[From Manx Annals,1901/2]




In the year 1825, a newspaper war was carried on between the "Manx Advertiser".and the "Manx Patriot" over the Peel Grammar school. There was great dissatisfaction amongst parents and others as to the exact meaning of the term "free", connected with that school. An inquiry held at St: John's, where a petittion was read and evidence taken from those interested In the institution The "Patriot" took the side of the petitioners, the "Advertiser", that of the teacher, but no decision was arrived at:

The "Advertiser " of February 3rd, 1825 says :-" The Peel Grammar School still continues to engage the public mind. ...The trustees had a right to attend to a petition publically addressed to them and to hear the complaint ...It has appeared that the seminary has never been placed under any specific regulations. It is like a city without walls ... Some call it a free school, for teaching Latin exclusively-but no one can declare in what sense it is free - whether the master is bound to teach five hundred or five - or whether he must teach one language or seven. There are in Peel two other free schools. These are subject to certain restrictions, and the objects of their institution are clearly pointed out. The reverse of this being the state of the school under consideration."

A letter appeared in the "Adertiser" in answer to "Veritas" in the "Patriot". More letters ensued; and in the same number of the paper as the foregoing extraxt was taken from was a letter of a column and a half signed "Peter Fairplay, Creg Malin." The following is a brief.

"A corrspondent in a contempory print who styles himself 'Veritas', not content with the traduction of the character of the head of that seminary (the Peel Grammar School) even to a degree of outrage, she recommences a second assault. Judge then of my surprise when I find another attempt to overthrow this fair edifice, saying that 'every substantial word uttered in that paragraph is destitute of truth.' (she alludes to a letter of January 13th.) 'Veritas' points to sworn evidence ; but the written report of that evidence is doubted. Mr Taubman swore that he had sent three sons thirteen or fourteen years ago; a pretty piece of evidence truly. But what says it ? 'They were not sent to learn Latin particularly, but to get a general education.' For this education Mr G-- ([James] Gelling, vicar of German) took quarterage, and so he should, else the trustees were in fault for not inhibiting him. Mrs Friselle sent her son to learn English and Latin. For this Mr G-- took quarterage, and where is the reason he should not ? James Cowin supposed his son was 'learning reading and writing as well as Latin, he learnt mathematics also.' Quayle, the mason, said Hitterick taught freely ; but this does nor prove any right ; and goes at this distance of time, only to say that he did what he might have declined doing ; or possibly had some other motive for doing - messages perhaps. But Mr G. is fully exonerated by the sweeping deposition that the boy "learned no Latin at all at all." The very answer of Mr G. to this man, when he applied to him to take his son, implies very strongly indeed the distinction which the master always observed between teaching Latin and other branches. Quayle swears that Mr G. said "he would not touch his son free," and then, "I told Gelling if he would not take the boy I would find means to make him." This was an impudent insult ; and I should not wonder at a certain lady coming forward on such occasion to witness such an indignity to her husband. Yet even this is not true. The lady alluded to being not present at the time ; so they say at Peel. John Gawne is the only witness who disposes to the exclusive learning of Latin, for which seven shillings entrance was taken. The assertion that Mr G. taught Latin freely, I think was correct. It does not appear, even from Gawne's testimony that quarterage was received for Latin. Another point of the written evidence is what bears on the general use of the schoolroom. . Mr Stowell is proved to have kept school in the parlour.(This was Joseph Stowell, a former master, who died 1801. The school was in the Vicarage in Castle Street - The house now belongs to Mr Dale) It is also proved that the school was kept in different rooms of the house, and that the yard wsa used as a timber yard. An. other part of the evidence, which instead of throwing blame on the master tends to remove the opprobrium heaped upon him, and that is what one witness calls .the 'drudgery of the school; and another ' doing jobs,' all which services seemed to have been jobbed or bargained for. J.King confessed to have received a reduction for such services., Charles Cannell swears that his mother went to see if the master would take him to school, and he would do little errands for him. He got his mest in the house sometimes.' Young Friselle seems worst off- gets no reduction, unless; possibly, in petio.

The ' drudgery of the school' respects the school itself ;and I am at a loss what this can be, unless it be the sweeping it out, and the lighting the fire in winter. The fact of the four petitioners agreeing in their requests for all the inhabitants of Peel I am not able to controvert. I believe your (the ' Advertiser ') statement that one of the four did absolutely refuse to unite his name with theirs. and that he since declared it. But what makes the allegation appear somewhat probable is the great pains "Veritas" has taken to make a discovery. against herself in these words " that same petitioner whose name you say was surreptitiously used, appeared at St John's to attend the investigation and exert himself to forward the prosecution, in which he heartily concurred and still does." How did "Veritas" discover who of the four petitioners was meant ? What the petitioner Crellin said is sufficiently animated for the purpose, and implies that the inhabitants of Peel are not respectable from the want of education I . And this clincher is confirmed by Mrs F.'s sending her son to Scotland-not being able to find a school in the island good enough I But to think of throwing the poor boy to Scotland all the way !. Why not send him to Pestalozzi's seminary stoncet A new charge is brought against the master of Peel School, that because his school is now very well attended, therefore it was owing to his remissness that it was not equally well atttended to before. But how is this proved ? It is stated that the establishment was reduced to a solitary scholar, excepting his own daughter, so lately as the month of August last." James Cannell (not sworn) aged eleven years, affirms this; but is not old enough to know the the noise raised by the proceedings has advertised the school, so that parents have begun, though late, to avail themselves of Mr Gelling's talents.

The dilfferent parties kept nagging at each other for some time after, in 1779 there was a dispute between the then Bishop Bridgman and the House of Key's as to who of two candidates for teacher in Peel Grammar School should be licensed. George Jefferson, the printer, editor and publisher of the" Advertiser " was a rare old Tory who worshipped Church and State and in January, 1836, he published two letters -' bearing on the said school from Sir Wadsworth Busk, Attorney General of the Isle of Man to the Bishop, as being applicable to the discussion.


The letters ran as follows (the portions left out did not matter much):-

"Newton 13th April, 1779
My Lord ..I will own to your Lordship that my great disapprobation of the mean motives which are at the bottom of all the opposition that is making to your Lordship's report in favour of Mr Callow, has interested me not a little even in behalf of a man with whom I am not acquainted and he has led me to express myself with some warmth in several conversations I have had with his brother, on the subject of the election of a schoolmaster under the trust in Phil Moore's will. .. I wlll in a few words tell your Iordship what they are (i.e. the points of the conversations) First observing that as the proposal of leaving the place to be filled up by your Lordship's substitute , that the idea was not originally mine but that upon it being suggested by Mr Daniel Callow, I said that I aprehended it would not be to his brothers interest. . There are two questions that strike me as material upon the face of the will. First,in whom is the right of nomination of a master vested ? If in the trustees then of what number do they consist of or are there twenty-ftve or only two ? With respect to the first question, it must be admitted that the words, of the will are vague and indeterminate, and may be said to have left the point undecided. As to the second question notwithstanding the word majority is twice made use of. I can never be persuaded to think that in creating such a trust it could ever come into the head of any man capable of making a will to put the Bishop of the Isles up on a level in trust with the most insignificant member of that most insignificant body of men, the House of Keys. Rather than suppose that, I will reject the word altogether as having crept in through some illiterate scribe employed in drawing the will out. Whether the keeping of a school is of temporal or ecclesiastical cognisance is a question about which there are contradictory opinions in the law books ... However as no difficulty is likely to arise touching a licence when once the points are settled, 'tis not at all necessary to enquire into that matter now. I will only add therefore that, if under the circumstances of the case, your Lordship should at present resolve on licensing the other candidate, supposing it not to preclude it would at least very much discountenance any future application to the Court of Chancery on the part of Mr Callow, as it might then be fairly enough presumed either that your Lordship admitted the exclusive right of the Keys to nominate, or had concurred with them in the nomination of the other candidate. On the other hand, the granting a licence to Callow would bring him on advantagous ground before the Court in case the affair should happen to be further investigated... WADSWORTH BUSK

(The Daniel Callow mentioned in the foregoing letter was probably one ot the same name, member of the Keys, who died 1790, aged 39. There is a tablet to his memory in St.Mary's, Castletown.)


29th April, 1778.

My Lord, Since the receipt of your Lordship's last letter I have again read the clause in Mr Moore's will relative to the trust in question, and the only sensible construction I can put upon it is that the Testator meant to vest the trust thereby created in the Bishop and the House of Keys. . . Taking it for granted that it was the Testator's intention to lodge the right of nomintion in the hands of his trustees. then it follows that your Lordship's voice is equal to that ot the Keys jointly , or what is the same thing to a majority ot that House.

Your Lordship will find by what I have said that though I am of opinion that strictly speaking there are only two trustees,yet that a majority of the committee not being with your Lordship on the present occasion, nothing has been decided in favour of Callow, and that he is not furnished at present with any good ground whereupon to come before the Court ... At present neither of the candidates have anything to complain of but the disagreement of the trustees ... Were your Lordship and Mr Oates to apply to the Court stating what has been done in the business, and praying its direction for carrying the trusts of the will into execution, an order might be obtained thereupon as would probably prevent any dispute for the future ... Having, upon my first coming to the Island declined appearing as an advocate in any but Crown business, I am well assured that my adherence to that resolution will not be taken amiss by your Lordship; such assistance, however, as my advice may afford to an agent of the Bishop, either on the present or any other occasion is, and ever will be, very much at your Lordship's command. . WADSWORTH BUSK

The "Sun", of course abused the "Advertiser" about these letters, and the "Advertiser" remarked:- "So! In order to carry the point Sir Wadsworth Busk's memory must be villified, his reputation slandered, and all the mighty encomiums he has received go for nothing! He is now made out to be a poor sneaking hypocritical canting sycophant." The paper further said:- "We have been not a little surprised, but affected to a degree of astonishment little short of incredulity at an account we have just received that the House of Keys have actually noticed the Rev Mr Gelling, vicar of German, to vacate the Peel Grammar School, and quit the house and premises by the 13th of May next, and the Bishop has countermanded the proceeding by laying an injunction on the reverend gentleman not to relinquish his post.

It was adjudged at Chacery Court 6th April, 1826, that the twenty-four Keys were individual trustees for the school (which with the Bishop made 25), and that they as a majority might legally take proceedings against Mr Gelling.


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