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Quayle Bridge House Papers

Posted on 23.10.2015

The letters of the Quayle family of Bridge House, Castletown fascinate archivist Wendy Thirkettle (Manx National Heritage Library and Archives) who is coordinating a project to release descriptions to iMuseum.  Wendy is concentrating on correspondence written during the lifetime of George Quayle (1757-1835), owner of the historic vessel Peggy.

Quayle

Information about George can be gained by reading letters written to and from him but also when family members were writing about him indirectly.  We know that George was a banker, politician, innovator, flax mill owner and officer in the local militia.  He led a full and fascinating life.  The eldest of fourteen children, he had undoubted responsibilities, owning land, managing businesses, sitting in the House of Keys as a parliamentarian and becoming Speaker of the House (SHK) in later years.

For this first feature there are two aspects Wendy wishes to share: firstly George’s skill as a model maker, able to work with great precision and secondly his fondness for wordplay and humour.

In 1784 George secretly prepared a wooden model of part of a proposed new ceremonial mace to show how the three legs design was to be used, on top of the shank and beneath the orb.   His grandfather Sir George Moore SHK would be the first to use the mace in the House of Keys.  George’s father John Quayle was very complimentary about the model when writing to Sir George: ‘…the legs were so well carved out in wood, that I wished much for you to see it’.  George, ‘…was set to work and really executed the model very ingeniously, particularly the legs, which answered to an Hair, & painted in proper colours …’ (letter MS 00934/4 C).

George could be serious, able to keep a confidence and show great attention to detail but he also displayed a playful streak, had a fondness for wordplay and drew for fun as well as work purposes.  Below are his grammatical figures demonstrating active, passive and neutral verbs as well as different type of nouns.

QBHP 00917_14 C 002

© Manx National Heritage (MS 00917/14 C)

The same document records some of his play on words and riddles.

QBHP 00917_14 C 003

© Manx National Heritage (MS 00917/14 C)

Providing detailed descriptions of letters and documents is enabling Manx National Heritage staff and now researchers to build up a more accurate picture of George Quayle, the man.  The Quayle family documents, known as the Quayle Bridge House Papers, will give up their secrets over time and help greatly in our understanding of the Quayle family, their many business, political and social connections and their place in Manx society.

Wendy Thirkettle (Manx National Heritage Library & Archives Archivist)

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