Get Dr Clague. Dr John Clague as Collector of Manx Charms

Pp. 79-95

  • Stephen Miller
Keywords: Isle of Man, Manx Gaelic, English, Dr John Clague (1842–1908), Charm Collecting, Late 19th Century


Dr John Clague (1842–1908) was a medical practitioner in the Isle of Man as well as a folklore and folk song collector. His mother was a herbal healer as was Clague before commencing his medical studies. Clague’s posthumously published reminiscences in 1911 contain the largest collection of charms (13) published to date as well as details of his encounters with charmers and healers during his rounds. Published with facing pages of Manx Gaelic and English (the two languages of the Island in this period) the question arises as to which language the charms were originally collected in. Surviving is a manuscript notebook containing texts of six of the charms; two others are known in Manx from earlier church court records. Clague’s collecting does not exhaust the material for the Island. There is one other contemporary collector, namely Sophia Morrison, whose manuscript material remains inedited and unpublished. Other material that remains to be examined are the printed and manuscript collections of the Manx National Heritage Library, especially the Manx Museum Folk-Life Survey. It is hoped that all this material can be gathered together at some date in a charm catalogue allowing its use by the wider community of charm scholars.