MAN, ISLE OF (anc. Mona), a dominion of the crown of England, in the Irish Sea. (For map, see England, section I.) It is about 33 m. long by about 12 broad in the broadest part. Its general form resembles that of an heraldic lozenge, though its outline is very irregular, being indented with numerous bays and narrow creeks. Its chief physical characteristic is the close juxtaposition of mountain, glen and sea, which has produced a variety and beauty of scenery unsurpassed in any area of equal size elsewhere.
The greater part of its surface is hilly. The hills, which reach their culminating point in Snaefell (2034 ft.), have a definite tendency to trend in the direction of the longer axis, but throw out many radiating spurs, which frequently extend to the coast-line. They are, for the most part, smooth and rounded in outline, the rocks being such as do not favour the formation of crags, though, owing to the rapidity of their descent, streams have frequently rent steep-walled craggy gulleys in their sides. The strength of the prevalent westerly winds has caused them to be treeless, except in some of the lower slopes, but they are clad with verdure to their summits. Rising almost directly from the sea, they appear higher than they really are, and therefore present a much more imposing appearance than many hills of greater altitude. On the south-west, where they descend precipitously into the sea, they unite with the cliffs to the north and south of them to produce the most striking part of the coast scenery for which the isle is remarkable. But, indeed, the whole coast from Peel round by the Calf, past Castletown and Douglas to Maughold Head, near Ramsey, is distinguished by rugged grandeur. From Ramsey round by the Point of Ayre to within a few miles of Peel extend low sandy cliffs, bordered by flat sandy shores, which surround the northern plain. This plain is relieved only by a low range of hills, the highest of which attains an elevation of 270 ft. The drainage of the island radiates from the neighbourhood of Snaefell, from which mountain and its spurs streams have on all sides found their way to the sea. The most important of these are the Sulby, falling into the sea at Ramsey; the Awin-glass (bright river) and the Awin-dhoo (dark river), which unite their waters near Douglas; the Neb, at the mouth of which Peel is situated; and the Awin-argid (silver river, now called the Silverburn), which joins the sea at Castletown. There are no lakes. The narrow, winding glens thus formed, which are studded with clumps of fir, sycamore and mountain ash, interspersed with patches of gorse, heather and fern, afford a striking and beautiful contrast to the bare mountain tops. Traces of an older system of drainage than that which now exists are noticeable in many places, the most remarkable being the central depression between Douglas and Peel. The chief bays are, on the east coast, Ramsey, with an excellent anchorage, Laxey, Douglas, Derbyhaven, Castletown and Port St Mary; and, on the west coast, Port Erin and Peel.
Geology.—The predominant feature in the stratigraphy of the Isle of Man is, in the words of G. W. Lamplough, “the central ridge of slate and greywacke, which seems to have constituted an insulated tract at as early a date as the beginning of the Carboniferous period. This prototype of the present island appears afterwards to have been enfolded and obliterated by the sediments of later times; but with the progress of denudation the old ridge has once more emerged from beneath this mantle.” This mass of ancient rocks, the Manx Slate Series, has been divided locally into the Barrule slates, the Agneesh and other grit beds; and the Lonan and Niarbyl Flags. The whole series strikes N.E.-S.W., while structurally the strata form part of a synclinorium, the higher beds being on the N.W. and S.E. sides of the islands, the lower beds in the interior; although the subordinate dips appear to indicate an anticlinal structure. These rocks have been greatly crumpled; and in places, notably in Sully Glen, thrusting has developed a well-marked crush-breccia. So much has this folding and compression toughened the soft argillaceous rocks that the Barrule Slate, for example, is almost everywhere found occupying the highest points while the hard but more joined grits and flags occupy the lower ground on the mountain flanks. The Manx Series is penetrated and altered by large masses of granite at Dhoon, Foxdale and one or two other spots; and dykes, more or less directly associated with these masses, are numerous. No satisfactory fossils have yet been obtained from these rocks, but they are regarded, provisionally, as of Upper Cambrian age. Carboniferous rocks, including a basal conglomerate, white limestone with abundant fossils, and the black “Posidonomya Beds” (some of which are polished as a black marble) occur about Castletown, Poolvash Bay and Langness; and the basement beds appear again on the west coast at Peel. The cliffs and foreshore at Scarlet Point exhibit contemporaneous Carboniferous tuffs, agglomerates and basalts, as well as later dolerite dykes, in a most striking manner. Here too may be seen some curious effects of thrusting in the limestones. At the northern end of the island the Manx Slates end abruptly in an ancient sea-cliff which crosses between Ramsey and Ballaugh. The low-lying country beyond is formed of a thick mass of glacial sands, gravels and boulder clay. In the Bride Hills are to be seen glacial mounds rising 150 ft. above the level of the plain. The depressions known as the Curragh, now drained but still peaty in places, probably represent the sites of late glacial lakes. Glacial deposits are found also in all parts of the island. Beneath the thick drift of the plain, Carboniferous, Permian and Trassic rocks have been proved to lie at some depth below the present sea-level. On the coast near the Point of Ayr is a raised beach. Silver-bearing lead ore, zinc and copper are the principal minerals found in the Isle of Man; the most important mining centres being at Foxdale and Laxey.
Climate.—The island is liable to heavy gales from the south-west. Of this the trend of the branches of the trees to the north-east is a striking testimony. But it is equally subject to the influence of the warm drift from the Atlantic, so that its winters are mild, and, influenced by the less changeable temperature of the sea, its summers cool. The mean annual temperature is 49°.0 F., the temperature of the coldest month (January) being 41°.5, and the warmest (August) 58°.5, giving an extreme annual range of temperature of 17°.1 only, while the average temperature in spring is 46°.0, in summer 57°.2, in autumn 50°.9 and in winter 42°.0. Further evidence of the mildness of the climate is afforded by the fact that fuchsias, hydrangeas, myrtles and escallonias grow luxuriantly in the open air. Its rainfall, placed as it is between mountain districts in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, is naturally rather wet than dry. Statistics, however, reveal remarkable divergencies in the amounts of rain in the different parts of the island, varying from 61 in. at Snaefell to 25 in. at the Calf of Man. In the more populous districts it varies from 46 in. at Ramsey, and 45 in. at Douglas, to 38 in. at Peel and 34 in. at Castletown. Of sunshine the Isle of Man has a larger share than any portion of the United Kingdom except the south and south-east coasts and the Channel Islands. Briefly, then, the climate of the island may be pronounced to be equable and sunny, and, though humid, decidedly invigorating; its rainfall, though it varies greatly, is excessive in the populous districts; and its winds are strong and frequent, and usually mild and damp.
Fauna.—Like Ireland, the Isle of Man is exempt from snakes and toads, a circumstance traditionally attributed to the agency of St Patrick, the patron saint of both islands. Frogs, however, have been introduced from Ireland, and both the sand lizard and the common lizard are found. Badgers, moles, squirrels and voles are absent and foxes are extinct. Fossil bones of the Irish elk are frequently found, and a complete skeleton of this animal is to be seen at Castle Rushen. The red deer, which is referred to in the ancient laws and pictured on the runic crosses, became extinct by the beginning of the 18th century. Hares are less plentiful than formerly, and rabbits are not very numerous. Snipe are fairly common, and there are a few partridges and grouse. The latter, which had become extinct, were reintroduced in 1880. Woodcock, wild geese, wild ducks, plover, widgeon, teal, heron, bittern, kingfishers and the Manx shearwater (Puffinus anglorum) visit the island, but do not breed there. The puffin (Fratercula artica) is still numerous on the Calf islet in the summer time. The peregrine falcon, which breeds on the rocky coast, and the chough have become very scarce. The legal protection of sea-birds (local act of 1867) has led to an enormous increase in the number of gulls. A variety of the domestic cat, remarkable for the absence or stunted condition of the tail, is peculiar to the island.
Flora.—Like the fauna, the flora is chiefly remarkable for its meagreness. It contains at most 450 species as compared with 690 in Jersey. Alpine forms are absent. But what it lacks in variety it makes up in beauty and quantity. For the profusion of the gorse-bloom and the abundance of spring flowers, especially of primroses, and of ferns, the Isle of Man is probably unrivalled.
People.—The Manx people of the present day are mainly of Scandio-Celtic origin, with some slight traces of earlier races. They have large and broad heads, usually broader than those of their brother Celts (Goidels) in Ireland and Scotland, with very broad, but not specially prominent cheek-bones. Their faces are usually either scutiform, like those of the Northmen, or oval, which is the usual Celtic type, and their noses are almost always of good length, and straighter than is general among Celtic races. Light eyes and fair complexion, with rather dark hair, are the more usual combinations. They are usually rather tall and heavily built, their average height (males) being 5 ft. 71 in., and average weight (naked) 155 ℔. The tendency of the population to increase is balanced by emigration. It reached its maximum in 1891. Since then it has slightly declined. A noticeable feature is its greater proportionate growth in the towns, especially in Douglas, than in the country. The country population reached its maximum in 1851. Since then it has been shrinking rapidly, especially in the northern district.
|Sheadings, Parishes and Towns.||1726.||1821.||1871.||1901.|
Chief Political Divisions and Towns.—The island is divided into six sheadings (so named from the Scandinavian skeða-Þing, or ship-district), called Glenfaba, Middle, Rushen, Garff, Ayre and Michael, each of which has its officer, the coroner, whose functions are similar to those of a sheriff; and there are seventeen parishes. For the towns see Castletown, Douglas, Peel and Ramsey. The principal villages are Ballasalla, Ballaugh, Foxdale, Laxey, Michael, Onchan, Port Erin and Port St Mary.
Communications.—There is communication by steamer with Liverpool, Glasgow, Greenock, Belfast, Silloth, Whitehaven, Belfast and Dublin throughout the year and, during the summer season, there are also steamers plying to Androssan, Heysham, Fleetwood and Blackpool. A daily mail was established in 1879. The internal communications are excellent. The roads are under the management of a board appointed by the Tynwald Court, a surveyor-general, and parochial surveyors. They are maintained by a system of licences on public-houses, carriages, carts and dogs, and a rate on real property. There are railways between Douglas, Ramsey, Peel, Castletown, Port Erin and Port St Mary, the line between Douglas and Ramsey being via St John’s and Michael. Electric tramways run from Douglas to Ramsey via Laxey, from Douglas to Port Soderick, and from Laxey to the summit of Snaefell.
Industries. (a) Agriculture.—The position of the Manx farmers, though they generally pay higher rents than their compeers in those countries do, is, except in the remote parts of the island, more favourable than that of the English or Scottish farmers. The best land is in the north and south. The farms are principally held on lease and small holdings have almost entirely disappeared. The cultivated area is about 93,000 acres, or 65% of the whole. The commons and uncultivated lands on the mountains are also utilized for pasturage. Oats occupy about three-fourths of the area under corn crops, barley about one-sixth. The amount of wheat and other corn crops is very trifling. Neither Manx wheat nor barley is as good on an average as English; but oats is, on the whole, fully equal to what is grown on the mainland. Turnips, which are an excellent crop, are largely exported, and the dry and sandy soil of the north of the island is very favourable for the growth of potatoes. The white and red clover and the common grasses grow luxuriantly, and the pasturage is, generally speaking, good. Some of the low-lying land, especially in the north, is much in need of systematic drainage. The livestock, largely in consequence of the premiums given by the insular government and the local agricultural society to bulls, heavy and light stallions and cart mares, now approximates very closely in quality to the stock in the north of England. Dairying, owing to the large number of summer visitors, is the most profitable department of agricultural industry. Apples, pears and wall fruit do not succeed very well, but the soil is favourable for the cultivation of strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, currants and vegetables. Both agricultural and market-garden produce are quite insufficient to supply the demand in the summer.
(b) Fishing.—The important place which the fishing industry anciently held in the social organization of the Isle of Man is quaintly reflected in the wording of the oath formerly taken by the deemsters, who promised to execute the laws between the sovereign and his subjects, and “betwixt party and party, as indifferently as the herring backbone doth lie in the midst of the fish.” The statutes and records abound in evidence of the great extent to which both the people and their rulers were dependent on the produce of the sea. The most numerous fish are herrings, cod, mackerel, ling, haddock, plaice, sole, fluke, turbot and brett. The industry is, however, in a decaying condition, especially the herring fishery, which, for reasons which have not been satisfactorily ascertained, fails periodically. The amount of fish caught, except herrings, is not sufficient to supply the local demand in the summer, though some of the fish named are exported during the rest of the year. About 250 vessels, aggregating 4260 tons, with crews numbering 4250, are employed in this industry. A fish hatchery has been established at Port Erin by the insular government.
(c) Mining.—There is no doubt that, in proportion to its area, the metalliferous wealth of the Isle of Man has been very considerable. Two of its mines, Laxey and Foxdale, have stood for a long series of years in the first rank in the British Islands for productiveness of zinc and silver lead respectively. These metals have constituted its principal riches, but copper pyrites and hematite iron have also been raised in marketable quantities, while only very small amounts of the ores of nickel and antimony have been found. The mines are rented from the Crown as lord of the manor. The value of the ore produced is about £40,000 annually. Other economic products are clay, granite, limestone, sandstone, slate (of an inferior quality) and salt, which has been discovered near the Point of Ayre.
(d) Textiles, &c.—Since labour has become scarcer and dearer textile industries have been declining, being unable to compete with larger and more completely organized manufactories elsewhere. The principal manufactured articles are woollen cloths and blankets, hemp ropes and cotton, and herring nets. A few fishing vessels are built, and brewing is a prosperous industry. But, apart from agriculture, the most important industry (for so it may be called) is that of the provision for summer visitors, nearly half a million of whom come to the island annually.
Commerce.—The chief exports are lead, zinc, turnips, ropes, cotton nets and salt. The imports consist chiefly of timber, provisions, live-stock, poultry, flour, fruit, vegetables and eggs. In 1906 the tonnage of vessels (other than fishing or wind-bound vessels) cleared for traffic was 720,790. The number of vessels (other than fishing vessels) registered as belonging to the island in 1906 was 79.
Government.—The government of the island is vested in a lieutenant-governor, appointed by the Crown; in a Council, which is the upper branch of the legislature; in the House of Keys, which is the lower branch; and in the Tynwald Court. The Council and Keys sit separately as legislative bodies, but they sit in the Tynwald Court as distinct bodies with co-ordinate powers to transact executive business and to sign Bills. The Tynwald Court controls the surplus revenue, after the payment of the cost of government and of a fixed contribution of £10,000 to the imperial exchequer, subject to the supervision of the Treasury and the veto of the lieutenant-governor, and it appoints boards to manage the harbours, highways, education, local government, and lunatic and poor asylums. The Imperial government, after intimating its intention to Tynwald, fixes the rates of the customs duties, but Tynwald can by resolution “impose, abolish or vary” the customs duties subject to the approval of parliament or the Treasury, such change to take effect immediately and to continue for six months, and, if parliament be then sitting, to the end of the session, provided that the same be not in the meantime annulled by the passing of an act of parliament, or a Treasury minute. The approval of the sovereign of the United Kingdom in Council is essential to every legislative enactment. Acts of the imperial parliament do not affect the island except it be specially named in them. The lieutenant-governor, who is the representative of the sovereign, presides in the Council, in the Tynwald Court, in the High Court of Justice (Staff of Government division) and in the Court of General Gaol Delivery. He is the supreme executive authority, and he shares the control of the legislative and administrative functions, including the management of the revenue and the control of its surplus, with the Tynwald Court; he has also the power of veto as regards the disposal of surplus revenue and the nature of proposed harbour works, and his signature is necessary to the validity of all acts. It has been the practice for him to act as chancellor of the exchequer and to initiate all questions concerning the raising or expenditure of public funds. The Council consists of the lieutenant-governor, the lord-bishop of the diocese, the clerk of the rolls, the two deemsters, the attorney-general, the archdeacon (all of whom are appointed by the Crown) and the vicar-general, who is appointed by the bishop. No act of the governor and Council is valid unless it is the act of the governor and at least two members of the Council. The House of Keys (for origin of the name see Key) is one of the most ancient legislative assemblies in the world. It consists of twenty-four members, elected by male and female owners or occupiers of property. Each of the six sheadings elects three members; the towns of Castletown, Peel and Ramsey one each, and Douglas five. There is no property qualification required of the members, and the house sits for five years unless previously dissolved by the lieutenant-governor.
Law.—The High Court of Justice, of which the lieutenant-governor is president, contains three divisions: viz. the Chancery Division, in which the clerk of the rolls sits as judge, the Common Law Division, of which the deemsters are the judges, the Staff of Government Division, in which the governor and three judges sit together. The jurisdiction of the Chancery and Common Law Division is in the main similar to that of the corresponding divisions in the English Courts. The Staff of Government exercises appellate jurisdiction, similar to that of the Appeal Courts in England. The Common Law Courts for the southern division of the island are held at Douglas and Castletown alternately and those for the northern division at Ramsey, once in three months. Actions in these courts are heard by a deemster and a special or common jury. The Chancery Court sits once a fortnight at Douglas. The deemsters also have summary jurisdiction in matters of debt, actions for liquidated damages under £50, suits for possession of real or personal property, petitions for probate, &c. These courts, called Deemsters’ Courts, are held weekly, alternately at Douglas and Castletown, by the deemster for the southern division of the island, and at Ramsey and Peel by the deemster for the northern division. Criminal cases are heard by the magistrates or a high-bailiff and are (with the exception of minor cases which may be dealt with summarily) sent on by them for trial by a deemster and a jury of six, who hear the evidence and determine whether there is sufficient ground for sending the case for trial before the Court of General Gaol Delivery, thus discharging the functions of the Grand Jury in England. The Court of General Gaol Delivery is the Supreme Criminal Court and is presided over by the lieutenant-governor, who is assisted by the clerk of the rolls and the two deemsters. The high-bailiffs hold weekly courts in the four towns for the recovery of debts under forty shillings and for the trial of cases usually brought before a stipendiary magistrate in England. The magistrates (J.P.’s) also hold regular courts in the towns for the trial of breaches of the peace and minor offences. There is a coroner in each of the six sheadings. These officers are appointed annually by the lieutenant-governor and perform duties similar to those of a sheriff’s officer in England. Inquests of death are held by a high-bailiff and jury. The Manx Bar is distinct from that of England. Its members, called “Advocates,” combine the functions of barrister and solicitor. The laws relating to real property still retain much of their ancient peculiarity, but other branches of law have of late years by various acts of Tynwald been made practically identical with English law.
As regards real property the general tenure is a customary freehold devolving from each possessor to his next heir-at-law. The descent of land follows the same rules as the descent of the crown of England. The right of primogeniture extends to females in default of males in the direct line. The interest of a widow or widower, being the first wife or husband of a person deceased, is a life estate in one-half of the lands which have descended hereditarily, and is forfeited by a second marriage; a second husband or second wife is only entitled to a life interest in one-fourth, if there be issue of the first marriage. Of the land purchased by the husband the wife surviving him is entitled to a life interest in one moiety. By a statute of the year 1777 proprietors of land are empowered to grant leases for any term not exceeding twenty-one years in possession without the consent of the wife.
Church.—It is not known by whom Christianity was introduced into Man, but from the large proportion of names of Irish ecclesiastics surviving in the appellations of the old Manx keeills, or cells, which are of similar type to the Irish oratories of the 6th and 7th centuries, and in the dedications of the parish churches, which are usually on ancient sites, it may be reasonably conjectured that Manxmen were, for the most part, Christianized by Irish missionaries. During the incursions of the pagan Vikings Christianity was almost certainly extirpated and it was probably not reintroduced before the beginning of the 11th century. The two most important events in the history of the medieval Manx Church were the formation of the diocese of Sodor (q.v.) and the foundation of the abbey of Rushen, a branch of the Cistercian abbey of Furness, in 1134. This latter event was important because the Cistercians were exempted from all episcopal visitation and control, by charter granted by the pope, and were, therefore, only subject to his rule and that of the abbots of their own order. From this time till the Reformation we find that there was an almost continuous struggle between the laity and the spiritual barons and monks, who had obtained great power and much property in the island. In 1458 the diocese was placed under York. The dissolution of the religious houses in Man was not brought about by the English Act of 1539, which did not apply to the island, but by the arbitrary action of Henry VIII. From such evidence as is available it would seem that the Reformation was a very slow process. When Isaac Barrow (uncle of his well-known namesake) became bishop in 1663 the condition of the Church was deplorable, but under him and his able and saintly successors, Thomas Wilson (1698–1755) and Mark Hildesley (1755–1773). it attained to a very much higher level than the English Church during the same period. After Hildesley’s time it was again neglected, and successful missions by John Wesley and others resulted in the establishment and rapid increase of Nonconformity. It was not till the second decade of the 19th century that the condition of the Church began to improve again, and this improvement has steadily continued. In 1878 a Sodor and Man theological school was established for the training of candidates for holy orders. This school has been affiliated to Durham University. In 1880 four rural deaneries were established, and commissioners were constituted as trustees of endowments for Church purposes. In 1895 a cathedral chapter, with four canons, was constituted under the name of the “Dean and Chapter of Man,” the bishop being the dean of the cathedral church. A Church Sustentation Fund was established by Bishop Straton in 1894, with a view to supplementing the incomes of the clergy, which had been greatly reduced on account of the low price of corn. There have been several acts giving Nonconformists equal rights with Churchmen. Among these are the Burials Acts of 1881 and 1895, which permit burials to take place in churchyards without the rites of the Church of England, and allow any burial service, provided it be Christian, in mortuary chapels. At the present day Nonconformists, chiefly Wesleyan Methodists, probably outnumber Churchmen, and there is a small number of Roman Catholics and Presbyterians. The bishop, who has a seat, but not a vote, in the House of Lords, is assisted by an archdeacon, a vicar-general, a registrar and a sumner-general. The jurisdiction of the only remaining ecclesiastical court, which is presided over by the vicar-general, as representing the bishop, is mainly in connexion with affiliation questions, the swearing-in of churchwardens and the granting of faculties. The power of the Manx Convocation to make canons, though not exercised since 1704, has never been abrogated, and so far affords a token that the Manx Church is a separate national Church governed by its own laws, which, however, must be approved by the insular Legislature.
Education.—It was not till 1872, when the insular Legislature passed the Public Elementary Education Act, that the Manx State undertook any direct responsibility for education. This act differed from the English Act of 1870 in three important particulars: (1) it at once constituted every town and parish a school district under a school board; (2) the attendance of children was made compulsory; and (3) every elementary school, those in connexion with the Church of Rome excepted, was obliged to provide for non-sectarian instruction in religious subjects, and for the reading of the Bible accompanied by suitable explanation. Since the date of this act education has made extraordinary strides. It became free in 1892, and a higher-grade school was established in Douglas in 1894. The public elementary schools, which are nearly all managed by School Boards, are subject to the control of a local “Council of Education” appointed by the Tynwald Court; but, as the Manx Act of 1872 requires that, in order to obtain a government grant, the schools shall fulfil the conditions contained in the minutes of the education department at Whitehall, they are examined by English inspectors and compelled to attain the same standard of efficiency as the English and Welsh schools. In 1907 an act establishing a system of secondary education was passed by the Legislature. The total number of public elementary schools in 1906 was 47, 42 being board and 5 denominational. Besides King William’s College, opened in 1833, which provided a similar education to that obtainable at the English public schools, there are grammar schools in Douglas, Ramsey and Castletown.
The Manx language (see Celt: Language) still lingers, the census of 1901 showing that there were about 4400 people who understood something of it. There is now no one who does not speak English.
Economics.—Municipal government was established in 1860, and in 1876 vaccination was made compulsory, as also was the registration of births, marriages and deaths in 1878. It was not till 1884 that the sanitation of the towns was seriously taken in hand; but ten years more elapsed before the sanitary condition of the island was dealt with by the passing of an act which constituted parish and village districts, with commissioners elected by the people, who had, in conjunction with a board elected by the Tynwald Court and an inspector appointed by it, to attend to all questions relating to sanitation and infectious diseases. As a result of these measures the death-rate has been greatly reduced. In 1888 a permissive poor law was established; it has been adopted by all the towns except Peel and by seven of the seventeen country parishes. Before this date the poor had been dependent on voluntary relief, which broke down owing to the growth of a temporarily employed class occupied in administering to the wants of the summer visitors. The total number of persons in receipt of poor relief averages about 920, and that of lunatics about 212. The average number of births during the five years 1902–1906 was 21.6, of marriages 6.1, and of deaths 17.6 per thousand. The rateable annual value of the parishes, towns and villages is about £400,000. The revenue for the year ending the 31st of March 1907 was £86,365, and the expenditure £75,728. The largest revenue raised was £91,193 in 1901, and the debt reached its maximum amount, £219,531, in 1894.
History.—The history of the Isle of Man falls naturally into three periods. In the first of these the island was inhabited by a Celtic people. The next is marked by the Viking invasions and the establishment of Scandinavian rule. The third period is that of the English dominion. The secular history of the Isle of Man during the Celtic period is an absolute blank, there being no trustworthy record of any event whatever before the incursions of the Northmen, since the exploits attributed to Baetan MacCairill, king of Ulster, at the end of the 6th century, which were formally supposed to have been performed in the Isle of Man, really occurred in the country between the Firths of Clyde and Forth. And it is clear that, even if the supposed conquest of the Menavian islands—Man and Anglesey—by Edwin of Northumbria, in 616, did take place, it could not have led to any permanent results; for, when the English were driven from the coasts of Cumberland and Lancashire soon afterwards, they could not well have retained their hold on the island to the west of these coasts. It is, however, possible that in 684, when Ecfrid laid Ireland waste from Dublin to Drogheda, he temporarily occupied Man. During the period of Scandinavian domination there are two main epochs—one before the conquest of Man by Godred Crovan in 1079, and the other after it. The earlier epoch is characterized by warfare and unsettled rule, the later is comparatively peaceful. Between about A.D. 800 and 815 the Vikings came to Man chiefly for plunder; between about 850 and 990, when they settled in it, the island fell under the rule of the Scandinavian kings of Dublin; and between 990 and 1079, it was subject to the powerful earls of Orkney. The conqueror Godred Crovan was evidently a remarkable man, though little information about him is attainable. According to the Chronicon Manniae he “subdued Dublin, and a great part of Leinster, and held the Scots in such subjection that no one who built a vessel dared to insert more than three bolts.” The memory of such a ruler would be likely to survive in tradition, and it seems probable therefore that he is the person commemorated in Manx legend under the name of King Gorse or Orry. The islands which were under his rule were called the Suðr-eyjar (Sudreys or the south isles), in contradistinction to the norðr-eyjar, or the north isles, i.e. the Orkneys and Shetlands, and they consisted of the Hebrides, and of all the smaller western islands of Scotland, with Man. At a later date his successors took the title of Rex Manniae el Insularum. Olaf, Godred’s son, was a powerful monarch, who, according to the Chronicle, maintained “such close alliance with the kings of Ireland and Scotland that no one ventured to disturb the Isles during his time” (1113–1152). His son, Godred, who for a short period ruled over Dublin also, as a result of a quarrel with Somerled, the ruler of Argyll, in 1156, lost the smaller islands off the coast of Argyll. An independent sovereignty was thus interposed between the two divisions of his kingdom. Early in the 13th century, when Reginald of Man did homage to King John, we hear for the first time of English intervention in the affairs of Man. But it was into the hands of Scotland that the islands were ultimately to fall. During the whole of the Scandinavian period the isles were nominally under the suzerainty of the kings of Norway, but they only occasionally asserted it with any vigour. The first to do so was Harold Haarfager about 885, then came Magnus Barfod about 1100, both of whom conquered the isles. From the middle of the 12th century till 1217 the suzerainty, owing to the fact that Norway was a prey to civil dissensions, had been of a very shadowy character. But after that date it became a reality and Norway consequently came into collision with the growing power of Scotland. Finally, in 1261, Alexander III. of Scotland sent envoys to Norway to negotiate for the cession of the isles, but their efforts led to no result. He therefore initiated hostilities which terminated in the complete defeat of the Norwegian fleet at Largs in 1263. Magnus, king of Man and the Isles, who had fought on the Norwegian side, was compelled to surrender all the islands over which he had ruled, except Man, for which he did homage. Two years later Magnus died and in 1266 the king of Norway, in consideration of the sum of 4000 marks, ceded the islands, including Man, to Scotland. But Scotland’s rule over Man was not firmly established till 1275, when the Manx were defeated in a decisive battle at Ronaldsway, near Castletown. In 1290 we find Edward I. of England in possession of Man, and it remained in English hands till 1313, when it was taken by Robert Bruce after besieging Castle Rushen for five weeks. Then, till 1346, when the battle of Neville’s Cross decided the long struggle between England and Scotland in England’s favour, there followed a confused period when Man was sometimes under English and sometimes under Scottish rule. About 1333 it had been granted by King Edward III. to William de Montacute, 1st earl of Salisbury, as his absolute possession, without reserving any service to be rendered to him. In 1392 his son sold the island “with the crowne” to Sir William Le Scroope. In 1399 Henry IV. caused Le Scroope, who had taken Richard’s side, to be beheaded. The island then came into the possession of the crown and was granted to Henry de Percy, earl of Northumberland, but, he having been attainted, Henry IV., in 1406, made a grant of it, with the patronage of the bishopric, to Sir John Stanley, his heirs and assigns, on the service of rendering two falcons on paying homage and two falcons to all future kings of England on their coronation.
With the accession of the Stanleys to the throne there begins a better epoch in Manx history. Though the island’s new rulers rarely visited its shores, they placed it under responsible governors, who, in the main, seem to have treated it with justice. Of the thirteen members of the family who ruled in Man, the second Sir John Stanley (1414–1432), James, the 7th earl (1627–1651), and the 10th earl of the same name (1702–1736) had the most important influence on it. The first curbed the power of the spiritual barons, introduced trial by jury, instead of trial by battle, and ordered the laws to be written. The second, known as the Great Stanley, and his wife, Charlotte de la Tremoille (or Tremouille), are probably the most striking figures in Manx history. In 1643 Charles I. ordered him to go to Man, where the people, who were no doubt influenced by what was taking place in England, threatened to revolt. But his arrival, with English soldiers, soon put a stop to anything of this kind. He conciliated the people by his affability, brought in Englishmen to teach various handicrafts and tried to help the farmers by improving the breed of Manx horses, and, at the same time, he restricted the exactions of the Church. But the Manx people never had less liberty than under his rule. They were heavily taxed; troops were quartered upon them; and they also had the more lasting grievance of being compelled to accept leases for three lives instead of holding their land by the “straw” tenure which they considered to be equivalent to a customary inheritance. Six months after the death of the king Stanley received a summons from General Ireton to surrender the island, which he haughtily declined. In August 1651 he went to England with some of his troops, among whom were 300 Manxmen, to join King Charles II., and he and they shared in the decisive defeat of the Royalists at Worcester. He was captured and confined in Chester Castle, and, after being tried by court martial, was executed at Wigan. Soon after his death the Manx Militia, under the command of William Christian, rose against the Countess and captured all the insular forts except Rushen and Peel. They were then joined by a parliamentary force under Colonel Duckenfield, to whom the Countess surrendered after a brief resistance. Fairfax had been appointed “Lord of Man and the Isles” in September, so that Man continued under a monarchical government and remained in the same relation to England as before. The restoration of Stanley government in 1660 therefore caused as little friction and alteration as its temporary cessation had. One of the first acts of the new lord, Charles (the 8th earl), was to order Christian to be tried. He was found guilty and executed. Of the other persons implicated in the rebellion only three were excepted from the general amnesty. But by order in Council they were pardoned, and the judges responsible for the sentence on Christian were punished. His next act was to dispute the permanency of the tenants’ holdings, which they had not at first regarded as being affected by the acceptance of leases, a proceeding which led to an almost open rebellion against his authority and to the neglect of agriculture. In lieu of it the people devoted themselves to the fisheries and to contraband trade. The agrarian question was not settled till 1704, when James, Charles’s brother and successor, largely through the influence of Bishop Wilson, entered into a compact with his tenants, which was embodied in an act, called the “Act of Settlement.” Their compact secured the tenants in the possession of their estates in perpetuity on condition of a fixed rent, and a small fine on succession or alienation. From the great importance of this act to the Manx people it has been called their Magna Carta. As time went on, and the value of the estates increased, the rent payable to the lord became so small in proportion as to be almost nominal. James died in 1736 and the sovereignty of the isle passed to James Murray, 2nd duke of Atholl. In 1764 he was succeeded by his only surviving child Charlotte, Baroness Strange, and her husband, John Murray, who, in right of his wife, became Lord of Man. About 1720 the contraband trade greatly increased. In 1726 it was, for a time, somewhat checked by the interposition of parliament, but during the last ten years of the Atholl régime (1756–1765) it assumed such proportions that, in the interests of the imperial revenue, it became necessary to suppress it. With a view to so doing an Act of Parliament, called the “Revesting Act,” was passed in 1765, under which the sovereign rights of the Atholls and the customs revenues of the island were purchased for the sum of £70,000, and an annuity of £2000 was granted to the duke and duchess. The Atholls still retained their manorial rights, the patronage of the See, and certain other perquisites, which were finally purchased for the excessive sum of £417,144 in 1828. Up to the time of the Revestment the Tynwald Court passed laws concerning the government of the island in all respects and had control over its finances, subject to the approval of the lord. After the Revestment, or rather after the passage of the “Mischief Act” in the same year, Imperial Parliament legislated with respect to customs, harbours and merchant shipping, and, in measures of a general character, it occasionally inserted clauses by which penalties in contravention of the acts of which they formed part might be enforced in the island. It also assumed the control of the insular customs duties. Such were the changes which, rather than the transference of the sovereignty from the lord to the king of Great Britain and Ireland, modified the Constitution of the Isle of Man. Its ancient laws and tenures were not interfered with, but in many ways the Revestment adversely affected it. The hereditary lords were far from being model rulers, but most of them had taken some personal share in its government, and had interested themselves in the well-being of its inhabitants. But now the whole direction of its affairs was handed over to officials, who regarded the island as a pestilent nest of smugglers, from which it was their duty to extract as much revenue as possible. Some alleviation of this state of things was experienced between 1793 and 1826 when the 4th duke of Atholl was appointed governor, since, though he quarrelled with the Keys and was unduly solicitous for his pecuniary interests, he did occasionally exert himself to promote the welfare of the island. After his departure the English officials resumed their sway. But they were more considerate than before. Moreover, since smuggling, which had only been checked, not suppressed, by the Revesting Act, had by that time almost disappeared, and the Manx revenue was producing a large and increasing surplus, the Isle of Man came to be regarded more favourably, and, thanks to this fact and to the representations of the Manx people to English ministers in 1837, 1844 and 1853, it obtained a somewhat less stringent customs tariff and an occasional dole towards erecting its much neglected public works. Since 1866, when the Isle of Man obtained a measure of at least nominal “Home Rule,” the Manx people have made remarkable progress, and at the present day form a prosperous community.
Monuments.—The prehistoric monuments in Man are numerous. There are earth entrenchments, seemingly of the earliest period; fragments of stone circles and alignments; burial cairns with stone cists of several successive periods; urn mounds and crannoges or lake dwellings. The monuments belonging to the historic period begin with the round tower on Peel islet, the humble Celtic keeills and the sculptured crosses in which the island is especially rich. Of these crosses about one-fourth have inscriptions in the old Norse language. The origin and history of the early buildings remaining on the island are obscure. The castles of Rushen and Peel are the only important buildings of a military character which survive, but the remains of ecclesiastical buildings are numerous and interesting, though, with the exception of St German’s Cathedral on Peel islet, now in ruins, they are only small and simple structures.
Arms.—There has been much controversy about the origin of the arms of the island—the “three-legs” found on a beautiful pillar cross near Maughhold churchyard belonging to the latter part of the 14th century. It was probably originally a sun symbol and was brought from Sicily by the Vikings. The motto quocunque jeceris stabit is of comparatively recent origin.
Bibliography.—History and Law: The Manx Society’s publications, vols. i.-xxxii., notably the Chronicon Manniae (vols. xxii. and xxiii., edited by Munch); Sir Spencer Walpole, K.C.B., The Land of Home Rule, an essay on the history and constitution of the Isle of Man (London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1893); A. W. Moore, M.A., C.V.O., The Diocese of Sodor and Man, S.P.C.K.’s series of Diocesan Histories (1893); and A History of the Isle of Man, (2 vols., London, T. Fisher Unwin, 1900); The Statutes of the Isle of Man from 1817 to 1895, Gill’s edition, 6 vols. (vol. i. 1883 to vol. vi. 1897, London, Eyre & Spottiswoode); Richard Sherward (Deemster), Manx Law Tenures, a short treatise on the law relating to real estate in the Isle of Man (Douglas Robinson Bros., 1899). Archaeology and Folklore: P. M. C. Kermode, F. S. A. Scot., Manx Crosses (London, Bemrose & Sons, 1907); E. Alfred Jones, The Old Church Plate of the Isle of Man (Bemrose & Sons, 1907); A. W. Moore, C.V.O., M.A., The Folklore of the Isle of Man (London, D. Nutt, 1891). Language and Philology: A Dictionary of the Manx Language (Manx-English), by Archibald Cregeen (1835); A Practical Grammar of the Antient Gaelic, or Language of the Isle of Man, usually called Manks, by Rev. John Kelly, LL.D.; Manx Society’s publications, vol. ii. (1859, reprint of edition of 1804); The Manx Dictionary in two parts (Manx-English, English-Manx), by Rev. John Kelly, William Gill and John Clarke; Manx Society’s publications, vol. xiii. (1866); The Book of Common Prayer in Manx Gaelic, being translations made by Bishop Phillips in 1610 and by the Manx clergy in 1765, edited by A. W. Moore, C.V.O., M.A., and John Rhys, M.A., LL.D.; Outlines of the Phonology of Manx Gaelic, by John Rhys (Oxford University Press, 2 vols., 1893–1894); First Lessons in Manx, by Edmund Goodwin (Dublin, Celtic Association, 1901); Manx National Songs, with English words, from the MS. collection of the Deemster Gill, Dr J. Clague and W. H. Gill, and arranged by W. H. Gill (London, Boosey & Co., 1896); Manx Ballads and Music, edited by A. W. Moore (Douglas, G. and R. Johnson, 1896); A. W. Moore’s The Surnames and Place Names of the Isle of Man (London, Elliot Stock, 1906, 3rd ed.). Natural History: P. G. Ralfe, The Birds of the Isle of Man (Edinburgh, David Douglas, 1905).
Hall Caine’s novels, The Deemster, The Manxman, &c., have no doubt tended to popularize the island. The most truthful description of the social life of the people is to be found in a novel entitled The Captain of the Parish, by John Quine. Bibliotheca Monensis (Manx Society, vol. xxiv.) contains a good list of MSS. and books relating to the island up to 1876, and A. W. Moore’s History of the Isle of Man has a list of the most important MSS. and books up to 1900. (A. W. M.)
- G. W. Lamplough, The Geology of the Isle of Man, Mem, Geol. Survey (1903).