[From Churches of South Ramsey,1923]



The Parochial District of South Ramsey, which extends from Ballure to the Lheghenny stream and the Harbour and has a population of 3,000, was constituted under the Church Act of 1880. S. Paul’s Church, however, being a proprietary chapel, needed special legislation to make it the Parish Church, and the South Ramsey Church Act was passed in 1904. Parishioners continue to have their ancient rights in the Mother Parish of Maughold, and the new Parochial District has still historic connection with the past through the Chapel of Ballure.

Ballure Chapel stands within the "Treen" of Ballure, on the site of one of those earlier structures known as "Keeills," which were in existence before our present parishes were formed. In Maughold there are remains or sites of fifteen.

The "Keeills" were built by the Culdees, or "Servants of God," who never married but lived alone, teaching and ministering to the people.

We do not hear of the Diocese of Sodor and Man till 1154. It consisted of the southern islands of Scotland, extending from the Hebrides to Arran, and Man, and it was then placed under the Archbishop of Drontheim in Norway. The word "Sodor" is derived from two Norse words meaning "southern isles," so that Sodor and Man means "The Southern Isles and Man" ; it is, in fact, the Ecclesiastical name for the Kingdom which was then called "Man and the Isles" . The connection of the Kingdom of Man with the Isles, or Sodor, came to an end in 1266, but the Diocese still bears the title of "Sodor and Man."

When the lands in the Isle of Man were divided into "Treens," one of these "Keeills" seems to have been kept in repair in each division, and in several instances more than one.

In 1712 the occupant of the Treen of Ballure, which consisted of the quarterlands of Ballure, Ballastole, Ballacowle, and Clenaigue, was together with the inhabitants of Ramsey, assessed to keep the Chapel in repair.

What the original dedication of the Chapel was is not known, but it has been called "S. Catherine’s," and the name has been attributed to Bishop Parr. It is generally referred to as "Ballure" or "Ramsey" Chapel.

At various times the Chapel was allowed to fall into a dilapidated condition.

In 1637 one "William Sumpter had his penance commuted for 20s. to be paid towards Ramsey Chapel." It was at this time in a ruinous state. This Sumpter owned "The Lough" (called later Joe’s Lough) in Ramsey and sold it in 1648 to Hugh Black, by whom it passed to the Christians. Money commutation of penance had been frequently prohibited in the Church, yet it continued. Bishop Barrow, who was translated to S. Asaph in 1670, tried to prevent it in the Island, yet in 1673, the commuted penance of one W. Brew was, with the consent of the Bishop who took a different line from that of his predecessor, given towards building a bridge over the Lhen Moar.’ Bishop Wilson in one of his canons orders "that it shall cease."

Richard Parr, the last Bishop who held the See of Sodor and Man previous to the Civil Wars and who was first driven out of a Rectory (Eccleston, in Lancashire,) and afterwards from his See, rebuilt the Chapel, and the document from which the following extract is taken bears his signature and is dated from Bishopscourt,~ Feb. 15th, 1640:—

"That ye inhabitants of Ramsey and ye neighbours about ye Chappel of Ballure, may give to God his due worship and Service ; Wee have for that purpose sworne two chappell wardens, Henry Chrystian and ffard ffoxe, whose office is to have special care of God’s publique worship ; presenting by virtue of theire oathes, all such ye inhabitants of Ramsey and other neighbours about ye Chappell as shall absent yemselves without cause where wee will and require yem to serve God, except it bee att Solemne feasts and Communion dayes, at wch tymes wee will yem to goe to ye Mother Church, but att all other tymes duely to com to ye Chappell made wth great cost so readie to yeir hands.

"These are further to require all such who are thus bound to repaire to ye Chappell, for ye exercise of true religion and to beg God’s blessinges, with cheerefulness to pay ye readers wages, for wch they may expect double blessinge from God, to whose protection and mercie in Christ I leave you all, and rest. +Ri Sod."

A "Reader" had been appointed to Ballure, whose duty it was to read Prayers and sometimes a Homily. The reader was also Master of the Ramsey School. It would seem that "school was kept" in the Chapel.

In 1661, at Castletown, Samuel Robinson, Michael Beard, and Robert Fergusson took their oath of allegiance to the King, fidelity to the Lord, and conformity to the laws of the Church, and were allowed, by the spiritual officers in the absence of the Bishop, to teach schools. Fergusson was licensed to Ramsey. The School had been endowed with a small sum and the money placed in the hands of J. Cholmondley, of Vale Royal, Cheshire. Much difficulty arose about obtaining the payment of the interest from time to time, and both Bishop Levinz (the last Bishop of Sodor and Man to sit in the House of Lords in his robes) and Bishop Wilson had considerable trouble in the matter.

The Chapel was restored in 1706, in the time of Bishop Wilson, who was Bishop of Sodor and Man 1697 to 1755. Captain Wattleworth and W. Christian were the Wardens who collected cess for repairs, and James Knipe was the Schoolmaster. In 1712 Knipe presented a petition to the Ecclesiastical Court asking that fit persons should be appointed to assess the inhabitants of Ramsey and Treen of Ballure to keep the Chapel in repair and see that the Reader received such payments as should fall due to him. The petition was granted, and a further order was added that all persons indebted to Mr Knipe should pay him within 14 days and that such people as refused to pay were to be committed to St. German’s prison, and that if necessary assistance was to be obtained from the soldiers of the garrison of Peel and fort of Ramsey to enforce obedience. The fort was perhaps the one on Ballure Mount, which has been already mentioned. The Ecclesiastical Courts could only pronounce judgment, but had no power beyond that. The carrying out of any sentence lay with the Civil authorities.

James Knipe was followed by another James Knipe who became an imbecile. These Knipes were probably connected with John Knipe, of Flodden Hall, Westmoreland, buried in Malew, 1740. Henry Callister was licensed in 1740 in Knipe’s place, but, as some trouble arose from parents continuing to send their children to Knipe, Callister left and went to America, where he settled at Oxford, Maryland, and held an honoured position. He never forgot his great admiration and respect for Bishop Wilson.

In 1743 the Chapel was again restored and enlarged. Bishop Wilson took a great interest in the restoration, and it would seem to have been a work he particularly had at heart. There is in existence a Deed of Consecration of Ballure Chapel dated 1747. The suggestion has been made that the Chapel was not actually consecrated by Bishop Wilson, though the deeds were prepared, as the site was a sacred one before, but Mr Keble, who visited the Island in 1849, to gather material for his "Life of Bishop Wilson," and was indebted to Mr Kermode for information about Ramsey, says that the Chapel was rebuilt with such entire reconstruction that there could be little doubt about consecrating it anew.

Mr Thos. W. J. Woods was appointed Master of the School and Reader, and two years afterwards Chaplain. His daughter Ann married the Rev. David Harrison, who was the first Chaplain of S. Mark’s, and afterwards Vicar of Malew, where there was born to them a son, Bowyer. Bowyer, who was 53 years Vicar of Maughold (1818 to 1871), was the father of Canon Harrison, father of the present Vicar of South Ramsey. Shortly after the restoration of Ballure two pewter patens, an alms dish, and a large flagon were given to the Chapel by Mrs Taubman. They bear the inscription : "The gift of Mrs Margaret Taubman to the altar of God in the New Chapell of Ramsea. Anno domino 1746 " [PLATE IV ] The Taubmans were then the owners of Ballastole. The alms dish is one of those in constant use in S. Paul’s at the present time.

The Rev. T. W. J. Woods was one of the Academic lads from Castletown, and son of Rev. John Woods, who had been appointed Master of the School at Castletown and was afterwards Vicar of Malew.

This Rev. J. Woods had suffered imprisonment for his loyalty to the Church, as may be seen from the following extract

To the King’s Most Excelnt Majty in Council—The humble petition of Appeal and Complaint of the Keys of the Isle of Man.

Sheweth, . . . That . . . Mr Woods, Vicar of Mallew and Episcopal Regr., was by the sd Govr and Officers three times imprisoned in the years 1720 and 1721, the first time two days and two nights for not delivering up to the sd Govr without the Ecctial Courts order an origi Ecctial Record which he was sworne to preserve. The second time a whole week for the putting off the reading of a Brief in his Church from one Sunday to the next, when such Brief did not come unto him in the usual and Ordinary method and he had had but half an hour’s notice of it, and had another Brief to read that Day ; and the third time imprisoned for not paying an Exhorbitant ffyne of £3—6-—8 Illegally imposed by the sd Govr and Officers for not having read the sd Brief. Laid before King in Council 19 Novr 1728.

The Governor was Alexander Horne, who imprisoned Bishop Wilson in 1722.

Bishop Barrow had bequeathed in Trust a sum of money for the education of Manx boys provided they took Holy Orders. This fund was called the "Academic Students’ Fund," and out of it grew King William’s College.

In the deed connected with the restoration of the Chapel it was ordered "that no person was to keep school in the Chapel nor bury within one yard of the walls."

The seats were formed into three divisions. The front seats were 12/-, the next 5/-, the others 4/-. The seats at the west gable were to be raised 1 ft. 6in. , and all were to be let for the benefit of the Chaplain. The occupants of the seats were to be assessed towards procuring books and vestments or for repairs, exclusive of the cess payable to the Mother Church. In the licence granted to Mr Woods it was set out that he was to instruct the children "in the English tongue and in good manners," and "particularly to teach and require them to learn private prayer." He was also "to warn youths and children against falling into the sins of the place where they, lived, such as cursing, swearing, taking God’s name in vain, using lewd and filthy words and songs, tipling and drunkenness". And it was added, "To encourage you you are empowered to receive such sums as you may by law demand from children over and above ‘the Royal Bounty’ of salary," The sum to be for reading 6/- and for writing 9/-.

The "Royal Bounty" was a grant made by King Charles II. to Bishop Barrow of £100 a year (Manx) from the excise revenue, to be used for the school masters and poorer clergy of the Island.

The Rev. T. W. J. Woods was appointed Vicar of Maughold in 1754. In 1747 Dr. Thos. Wilson, son of Bishop Wilson, Rector of S. Stephen’s Walbrook, and Prebendary of Westminster, presented to the Chapel of Ramsey a Dutch silver beaker and a George I. silver dish. These, together with the silver beaker which Bishop Short gave to S. Paul’s in 1849, described and figured in Jones’ "Old Church Plate of the Isle of Man. ‘ ‘ They are occasionally used in S. Paul’s.


Bishop Hildesley (the last Bishop to be enthroned in S. German’s Cathedral, 1755,) held a Thanksgiving Service in the Chapel on the morning of March 2nd, 1760, upon the defeat of Thurot by Commodore Elliot off the north-west coast, an event of which mention has already been made. The Commodore and his men, who were in Ramsey Bay, were prevented from attending owing to the number of prisoners they had to look after. The Commodore, replying to the Bishop’s letter of congratulation, said that he hoped soon to call upon him at Bishopscourt. The bow-sprit of the "Belleisle" had floated ashore near Michael, and the Bishop set it up in his grounds as a memorial of the event, where it remained an object of interest for many years. Bishop Hildesley composed a special Prayer of Thanksgiving, read after the ‘ ‘Prayer for the Church Militant, ‘ ‘ in which thanksgiving was offered to God for "Enduing the officers and marines of the British Fleet with such wisdom and. courage as that, not only at sundry other times wherein we have rejoiced, hut particularly in the late instance, on the coast of this Isle, by Thy blessing they have been enabled to defeat the counsel of their enemies."

The prisoners were sent to Castle Rushen. Amongst them was the doctor of Thurot’ s flagship (Dominique LaMothe. ) He was granted his liberty by the Governor of the Island because he saved the life of a very highly valued servant of his by performing an extremely critical operation. The doctor settled in Castletown, and , on account of the reputation he gained through the fame of this operation, soon acquired an extensive practice. He married a Castletown lady, Susan Ann Corrin, and was the great great grandfather of the present highly esteemed Northern Deemster, Mr F. M. LaMothe.

At the beginning of the last century some old Yew trees were to be seen standing near the Chapel yard. This is interesting, as the name of the Treen, Ballure, or, as it is in the Manorial roll, ‘ ‘Ball-y-ure," means "the place of the Yew." As this tree lives to a great age, it is not impossible that these were the last of the number from which the name had been derived before any building had been erected on the ground now occupied by the Chapel. And Feltham in his "Tour," written in 1798, says, "Yew trees, which are generally found in our churchyards in England, are not to be found in those of Man."

A stream of water flowed from the highlands, passing the Chapel on the East, somewhere near the spot where the tram lines now pass. From this stream may have been taken the water for the Font, as in the case of the old Church of Marown where, after a dispute about the water flowing by the Church, it was settled "that the said water was to serve for the Baptizing of Infants."

Many baptisms are recorded after 1746. And several marriages took place in the time of Rev T. W. J. Woods and, though the rings were not of gold from Ballure, it has since been found near there.

The small burial ground round the Chapel corresponds to the raised platform on which some of the "Keeills" were built, but it has been slightly enlarged on the south and east sides. This would be done when the Chapel was lengthened to 61 feet in 1743, at the restoration of that date previously referred to. Many of our Churches at that time were from 50 to 60 feet long, and from 14 to 19 feet wide, and the average population of the parishes where they stood was about 800.

A friend who is interested in music tells me that he remembers reading in a musical paper some years ago that Dr. Miller, organist of York Minster, composed some tunes which were not at first published but put into "barrel-organs," and the first of these was sold to Ramsey Church, Isle of Man. Perhaps therefore the tune ‘ ‘Rockingham’ ‘ was first sung in Ballure Church.

The following extract is quoted from "The Choir" of the present month:— "In 1786 Miller took his degree of Mus.D. at Cambridge, and four years later he issued his Psalms of David, which had an immediate success, and nearly five thousand subscribers, from George the Third downwards, gave in their names, whilst the King also forwarded Miller a present of £25 in token of appreciation of his work. In the year following its publication, nearly one hundred and thirty Churches adopted Miller’s Psalms, and in the Isle of Man, upon the Bishop’s recommendation,

"the inferior clergy and the inhabitants of the parish of Ramsey entered into a subscription for a large Psalmodic or Barrel-organ, to be erected in their Church, to perform all the tunes in Dr. Miller’s Selection with additional interludes and voluntaries of his adoption "

After S. Paul’s Church had been consecrated in 1822, the old Chapel fell into ruins, but it was again restored by the Rev. William Kermode in 1851 . A sum of £300 was raised by voluntary subscriptions and a grant of £45 was made by the ‘ ‘Incorporated Society for Promoting the Enlargement, Building, and Repairs of Churches and Chapels, "on condition that "the whole of certain seats described in the plan should be set apart and declared to be free,"

The Tradesmen’s Club, called the Ramsey Amicable Society, in which Mr Kermode took very great interest, used to turn out and march to Ballure for an annual service. These services were afterwards continued at S. Paul’s until the year 1889, when the members met for the last time immediately before ‘dissolution. The sermon at the last service (July 11th) was preached by the present Archdeacon of Man.

The present Font of Caen stone was put in in 1867. The Altar rails and Font cover were formerly in S. Paul’s. The East window was erected through the instrumentality of the Oddfellows Society to the memory of Rev. George Paton. The other windows were the gift of Miss King, except the two small circular lights in the West end, which were put in to the memory of Jessie Theodora, daughter of Rev. G. Paton.

In 1913 Canon Harrison purchased the field in front of the Chapel and planted it with various trees, much improving the appearance of the spot.

The first recorded burial, within the Church, was in 1611. Since then several other interments have taken place within its walls. At one time burials within the Church were common, not only in the Chancel but in the body of the Church. Pews were introduced instead of benches at the beginning of the XVII. century, and, as late as 1737, when the pews in Braddan Church were re-arranged to accommodate "intak" as well as "quarterland" holders, the latter were permitted to bury under their seats. And a few years earlier, when a new Church was built in Lonan, the parishioners had reserved to them their ancient rights and place of burying in the old Church, as well as the Churchyard. This custom has been abolished by law.

The earliest dated stone to be seen in the graveyard is that of Margaret Martin, 1750. At one time the Martins and MacCowles owned Ballure. Both these names were common in Galloway, and the MacGoilla Martins are said to have gotten their name from the patron Saint of the Church at Whithorn, S. Martin of Tours. The name "Peate," made familiar to many by Sir Hall Caine, is to be seen on one stone. Another, having upon it the name of a certain Ann Stowell, bears the quaint inscription: "She was the mother of 15 sons and 1 daughter—

"May they like her their time employ,
And meet her in the realms of joy."

Her name before she was married to Thomas Stowell, of Ramsey, was Ann Brown, and I am informed that she was a great aunt of the Rev. T. E. Brown, the poet. One of her sons, John, was Master of the Peel School, and in 1790 published some topical poems under the nom de plume "Philanthus."

On the west side of the Chapel is the tomb of two sisters, Martha and Elizabeth Fricker, well-known as. the sisters of the wives of three poets, Southey, Coleridge, and Lovel."

On the north side is the tomb of Sir Henry Claude Loraine. He was descended from one Robert Loraine who was murdered by Moss Troopers in the reign of Elizabeth, and of whom it is said that they "cut him in pieces as small as flesh for the pot." Near this tomb is that of Sir John Macartney, who had been knighted for assisting in the inland navigation of Ireland. His son Edward was lost from the "Hawk" on her way from Dublin to Douglas.

On the right-hand side of the entrance gate is the vault of the "Frissell" or "Fraser" family. This name, so well-known in many parts of Scotland, was at an early period connected with the Isle of Man. In the XII. century Oliver Fraser was "Thane" of Man. Thanes were at first stewards over the King’s land, but afterwards they became hereditary tenants of the King. John Frissell was Attorney-General in 1757 and 1758, and John Frissell, junior, was a member of the House of Keys in 1777. In this year the office of "High-Bailiff" was constituted, taking the place of the ancient one of "Captain of the Town," and the latter John Frissell was High-Bailiff of Ramsey. The Hill under Albert Tower is still known as "Lhergy Frissell."

The Rev. George Paton and Mrs Paton are buried here.

These are some of the names to be seen in this quiet little spot which, with its hallowed associations, is one link in the long chain that binds the present with the past.


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