Otiwell Corbet, Trader

The story of Otiwell Corbet, a Manx migrant, illustrates the multi-cultural nature of medieval Chester.

Many of medieval Chester’s Manx migrant community settled in the Watergate area. Otiwell Corbet, originally from the Isle of Man, lived and worked in the Watergate area in the later fifteenth century. He traded mainly in fish, with links to Ireland and the Isle of Man. With his growing success and prosperity, Otiwell was drawn into the circle of the city’s most powerful men – as well as the bitter feuds which divided the civic elite. When Otiwell was attacked in Watergate Street by one leading merchant in 1501, he defended himself with a ‘skeyne’, a type of knife used by Irish foot soldiers as one of their chief weapons. He inflicted a fatal blow. A Manx migrant in an English city, wielding an Irish weapon – evidence of the many cross-cultural links in Chester in the Middle Ages.