Diocese of Sodor and Man

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Diocese of Sodor and Man
Church of England
Province: York
Arms of the Bishop of Sodor and Man
Bishop: Robert Paterson
signs as: Sodor as Mannin
Cathedral: Peel Cathedral
Archdeaconries: Man
No. of parishes: 28
No. of churches: 43
Website: sodorandman.im

The Diocese of Sodor and Man is the diocese of the Church of England which covers the Isle of Man and its adjacent islets.

The dual name of the diocese is historic: it was once a vast bishopric over the Hebrides also, which were known in Norse as Suðreyjar, hence "Sodor". Though the latter jurisdiction is long since lost, the name of Sodor remains in its title.

Today, the bishop's offices are based in Douglas and the cathedral is in Peel.

The position of the bishopric, within the Church of England but outside the United Kingdom, puts the bishop in a mixed position. He is not a Lord Spiritual of the United Kingdom and may not sit in the House of Lords, but he is a member of the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man. In common with other Church of England bishops, his appointment passes through the Crown Nominations Commission and is made on the advice of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

Early history

The Kingdom of Mann and the Isles about the year 1100

The Norwegian diocese of Sodor was formed 1154, covering the Hebrides and the other islands along the west coast of Scotland. The name in the original Norse was Suðreyjar ("southern isles"), in contrast to the Norðreyjar, the "northern isles" of Orkney and Shetland. The Isle of Man was included in with these southern isles. This diocese was a suffragan of the archdiocese of Nidaros (Trondheim).

Original Peel Cathedral

Norway controlled all these islands until 1266, when they were ceded to Scotland by the Treaty of Perth. The Isle of Man was detached from the Scottish islands and came under the suzerainty of the Kings of England in 1334. Thereafter it was held by feudal Lords of Man (the Stanleys, Earls of Derby, from 1406 to 1736 and the Dukes of Atholl from 1736) until the lordship was purchased by the British Crown in 1765. (From this year then Mann and the Hebrides were once again under the same sovereign lord, but they have never been reunited as one unit; the Hebrides are within the United Kingdom but the Isle of Man is a separate crown dependency.)

The right to appoint the Bishop of Sodor and Man belonged to the Lords of Man, and it continued to be exercised by the Dukes of Atholl after the revestment in 1765. The right was surrendered to the Crown in 1828.

In common with the rest of the Church of England, at the Reformation the Diocese was removed from the jurisdiction of the See of Rome under King Henry VIII, but the bishop, Thomas Stanley, stood against some of the reforms (particularly the reallocation of his Diocese from the Province of Canterbury to the Province of York) and was deprived of office by the King. Mary I restored Stanley to office just before her death in 1558,[1] and he remained even after the restoration of Protestantism by Queen Elizabeth I the next year.

Since the Isle of Man was not part of the Kingdom of England, the Act of Uniformity 1662 passed at the Restoration of Charles II did not apply to it. Thus when Thomas Wilson was Bishop of Sodor and Man (1697–1755) he was free to introduce worship in the Manx language and to resolve issues of clergy discipline that arose from the Isle of Man's unique status.[2]

Usage of Sodor and Man

It is possible that the origin of the name "Sodor" was forgotten until modern times. By the latter part of the 16th century the terms "Sodor" and "Man" had become interchangeable, the bishopric being spoken of as that of "Sodor" or "Man" or "Sodor and Man", or sometimes all three, for the avoidance of doubt (for example the grant of the lordship of the Island to the Earl of Derby in 1610 included "the Patronage of the Bishopricke of the said Isle of Mann, and the Patronage of the Bishopricke of Sodor, and the Patronage of the Bishopricke of Sodor and Mann").[3]

Until 1604 the bishops invariably signed themselves "Sodorensis"; between that date and 1684, sometimes they used "Soderensis" and sometimes "Sodor and Man"; between 1684 and 2007 all bishops signed "Sodor and Man" or "Sodor and Mann". However, the present bishop, the Rt Rev Robert Paterson, signs "Sodor as Mannin", the Manx language equivalent.

Later history

Peel Cathedral

The original cathedral of the Diocese of Sodor and Man was on St Patrick's Isle at Peel. This cathedral fell into disuse during the 18th century and for many years the Bishop's chapel at Bishopscourt, near Kirk Michael, served as a Pro-cathedral. This was a Gothic building, rebuilt in 1814 and again in 1858, and dedicated to St Nicholas.

In 1979 Bishopscourt was sold, and the following year the parish church of St German in Peel was designated as "the Cathedral Church of St German" by Act of Tynwald.[4]

Cultural references

  • Sodor is a fictional island in the Irish Sea created by the Rev W Awdry as the setting for The Railway Series books (affectionately known as “Thomas the Tank Engine”)


List of known Bishops of Mann

Tenure Incumbent Notes
x1079 Roolwer
x1079 William
fl. 1079x1095 Hamond
el. 1103x1108 Anonymous An unnamed bishop is presented for consecration to Gerard, the Archbishop of York. He may or may not have been Wimund.

List of Bishops of Sodor and Man

(Dates in italics indicate de facto continuation of office)

Tenure Incumbent Notes
??? to ??? Roolwer Also called Rolf.
??? to ??? William
1113 to 1151 Wimund Reymundus
1151 to 1154 John (I) Monk of Sais, Normandy
1154 to ???? Gamaliel
???? to ???? Reginald of Norway
???? to ???? Christian Orcadensis
(Christian of Orkney)
???? to ???? Michael Died (in office?) 1203
1203 (or 1204) to 1217 Nicholas de Meaux Abbot of Furnes (Furness?)
1217 to 1226 Reginald
1226 to 1230 John (II)
1230 to 1249 Simon Orcadensis Simon of Orkney; Simon Arkadiensis; Symon.
1249 to 1249 Lawrence Laurence; Archdeacon of Man; shipwrecked and drowned on voyage from Norway before taking up the office
1249 to 1252 vacant For nearly 2 years
1252 to 1274 Richard Died in office
1275 (or 1280) to 1303 Mark of Galloway Mauritius; Promoted by Alexander, King of Scotland; died in office
1303 to 1305 vacant
1305 to 15 February 1321 Allen of Galloway Onachus of Galloway; John of Galloway; died in office
1321 to 1323 Gilbert McLelland Gilbert of Galloway; died in office
1324 to 1333 Bernard of Kilwinning Abbot of Kilwinning, Scotland
1334 to 20 September 1348 Thomas de Rossy of Dunkeld Died in office
1348 to 21 April 1374 William Russell Abbot of Rushen; died in office
1374 to 1380 John Dongan John Donkan; John Donkin; John Dunkan; died in office
1381 to ???? Robert Waldby Purportedly bishop in 1396, (though disputed by John Le Neve); translated to Dublin
1492 to ???? Conrad Omitted from most lists
???? to 1429 vacant For 'many years'
1429 to ???? John Burghersh Cluniac brother; omitted from most lists
1435 to ???? John Seyr Dominican brother; omitted from most lists
1429 to ???? Richard Pully Richard Payl; from 1410 in some sources; Franciscan brother
1448 (or (1449) to 1455 Robert Green Robert Sprotton; John Sproton; John Grene; John Greene; Vicar of Dunchurch, Warwickshire; Franciscan brother
1455 to March 1457 Thomas Burton Franciscan brother; died in office
1458 to 1480 Thomas Abbot of Vale Royal, Cheshire; elected 21 June 1458
1480 to 19 September 1486 Richard Oldham Abbot of Chester; died in office
1487 to 1510 Huan Hisketh Huan Blackleach; Hugh Hesketh; one source has Blackleach from 1487 and Hesketh from 1503 or 1510
1510 to 1545 Thomas Stanley Rector of Wigan; deprived
1545 to 1548 Robert Ferrar Translated to St Davids
1546 to 1558 Henry Mann Dean of Chester; Royal Assent to election given by King Henry VIII on 22 January 1546
1558 to 1568 Thomas Stanley Rector of Winwick as well as Berwick; restored by Queen Mary; died in office
1571 to 1573 John Salisbury Nominated 27 March 1569; former abbot of Titchfield Abbey
1573 to 1576 James Stanley According to John Le Neve
vacant According to Heylyn
1576 to 7 November 1599 John Merick John Meyrick; Vicar of Hornchurch, Essex; died in office
1599 to 1604 George Lloyd (From 1600 according to Haydn); rector of Heswall, Lancashire; translated to Chester
1604 to 6 August 1633 John Phillips John Philips; Archdeacon of Cleveland and Man; nominated by King James I & VI 29 January 1604; consecrated 10 February 1604; died in office
1634 (or 1633) to 1635 William Forster William Foster; Prebendary of Chester
1635 to 1643 Richard Parr Rector of Lancashire; died in office
1643 (or 1644) to 1661 vacant For 17 years (according to Haydn)
1661 to 1663 Samuel Rutter Archdeacon of Man
1663 to 1671 Isaac Barrow Fellow of Eton College; translated to St Asaph but held Sodor & Man 2 years in commendam
1671 to 1682 Henry Bridgeman Dean of Chester
1682 to 1684 John Lake Archdeacon of Cleveland; translated to Bristol
1684 to 1692 Baptist Levinz Baptiste or Baptist Levinge; Prebendary of Winchester
1693 to 1697 vacant For 5 years
1697 (or 1698) to 1755 Thomas Wilson Of Trinity College, Dublin; died in office
1755 to 1773 Mark Hiddesley Mark Hildesley' Vicar of Hitchen, Hertfordshire
1773 to 1780 Richard Richmond Vicar of Walton-on-the-Hill, Lancashire
1780 to 1783 George Mason Died in office
1784 to 1813 Claudius Crigan
1813 to 1814 vacant
1813 (or 1814) to 1827 George Murray Translated to Rochester
1827 to 1838 William Ward Died in office
1838 to 1839 James Bowstead Translated to Lichfield
1839 (or 1840) to 1841 Henry Pepys Translated to Worcester
1841 to 1846 Thomas Short Rector of St George's, Bloomsbury; translated to St Asaph
8 November 1846 to 1847 Walter Shirley Died in office
1847 to 1854 The Rt Hon The Lord Auckland
(before 1849: The Hon Robert Eden)
Translated to Bath & Wells
5 July 1854 to 31 May 1877 The Hon Horatio Powys Rector of Warrington and rural dean; died in office
17 July 1877 to 27 May 1887 Rowley Hills DD Canon of York; died in office
1887 to 1892 John Bardsley
Archdeacon of Warrington
1892 to 1907 Norman Straton
1907 to 1911 Thomas Drury
1911 to 1925 Denton Thompson
1925 to 1928 Charles Thornton-Duesbury
1928 to 1943 William Stanton Jones
1943 to 1954 John Taylor
1954 to 1966 Benjamin Pollard TD DD MSc
1966 to 1974 Eric Gordon
1974 to 1983 Vernon Nicholls
1983 to 1989 Arthur Attwell
1989 to 2003 Noel Jones CB BA
2003 to 2007 Graeme Knowles AKC
2008 to date Robert Patterson MA


  1. Phillips, Gervase (2004). "Thomas Stanley (d. 1569), in Stanley, Edward, first Baron Monteagle (c.1460–1523)" (Subscription required). Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press). doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/26280. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26261/26280?docPos=3. Retrieved 2008-10-14. 
  2. Watterson Troxler, Carole (2004). "Wilson, Thomas, (1663–1755)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press). doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/29691. http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29691. Retrieved 2007-10-18. 
  3. M A Mills, Ancient Ordinances and Statute Laws of the Isle of Man (Douglas, 1821) p.517
  4. Cathedral Church Act 1980 (of Tynwald)

Dioceses of the Church of England

Province of Canterbury:
Bath & Wells •
Birmingham • Bristol • Canterbury • Chelmsford • Chichester • Coventry • Derby • Ely • Exeter • Gibraltar in Europe • Gloucester • Guildford • Hereford • Leicester • Lichfield • Lincoln • London • Norwich • Oxford • Peterborough • Portsmouth • Rochester • Saint Albans • Saint Edmundsbury & Ipswich • Salisbury • Southwark • Truro • Winchester • Worcester
Province of York:
Blackburn •
Carlisle • Chester • Durham • Leeds • Liverpool • Manchester • Newcastle • Sheffield • Sodor & Man • Southwell & Nottingham • York