[From Mannin #6, 1914]

Old Peel

Old PEEL, with the exception of a few houses scattered about, lay chiefly from a little above the 'Crotsh Veg' (the junction of Michael Street and Douglas Street) down to the shore and harbour. Of the few thorough fares which the town then contained, the 'Big Street' (now Castle Street) was by far the most important, with the cross and the church at the upper end, and the castle at the lower.


At the bottom, Castle Street runs into another at right angles to it. This is Crown Street — used more in days gone by than now, as it was the only means of access from the shore to the harbour till about forty years ago, when the Shore Road was extended in a straight line to the quay. The street had no settled name— 'Marine' street ,'Strand' street. and other names were given to it; but about sixty years ago its present title seems to have stuck to it. This was on account of the Crown property that lay between it and the sea. For a long time this space — the ' Crown' or 'Queen's' yard — was unenclosed; part of it was used as a bowling green. The parish registers of German have the following: 'Richard Quirk, coming over from the Hill, just before divine service,on Sunday, 28th August, fell off his horse in the river at Clarke's Bridge, and there being a great flood, was carried down with his horse, and found on the shore below Mr. Moore's Green; buried Aug. 30th, 1757.' Mr. George (afterwards Sir George) Moore's mansion was just opposite this green. Though used as a place of recreation by the families of Moore and Savage, the green, probably, was not enclosed before the last half of the eighteenth century, when the wall along the seaside was built on the shore. Later, the greater part of it was used as a timber yard and for boat-building by the Quiggins of Douglas, who had as their Peel manager Mr. Robert Quiggin. Mr. Quiggin died about 1860, and on his death another manager was put in his place. This was Mr. John Morrison — father of Mr. R. E. Morrison, the well-known Liverpool artist, who spent some five years of his school days here. The Quiggins built many fishing boats in the Queen's yard. The vessels, when ready, were launched at low water to the shore, and left till the tide came in. About 1866 the Quiggins gave up the place, and Dan Sheard, their chief carpenter, kept the boat-building going for a while.

The late Mr. William Cashin said that the first boatbuilder in this yard was William Meyrick and that the Vanguard and the Sealark were built by him in 1848 or '9. Mr. Cashin's father went to sea in one of these new boats in 1849 — the other was wrecked on the Calf.

But boat-building went on occasionally before that time. A man of seventy, writing in 1889, about his early recollections, said: The boat John and Samuel built in the King's yard by Charlie Fargher, was struck by lightning off Douglas Head, splitting the mast and upsetting the stove; a misfortune attributed to old Tom Wade, who was drunk on the previous Sunday.'

In the course of time various buildings were erected on this Crown property— the Rocket House and Sailors' Shelter about 1876, the Police Station about twenty- five years earlier.

The lock-up before that was the 'Black Hole' under the old Court House, a horrible place, with no light, little air, but an abundance of rats.

The Custom House and Harbour Office were built about 1863 on the site of an old public-house known as 'Whinter's' (a nickname). The writer was told that this house had a window with some stained glass that had been taken out of the Cathedral. About one hundred years ago this public-house was kept by an old woman who wore a beard and dressed in semi-masculine attire. Next to 'Winter's,' round the corner, in Crown Street, stood a smaller public-house, kept by Tom Corkan, who was harbour master at the time. This was afterwards known as the 'Watch House,' and was used as an office by the tide-waiters. It is now wiped out of existence.



Turning to the opposite side of the street, we find the 'Big Warehouse' at the corner. We leave that and move to the adjoining building now called the 'Peveril Hotel, dating, perhaps, from about 1730, evidently built by one of the Peel gentry. The earliest occupant I know of was Captain George Savage, who lived there in the last half of the eighteenth century. 'Captain' was, I fancy, only an honorary title in this case in a Report of Inquiry concerning Manx Flavours, held in 1791, George Savage of Peel is styled 'Water Bailiff,' and at a subsequent examination, 'Acting Collector, Established Tidesman, and Extra Riding Officer.' Besides being chief custom house officer at Peel, he was the High-Bailiff, having succeeded to that office in 1794, when Robert Farrant, High Bailiff, retired to Jurby. Savage held the two appointments till his death. which occurred in 1802. He ruled the town and port. The very week after he died a correspondent in Peel wrote to the Manks Advertiser as follows: 'Since the decease of our late magistrate (Capt. Savage) we have been much annoyed at untimely hours by disorderly people, we heartily wish that the vacancy may be speedily filled up by a gentleman that will keep the town in subordination and quietness.' The Captain's widow, a relative or connection of the Murrays, gave up the house and removed to Mrs. Salman's, in the 'Big Street" where she took a room, and was occasionally visited by her 'cousin,' Lord Henry Murray. The Savage family probably came from Douglas, and lived at Peel for about fifty years. George Savage (the Captain ?) and wife Rebecca Reeves had a daughter baptised at Peel in 1749. George Savage, widower, and Ann Crellin were married at the same place in 1762. Edward Trevor, 'a Protestant from Longbrickland, Ireland,' was married in 1753 to Miss Mary Savage, 'born and baptized in Douglas, but now a Roman Catholic, residing in Ireland.' This marriage was in St. Germain's Cathedral, and was the last that took place there; a dispensation for the marriage was given upon the request of John Murray (afterwards Duke of Athol). Edward Christian, of Lewaigue, who was drowned in Santon river about 1759, married a Miss Savage, of Peel.

Captain Savage died in January, and in the following month the house was advertised to be let by auction, being described as a 'large, commodious dwelling-house, with a vault about twenty-five yards by five, all adjacent to the quay.' The vault was a store shed, on the site of which the Big Warehouse' now stands The Customs collector who succeeded Savage was McArthur, who died about 1820; probably he took the late Captain's residence. In 1815, the house was again advertised to be let, and described as being 'attached to the quay, and very fit for a genteel family, apply to the High-Bailiff.' The High-Bailiff at this date was Hugh Clucas, who died 1817. Some time after this date the place was turned into a hotel. The 'Man of Seventy,' writing 1889, under the heading 'Peel sixty years ago,' said that Matt Moore then kept the Peveril. But this man of seventy was hazy as to his chronology — no dates were given — and his Sixty years' meant anything from his earliest recollection to about the year 1850. There was a Matt Moore in this house, I believe, in the early forties; though an elderly man told me there was no one of that name in the Peveril in his remembrance, but there was a Matt Mooar (big Matt) at one time in the little public house in Douglas Street. William Clarke was the next tenant in the Peveril. He was a descendant of the Clarkes of Ballawyllin, and was father of Mr. David Clarke of Peveril House in Douglas. Then came Nye, and later Kinley. After that Clarke again, who returned thither. Then followed Marsden, Birch, and lastly Mr. C. Kay, the present lessee, who has had the hotel about twenty years.


Just past the Peveril — the 'Big Street' coming between — formerly stood a large house, known as the Marine Hotel, the finest (not the biggest) of all the old houses in Peel, the most elaborate, inside and out, with its red sandstone coigns, and cut stonework around the windows, and its panelled rooms and staircase. It was built by George Moore, one of the most influential of the Peel merchants, between the dates of 1730 and '35; at any rate, it was about 1730 that he began his business at Peel, and probably he began to build his mansion directly afterwards.

In 1734 it was decided to have new seats in St. Peter's at Peel, and 'Mr. George Moore of Peeltown promised five pounds towards the casting of a bell for the church, provided he had the upper seat on the south side of the altar.' In November the following year, when the work was completed, he was allotted Seat No. 1 in the south side of the chancel. This pew was the very one belonging to the Marine Hotel. It is said he was descended from the Moores of Tara Hall in Ireland. Philip, the first of the family in the Isle of Man, settled at the Hills, Douglas. He bought the estate of Ballamoar, Patrick, of the Wattleworths. This descended to his son, the said George, who removed thither perhaps about 1760. The latter was M.H.K. for a long time, and in 1781 was knighted for his services as Speaker of the House. Sir George Moore's body lies in Kirk Patrick churchyard, at the corner, by the schoolyard.

Some time after the Moores left Peel, the house was taken by Bishop Hildesley while Bishop's Court was undergoing repairs. After that comes a blank in my list of tenants. The ' Liverpool Coffee House' was the principal hotel in Peel at one time, I believe it was the 'Marine.' The Universal Magazine, 1785, has an account of a tour through the Isle of Man in 1784, and notices the installation of Bishop Cregan in Peel Castle, May 16, when the Bishop and others dined at the 'Liverpool Coffee House.' In 1789, Colonel Townley, in his Journal, says that he sauntered about in Peel churchyard, 'in order to beguile the time, waiting for a very bad dinner.

... When we arrived at the Liverpool Coffee House we found we were confined to Hobson's choice — chickens or nothing. But even these were running about in the yard, to be chased into tenderness.' The cooking taking some time, they strolled about in the Castle, and on their return found the chickens uneatable, and had it not been for a large plum pudding they 'must have left the third city of the Isle with an empty stomach.' Yet this did not prevent the party returning to the same establishment six months later, where they spent two or three days, 'feasting on noble cod and haddock in the greatest perfection.' But again there was dissatisfaction, for the Colonel writes: 'Glad to quit the Liverpool Coffee House in Peel, the most imposing house in the Island, for our most excellent quarters at the Liverpool Coffee House in Douglas, quitting one of the most saucy, impertinent, sour-tempered women that ever provided at a bar, for one of the most obliging, civil, good-tempered women that ever engaged in that bustling line of life.' Who was this sour-tempered woman ? Mrs. Black? At any rate, Mrs. Black, innkeeper, died not many years after this. In 1797 Robert Black had the 'White Horse Hotel' in Peel; no 'Liverpool Coffee House" is mentioned that year. In 1802, this Black married a daughter of Captain Dawson of Peel, and died two years later. [A public house known as 'Black's' stood on the Shore not far from Crown Street; it was carried away by the sea about 1830.] In June, 1804, we find Robert Grant of Peel thanking his friends for past favours, and informing them he has removed to that house lately occupied by Mr. Black. In 1806, Grant advertises his 'Liverpool Coffee House,' saying he has laid out his inn to better advantage, etc. In 1816, Mrs. Grant died, and her husband was then described as 'late of the Liverpool Coffee House.' Later he returned to hotel life, but in the 'Big Street.' Thomas Long (from Cumberland ?) turned up in Peel about 1803, and began in the 'public line.' In 1810 he had the 'Liverpool Coffee House,' which he vacated in 1811, having taken a tavern of the same name in Douglas. In 1815 he returned to Peel, and opened the 'New Inn.' But, after all, this much-discussed 'coffee house' may not have been the 'Marine' or any other house in Crown Street.

In 1820, Robert McKinley appears as holding a 'private' (now retail) licence. In 1824 he had a public licence. Pigot's Directory for 1824 states that McKinley then had the 'White Lion Hotel and Commercial Inn near the pier.' This certainly was the 'Marine.' In 1828, there was a masked ball at McKinley's.

Dear sirs, in my last description I sent of all the good folks to whose parties we went; But since that we've had a most splendid turn-out At Mrs. McKinley's — a Bachelors' Rout.

So ran the opening lines of doggerel, written by one who had been there in the guise of a Yorkshire countryman.

Sometime in the 'thirties' McKinley was out of the hotel, and it was rented as a private residence by Mr. T. Cholmondley (of whom more anon). In 1838, Dr. Moses had it, but he left Peel for Rhyl soon after, and the house was taken by his mother-in-law (Mrs. Graves, an Englishwoman) who died in 1841. Soon after this it was once more changed into an hotel. One Pitchford from the 'Mitre' in Michael took it. It was then called the 'Marine.' After Pitchford, came Edward Frissel, an advocate, who had married Mrs. Thomas, landlady of the old 'Peel Castle Inn,' at the Market Place, which was pulled down and the present one built about 1847. While the new 'Peel Castle' was being built Frissel was in the 'Marine,' and afterwards moved up to the new hotel, but staying there only a short time, was soon back. Whilst in the latter he ran the coach 'Fenella' twice a week between Peel and Douglas. He was son of a lieutenant in the Navy, and grandson of Captain John Frissel, High.Bailiff of Ramsey. Giving up the hotel in the 'fifties,' he was followed by Moffatt, Crelley, Braithwaite (who practised the arts — music and painting), Mrs. Graves (in her time the hotel was enlarged), Clarke, and lastly Foy, who, after being Mrs. Clarke's pianist and factotum, married that lady.

One night, in January or February, 1885, the hotel was discovered to be on fire. Owing to the quantity of woodwork in the house, the fire had complete mastery, and in a very short time the dwelling was a furnace. Luckily for the owner, the late Mr. R. Corrin, the hotel was insured with the Isle of Man Insurance Company, and the consequence was no dividends that year for the unfortunate shareholders. Thus ended Moore's mansion. Mr. Corrin afterwards sold the ground to Mr. S. Dale, who built on the site the three houses now standing there.

There are a few legends connected with the house. In one of the bedrooms there were mysterious stains on the floor These stains, so the story ran, could not by any means be washed out. Workmen were employed to plane the surface away, but to no avail, the stains remained. It was said that a murder had been committed in the room, and the stains were the remains of the blood. Beyond that no one could give any particulars, as to who, how, or when, except that the victim was a child whose mother was thought to have been a servant. In 1851, when several meal were drinking in the house, a jackdaw came tumbling down the chimney and settled on the shoulder of a man named G , a well-known terror. One Thompson made a grab at the bird, saying 'I'll have it.' G declared it was his. A row ensued, and Thompson hit the other a blow on the temple, knocking hhn down dead. In the turmoil the jackdaw disappeared — through the window or door probably. It was atterwards said that the jack was none but the infernal one himself who came down the flue to claim his own, and then instantly vanished the moment G expired.

Adjoining the 'Marine' there stood another old dwelling — it still stands — but having been enlarged and transformed some fifty years ago, it does not seem the same house. It, like all the other old houses in the street, had been a tavern at one time. In 1816, if not years earlier, James Cowin had a licence for it. From him the property descended to the present owner. I do not know if the following two Mrs. Cowins were the one person, or whether they were of Crown Street; I merely mention them. In '80s, a Welsh sloop, lying in Peel Harbour, was sold, and the auction was at Mrs. Cowin's, Peeltown. Cowin's in Crown Street was not many yards from the harbour. In the following year, Mrs. Margaret Cowin, of Peel, a widow, aged fifty-five, was out riding in a 'wheel car' one evening. 'Wheel car' Are we to take it there were other cars wheelless, drawn along the ground like sledges ? There were such vehicles used in the country, but I never heard of them being called cars. On this particular evening, the horse took fright, and the lady was unfortunately thrown out; she expired fifteen minutes afterwards. Just past Cowin's the street takes a sharp turn, forming it into an L.


The short foot of the L from the angle to the shore, is bounded by what was once known as 'Munns Houses.' The founder of the Munns was an Angus Munn, who settled in Peel about 1760. He was in the Custom House, and died 1792: probably it was then that Captain Savage was made chief officer. Munn's old house still stands, but is hid by a modern house, built in front of it, and facing the sea. A brewery stood on the same property Angus Munn married Leonora Callister, one of the Callisters of Douglas Street, and had, with others, a daughter Mary, who married William Clarke, of Nappin, and a son Angus, who died at sea, 1807, on his way from Whitehaven. Angus, the younger, a few years before he died, built two houses in Crown Street. About fourteen or fifteen years ago. some men, repairing the roof of one of these houses, found a large slate, with 'A. Clarke' and date 1803 or '5 cut on it. This A. Clarke was probably a son of William, who had married Mary Munn. The gable of the house nearest the shore is of great thickness at the bottom, with large boulders at the foundation as a bulwark against the sea. 'As thick as Munn's gable' was a saying in Peel in days gone by. The gable was 'Munn's Corner,' and the sands 'Munn's Shore.' After the death of Angus (the younger) his widow and daughters continued to live in the corner house, where Mrs. Jane Munn had a licence to sell wines and spirits. They kept boarders; and eventually three of the daughters married three of the boarders, viz.: Lieutenant Wilson Burn, Mr. Thomas Cholmondely, and Captain Henry Hutchinson. Of these, Lieutenant Burn, of the first foot, had been a Wilson, who changed his name on account of some inheritance. He was known in Peel as 'Burns,' and became owner of one of Munn's houses through his wife. Cholmondley, a scion of the lordly house of Cholmondley in Cheshire, was of a restless disposition, and could not settle long in any one place. From the 'thirties' to the time of his death he spent the greater part of his life in Peel and New Zealand, and on the oceans lying, between, having crossed from one side of the world to the other no fewer, it is said, than nineteen times. He died in New Zealand in 1884, aged eighty-four. Hutchinson was in the merchant service, and had lived before coming to Peel in Stockton. I have been told — but cannot say how true — that he was a near relative of Mary Hutchinson, who married the poet Wordsworth. But then I have heard it was Burn who was related to Wordsworth himself. Captain Hutchinson's sons and daughters are dead, and as Lieutenant Burn left no children. while Mr. Cholmondely's descendants are at the Antipodes, no kith or kin of the Munns remain in Peel.

'Billy Burn's House,' as the Lieutenant's was called. like the others, had been a public house in former years, but the only name of any of the publicans I can recall is that of Sheard, an army pensioner who became blind. Munn's property in time passed to the Teares by purchase, and is now owned by Mr. W. E. Teare.

G. G.

[ presumed to be George Goodwin — brother to Edmund Goodwin and collator of the 'Goodwin Scrapbooks'] FPC. see also Old Peel II


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