[Yn Lioar Manninagh Vol 1 p281/287]


By A. W. MOORE, M.A., F.R.H.S.

A few of the followers of George Fox found their way to the Isle of Man soon after they had formed a Society in England, and were successful in Converting several of the natives. Even here, however, they were not allowed to remain in peace, being persecuted both at the time of the Commonwealth, and after the Restoration. For it would seem that, though protected by Cromwell, their extravagant manners, and their refusal to bear arms and to take oaths, had rendered them obnoxious to Puritans and Presbyterians, as well as Episcopalians. As regards their treatment in Man, it is stated in the printed authorities 1 on the subject, that " The Magistrates of this Place [Isle of Man] being early prepossessed with an aversion to the Quakers and their Doctrines, which the Preachers of these times, whose interest it thwarted, had industriously misrepresented, made Laws against them at their first coming thither, one of which was Banishing all of that persuasion ‘whether natives or others," This, however, was not the case. For, not only was there no legislation against them, but there were no orders in Council. In fact, except that, whether aliens or natives, they were sent out of the Island, after undergoing a term of imprisonment, they were dealt with under the spiritual law of the Isle, which inflicted severe penalties against those who did not attend the Established Church, conform to her rites, and pay her dues. This banishment was probably resorted to as a means of preventing their opinions spreading, hut, as regards the natives of the Isle, it was altogether illegal. It should be mentioned, moreover, that none of the Acts of Charles II. directed against Nonconformists — viz., the Act of Uniformity, the Five Mile Act, and the Conventicle Act—applied to the Isle of Man, as it was not named in them, yet the treatment of the Quakers in the smaller island was very similar to that in the larger. Their persecution here seems to have commenced in 1656, for in that year Katherine Evans was " taken out of her bed in the night, and banished the island." James Lancaster was also banished, and Peter Cosnock and his son, with several others, were imprisoned in Peel Castle by order of William Christian (the famous Iliam Dhône), and, after having been kept there for some time, they were brought to Douglas and sent out of the Island. They appealed to Lord Fairfax, hut he would not permit their return, though some of them were natives. Not satisfied with his decision, they further appealed to Parliament, who permitted those who were natives to go back to the Island. in this same year, we learn from the Malew Register that two Quaker children were baptised, seemingly tinder compulsion. In 1657, William Callow, of Maughold, of whom we shall hear more, was imprisoned in Peel Castle for eight weeks, " for publicly reproving a priest whom he heard abusing the Quakers in his sermon to the people." Later on in the year, the same man and his wife were fined 20s. for " keeping a meeting at their house, and absenting from the public worship." For this they suffered one month’s imprisonment. John Christen, for a similar offence, was fined 20s. ; and Evan Kerruish, 5s. ; " and the rest of the friends there met were put into the stocks four hours on the 1st day of the week, at the Market. I place," They declined to pay these fines, and so Callow and Christen were deprived of " 5 bushells of oats " each,2 and Evan Kerruish of " a new blanket worth 7s. 6d." This corn " was laid in William Christen’s barn, who was a Deputy under the Lord Fairfax, but falling under his displeasure for some misdemeanour, was shot to death on the Island. In his last: speech he mentioned with much regret what he had done to the Quakers."3 It was decided to distribute the corn among the poor of the Parish of Maughold, who all refused to take it, but, on the Parson signifying "how much the Governor was displeased " that the people had not taken it, " for fear of the Governor and the Priest, some poor people went again to the place, but only one among them (named Coole) would take any. . . . But so it was, that before he had eaten what he took, he was taken away by death. His sudden exit was interpreted by the other poor as a judgment upon him.4 From this it is clear that the sympathy of the people, in Maughold at least, was with the oppressed Quakers. In 1658, Chaloner, who had previously been one of the Commissioners, was appointed Governor: He, according to Gough, " had been a violent persecutor ; and was heard to say, a little before his death, that he would quickly rid the Island of Quakers ;" but from all we know of Chaloner, the epithet of " violent persecutor " seems by no means applicable to him. In 1659, "William Callow and several others, for twopence each, demanded by the Priest for bread and wine, which it was well known they had not received," were imprisoned by a warrant from Chaloner. Later on in the same year, Callow and Evan Christen were imprisoned for refusing to pay tithes. Besse tells us that " one morning early, as soon as they came ashore, having been all night in the wet and cold at sea, they were hurried to prison in their wet clothes, and detained several days in the midst of their herring fishery." And in the same year, as we learn from the Malew Register, " John Preston, Quaker," was "buried" in the churchyard. As his kinsfolk were buried within the church, Mr Gill, the present vicar, remarks, " It seems probable that being a Quaker, he was not allowed to be interred in the burial place of his family." But "buried" was an unusually polite term for a clergyman of those days to apply to a Quaker, the usual one, as we learn from several entries in the registers being " deposited." The Restoration brought no relief to the Quakers. For " persecution in this sequestered Island, under the arbitrary rule of the Lord of the Land, and the uncontrolled power of a rigid Prelate, whose intemperate bigotry excited his blind zeal more to force uniformity in religious profession and ceremonious worship, than to cultivate in himself or his flock the essentials of true religion . . . was continued with additional severity after the restoration . . . against the few residents in this Island who went under the denomination of Quakers. The number of them here was very small, the power and influence of the clergy being more prevalent in this dark corner, where the ignorance and rudeness of the inhabitants furnished opportunity than in the more enlightened nations." In 1660, Callow, Christen, and others "were again sent to prison by the Priests' procurement, some for tithes of corn, some for twopence each for bread and wine, others for tithes of fish, not worth one penny, for which they wet~ kept in prison sixteen days." In 1662, "William Callow and Evan Christen;’ for refusing to pay, the former sixteen pence, and the latter two pence demanded by the Priest for bread and wine for the Sacrament, were committed to S. German’s, in Castle Peel, and were kept close lockt up in a dungeon (under a yard where dead corps (sic) lay buried) without fire, candle, or bedding, having only some straw to lie on, and a stone for their pillow. Here they lay sixteen clays, till some of their neighbours, of meer pity unknown to them, paid the money, otherwise they might have perished there, their rigid persecutors, two priests of whom one was the complainant and the other being a judge of the Bishop’s Court, granted his warrant for their commitment. In the 5th month of the same year, the said William Callow and Evan Christen, with some others, were cast into prison, and kept there ten days, for being absent from the publick worship." In the following November, the above two " and six others were taken out of a meeting, and carried to Castle Russien, where they were imprisoned in a high tower, without fire and candle in the cold winter season, fifteen weeks. William Callow, after one month’s imprisonment, appealed to the Earl of Derby, and was permitted to go to London and make application to him, from whom he procured a warrant for the discharge of himself and the rest." In 1663, the aforesaid, with " Evans father, 80 years of age." were again committed to Peel Castle for being absent from Church, but, after sixteen days, were set at liberty by order of the Bishop (Isaac Barrow), who came to the Island at this time to be sworn as Governor, as well as to enter upon his Episcopal duties. From this action, as well as from the following letter, written early in 1664, it would seem that the Governor Bishop was determined, severe measures having failed, to try the effect of persuasion upon these obstinate schismatics :—" My good friends, for soe I desire you would bee, I am not a little troubled to see ye run on in this wilfull way to yor own ruin. Being called upon by God’s p’vidence to ye care of this Church, I must look upon You as a part of my charge, and though I have hitherto acted the part of a Governor in outward appearance (i.e., by imprisoning them) yett have not ceased to pray dayly for ye, and doo now exhort you in ye spirit of meekness to consider, as you will answer it at ye day of judgment whether you doo not sine against God in refusing to obey ye lawful commands of magistrates whom God’s providence has set over you, when the Apostle expressly commands let every soul be subject to ye higher powers, telling us the danger of the sine in ye following words ‘ Hee that resists shall receive to himself damnacon. 2ely__Consider your sine in withdrawing your obedience from ye church when ye apostle commands, also obey yem which are over you in ye Lord, and watch for your soules. And withall consider that these 2 sines of rebellion and schism, are reckoned by ye Apostle amongst those that exclude us from entering into ye Kingdom of Heaven. Consider againe your sine of neglecting your estates, and not providing for your families, when ye Apostle tells us that such is worse than infidelles ; All you give in answer for these things is that you doe according to your conscience, but I must tell you that ye testimoney of conscience must arise from ye conformitie your accons carry with ye dictates of reason, or ye Word ; now, your accons are contrary to both, as ye places above mencioned prove, and, therefore, your conscience can be no excuse. Againe consider how ye dispise the minstry of ye Church, and so become guilty of dispising (as ye Apostle~ not man, but God, for so saith our Saviour, hee that heareth ~ou heareth Mee, and hee that dispiseth you dispiseth Mee, and Him that sent me. Againe you neglect God’s ordinances, the sacrements, without wch there is no ordinary means of salvacon. Againe you take you to intreprett Scripture according to your own ffancies, forsaking ye doctrine of ye Church, wch ye Apostle calls ye ground of truth, and web all tells us that no Scripture is of any private interpretacon, and St. Peter shows us ye danger of privat interpretacion, saying that in the Scripture is many things hard to be understood, wch ignorant and unlearned men wrest to their own destrucon. Againe you forsake ye publique,’ meeting of Christians, that sine wch ye Apostle reprehends in ye Corinthians, and you must not thinke that will prove an excush wch you usuall) say, that you cannot join with wicked men in the worship of God ; this hath too much of the Pharisee mitt who thanked God. that bee was not as other extorconers, &c., not as that publican which yett in God’s sight was justified before him ; but you must remember that the Church by our Saviour is compared unto a gathering both good and bad and we must not forsake ye good because ye badd are amonge them, nor root up ye wheat because of tares growing up with itt. Itt is not wee that must make up ye sepracon, it is ye angell’s work this at ye great harvest day and end ye world. I beseech you, therefore, brethren, in the name of God, that as you love your own souls that you make haste to escape out of ye snares of ye devill, by such he holds you captive, and soe long as he can fasten any one cord upon you, he will not make it his business to tempt you to those open sines of drunkennes and other debocheries, to wch he see you adverse, for he knows this one sine of spirituall pride (as it threw him down from heaven), soe it will keep you from coming there, beware therefore of his devices, for he transforrne himself into an angel of light, yeti he is a devill still ; make haste to return to ye church, w’ch is ready to embrace you and earnestly invites you. And believe, though I have been forc’d to use vigour with you to prserve ye rest of ye flock (wch are my charge also)~ yett you sall ever find me most loving ffriend and faithful servant in our common Lord and Saviour. ISAAC SOD. AND MAN.

Mat.18., v.—" Offences must come saith our Saviour, tumults and divisions in ye church, but woe shall be to them by whom they come ; hear what I say and ye Lord give you understanding."4 But this excellent discourse seems to have been of no avail, as in March of the same year he issued orders to his Vicar Generals which in their instructions to the Sumner they repeat as follows :—" We have received orders from our Reverend Ordinary to admonish the Quakers to conform to come to church, or be committed until they submit to law ; and forasmuch as they refuse after several charges and publications in the Parish Church, but continue their meetings and refractoriness to all government of the Church, and are, therefore, censured to be committed to St. German’s Prison, and there let them remain until orders be given to the contrary, and for so doing, this shall be your discharge Robert Parr-, John Harrison—P.S. : If they refuse to be committed by your call for the assistance of a soldier from Captain Ascoe. Let the Sumner put this in execution immediately."—In consequence of this the Sumner, on the 22nd of May, conveyed a number of these unfortunate folk to St. German Prison, and when he " had brought them to the lowest or deepest part that dismal dungeon, he took off his hat, and very formally pronounced what he called the Bishop’s curse, to this effect, viz., ‘ I do here, before the standers-by, deliver you up into St. German’s Prison by the law of my lord. the Bishop and his Clergy, you being persons cast out of the Church by Excommunication, and I do take witness that I do deliver you over from the power of the Bishop and his law, to be, and continue the Earl of Derby’s prisoners." There they lay till June, 1665, when Henry Nowell, the Deputy-Governor, visited them and read them an order from the Earl of Derby for their transportation. Some days after this " two priests," Thos Harrison and John Woods, told them that this order would not be enforced. if they would conform to the Church. But the Quakers remained obdurate, and in September were put on board a ship in Douglas. But, as the prisoners entered on one side of the ship, the seamen went out off the other in a boat telling the master that they were not hired to carry people out of their native country against their wills, neither would they go with him, if he carried them. About three days after, several vessels " came into the road," but all refused to carry the prisoners. The captain of one of them, however, was forced into taking these unfortunates, who " were hurried out of their beds (not having time allowed them to put on their clothes) and put on board." , It would take too much space to tell how they were first sent to Dublin, but sent back from there, then to Whitehaven, and again to Dublin, from which place they. were expelled the second time, because they were brought " without any order or legal proceedings i~Ce it may endanger the peace of the said country to permit the said persons to continue here." " And," comments Besse, " thus were these innocent people harressed and tossed tip and down in the cold winter season." Finally, in December, they were landed in England, and " the two men (Callow and Christen) went to the Earl of Derby, and while they were employed in fruitless solicitations to him and the Bishop," the two women who had been with them, were carried back to the Island, " and again shut up in prison." The Earl referred them to the Bishop and the " Dean of the Island," (Archdeacon) with whom they had a long conference—in the presence of the Countess of Derby and others, at Knowsley, in June 1686. But this resulted only in mutual recriminations, and " the sufferers obtained no redress, nor could the Bishop be prevailed upon to admit their return, and, through his influence, the Earl was also hardened against them " They, however, escaped to the Island, but were sent back again after being there about a month. just before their departure, " Qualtrough, an attorney (i.e., the Attorney-General), took possession ‘ of their estates . - . by virtue of the following order, viz. : ‘ In pursuance of my honourable Lord’s order that the estates, as well real as personal of the several persons within this Island who stand convicted for embracing and following the heretical doctrine of the sect commonly called Quakers are forfeited, and do accrue and belong to his Lordship. You are, according to your said order, to repair to the said respective persons now in possession of any such estates, goods, or chattels, and take security from them for the true payment of the yearly rent reserved upon every such estate, and also to take good security to render a true and perfect account to his Lordship . . . of the yearly profits of such estates. . . . Isaac Sodor and Man, Richard Stephenson, Henry Nowell, John Christian, Richard Tyldesley." ‘- It is difficult," says Besse, " to conceive a more arbitrary government than seems at this time to have subsisted in this Island, where men could be deprived of their liberty and property at the mere will of there governors, without conviction of any crime, or even brought to a legal trial." After his arrival at Whitehaven, Callow " made application again to the Earl, but found no relief ; wherefore he represented his case to the Duke of York and to Prince Rupert" the latter of whom wrote warmly to the Earl on his behalf. In Lord Derby’s reply, which was a refusal on the ground that the Island might be "infected with schism or heresy . . . if Quake’s were permitted to reside there," there are two misstatements, (i) that Callow "stands banished (with others because they are Quakers) by the laws of this place," and (2) that " there is now in the Island not one Quaker or dissenting person of any persuasion from the Church of England." For, as already stated, there were no such laws, and there were three women Quakers then in prison on the Island. These unfortunate women suffered great hardships, and on their appealing to the Bishop to release them, he would only do so on condition that "they put in security to promise to come to the service and conform to the order of the Church, and all such as are excommunicated to acknowledge their ‘ schisms and receive absolution." This they declined to do. In May, 1667, Callow went over to the Island to see his wife, who was still in prison, but he was soon sent back to Liverpool, " whence he went to the Earl of Derby’s House, and laid his case before him, but the Earl turned that deaf ear to his request and told him if he would not conform, he should not go to poison his Island." Callow then went to London, as we learn from the following memorandum in a black letter Bible printed in 1630, belonging to Mr J. C. Fargher : " I, William Callow, of Ballafield, a Manxman, who have been banished out of ye Isle of Man by bishops and priests for conscience towards God, above 2 years and 3 months from my dear wife and tender children, have bought this book rate eight shillings and tenpence, in London, where I am now, this fourth day of the ninth month of the year 1667. He remained there till April, 1668, when he received a letter from Evan Christen giving an appalling account of " the cruel voyage and banishment of the four women Quakers, who were remaining on the Island." These poor creatures were in this month sent to Whitehaven, where, on receipt of the above news, Callow joined them. There they stayed till the following March, when the Cumberland justices sent them back to the Island. The. party now consisted of " William Callow and Ann his wife, and Margaret his daughter, Jane Christen and Evan her son, Alice Coward and Katherine, her daughter, and Mary Callow." But, as before, they were not allowed to remain, being shipped to Dublin, whence they were promptly sent back. The dismal farce was not, however, at an end, for the Insular authorities again sent them to " Peel in Lancashire," only to be at once returned by the magistrates there. Finally, the Governor, in despair, placed Callow on board a ship sailing to Virginia. But, on " the sailors refusing to go the voyage if they carried him, saying, they never heard of a ship that carried quakers against their will, that ever prospered . . . . the master promised. them that he would carry him no further than Ireland." He, consequently, landed him there in September, 1669. The rest of the party had again been sent to England, where Callow joined them, and they remained there till 1672, when the king having issued his " Declaration of Indulgence," they, obtained permission from the Earl of Derby to return to the Island.

One of their first Acts was to provide a place where ‘they might bury their dead, for which purpose they obtained a portion of Callow’s property in the parish of Maughold which, to this day, is called " Ruillick-ny Quakeyn" " Grave-yard of the Quakers." The Quakers, were not, however to be left at peace, though it would seem that the persecution directed against them was not so constant and violent as before. Several cases against them are found in the Episcopal Records. the most notorious of which was that against " Ellinor Stockdaile," who "being concerned to exhort the inhabitants of Douglas to repent of the evil of their ways, was put into the Stocks, and’ after many abuses cast into a Dungeon. and slept there night and day for eight days." The account in the ecclesiastical records of this occurrence is that she, "in a most irrerevend manner came into the chappel of Duglass in ye time of Divine Service and disturbed both the minister and the congregacon there, which with other her outward carriage, did occasion the then deputy Governor to expell her out of the island." This was in 1682. In spite of this, however, she " In a short time after returned againe into the Isle, and continueing her former presumption, lived as wife with one Rd: Callow of Kirk Maughold," William Callow’s son, without public matrimony being solemnized betwixt them, according to the lawes and cannons of Our Church" She had, however been duly married to Callow according to Quaker rites, in May, 1683.* But this was of no account with the Ecclesiastical Court, who ordered that " she should be forthwith committed into St. German’s prisson, where she is to continue in close confinement till she give sufficient bonds to transport herself out of this Island, and never to return again." In November she was sent off the Island, being " pulled by force out of her husband’s arms, at the Market Cross in Ramsey, and thence dragged with violence to the boat." But the sailors refused to take her, so she " was kept prisoner about 14 months longer," after which she was shipped to Whitehaven, but, as usual in such cases, was sent back to the Island, and " by the procurement of two priests who bore great sway in the Island 5 she was again committed to Peel Castle." In this year, 1685, Anne, Robert and John Callow were committed to prison for non-payment of tithes, " at the suit of John Allen,6 a Priest." After this date. until the arrival of Bishop Wilson, in 1698, no cases are left on record against the Quakers, but whether this is owing to greater toleration or to the very imperfect state of the records, we know not. Bishop Wilson treated the small colony of Quakers with considerable favour, and allowed them to worship in their own way without bringing the law concerning attending churches to bear upon them. One of his biographers, Cruttwell, states that the "few Quakers who resided on the Island, visited, loved, and respected him" After this time, we hear but little of them. Some of them emigrated to America early in the nineteenth century, and most of the rest abandoned their peculiar tenets. There are still a few descendants of these Quakers in the Island at the present time.


1 ‘ The Sufferings of the Friends," by Besse. He is the earliest authority ; and the others -i.e. , " An Abstract of the Sufferings of the people called Quakers for the testimony of a good Conscience " (anonymous, 1730) vol. ii. 217-223, and "A History of the people called Quakers from their rise to the present time" ; by John Gough, Dublin, 120, vol. i pp. 298-301 , vol. ii. , pp 274-292 — copy largely from him. The writer has not had access to Besse’s book, but has taken most of the above quotations given from a MS. copy of it kindly given him by Mr. Joseph Smith, of Derby-square, Douglas.

2 If bushels of oats were worth 20s., oats must have been very dear at the time.

3 There is no trace of this in the copy of his last speech which has been handed down, and it need scarcely be stated that it was not for any " misdeameanour " against Fairfax that he was shot.

4 Manx Note Book, vol. ii. pp. 134-5

5 From Exchequer book, endorsed : "My Lord Bishop’s letter to the Quakers. "

6 In accordance with a certificate still in possession of Mr Joseph Smith Derby Square, Douglas.


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