[From ManxSoc vol XVI]


IT would be strange indeed if the Manx people were found to be exempt from the efficacy of charms, either to avert misfortune or cure disease, when their potency is felt and acknowledged in every quarter of the world in one form or another. After all that has been done in the shape of education up to this day, it has failed to eradicate the belief, it still oozes out from the highest to the lowest state of society. Ask one of the former to change you half-a-crown, and you will find him putting aside a particular crooked sixpence, because he would tell you that was a lucky one, and the costermonger would for the same reason spit upon the first coin he received during the day. Some writers tell us they were devised by Monkish craft in order to enslave the ignorant and terrify the weak, little thinking that the same means have ever been resorted to in places where priest never set a foot. The chapter of credulity is universal, and abides more or less in every breast - it is only requisite in the present instance to record some phases of it, still to be met with in the Isle of Man.

In the Ecclesiastical Records will be found various cases of charms and witchcraft, and the mode in which they were dealt with. In Keble's Life of Bishop Wilson, Oxford, 1863, p. 300, it is mentioned:-" At Kirk Michael, July 31, 1712, one Alice Knakill alias Moor of Kirk Lonan, confessed to a charge of having taken up some earth from under a neighbour's door, and burnt it to ashes, which she gave to her cattle, with an intention, as she owns, to make them give more milk. Also another woman declares that the said Alice Knakill out a piece out of her petticoat and burnt it to powder, which she drank with a design, as she confessed, to recover her health and procure sleep. Both which charms she owns to have been taught her by an Irishwoman.' She was sentenced to three Sundays' penance in neighbouring churches. Also in the following year, Alice Cowley of Ballaugh, in concert with one Isabella Gawn of Peel, was a regular dealer in charms, and known as such far and wide in the Island. This old crone, addressing herself to a youth, and telling him if he would give her a ninepenny-piece, she would give him something that would make a young woman fall in love with him,' which proves to be a 'powder in a paper, which he believes to be the powder of some of the bright stones that are at Foxdale.' Also her dealings with married women, under pretence of removing barrenness; with farmers for procuring a crop of corn, or making the herd fruitful; and with parents for recovery of a sick child; the mischief in each case being implied to be the witch's doing and thought to be remedied by drawing blood from the witch-and young women come seeking charms to attract some one on whom they had set their fancies." All these charges were proved at Kirk Michael in the court, February 26, 1712, and Alice left for fine and punishment., by the Bishop and Vicars-General, of " thirty-days' imprisonment, and before releasement to give in sufficient security to stand two hours in a white sheet, a white wand in her right hand, and these words, 'for charming and sorcery,' in capital letters on her breast, in the four market towns of this Island, at the public cross, in the height of the market ; and afterwards to do penance in Ballaugh church."
The following is from the same record, 1712-13:-


Farraneagh yn uill ghoo myr doo's yiarmanagh, goym's eh, as bee eh aym aggym, as cha derrym geill da ny smoo.


The black blood running, as black as red; I will take it, and it shall be mine, and I will take no further heed of it.


Phillp va Ree ny Shee, as Bahee yn ven echey ; as yinnagh ee Brearey gys Jee, nagh beagh dy bragh Lackal er aeg, ny shenn. Goym's fynn firrinagh as jiooldym voym yn doo yarbunagh, as goyms eh, as bee eh aym, as cha beem dy bragh dy donuey yiarbunagh.


Philip, who was the king of peace and Bahee his wife, she would vow to God that there never would be want to young or old. I will take the true sprite, and cast from me the black spirit; and I will take it, and it shall be mine, and I shall never be the evil spirit.

Also from the record in 1722, is Daniel Kneal's charm.


Three moiraghyn hie d'yn Rane, ny Keyme as ny cughtee, Peddyr as Paul, dooyrt moirrey jeu, shass; dooyrt moirrey jeu, shooiyl, dooyrt moirrey elley, Dy gast yn uill shoh, myr chast yn' uill, haink as Lottyn Chreest : mish dy ghra eh, as mac Voirrey dy chooilleeney eh

Three mothers went to Rome, the fairies and the sprites, Peter and Paul, one mother of them said, stand; another mother said, walk-; the other mother said, may this blood stop as the blood stopped which came out of the wounds of Christ--me to say it and the son of Mary to fulfil it.


The following is a printed form having blank spaces for the insertion of names by the charmer :-
" Where is the Jehovah El-Shaddai, the Lord God of Elijah?" See 2 Kings ii. 14
" Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you." See St. Luke x. 19.
"And, Lo ! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world, Amen." See St. Matthew xxviii. 20.
" In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; in the name of God the Father, and of God the Son, and of God the Holy Ghost, the most High God, Helion Elshaddai, whose name alone is Jehovah, a'nd through the grace and by the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, I, a baptized Baptist, and a poor unworthy servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, do now command all devils, and all damned spirits, and all evil, wicked, and bad spirits, and all Fairies, and all Wizards and all Witches, and every evil eye, and each and all whatsoever, not to hurt, not to harm, not to injure, nor do any devilish, evil bad, wicked mischief in any wise whatsoever unto thee ( -- nor unto thy husband, nor unto any one of all your children), nor unto anything that ever did, or that. now doth, or that hereafter shall, and may both justly and lawfully, belong in anywise whatso ever unto thee ( - or unto thy husband, or unto your children, and now especially as unto thy child - ), so long as the Almighty Lord Jesus Christ, the Holy Son of God with power, liveth and reigneth, God over all, God blessed for evermore, Amen: even so, Lord Jesus, Amen; if it be thy holy godly blessed will; for the sake alone of thy most holy atoneing, redeeming, propitious blood, and justifying righteousness, and holy, sanctifying, Saving grace of God the Holy Ghost, the blessed gift of God the Father Jehovah, to them that believe through saving grace. Wherefore, none of the powers of evil shall not again be able to hurt thee in any wise whatsoever, so long as thou believeth in the Lord Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, with power. Amen, Lord Jesus. Amen. For thy great Almighty Name's Sake.

May Jesus help thee - and help all of them. May Jesus save thee (and save all of them), and, O ! may Christ the Lord Jesus both bless, prosper, and keep thee, both now and for evermore, even, for ever, Amen. Lord Jesus Christ our Go d and only Saviour., Let it be so, according to thy promise, and our faith in Thee; and give us faith alone in Thee. Amen. Almighty Iord Jesus Christ."

The following is written on the reverse of one of these documents :-." An~no Christi,- in. the year of our most Holy Blessed Lord Jesus Christ, our God and only Saviour,. now called, 1805. All blessedness be now unto 'thee Margaret C-, alias. C-, and unto thy husband John C-, and unto every one of all thy children,- for the Most Holy sake of the Atoneing Redeeming Blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Almighty Son: of 'God with Power, -our True God and only Saviour, through Sanctification of, God the Holy Ghost, the Blessed Gift of God the Father Jehovah,to them that believe through saving grace. O Lord Jesus Christ, let it now be so, if it be Thy Holy Godly Blessed Will.---Amen. Written on Friday, November the 8th, in the year. of our Blessed only Saviour, that, brings us nigh unto God with his own Blood, the Blood of Jesus,. called 1805."


A piece,of woollen thread, must be procured, and a knot tied upon it to represent each individual wart. It, must be thrown away in some place that the patient is ignorant of, or buried, and as the thread rots, the warts will die away. - It is essential that no tie of blood must exist between the operator and the patient; a stranger is the only proper person.


The following charm, written on a scrap of paper or parchment, and stitched securely into the inner garments, is a certain means of prevention as well as cure

Saint Peter was ordained a saint
Standing on a marble stone,
Jesus came to him alone,

And saith unto him, " Peter, what is it makes thee shake?
Peter replied, My Lord and Master it is the toothache."
Jesus said, " Rise up and be healed, and keep these words for
my sake,
And thou shalt never more be troubled with toothache."


Sanguis mane in te,
Sicut Christus-in se;
Sanguis mane in tuâ venâ,
Sicut Christus in suâ penâ;
Sanguis mane fixus,
Sicut erat Christus'
Quando fuit crucifixus.

1 would willingly give the interpretation of this, but the consequence would be that its efficacy would be lost, for ever!


Ping, ping, prash,
Cur yn cadley-jiargan ass my chass.".


In Train's History of the Isle of Man.(vol. ii. p. 160), will be found mention of a celebrated "Fairy Doctor,,,' and dealer in charms of all sorts,- who flourished about 1833, a Mr. Charles Teare of Ballawhane, in the parish of Andreas, who had power over the birds of the air as well as over beasts of the field.
The "Gob-ny-scuit " of North Barrule, however, was too much for him and his friend, if we are to believe the poet who says--

Though Ballayookey and old Ballawhane
Tried their united art for many an age,
To put to flight old gob ny scuit's. boagane,
But he was proof from their witch-searching page."

These worthies were supposed to have in their possession a book containing instructions how to lay ghosts, and cure all of diseases inflicted by witches and fairies.

The " Gob ny scuit " is a place in Kirk Maughold's; parish, where there is a small cascade ; it is a cleft in the rock.
Dealers in charms are to be found in almost every parish, and I have been surprised to see the number of people frequenting the cottage of a celebrity of this class in my own immediate vicinity, the late "Nan Wade," who carried on an extensive practice in this line, and whose mantle has descended to her daughter. True it is —

"Where folks believe in witches, witches are;
And where they don't, a de'el a witch is there."

[fpc: Nan Wade is I think Ann Cannell born 1768 who married Robert Wade born 1760 in 1790 in Kirk Michael ('both of this parish' in Register) buried Michael 23 March 1844 age 76, and her daughter Ann Boyde nee Wade described as 'herbalist' in 1851 when living with her dau and son-in-law Ann + Wm Christian) carried on her trade. Many stories about her]

As a conclusion to this record of credulity, I give a further illustration supplied through Mr. John Quirk of Cam-ny Greie, Kirk Patrick; and the list might be still further extended if it tended to any good purpose.


Three deiney chranee haink voish y Raue-Creest, Peddyr, as Paul. Va Crest, y Chrosh, yn uill echey shilley, as Moirrey er ny Glooinyn eck liorish. Ghon fer jen yn erobbee ayns e laue yesh m hayrn Creest crosh + harrish. Three mraane aegey haink harrish yn ushtey dooyrt unnane jeu, soose, dooyrt, nane ehey, fuirree-dooyrt yn trass-unnane sthappyms fuill dooinney ny ben. Mish dy ghrach, as Creest dy yannoo eh ayns ennym yn Ayr, as y Vac as y spyrryd ghra eh Noo.

N.B.-On repeating " crosh," you are to draw a cross with the thumb of your right hand over the bleeding part.


Three godly men came from Rome-Christ, Peter, and Paul Christ was on the cross his blood flowing, and Mary on her knees by his side. One took the enchanted in his right hand, and Christ drew a cross + over him. Three young women came over the water, one of them said, " up," another said, " stop," and the third said, " I will stop the blood of man or woman." Me to say it, and Christ to do it, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.


Ta mee dy rheynn eh ayns ennym yn Ayr as y Vac as yn spyrryd Noo, edyr eh ve roig shee, ny Roig Ree, dy jean yn chron, rheynnit shoh skeayley'n dourin shoh or geinnagh ny marrey.


I am to divide it in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: let it be a sprite's evil or a king's evil, may this divided blemish banish this distemper to the sand of the sea.


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Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001