A visit to the Isle of Man in the footsteps of Capt. Edward Voss

This 2013 summer our sailing trip took us around Ireland and Wales.  We also visited the Isle of Man and put into Douglas, now the capital of the island, for a very pleasant week’s stay.

While in Douglas I spent two days in the Manx Museum looking up information about Capt. Edward VOSS, who retired to Castletown, Isle of Man, presumably to be near the family of his daughter Elizabeth, her husband Rev. Edward FERRIER and their fourteen children or those who had survived.  I got a good sense of the Ferrier’s life there.  Edward was very well thought of, well connected in Castletown society and much involved in various worthy causes.  However, I also found a newspaper report, one of a series on Our Churches and Clergy which, perhaps mischievously or maybe maliciously, critiqued one of his sermons and picked holes in his theology.  I hope to write more about all this in due course.

We took the steam train to Castletown, which was the capital of the island until 1869, but alighted just before the town to walk across the fields to Malew Church, which stands in the cemetery for Castletown – more of that in a moment.

St Marys, The Parade, Castletown, IoM - 1From there we walked into Castletown and viewed the exterior of St Mary’s Church, where Edward Ferrier was Government Chaplain, appointed by the government to minister to the needs of the Castletown Barracks.  Alas, in more recent times the building needed major expenditure and was sold and converted into architect’s offices.  The present-day congregation now occupies a more manageable building in the town.

From census information we know that in 1861 Capt. & Mrs Voss were staying in The Crofts, Castletown, possibly in Croft House, but it is unclear from the enumeration how the various households relate to the properties thereabouts. In 1871 Capt. & Mrs Voss were resident there, together with their daughter Rosa, again in The Crofts.

Croft House, The Crofts, Douglas, IoM - 1
Croft House

We walked The Crofts and studied the various properties. We eventually focussed on Croft House – the larger building with rounded dormer windows in the photograph.  We knocked on the door and the present occupier explained that it had originally been built as a boarding house to accommodate military personnel stationed at  the Castletown barracks. This explains the several households recorded at this location.   It is apparent that the Vosses lived in these apartments before and during retirement.

Then 8 Arbory Road, Castletown, IoM - 1
Formerly No. 8 Arbory Road

The Crofts is close by Arbory Road, where their daughter and Edward Ferrier were raising their large family at No. 8.  The present day numbering does not fit with the census records, but I was able to locate the deed of sale from when Edward Ferrier later sold the property, and from a plan attached we were able to identify it as the white house in the photo.  Elizabeth expired 1874 a year after the birth of her fourteenth child and was buried in the Malew cemetery.  There is no record of where the grave is located, and seems not to have been identified in the survey by the Manx Genealogical Society.

Capt. Edward Voss grave - 2
Grave of Capt. Edward Voss (centre)

Capt. Voss died in 1875 at The Crofts, perhaps having been knocked by the death of his daughter.  He too was buried in Malew Church Glebe cemetery. We were able to locate his grave D6, which was somewhat overshadowed by the rebuilding of the nearby boundary wall.  With difficulty we were able to decipher the modest head stone:


The epitaph is a quote from Psalm 107 v30 and apposite for a sea captain who had brought so many across the seas.

The Rev. Ferrier remarried in 1877 to Margaret Frissel QUAYLE, widow of Patrick Taubman CUNNINGHAME.  The Quayle and Cunnighame families are both very well known in Castletown.  George QUALE (1751–1835) virtually owned the town for many years and his armed yacht Peggy of Castletown, which survives to this day, is much celebrated and we enjoyed inspecting her in the hidden boat house within his dwelling, now the Nautical Museum in Castletown.

31 Arbory Street, Castletown, IoM - 1
31 Arbory Street (with dormer window)

The Rev. Ferrier and his new wife sold 8 Arbory Road in 1880 and moved to a smaller property at 31 Arbory Street, together with seven of Edward’s children.  Edward continued to be engaged in public life.  He served many years as Government Chaplain to the House of Keys and was an active supporter of the Castletown Rocket Brigade.  Edward died in 1899.  There were several effusive obituaries for Edward and a memorial was erected in St Mary’s, reflecting his long service to the community.

Edward & Margaret FERRIER grave - 2
Ferrier grave

His second wife died in 1907.  They  are buried in Malew Glebe cemetery in a substantial grave with the memorial:

In memory of/ REVEREND EDWARD FERRIER M.A./ Canon of St Columba/and for forty years Chaplain of St. Mary’s Castletown/Born 3 December 1826/Entered into rest 14 March 1899/Also/In memory of/MARGARET FRISSEL/widow of the above-named/EDWARD FERRIER/and former widow of PATRICK TAUBMAN CUNINGHAME, ESQUIRE/Born 22nd February 1835/entered into rest 23rd April 1907.

Edward FERRIER & Elizabeth C VOSS
Edward & Elizabeth Ferrier

It was good to walk in the footsteps of those I have been seeking so long.  I note with some regret that nowhere did I find any mention or acknowledgement of his first wife Elizabeth, who bore him all those children, and it is unfortunate that her grave has not been identified.

Capt. Edward Voss’ widow, also Elizabeth, eventually left the island, probably to be near her surviving daughter Rosa in Kent.

The only descendants of the Ferrier children I have found are those of Claude FERRIER, who emigrated to New Zealand where there are many Ferriers. He became a successful shipping agent. I have recently made contact with one of his present-day descendants.


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