Henry Robert Oswald, 1790-1862

Born at Collessie, Fife11th October 1790 ; qualified as a surgeon in Edinburgh in 1811 and came to Island as Surgeon to household of Duke of Athol.. Had three sisters, Christian (born 27 December 1789), Elizabeth (8 May 1793) and Mary (20 May 1795). His parents were Walter Oswald, tenant in Colessie Mill, and Elizabeth Henderson.

When in 1828 the Duke sold his interests in Man to the English Crown and resigned the Governorship, Oswald's post was given to a non-Athol doctor.

Member of St Andrew's Presbyterian Church; the following is an account from History of Presbyterian Church.

H. R. OSWALD, L.R.C.S.(EDIN.) F.S.A., - came to the Island soon after graduation, as a surgeon to the household, under the auspices of the Duke of Athol, Governor- in- Chief. Dr. Oswald was the only functionary who could be superseded, and on the Duke's death this was immediately done. The patronage of the Governor was transferred to another medical practitioner. Dr. Oswald, who "bore the highest rank in his profession, and was a man of spotless honour and integrity," felt this slight keenly, and it affected his general practice. It is on record that his pecuniary difficulties embittered and shortened his life. Yet he must have been an old man when he died, as he had been over fifty years on the Island. He had been the main support of his unmarried sister, and out of respect to his memory, a few friends presented Miss Oswald with £60.

Dr. Oswald was for many years a staunch supporter and elder of the Church, and helped to tide the congregation over many difficulties. He was one of the founders of the Manx Society, and an authority on the antiquities of the Island. His works find an honourable place in the library of the Manx Museum. For some time he was a member of the House of Keys. He lived close to the church in Finch Road, where he died in 1862, and was buried in Kirk Braddan churchyard, near the entrance. His tombstone records that "he was beloved and lamented by his family and the public."

Buried at Old Kirk Braddan


Wrote one of early guide books to Island, besides 4 volumes of Manx Society. His translations of various Latin documents have been criticised by A.W. Moore among others; vol V is also of little value except that his description of various archaeological sites before they were damaged is now quite useful.

Vol. IV., VII., IX. Monumenta de Insula Manniae. Translated and edited by H. R. Oliver.3 vol. 1860-62.
Vol. V. Vestigia Insulae Manniae Antiquiora. By H. R. Oswald.1860.

see also his letter (reprinted by Train) re smallpox vaccination in 1837.

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