[from D. Robertson, Tour, 1794]
A REVIEW OF THE MANKS HISTORY, FROM THE ACCESSION OF THE HOUSE OF STANLEY TO THE REVESTMENT OF THE ROYALTY OF THE ISLE IN THE BRITISH CROWN.
BEFORE I proceed to enumerate the Princes of the Stanley line, it may not be improper to observe, that their personal history, except in a few instances, is unconnected with the public transactions of the Island. Being Subjects of England, they generally resided in that country; and so long as their Lieutenants remitted the revenues of the kingdom,they supinely acquiesced in their administration. For more than three centuries this family enjoyed the regal government of Man; yet in so long a period few of them possessed the ambition or generosity to visit their subjects: and when they conferred this honour, either their interests in the Island were threatened, or their personal safety in England endangered.
Sir John Stanley, on whom the munificence of Henry the Fourth had conferred the royalty of this Island, died in 1414; and was succeeded by his son,
a man of a politic and penetrating genius. During the reign of his predecessor, the Island paid him homage as Heir-apparent; and after his father's decease, the anarchy of the state, and the discontents of his new subjects, again forced him to visit his kingdom. Previous to this period, the Laws of the Island resided in the breasts of their Deemsters. Under the pretext of witnessing the promulgation of these, but with the real design of asserting his prerogative, and intimidating the vulgar by a display of majesty, he convened, in 1417, the whole body of the people at the Tynwald(1). As King of Man he was invested with the insignia of royalty. The diadem flamed on his brow; and the regal mantle flowed in all its splendour. On the summit of the mount was placed a chair of state, canopied with crimson velvet, and richly embroidered with gold. In this chair he was enthroned; his face fronting the East, and a sword in his hand pointed toward Heaven. His Deemsters sate before him; and on the highest circle his Barons and beneficed men: on the middle circle were seated the twenty-four Keys, then stiled " the worthiest men " in the land;" and on the lowest circle the Knights, Esquires, and Yeomen; while the Commons stood without the circuit of the Hill, with three Clerks in their surplices. The Hill was guarded(2) by the Coroners and Moars, armed with their swords and axes; and a proclamation was issued, by the Coroner of Glanfaba, denouncing those, who should in the time of Tynwald murmur in the King's presence. Accordingly, the people waited with an awful silence the future fate of their nation, in the promulgation of those laws which had for so many ages been industriously concealed from them. The venerable Deemsters then rising, with an audible voice, alternately published to this assembly several laws; which, though more an assertion of the King's prerogative, than a declaration of the rights of his subjects, were received by the people with reiterated acclamations.
Having thus, as he fondly imagined, established his prerogative on a permanent basis, he returned to England: and the people no longer dazzled, or intimidated by the splendour of royalty, revolted against the laws they had so recently accepted. Their turbulence once more compelled him to visit his kingdom. On his arrival, another convention was summoned in 1422 at the Tynwald; and in the same year a third assembly of the people was appointed at Castle Rushen. The laws which were then framed, by a bolder assertion and extension of prerogative, seemed solely intended to awe the nation into greater subjection. These he commanded to be recorded; and flattering himself that he had now subdued, what he deemed, the presumption of the people, again hastened to England.
Among other acts it was in the last assembly decreed, that the election of the Twenty-four Keys, or Representatives of the Nation, was solely dependent on the " will and pleasure" of the King. But this being deemed an encroachment on the ancient constitution of the country, raised such discontent and commotion, that Henry Byron, Lieutenant of the Isle, judged it prudent to summon, in 1430, a fourth convention at the Tynwald. On this memorable occasion, Thirty-six Freeholders, who had been previously elected by the people, were by the Nation presented to the Governor: and from this number he selected TWENTY-FOUR; being four men from every Sheading or Hundred of the Island. Sir John Stanley was then in England, but he soon afterwards confirmed this restoration of the House of Keys to their ancient independence.
He died about the year 1442, and was succeeded by his son,
whom Henry the Sixth created Baron Stanley. He died in 1460: and his son and successor,
THOMAS. received an increase to the honours of his family; being created Earl of Derby by Henry the Seventh. On his decease, in 1504, his grandson,
THOMAS. succeeded to all his hereditary honours: he was the second Earl of Derby, and of the Stanley line, the fifth King of Man. However, to shelter himself from the jealous ambition of Henry the Eighth, he resigned the regal title: and though his successors imitated his policy, they enjoyed, as Lords of the Isle, all the power and dignity of princes. Thomas, dying in 1522, was succeeded by his son,
EDWARD; in whose reign the Bishoprick of Sodor and Man, formerly united to the Province of Canterbury, was rendered subject to the metropolitical jurisdiction of York. His son and successor,
visited the Island about the year 1592: and having there calmed some commotions of his subjects, he returned to England; where he soon afterwards died.
His eldest son,
FERDINAND, did not long enjoy the wealth and honours he inherited from his father; being poisoned, in 1594, by one of his domestics.
WILLIAM, the younger brother, being abroad when he died, his right to inherit the Island was disputed by Ferdinand's daughters; and during the tedious contest that ensued, the Government of Man was committed, by Queen Elizabeth, to Sir Thomas Gerard. At length the right of inheritance being decided, by the common law of England, in favour of the Heirs General; William judged it prudent, by a pecuniary compensation, to satisfy their demands. Having accomplished this, he soon after obtained from James the First a new Grant of the Isle of Man; expressed in terms equally liberal with that, which Henry the Fourth had conferred on his ancestors: and this ample grant he had the policy and interest to have confirmed, to him and his heirs, by an aft of parliament. However, on the death of his lady, he resigned all his posses lions to his son, James; reserving only an annual competency, with which he retired to a pleasant villa on the banks of the Dee; where he passed the evening of his age in those tranquil enjoyments, which a contemplative mind (particularly in the decline of life) is ever disposed to derive from solitude. He died in 1632; and was succeeded by
the Seventh Earl of Derby, and of the Stanley family the Tenth Lord of Man. This nobleman distinguished himself by an enthusiastic ardour to support Charles the First; when that weak and misguided Prince attempted, with the arm of prerogative, to destroy the sacred rights of mankind. Like his Sovereign, the Earl of Derby fell a sacrifice to the just resentment of the people. But the recital of his valour and sufferings, the magnanimity of his lady *, and the neglect and ingratitude this family experienced from Charles the Second, I shall leave to the English historian; and confine myself to such transactions of this noble man, as are more intimately connected with my present subject.
In 1643 he was commanded by Charles the First to retire to the Isle of Man; not only for its defence, but also, that by his presence he might check the spirit of liberty, which had animated his subjects to resist the rigour of their Lieutenants,and the more odious oppression of their clergy. The discontents of the nation were however so violent, that he judged it prudent to convene the Twenty-four Keys, and Sixty. eight * parochial Representatives. From each body he selected twelve men; whom he appointed to investigate, and present all such abuses as had been committed against the laws of the land and the public weal. This assembly discharged with fidelity the duty they owed to their constituents and to posterity: for, several abuses (chiefly clerical) revere presented, and immediately abolished. And as the people formerly combated with success the encroachments of prerogative, they now triumphed over the pride and avarice of their spiritual oppressors*.
Having thus established tranquillity among his subjects, he hastened from Man, to support his lady, who was then gallantly defending Latham-house against a detachment of the parliamentary forces, under the command of General Fairfax. But soon after, through the jealousy of some potent courtiers, he was again compelled to visit the Island. The mortifications he thus suffered from the sycophants of a weak Prince, to whom he was zealously devoted, were mitigated by the presence of his Lady and family, who on this occasion accompanied him. During his residence here, General Ireton proposed to him the re-possession of his estates in England, on condition of surrendering the Isle of Man to the Parliament: but this proposal the Earl of Derby treated with the highest indignation. His answer is preserved in Hume's history; and is more distinguished by enthusiasm and arrogance, than calm magnanimity.
After the death of Charles the First, the Earl of Derby, being invited to England by the young Prince, returned with three hundred soldiers of birth and fortune, leaving his Lady and part of his family in the Island. He was present at the battle of Worcester, from the dangers of which he assisted Charles the Second to escape: but on returning into Lancashire was taken prisoner; and on the With of October 1651, suffered at Bolton, for his enthusiastic attachment to principles, that will ever prove equally hostile to the dignity of the Prince, and the happiness of the People.
His Lady was then in the Isle of Man: and on being informed of the decollation of her husband, she retired into Castle-Rushen, determined to defend that fortress to the last extremity. From the execution of this heroic purpose she was however prevented by the prudence of Captain Christian, in whom chiefly confided. Being a native of the Isle, he was attached to its welfare; and to save his countrymen from the miseries of war, capitulated to Colonels Birch and Duckenfield, who with ten armed vessels had invaded the Island; but on whose arrival, the whole country submitted to the government of the Republic. By this event the Countess of Derby was detained a prisoner till the Restoration; yet during her captivity divas honoured with all the deference and respect due to her heroism and virtues. On her liberation she retired to Knowsley, where the odious neglect and ingratitude of Charles the Second embittered her life, and hastened her dissolution *.
Soon after its reduction in 1652, the Isle of Man was granted to
LORD FAIRFAX, in a manner more honourable than any former possessor had obtained it. It was conferred upon him, not by the folly or prodigality of Princes, but by the judgement of Parliament, for his gallant and generous exertions in the cause of mankind.
On the accession of Charles the Second to that throne, which his father had lost by his pusillanimity and despotism, the Isle of Man, with all its regalities and privileges, was restored to the Derby Family.
CHARLES, the son of the Nobleman who suffered at Bolton, was the first Lord of Man after the Restoration. He died in 16xx, and was succeeded by his eldest son, on whose decease in 1702; the younger son,
JAMES, inherited the honours and estates of the family; being the Tenth Earl of Derby, and of the Stanley line the Thirteenth Lord of Man.
Notwithstanding the late struggles of the Manks for civil liberty, the tenures of many of their lands were so intricate and precarious, as to injure the people, without increasing the revenue of the Lord. Accordingly, James, in 1703, by an Act of Tynwald, (commonly stiled the Act of Settlement) ascertained and confirmed these possessions: and by this policy, or generosity, considerably promoted the peace and prosperity of his subjects. He died in 1735, without issue; and this ample inheritance of the Isle of Man devolved on
the Second Duke of Athol; who was descended from Lady Amelia Sophia*, the younger daughter of the Seventh Earl of Derby.
During his possession of the Island, its real interests were either mistaken or neglected. Agricultural industry yielded to a spirit of illicit enterprize*, which, though it enriched a few individuals, impoverished the community. This commerce was in open violation of the laws of the Island; was destructive of the prosperity of the people; and injurious to the interests of the neighbouring kingdoms: however, as it considerably increased his insular Revenue, the Duke of Athol possessed not the magnanimity to attempt its abolition.
This fraudulent trade in 1726 had engaged the attention of the British Legislature; and an act was then passed, authorizing the Earl of Derby, for a pecuniary compensation, to resign his royalties.
Under the government of the Duke of Athol, this clandestine commerce was prosecuted with such increasing avidity, as to demand the immediate interposition of the superior Power. Consequently, several proposals were made to him, for re-vesting the royalty of the Isle in the Crown of Britain: but, without seeming to reject these, James, by various procrastinations, politicly evaded their acceptance.
He died in 1764; and his nephew and successor,
JOHN*, being a weak Prince, was partly intimidated, and partly allured to resign (for seventy thousand pounds 12) the kingdom of his ancestors. Accordingly, on the 7th of March 1755, the regal dignity of Mona was for ever lost in the superior effulgence of the British diadem. But though this change affected her ancient splendour and temporary interests, it soon increased and confirmed her happiness*: So that now from the bounty of Heaven, and the establishment of the British Government, the Island enjoys a plenitude of blessings.
Having thus deduced the succession of the House of Stanley to the government of Man, and given a sketch of their public transactions, so far as they were connected with my subject; I shall now conclude this Review of the Manks History with a few general Observations.
1: Since 1765, the population of the Isle of Man has considerably increased: it now amounts to 30,000 inhabitants. The Island extends from north to south upwards of 30 miles; but rarely exceeds 12 miles in breadth.
2: See Chap, XI. of the Tour.
3:Tynwald is derived from the Danish words Ting, a Court of Justice; and Wald, fenced.
4: Though the errors of Popery in this Island yielded to the reformed principles, soon after their establishment in England; yet, till 1643, the Clergy retained but ample portion of intolerant power.
5 See Chap. IX. of the Tour.
6 Charlotte, daughter of Claude, Duke de la Tremouille.
7 Though he strenuously adhered to Charles the Second, that prodigal Prince refused his assent to a Bill, Passed unanimously.' by both Houses of Parliament, for restoring to the family such Parts of the estates in England as had been lost by their loyalty to him and his father !A measurable instance of the ingratitude of princes !
8 There are seventeen parishes in the Island: accordingly, four representatives for every parish were summoned on this occasion. This election from the Keys and parochial Representatives did not affect the Constitution of the Country. They had not power to abrogate or frame Laws, but only to present and investigate abuses; which being chiefly clerical, the Friends of Reform prudently judged, that the amplest support was necessary, to eradicate those evils the Church had authorised.
9 See Chap. XVI. of the Tour. To render the historical account more perfect, a few repetitions have been inserted from the topographical department.
10 She married John, Marquis of Athol, Grandfather of James.
11 By his descent, he inherited the dukedom of Athol; and by his marriage with the daughter of the late Duke, he obtained the kingdom of Man. His eldest son now possesses the former honour;the latter is for ever lost to that Family,
12 An annuity of 2000l. was afterwards obtained for the lives of himself and his Duchess.