Britannia, by William Camden

A new Survey and Description of the Isle of Man.

Name. Big T THE Isle of Man, very probably had the Name it goes by now, from the Saxon word Saxon mang, Among, as lying, almost at an equal distance, between the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Hence it is, that the neighbouring nations use the expressions Mancks-men, Mancks-Language, &c.

Extent and Situation. The extent and situation of this Island is exact enough according to Mr.  Camden, and need not here be repeated. Let this only be added, That Bishop’s-Court, which is near the middle of the Island, lieth in the fifty fourth degree, sixteen minutes, of Northern Latitude. It lies so directly in the chops of the Chanel that runs betwixt Scotland and Ireland, that if this Island did not very much break the force of the Tides and westerly winds, it might be much worse for that part of England which lies opposite to it.

The Soil. The Soil in this, as in most other Places, is very different. The Lime-stone ground to the South, is as good as can be desir’d. The Mountains are cold, and consequently less fruitful, here as well as elsewhere. The Valleys betwixt them afford as good Pasture, Hay, and Corn, as in most other places. Towards the North indeed there is a dry, barren, sandy earth, but then this might, and no doubt in time will be help’d, when once the Husbandman comes to know the value of Marle (of which there is good store in the Northern Parishes) and can be perswaded to make use of it, which yet he is not willing to do; finding the Improvements made by Liming the ground to yield a present great advantage, with less charge than that of Marling.

Curragh. A large tract of Land call’d the Curragh, runs the breadth of the Isle betwixt Ballaugh and Ramsea. It was formerly a Bog, but since it has been drain’d, it is one of the richest parts of the Island; and though the Peat is six, eight, ten, foot deep, yet by Husbandry and burning they have got a Surface which will bear the Plow. And the same place supplies the neighbourhood both with Bread and Fuel. In this place, have been found very large Trees of Oak and Fir, some two foot and a half Diameter and forty foot long, suppos’d by the Inhabitants to have lain here since the Deluge. tsunami earthquake The Oaks and Firs do not lie promiscuously, but where there are plenty of one sort, there are generally few or none of the other. In some places of this Tract, there is a remarkable Layer of Peat for some miles together, of two or three foot thick under a Layer of Gravel, Clay, or Earth, two, three, and even four foot thick.

Mountains. A high Ridge of Mountains runs almost the length of the Island, which supply the Inhabitants quite round with Water and Fire. Abundance of little Rivulets and Springs of excellent Water (by the sides of which the Inhabitants have for the most part built their Houses) run hence to the Sea, and the sides of the Mountains are stored with Heath, and an excellent Peat for Fuel. Snafield. The highest of these Mountains is call’d Snafield: it’s heighth, as taken by an exact Barometer, being about five hundred and eighty yards; the Mercury subsiding two Inches and one tenth. From the Top of this Mountain they have a fair Prospect of England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.

The Air. The Air is sharp and cold in Winter; but then this must be understood of such Places only as are expos’d to the Winds, which, considering the Situation, must needs be very boisterous. But in all such Places as have a natural shelter, or an artificial from Trees, the Air is as mild as in Lancashire; the Frosts being short, and the Snow not lying long on the ground, especially near the Sea.

This is plain from the Improvements that have been made, in such places; where their Orchards and Gardens produce as good Fruit, and Necessaries for the Kitchen, as in any of the neighbouring Countries. But if the winds be frequent and sometimes troublesome, they are also wholsome and drive away noxious Vapours; so that it has been truly observ’d, that the Plague was never remember’d to be here, and the Inhabitants, for the most part, live to a good old age.

Cattle. The Black Cattle and Horses are generally less than those of England; but as the Land improves, so do these, and of late there have been some bred here as large as in other places. They have indeed a small hardy breed of Horses in the Mountains, very much coveted by Gentlemen abroad for their Children; but besides those, they breed Horses of a size fit either for the Plow or the Saddle.

Manx ponies Ferae Natura In the Mountains they have also a small breed of Swine call’d Purrs, or wild Swine: not that they are Feræ Naturâ or wild (for every Man knows his own) but because they are bred and live continually in the Mountains without coming to their Houses, and both these and the wild Sheep are counted incomparable meat. Amongst the Sheep they have some call’d Loughtan of a Buff colour: the Wool is fine, and makes a pretty Cloth without any dye.

Noxious Animals. There are several noxious Animals, such as Badgers, Foxes, Otters, Filmerts, Moles, Hedge-hogs, Snakes, Toads, &c. which the Inhabitants know no more of, than their names; as also several Birds, such as the Woodpecker, the Jay, the Maup, &c. And it is not long, since a person more fanciful, than prudent or kind to his Country, brought in a breed of Magpies, which have increas’d incredibly, so as to become a nusance. And it is not two years, since some body brought in Frogs, which they say increase very fast.

Eagles and Hawks. eyrie falcons There is one Airy of Eagles, and at least two of Hawks of a mettled kind: for which reason it was that Henry the fourth of England, in his Letters Patents of the Grant of this Isle to Sir John Stanley, first King and Lord of Man of that name and Family, did oblige him, in lieu of all other Services, to present him and his Successors, upon the day of their Coronation, with a cast of Faulcons.

Quarries of Stone. There are not many Quarries of good Stone: One there is near Castle-town, which yields a tolerable good black Marble, fit for Tomb-stones and for Flagging of Churches; of which some Quantities have of late been sent to London for those Uses.

Here are also good Rocks of Lime Stone; which, being burnt with Peat or Coal, is become a great Improvement of barren Lands. These Stones, especially about Bally-lool, are full of petrify’d Shells of different kinds, and such as are not now to be found on these Coasts.

There are some few Rocks about Peel of a red Free-stone, capable of being form’d into regular shapes; but the greatest part of the Quarries are a broken Rag-Stone, sometime rising in course uneven Flags, or in irregular Lumps, fit only for coarse Walls, with which nevertheless they make a shift to build good substantial Houses; tho’ an English Mason wou’d not know how to handle them, or wou’d call their Walls, as one merrily did, a Causeway rear’d up upon an edge.

blue Here are also a good many Quarries of a blew, thin, light Slate, one of the best coverings for Houses; of which good Quantities are exported. And at a place call’d the Spanish-Head, there is a Rock, out of which are wrought long Beams (if one may use that expression) of tough Stone, fit for Mantle-trees of twelve or fifteen foot long, and strong enough to bear the weight of the highest Stack of Chimneys.

Mines. Mines of Coal there are none, tho’ several attempts have been made to find them. But of Lead, Copper, and Iron there are several, and some of them have been wrought to good advantage, particularly the Lead; of which Ore many hundred Tuns have of late been smelted, and exported. As for the Copper and Iron Ores, they are certainly better than at present they are thought to be; having been often try’d and approv’d of by Men skill’d in those matters. However, either thro’ the ignorance of the undertakers, or by the unfaithfulness of the workmen, or for some other cause, no great matter has yet been made of them.

Kings and Lords of Man. This Island has had many Masters. They have an old Tradition, and it has got a Place in the Records, that one Mananan Mac-Lir a Necromancer was the first Proprietor, and that for a long time he kept the Island under Mists, that no stranger cou’d find it, till St. Patrick broke his charms. But a late Irish * * Flaharti, p.172.Antiquary gives a particular account of this Mananan, viz. That his true name was Orbsenius, the Son of Alladius a Prince in Ireland; That he was a famous Merchant, and, from his trading betwixt Ireland and the Isle of Man, had the name of Mananan; and Mac-Lir, i.e. the Son of the Sea, from his great skill in Navigation; and, that he was at last slain at Moycullin in the County of Gallway in Ireland. And it is not improbable, that the Story of his keeping the Island under a Mist, might rise from this, that he was the only person, in those days, that had a Commerce with them.

The Norwegians conquer’d this, when they made themselves Masters of the Western Isles, which they sent Kings to govern, who generally chose the Isle of Man for their place of Residence. This continued till 1266, when there was a very solemn Agreement made betwixt Magnus the fourth of Norway, and Alexander the third of Scotland; by which, this Isle, amongst the rest, was surrender’d to the Scots for four thousand Marks to be paid in four years, and one hundred Marks yearly. Pursuant to which, Alexander drives out the King of Man, A.D. 1270. and unites it to Scotland.

In 1312. there is a second Agreement, betwixt Hacquin the fifth and Robert the first of Scotland; and in 1426. a third Agreement (all which are set down at large in Torfeus his History of the ¦ ¦ Hafniæ 1697.Orcades.) But before this last Agreement, the Island was in possession of John Lord Stanley and of Man, who had it given him by Henry the fourth, A.D. 1405. However, for as much as by the last Agreement betwixt the Kings of Norway and Scotland, the latter claimed a right to this Island, the Lords of Man were obliged to keep a constant standing Army and Garrisons for the Defence of it, till the Reign of King James the first of England. And in this Honourable House it has continued ever since, except for twelve years during the Civil Wars, when it was given by the Parliament to the Lord Fairfax; but return’d to its ancient Lords at the Restoration.

Tho’ this Island (as the Lord Cook says) be no parcel of the Realm of England; yet it is part of the Dominions of the King of England, to whom therefore Allegiance is reserv’d in all publick Oaths administer’d here.

The Lords of it have for a long time wav’d the title of Kings, and now are only stil’d Lords of Man and the Isles; though they still have most of the Regalia, as the giving the final Assent to all new Laws, and the power of pardoning offenders, of changing the sentence of Death into Banishment, of appointing and displacing the Governour and Officers; with a Right to all Forfeitures for Treason, Felony, Felo de se, &c.suicide

The manner of holding a Tinwald. The manner of the Lord of Man’s investiture, and receiving the homage of his people at his first accession, was this; He was to sit on the Tinwald-Hill, in the open air, in a chair of state, with a royal cloth or canopy over his head; his face to the east (towards a Chapel eastward of the hill, where there are publick Prayers and a Sermon on these occasions) and his Sword before him, holden with the point upward. His Barons, viz. the Bishop and Abbot, with the rest in their degrees, sat beside him; his Beneficed men, Council, and Deemsters sat before him. His Gentry and Yeomanry in the third degree, and the twenty four Keys in their order, and the Commons, stood without the circle, with three Clerks in their surplices.

Governour. The Lord sends a Governour, Lieutenant or Captain, who constantly resides at Castle-town, where he has a handsome house, salary, and other conveniences befitting his station. He is to take care that all Officers, Civil and Military, discharge their trusts and duty. He is Chancellor, and to him there is an Appeal in matters of Right and Wrong, and from him to the Lord, and finally (if occasion be) to the King of England in Council.

The Governour’s Oath is something peculiar. He is sworn to do right betwixt the Lord and his people, as uprightly as the Staff (the Ensign of his authority, then in his hand) now standeth, that it may be a constant Monitor to him of the obligations he lies under.

Inhabitants. The Inhabitants are an orderly, civiliz’d people, and courteous enough to strangers; and if they have been otherwise represented, it has been by those that knew them not, or perhaps it is because they have sense enough to see when strangers (who are too apt to have a mean opinion of them) would go about to impose upon them, which they are not willing to suffer, if they can help it.

They have ever had a profound respect for their Lords, especially for those of the House of Derby, who have always treated them with great regard and tenderness. At the same time they are jealous of their ancient Laws, Tenures and Liberties. They have a great many good Qualities. They are generally very charitable to the poor, and hospitable to strangers, especially in the country, where the people, if a stranger come to their houses, would think it an unpardonable Crime not to give him a share of the best they have themselves to eat or drink. They have a significant proverb (which generally shews the Genius of a people) to this purpose, Tra ta yn derrey Vought cooney lesh bought elley, ta see hene garaghtee, i.e. when one poor man relieves another, God himself rejoyces at it; or, as it is in Mancks, Laughs outright.

They have generally hated Sacrilege to such a degree, that they do not think a Man can wish a greater curse to a Family, than in these words; Clogh ny Killagh ayns Corneil dty Hie Moar, i.e. May a stone of the Church be found in the corner of thy Dwelling-house. And though the Covetousness of some have taken advantage of the former great Poverty of the Clergy, and of the little power they had to defend themselves in the Bishop’s absence from his Diocese, to introduce Prescriptions (which yet, if the observations of the people are just, they have no great reason to boast of;) yet the piety of some others has led them to fling up such Prescriptions, which are so very injurious to the Rights of the Church, and of so evil an example, and an handle for others to attempt the same injustice.

The Inhabitants are laborious enough; and those who think them otherwise, because Improvements go so slowly on, do not see the difficulties that too many of them have to struggle with. Act of Settlement. Indeed, the present Lord of Man has, to his great honour, remov’d one of the heaviest discouragements to Industry and future Improvements. His Lordship, at his accession, found his people complaining, as their Ancestors had been for more than one hundred years, of the uncertainty of their Holdings; they claiming an ancient Tenure which they call’d, The Tenure of the Straw, by which they might leave their Estates to Posterity under certain Rents, Fines and Services, which his Officers could not allow of, because of the many breaks that had been made by Leases, &c. in that manner of Holding. He therefore appointed Commissioners to treat with his people in his presence, and at last came to a Resolution to restore them by a publick Act of Tinwald to a Tenure of Inheritance, under certain Fines. &c. And the very great improvements which have since been made, shew plainly, that there wanted such a Settlement to encourage Industry, and the present and future Ages will have reason to remember it with the greatest sense of Gratitude.

Language. But to return to the Inhabitants; whose Language is the Erst, or a Dialect of that spoken in the Highlands of Scotland, with a mixture of some words of Greek, Latin, and Welsh; and many of English Original, to express the names of things which were not formerly known to the people of this Island; whose ancient simplicity of living and speaking appears in many Instances. Thus, for example; they do not generally reckon the Time in Mancks, by the hours of the day, but by the Tra Shirveish, i.e. the Service-time, viz. nine in the morning or three in the evening, an hour, two hours, before or after, Service-time, &c.

In this Language, the substantive is generally put before the Adjective, and many things which in the English Language are deriv’d from the Latin or Greek, and little understood by those that know nothing of those Languages, in Mancks are expressed by a Periphrasis easily understood by the common people.

It has been often said, that the Holy Bible was by Bishop Philips’s care translated into the Mancks Language; but, upon the best enquiry that can be made, there was no more attempted by him than a translation of the Common Prayer, which is still extant, but of no use to the present Generation. The New Testament is at present in the hands of one who is master of the Mancks Language, and very well qualified to translate if from the Original, which, it is hop’d, will one day be a blessing to this country.

In their Habit and manner of Living, they imitate the English; only the middle and poorer sort amongst the Men, usually wear a kind of Sandal, which they call Kerranes, made of untann’d Leather; and which, being cross-laced from the Toe to the upper part of the Instep, and gather’d about the Ankle, makes a very cheap, convenient, and not unhandsome shoe.

The Island is certainly more populous now than ever it was: there being at present about twenty thousand Natives, besides Strangers; which obliges them every where to enlarge their Churches; so that they are ten times as many as in Bede’s time, when they were but about three or four hundred families.

Division of the Island. The Division of the Island as to its Civil concerns, is, into six Sheadings; every Sheading has its proper Coroner, who, in the nature of a Sheriff, is entrusted with the peace of his District, secures Criminals, brings them to justice, &c.

Besides this, there are in every Sheading as many Moars and Captains, as there are Parishes. These Moars are the Lord’s Bayliffs for one year, and are answerable for all the Rents in their respective Divisions; and the Captains are entrusted with the care of the Militia or Train-bands.

The Island as to Ecclesiastical concerns is divided into seventeen Parishes, every Church bearing the name of the Saint to which it is dedicated, as Maliew to St. Lupus, &c.

Towns. The principal Towns are only four, which are all situate near the Sea; each of them has its Harbour, and a Castle or Fort to defend it.

Castle-town. Castle-town, to the south, (call’d also Castle-Rushin, from a very ancient, but yet entire beautiful Castle, built of a coarse, but for ever durable marble,) is the first town of the Island. Here, the Governour resides, as do most of the Lord’s Officers. Here, the Chancery Court is kept every first Thursday of the month; and here also is held the Head-Court or Gaol-delivery, twice a year. This Castle is said to have been built by Guttred King of Man about the year 960; and it is very probable, for about that time the Norwegians began to be troublesome to all places, by their Piracies.

Peel. Peel, to the west, call’d by the Norwegians Holm-Town, from a small Island close by it, in which stands the Cathedral dedicated to St. Germain, the first Bishop of this Isle. This little Isle, naturally very strong, was made much more so by art; Thomas, Earl of Derby encompassing it with a Wall, Towers and other Fortifications, and making it in those days impregnable. At present there is a small garrison kept there, and it is the Prison for all Offenders against the Ecclesiastical Laws, whether for Incest, Adultery, &c. or Disobedience; and is call’d St. Germain’s prison.

Douglass. Douglass, to the east, is much the richest town, the best market and the most populous, of any in the whole Island. As it has of late years increas’d its trade, it has done so in Buildings. There is a neat Chapel, a publick School, and several good houses, and excellent Vaults and Cellars for Merchants goods; but any body that sees it, would wish that Authority had interpos’d to have made the Buildings and Streets more regular. The harbour, for Vessels of a tolerable burthen, is the safest in the Island; the Ships lying in it, as quiet as in a Dock or Basin.

Near to Douglass, stood formerly a Nunnery; now a good house pleasantly seated and shelter’d with Trees.

Ramsea. Ramsea to the north, is most noted for a spacious Bay, in which the greatest Fleet may ride at anchor with safety enough from all winds but the north-east, and in that case they need not be embay’d. This town standing upon a Beach of loose sand or shingle, is in danger, if not timely prevented, of being wash’d away by the sea.

Bally Salley. Bally Salley, though not usually reckon’d amongst the towns, is yet a considerable inland village. Here formerly stood the Abbey of Ryshen, founded Ann. Dom. 1134.Ex MS. antiq. upon Lands given by Olavus King of Man; the ruins of which do still remain. This was the latest dissolv’d Monastery in these Kingdoms.

The rest of the Inhabitants have their houses built in the most convenient part of their Estates, for water, and shelter. The better sort have good substantial houses of stone, and cover’d with slate; others with thatch, which they have found a way to secure against the winds (that in winter are boisterous enough) by ropes of straw, very readily made, and neatly cross’d like a net one over another, which no storms can injure.

Improvement of Land. The way of improving their Lands, is either by Lime, by sea-wreck, or by folding their sheep and cattle in the night, and during the heat of the day, in little Inclosures rais’d every year to keep them within a certain compass; which in about fourteen days time is so enrich’d with the urine and dung of the cattle, as to yield a plentiful crop. These little hedges are very easily rais’d by a spade peculiar to the country; and being burn’d by the heat of the sun, and flung down before seed-time, yield very good corn, either wheat, barly, rye, or oats.barley

Oats is the common Bread of the Country, made into thin cakes, as in the Fell-country in Lancashire.

Horizontal Mills. Many of the Rivers (or rather Rivulets) not having water sufficient to drive a mill, the greatest part of the year; necessity has put them upon an invention of a cheap sort of mill, which, as it costs very little, is no great loss though it stands six months in the year. The Water-wheel, about six foot Diameter, lies Horizontal, consisting of a great many hollow ladles, against which the water, brought down in a trough, strikes forcibly, and gives motion to the upper stone, which by a Beam and Iron is join’d to the center of the water wheel. Not but that they have other Mills both for corn and fulling of cloth, where they have water in summer more plentiful.

Commodities. The Commodities of this Island are Black-cattle (of which six hundred, by the Act of Navigation, may be imported yearly into England) Lambs wool, fine and coarse Linen, and coarse woollen cloth, hides, skins, honey and tallow, and heretofore some corn and beer, which now, since the great resort of strangers, are little enough for their own use.

Herrings. But formerly Herrings were the great and staple commodity of this Isle, of which (within the memory of some now living) near twenty thousand Barrels have been exported in one year to France and other places.

The time of Herring-fishing is betwixt July and All-hallow-tide.

The whole fleet of boats (every boat being about the burthen of two tons) are under the Government of the Water-bayliff on shore, and under one call’d a Vice-Admiral at sea, who, by the signal of a Flag, directs them when to shoot their nets, &c. There is due to the Lord of the Isle, as a Royalty, ten shillings out of every boat that takes above ten Mease (every Mease being five hundred herrings,) and one shilling to the Water-bayliff.

In acknowledgement of this great blessing, and that God may be prevail’d with to continue it (this being the great support of the place) the whole Fleet do duly attend Divine Service on the shore, at the several Ports, every evening before they go to sea; the respective Incumbents, on that occasion, making use of a Form of Prayer, Lessons, &c. lately composed for that purpose. Besides this, there is a Petition inserted in the Litany, and used in the publick Service throughout the year, for the blessings of the Sea, on which the comfortable subsistence of so many depends. And the Law provideth, that every boat pay Tythe-Fish, without any pretence to Prescription.

Trade. The Trade of this Island is very much improv’d of late years, foreign Merchants having found it their interest to touch here, and leave part of their Cargoes, either to bring the remainder under the custom of Buttleridge, or because the Duties of the whole would be too great a sum to be paid at once in England; or, lastly, to lie here for a market, the Duties and Cellarage being so small.

The ancient method of Commerce, which was, to have four sworn Merchants, who were to agree with the foreign Merchant for the price of the Goods imported, as also for the price of the Commodities the Island had to spare, which both sides were bound to stand to, is entirely laid aside.

Religion. The Religion and Worship is exactly the same with that of the Church of England. When converted to Christianity. The Isle of Man was converted to the Christian Faith by St. Patrick about the year 440, at which time the Bishoprick of Man was erected; St. Germain, to whose name and memory the Cathedral is dedicated, being the first Bishop of Man, who, with his Successors, had this Island only for their Diocese, till the Norwegians had conquer’d the Western Isles, and soon after Man, which was about the beginning of the eleventh Century. Insulae It was about that time, that the Insulæ Sodorenses, being thirty two (so call’d from the Bishoprick of Sodor erected in one of them, viz. the Isle of Hy) were united to Man, and from that time, the Bishops of the United Sees were stil’d Sodor & Man, and sometimes Man & Insularum, and had the Archbishop of Drontheim (stil’d Nidorensis) for their Metropolitan. And this continu’d, till the Island was finally annex’d to the Crown of England, when Man had its own Bishops again, who stil’d themselves variously, sometimes Bishops of Man only, sometimes Sodor & Man, and sometimes Sodor de Man; giving the name of Sodor, to a little Isle, before mention’d, lying within a musket-shot of the main-land, call’d by the Norwegians Holm, and by the Inhabitants Peel, in which stands the Cathedral. For, in these express words, in an instrument yet extant, Thomas Earl of Derby and Lord of Man, A.D. 1505. confirms to Huan Hesketh Bishop of Sodor, all the Lands, &c. anciently belonging to the Bishops of Man, viz. Ecclesiam Cathedralem Sancti Germani in Holm, Sodor vel Pele vocatum, Ecclesiamque Sancti Patricii ibidem, & Locum præfatum in quo præfatæ Ecclesiæ sitæ sunt. This Cathedral was built by Simon Bishop of Sodor, who dy’d A.D. 1245, and was there buried.

The Reformation was begun something later here than in England, but so happily carried-on, that there has not for many years been one Papist a native, in the Island; nor indeed are there Dissenters of any denomination, except a family or two of Quakers, unhappily perverted during the late Civil Wars; and even some of these have of late been baptiz’d into the Church.

Bishop’s Palace. The Bishop has his residence in the Parish of Kirk Michael, where he has a good House and Chapel (if not stately, yet convenient enough,) large gardens and pleasant walks, shelter’d with groves of Fruit and Forest-trees (which shews what may be done in that sort of improvement,) and so well situated, that from thence it is easy to Visit any part of his Diocese, and to return the same day.

Bishop. The Bishops of Man are Barons of the Isle. They have their own Courts for their Temporalties, where one of the Deemsters of the Isle sits as Judge.

This peculiar privilege the Bishop has at this day, that if any of his Tenants be guilty of a capital crime, and is to be try’d for his life, the Bishop’s Steward may demand him from the Lord’s Bar, and try him in the Bishop’s Court by a Jury of his own Tenants, and, in case of conviction, his Lands are forfeited to the Bishop, but his goods and person are at the Lord’s disposal.

The Abbot of Rushen had the same privilege, and so has the Steward of those Lands to this day.

By whom nam’d. When the Bishoprick falls void, the Lord of the Isle names a person, and presents him to the King of England for his Royal Assent, and then to the Archbishop of York to be Consecrated. After which, he becomes subject to him as his Metropolitan, and both he and the Proctors for the Clergy are constantly summon’d with the rest of the Bishops and Clergy of that Province to Convocation; the Diocese of Man, together with the Diocese of Chester, being by an Act of Parliament of the 33d of Hen. 8. (confirm’d by another of the 8th of James 1.) annex’d unto the Metropolitical See of York.

How the Bishops of Man were chosen before, we find in a Bull of Pope Celestine to Furnes-Abbey,Ex Chart. MS. Mon. Furnes, in Offic. Canc’ Duc’ Lanc’. In eligendo Episcopum Insularum, Libertatem quam Reges earum bonæ memoriæ Olauos & Godredus filius ejus Monasterio vestro contulerunt, sicut in Autenticis eorum continetur, Autoritate vobis Apostolica confirmamus. Dat. Romæ, 10 Kal. Julii, Pontificatus nostri 4. i.e. In chusing a Bishop of the Isles, we do, by our Apostolical Authority, confirm the liberty, which the Kings of the Isles, Olavus and Godred his son, vested in your Monastery, as it is express’d in their original Grants. Dated at Rome, on the 10th of the Kalends of July, and the 4th year of our Pontificate.

Archdeacon. The Archdeacon, in all inferior causes, has alternate Jurisdiction with the Bishop. He holds his Courts either in person or by his Official, as the Bishop does by himself and Vicars-general; which are two, for the North and South division of the Isle.

Clergy. The Clergy are generally Natives; and indeed it cannot well be otherwise, none else being qualify’d to preach and administer the Sacraments in the Mancks language; for the English is not understood by two thirds at least of the Island, although there is an English School in every Parish; so hard it is to change the Language of a whole country.

Livings. The Livings are generally small. The two Parsonages are indeed worth near sixty pounds a year, but the Vicarages, the Royal Bounty included, are not worth above twenty five Pounds, with which notwithstanding the frugal Clergy have maintain’d themselves, and sometimes pretty numerous Families, very decently. Of late, indeed, the great Resort of Strangers has made Provisions of all sorts as dear again as formerly.

Royal Bounty. That through the Poverty of the Place the Church might never want fit persons to perform Divine Offices, and to instruct the People in necessary Truths and Duties; the pious and worthy Doctor Isaac Barrow, soon after the Restoration, being then Bishop of Man, did so effectually make use of his Interest with His Majesty King Charles the second, and other noble Benefactors, that he obtain’d a Grant of one hundred pounds a year, payable out of the Excise for ever, for the better maintenance of the poor Vicars and Schoolmasters of his Diocese. And the Right Honourable Charles Earl of Derby, being pleas’d to make a long Lease of the Impropriations of the Isle in his hands, which, either as Lord or Abbot, were one third of the whole Tythes; the good Bishop found means to pay for the said Lease, which (besides an old Rent and Fine, still payable to the Lord of the Isle) may be worth to the Clergy and Schools about one hundred Pounds more.

Besides this, he collected amongst the English Nobility and Gentry (whose Names and Benefactions are Register’d and preserv’d in Publick Tables in every Parish) six hundred Pounds, the Interest of which maintains an Academic Master; and, by his own private Charity, he purchas’d two Estates in Land worth twenty Pounds a year, for the support of such young Persons as shou’d be design’d for the Ministry. So that the name and good Deeds of that excellent Prelate, will be remember’d with gratitude, as long as any sense of Piety remains amongst them.

Ecclesiastical Discipline. There is nothing more commendable than the Discipline of this Church.

Publick Baptism is never administer’d but in the Church; and Private as the Rubrick directs.

Good care is taken to fit young Persons for Confirmation, which all are pretty careful to prepare themselves for, lest the want of being Confirm’d shou’d hinder their future marriage; Confirmation, Receiving the Lord’s Supper, &c. being a necessary Qualification for that State.

Offenders of all Conditions, without distinction, are oblig’d to submit to the Censures appointed by the Church, whether for Correction or Example (commutation of Penances being abolish’d by a late Law, and they generally do it patiently.) Such as do not submit (which hitherto have been but few) are either imprison’d or excommunicated; under which Sentence if they continue more than forty days, they are deliver’d over to the Lord of the Isle, both Body and Goods. In the mean time, all Christians are frequently warn’d not to have any unnecessary Conversation with them, which the more thoughtful People are careful to observe.

The Bishop and his Vicar-General, having a Power to commit such to Prison as refuse to appear before them, there is seldom occasion of passing this Sentence for Contumacy only, so that People are never Excommunicated, but for Crimes that will shut them out of Heaven; which makes this Sentence more dreaded.

Before the beginning of Lent (which is here observ’d with great strictness) there is held a Court of Correction, where Offenders, and such as have neglected to perform their Censures, are presented, and if there are many, or their Crimes of a heinous nature, they are call’d together on Ash-Wednesday, and after a Sermon explaining the Design of Church-Censures, and the Duty of such as are so unhappy as to fall under them, their several Censures are appointed, which they are to perform during Lent, that they may be receiv’d into the Church before Easter.

Penance. The manner of doing Penance is Primitive and Edifying. The Penitent clothed in a Sheet, &c. is brought into the Church immediately before the Litany, and there continues till the Sermon be ended; after which, and a proper Exhortation, the Congregation is desir’d to pray for him in a Form provided for that purpose: And thus he is dealt with, till by his Behaviour he has given some Satisfaction that all this is not feign’d; which being certify’d to the Bishop, he orders him to be receiv’d, by a very Solemn Form for Receiving Penitents, into the Peace of the Church.

But if Offenders, after having once done Publick Penance, do relapse into the same or other scandalous Vices, they are not presently permitted to do Penance again, though they shou’d desire it ever so earnestly, till they shall have given better Proofs of their resolution to amend their Lives. During which time, they are not permitted to go into any Church in time of Divine Service, but stand at the Church-Door, until their Pastor, and other grave Persons are convinced by their Conversation, that there are hopes of a lasting Reformation, and certify the same to the Bishop.

There is here one very wholsom Branch of Church-Discipline; the want of which in many other places, is the occasion that infinite Disorders go unpunish’d; namely, the enjoyning Offenders Purgation by their own Oaths, and the Oaths of Compurgators (if need be) of known Reputation, where the Fame is common, the Crime scandalous, and yet not Proof enough to convict them: and this is far from being complain’d of as a grievance. For if common Fame has injur’d any person, he has an opportunity of being restor’d to his good name (unless upon Trial the Court finds just cause to refuse it,) and a severe Penalty is laid upon any that shall after this revive the Scandal. On the other hand, if a man will not swear to his own Innocency, or cannot prevail with others to believe him, it is fit he shou’d be treat’d as guilty, and the Scandal remov’d by a proper Censure.

Convocation. In order to secure the Discipline of the Church, the Bishop is to call a Convocation of his Clergy, at least once a year. The day appointed by Law is Thursday in Whitson-week, (if the Bishop is in the Isle;) where he has an opportunity of enquiring how the Discipline of the Church has been observ’d, and, by the advice of his Clergy, of making such Constitutions as are necessary for its better Government.

Laws. The Laws of the Island are excellently well suited to the Circumstances of the Place, and the condition of the People. Breast-Laws. Anciently, the Deemsters (i.e. the Temporal Judges) determin’d most causes (which were then of no great moment, the Inhabitants being mostly Fishermen,) either as they could remember the like to have been judg’d before, or according as they deem’d most just in their own Consciences; from whence came the name of Breast-Laws.

But as the Island every day improv’d, under Sir John Stanley and his Successors; so they, from time to time, observing the many Inconveniences of giving Judgment from Breast Laws, order’d, That all Cases of Moment or Intricacy decided in their Courts, should be written down for Precedents, to be a Guide when the same or the like cases should happen for the future.

And that these Precedents might be made with greater caution and Justice, the Law has expressly provided, that in all great matters and high Points that shall be in Doubt, the Lieutenant or any of the Council for the time being, shall take the Deemsters to them, with the Advice of the Elders of the Land (viz. the 24 Keys, as it is elsewhere more fully explain’d) to Deem the Law truly, as they shall answer it.

Now, if to this we add, that once every year, viz. on St. John Baptist’s day, there is a meeting of the Governour, Officers Spiritual and Temporal, Deemsters, and 24 Keys, where any person has a right to Present any uncommon Grievance, and to have his Complaint heard in the face of the whole Country; there cannot be imagin’d a better Constitution: Where the Injur’d may have Relief, and those that are in Authority, may, if they please, have their Sentences and Actions, if righteous, justify’d to all the World.

Tinwald. This Court is call’d the Tinwald, from the Danish word Ting, i.e. Forum Judiciale, a Court of Justice, and Wald, i.e. fenc’d. It is held on a Hill near the middle of the Island, and in the open air. At this great Meeting, where all persons are suppos’d to be present, all new Laws are to be publish’d, after they have been agreed to by the Governour, Council, Deemsters, and 24 Keys, and have receiv’d the Approbation of the Lord of the Isle.

Council. The Council consists of the Governour, Bishop, Archdeacon, two Vicars General, the Receiver General, the Comptroller, the Water-bailiff, and the Attorney General.

24 Keys. The twenty four Keys, so call’d (it is said) from unlocking, as it were, or solving the Difficulties of the Law, do represent the Commons of the Land, and do join with the Council in making all new Laws, and with the Deemsters in settling and determining the meaning of the ancient Laws and Customs in all difficult Cases.

The manner of chusing them at present is this. When any Member dies, or is discharg’d, either on account of age, or for any great Crime, which, upon tryal by his Brethren, he is found guilty of; the rest of the Body Present two persons to the Governour, out of whom he makes choice of one, who is immediately sworn to fill up the Body. A majority determines any Case of Common Law that comes before them; for, besides that they are a part of the Legislature, they do frequently determine Causes touching titles of Inheritance, where inferior Juries have given their Verdicts before.

The Deemsters. The two Deemsters are the Temporal Judges, both in cases of common Law, and of Life and Death. But most of the Controversies, especially such as are too trivial to be brought before a Court, are dispatched at their Houses.

Deemster’s Oath. The Deemster’s Oath which he takes when he enters upon his Office, is pretty singular, viz. “You shall do Justice between Man and Man, as equally as the Herring-Bone lies betwixt the two sides”: that his daily Food (for, in former days, no doubt, it was so) might put him in mind of the Obligation he lay under to give Impartial Judgment.

Ecclesiastical Courts. The Ecclesiastical Courts are either held by the Bishop in person, or his Archdeacon, (especially, where the Cause is purely Spiritual) or by his Vicars General, and the Archdeacon’s Official, who are the proper Judges of all Controversies which happen betwixt Executors, &c. within a year and a day after Probat of the Will, or Administration granted.

In matters Spiritual, it is easy to observe very many footsteps of Primitive Discipline and Integrity. Offenders are neither overlook’d, nor treated with Imperiousness. If they suffer for their Crimes, it is rarely in their Purses, unless where they are very obstinate, and relapse into their former, or other great Offences.

As for Civil Causes that come before these Courts, they are soon dispatch’d, and almost without any charge (Attorneys and Proctors being generally discountenanc’d;) unless where litigious Persons are concern’d, who can find ways to prolong Law-Suits even against the will of the Judge, whose Interest it is to shorten them, as much as may be, as getting nothing by their length, but more trouble. But besides what is transacted in open Court, the Vicars General compose an infinite number of Differences at their own Houses, which makes that Office very laborious and troublesome.

Attorneys. In all the Courts of this Island Ecclesiastical and Civil, both Men and Women do usually plead their own Causes, except where Strangers are concern’d, who, being unacquainted with the Laws and Language, are forc’d to employ others to speak for them. It is but of late years, that Attorneys, and such as gain by Strife, have even forc’d themselves into Business; and, except what these get out of the People, Law-Suits are determin’d without much Charges.

Peculiar Customs. There are a great many Laws and Customs which are peculiar to this Place, and singular.

The eldest Daughter (if there be no Son) Inherits, tho’ there be more Children.

The Wives, thro’ the whole Island, have a Power to make their Wills (tho’ their Husbands be living) of one half of all the Goods moveable and immoveable; except in the six northern Parishes, where the wife, if she has had children, can only dispose of a third part of the living Goods. And this Favour, Tradition saith, the South-side women obtain’d above those of the North, for their assisting their Husbands in a day of Battle.

A Widow has one half of her Husband’s real Estate, if she be his first Wife, and one quarter, if she be the second or third; but if any Widow marries, or miscarries, she looses her Widow-right in her Husband’s Estate.

When any of the Tenants fell into Poverty, and were not able to pay their Rents and Services, the sitting Quest, consisting of four old Moars or Bailiffs in every Parish, were oblig’d to find such a Tenant for the Estates, as would secure the Lord’s Rent, &c. who, after his name was enter’d into the Court-Rolls, had an unquestionable Title to the same.

A Child got before Marriage, shall Inherit, provided the Marriage follows within a year or two, and the Woman was never defam’d before, with regard to any other Man.

Executors of Spiritual Men have a right to the year’s Profits, if they live till after 12 of the Clock on Easter-day,

They still retain an Usage (observ’d by the Saxons before the Conquest) that the Bishop, or some Priest appointed by him, do always sit in their Great Court along with the Governour, till Sentence of death (if any) be to be pronounc’d. The Deemster asking the Jury (instead of Guilty or not Guilty) Vod Fir-charree foie? which, literally translated, is, May the Man of the Chancel, or he that Ministers at the Altar, continue to sit?

When any Laws which concern the Church are to be Enacted, the Bishop and whole Clergy shall be made privy thereunto, and join with the Temporal Officers, and have their Consents with them, till the same shall be establish’d.

If a single Woman prosecutes a single Man for a Rape, the Ecclesiastical Judges impannel a Jury; and if this Jury finds him guilty, he is so return’d to the Temporal Courts, where, if he is found guilty, the Deemster delivers to the Woman a Rope, a Sword and a Ring, and she has it in her choice to have him hang’d, or beheaded, or to marry him.

If any Man get a Farmer’s daughter with child, he shall be compell’d to marry, or endow her with such a Portion as her Father wou’d have given her.

No Man heretofore cou’d dispose of his Estate, unless he fell into Poverty: And at this day, a man must have the Approbation of the Governour and Officers, before he can alienate.

Tokens. The manner of calling any Person before a Magistrate Spiritual or Temporal, is pretty singular. The Magistrate, upon a piece of thin slate, or stone, makes a Mark; generally, the first Letters of his Christian and Sir-name. This is given to a proper Officer, the Summoner, if it be before an Ecclesiastical Magistrate; or the Lock-mar, if before a Temporal, with two pence, who shews it to the Person to be charg’d, with the time when he is to appear, and at whose Suit; which if he refuses to obey, he is fin’d or committed to Prison, until he gives Bonds to obey and pay costs.

Curiosities. Here are more Runick Inscriptions to be met with in this Island, than perhaps in any other Nation; most of them upon Funeral Monuments. Runick Inscriptions. They are, generally, on a long, flat, ragg Stone, with Crosses on one or both sides, and little embellishments of Men on horseback, or in Arms, Stags, Dogs, Birds, or other Devices; probably the Atchievements of some notable person. The Inscriptions are generally on one edge, to be read from the Bottom upwards. Most of them, after so many ages, are very entire, and writ in the old Norwegian Language, now understood in the Isle of Tero only. One of the largest of these stands in the High-way, near the Church of St. Michael, erected in memory of Thurulf, or Thrulf, as the name is now pronounc’d in Norway.

Very many Sepulchral Tumuli, or Burying-Places, are yet remaining in several parts of the Island, especially in the neighbourhood of the Bishop’s Seat. The Urns which have been taken out of them, are so ill burnt, and of so bad a clay, that it is scarce possible to take them out without breaking them. They are full of burnt Bones, white and fresh as when first interr’d.

As for Medals, Coins, or Weapons, none have hitherto been found in these Places; tho’ it is probable that such Tumuli were cast up after some great Engagement, being for the most part in a champian Country, and within the compass of a pitch’d Battle.

There are some few large heaps of small Stones (one, especially, in the Parish of Kirk Michael, call’d Karn Viael,) as also some very large white Stones brought together; but on what occasion, no body pretends to guess.

rivets rabbits Some few Brass-Daggers, and other Instruments of Brass, were found not many years ago, buried under-ground: they were well made and pois’d, and as fit for doing execution, as any that are made of Steel. And very lately, were found some Nails of Gold without Allay, with Revets of the same Metal on the small end: their Make shews plainly that they were the Nails of a Royal Target, such as are at this day to be found amongst the Highlanders of Scotland.

The Calf of Man. There is a small Island call’d the Calf, about three miles in Circumference, and separated from the South-end of Man by a Chanel of about two Furlongs.

This little Island is well stor’d with Rabbets, and at one time of the year with Puffins, which breed in the Rabbet-holes; the Rabbets leaving their Holes for that time to these Strangers. About the 15th of August, the young Puffins are ready to flie; and it is then they hunt them, as they call it, and take great numbers of them, few years less than four or five thousand. The old ones leave their young all the day, and flie out to the main Sea, where having got their Prey, and digested it in their own Stomachs, they return late at night, and disgorge it into those of their young; for at no time is there any thing found in the Stomachs of the young, but a digested Oil and leaves of Sorrel. This makes them one lump, almost, of Fat. They who will be at the expence of Wine, Spice, and other Ingredients to pickle them, make them very grateful to many Palates, and send them abroad; but the greatest part are consum’d at home, coming at a very proper time for the Husbandman, who is now throng in his Harvest.

About the Rocks of this little Island, an incredible number of all sorts of Sea-Fowl breed, shelter, and bask themselves in Summer, and make a Sight so agreeable, that Governour Chalener was at the pains to have a Sketch of one of these shelving Rocks, with the vast variety of Birds sitting upon it, taken, and printed along with his Account of the Isle.

Thus far, is the Account of the said Right Reverend and worthy Prelate, the present Bishop of this Place.⌉

History of the Isle of Man. IF I here subjoin a short History of this Island, it may perhaps be worth the while; and truth it self seems to challenge it, to preserve the memory of such Actions, as are, if not already bury’d in oblivion, yet very near it.

That this Island, as well as Britain, was possessed by the Britains, is granted on all hands. But when the northern Nations broke in, like a torrent, upon these southern parts, it became subject to the Scots. In the time of Honorius and Arcadius, Orosius says it was inhabited by the Scots, as Ireland was; and Ninius tells us of * * By others, Binle a Scot who possess’d it. The same Author observes, that they were driven out of Britain and the Isles belonging to it, by Cuneda the Grandfather of Maglocunus; who from the devastations he made in these Islands, is call’d by Gildas the Dragon of the Isles. Menaviae Manniae Afterwards, this Island, and likewise Anglesey, was subjected to the English Monarchy by Edwin King of the Northumbrians; if we suppose both to be included in the name Menaviæ, as Writers tell us they are. At that time it was reputed a British Island: But when the North sent out a second Brood (viz. Normans, Danes and Norwegians,) to seek their fortune in the world; the Norwegians, who particularly infested the northern Sea by their piracies, possess’d themselves of this Island and the Hebrides, and set petty Princes over them; of whom I will † † This Chronicle is now printed in the Appendix, at the end of the add a short History, as it is word for word in an ancient Manuscript; lest it should perish by any unlucky accident. The title it bears, is Chronicon Manniæ, i.e. A Chronicle of Man; and it seems to have been written by the Monks of Russin, the most eminent Monastery in this Island.

⌈ Four Runick Inscriptions in the Isle of Man.

I. Upon a Stone-Cross laid for a Lintel over a Window in Kirk-Michael Church.

Runic One
Runic Two

II. Upon a Stone-Cross at Kirk-Michael.

Runic 2

III. Upon a Stone-Cross at Kirk-braddan.

Runic 3

IV. Upon a Stone-Cross in Kirk-Andrew’s Church-yard.

Runic 4

[Note, That the Inscriptions on the several Stones are in one single Line each; which being too wide for the Page, there was a necessity of dividing the Lines, in these Draughts.]

Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:52