BALDWIN RESERVOIR CONSTRUCTION & FLOODING OF ARDWHALLAN
‘The Cowleys of Ardwhallan, Isle of Man, certainly from an historical standpoint, are amongst the most notable Manx families and have been for 350 years. Ardwhallan sits in the parish of Braddon, with part of our old farm of more than 1800 acres, now under water with the 1906 construction of West Baldwin Reservoir. Braddan is the largest parish and – The Cowleys of Ardwhallan are listed in Thwaites Directory of 1863 as being in the Top 10 Largest Landowners.
Our Manx family ancestry traces back to 1698 with the birth of Thomas Cowley (Circa 1698 -1786) who married Alice Brew (C.1700 -1781). The Isle of man Historical Society Journal, published an article on our family tree, in the May and August 1988 issues and since then, through further research by Mrs.Lewthwaite of the Family Historical Society, we have been able to go back another generation to Patrick Cowleys’ parents, Thomas Cowley and Alice Brew, who were married circa 1719 at Kirk Braddan. Family names like Thomas, Patrick, Stanley, Robert, John, Barrie, Douglas Barbara, Isobel Harriet et al, keep re-occurring; and as I write this my Father who passed in 1989 was named Thomas: – His Father, [My Grandfather] was named Stanley: – His father [my Great Grandfather] was named Thomas and His Father [my Great Great Grandfather] named Thomas and so on. Throughout our ancestry, children were named likewise, [Myself – Robert and Brothers Barrie and John. As direct descendant lineage; my Father’s passing as eldest child; was faithfully recorded in the Isle of Man – Historical Society Journal – 1990 Volume 12 Number 3. – In this edition they recorded the words; ‘Thomas – who was loved by everyone who met him, passed away November 22 1989 – being the direct descendant of – ‘The Cowley’s of Ardwhallan’’. Further, on the Australian side of our proud Manx family; every primary house of each direct descendant, have all been named with a brass plaque ‘ARDWHALLAN’.
I remember as a child, Stanley [Dad’s Father] had this in brass on the family home at 17 Queen Street Coburg. Then my Father bought a farm [family tradition] and placed a brass plaque on the farm homestead. I remember as a small child of 5, getting my first history lesson on Ardwhallan Isle of Man as Dad explained this tradition to me. It then became a major goal to travel to Isle of Man and meet the family, which I have done many times. The son of Thomas Cowley (Circa 1698 -1786) and Alice Brew (C.1700 -1781), my [5 x times] Great Grandparents bought land in 1739 Coilley Foist (later – Ardwhallan) and Coilley Choldhill (Colden) Their Son Patrick Cowley of Coldin was born in 1721 and this land was left to Patrick as the eldest son by deed of settlement; – with the proviso to live there until the deaths Of Thomas and Alice Cowley.
Thomas and Alice are buried at Kirk.Braddan and from the 17th Century we have Thomas Cowley and Alice Brew, our serious farming side beginning with the birth  Patrick Cowley of Coldin, who brought Ardwhallan into the family in1732. Patrick’s son William Cowley married Jane Teare and acquired more land in 1829, divided later, between sons Thomas and Daniel.
My Father Thomas, gave me an indelible love for my island heritage on the Isle of Man, making me want to learn and know more about my roots, given we grew up on a small farm in Victoria, Australia. Patrick son of William married Margaret Brew on 9th December, 1747 at Kirk Braddan. The majority of our Cowley family are buried in Old Kirk Braddon Church below which dates to 1229 – rebuilt in 1774. A new Church was built nearby with Old Kirk Braddon kept for some special occasions. The old churchyard was full by 1848 so burials formally ceased in 1921.