The Isle of Man
Family History Society

Notes from presentations - 2019

  • February 2019 – Teare and sons, sailmakers and ships chandlers, Peel by Dr Michael Teare
  • April 2019 – Just 7 things by Gary Robert, Chief Constable
  • July 2019 – Nigel Crowe – Beyond Broadway: The Creation of the new CM Estate and the Impact of the 4th Duke of Athol’s Activities on the Douglas Seafront

February 2019 – Teare and sons, sailmakers and ships chandlers, Peel by Dr Michael Teare

Michael had given a similar talk for Peel Heritage Trust but he tailored this to reflect our societies interest in genealogy. He had promised himself for many years he would visit the Island his grandfather (Lewis Henry) left in about 1910 to train as a pharmacist, ending up running a chemist shop in Birmingham which was taken over his own Father. He was lucky to meet Wendy Thirkettle, who let him know about the business records in the archives at The Manx Museum which enabled him to study the business itself which he was very well able to describe to his listeners.

Michael described the origins of the Manx herring industry back to a 1610 law prescribing the length of the season. Fishing then was a part time occupation. He told us about an International fisheries exhibition in London in 1883 when Huxley pronounced that the seas were inexhaustible! And despite some opposition to this view it resulted in a very lightly regulation environment for sea fisheries. The British fishing industry was the most valuable in Europe. There was little research and it was only in 1884 that the Marine Biological Association was established and Marine Biology became a separate branch of science. The exhibition included a presentation about the Manx Industry – with over 2,000 people employed directly in fishing not to mention ship builders and other ancillary trades supporting 25% of the population in 1883. Manx businesses attending the exhibition were Corrin Brothers and John Joughin both net manufacturers of Peel and Henry Goldsmith of Ramsey.

Around 1850 Robert Corrin had installed the first net making machines in Peel and the fishing fleet was increasing in size due to improved herring catches and the development of the Irish mackerel fishing industry off Kinsale. The Irish were weakened after the Famine and Manx fisherman, with better boats and nets, were able to exploit this. Fast and reliable movement of fresh fish via steamer and railways to UK towns drove the business.

Teare and Sons on the Quay in Peel was founded in about 1866 by John Teare a Peel roper. The business was both a ships chandlers and sailmakers (the sailmakers being run by John’s son William Edward) supplying the fishing fleet with all types of ropes, paint, galvanised buckets, mops, etc as well as making and repairing sails and finishing fishing nets. The shop was downstairs with the sail loft above.

Michael shared a simplified tree for the Teare family in Peel. This is available on his website John Teare (born 1819) married Catherine Karran. He worked finishing nets, outsourcing to find people to cut cork. His daughter married a Thomas Teare in Liverpool – imagine the confusion! One son married a Frissel. One married first the daughter of a fishing agent in Whitehaven and then married Sofia Morrison’s sister. His great grandfather, Henry married the daughter of the Primitive Methodist Minister. Some descendants went to live in England, others in Canada.

Teare and sons was a complicated business. They were selling items to fishermen, and also shareholders in fishing boats and trading schooners. There is no purchase ledger- businesses didn’t necessarily have them. The business advanced lots of money – spending on stock and materials – and usually money only came back in at the end of the fishing season – 9 months credit. There was lots of trading in shares, which was difficult to quantify and Michael has tried to work out how the finance and cashflow worked using daybooks and invoice ledger. He was able to share a snapshot of a typical day – the number of customers and the volume of things they bought. One example was in 1878, Lard was sold in large quantities and was used to grease the ropes and the mast – and possibly waterproofing too. Michael charted the number of customers and turnover between 1866-1883 and worked out the business had about half the Peel fleet as customers.

They used credit from Dumbell’s bank to finance the business and had 10 properties around Peel used as security: including the Oddfellows Arms – now The Creek and Sea Mount House. Successfully signed off by Dumbell’s, it worked well. Between 1850 and 1914 they had shareholdings in around 24 fishing boats and 11 trading schooners. But shareholding in boats was not without its risks and boats were lost which were not insured.

As time went on the number of herring caught and the price went down. They reduced the number of crew to save money by investing in steam winches to save labour. John junior left to run the Oddfellows Arms – Margaret Emeline Teare’s licence is still on the wall in the Creek, which Michael found by happy accident. In 1893 John senior died. The business was left to his sons but daughter Elizabeth was executor. William Edward and Henry dissolved their partnership. W.E.kept the business. In1898 fishing boats and trading schooners were wrecked and then Dumbell’s bank crashed (1900). Suddenly, they needed cash to buy goods as no credit was available from suppliers. Ireland’s fishing industry was receiving government support so lots of boats were sold to Ireland. The business was much reduced and with steam trawlers becoming more important the Manx industry didn’t have money to invest.

William Edward was selling food to the boats as well – W.E. was married to Eleanor Morrison – daughter of Chares Morrison the Grocer. William Edward died in 1916 – He had 3 sons. Frederick, Frank and Edward Morrison. Frederick went to sea. In 1914 he served on a Pilot boat in Burma where a German Steamer arrived and was piloted in– even though he knew war had been announced. The German ship was oblivious (until it was captured the next day). He joined the Seaforth Highlanders and was killed in 1917 on the Western Front.

Frank emigrated to Canada and was a surveyor and served in the Canadian Army. He was at Vimy Ridge where he was killed. Barry Bridson was able to show Frank’s medals. Edward Morrison survived WW1 and lived in England until he retired to Peel and became a Town Commissioner.

There was no one to take the business on so it was sold to cousins – another John Teare and his son Freddie already both sail makers. During WW1 Freddie was in Barrow making canvas covers for guns on warships as sail making was a reserved occupation. The business continued until 1964 when Freddie died. Between the wars they made sails for yachts and later sold fuel to fishing boats. Freddie Teare was interviewed for the Folk Life Survey and talked about sail making. Located where the garage is on the quay- the steps are called the Freddie Teare steps. Michael has a list of the fishing boats and is collecting data on the skippers and The Peel Fishing Company 1895- a cooperative.

Check out the website –
Sue Church runs the one name study and works with Michael.

April 2019 – Just 7 things by Gary Robert, Chief Constable

Gary introduced himself by saying that his daughter is interested in family history and had traced their family back to the famous Nan Wade (actually Ann Cannell from Poortown near Peel)- a model of her is in the Manx Museum.

The audience was kept rapt by Gary’s stories of his own experience of the Manx Constabulary – contrasting life in the force when he joined with modern day policing. He also wove in some interesting historical information.

The IOM constabulary was set up in 1863 when 4 local forces amalgamated. The police that existed were reluctant, poorly paid and ill-educated. Military assistance was needed for riots like the spud riots. There was so much drinking with every second house being a pub. 150-190 people a year were sent to gaol, often for offenses linked to food poverty. Leece Clucas, a constable of Peel, was sent to look for an ‘old’ testament for oath swearing- he brought a battered one – the ‘oldest’ one he could find. A horse died in Senchel Street but the officer couldn’t spell Senchel so suggested dragging the body to Fort street!

A new Deemster was celebrating his appointment and ended up being prosecuted along with the entire Manx Bar for being on licenced premises outside hours. The first detective, Sergeant Hollinrake, was a mounted officer. His horse went lame so he couldn’t check up on the out-towns.

In 1910, a Russian Terrorist was fugitive on the Island and shot someone on the promenade. An officer walked to the police station (he was not allowed to run in uniform) to collect a revolver and capture the terrorist – he received a medal.

Margaret Corkill first female officer apart from two women working in WWI- but was sacked the week after the war ended.

Gary is the 12th Chief Constable and joined the police in 1984. His family weren’t well off enough to send him to university and he ended up falling into the force – someone gave him all the answers for the entrance exam. The police was filled with ‘tough old guys who had fought in the Korean War’. He trained at Warrington where Manx recruits were out of kilter with UK recruits as they were issued with second hand uniforms so were easily spotted. Gary worked in CID and became a sergeant in the fraud squad. He became a staff officer and then superintendent. He has been Chief Inspector since 2013.

In CID he had lots of unpleasant things to deal with. In the early 90’s 600 burglaries were carried out- now down to 170. There was lots of violence and fighting linked to all the building work that was going on – it’s much safer nowadays.

Gary talked about the rise in financial fraud, child abuse, mental health related call outs, cannabis and drugs. The legislation has increased massively as well as technology and the use of DNA in forensic examinations. Officers now write very long reports- he used to write very short ones! There were many more fatal collisions on the roads in those days- they investigated in 30 minutes. Now the officers have maths degrees and do precise investigations that take days to complete or weeks. He is in favour of ‘body cams’ which protect all concerned but not in agreement that all officers should be graduates.

July 2019 – Nigel Crowe – Beyond Broadway: The Creation of the new CM Estate and the Impact of the 4th Duke of Athol’s Activities on the Douglas Seafront

The first of many interesting images Nigel showed was a painting of Douglas from the sea, commissioned by Queen Victoria to remind her of her sailing past the IOM and is in the Royal collection. Nigel explained that he would be mostly talking about John Murray, 4th Duke of Atholl (=JMDA) and Castle Mona (=CM).

JMDA was born in 1755 and was the heir to the Lordship of IOM the Dukedom of Atholl and Chieftainship of the Murray clan. His Mother was the heiress of the IOM (only surviving child of the 2nd Duke) and married to a first cousin, which kept both titles within the family.

JMDA married twice. By his first marriage he had two surviving sons and a number of daughters (who did not concern us unless a two hour talk was required!) The elder son was Lord Tullibardine; in 1810 he caught a brain infection which left him unable to take care of his own affairs. Henceforth he was looked after by a trusted retainer. The Duke remained hopeful his son would recover, but it eventually caused the Dukedom to go effectively into abeyance for a generation. The 2nd son, Lord James-was heir presumptive but never heir apparent as his older brother could theoretically have married and had children. Lord James suffered financial woes.

The 2nd marriage was to Marjorie -widow of Lord McLeod. Her husbands had a number of achievements in common. They both ran successful campaigns extorting Government; in Lord McLeod’s case, for the restoration of his family estate & title and in the Murray’s case – a lot of compensation on the loss of former estates. Both husbands built beautiful loch-side or sea-side mansions and Nigel wondered whether any of this had actually been due to Marjorie’s ideas?

Lord Charles was the surviving son of second marriage but he died tragically at 25. Only potential male line for future Ducal inheritance was through the second son, Lord James. Next a word on the title and positions the IVth Duke held, the chieftainship of the clan Murray as one of the great chieftains of Scotland he was entitled to wear the bonnet with 3 golden eagle feathers. A Scottish Dukedom was truthfully not as grand as an English one. As his secondary title he had the Marquisate of Tullibardine which provided his eldest son with his courtesy title. He also held title Baron Strange which came with the IOM but had no other property with it by this time.

The Duke obtained some positions by his own merit – Membership of the Privy Council. Leadership in the Masonic organisation. He became the 1st Lord Lieutenant of Perthshire. He would have been concerned that he maintain these positions- at the apex of British Society-and decisions he made in order to maintain his status – this may have been at the expense of his descendants.

John – 4th Duke decided to get involved in Manx affairs. First concern was a new Pier. He raised finance from a company formed to encourage fishing using British Government funding and his influence. The replacement “Red” pier was devised perhaps to facilitate the arrival of his guests-Not the Ro Ro but the WO WO (Walk on- Walk off). He managed to get appointed as Governor General, with the result that he was the only Lord of Man since James Stanley (VIIth Earl of Derby) to spend any significant time here.

JMDA had quarrelled with virtually everyone who lived in or near Castletown, basically he blamed the Quayle, Taubman and Moore families for the imposition of the Revestment Act; so a house there wasn’t an option. Douglas was dominated by ex-military men, escaped debtors and the like, and more congenial. The Duke bought an estate at Port e Chee in 1791 with a substantial farmhouse which he extended. It was important that his house could be approached by roads and bridges without the need to cross fords. In 1793 he bought another small estate on the seashore- there was a growing fashion for sea bathing at coastal resorts like Lyme Regis, Brighton etc and he wanted to ‘take the waters’.

The 4th Duke’s paternal grandfather had been disinherited as a result of taking part in the 1745 Jacobite rebellion tho’ his brother turned Whig. The Murrays at heart were Tories rather than Whigs so only benefitted from favour when the Tories were in charge. His main landed interests centred in Perthshire- the Blair Atholl Estate. Nigel showed a map locating the estate, showing the maximum size of it, and a comparison to the area of the IOM. It was very extensive. Blair Atholl is high up and includes forest and mountain land. He also owned the Dunkeld Estate- the size of one of our sheadings. As travel became easier it grew a little strange to have two seats so close together (20 miles apart). Blair was a famed sporting estate abounding in deer, grouse and salmon. But was it becoming unfashionable to have one’s actual ‘seat’ in the highlands? They hadn’t married heiresses of other great families thus acquiring estates around the country for different purposes. They had a scattering of lesser holdings in Perthshire which he sold off, in order to consolidate his Blair interests. His large feudal tenants were not really large rent payers.

The old Dunkeld mansion looked rather Germanic and was eventually demolished by the 4th Duke just after concluding the deal disposing of the remaining Manx interests in the late 1820s. he effectively demolished the family seat – he planned a big replacement palace but didn’t leave any money to finish it off at his death soon afterwards. In 1765, when JMDA’s parents sold sovereignty of IOM (The first £70K) – first thing they did was to buy a London Townhouse. Later a replacement was commissioned from architect George Steuart. In 1828 worth about as much as CM. The Dukes patronised Steuart- his remaining masterpiece was Attingham Park- built in the classical style. Robert Adam was patronised by the Whigs and Steuart by the Tories!

By late 1790’s decided to build a major house on the IOM – Initially at Port e Chee- in the classical style like Attingham. and sketch plans for Port e Chee that Nigel showed certainly had similar architectural features in the classical style with attenuated pillars and arcaded basement windows. In 1798, Colonel Mark Wilks- a Manxman who made good in the East India Company, started to invest in land, ultimately as a site for a retirement home. Land was available to Wilks that wouldn’t be offered to JMDA again because of his feuds. In 1798, Wilks was offered Ballafletcher (AKA Kirby) near the Quarterbridge. It would be intolerable to JMDA to have another grand house appearing his planned seat at Port e Chee, so he switched his attention to Douglas bay.

“The Loch Estate” may not ring a bell – Nigel showed a plan of it located on the seafront in Douglas Bay. (The site is now occupied by the CM and the Palace complex, running back inland.) A later law-suit brought by Onchan residents alleging rights of way over the Castle site has evidence about the use made of the land prior to Athol’s building. John Skillicorn a builder of Onchan remembered Old Loch House being the only house on the shore. There was also the old Loch Mill and a commercial tannery- Nigel showed a plan of including dunes and beautiful sunken gardens on the south side. A Napoleonic battery was visible. Note that initially there was no approach from the town on the south side. approach from the direction of Broadway was a secondary idea. JMDA made 10 purchases from Mr John Curphey of Ballakillingan, Lezayre, who had inherited the Ballaquayle estate. The date order in which he acquired the parcels is significant.

The period 1798-1804 was when the design of CM evolved. Invitations to the house-naming were an exclusive affair- his enemies weren’t invited. There were only three households the Duke preferred to socialise with. The private surgeon who served the Duke wrote a diary which gives insight and credence to this. The Duke looked at him with a cold eye when he treated William Kelly of Union Mills – seen as practically a revolutionary!

A green mound was made from the sand dunes and was a shelter for the sunken garden and remained until The Palace shops were built at the turn of the 20th century. JMDA was a phenomenal tree planter- he had negotiations with British Government to build war-ships from Larch. But ships began to be plated with Iron, so the family didn’t make a profit until WWI. Nigel showed a plan with the stable block (Central Hotel site)- Charles Guard had just supplied an amazing aerial photograph of the CM from his recent “Eye of Mann” book. The entrance gates were also at Broadway on the approach from Douglas. Nigel showed a plan with the final extent of the CM estate and showing where modern day roads are. It was a while before JMDA could drive straight through town because of all the dog legged streets and narrow junctions. He bought corner properties in order to widen them, for example at Heywood Place to allow JMDA to head towards Peel. The order he bought them in should shows the evolving routes he was using to approach.

The deputy Seneschal’s house “Lawn Villa” was adjoining the right-hand gate-lodge- (Clarence Terrace got built behind.) “Yellow Cottage” was occupied by JMDA’s principal land agent and stood close to today’s Edelweiss. A guidebook describes them as two very pretty houses. Nigel showed a photograph of painting done by a journeyman artist showing the green mound.

1810-1825 was the heyday of the CM Estate from the completion in 1810 to the departure of JMDA in 1825. By 1828 the Duke wanted out and was successful in getting compensation, but the British Government wouldn’t buy the CM.

JMDA had a brief period as a Tourism Entrepreneur. Most of the Duke’s land had come from the Ballaquayle quarterland However, there were two further large quarterland farms to the north, which originally also had land stretching down to the seashore- Glencrutchery and Bemahague (Government House) owned by Christians, Oates and Heywoods. He had the idea of buying their land and building houses to let out during the summer months. Narrow tracks led from where Shoprite is now to the shore which originated from farmers using them to gather seaweed etc- public had rights to travel along a footpath where Summerhill Road runs. An1822 plan shows all the houses built on the seashore within the memory of John Skillicorn. Summerhill House was owned by Deemster Heywood. Some freehold land was acquired by the Shimmin family (related to Shimmin’s coaches). The Heywoods had granted several plots. Some owners still had to pay ground rents. Numbered plots were shown which the Duke bought and built houses upon including Strathallan Crescent and of course the two hotels, the Crescent and the Queens (or previously the Hotel Mona). If he had visitors- they could frequent his public houses – Nigel says he knows more work needs to be done on this aspect of the history.

Nigel showed some faded watercolours still at Blair Athol Castle. Some evidence that on a high tide people struggled to get past- people had to ask to pass on the other side of the sea wall to get through

The Dissolution of the Estate. Campaign to get more compensation – selling his remaining rights but they wouldn’t take the Castlemona off his hands. James McCrone was the Duke’s land agent (later also for the Crown Estate.) The CM Estate was never sold in his lifetime. The tops of the pillars are the most detailed part of the architecture which are now concealed by lighting fixtures. It was finally bought in 1832- two years after his death, by a consortium including the Hutchinson brothers, Wolff and Bacon.

The disposal of the estate was quite creative. Nigel had prepared a series of maps in explanation. As no one came forward who wanted a stately home the castle became a hotel. Then there were some superb building plots- No. 3-Marathon or Woodville House was a mystery. It has an outstanding position There is a little road or walkway in the glen (where the viaduct used to be)- with an elaborate stone gatepost- perhaps an original temporary entrance to get into the Marathon estate from Castle Mona’s grounds before Victoria Road was built. Mona Cliffe (or Rock Villa; Nigel’s Plot 1) was bought by James McCrone. He was to be allowed to go through Castle Mona grounds until the public could raise funds to build a road along the seafront- a right which he paid for.

Two new roads were built- one by the public but beforehand there was lots of complaining as the owners of the Castlemona wouldn’t give up land. The lawsuit was Tupper v. Hutchinson. Arches had to be built to maintain the Castlemona Hotel’s access to the gardens. A Bridge Road was planned and so called before Queen Victoria came to the throne, thereafter Victoria Road. An interesting exercise in town planning.

Stanley Terrace was built on land in the hands of the Hutchinson family. Plan 5 was The Esplanade (John Robinson’s design), Clarence Terrace and Derby Terrace came after. A more elaborate scheme was concocted for NGC’s Plot 10. Sir William Hillary had a plan to recoup his lost fortune by buying part of the Castle Mona Estate and running a lottery. He tried to keep his involvement very quiet. Block 10 includes the Falcon Cliff on a prime prize plot. It took a long time to develop the area. The house called ‘The Cliff’ was built on plot 7 but no photographs of it exist. Plot 9 was going to be Woodville New Town which was laid out as seen on the 1860’s OS map but never fully built. A larger plot 11 was bought by Lt Col Richard Murray- hence Murrays road. An ancestor of David Gawne (Kentraugh). He was son of a nephew of the 4th Duke. Plot 12 became Laureston estate. Land was still needed and retained to be used with the Castle Mona to safeguard the water supply possibly and the glen which led to the Kitchen Garden. They kept the garden slips. The saddest thing to see is Castle Mona Avenue. It was such a shame these properties got fenced in by the buildings on the promenade- it used to be called Back Lawn. It’s now a dead end- 2 plots could have been bought at auction by the Corporation giving through access, but they didn’t bite.