[From Causes of Consumption, 1899]

CONSUMPTION IN THE ISLE OF MAN,

CHAPTER IV.

HISTORY, CLIMATE, SOIL, &C.

Before addressing ourselves to the subject proper, and in order to bring to bear all the varied factors that may aid us to come to a definite and trustworthy conclusion, so as to give to each and every cause or supposed cause of consumption its true value and significance, it is necessary that we should know something about both the physical characters and peculiar conditions, climatic and otherwise, of the Isle of Man, and also the life-history, and the many changes that go to make up the character of the people who inhabit it.

In doing this, we will briefly summarise the salient points, omitting such details as may not be germain to the subject.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERS, ETC.-The Isle of Man is situated in the midst of the Irish Sea, and its dimensions are, roughly, some 33 miles in length, and about 12 miles in extreme breadth. Its northernmost point--Point of Ayre-is in 54 27' N. Latitude, and 4 20' W. Longitude ; and its southernmost-the Calf of Man-is in 54 2' N. Latitude, and 4 51' W. Longitude. In shape it somewhat resembles a lozenge. The total area is145,325 acres, of which 30,000 are occupied by the northern plain. The central portion is occupied by a range of mountains running in a line from N. E. to S.W., thus dividing the Island into two unequal portions. The mean height of these mountains is about 1,500 feet, and they cover an area of some 28,500 acres above the line of cultivation. Deep glens, supplied with copious streams of water, intersect this range at many points. Roughly speaking, the coast-line encircling the southern half of the Island is precipitous and rocky, while that of the northern half is low and sandy.

POPULATION.-Its population of some 56,000 individuals, mostly dwell on the coast or within a radius of three miles therefrom, merging into the four principal ports, viz., Douglas, Ramsey, Peel, and Castletown.

The population of these towns is--Douglas, 19,515 ; Ramsey, 4,866 ; Peel, 3,631 ; Castletown, 2,347. The mountains are uninhabited by any save a few hardy crofters and shepherds.

HISTORY.-To understand the race that inhabits this Island it is necessary to briefly review its somewhat chequered history. This may be divided into seven great periods. The first is the period prior to the introduction of Christianity into the Isle of Man by St. Patrick and his disciples, St. German and St. Maughold, and this brings us up to the sixth century. The history of this epoch is so interwoven with myths and fables that very little reliable information has been collected.

The second, from the sixth to the tenth century, marks the era when the Manx were conquered and ruled by the Welsh princes.

The third period extends from the tenth to the middle of the thirteenth century, and during this time the Norsemen made continual descents upon the Island, plundering and spoiling, and finally conquering and annexing it, first to Iceland, and then feudally to the kings of Norway.

The latter part of the thirteenth century constitutes a fourth period, during which the Island was a dependency of the Scottish Crown.

The fifth period-the fourteenth century-sees it pass to the English Crown, though ruled by Norman princes holding fief therefrom.

During the sixth period, from the fifteenth to the eighteenth century, the Island was ruled by its own kings of the House of Stanley.

The seventh periods extends from the beginning of the eighteenth century, when the Dukes of Athol became Lords of Mann, to 1829, when it was finally bought by the English Crown.

RACE.-The original natives were undoubtedly Celts. This is abundantly proved by the Manx language to-day, which Dr. John Beddoe, F.R.S., states to be a Gaelic branch of the Celtic languages. The purity of race, however, could not last long, for the incessant incursions of Norsemen, Ostmen, Scots, and Scandinavians, whose Viking habits precluded the transportation of their own women, necessitated frequent unions between the conquerors and the native women. We may, therefore, expect to find strong indications of the Norse blood in the modern Manx. If we examine the language in the hope of finding traces of these conquerors we are, however, more or less disappointed. Certainly the proportion of place-names of Scandinavian origin to those of Celtic, is much less than may be found in the Island of Lewis or Cumberland. We must bear in mind however, that the mother rather than the father will teach the young children their first language, and consequently the original Celtic purity will be to a great extent unimpaired, and in time the Norse themselves would adopt the native tongue. The Scandinavian words are chiefly found in the surnames of families, the names of the various land divisions, and as a rule is connection with their position as rulers.

It is when we come to study the Anthropology of the Manx that we are struck by the indelible impression left by these hardy Norsemen upon the Island race they first subdued and then amalgamated with. But the Celtic and Norse blood-strains, though co-mingled, have never truly blended, and as pure Norsemen to-day may be found manning the Manx fishing smacks, as ever sailed in a Viking galley, while the typical swarthy Celt may still be found, especially in the South of the Island. Dr. Beddoe, who contributed an interesting article to the " Manx Note Book " on the Anthropology of the Isle of Man, gives the details of investigations he carried out during a visit to the Island. Various head measurements, breadth of cheek-bones, shape of face, etc., show the double origin in an unmistakable way ; and, speaking of the hair and eye colour, he says " The distribution and combinations of colour have more resemblance to those found in some other Scandio-Gaelic districts than to any others in my schedules ; such districts are Wexford, Waterford, some of the islands off the coast of Argyle, and perhaps the Lewis. . . . It may be remarked that dark hair is rather prevalent in and about Craigneish,1 and light shades about Sulby (in the Northern parish of Lezayre) ; but whether there be any decided difference between the Southern and the Northern men, taken en masse, I am not prepared to say." He also records the stature and weight of 200 unselected Manxmen of various occupations which we give below.

TABLE IV. Stature and Weight of Native Manxmen, mostly of old local descent, according to occupation.

   

Average.

 
 

No. Measured.

Height.

Wight.

   

Ft.

In.

Lbs.

Farmers

19

5

11·3

187

Farm Labourers ..

.40

5

8·2

160·8

Policemen .

7

5

11·4

222

Porters .....

6

5

9

174

Cardrivers .

6

5

7·6

151

Shoemakers .

10 ...

5

10·1

162

Tailors .....

6 ...

5

8

139

Masons ...

7 ...

5

8·8

174

Stonemasons

4 ...

5

8·6

162

Carpenters

7 ...

5

8·1

157

Painters ....

3 ...

5

7

140

Mechanics, etc.

6 ...

5

9·1

161

Smiths ......

13

5

9·7

178

Miners .....

21

5

10·3

183·8

Fishermen .

27

5

8·4

168

Clerks ......

3 ...

5

8·6

144

Grocers ...

3 ...

5

9·8

16o

Butchers ..

3 ...

5

9

169

Weavers ...

9 ...

5

6·5

139

 

200

5

9·07

168·6

The Towns . .

. 43

5

8·2

165·3

Northern Parishes

. 47

5

9·57

166·5

Central Parishes

68

5

9·2

168

Southern Parishes

42

5

9·24

172·5

In commenting, Dr. Beddoe says : " The Manx are certainly a tall and large race of men, and eight unselected individuals, observed by myself, gave the same height, to a fraction . . . The Scandio-Gaelic cross in the British Isles is everywhere of tall stature. On the whole, the physical characters perfectly agree with the history, and with the view above expressed, viz., that the Norse element in the blood is very strong, though, less strong than the Gaelic or Ibero-Gaelic." Vicar-General Wilks, writing of the Manx in 1777, says : " In height they are like the inhabitants of the neighbouring countries, strong built, and complexions showing them to be of a healthy and robust constitution, round visaged, regular features, grey-eyed, and the major part strong black beards."

1A secluded village in the South of the Island. C. A. D.

2 The average of Table IV.-C.A.D.

 

SOIL.-The framework of the Island consists of a greatly disturbed mass of sedimentary strata, usually correlated with the Skiddaw slates of the Lake District. The central range of hills, including all the highest summits, is composed almost exclusively of dark blue slate-rock belonging to this series, while the flanks of the Island contain the grits and greywackes associated with these slates.

In the neighbourhood of Castletown, in the parishes of Malew and Arbory, there is a limited tract underlain by limestone of the carboniferous age, along with a small area of volcanic strata of the same period.

The entire northern plain, extending from the foot of the mountains to the sea, is underlain by sand, gravel, and boulder-loam, belonging to the glacial drifts. In the low lying part of this plain, known as the Curraghs, disposed to be boggy, the glacial deposits are covered by a variable thickness of post-glacial and alluvial deposits ; while at the extreme northern portion a raised beach forms a barren waste of shingle and blown sand, known as the Ayres, with a breadth varying from a quarter of a mile to a mile and a half.

With regard to the soil and subsoil, we may say that in the greater portion of the centre and south of the Island, though the rocks as a rule are impervious, the ground is usually so high-lying as to permit of ready drainage, and is, therefore, fairly- dry.

That portion which overlies the " drift " deposits is porous and dry, so much so, that a moderately wet season is necessary to fully satisfy agricultural needs. The low-lying Curraghs, however, have been with difficulty drained, and are consequently damp during the winter months.

CLIMATE.-Under this head we shall consider such atmospheric conditions as tempera ture, wind, sunshine, rainfall, etc. In preparing this chapter, I have, by the kind permission of the author, freely made use of a paper written by Mr. A. W. Moore, F. R. M. S , Speaker of the House of Keys, who has made a life study of the Manx climate.

The observations on which the following data are based, have been taken at the coastal stations at Ramsey, Douglas, Langness, Castletown, Peel, and the lighthouses at the Point of Ayre and the Chickens Rock ; and the inland stations at Cronkbourne and Ballasalla, and cover a range of years extending from i82o to 1897. Since the centre of the Island is mountainous and barren, its inhabitants live for the most part on the sea border, and since the most inland point is something under six miies from the sea, such influences as the sea exerts on climate will be especially marked here. The sea acquires heat much more slowly than the land, and also parts with it more slowly, and, consequently, the extremes between the highest and lowest temperatures are not so accentuated as in the corresponding inland temperatures. We expect to find, therefore, that the seaboard temperatures are more equable than the inland. This fact is borne out in a remarkable way when we make a comparison between the two.

The general mean temperature in the Isle of Man is as follows :-

TABLE V.

March,

42·3

June,

55'0

September,

56·0

December

42'9

April,

45·5

July,

57'9

October, ...

50·8

January

41·4

May,

50·1

August,

58'5

November,

45·'8

February

41·7

Spring,

46·0

Summer,

57'2

Autumn,

50·9

Winter ...

42·0

Annual Mean, 49·0 ; Extreme Variation, 17·1.

Let us compare this with such an inland town as York, which is practically in the same latitude :-

TABLE VI.

MEAN TEMPERATURE AT YORK.

March

41·4

June

58·7

September...

56·0

December...

38·7

April

47·7

July

.61·1

October ...

49·1

January ...

37·4

May

52·0

August

60·7

November...

42·0

February ...

39·4

Spring

47·0

Summer

. 60·2

, Autumn ...

49·0

Winter ...

38·5

Annual Mean, 48·7 ; Extreme Variation, 23·7.

The summer temperature at York is 3·1 higher than on the Manx coast, while its autumn temperature is 2·2, and its winter 4·0 lower. The variation of temperature between the warmest and coldest month is 23·7 at York, and 17·1 for the Island, or only 16·7 on the Manx coast. Let us now compare the temperature of the Isle of Man and other British watering-places. For this purpose Rothesay, Scarborough, Blackpool, Llandudno, Brighton, Ventnor, Bournemouth, and Ilfracombe have been selected as being well-known and representative.

The temperature of these stations, given below, are the means for1860-83, as published by Mr Buchan, F.R.S.E., in his paper on the " Climate of the British Island-," in vol. vi., journal of the Scottish Meteorological Society.

      TABLE VII.      
        ROTHESAY.      
March 40·8 June 57·3 September 54·1 December 40·0
April 45·9 July 59·1 October .. 47·7 January 39·2
May 51·0 August 58·4 November 41·8 February 39·7
Spring 45·9 Summer 58·3 Autumn 47·9 Winter 39·6
  Annual Mean, 47·9 ; Extreme Variation, 19·9.    
        SCARBOROUGH.      
March 41·7 June 56·0 September 55.1 December 39·9
April 46·2 July 59·7 October 49·1 January .. 38·7
May 49·8 August 59·1 November 43·4 February 39·9
Spring 45·9 Summer 58·3 Autumn 49·2 Winter 39·5
  Annual Mean, 48·2 ; Extreme Variation, 21·0.    
        BLACKPOOL.      
March 41·0 June 56·7 September 55·3 December 39·4
April 46·5 July 59·7 October 49·0 January 38·3
May 50-6 August 59·4 November 41·3 February 39·7
Spring 46·0 Summer 58-6 Autumn 48·5 Winter 39·1
  Annual Mean,   48·0; Extreme Variation, 21·4.    
        LLANDUDNO.      
March 43·5 June 58·6 September 57·6 December 42·3
April 48·4 July 61·2 October 51·8 January 41·5
May 52·4 August 61-5 November 44·7 February 42·3
Spring 48·1 Summer 6o·4 Autumn 51·4 Winter 42·0
  Annual Mean, 50·5 ; Extreme Variation, 20·0.    
        BRIGHTON.      
March 43·0 June 60·5 September 59·1 December 41·3
April 485 July 63·6 October 53·1 January 40·1
May 53·5 August 62·8 November 44·6 February 40·7
Spring 48·3 Summer 62·3 Autumn 52·3 Winter 40·7
  Annual Miean, 50·9 ; Extreme Variation, 23·5.    
        VENTNOR.      
March 0 44·0 June 59.0 September 59-8 December 43·2
April 49·2 July 62·3 October 54·1 January 41·8
May 53·4 August 62·7 November 46·2 February 42·7
Spring 48·9 Summer 61·3 Autumn 53·4 Winter 42·6
  Annual Mean, 51·6 ; Extreme Variation, 20·9.    
        BOURNEMOUTH.      
March 44·2 June 59 3 September 58·6 December 42·4
April 49·1 July 62·6 October 53·0 January 41·2
May 53·3 August 62·2 November 45·1 February 42·5
Spring 48·9 Summer 61·4 Autumn 52·2 Winter 42·0
    Annual Mean, 51·1 ; Extreme Variation, 21·4.    
        ILFRACOMBE.      
March 0 46·1 June 59·4 September 58·8 December 45·1
April 49-6 July 62·1 October 54·4 January 42·8
May 53·5 August 61·9 November 47·1 February 44·5
Spring 49·7 Summer 61·1 Autumn 53·4 Winter 44·1
  Annual Mean, 52·2 : Extreme Variation, 19·3.    

It will be perceived, from a comparison of the above temperatures, that that of the Isle of Man is decidedly the most equable, and that it is distinguished by its cold springs, cool summers, and mild autumns and winters. The reason that the autumn and winter temperatures of the Isle of Man are comparatively mild, depends no doubt, upon two facts, firstly, it is completely, instead of partially, surrounded by the sea, and secondly, our sea is somewhat warmer than the sea which surrounds the British Isles generally. We have a sea temperature 0·7 above the mean temperature round the British Coasts, and 0·6 above the temperature of the sea near Liverpool, which is considerably south of us

Let us now consider the important subject of wind. Mr. R. H. Scott, F. R.S., says that "climate is regulated mainly by the influence of the wind." If one looks at the general trend of the trees, especially in exposed places, it is very evident that our prevailing winds are from the west and south-west. These winds coming from the

Atlantic are mild and humid. During the spring we get a certain amount of easterly wind, which is, as a rule, dry and bracing. Bishop Wilson, in a brief history of the Island, inserted in Camden's Brittannia remarks, that the winds, considering the situation, must needs be very boisterous. Colonel Townley, who resided on the Island in 1790-91, was struck by the violence and frequency of the winds. The present writer's opinion with regard to our winds, and his opinion is backed by that of Mr. A. W. Moore and others, is that, though frequent, they are not exceptionally strong, and for the greater part of the year, they are decidedly mild. If we were subject to violent winds, one would naturally expect that our atmospheric pressure would show greater variations than on the adjacent coasts, and its mean would be different. The mean annual isobars of atmospheric pressure of the British Isles, according to Mr. Buchan, vary from 29'74 1n the Shetlands, to 29'98 in the Channel Islands. The Manx mean for the same period, is 29.882, which enables him to place the Isle of Man between the isobars of 2988 and 2990, in absolute conformity with other places in the same latitude.

The direction of the winds may be gathered from the following figures:-

  N. N. E E. S.E. S. S.W. W. N.W. Calm Var total
Lighthouses, 1831-47 23·1 20·2 21·0 39·0 27·1 59·1 38·8 38·7 10·4 59·1 336·5
Cronkbourne, 1878-87 29·0 27·5 44·0 30·5 32·5 49·5 57·5 51·0 43·5 - 365·0

 

We now come to one of the most important factors in climate, especially when looked at from a health standpoint, namely brzghl suushzne. A sunny day is infinitely more invigorating and healthful, and feels warmer, than a sunless day registering the same shade temperature. On totalling up the amount of sunshine in the Isle of Man, and comparing it with other places, we find it is one of the sunniest spots in the British Isles. The mean aggregate of hours of bright sunshine for the eight years (1880-87) in the 12 districts into which Great Britain and Ireland is divided, are appended for the sake of comparison :-

TABLE VIII. Hours of Bright Sunshine in British Islands.

Channel Islands...... 1909 hours England S 1572 hours England N.W....... 1339 hours

England S.W 1628 Ireland S. 1460 Scotland W 1337

Isle of Man*. 1589 Scotland E 1391 England N.E. ...... 1271

England E.., 1561 I Midland Counties ... 1387 Ireland N 1253

Scotland N.. 1196 hours.

From these figures it will be seen that we come third on the list, only being exceeded by the Channel Islands and England S. W. We exceed the general mean sunshine of the United Kingdom by 166 hours, and the sunshine of the districts that surround us--Scotland W., England N. W., and Ireland N.-by a much larger amount.

The rainfall varies considerably at different parts, as one would naturally expect in an island whose physical configuration is so varied. The central portion, which is moun tainous, has the greatest rainfall, varying from 41 to 62 inches. As a rule more rain falls on the lee side of hills than on the weather, providing that the mean height of such hills is less than 2,000 feet. Consequently, as our prevailing winds are westerly, we find a greater rainfall on the eastern slopes than the western, the former being from 34 to 49 inches, while the latter is from 34 to 42 inches. The northern plain varies from a mean of 28·1 inches at the Point of Ayre for a period of over 50 years to about 37 inches at the foot of the mountains ; while the extreme south of the Island-the Calf of Man-has a mean fall of 25·67 inches for a period of 50 years. Ramsey, under the north-eastern extremity of the mountains, has a rainfall of about 49 inches ; Douglas, from 44 to 45 ; and Peel, 40'2 inches.

Footnote

* The Isle of Man forms part of the district of Scotland W., but has been here taken separately.

 


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