[From IoM Weekly Times 1 Oct 1932]

The Graves in Marown

In the Douglas post office not long ago an English inquirer and an English season clerk were heard pronouncing the Manx place-name Marown as though it rhymed with thrown. They were possibly nearer historical truth than they knew, for the church and parish of Marown receive their name from the Celtic saint Ronan - compare the title of a Scott novel, "Saint Ronan's Well." It is also a piece of history nevertheless, that Manx people without exception use a vowel which makes the name rhyme with gown. Marown church shares with Ballaugh and Lonan the singularity, for the Isle of Man, of being established elsewhere than on its former site. The present church was opened in 1853, and the first internment in the burial ground adjoining, that of the Rev C. B. Blackley, formerly vicar of St Michael's Derby - whose mother, a clergyman's widow, was to die in Douglas three years later - took place on 11th June of that year; but local associations still centre mainly around the old church, situated at the top of the hill overlooking Crosby village from the south and local sentiment is gratified by the holding of services there once or twice every summer. The present article treats specifically of churchyards, and there it is apposite to say that the new burial-ground is beautifully kept, and that the lines of graves were arranged with admirable neatness from the very beginning ; and that although the old burial ground shows the effects of disuse, a valiant effort is being made to keep the graves clear of growth and to prevent the letters on the tombstones from being worn away by weather or filled up with moss [I'm afraid that as of 2005 this battle has been lost and the yard heavily overgrown]. The most striking monument in the old churchyard is a high rectangular vault in honour of the Christian family, of Ballahutchin and Ballaquinnea Moar, and their connexions by marriage. Just outside this vault is an upright stone, of somewhat antique lettering, which states that in "the adjoining tomb" is buried the Rev. John Christian, of Balnekilley, vicar of this parish 26 years, who died in 1779. The inscription continues
"In wit facetious, humerous to his end,
A good companion and a steady friend.

Whether the "adjoining tomb" referred to really is part of the massive vault immediately to the left, or whether the is the property of a different set of Christians, one hesitates to say. The Rev. John Christian was the middle one of a trio of father, son, and grandson, who held the living of Marown for practically the whole of the eighteenth century. The grandson, the Rev Thomas Christian, composed the Manx translation of "Paradise Lost." Together with the Rev John Christian are buried his wife and his son, John Osborne Christian, of Douglas. The combined name Osborne Christian is found elsewhere in the churchyard and is still borne by well-known Manx people. The vault has small raised tablets on all its sides, perpetuating the names of Thomas Christian, Ballahutchin, who died in 1778, and his son John, who died in 1787 ; Matthias Christian, of the estate of Ballaquinnea Moar, who died in 1793, his wife Margery ("otherwise Nelson"), and a son who died at the age of 23; Matthias' son-in-law Thomas Clucas, who became owner of Ballaquinnea, with his wife and his father, David Clucas, of Douglas, and members of that family ; and descendants of Dr. Oman, of Douglas, and Mr Laurence John Hubert, who married daughters of Thomas Clucas. Mrs Thomas Clucas, by the way, was lost, together with a large number of Manx passengers in the foundering of the sailing packet "Lord Hill" near the mouth of the Ribble in 1819.

One of the handsomest memorials. in the churchyard is also one of the most recent, and covers the remains of that fine old lady Mrs Margaret Lace, of Foxdale who died in 1914 at the age of 97 — mother of Mr Moses Lace, Mr Richard Lace, and Mr T. Livingstone Lace,.J.P. (Wigan). It is a great marble square, almost the whole face of which is covered by a finelyexecuted Celtic cross, of a well-known design, small circles being sunk between . the limbs, the limbs being surrounded by' a circle, and the whole set on a rectangular base. The limbs are carved in a beautiful plait pattern, and the whole thing, though perhaps at the moment aggressively new, and perhaps suffering from its horizontal position, is a true work of art. The district of Foxdale, though nowadays served by its own burial', ground, is divided amongst the civil and ecclesiastical parishes of Patrick, Malew, and Marown, and quite a considerable number of internments in both old and new Marown come from it. In the old churchyard a particular place appears to have been reserved Foxdale people.

"Near yonder spot . . . the village master taught his little school." The triumphs have been forgotten, such as they were, of James Clague, who was parish clerk and schoolmaster in Marown for 31 years, and died in 1764. But a member of that family, John, possibly the school master's son, was evidently something of a. mathematical genius. Three manuscript boxes of his, full of problems in navigation, land surveying and commercial arithmetic, and apparently his own work, are preserved in the Manx Museum. Mr Clague the schoolmaster, by the way, is described on his tombstone as "of Croseby," and another member of the family, who died in 1795; gives his mortal residence as "Crossebey."

A notable Marown family were the Kewleys of Ballafreer. The Rev John Kewley, chaplain of St Matthew's, Douglas, died in 1810, and his father, also named John, in 1783. The earlier John Kewley of Ballafreer also had a mathematical bent, for he constructed a remarkable sundial, one of the curiosities of the Manx Museum. There is a gnomon on each of its eight faces-it commences as a cube and ends with a pointed top, sloping up, in four triangles-and from them you learn not only what o'clock it is in the Isle of Man, but also in Jerusalem, Jamaica, and various other parts of the earth. You also absorb proverbial wisdom in Latin and Manx. There was also a Rev. Thomas Kewley, vicar of "St Anne's"', or Santon, whose widow, one of the Moores of Coolingel, was buried in Marown in 1836. He himself is the subject of a handsome eulogy found on a tombstone in Santon.

The surname Steen, an obsolete form of Stephen, occurs on a gravestone. in Marown. Margaret Steen, wife of William Fell (or Fayle), died in 1830. A curious spelling is Kermott for Kermode — Edward Kermott, of the Corovonagh, was buried in 1812. But at that period there was a prominant Douglas merchant named Kermott Stowell, and the Christian name Kermit, given to a son of the American president Roosevelt, is said to have been borrowed from a Manx ancestor. Another obsolete spelling is Kissage from MacIssac for Kissack. Two stones were inscribed to the memory of Margaret Kissack, who died in 1804. In the first, a flat slate slab cut in very plain letters, she is: named ''Kissage," though her son, buried under the same stone, is "Kissack"; but later the same wording was repeated upon an upright stone of heavier substance and deeper carving, except the name throughout is Kissack: The spelling "Geill," found on a crudely lettered slate slab dated 1757, is doubtless mere illiteracy on the part of the carver as is the spelling of the Christian name "Gilbirt." — One Gilbert Gell, tenant in the treen of Aryrody, German, in the year 1515, being accused of felony, put himself to the Lord's grace, and escaped with a fine, a substantial fine for the period of 20 pence. Another illiterate spelling is ''Keey"-Robert Keey," who died in 1780. Adjoining this rude slab are the graves of John Key, of the Braid (1825) and John Key, of Ballough, who died in 1859, The name settled into Kay and Kaye. It is said to come from an early, Celtic name Aedh, which in Ireland was Anglicised into Hugh, and to be cognate with the Irish McHugh and the Scottish MacKay.

Another surname which has existed in the Island for many generations, though it is not native, is represented in Marown churchyard. Nicholas Griffin — the Christian name is also typical Manx of that period — died in 1813.

Arthur Casement, buried here at the beginning of the nineteenth century, was a son. of Nicholas Casement, of County Down. But Casement is a Manx name, and its earlier form MacCasmund — from the Norse, and cognate with the English Osmond--appears several times in the Manorial Roll of 1511. It has been understood that a branch of the Manx family settled in Northern Ireland, .and that the unhappy Sir Roger Casement, traitor or patriot according to the point of view, was a member of it.

How old is the place-name Eryeton? Mr J. J. Kneen says that a man called Eyres lived at Ballayemmy in 1867, and was probably responsible for the farm's new name. But the name Eyreton appears on the tombstone. erected in memory of David Moffat, who died, if one deciphers correctly a badly-worn inscription, in 1811 [no 1844] Dealing with the farm's earlier name,.. there was obviously too great a straining for correctness when the Manx name Ballayeaman was renderen Ballayeoman, a confusion of the English yeoman, or hereditary small-holder, with which the Manx name has nothing to do. It might be derived from ''Yemmy," a mutation of the English "pet-name" Jemmy, but it is more probably from "Eamonn," a Celtic corruption of Edmund — the same name as that borne by Mr de Valera. Ballayeaman was at one time occupied by a family named Cottier, one of whom, the Rev. John Cottier, was vicar of Patrick: towards the end of the eighteenth century,

The building known as Greeba Castle had this name, of course, before Sir Hall Caine became the possessor. Marown new graveyard contains references to two former occupants — Mrs Georgina Polly Roberts, wife of Thomas Roberts, who died in 1816; and Mrs Elizabeth Rebecca Hoyle, wife of John Hoyle, who died in 1893. Mrs Hoyle was a daughter of Mr Thomas Clucas, of Ballafreer and the Garth, captain of the parish and member of the (self-elected) House of Keys. Yet another set of Clucases were apparently persons of standing in the parish-the Clucases of Ballanicholas, near St. Mark's. Many neat tombstones in honour of members of this family are grouped together in the old churchyard, and within the old church there is, or there was in 1798, the date of "Feltham's Tour," a tablet in memory of Henry, son of John Clucas, of Ballanicholas, "a virtuous and notable youth, academick student"-i.e., a student of the Academic School in Castletown, and probably intended for the church who died in 1737 at the age of 23.

A contraction which puzzled one at first is "Tt' — John Gelling, "Tt" of Balling, who died in 1784, and Christopher Bridson, "'Tt" of Ballanekilley. It seems to stand for "tenant" — the Lord's tenant, probably, and not the tenant in the ordinary sense from another owner. .John Gelling, apparently, was father of Robert Gelling, "schoolmaster of this parish for 40 years" Previous comment has been made upon the expression "the adjacent John," signifying: that John is buried in the adjoining grave. In Marown one finds a reference to "the northside grave." meaning, the grave next to this on the north side.

A prominent Marown family were the Karrans of Ballingan — still represented by well-known local people — one member of whom was captain of the parish. The name appears as Carran on one gravestone — a form more often met with in the parish of Patrick - and Mr J. J. Kneen states that the farm of Ballingan was formerly Ballacarran. A daughter of the Karrans married, Mr Thomas Maltby, owner of the woollen factory Union Mills, and grandfather of the Rev William Russell Maltby, ex-president of the Wesleyan Methodist Conference,and of Mr William Maltby Kerruish. Mention may also be made of the Killeys of Ballawilley-Killey, who had tanneries and breweries in Douglas. The last representative of the family, the late Mr Philip Killey, was captain of the parish, a member of the self-elected House of Keys, and a great worker in Insular charities. Among the public men of the Island who rest in Marown are Mr Edward Faulder, a member of the self-elected House of Keys, whose family were prominent as farmers and brewers Mr Peter Cadman, M.H.K., Mr Edward Callister M.L.C., and Mr Richard Daniel Gelling, advocate, captain of the parish, and for over 30 years secretary to the house of Keys. The "Ellan Vannin" disaster is recalled by a tombstone in memory of the drowned stewardess Mrs Eliza Collister, and of her husband, Lewis Collister, who died in the United States in 1907.

Comparatively few of the gravestones in Marown are used to point the moral of the shortness of life at its longest and the possible suddenness of death. Captain Matthew Grose of the Ballacorkish mine, Rushen, erected a monument to his son in the form of an obelisk, bearing on its four sides the words, "'Time, how short! Eternity, how long! Life, how uncertain! Death, how sure!" — 'The warning was appropriate enough in the case of Matthias Cain, joiner, of Douglas, who, "in attempting to save a fellow creature's life, lost his own." His tombstone contains the familiar phrase: "Prepare to meet they God. In the midst of life we are in death." David Creer, who died in 1795 in his sixteenth year, calls from the grave:

You that are young be warned by me,
Think on death and eternity.

And the following is put in the mouth of Margaret Ann Cowle, a little girl of twelve :

The other day I little thought
My glass had run so near,
But now the time for me has come
No longer to be here.

The friends of John Kermode, of Ballachrink, who died in 1833, break forth into a passage which may have come from Young's "Night Thoughts";

"Time sweeps us off, and we shall soon arrive
At life's sweet period: O celestial point
That ends this mortal story

William Crellin, of Peel, found in the book of Isaiah an unfamiliar source of consolation for the loss of his wife at the age of 45 and of their child at the age of five:

"Even unto them will I give in mine house and within my walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters
I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off"

Mr Feltham has preserved a remarkable inscription, recalling the day's when the Isle of Man was notoriously a refuge for the criminal or for the insolvent debtor, on the grave of Francis Blackmore; a native of Ireland, buried in this churchyard:

Stop, traveller, I pray; but then take heed,
You judge not hard of him, when this you read.
No debts, no laws obliged him to fly
From the dear land of his nativity;
But worn with cares, he chose this place to end
His days in peace, and make his God his friend.

Compare that with the stout defence and implied apology offered by the gentleman who appropriated for his epitaph a passage of Mark Antony's famous oration on Caesar's death "The evil that men do lives after them The good is oft, interred with their bones" So let it be with Sinclair.

One's heart warms to the wife who [] record of her dead husband ; "A warm []: heart. Death ne'er made cold." Striking objects in the new churchyard are the Marown War Memorial,. quite a worthy tribute to the gallant dead, and a Celtic cross in memory of the late Canon Benjamin Philpot Clarke.

 [Manx Note Book]     


Marown ; MI's

switch to frames viewAny comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2005