[From Proc IoMNH&ASoc vol 3]



Read at Marown, 23rd July, 1925.

Early in this year (1925) there have been deposited in the Many Museum a large number of old documents belonging to the Registry of the Diocese of Sodor and Man. Several of these deal with Kirk Marown and are of considerable interest.

In Bishop Wilson's time, in the year 1743, the two VicarsGeneral, the Revs. John Cosnahan and Edward Moore, made the following report, which was sent from Bishopscourt to the Vicar, Rev. Thomas Christian, to be published in Kirk Marown for the edification of the parishioners :

At Bishopscourt, 19th Sept., 1743

The Church, of Marown having been visited upon the 5th of July last, we find that the Reading Pew stands too low; that the Reading Desk is too narrow; that there is no chest for securing the books, linens, vestments, etc. ; that they want a carpet for the Communion Table; that there are no napkins to cover the elements; no herse cloth for burials; that they want a new Bible, and that the Common Prayer Book wants to be bound. That there is no cover for the font, That the church wants to be whitewashed. And that the church style is braken and very much out of repair.

We also find that the Church House is out of repair.

The Wardens are, therefore, hereby admonished, under pain of ecclesiastical censure, to take dare that these things 1vlr,ich axe wanting be provided, repaired, and perfected within six months next after the date hereof, and then that Certificate be returned by the Vicar and Wardens of the Episcopal Registry.

The Vicar is also admonished to pult the Vicarage House into such decent and habitable repair as may be fittinig and convenient for a Vicar of that parish to dwell in.


The Vicar of Marown. [Vicars-General.] These to publish,

The Vicar's house, it should be noted, was on the Vicar's glebe, on the high land west of the old church, and has now disappeared.

In the year 1757, two years after Hildesley became Bishop, he, with his Vicars-General, visited Marown, and, in obedience to their Articles of Enquiry, the Vicar and Wardens gave the following interesting information. The Vicar was the Rev. John Christian, son of Thomas Christian:

Articles of Inquiry to the Vicar and Wardens by Mark, Bishop, and Visitation of his Vicars-General.

The Vicar's glebe and mansion house are scituated above Balnekilley's dwelling-house, computed to two acres and a half of arable land': and is bounded, on the south from the west corner of Balnekilley's Haggard, to the Knekk Ashen. ffence; and from thence on the west to the Turf road. On the North down on the stone wall, to the north corner of Croit ny Roiligey, and from thence on the east and south, on the ffence dividing the glebe and- said Croit ny Roilgey as far as it extends; and so on to the Church House and to the aforesaid corner of Balnekilley's Haggard.

[Mr Cubbon here pointed out where Croit ny Roilgey (the croft of the churchyard) was, and also the Vicar's glebe and mansion house.] Then follow a number of enquiries and the answers:

' What is the usual amount of each collection at your Communions? ' ' About 14s.'

' We have about 350 Communicants at Easter, 200 at Whitsuntide, and 200 at Christmas.'

' I preach in the Manks Tongue twice every month throughout the ' year.'

' I publicly expound the Catechism twice every rnonth during the ' summer half year, and once every month in the winter season.'

''The masters and mistresses (who are able) teach the children to say ' their prayers and Catechism in Monks.1

' I go the bounds of part of my parish once in five years,'

The number of souls in the parish, viz., 658, as follows:-

Married, couples






Adult single men upward of 16 years


Adult singe women upward of 16 years


Males under 16 years


Females under 16 years








' The foregoing is certified, to your Lordship as far as we are respectively concerned, by your Lordship's most obedient humble servants. JOHN CHRISTIAN, Vicar.

Another official Visitation was made, in the year 1758, by the Vicars-General, and a Report was made containing the following : -

At Bishopscourt, 1st June, 1758.

Having on the 22nd July last visited the Parish Church of Kirk ' Marown, we find that the space within the Rails of the Altar wants 'to be flagged or boarded, which the Vicar [the Rev. John Christian] ' generously propos-s to, do at his own expense.

That the Pulpit is very indifferent.

That the floor of the Reading Besk is in bad order, and a cover wanting to the Font.

That there is no proper or convenient place for Communicants to kneel at the Altar.

That the surplice is so shamefully old and tattered that a new one ' is absolutely necessary.

'That there is no herse cloath for the burial of the dead; nor an offertory basin.

That the south stile of the churchyard is so high that it is hazardous for old people or women to stride over it.

The Wardens flor the time being are hereby admonished and ordered, under pain of ecclesiastical censure, to take care that these particulars which are wanting be provided,, repaired, and perfected.

And as to the stile above mentioned, it is further ordered that the same be walled up, and that a commodious gateway be made at the west jaum or pillar thereof, as is proposed by the Vicar and Wardens, and the expense of these several things to be paid and maintained out of the public Assessment.

And finding, also, that the old Register Book (the preservation ' whereof may be of great importance) is all loose and in leafs, it is hereby also ordered' that the same be transcribed,, so far as the same is legible, in a new book of parchment or good paper to be provided ' for that purpose, and such transcript to be examined, compared, and attested hy the Vicar and Wardens for the fntnre use of the Parishioners as occasion may require.'

The Vicar-General's order as to the stile is interesting. They say that ' the south stile is so high that it is hazardous for old ' people or women to stride over it.'

They order the stile to be walled up, and that a ' comodious ' gateway be made at the west jaum or pillar thereof.'

The Vicar and Wardens did not wall up the stile, for it is still to the fore; but they built a comodious gateway, not at the west end of the stile, but at the east end.

Why all this bother was made about the south entrance to the churchyard it is hard to see; one cannot, to-day at anyrate, see any necessity for it.

A pathway ran from the main roadway up to this gateway, which also reached the Vicar's house beyond.

This south entrance to the churchyard must have been the cause of much debating.

The Rev. Thomas Christian, in 1787, in one of his communications to the Bishop, writes: ' The churchyard fence has two gates when one might do; as there is but one ile to the church ' door.'

About the year 1800 the Vicar, the Rev. John Bridson, locked the south gateway and kept it fastened. One of his wardens, Mr. William Cubbon, of Ballacallin [father of VicarGeneral Cubbon and grandfather of Sir Mark Cubbon] objected to the closing of the gateway, and appealed to the Ecclesiastical Court; and Vicar Bridson had to keep it open afterwards. In those times the churchyard was very handy in which to keep the Vicar's sheep.

On the wall inside the church is a slab inscribed as follows ' Henry, son of John Clucas, off Ballanicholas, a virtuous and notable youth, academic student, died June 23rd, 1732, aged 23 years.'

A William Clucas, of Ballanicholas, a relative of Henry, became Curate of Marown, about 1770, and he married a sister of the Rev. Thomas Christian, a well-known Vicar of the parish.

I have the account of the funeral charges of the Rev. Win. Clucas's brother, Thomas Clucas, of Ballanicholas, who died on March 8th, 1807, which is interesting:

Funeral Charges, Marown, March 8th, 1807. Mr. Wm. Clucas to Thos. Cannell,

Dr. To cash paid for Thomas Clucas, senn, funeral expenses, as per agreement, on your account.

To one bottleof wine
0 2 2
To one gallon of best rum
0 10 0
To cash paid for bread..
0 6 0
To 3 gallons of single rom
0 18 0
To cash paid for a coffin for Thas. Clucas
2 2 0
To cash for bringing corps on wheels to Kirk Marown
0 10 0
To cash paid for his friends, when come out of church, for ale and spirits
0 3 0
To 41 lib. of Beef at 5½d. per lb.
0 18 9
To, cash paid the Bellman, Henery Bown
0 2 6
To allowance: to clerk
0 0 6
To half a barrel of ale
0 14 0
To cash paid Judy Christian
0 15 0
To cash paid to Do. as per draft
0 2 0
To cash paid for half a barrel of coals
0 2 0
To a shole for your wife
0 5 0
To me own trouble
0 10 6
To 1 quarter of meat
0 4 6
To cash paid for sitting in carriage
0 7 0
To 2 quarts of rum
0 5 0
Britt. 101
17 1 11

In 1831 three schools were in the parish, conducted by James Cain, Richard Cowle, and Isabella Cain. Each of the Masters had a salary of £8, and the Mistress had £4.

To judge by an old document, dated 1786, it was as difficult to get parishioners to act as Churchwardens 140 years ago as it is to-day. Here is a protest of Thos. Callin, Robt. Quayle, and Phil. Kelly, against being forced to act as churchwardens after having served a period.

In their protest they make the shocking allegation that ' that there was a great scarcity of men in the south side of the parish owing to the multiplicity of lunatics, ideods, minors, Deists, or men who never come to church.'

Of course, in the 18th century, the lot of the churchwarden was not a very happy one; for he was ordered by the Ecclesiastical Courts to keep an eye on all the parishioners, in order that they should not break any of the numerous regulations made for their guidance by the Church authorities.

To the Rev. Evan Christian, Vicar-General.

'The humble remonstrance of 'Thos. Callin, Rob. Quayle, and Phil. Kelly, three of the old Wardens, of Marown. Representing,,-That four sufficient men are legally elected by the Vicar and principal Parishioners on Easter Monday, to be sworn Wardens against the next Court of Correction, -at which Court some of said men, alledging that they were not duly elected- for that they had been very lately Wardens before, and that there was a great scarcity of men in the South side of the parish, owing to the multiplicity of Lunatics, Ideods, minors, Deists, or men who never came to church; upon which report the Court ordered another Vestry to be held for a more due -election. At which Vestry some of the wise men, like those of renown'd Gotham, drew up an account, specifying therein, that because Ewan Key, our brother Warden, a man of consequence, we may say, did not attend this Vestry, We ourselves did therefore elect and appoint ourselves to stand Wardens for the current year, though we obstinately declared against it. Upon this false basis they founded their false superstructure and fabricated their preposterous Act, nay rather, a farrago of inconsistency, absurdity, and falsehood, for we were never so vain or fond, of being in office as to choose, and appoint ourselves.

We have had the honour of being two years already in that important office, though we are all three illiterate men and some of us of a very advanced age,

With humble deference to your Reverence, we maintain that the vain pretence assigned by the latter Vestry is no real cause or reason to compel us to be continued any longer, therefore we hope your Reverence's candour and judgment will not even persuade, much less compel us.


Ballakilley, now called Ellerslie, was, for at least seven centuries, a part-a very large part-of the Barony of the Bishop of Sodor and Man.

The original grant to the Bishop was probably made in the 11th or 12th century, and included rich lands in many of the parishes.

In a Bull of Pope Gregory IX, dated 1231, the Bishop was confirmed in his numerous Estates, and, among others, he was confirmed in the lands of Kyrkemarona and Colusshill.

The land of Kyrkemarona is Ballakilley, now called Ellerslie, and Colusshill is the farm now known as Cooilingil, adoining Ellerslie (vide Mr. J. J. Kneen).

The Bishop's Baronial Court was held half-yearly, and the Court had charge of all the numerous lands of the Bishop, in Jurby, Patrick, German, Marown, Braddan, and Arbory.

At these Courts all changes of tenants had to be approved and recorded, and the rents and what were called the customs were then collected.

The yearly rent of Ballakilley, which is two quarterlands in extent, was 24s., and the customs were: 4 firlets of oats, 1 lamb, 1 hen, 3 boon days, 1 mutton, 1i goose, 48 carrs turffe, 8 carriages.

It may interest you to know something of the owners of the property of Ballakilley.

The first of whom we have any record is Thomas Moore, who held the land under the Bishop as Baron, in the year 1587. A George Quilliam, one of the Cooilingil Quilliams, held a portion of the estate at the same time.

In the year 1660 the Moores sold Ballakilley to Lieut. Wm. Christian, one of the Maughold family of Christian.

In 1702, at a Court of the Tenants of the Bishop's Barony, held at Holmetown, before Deemster Quirk, Mrs Isabella Christian, widow of William Christian de Whitehaven, complains against Mr. Thomas Christian, Vicar of Kirk Christ, Rushen, for that he withholds and detains from her two quarters of Bishop's land, called Ballnakilley,.of the yearly rent of 32s. 3d. She claimed the land or its equivalent in cash, viz., 200.

Major Wm. Christian, the widow's son(?), sold Ballakilley to the Rev. Thomas Christian, Vicar of Rushen, and afterwards of Marown. The purchase price was 120, in two sums of £60, to be paid within the period of seven years. The new tenant was duly entered in the Roll of the Bishop's Barony by the customary transfer of the straw.

For seven years-from 1703 to 1710-there was a law suit in the Baronial Court between several members of the Christian family of Maughold and of Whitehaven for possession of Ballakilley, but the Rev. Thomas Christian, Vicar of Rushen, retained possession.

In 1747, Thos. Christian, who became Vicar of Kirk Marown and was buried in the family burial place, mortgaged Ballakilley to Capt. Thos. Gawne, and Gawne was entered in the Roll.

In 1758, Rev. John Christian was entered, having made arrangements for the payment of the mortgage to Gawne.

In 1783, the Rev. Thomas Christian, son of the Rev. John Christian, was entered.

In 1823, Anthony Dunlop of Scotland purchased Ballakilley from Rev. Thomas Christian.

In 1835, Ann, widow of Anthony Dunlop, sold Ballakilley to Wm. Turnbull for £11,000.

[The tenant was Joseph Faulder. He it was, I understand, who altered the name to Ellerslie. [? others suggest it more likely that Dunlop chaned name as it was associated with his family]

In 1860, Wm. Turnbull's Trustees sold the estate to Evan Gell, of the White House, Michael, for 14,000.

In 1898, Evan Gell's estate becoming insolvent, the administrator, Mr. James S. Gell, sold the estate to Mr. Joseph W. Cubbon, and he was entered, and subsequently he sold it to the late Mr. Joseph Cunningham.

Strangely enough, one of the tenants of the Bishop at the earliest date of which we have record was a John Coningham, who, in the year 1580, held Ballakilmoirey, in the adjacent parish of German.

Ballakilley-I prefer to call the farm Ballakilley rather than Ellerslie-has given the Manx Church three well-known Vicars, namely : -

Thomas Christian, from 1734 to 1753.
John Christian, from 1753 to 1779, son of Thomas.
Thomas Christian, 1780 to 1799, son of John.


As I have said, the three Christian vicars of Marown were remarkable in various ways. They were all exceedingly talented and scholarly.

The first was the Rev. Thomas Christian, who was vicar ig years, from 1734 to 1753,

He was a man of strong political views. He was more than suspected of a leaning to the support of the ' Pretender,' for he was, for that reason, suspended from his office as Vicar by Bishop Wilson in 1746.

He it was who purchased Ballakilley from Major Wm. Christian for the sum of £120.


The Rev. John Christian was the son of the Rev. Thomas Christian, of Ballakilley, and was Vicar 26 years, from 1753 to 1779. He died aged 51 years. He translated for Bishop Hildesley the Second Book of Kings into the Manx language, and his work was printed in the first issue of the Scriptures in 1771.

A paten of silver in Marown church was the gift of this Vicar. On his tomb is inscribed the following curious lines: -

" In wit facetious, humorous to his end,
A good companion and a steady friend."

There is also the Latin inscription: ' Hic saltum accumulem ' donis et fungar animi munere. T.C. moerus Posuit.' Inscription made to the order of his son, the Rev. Thomas. The same bit of Latin is on Lord Henry Murray's obelisk in Braddan churchyard. It is from Virgil.

The Rev. John Christian, in 1776, provided the learned English Antiquary, Pennant, with a description of his parish, but it was never published by Pennant. (See ' Lioar Manninagh,' Vol. II, p. 29).

Having been written 150 years ago, it is interesting to note that he stated that the parish of Marown was ' seldom or ever ' troubled with epidemical disorders (the smallpox excepted), owing to the north-west wind that blows through the rocks at Greeba and Creg-y-Quilliam with such force down the valley formed by the Black river ' that it disperses all the noxious ' and stagnant vapours lodged in the atmosphere and leaves the ' air pure and healthy, so that this parish may be justly called ' the Mountpellier of this Isle. (Note.-Since January, 1750, ' I have buried but four persons who have died of fevers.)'

Continuing, he said there was placed a monument in the mountain leading to Kirk Michael, erected to the memory of one Kinry, alias Harrison; who is said to have perished in or near this place.

It is stated that he was to run for a wager in his shirt only on a snowy night from Kirk Michael to Douglas market-place and back again, but perished here on his return. I have made inquiries in the parish as to the site of this grave and have located in on the north-west slope of Colden, overlooking Cronkdhoo. The grave is in the form of a small cairn consisting of white quartz stone. I have taken a photograph of it.


The Rev. Thomas Christian the Second was the son of the Rev. John, of Ballakilley. He was 19 years the Vicar, from 1780 to 1799.

He was one of Bishop Wilson's Academic scholars, having shown great promise in his youth.

In 1796 he published his very, scholarly work, ' Pargys Callit,' being a translation into the Manx language of a large portion of Milton's ' Paradise Lost.'

His morals seem not to have reached the high standard of his times, for Bishop Crigan suspended him for a time.

An Ecclesiastical Court document, dated 1790, states that Mr. Christian ' having quitted the retirement enjoined him by his Lordship, and returned to the scene of his unfortunate connections, has this day promised to repair to Kirk Bride and submit himself to the guidance of his brother-in-law, the Rev. Wm. Clucas, during the period of his probation.'

Another document, dated 1796, states that he was ' degraded by being dismissed from the Church,' and a curate named John Bridson was put in his place; but he did not relinquish his office of Vicar until 1799.


On many occasions there were discussions as to the liability of the Bishop's Barony tenants to give an ox or 40s. The following document, which, I believe, has not hitherto been published, will be of interest :

At Peel towne, xiiii July, 1664.

This day the Right Rev. the Lord Bopp. [Barrow] of this Isle being present in Court, and the 'Tenants being all called into Court into the house of Sir Wm. Cosnahan deceased, they all appeared. And his Lordship propoundinge unto them his Lopp's demand of one ore or xls. in money out of every quarter of land by every of them due hourd and proportionable to the rate for and out of every one houldinge, they the said Tenants could not make or produsce any thinge materiall for their deffenoe why they should not pay the said ore or xls. in money as aforesaid.

Therefore, it is ordered by the Court and declared that the said Tenants are lya'ble to the payinent of the said ore or xl s. of money out of every quarter of land they hourd', and, so proportionable to that rate out of their sevrall houldings, and this accordinge to ancient custorne, and as his Lopp's predecessors had and received.

And the said Tenants are ordered to pay satisfie and discharge the said payment of an oxe or xl s. in money a'ppon or before the Ist day of August next eusuinge, or in default hereof the respective pawnes of ye Tenants soe fayliuge to knee taken and' made use of according to law forthwith after.-Bishop Barony Book 6, p. 26.

The matter came up again in 1684 (Bishop Levinz), and the judgment of the ' House of Keise ' was sought. The Keys found in favour of the Bishop. ' Note that the ox to be given ' is to be understood a choice ox.'

In 1686, Bishop Levinz, ' in consideration of the Tenants ' present necessiti'e and disabilitie,' agreed to accept half an ox. Vicar Christian, of Ballakilley, for his two quarterlands, had to pay a choice ox or 40s.


Here are a few examples of the remarkable cases which were frequently brought before the Ecclesiastical Courts by the churchwardens : -

1684.-Will. Kermot and Will. Gycke for hunting and killing haires upon Sunday morning before prayers. (One day in Ecclesiastical prison and not to do the like again; sub paena 5s. a peece.)

1684.-John Corlett for keping swine who have rooted ye church yeard. (Hath promised reformation for future.) 1684.-Pat. Cottier for wishing God's curse to light upon a man's soul in ye hearing of Joh. Key, one of ye Chapter Quest. (Remitted upon some reasons given to the Court.)

1700.-Gates Kelly for leading a horse with poles on ye Lord's Day betwixt morning and evening service. 1 die.

1700.-Hen. Christian for selling tobacco on ye Lord's Day. 1 die.

1700.-William Cowin presents Ann Gelling, ye wife of John Corkan, for cursing ye minister of ye parish [Robert Fletcher], as followeth :-" On ye harvest timelast, Ann Gelling had at ' ye filde a gose bitten with doggs, and shee said that it was ' ye minister dog that did that, and cursed that a bare bees some might swept ye hart or fyre side of him that owed ye said dogg; and further shee saide ye kindred of thieves and the seed of Berv Doane a theefe as he was, and hore his wife, with much curseing and swearinge and abuseing speeches to that purpose.' - 2 dies and ask forgiveness.

1761.-Wardens present Richd. Cowle and Wm. Quirk for not receiving the Blessed Sacrament. Later the Vicar certifies that they duly attend him for instruction.


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