Isaac Barrow: builder of foundations for a modern nation.

Hoy, Michael
Isaac Barrow: builder of foundations for a modern nation. PhD thesis, University of Liverpool.

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This thesis examines the contribution made to the political, ecclesiastical and social development of the Isle of Man by Isaac Barrow, bishop of Sodor and Man (1663-71) and governor (1664-69). The condition of the Island and its people after the civil wars and interregnum is described and the nature and scope of the challenges faced by Barrow are assessed. Barrow’s vision for the people in his care and the pastoral and educational strategies he adopted to better their moral, spiritual and social condition are described, and his motives in introducing his wide-ranging reforms are considered. The civil legislation enacted during his administration and the ecclesiastical legislation which he initiated are analysed, and the immediate and longer term effects of his reforms are evaluated. Barrow identified two key targets for reform: improved education and conditions for the parish clergy; and the provision of English elementary schools for every boy and girl, with grammar and academic schools for the most able. Barrow’s skill in exploiting four different sources of funds and setting up well-constructed endowment instruments to ensure effective investment management is considered, and the quality and consistency of the oversight of schools and other aspects of pastoral and social care provided by the clergy and the courts are also evaluated. The thesis then reflects on Barrow’s continuing interest in and contribution to the development of education in the Isle of Man during his episcopate in St Asaph (1670-80), and considers reasons for his relative lack of success in addressing comparable social challenges in north-east Wales. The impact of variations to the conditions of the academic endowments which Barrow made in his will (1680) is also assessed. At the centre of the thesis is a reflection on Barrow’s life before 1663. The contrast between his high church, royalist convictions and academic career in Cambridge, Oxford and Eton on the one hand, and the liberal credentials of his reforms on the other, is considered. The thesis questions the extent to which the influence of former friends and colleagues, and the strengths and weaknesses of his self-sufficient, authoritarian character may have contributed to his ideas and the success of their implementation. The thesis evaluates the long-term effectiveness of Barrow’s reforms, notably in education, by analysing evidence for the progress of literacy in reading and writing in the Isle of Man through the eighteenth century. It assesses particularly the efficacy of schooling in English in an isolated community where only Manx Gaelic, a vernacular without a written orthography, was spoken, and considers similar challenges in the teaching and acquisition of reading skills in Wales. Comparisons are then drawn with contemporary developments in the dioceses of Chester (Cheshire and south Lancashire) and St Asaph (Denbigh, Flint and Montgomery) and in the wider context of the progress of literacy in England and Wales. In conclusion the continuing contribution of Barrow’s ideas and endowments today is summarised.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: alt_title: The church, education and society in the Isle of Man, 1660-1800. Date: 2015-04-20 (completed)
Subjects: ?? DA ??
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2015 15:14
Last Modified: 17 Dec 2022 01:07
DOI: 10.17638/02010267