manx celtic music and dance

JOHN FREDERICK GILL (b. 1842, d. 1899),

son of Joseph Gill, and Charlotte Augusta, daughter of the Rev. Thomas Stephen, vicar-general was born at Marsala, in Sicily. Till he was ten years old he was educated at home. This was followed by about a year at school in Malta. He came to the Isle of Man at the age of 11, being placed under the care of his uncle, the Rev. William Gill, Vicar of Malew (see p. 36), and continued his education at King William's College.

On leaving the College, he studied law with Sir James Gell, his second cousin, and, on being admitted to the Manx Bar, in 1864, he entered into partnership with him. Their firm, under the title of Gell and Gill, did a very large business. About 1882, this partnership was terminated, and he came to Douglas where he practised until his elevation to the Bench, as second deemster, in 1884. We will quote what Sir James Gell, who knew him intimately, said about him, both as advocate and judge: " I found him always, from the beginning of his study of the law, most painstaking, straightforward, and upright, with respect to whatever he had to do. He formed strong opinions on matters with which he was concerned, both professional and otherwise, and nothing would move him to swerve from what he considered to be right. Mere expediency never, I believe, influenced him. As a judge, he won the respect and admiration of the Bar, for the advancement of whose interest he was always a warm advocate, and I am sure it will be accorded to him by all that he acted judicially with the strictest impartiality. He had the sincere esteem of his colleagues on the Bench." He will, however, probably be best remembered by that invaluable compilation, the revision of the Manx Statutes. Commencing in 1417, the six volumes containing them cover the legislation of the Isle of Man down to 1895. In these volumes, obsolete and repealed provisions are printed in a different type to those which are still in force. To enable this to be done, every single enactment had to be compared with previous enactments, a feet which is alone sufficient to show the immense research and labour involved. In his legislative capacity, he rendered the most valuable services, especially in connexion with committees of the Tynwald Court, of which he was frequently chairman. Both by temperament and judicial knowledge he was admirably suited for that position, the duties of which he performed in an unexceptionable manner. Deemster Gill's labours were, however, by no means confined to his judicial and legislative work. A thoroughly patriotic Manxman, everything that was for the good of his native land found in him an energetic supporter and sympathiser. As a young man, he was an enthusiastic volunteer, holding, for several years, the rank of lieutenant in the now defunct Castletown Rifle Corps. In charitable and philanthropic works, he was a well-known leader. We may especially notice his connexion with the Hospital, he having been a member of the committee of that institution for many years. He was an energetic president of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, in the work of which he took a very keen interest, and a warm supporter of the Isle of Man Fine Arts and Industrial Guild, more particularly of the musical competitions promoted by it. And this leads to the statement that Deemster Gill will, perhaps, in the future, be even better remembered by his countrymen generally as the co-editor, with his brother, Mr. W. H. Gill, and Dr. Clague, of the volumes which contain their collection of " Manx National Music " than as the compiler of the standard Manx Statute Book. The value of this monumental collection will be more and more appreciated as time goes on. But for it the Manx people would have been deprived of a large portion of one of their most precious inheritances. In the social life of the island Deemster Gill, who was a man of handsome features, courtly presence, and genial, courteous, and dignified manner, took a leading part.

* By the Judicature Act of 1883. which abolished this office, it was provided that it was to be continued as tong as he desired to hold it

[taken from Chapter 3 Manx Worthies, A.W.Moore, 1901]