Research papers of Cyril Ingram Paton, naturalist

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The content consists of notebooks containing carvals (carols) and hymns in Manx Gaelic, Manx ‘Calendar Customs’, Manx psalms and sermons, Manx history, the Manx Folk Life Survey and the Manx-English dictionary. Other topics covered include natural history such as the flora of the Isle of Man, moths in Surrey, meteorology, mammals in Sutton and the fauna and flora of Streatham. Further items include correspondence, newspaper cuttings and miscellaneous research.

Administrative / Biographical History

Cyril Ingram Paton (1874-1949), a naturalist expert on all things Manx, was the son of Roderick Mciver Paton (c.1833-1903), a clerk for H.M customs from Scotland and Catherine Jane née Ingram (c.1836-1918). Paton was educated in Streatham, Surrey (now London) and spent most of his life there, alongside his parents, 4 brothers and 1 sister. Paton did not have Manx ancestry, however from a very young age he had a fascination with the Island, stemming (allegedly) from an old family Manx born nurse. The Paton family also had Manx connections: Paton’s paternal uncle was the Revd George Paton (1834-1900), chaplain of St Pauls, Ramsey (1871-1900), and his maternal uncle Dr William Clavell Ingram DD (c.1834-1901), Dean of Peterborough had been the Vicar of Kirk Michael (and chaplain to the Bishop of Sodor and Man) from 1864 to 1874.

As a young man Paton worked on a sugar plantation in British Guiana, however persistent ill-health forced him to return to England. Working in London, Paton was a commercial clerk but spent holidays in the Isle of Man and devoted his leisure time to the study of the Manx language, Manx carvals (carols), hymns and folklore. He was a good friend of fellow Manx language enthusiast and Streatham neighbour George William Wood (c.1852-1927). Paton was also passionate in the study of botany, entomology, geology, antiquities, other Celtic languages and political and religious history. Alongside his younger brother Roger Clavell Paton (c.1877-1942), Paton was a member of the Streatham Entomological and Natural History Society and a member of the South London Botanical Society. In 1913 Paton joined the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society, later becoming a member of the Field Section Committee; in 1947 he was nominated as president but felt unable to accept the post. Paton was also a prominent member of Yn Çheshaght Ghailckagh (Manx Society).

An authority on Manx flora, Paton published his ‘List of Flowering Plants, Ferns and Horse-Trails of the Isle of Man’ published in The North-Western Naturalist in 1923. Paton was a regular contributor to the Proceedings of the Isle of Man Natural History, the Antiquarian Society and The Peregrine journals. His biggest work was in 1942 when he published ‘Manx Calendar Customs’ for the Folk-lore Society. In later life Paton moved to Sutton, Surrey (now London). In 1946 he retired to Castletown, Isle of Man.

Paton greatly disliked the motor-car and buses and would walk miles collecting and studying. Sadly in May 1949 he was killed after being run over by a motor-cyclist on the outskirts of Castletown. An eternal bachelor Paton was buried in Kirk Arbory.

Conditions Governing Access

No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im.

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from Manx National Heritage Library resource, Cyril Ingram Paton (1874-1949) Biographical Extracts, reference number: M 17771.

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), May 2016.