condition in which many of them dragged out their existence. Moved by these representations and by the strong pressure placed upon them by the Imperial Government, the Insular Legislature began to take steps towards removing the scandal. In 1853, Governor Hope and Bishop Auckland, on behalf of the country, purchased the Rushen Abbey estate with the intention of converting the mansion house upon it into a lunatic asylum. Later, measures were taken for imposing a general Asylum Rate upon the country; but in March, 1861, the Tynwald Court decided that the Abbey House was unsuitable for the purposes of an asylum, and passed an Act for revoking the Deed of Sale and restoring the premises to their former owner, the Rev. Mr Ward. At a Tynwald Court held on August 19, 1862, it was decided to purchase a plot of land at the Strang, near Douglas, at a cost of about £2,000.

In October, 1862, a heavy gale swept over the Island, causing great destruction of property on land and numerous losses about the coasts.

In December, The Isle of Man Times, the organ of the progressive party in the Island, contained a series of powerful articles pointing out the injustice of the town of Douglas being compelled to contribute out of the town rates (which were much too small for the requirements of the town itself) the large sum of £260 annually towards the maintenance of the country roads, while the country contributed nothing towards the maintenance of the town streets; and demanding from the Legislature, as an act of simple justice, that this heavy and iniquitous tax upon the resources of the town should be abolished. The agitation against the taxation of the town for the country roads thus began, was vigorously continued both by the Insular press and by the Town Commissioners on behalf of the ratepayers, and was at length successful; the obnoxious impost being formally abolished at a Tynwald Court held on Oct. 30,1873.

The same enlightened journal also contained in its issue for December 20 and 27, 1862, an appeal to the House of Keys to bring in a Bill for extending to the Island the provisions of the recently passed law of limited liability.

In January, 1863, a tremendous gale passed over the Island. Great damage was done to buildings and other property, and a large schooner, the Duchess of Lancaster, was wrecked on Langness, and seven of her crew drowned.

On the 14th January, 1863, Governor Pigott died, of internal cancer, at his seat in Hampshire, in his 56th year. During his short but promising administration of two years and three months, the country made considerable advances in the amelioration of its condition and the development of its long-dormant resources. Many much-needed reforms were effected, and several measures of great utility, including the removal of the seat of government from Castletown to Douglas, the commencement of those great harbour works which have since attained such gigantic proportions, and the preliminary proceedings towards providing a lunatic asylum for the Island, were either originated during his tenure of office or were fostered by his prudent management of affairs. From his first appointment to the Lieutenant-Governorship, however, the state of his health necessitated frequent and lengthened absence in England, and prevented his giving that full attention to the duties of his office which otherwise he would undoubtedly have done.

Upon the death of the Lieutenant-Governor and pending the appointment and arrival of his successor, M. H. Quayle, Esq., the Clerk of the Rolls, was appointed Deputy Lieutenant-Governor; and, being a resident at Castletown and a strong supporter of the pretentions of Castletown, he signalised his accession to authority by removing all the Law Courts to that town. This retrograde act, together with the well-known partisanship of the Deputy Governor, caused great excitement in Douglas, public meeting was held in the Court House, in that town, February 13th, under the chairmanship of the High-Bailiff, at which an influential committee was appointed to draw up and present to the newly appointed Lieutenant-Governor a memorial setting forth the claims of Douglas to be the seat of the Government.

On the 29th January, 1863, Henry Brougham Loch, Esq., C.B., was appointed Lieutenant-Governor in succession to the late F. Pigott, Esq. Mr Loch was the youngest son of James Loch, Esq., of Duylaw, formerly M.P. for Kirkwall, and was born in 1827. in 1844 he entered the Hon. East India Company’s Bengal Cavalry, and as aide-de-camp to Lord Gough, served through the Sutlej campaign. After holding the adjutancy of his regiment three years, be was appointed second in command of Skinner’s Horse in 1851. He returned to England early in 1854, and volunteered his services to the army in Bulgaria to assist in organising the Turkish cavalry. He accompanied the army to the Crimea, and was present at the battle of the Alma. He resigned his commission in the East India Company’s service, and afterwards joined the Cheshire Yeomanry. In April, 1857, he accompanied the Earl of Elgin on his mission to China as first attache, and was selected by that nobleman to bring borne the treaty with Japan, signed at Jeddo, in August, 1858. On his return to China he was selected to fill the office of private secretary to Lord Elgin, and he continued to hold that office until he was, in 1860, treacherously captured by the Chinese during the hostilities carried on in that year between the two countries, and, together with Mr Parkes, the English Consul, suffered the most barbarous indignities. An indemnity of £100,000 was, on the conclusion of peace, exacted from the Chinese for the families of the imprisoned and murdered captives; but the prisoners set at liberty generously gave their share of it to the families of those who had been murdered. Mr Loch brought home the Convention of Pekin, and the ratified Treaty of Tient-sin, and for his services was made Companion of the Bath. He also had the honour of being invited to dine with her Majesty, to whom he related the incidents of his captivity; and soon after received the appointment of private secretary to Sir George Grey, Secretary for the Home Department. From this brief and necessarily imperfect sketch of the varied career of Mr Loch, it will be seen that he is a man of great activity and experience, who had seen military and diplomatic service in all parts of the world; and the reader will be prepared by it to anticipate much of that untiring energy and ability which have since marked his administration of Insular affairs. Commenting upon his appointment to the governorship of the Isle of Man, the London Times said:—" The public will hear with pleasure of this small mark of royal favour bestowed upon a gentleman whose sufferings in the prisons of Pekin two years ago excited so much sympathy not only by reason of their severity, but also by the gallant bearing with which they were endured."

As soon as the news of Mr Loch’s appointment reached the Island, extensive preparations began to be made to give him a suitable reception on his arrival. The natural loyalty of the Manx people, which would, on ordinary occasions, have made them receive their new Governor with a hearty welcome, was at this time specially quickened and supplemented by the rival pretensions of the two capitals of the island—the old and the new—a rivalry revived and strengthened by the hasty and injudicious proceedings of the DeputyGovernor—and in both towns, but especially in the larger and more energetic town of Douglas, steps were taken at once to accompany their welcome with as strong a statement as possible of the relative claims of their respective districts. The committee appointed at the town’s meeting of Feb. 13th, 1863, drew up a memorial in which the claims of Douglas were forcibly set forth; and the Douglas Town Commissioners also prepared a suitable address of welcome. Strongly worded articles appeared in the local journals, uniformly against the pretensions of the old capital, which, indeed, appeared to find no supporters beyond the immediate circle of the Castletown interest. Preparations for a public demonstration in honour of the new Governor were begun by the Insular Volunteers and other public bodies, and but for his sudden and unexpected arrival before their arrangements were completed, the occasion would have been made one of great public rejoicing.

On the evening of Tuesday, the 17th of Feb., 1863, when the steamer Tynwald arrived within a few miles of the port of Douglas, the usual loiterers on the pier observed that the steamer, as she approached the port, threw up several rockets and fired her signal gun repeatedly as if to attract attention. This caused some excitement and occasioned many surmises as to the meaning of these signals, the most general one being that the new Governor was on board; a surmise confirmed by seeing, as the vessel entered the bay, that she was covered with flags and streamers. The arrival of his Excellency, who was accompanied by Mrs Loch, was altogether unexpected, and the only officials present were Deemster Drinkwater (whose guests for the occasion the Governor and his wife were to be) and James Burman, Esq., the Governor’s secretary. As the Governor and his wife landed, and, entering the Deemster’s carriage, drove off to Kirby, the few spectators present raised a hearty cheer, which was cordially acknowledged by his Excellency. During his stay at Kirby, the residence of his Honour Deemster Drinkwater, the Governor received the deputation appointed to present a memorial to him at the meeting of the 13th February, and, in reply to their representations, said that he had already read carefully the correspondence which had taken place upon the subject between the late Lieutenant-Governor and the Home Secretary, and that as soon as he assumed the reins of government he would give the matters they had laid before him his most serious attention. In the meantime, he added, he had decided to take a residence for himself in the neighbourhood of Douglas. This reply gave great satisfaction, especially when it became known that he had taken, as his residence, Bemahague, a beautifully situated mansion-house in the northern outskirts of the town, belonging to Capt. Jefferson. This choice of a residence proved so satisfactory that his Excellency and family have continued to reside in Bemahague down to the present time. On Thursday, the 19th February, 1863, Governor Loch was sworn into office at Castletown; and on Saturday, the 21st, he returned to England by way of Ramsey, to complete his preparations for entering upon the active duties of his office.

On the occasion of the marriage of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales with the Princess Alexandra of Denmark (March 10th, 1863), the Isle of Man was a scene of general festivity and rejoicing. In Douglas the day was kept as a general holiday, the town was profusely decorated with flags and ornamental devices, and a monster procession, consisting of the principal inhabitants, together with the school children, to the number of 2,300, accompanied by several bands of music, promenaded the town and neighbourhood. In the afternoon the scholars of the various schools were plentifully regaled with buns and other refreshments, and at night the town was generally illuminated, and a dinner was given by the principal inhabitants of Douglas at the Imperial Hotel, and a Grand Ball at Castle Mona.

After a short visit in the early part of March, the Governor returned to the Island on the 7th April, and at once entered upon the energetic discharge of the duties of his office. On the 6th June he laid the foundation stone of the Peel breakwater, and, together with Mrs Loch, was afterward entertained at a public luncheon in honour of the occasion, at which the Bishop and most of the leading men of the Island were present. At his first Tynwald Court, held at St. John’s, on July 6th, and, by adjournment, at Castletown, on July 13th, compensation to the amount of £200 was voted to Receiver-General Quirk for extra services in connection with the projected harbour works; and some alleged improper proceedings of the Disafforesting Commissioners were rather warmly discussed. At the conclusion of the regular business of the Court, his Excellency laid before the members for consideration a number of bills which he had had prepared, including the Summary Jurisdiction Bill, the Petty Sessions Bill, and a Bill for Amending the Law relating to Weights and Measures.

On the 29th of the same month the young Prince Alfred paid a flying visit to the Island, landing at Douglas and driving across the country to Peel, where he inspected the ruins of the ancient castle and cathedral.

At the commencement of the season of 1863, a new line of communication with England was opened by way of Silloth, near Carlisle, which rendered access to the Isle of Man easy to the North of England and the South of Scotland, and thus contributed to the further development of the Island as a summer watering place.

From this period began that course of energetic action on the part of Governor Loch which has produced such a great revolution in the condition and circumstances of the Island. Directly or indirectly every branch of the Insular administration felt his guiding and controlling hand, and was the better for it; and every public body under his stimulation exerted itself more vigorously and did its work more successfully. The Tynwald Court was summoned to meet at Castletown several times during the year, and several measures of great practical value were discussed, including a bill for assimilating the Manx law respecting weights and measures with the English, for punishing embezzlement, and for limiting the liability of holders of shares in joint stock companies. The question of a temporary lunatic asylum was also under frequent consideration, and the provision of a suitable lunatic asylum for the Isle was considerably advanced by these discussions.

By his advice, and with his encouragement, the Douglas Town Commissioners, under the able Leadership of their chairman and vice-chairman. Messrs John Mylrea and Charles Cleator, zealously prosecuted their labours for the improvement of the town. As the town was only very partially drained, the sewage matter being in many parts allowed to flow through the streets and to pollute the shore, and as the unsanitary condition of the town, especially in the older and more thickly populated districts, injuriously affected its healthiness, arrangements were entered into with Mr Stevenson, the borough engineer of Halifax, for the preparation of plans for a complete system of drainage for the town. (August, 1863). Another highly important measure for the welfare and prosperity of the town as a watering-place was the sanctioning by the Tynwald Court, November 17th, of a series of bye-laws, under which the Town Commissioners obtained authority to prosecute any one who injured the Douglas shore and bathing ground by carrying away the sand and gravel. The Highway Committee (a committee of the Tynwald Court) had assumed to themselves the right to use the sand and gravel of the shores of the Island for the purpose of metalling the high roads of the country, and had been accustomed to cart away large quantities annually from the Douglas shore for that purpose. Following this example, private persons had assumed the same right and had carried away vast quantities of sand and gravel for building and other purposes. These depredations had at last attained such a magnitude, and had so injured the shore of Douglas Bay, that its reputation as a summer bathing place was seriously endangered, and it became necessary to seek the means of putting a stop to this injurious practice. Accordingly, a number of bye-laws were drawn up by the Commissioners’ legal adviser (A. W. Adams, Esq.), and having obtained the necessary legislative sanction, they became law. The Commissioners at once put them into execution, and several gross offenders were prosecuted and fined.



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