Born in Cornwall, Captain Matthew Grose (1819-1887) was a renowned Mining Engineer in the Isle of Man. He managed Ballacorkish Mines on the island and also inspected many others, too numerous to cover in one post.
He was a mining man through and through. His father, also called Matthew Grose (1788 – 1849), born in Loxton, Somerset, was a Mine Agent who worked in Cornwall, then at Foxdale Mines, Isle of Man from 1828-1846, before opening a ‘fine granite quarry’.
His grandfather, another Matthew Grose (1761 – 1824) and great uncle, Samuel Grose (1764 – 1825) were Cornish Mine Captains born in Redruth, who worked at mines in Cornwall and Somerset.
More information about his family can be found here.
Photo of Matthew Grose 1819-1887 (Courtesy of Manx National Heritage)
1819 Matthew was baptised at Phillack, Cornwall on 19th March, 1819.
1828: At the age of nine, Matthew moved to the Isle of Man where his father becomes a Mine Agent at Foxdale Mines.
1841: The census shows Matthew is living and working at Foxdale Mines with his father who is the Mine Agent there. Matthew is working as a miner and his brothers, Thomas and John are engineers. Later that year he married Anne Weston Read.
1846: Slater’s Directory (Douglas) lists Captain Mathew Grose as the Agent to the Foxdale Mining Co. Adress given as Moore’s court, Market place. This is his father, but undoubtably both were still working closely. This is the year his father was dramatically dismissed from Foxdale Mines. The Crown Agent, John Taylor, then stepped in and gave him setts of land & he opened a fine granite quarry.
1846-1851: At some point adventuring, exploration and lead mining begins at Ballacorkish (Rushen Mines) on the hillside above Colby.
1851: The census shows Matthew Grose residing at Ballagawne in Rushen with wife, Annie, four of his children and a house servant. His occupation is given as Agent of Mines.
1852: The Brig Lily is shipwrecked on the islet of Kitterland. The following morning a salvage team go to save the cargo, but the gunpowder aboard explodes. Miners at Ballacorkish have their candles go out and are thrown over by the force of the explosion.
Manx Sun, Saturday, January 01, 1853; Page: 12
1855: Limited lead mining operations are still ongoing at Ballacorkish.
Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, April 11, 1855; Page: 7
1856: Captain Matthew Grose supervises all mines in the parish of Rushen
Manx Sun, Saturday, February 23, 1856; Page: 4, Courtesy of Manx National Heritage
1857: Matthew Grose inspects Peel Castle Mines
Manx Sun, Saturday, December 19, 1857; Page: 23
1861: The census shows Matthew Grose residing at Ballacorkish in Rushen with wife, Annie, eight of his children and a house servant. His occupation is given as Lead and Copper Mine Agent.
1862: In April, newspapers report on The South Foxdale Silver Lead Mining Company offering shares to purchase
“the lease of an extensive sett of richly mineralised property…”
“The sett having recently been surveyed by eminent mining engineers — Captain R. Rowe of the Laxey; Captain M. Grose, Isle of Man, whose report is endorsed…”
Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, April 16, 1862; Page: 4
Manx Sun, Saturday, April 19, 1862; Page: 12
The Manx Mines website states:
Work resumed when the mines were reopened in 1862 and developed on two lodes. Two shafts had been sunk 600 yards apart and the sett was worked as two separate mines which were known simply as North and South with no connections being made underground. The North, or Phosphate shaft (Rushen mine) was sunk to a depth of 360 feet (60 fathoms) with levels at 15, 30, 45 and 60 fathoms. The bottom levels were driven for 180 feet south and 780 feet north. The South shaft (Ballacorkish) was sunk to a depth of 450 feet (75 fathoms) with levels driven at 12, 24, 36, 60 and the bottom at 75 fathoms which had been driven to a length of 390 feet south and 1470 feet north. Both mines had to pump water out at the rate of about thirty gallons per minute but an adit level driven from the main road also helped to drain the mine and reduce the pumping cost.
Extract from: http://www.manxmines.com/BALLACORKISH.htm
1863: Thwaites Directory (Rushen) lists Captain Matthew Grose as the manager of South Foxdale Mines (Ballacorkish).
The South Foxdale Silver-Lead Mining Company have recently been established for the working of a set of mines lying south of the Foxdale mines. The set includes the Ballacorkish Mine and is upwards of four miles in extent. The capital of the company is £25,000 raised in shares of £6 each. The works comprise an edit level driven about 300 fathoms, which has yielded a considerable quantity of lead ore and blonde. About 200 fathoms from the entrance is a large east and west lode, from which, within a very small space, a cargo of rich silver ore was raised. About 80 fathoms in advance of this edit, two shafts have been sunk about 20 fathoms deep, and several parcels of ore raised; and a few fathoms from the present end of edit, several lumps of ore near the surface have been found in an east and west direction, yielding from 60 to 60 ounces of silver to the ton of ore.
“Captain Grose… has for years past entertained a high opinion of the property”
Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, July 01, 1863; Page: 2, Courtesy of Manx National Heritage
1863: Matthew is involved with other mining operations on the island.
“LEAD MINE AT KERROW – MOAR , LEZAYRE .— Some two years ago a company commenced operations in search of the metal in this district, and after bestowing considerable labour and expense , were so ill remunerated for their outlay and trouble that the project was by them abandoned. Not discouraged, however, by a past failure , a new company has been formed, and a number of miners and labourers are now engaged in sinking a shaft and making other necessary preparations for searching for hidden treasures. The new company have not taken to the old working, but opened a new one a little higher up the hill, though in the immediate neighbourhood of the old mine. We bave been informed, on reliable authority, that they have already, during their progress, obtained large Quantities of ore, with encouraging prospects before them. Under the mining skill of Captain Grose, there is no doubt that the resources of this new mine will be fully developed; and if successful ia the enterprise, it will prove a great boon to the labouring classes of this locality.”
Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, December 16, 1863; Page: 3
1868: Mining operations are going well at Ballacorkish.
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, May 09, 1868; Page: 6
His wife Anne died in May 1868.
He takes out a notice in the newspaper to state that he won’t be responsible for debts contracted by others.
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, June 13, 1868; Page: 8
In September 1868 he marries his second wife, a widow, Elizabeth Luff (nee Qualtrough).
In October 1868, two of his sons are in bother for stealing apples. Matthew Grose is referred to as:
“…the well-known manager of the Ballacorkish Mines, who is respected and beloved by all who know him.”
Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, October 14, 1868; Page: 3 (Courtesy of Manx National Heritage)
1870: Matthew issues several reports on progress at Ballacorkish.
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, January 29, 1870; Page: 3
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, February 12, 1870; Page: 3
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, April 09, 1870; Page: 3
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, April 23, 1870; Page: 3
Image of Ballacorkish Mines © (Posted with permission of image owner: Rob Cannell, Isle of Man)
1870 proves a dramatic year at Ballacorkish. Very shortly after the mining updates it appears in the newspapers that…
“some fresh arrangements have taken place”
“Major Thorpe who holds a large number of shares in the mines has taken the sole management of this important undertaking”
“Some slight difficulties arose in the fresh management of the affairs.”
The ‘slight difficulties’ being that Major Thorpe made allegations that five young men (including some relatives of Captain Grose) had threatened to “Cook his Goose” and shoot him!
Manx Sun, Saturday, May 14, 1870; Section: Front page, Page: 1
But was it fake news?
Isle of Man Times, Saturday, June 18, 1870; Page: 3
1871: The England census shows Matthew Grose (Mine Agent) with his second wife Elizabeth (nee Qualtrough). He is in Pontesbury, Shropshire, England visiting his older sister Emma Harrison (nee Grose) who is wife of Jonathan Harrison (Mine Agent).
He is also on the 1871 Isle of Man census at Ballakilpatrick road, Rushen with occupation given as Agent Lead Mines.
1872: Matthew Grose inspects a mine at Dalby, Isle of Man.
13 April 1872 – Isle of Man Times – Douglas, Isle of Man
1873: Newspapers report on the issuing of a prospectus for the Colby Mining Company limited
“for working silver lead mining properties in the Isle of Man, covering nearly 400 acres in the parish of Arboury. Capt. Rowe, of the Great Laxey Mines; Capt. Bowden formerly of the Foxdale Mine; and Capt. Grose formerly of the Ballacorkish Mine all report very favourably of the prospects of the mine.”
1875: Matthew Grose is appointed manager again.
“…a more competent gentleman can scarcely be found.”
Isle of Man Times, 13 March, 1875
1880: Matthew seems to be in some financial difficulties with his goods and effects being sold off.
Mona’s Herald, Wednesday, April 28, 1880; Page: 8
1881: The census shows him at The Level, Rushen with wife and children. He is Captain of Lead Mines, unemployed.
1886: Matthew Grose is ill and residing at Ballakillowey.
Isle of Man Examiner, Saturday, March 13, 1886; Page: 4
1887: Matthew passes away at Ballavayre (or Beal-e-Vere in the newspaper).
Manx Sun, Saturday, October 22, 1887; Page: 13, Courtesy of Manx National Heritage
These are just a handful of the references to Matthew Grose’s long mining career on the Isle of Man. In future posts, specific aspects might be revisited and discussed in more detail.
‘Thanks’, Resources and Further Reading:
Many thanks to iMuseum Newspapers & Publications for providing digital access to the Isle of Man newspapers (from 1792 to 1960). Images and text are shared on this blog in accordance with their policy of using & sharing for ‘non-commercial personal use’.
Also thanks to fellow researcher, Rob Cannell – between us we’ve found plenty of newspaper clippings!