The Isle of Man
Family History Society

Notes from presentations - 2018

  • April 2018 – Dr Jennifer Kewley Draskau: The Tudor Rose- Princess Mary Rose- Henry VIII’s sister and ancestress of Yn Stanlagh Moor
  • May 2018 – Mr Derek Winterbottom: The Mighty Montagus – Earls of Salisbury and Kings of Man 1301-1428
  • August 2018 – Member’s Evening: Boxed Memories – Peter Quayle, Anne Craine, Frank Cowin, Jack Kaighin and Ernie Cleator.
  • November 2018 – Christine Longworth: In my Father’s footsteps

April 2018 – Dr Jennifer Kewley Draskau: The Tudor Rose- Princess Mary Rose- Henry VIII’s sister and ancestress of Yn Stanlagh Moor

Jennifer headed her powerpoint presentation The Lethal Legacy- warning us to be prepared for a tale of sex, sexism, blood and death- and so it proved. Jennifer set out the story of the Tudors at a blistering pace in a lively presentation. We were able to get a real impression of the characters of the major players in this story. We learned how Henry self-willed, dominating and dynamic – adored his younger sister-. Mary Rose was a great beauty known as ‘The Rose of Christendom’. She had the benefit of sharing her brothers tutors but we learned how women were viewed a weak, feeble, unintelligent and lacking in moral fibre. Jennifer depicted how princesses in were pawns in a European power play, and the fate that befell some of them – illness, imprisonment, madness, poisoning, widowhood and banishment.

Beginning with Lady Margaret Beaufort (Henry’s Grandmother and the architect of the Tudor dynasty), Jennifer explained the complex machinations of European monarchy’s, painting vivid verbal pictures of characters like Louis XII (who became Mary Rose’s short lived first husband) and the charismatic Charles Brandon – Duke of Suffolk, who became her second. Mary Rose died aged 37. Her Daughter- Lady Frances Brandon married Harry Grey, Marquis of Dorset. Their daughter-Lady Jane Grey- became Queen for a short 9 days. Their other daughters Katherine and Mary’s lives were also tragic.

And so to the Manx connection- Mary Rose’s granddaughter Lady Margaret Clifford (her mother was Eleanor Brandon) married the 4th Earl of Derby and was Queen Elizabeth’s heir Margaret was punished for using sorcery to predict the Queen’s death. Her son, Ferdinando 5th Earl of Derby, was poisoned. His brother, William, who became 6th Earl of Derby, married Elizabeth de Vere and the pair had the Isle of Man settled on them jointly- so in fact Elizabeth was the first female Lord of Man. Their son James became the 7th Earl of Derby- ‘Yn Stanlagh Moor’.

May 2018 – Mr Derek Winterbottom: The Mighty Montagus – Earls of Salisbury and Kings of Man 1301-1428

. Derek introduced six generations on the Montagu family-tree, all high achievers and two of them Kings of Man. He described the fourteenth century as being similar to the infamous ‘Game of Thrones’ books and TV series – equally ruthless and merciless times but without the dragons!

Simon, the first Lord Montagu ‘conquered’ the Isle of Man from the Scots in 1301 and thus established a family claim to rule the Island, not put into effect at the time. His son the second baron was a close ally of Edward II and became Steward of the Royal Household and later Governor of Gascony. He died in 1319 and his son became a close friend of Edward III who was crowned king in 1327, aged 14, after his father had been forced to abdicate. Montagu masterminded the coup of 1330 which defeated the overmighty Roger Mortimer and made Edward the effective ruler of his kingdom, and he was rewarded with great riches and the lordships of Wark and Denbigh. After Edward’s defeat of the Scots at Halidon Hill in 1333 he named Montagu as Lord of Man and when he claimed the throne of France in 1337 he created Montagu Earl of Salisbury and Marshal of England. By 1342 Montagu had control over the Island and he was crowned King of Man, but he died two years later.

His son the second earl ruled Man for nearly fifty years, during which time he was responsible for constructing most of the Castle Rushen that can be seen today, building on the much smaller square keep which his father had inherited. He also added fortifications at Peel and founded a priory at Bemaken. Under him the Island had ‘strong and stable’ government, in contrast to the often chaotic times of previous lords. He sold the island to the Scrope family in 1392 because in a tragic jousting accident he had killed his only son and heir and he was not on speaking terms with his next heirs – his brother and nephew.

Derek also questioned a few myths concerning the death of Edward II, the foundation of the Order of the Garter and the nickname ‘The Black Prince’, all of which can be read about in his book! The Vote of Thanks was given by Martin Moore who remarked on the amount of research and said he was looking forward to reading the book.

August 2018 – Member’s Evening: Boxed Memories

Peter Quayle: Peter talked about Ballakillpheric, Cronk y Dhooney, and places up past Walker’s Belle Abbey and The Slough. He recalled going to the pictures with Bill Corrin. They got a lift from a fella and Peter fell out of the cart- he didn’t cry despite being grazed and bleeding. Cronk y Dhooney farm is sometimes called Ballarobin. In his childhood on the farm there was no running water and the well was half a mile away. Mum loved the summer as she could send them to Gansey shore for a swim to get clean. Tommy Lowey, Police Inspector in Peel spent time at upper Kerkeil farm held by his brothers. Two spinsters there ran the post office. There was a fella called ‘The Cowboy’ up at Rongue who always went ‘round with a shotgun. Mosey Pitt had a motorbike and sidecar. There was a big row in the house as he had found six fleas in his daughter’s bed.

The Mariners Choir was formed by officers of the Steam Packet company. They went ‘round the Methodist chapels and Peter remembers them at Ballakillpheric. They held events which started with a meal, followed by the choir and then community singing. The Mariners Choir went up there about ten years ago. Alan Kelly was the leader and he knew Peter had gone to Sunday school there. Peter read the lesson and did a short talk (unusual- normally the Mariners do the lesson). Mrs Sewell was going to do one verse but she hadn’t finished her sandwiches so Peter had to go on straight away! The preacher mentioned Mrs Greenfield (her husband- the water engineer, had Greenfield Road named after him). He said she ‘couldn’t live in the house’- and was always out. Peter was her gardener. She “spoke a bit ‘far back’”. Coming back from The Guild one day, she asked about his singing skills. He said he could whistle- and she replied- “there isn’t a class for that!”

Peter talked about things that gripe him. Ballakilpherick chapel was the main social life for people. Church is ‘church’ (C of E) and chapel is ‘chapel’- they were always very separate entities. There are very few Manx preachers nowadays. People talk about ‘The Harvest Festival’- this is a modern thing- it’s a harvest HOME. He is a traditionalist -and makes no apology for that!

The Harvest Home was a big event- Peter talked about how they were “decced out” (or decorated). Lots of people who would get the bus, cycle or walk all the way up. They set up raised stages out in the field. 30 children at the Sunday School all would get on the stage and recite a story from the bible. He remembers the Sunday school picnic- Mums only came with the children because the Dads were working. There would be 2 or 3 charbancs. The main place was the Mooragh as it was big. “Silverdale was too small- you could get ‘round it in no time”.

Ann Craine: Ann alked about Sunday’s as a child- Ballajora Chapel in the morning and Maughold Church in the afternoon- “hedging our bets”. Anne is still clearing the attic at Ballafayle, clearing her father’s hoard of stuff. Anne talked Laxey School’s anniversary (1929-1979). She mentions £22 earned by the students picking blackberries for Rushen Abbey. Some jam was exported to India. The 1946 school awards list included Joy Brew, George Lawson, George Duggan, and Richard Corkill.

Miss Jean Thornton Duesbery was a kindly family friend and involved with the Scouts. Keith didn’t want to join the organisation. “But why” Miss T-D asked? “I want to tell lies” he replied. Miss T-D was the 3rd lady member of the House of Keys. She had been an Eastend midwife and had been shocked by the poverty. She called some infants ‘fish and chip babies’ as Mothers had only newspaper to wrap them in. She was a lady who had seen life. Anne’s son Ramsey was christened 35 years ago – Jean turned up with her father’s christening gown and gave it to Anne. Jean’s Father was the only Manx born Bishop and was born at Glen Helen- she imagines it was sewn by candlelight and it has since been used by Anne’s children and grandchildren. Anne brought salt and mustard pots to show us. Miss T-D had remembered them being in daily use at Bishopscourt.

Frank Cowin: Frank moved back to Laxey a few years after marriage- and lived there in the 1960’s and early 1970’s. He was working at Davidson and Marsh (Architects). The government had just bought the Laxey Wheel and he was “asked to look at Laxey”. He also volunteered with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme and they did lots of expeditions and looked at the mines as part of that. He had to do a crash course so he knew more than they did! He spent a lot of time talking to people in the village- especially those who knew about the mines. Someone from the Chapel used to ask the mines to borrow wood to build the staging for Chapel events. Frank collects things with the Laxey Wheel in it including badges and coasters, paperweights, matchboxes.

Once they left Laxey they moved to Castletown. His view was of Castle Rushen. He got involved running a course about the life of the castle. Frank became president of the Antiquarian Society. When it was the Golden Anniversary, they produced a badge with a Knox design. Once badge each was held by committee members but had to be returned when people retired. The Hon Sec. died in office in centenary year and Frank had to step in. Magnus Magnusson, and Sir David Wilson gave lectures. Basil Megaw came from the school of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. He showed Frank the dig at King Orry’s Grave. A medal was produced with the Archibald Knox design which was made by the Royal Mint. 200 bronze and 10 silver- are given out as awards. Marshall Cubbon had one as the longest serving member of the committee.

Jack Kaighen: Jack recalled life at Derby Square. There was only one bathroom in the boarding house and it had to be booked in advance. When his Grandfather died he was placed in the coffin in the front room- Jack was petrified!

Dad was handy and built the fire escape. In 1955 the Ellan Vannin Cycling Club had their AGM at Jacks house. One night Jack’s Mum was out. Jack had been out cycling and returned to find his Father in the kitchen frantically washing up all the china- he had decided to sweep the chimney and everything was covered in soot.

Ernie Cleator: Ernie showed a picture of himself in 1947. He was in hospital twice but still in the top form at school. Ernie reflected on The Grenfell Disaster- As a young graduate he did research at ICI and worked on a project on the plastic cladding and tested setting them on fire in 1968. ICI decided not to progress with them. The company was run on similar grounds to the Civil Service – “the bigger the cock up you made, the more you got promoted- I got promoted 5 times”. Having a Manx surname made you different. I was asked to work setting up a new facility just outside Paris. I needed a work permit which they declined to allow because he was not British. John Creer (The Manx DNA project leader) worked for ICI. The same thing happened to him, but he ended up in Yugoslavia.

When Ann Harrison was setting up the PRO- they didn’t want the pictures of his work as Government Surveyor, but Ernie kept them. Has two box files full.

November 2018 – Christine Longworth: In my Father’s footsteps

She was Christine Murray and her family owned the Ramsey Brick Company. Christine became an Archaeologist working in Liverpool. Her father William (Bill) Henry Murray (1921-1983) wrote a book on his wartime escapades in WWII Bill was in the Merchant Navy. His ship was sunk and he was captured. Christine related his story but also how she had retraced his steps in three trips, visiting places in France and Spain as she followed the route he travelled before eventually returning to Britain He was aboard the ‘SS Tribesman’ which set sail November 1940.On 2nd December they were sunk by the Warship “Admiral Sheer” sister ship to the “Graf Spee”. It sunk “The Tribesman” after six other ships. On 15 December, Bill was transferred to “The Nordmark” sister ship to “The Ardmark”. They were let on deck once a day and there were lots of sailors from different ships.

“The Normark” was a supply ship for surface raiders. He spent Christmas on the ship. They played a game called ‘Buccaneer’ which they made by scrounging what they could to make into cards. Waddinton’s was the company that made Buckaneer and they sponsored a reunion on the IOM and wanted to have the game he made. Bill was transferred to ‘The Eurofeld’ which landed at Bordeaux. His parents were worried as the Tribesman was overdue and sent letters to the ship owners who were not allowed to give any information as it was wartime.

Front-Stalg 221 Prison camp was located to the west of Bordeaux- Bill was not there long. He tried to escape and bribed people in the cook-house but they had to abort as guards were acting unexpectedly. Biff Cooper was a friend he met on ship from New Zealand. He wrote a note to a friend called “Guns” – marine gunner called Alfred Austin. The letter was never given but he kept it. A half-starved dog got the biscuits they had saved as their escape stash. He was able to send a couple of letters home and was very practical asking for parcels. Christine retraced his footsteps and found the camp -now a French military base. It still has the barbed wire. She found the footpath they were marched down on the way to Germany and found the Charac region between Loire and Dordogne to be beautiful and unspoiled.

Bill was taken by train through Bordeaux, and he decided to jump from the train in occupied France with Biff. He hit his head on the rail as his foot had caught on the strap on the way out. He felt sick and dizzy for much of the time and probably had a fractured skull. They travelled at night to avoid patrols, heading toward unoccupied France over the demarcation line.

They came to a bridge at St Jean d’Angely 4 April 1941 which they crossed whilst pretending to speak French- Bill had some but Biff had to mutter and pretend saying “dans le joli jardin” to fool the German guard.

Bill and Biff kept heading east to demarcation line, continuing east to Vars on the Charente river and then on to Pont d’Agris. They went into the town and sought help at a little bar. They were hidden at cafe until 20 minutes before curfew. Everywhere they went they told the French that Churchill would come and help them They were sent to a hamlet where a Spanish Lady lived. They stayed overnight and were given wood cutters outfits. She took them down into a little hidden valley in the trees where the demarcation line goes through the middle.

Christine met the grandson on the people who helped Dad in the café. She went in 2004 with a French speaking friend and left a copy of her Dad’s book. In 2008 the town wanted her to attend an exhibition. Christine met the daughter of the family who had helped and was showed a room where they hid him before he crossed over the bridge. Christine took her Mum to meet them the following year.

Bill and Biff tried to get railway tickets but were advised to give themselves up. A Gendarme took them to jail. The French looked after them kindly and took them by bus to Le Confluence. They went to Nimes via Limoges. On 11 April 1941 they visited the roman amphitheatre in Nimes with 2 French gendarmes guarding them. The French gave them postcards with their names and contact details on the back.

They were sent to St Hippolyte-du-Fortt which was a holding camp near the Pyrennees. They arrived 11 April 1941.The Commandant took them for a drink in the town – and later Bill and Biff just walked out of the camp. They took a bus to Monpellier- then Tolouse and Lourdes where they met the Abbee Price who took them in. Price was warned they were being watched and the pair were arrested and sent back to Niemes, Bill took the guards to see the ampitheratre- like a tour guide!

On 24 April he went escorted to Marseille and was sent to the seaman’s mission run by Donald Caskie. Caskie would let relatives know their men were ok. By 1941 he knew he was being watched and was arrested shortly afterwards. He had an underground system to get people into Spain. Dad was 19 years of age at this point. Identity photos were supplied, and they took a train via Narbonne, Perpignon and one stop where they got off and hid. They trekked through the foothills of the Pyrennes with two British servicemen and some Poles and a smuggler guide, climbing for 9 hours. By 15 May they reached Spain. They parted ways with the others and got lost. A carter smuggled them under straw. Bill was arrested in Figueres 15 May 1941 and was taken to San Ferran Castle where there were many Spanish Political prisoners. Biff got away as he spotted police coming in the reflection in a shop window.

Bill was taken into Barcelona 17 May 1941 – to Cevera jail for two weeks. It’s now university buildings. Food was watery soup, bread and tea. Then endured 36 hours in cattle trucks to the notorious Miranda de Ebro internment camp. Bill was there from 1 June 1941 until 29 July 1941. Conditions were very poor. All wore berets and Dad kept his. Bill was given a parole card using the Marseille ID photo which allowed him to go into the town where he bought meals and brought food back for others. Christine saw a little river where they used to swim naked. He was visited by the British Consul from Madrid which improved his lot and made plans to get him back to England. He took the bus from Madrid to Cordoba on 3 August 1941 and the following day left, travelled through Seville and Jerez de la Frontera to Gibraltar where he got on the French passenger liner “S.S. Pasteur”, He arrived on the Clyde 13 August.

Christine finished by saying there are still places she would like to visit but she’s not going to walk over the Pyrenees! Her father was very lucky -what an adventure for a 19 year old. He went into radar research as he was affected by the head injury and trained glider pilots. He contracted polio in 1952 – set up Manx Bricks which had to be sold and was left in a wheelchair. He wanted to go back to France and Spain but never made it, so Christine did it for him. She still can’t find Biff Cooper. Bill’s book came out in the 1970’s.