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James Brown (founder of the Isle of Man Times) imprisoned in Castle Rushen Gaol

Date(s): 1864

Scope & Content: James Brown (1815-1881) was born in Liverpool on 2 August 1815. The son of a freed slave, in 1846 he came to the Isle of Man from Liverpool where he had worked as a printing compositor.

He founded the Isle of Man Times in 1861 and from its second issue waged a campaign against the Island's Government to introduce reforms such as a popularly elected House of Keys. This campaign ultimately resulted in his imprisonment in Castle Rushen on 16 March 1864 for six months 'to purge his contempt', following his refusal to the House for his activities. Brown was released on 7 May 1864 and awarded £500 damages against the Keys for wrongful imprisonment.

His campaign in the Isle of Man is seen as having been highly instrumental in bringing about Government reform.

'Between March 1864 and July 1865 James Brown had made his most important contribution to democratic reform in the Island. By openly defying the House of Keys, defeating them in the Court of Queen’s Bench, winning his freedom after serving only seven-and-a-half weeks of a six months’ sentence, and then winning substantial damages for false imprisonment, he had fatally weakened the status and authority of the self-elected House.' (Fyson, Robert, Dr, 'The struggle for Manx democracy, 2016.)

Language: eng

Extent: overall: 8.5 cm x 6 cm

Physical description: sepia print

Item name: photograph

Collection: Photographic Archive

Level: ITEM

ID number: PG/8229


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