Claudius Crigan — Bishop 1784-1813

Dr. Crigan, 1743-1813, was a person of humble origin, being the son of a tailor in Omagh, co. Tyrone. He became, however, chaplain to an infantry regiment and while quartered in the West Indies married Mary, widow of John Harmon of Antigua (by whom she had had two sons), a daughter of a rich planter (and slave owner), who apparently brought with her a good inheritance. With this he retired from the army, becoming Rector (? Chaplain) of St Anne's Liverpool.

Gelling is somewhat more sympathetic to Crigan than many other writers, recognising that he was well educated in both Classics and Theology at Trinity College, Dublin. His honesty and good manners gained him respect on the Island and unlike his successor, he was happy to live on the £1,000 a year available from the tithes. However he did little if anything to advance the diocese and during his period Methodism increased strongly on the Island.

It is the scandal of his appointment by which he is generally remembered — Callow gives it in most graphic detail (though like most of Callow's book should be treated more as a good read than accurate history — he refers to Bp Crigan as Cregan throughout the chapter) — Crigan always denied the charge of simony alleged by his Patron the dowager Duchess of Atholl (who was also on bad terms with her son the 4th Duke, Governor from 1792) who attempted to make him ordain several of her proteges.

A.W.Moore in his Diocesan History describes Crigan as one "whose part in the work of the Church was mainly a negative one — [and Richmond, Mason and Crigan] were not men fitted to grapple with it.". Ward states that there were complaints from English Bishops that unsuitable men were being ordained on the Island. Bishop Murray was also of the same opinion that several of his clergy were unsuitable.

Son Alexander married Mary daughter of Lt Governor Cornelius Smelt.

The obituary notice carried in the Manx Advertiser [13 April 1813] was somewhat mixed:

[parts of Microfilm were unreadable and last part is not clear - will be corrected on access to original document]

Died, on Monday last [5th April], at Bishop's Court, the Right Rev CLAUDIUS CRIGAN, D.D. Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man, aged 74 years; the last twenty-nine of which he presided over this diocese. - Much as we respect the memory of the lamented Prelate, we feel ourselves incompetent to decide upon the extent of his acquirements, or to dilate successfully upon any one of them. He was certainly a profound Theologian, and there are living judges, eminent, for learning and probity, who have decided upon his knowledge of the Classics, for which he was distinguished. Indeed his head and heart were constantly at work upon points worthy of him; and his life and conversation did not more successfully obtain him the respect of his diocese, than his humanity, affability, and condescension endeared him to an extensive acquaintance. He was very amiable in a domestic light; humane and benevolent to all about him, but especially to those to whom he was more immediately allied; nor could ever a guest depart from his hospitable board without being sensibly impressed with the benignity of his manner, and his attractive devotion to his wife and children; shining with "healing in its wings, " his brightness was a gentle, serene and unoffending lustre. He was substantially good, without studying appearances of cool wisdom, and steady piety; fixed in his principles, but candid in his spirit. Such to say the least, was the late Bishop, and it will require much time and the purest impression of religion to extinquish (?) the spirits of his xxx xxx whose xxxx is not a common one. He was supported through his last illness by the same sound principles which he had defended in his health, and hopes which he never ? ; ? could his grave ? been quitted by many of those who ? his ? ? political ? ? the testimony of many a sigh of respect for his humanity, and the xxxxxxxx regret in his departure


J. Gelling A History of the Manx Church Douglas:Manx National Heritage 1998

E. Callow From King Orry to Queen Victoria (chap XIII) London:1899

A.W. Moore Diocesan History: Sodor and Man (Chap9 p251) London:SPCK 1893

W.P. Ward Isle of Man and Diocese of Sodor & Mann London:1837


Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
© F.Coakley , 2000