The Manx Cad
Written by John Cannan
The remarkable story of Alfred Curphey, Squire of Ballamoar
“Upon returning from a trip to America Lord Vivian found that his wife was living in the Isle of Man with Alfred Curphey.”
The Manx Cad, page 25
Unusually for a Manx book most of the action doesn't happen on the Isle of Man. Curphey was a traveller, visiting various states of America, Mexico and Egypt, usually by the most up-to-date means and staying in first-class hotels. He rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous including the composer Giacomo Puccini and the writer Agatha Christie. Almost always such luxury was paid for by someone else's wife.
He bought Ballamoar from the Isle of Man Bank, knocked it down and built something grander. He was then given the unofficial title of Squire by the Ramsey Courier; not at all bad for the son of a widowed housekeeper whose husband had died in a lunatic asylum. Locals got used to seeing Curphey's exotic visitors in the town, possibly being chauffeured in his Brasier car, one of the first cars on the island. And yet Curphey had no reliable income. His money came from speculation and sponging.
Curphey wanted to cut a dash and didn't seem to mind how he did it. Whether he was providing tea for groups of local Manx schoolchildren, or working as a British secret agent, or seducing the wife of a robber baron, Curphey got noticed. He may have been unscrupulous to the point of villainy but he had a very interesting life.
On the Making of the Book
We always like our books to be well illustrated and this was something of a challenge for The Manx Cad.
To start with, there is only one known photograph of the man himself, and it's not a very good one. Having said that, the slightly shadowy picture which appears on the front cover looming over two of Curphey's conquests is perhaps indicative of his shady character.
Old photographs of Ballamoar were kindly loaned by local collectors, and the book's author, John Cannan, spent a lot of time chasing illustrations which helped to bring the Manx Cad's unusual lifestyle to life. A particular favourite of the publisher is a photograph of a first-class cabin on board the SS Heliopolis. Later called SS Royal George the ship was commissioned by a firm which included Alfred Curphey as one of its directors.
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