COWES, ISLE OF WIGHT
Thomas Mann was Pastor of Sun Hill Congregational Church (then Union Road Chapel) for 42 years from 1822 to 1864. He retired in the same year as his third wife, Eliza, died; she was buried on 26th September 1864 elsewhere in the cemetery.
It was Thomas who performed the burial service of James Cribb, the first person buried in Northwood Cemetery in November 1856. Thomas was also an author, his Gift of Prayer received national acclaim; he also wrote a biography of Richard “Holy” Adams, an .earlier Minister at the Chapel and Barnabas –a manual for those who are cast down”
His writings show him as a gentle, uncritical soul with a love for his fellow man.
In 1860 it was reported that a male child born off the coast of Australia the previous year was baptised by Reverend Mann at Sun Hill, Cowes – being the first landfall for the Swedish ship Torefors. Witnesses of the ceremony included the Russian consul and two Swedish sea captains. Thomas conducted the service in German, in which he had become fluent preaching and assisting migrating Germans en route for America. The boy was christened Holger Australius.
For many years he lived at 7 Shooters Hill and, when he retired, a grant from the Pastor’s Retiring Fund allowed him to remain in the town when he moved to Northwood Place in Terminus Road.
His first wife Eunice, had tragically died in 1823 – the same year that his first child, Mary, was born. His second wife, Ann, was just 31 when she died in 1847. Their eldest son, the Reverend William Henry Mann, with his wife and child sailed to South Africa in 1864 as a missionary.
During his tenure the Chapel flourished. In 1828 side galleries are added to the chapel as the congregation grew and a debt of £240 outstanding from building costs was cleared.
In 1834 the Chapel was enlarged at a cost of £300. Later an organ was installed and gas lights replaced oil lamps. He was involved in the purchase of land on the opposite side of Union Road, where the Sunday School, with its distinctive large round window that later became the church we know today, was built in the same year that Thomas Mann died.
Thomas Mann.was buried on 7th May 1876 in plot 8, grave number 3675.