logoAnglo-Manx Family Names


As the following section extracted from W.H.Gill's Third Manx Scrapbook indicates there has been continuous interchange between the Island and its larger neighbours.

... it is often difficult to decide whether a name primarily Scandinavian may have reached the Island by way of the Western Isles, of Dublin or of the North of England; and it is equally doubtful, in some cases, whether a Gaelic name has crossed from the North-East of Ireland or from Galloway, or whether it is indigenous. Per contra, a few Scandio-Manx names must have migrated at an early period into the surrounding regions, especially into Cumbria and North Lancashire. Even when some degree of probability has been reached concerning the local source of a name, the amount of research required to ascertain the approximate date and the circumstances of its immigration would not be repaid by the results. In many cases there would be no result at all. One can only say that a number of Manx family names have their replicas in England, especially in Lancashire; that there is evidence in some instances that their first recorded home was there; and although the value of this evidence may be diminished by the scarcity of early Manx records, there is sometimes the certainty that a name could not have taken its present shape in the Island.

Some of the English names which occur in old Manx documents soon disappeared through the failure of their owners to strike root in the soil, and others have died out during the succeeding centuries. If the Lord's Rent Roll of 1510-13 did not comprise some absentee tenants, their early disappearance almost suggests that they followed the example of their fellowcountrymen in Ireland and assumed Insular surnames. Among the survivors are such familiar cognomina as Sansbury, Radcliffe and Norris, and the later comers Halsall, Heywood and Hampton. Many of this type are easily identifiable with the names of places in England, particularly in Lancashire. In studying a map of that county, one is constantly reminded of the Isle of Man of the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

The map (extracted from Speed's Map of Lancashire of1610) shows the West Derby Hundred - the stronghold of the Stanleys who rule Man for some three centuries from 1405,

Derby Hundred, 1610

The following surnames occurring in the Isle of Man before the 17th century derive from the names of places in Lancashire, where some of them can be found at home so far back as the 13th century. Those italicised are still extant in the Island, though it is possible that some of them may have re-entered later.

Aghton, Alcar, Aystogh or Ayscough, Bradshagh, Byllinge, Burscough, Crosse, Assheton, Bootle, Coupe, Gremshawe, Heywood, Haliwell, Halsall, Holland, Hendull, Ince, Kenyon, Lathom, Litherland, Langtre, Marsden, Prescott, Preston, Parr, Radcliffe, Rushton, Samlesbury (now Sansbury), Shakerley or Shakelady, Standish, Ughtynton (Oughtrington is just over the Cheshire border), and Worthington. Other early family names which are also English place- names are Ballard, Birmingham, Breden, Bydcrosse, Colcat or Calcott, Coupeland, Cotynghin, Creetch, Hampton, Iveno, Kent, Lake, Lecke,Haworth, Huddlestone Hartle, Higham, Moore, Fryssington, Sale (Sayle), Stanley, Twynham, Whetstones and Whinrowe. As Creetch may be of native growth it will be referred to again. Of the rest, many now extinct have left footprints in Manx soil as elements in land-names.


As pre-Stanley records containing personal names are few and scanty, we have little means of ascertaining when the earlier English settlers entered the Island, but it may safely be assumed that the Stanley lordship was responsible for the presence of most of them. For reasons basically geographical, the people of West Lancashire up to the 18th century formed a comparatively isolated community; on one side the sea, on the other side marshes and moors, were obstacles to travel; the great families tended to marry among themselves, and their pedigrees are more closely interwoven than those of most English districts. The focus of power was the Stanleys; the nearer a family stood to the Stanleys the greater was its influence there, and the more accountable its presence in the Isle of Man from 1405 onward. A large number of such names have already been mentioned; there are others which, though not duplicated in England in their present form and passing for native, may nevertheless be of extra-insular origin, both from Lancashire and elsewhere, and some examples of these may prove interesting

The 13th and 14th century form of the Lancashire place - name Ince was Ines, Inis, and the personal name derived from it was at first the same, e.g. William de Ines, in reference to land in Pemberton, Final Concords, 1292. (An Inquisitio Post-mortem in 1429 upon the effects of John de Ines is witnessed, by the way, by Norris, Blundell, Crosse, Radcliffe and Bryge, all of them names which then or later were settled in Man.) Afterwards, both the place-name and the personal name were shortened to Ins and Ince. In the Manx Manorial Roll of 1510 we find both Ince and MacInesh. It seems quite possible that the latter, now Kennish, pronounced Kinnish, was merely the earlier arrival of the two from Lancashire, and not the equivalent of the Ulster McGuinness and the Scottish MacInnes, which it is said to be, or yet of the other and distinct name Innes which has spread widely from its birthplace of Innes in Elginshire.


In conclusion

Names which have filtered in since the end of the Stanley period have been mostly English and Lowland Scotch. As " recent " may be classed those arriving during the last century and a half, during which time the smuggling, mining, farming, and visiting industries have in turn attracted strangers in quest of wealth. From the names on the sculptured Norse crosses down to those over the shop-windows, from those borne by Vikings who found the Island a convenient centre for trading and raiding down to those of frugal souls enamoured of the slender proportions of Manx income tax, the personal nomenclature presents a fairly complete though unequally proportioned epitome of that of the British Isles during the last thousand years.

[please note still under construction]



Any comments, errors or omissions gratefully received The Editor
HTML Transcription © F.Coakley , 2001