[From Feltham's Tour, 1798]
THIS parish contains the town of Douglas the chief port;and besides the parish church, contains two chapels, one dedicated to St. George, the other to St. Matthew. [* There is a village in Lanarkshire in Scotland, of the name of Douglas which has about 700 inhabitants, and some small manufactures of cotton. Heron's Scot. described, 12mo., 1797.]
There are five principal bridges, and one or two smaller ones in the parish. The two principal streams join before they reach Douglas, one called Awin-Glass, the other Awindooh, or the black river; from hence Douglas. The name of Braddan was probably from Brandinus, the bishop; some have supposed it from braddon, a salmon, from their being caught in the river.
The bay, in the form of a crescent, extends for three miles from Clayhead to Douglas promontory. It is an asylum from the tempests of the north-west and south, but to the storms of the east it is greatly exposed. Both points present a dangerous and rocky shore.
A variety of fish is here caught in great abundance. The cod are fine, the salmon small but good, and plentiful in July, Aug.,and Sept. A plan of Douglas harbour, taken in 1791, is annexed to the Commissioners' Report. Gobbock, or dog-fish,is plentiful, and eaten by the lower classes.
A spa was discovered at Ballabrooi, but because of the inconvenience arising from the resort of company, it was blocked up.
The parish church is most pleasantly surrounded by trees,about two miles from the town, by the roadside tending to Peel, which, as well as Castletown, is about ten miles from Douglas. The roads are good; on the latter milestones are placed, the only road so adorned.
The vicarage-house was originally close by the church; but on account of some disputes, an act of Tynwald passed, about 1742, which exchanged it for the ground on which the present house is erected, about three-quarters of a mile from the church. It has two small fields, glebe land, near it; but several acres were purchased and annexed by Bishop Wilson, which pay a quit-rent and other services to the lord.
The church was rebuilt in 1773; it has a square tower and two small bells; they baptize and bury in St. George's chapel, and also marry by special licence. Braddan church is neatly hewed, twenty-seven yards long, by seven broad.
" Rendered (says Bishop Wilson) flagged, and put a new east window to the chancel, 1704. 1705, I gave six pounds to Kirk Braddan vicarage-house. 1741, I gave 15l. towards building anew house for the vicarage. 1739, I gave 20l. towards buying a glebe to Kirk-Braddan, with 35l. of Mr. Thompson's."
In Braddan churchyard are buried several persons between 80 and 96 years old.
On the Edge of a Stone-cross at Kirk-Braddan.
Durlifr nsaci risti crus dono Aftfiac sunfin frudur sun Safrsag.
For Admiral Durlif, this cross was erected by the son of his Mother, the son of Safrsag.
1788, John Gelling, of Camlock, died Jan. 3, aged 86.
1785, Catharine, his wife, died Nov. 28th, aged 81.
1733, Johannes Curphey, died Oct. 6, vicar, and vicar-general,
1700, Thomas Lowcay, died June 24th, aged 72.
1770, Lieut. Halley Borwick, commander of the cutter Cholmondeley, died April 23d, aged 56.
1741, John Corris, of Douglas, 17th of May (under the chancel door), aged 69.
I had no opportunity of taking the inscriptions in Braddan churchyard, but a particular friend favoured me with these.
" John Tiesin, of Great Clifton in Cumberland. Insignid pietate puer, genio felici, et pro aetat ring. Lat. Graec doctus filio privigno posuit, P. Moore."
" H. S. E. Edward Arthur, aet. 13. ob. 1754. Reader! art thou a parent ? Let thy heart sympathize with parents, and feel with them for the loss of an only child - But wouldst thou know thy duty, and revere the ways of Providence in such dispensations, read and consider the sacred page of Wisdom (chap. iv. 7-14).Go thy ways, be silent, learn submission, and adore thy Maker. Parentes moesti posuere."
" Here lies interred, the Rev. P. Moore, 48 years chaplain and schoolmaster in this parish; ob. 1783, set. 77. Sis tu semper felix, &c. (obliterated.)
" For ever may that man be blest
Who never will these bones molest,
But here for ever let them rest:
Till fire consume this earthly ball,
And Christ shall come to judge us all ! ! ! "
Vicars. In 1733, the Rev. John Curghey, vicar-general. John Cosnaghan, vicar-general. Joseph Cosnaghan, his son. Thomas W. J. Woods. Julius Cosnaghan. John Moore. 1792, the Rev. Robert Quayle, the present vicar.
Donations about 80l. principal to the poor.
For the returns of the number of inhabitants in Kirk-Braddan and Douglas, see page 69.
St. Matthew's chapel, which is in the town, has a clock. In 1708, Bishop Wilson consecrated this chapel at Douglas, to which he was a considerable benefactor. "Sep. 21, 1708, I contributed (says Bishop Wilson) 10l. and begged 60l. more towards the building of it." It is small; has one monument on a marble in the chancel, " Sacred to the memory of the Rev. Philip Moore, rector of Kirk-Bride, and officiating minister of the chapel of Douglas. His education was completed under the auspices of the good Bishop Wilson, and he made a grateful return for this singular advantage, by contributing to the virtuous instruction of youth, being above 40 years master of Douglas school. He was likewise principally concerned in revising the memorable translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Manks language, for which, by his learning, he was eminently qualified. He was born at Douglas, Sept. 5, 1705, and died there Jan. 22.1783. This monument was erected, as a testimony of friendly esteem, at the expense of the Rev. Thomas Wilson, D.D. son of the Bishop, &c."
Former Chaplains. The Rev. Mr. Moore, and the Rev. Mr. Quayle. The Rev. Mr. Stowell is the present chaplain, and master of the grammar-school, the donations to which are a house, and about 21l. per annum.
On an eminence, west of Douglas, is St. George's chapel, a large elegant modern building, erected a few years since by subscription*; it has spacious pews and galleries, and a handsome organ. The Rev. Mr. Christian is the officiating minister for the Rev. Mr. Quayle, late vicar of Kirk Oncan.
* The funds were lodged with Bishop Mason, who dying insolvent, the persons employed in the building have never been paid.
All the tombstones here are of a recent date; among those to strangers, I observed Duncan Robertson, Esq., town-major of Hull, who died March 30, 1793, aged 50. Wm. Powel Buck, of Norwich, April 18, 1793, aged 28. John Nichols, of Carmarthen, Aug. 16, 1790, aged 26. James Drake, of Loughin Isle, Ireland, Dec. 2, 1790, aged 54. Joseph Shaw, of Huddersfield, Yorkshire, May 29, 1796, aged 47. Alexander Stuart, son of Daniel and Mary Stuart, of Perthshire, aged 10, Oct. 28,1796.
Douglas contains about 900 houses, and is a neat pleasant town, the buildings lofty, but the streets narrow and close.
The following is its custom-house establishment. A receiver and deputy-receiver general, collector and clerk, comptroller,searcher, warehouse-keeper, comptroller of ditto, riding-officer, port-gauger, tidesmen, boatmen, &c.
Coarse paper is manufactured in the parish; and Douglas has snuff and tobacco factories, and a linen manufactory by Messrs. Moore, on an extensive scale, from the heckling to the piece; but it is bleached in England. The quality of these goods,which I examined, is particularly stout and strong, as well as fine. On some rocks near the mouth of the harbour is an ancient fort, now used as a temporary prison.
It has public breweries, tan-yards, &c., and, as instances of its progress in refinement, a circulating library, a theatre, several billiard-tables, assemblies, and races. Well might Mona's bard 2 exclaim,
" O Luxury ! whom Eastern Kings revere,
Dost thou maintain a little empire here ?
Could not whole kingdoms thy desires allay,
But must poor simple Douglas be thy prey ?
Ah ! see what desolation thou hart spread,
Young industry is sick, and virtue dead;
While pride and pomp so absolute are grown,
That friendless modesty's kicked out of town "
In pursuing these parochial sketches, the reader will doubtless have observed that he has met with no public asylums for distress of any kind; the poor have no house to shelter them in age; the sick have no hospitals; the poor married women no tender nurses and doctors, gratis, to relieve the pains of nature's trying moments; nor has the unfortunate single woman the cup of salvation and comfort held out to her when lost or betrayed by unguarded conduct: yet I am happy to observe that at Douglas and at Ramsey, there are clubs for mutual benefit.** The former, which was established in 1790, had, in 1798, a clear capital of more than 220l. The females have no society of this kind.
Douglas sands afford a fine ride, extending near two miles, terminated by romantic rocks, down which, in the winter, run two beautiful cascades; the sea water is peculiarly clear, and the shore adapted for bathing machines: the view of the bay is delightful, and the swelling sails that so often solicit attention, break the fatigue which the eye would otherwise feel from the vast expanse of water.
** " Friendly societies establish this great truth, of infinite national importance,that the people in general are competent to their own maintenance; the nation no doubt has saved millions by these beneficial institutions. And it is the opinion of Sir F. M. Eden, that they ought to be encouraged so as to render them universal throughout the kingdom.', See Sir F. M. Eden, on the state of the poor, 3 vols.4to. preface, and p. 590 of sol. i. 1797.
Here are five herring-houses; one of these I was informed cost 1,2001.
" The herring fishery (says Mr. Ashe) is a fountain from whence flows great public benefit and private good; in its season its novelty inspires sensations of astonishment and delight: the boundless ocean, on which is displayed the beauteous fleet,composed of 500 sail, some steering north, others south, east,and west, all in search of the finny tribe, the sea heaving gently its majestic bosom, as if proud of its burthen, and willing to exhibit Mona's industrious sons to her view, and to catch the radiance of the setting sun, which gilds each sail with varied colours; such is the evening progress of the fleet which the gentle breeze imperceptibly steals from the sight, and nothing is heard but the soft murmurs of mirth, the furling of the sails, or movement of the oars. To those who are in the boats, the sea appears a liquid fire, caused from darkness, or the effect of night upon the brilliant particles which compose the scales on the fish that float in immense bodies for miles around. As the nets are drawn full, each heart increases in happiness, and the rising sun from the east illumines the way into Douglas harbour,which is soon filled by the native boats and vessels that come to purchase from all quarters, displaying their country's colours, and partaking of the general joy which a good fishing diffuses throughout the land. The natives, upon laying up a sufficient stock for themselves, dispose of the remainder, and rich Italy and proud Spain become indebted to the industry of Manksmen for the means of existence for a particular period of the year."
The naval power of this island was formerly greater than it is at present; for history informs us, that the Manks, under Godred Crownan, made great conquests in Ireland; and were too hard for the Scots at sea, and forced them to submit to a peace on dishonourable terms. In 1205, Reginald, King of Man, sailed to Ireland with John de Courcy, who married his sister, with a fleet of 100 sail. And when they submitted to Alexander III. of Scotland, they undertook to assist him, when required, with ten vessels armed with 500 men, which were stout ships at that period.
A very handsome new pier and lighthouse are building, by Mr. Stuart, the architect of the new and elegant church at Shrewsbury, &c.
In 1787, eighty-four yards of the lowest end of the old pier,with a lighthouse thereon, was destroyed by a violent gale of wind. At low water this harbour is entirely dry, and reckoned the best dry harbour in St. George's channel. It is a harbour of refuge in hard gales of wind for vessels of 500 tons downward.
Mr. Nicholas Christian is of opinion, that if a new pier were carried twenty yards farther into the sea than the old, it would afford refuge for small vessels of fifty or sixty tons burthen in ballast, and vessels of twenty tons laded, at low water; and at half-tide for vessels in ballast of sixty or seventy tons, and for laden vessels of fifty tons burthen, if in neap-tides. The former lighthouse was a brick building, between thirty and forty feet high, lighted each night by seven or eight half-pound candles,with a tin circular reflector between them of about eight feet diameter, and could be seen at four or five leagues distance. The sketch of the new one in plate 3d, was drawn from memory by Mr. Carruthers, whose abilities in portrait and general painting do him great credit.
Mr. Vass, in 1790, by order of the treasury board, surveyed the harbour of Douglas, and gave in two plans; one for repairing the old pier, the estimate 2,6001. but which, if it had been done, could not have been depended on; the other, to make a good and complete new pier, the estimate of which was 10,2001.
Government made a grant for this purpose, but the sum being inadequate, in 1797 a further sum of 7,0001. was granted, by government, to the Duke of Athol, for the completion of the pier, repairing the harbour, &c. And the sum of 3,5001. to be expended on the other public buildings.*1
The first stone of the new pier of Douglas, was laid on the 24th of July, 1793, by the Most Noble John Duke of Athol. This new pier is nearly finished, and will be a delightful promenade and lookout, and with its pleasant quay, the rising grounds opposite, the view of Mr. Whalley's house, battery, &c. and the walk to the Nunnery and places adjacent, will all conspire to please the stranger; and the continual influx of company will always render it lively and interesting.
Happiness is, however, not even here unqualified, for, as we highly estimate the Churchill of Mona,*2 we are constrained to credit his muse, though it informs us that, alas '
" Douglas, the seat of scandal - nurse of pride-
To ignorance by lasting ties allied;
With self-tormenting spleen, and envious strife,
Sours her own cup, and blasts the joys of life.
Let not the peaceful stranger hope to find
An Eden here, and saints of human kind;
No sooner is he landed on the quay,
Than vigilant detraction grasps her prey;
And though his kinder fates protect his life,
His fortunes suffer - or his faithful wife."
* * * * *
" Oh! learn to live, let pride and scandal die,
Let envy make her exit with a sigh-
Why does detraction through the country roam ?
Why do you still forget you're all at home ?"
Douglas market is well supplied, but provisions are comparatively dear. It has two fairs in May, and one in November, and is the chief place of trade in the island.
The packet with the mail from England, is due from Whitehaven after Monday evenings, and on its arrival at Douglas,stays there three days and then returns.
The Rev. Mr. Stowell, of Douglas, has a curious antique small painting of our Saviour, with this inscription: " THIS PRESENT FIGURE IS A SIMILITUDE OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST, IMPRINTED IN AMERALD BY THE PREDECESSORS OF THE GREATE TURKE, AND SENT TO THE POPE INOCENT1B THE EIGHTH FOR THIS CAUSE FOR A TOKEN TO REDEME HIS BROTHER YT.WAS TAKEN PRISNOR.' Painted on board.
Mr. Moore has a variety of curiosities, which he very readily and politely shows to strangers.
At Braddan church I was witness to the funeral of a mother, borne by her sons; the service was performed in the Manks language, and the corps ushered in by a psalm; when in the church the four sons knelt in the attitude of prayer over the coffin, the sight of which was very affecting.
" Another race the following age
They fall successive, and successive rise."
The Duke of Athol's seat *3 is in the vicinity of Douglas, and Sir. Whalley's beautiful house and grounds, which are still in a progressive state of improvement, embellish Douglas very much; it is part of the Nunnery estate. Of the Nunnery,Major Taubman's, I shall leave Clara Lennox *4 to speak. " The saloon and other apartments are fine, and elegantly finished;at the front of the house, towards the town, is a spacious square planted round with evergreens, silver furze, and the most beautiful flowering shrubs; the gardens are laid out with great taste, and adjoining is an excellent hot-house or nursery, shrubbery or wilderness, the whole being connected with surprising convenience. The Nunnery is universally admired for its beautiful prospect; from the windows, up-stairs, are picturesque views of great beauty: near the front of the house runs a beautiful river,wandering serpentine through the vale, till it meets the harbour, over it is a very handsome bridge, and near it is a newly-erected mill, fertile meadows, beautiful cottages, and a ruinous Gothic bridge, all at such a distance as to be pleasing objects."
The prioress of Douglas was anciently a baroness of the isle, held courts in her own name, and possessed great temporal as well as spiritual authority. The ruins of her convent remain.
The old Fort or Round Tower at Douglas *5 is the only place of confinement for common offences. The inhabitants in turn are summoned to keep watch and ward to prevent escapes. A proper place of confinement should be among the first objects of the new improvements for public safety.
The mountain of Karraghan, in this parish, is separated from that of Penny-pot by a pleasant valley, which is reckoned an excellent sheep-walk.
The spring-tides flow 300 yards above Douglas bridge, and in Nov. 1786, 246 feet of the quay was washed away, with the lighthouse, by an easterly wind.
A bridge in ruins crosses the river at Douglas, having been carried away by a high sea, acting on some floating timber, in Oct. 1796. It was singular that a man who was on it, though swept away, was yet saved by the exertions of the astonished spectators.
The town is supplied with water, drawn in casks through the streets. In taking a specimen, I found myself unable to stop the current, the man (at the length of two horses), did not perceive the mischief, and trembling lest his long whip and I should be better acquainted, I slipped down the first avenue, laughing at my folly
Misce stultitiam, consiliis brevem.
I shall conclude with a sentence from Goldsmith, not all together apropos:
" Innocently to amuse the imagination in this dream of life is wisdom; and nothing is useless that, by furnishing us with mental employment, quells for a while those stronger appetites which lead to evil."
*1 Voted by the Committee of Supply for 1798.
*2 See the Retrospect, the Sallad, &c., poems in 4to. and 12mo. by this gentleman, no less distinguished by his poetical genius, than his modest worth and amiable deportment in private life.
*3 His Grace's seats in Scotland are thus described by a recent tourist. " They are among the finest ornaments of Perthshire. The houses are sumptuous and magnificent: the surrounding pleasure-grounds are naturally so picturesque and romantic, and are adorned in a taste so suitable to their natural character, that to wander over them is still more interesting to the stranger, that to survey the ducal apartments." Heron's Scot. described 12mo. 1797.
*4 A late novel, 2 vols. 12mo.
*5 See Vignette in the title-page