Files prepared by Canon R D Kermode, Vicar of St George's Church, Douglas on the whereabouts and condition of men from his parish serving in the First World War

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The content consists of files of handwritten notes, prepared by Canon Robert Daniel Kermode, in which Kermode records the whereabouts and fate of men from his parish serving in the First World War. Using plentiful abbreviations, and filing alphabetically, Kermode records the home address, military rank, number and regiment of each man on a separate page. Any news received about changes in unit or location as well as known personal circumstances are recorded, including whether home on leave, wounded, killed in action, moved away or related to others in the files.

By their nature many entries are very poignant, an example being Kermode's own postman and past member of Barrack Street Class and Club, part of St George's Church, Robert Henry Hunter who went to France in 1914 early in the conflict. News filtering back reported him killed but Kermode cannot obtain confirmation. He writes, 'His pay comes, but no word can be obtained from him by his people. R. Taubman says he was with him when he was killed - Moore says he is alive. What has happened? ... Letters returned June 7. Nothing known Aug 5. Sept 27.' In fact Hunter was killed in action on 20 October 1914, aged 27.

Administrative / Biographical History

Canon Robert Daniel Kermode (1868-1948) was the son of William Karran Kermode J.P (1838-1912) and Frances née Creer (c.1840-1916). In 1890 Robert achieved a place at Gonville and Caius College, University of Cambridge and by the end of the university year he successfully won the Lady Kay Divinity Scholarship and transferred to Jesus College, where he read for the classical Tripos degree. Gaining his masters (M.A) in 1893 Kermode took his Holy Orders and was ordained a deacon in St Paul’s Cathedral that same year. His first post was a curate’s position in St George’s in the East End of London: 1896 saw him back on the Island, having accepted the position of curate at St George’s, Douglas. By 1898 Rev. Kermode had become the vicar at Kirk Maughold, returning to St George’s, Douglas as vicar in 1908. That same year he married Bertha Harrison Clucas (1875-1959) of Thornhill. Ramsey. The couple had one daughter, Frances Margaret Clucas Kermode (1911-1997).

In 1912 Robert was made a Canon of St Patrick and in 1913 he was elected Proctor for the clergy in the Convocation of York, a position he held until 1920. During the First World War (1914-1918) he was chaplain to the Loyal Manx Volunteers; he also kept handwritten notes on the welfare of the men within his parish who were conducting war service. In 1920 he left St George’s, Douglas and took up the vicar’s vacancy at Kirk Christ in the northern parish of Lezayre. By 1939 the Canon was preparing to retire, however the outbreak of the Second World War (1939-1945) interfered with his plans. Given his replacement Reverend Gordon Sayle (b.1903) was chaplain for the Manx Regiment, the Canon agreed to stay active and provide pastoral care for the parish until Rev. Sayle returned from war.

The Canon had a keen interest in Manx archaeology and the history of the Manx Church; he was a member of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society for fifty years, wrote several articles on parish history, was the editor for the Diocesan Magazine and had published (posthumously) The Annals of Kirk Christ Lezayre in 1954. The Canon was a prominent Freemason, being a Past Master of St Maughold Lodge, a provincial Grand Chaplain and a Past Grand Warden of the Isle of Man Province. Canon Kermode died (aged 79) at his home in Lezayre and buried in Lezayre Churchyard.

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.

Other Finding Aids

All 14 files have been transcribed and their full content are available on http://www.imuseum.im/ (accessed 25 Jan 2016) entitled 'Canon Kermode's First World War Biographies (St George's, Douglas)' http://www.imuseum.im/search/collections/archive/mnh-museum-267148.html (accessed 25 January 2016).

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from Manx newspapers the Isle of Man Times (5 June 1948), the Mona's Herald (8 June 1948) and the Ramsey Courier (17 September 1948). Further biographical information was gathered from the website http://www.imuseum.im/search/people/ (accessed 25 January 2016).

Isle of Man newspapers available online at http://www.newspapers.gov.im/Default/Skins/IOMDemo/Client.asp?skin=IOMDemo&enter=true&AppName=2.

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

Related Material

Related material held by Manx National Heritage include personal and clerical papers of Canon Kermode. Reference numbers: MS 09589, MS 09727 & MS 09804.