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Pioneering journalists honoured for role in creating island’s democracy

Three pioneering island journalists are to be honoured for their role in creating its modern democracy.

Isle of Man journalists Robert Fargher, James Brown and Samuel Norris are to be included on the Manx patriots’ roll of honour for their role in shaping the island’s legislature, the Tynwald, in the 19th century.

The Tynwald, pictured below, claims to be the oldest continuous parliamentary body in the world dating back more than 1,000 years, but only allowed elected members for the first time in 1866.

To mark the event’s 150th anniversary, Speaker Steve Rodan told the Tynwald its honours committee wanted to honour three “outstanding individuals who in their own way were instrumental in advancing the cause of Manx democracy”.


Robert Fargher, born in 1803, was the founder of the Mona’s Herald, which campaigned for political reform on the island.

He was imprisoned several times for his views, but died three years short of seeing his ambition achieved.

Liverpool-born James Brown moved to the island in his early 30s, establishing the Isle of Man Times in 1861 and used it to express his forthright views calling strongly for a democratically elected House of Keys.

He was imprisoned in 1866 for libel after likening members of the House to donkeys.

He served only six weeks of a six month sentence when the court of the Queen’s Bench ruled the Keys did not have the authority to imprison him, his appeal funded by public support.

Samuel Norris moved to the island in 1894 and was also a journalist who was vocal in his support for the reform of the legal system.

The Isle of Man is a self-governing Crown dependency, although foreign relations and defence remain the responsibility of the British government.


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  • June 30, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    I suspect a much more recent writer in the same mould will never be afforded a similar honour.
    Google the name of my late good friend and fellow radical journalist Roly Drower, along with that of Albert Gubay, and you may see why.

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