News Release

The Isle of Man

The Isle of Man is a small, beautiful island 33 miles long and 13 miles wide at its widest point.  It lies in the middle of the Irish Sea, almost equidistant from England and Ireland but closer to Scotland than to Wales.  It is not part of England, Great Britain or the United Kingdom but is a Crown Dependency with a large degree of independence.   It has its own monetary and postal system.  It also has its own language, called Manx Gaelic, which is still taught in schools but has died out as a working language, the main language being English.

The first Manx converts were Leonora Cannon and her cousin Elizabeth Kaighen, who joined the church in Canada where they had emigrated for economic reasons.  Leonora later married John Taylor in Toronto in 1833 and he eventually became the first LDS missionary to go to the Isle of Man in 1840.  Elder Taylor later became the third (and only non-American) Prophet/President of the church.  From those first missionary efforts hundreds of Manx converts emigrated to America and they and their descendants became instrumental in the growth of the church there and further afield. 

Over the years, five became Apostles, including George Q. Cannon and Matthew Cowley.  Many also became notable in secular matters in America, among whom were Mayors, Congressmen, State Senators, JP’s and writers.  John Thomas Caine was largely responsible for Utah gaining statehood.  Some Manx converts joined the Mormon Battalion and another rose through the ranks of the Nauvoo Legion to become a Major, with 100 cavalry and 500 infantry under his command.  Thomas McKay attended The School of the Prophets and was taught by the Prophet Joseph Smith.  George Cannon made death masks of, and coffins for, the martyred Prophet Joseph and his brother Hyrum.  William Cowley helped to bring the stricken survivors of the Edward Martin Handcart Company to safety in the Salt Lake Valley.  Leonora Taylor was present at the inaugural meeting of The Relief Society and several General Authorities can trace their ancestry back to the Isle of Man.

The 19th century policy of gathering church members to America resulted in the decimation of the church in the island and for the first half of the 20th century no LDS church existed there.  In 1958 the newly built London Temple was dedicated and a ‘new era’ opened for the church in the British Isles.  Missionary numbers began to increase.  In 1960 the work in the British Isles was split into two separate missions.  Further splits followed and in 1962 the Irish Mission was created with the Isle of Man included in it.  During this time two female members of the church moved to the island and, finding no church there, they requested that missionaries be sent there once again.  In August 1962 the Isle of Man Branch was reorganised with one of the two missionaries sent to the island as Branch President – an Elder Cannon of Manx descent!!

Growth was slow but steady and in 1973 the members started building their own chapel, under the guidance of Church Building Supervisor Dave Lambert.  Up until now the branch was attached to the Belfast District.  Regions where the church was stronger were known as Stakes and in 1976 the twentieth stake in Britain was created in Liverpool.  The Douglas, Isle of Man, Branch now became part of the Liverpool Stake and was made into a Ward.  With growing numbers, the chapel was extended in 1994 to approximately double its original size. 

Today the ward flourishes.  Missionaries from the Manchester Mission dream of being sent to the ‘little island with a big heart’ and visitors from across the water go home uplifted by the warm Manx welcome that greets everyone who enters the chapel there.

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