[From Leech's Guide, 1861]
"This is the p]ace, stand still, my steed,
Let me review the scene,
And summon from the shadowy past
The forms that once have been.
The past and present here unite
Beneath times flowing tide,
Like footprints hidden by a brook,
But seen on either side."
TRANQUIL as the placid bay and surrounding scenery of Ramsey now appear, they have witnessed more than one fierce battle. The earliest of which there is any record was a naval engagement between Godred the 5th King of Man, (surnamed the "Black,") and his brother-in-law Somerled, Thane of Argyle, (surnamed the " Surly.") The latter endeavoured to supplant his relative and seize the reigns of government; but Godred naturally resisting the injustice, their fleets met in Ramsey Bay on the feast of the Epiphany, in 1156, and an obstinate conflict took place. The action was indecisive, victory remaining about equally balanced between the parties, the brothers-in-law determining to compromise. Godred retained the isle of Man, and Somerled took undisputed possession of the Hebrides, which had been under the same government with the Isle of Man from the reign of Godred IV. who conquered the Island in 1077. The peace between the brothers was however of short duration. The treacherous Somerled collected together a fleet of fifty-three vessels, and returning to Man, defeated Godred, who was compelled to retire to Norway, and remained there for six years. At the end of that time he returned to take possession of this throne, Somerled having meanwhile been killed in an attempted invasion of Scotland, but found one Reginald, who thought he had some right to the succession, prepared to dispute his claim. Thereupon a battle ensued near Ramsey, in which Godred was defeated; but in a second effort he succeeded in capturing his rival, and regained the sovereignty both of Man and of the Western Isles. So far justice was done; but we are sorry to state the conqueror lack~d the magnanimity of a true hero. He had the cruelty not only to deprive his captive of the sight of both eyes, but otherwise wickedly to mutilate him.
Skyhill, near Ramsey, is worthy of some notice. Godred IV., son of Harold the Black, of Iceland, having determined upon the subjugation of the Island, was twice repulsed in his attempt; but the third time, by a military maneuvre, contrived to land and conceal a body of three hundred men on Skyhill. When the Manx King, at sunrise, fell with the utmost fury upon the visible portion of his enemies, these three hundred rushed from their ambuscade, attacked the Manx army, and utterly routed them, The invader then took possession of the Island, allowing a large portion of his troops, after pillaging his newly acquired territory, to return to their own country; but establishing himself with the remainder in the southern districts, he shared the land with them, allowing the natives to retain the northern half, on the sole condition that no one should attempt to make good an hereditary claim to any part of it. The property of the whole Island thus became vested in the sovereign nor was it until years afterwards that the people dared to assert a title to any of their estates.
In the succeeding reign, Skyhill became the scene of a terrible tragedy. Olave the Second, (surnamed Kleining) the founder of Rushen Abbey, who had married the granddaughter of Henry the First of England, and was greatly admired for his amiable character and christian virtues, paid a visit to Norway for the purpose of yielding tribute and of confirming his title to the soveieignty of the Isle. There he left his son Godred the Black, afterwards Godred the Fifth of Man, to be educated; and returning to his insular kingdom, found that enemies had been at work daring his absence. Three natural sons of his brother Harold had landed in Man, with considerable forces raised in Ireland, and demanded that more than one-half of the Island should be conceded to them. Olave Kleining agreed to consider their claim, and for that purpose appointed a conference on Skyhill, on the day of the festival of St. Peter and St. Paul, 1154. The opposing parties were drawn up in array; Reginald advanced to address the King, who was totally unsuspicious of any evil intention, but he, traitor as he was, raised his battle-axe, and at one blow severed the head of the excellent monarch from his body. We may imagine the consternation, confusion, dismay, and bitter sorrow of the royal troops, who however quickly rallied and attacked the treacherous invaders and their army. A sanguinary conflict ensued, in which numbers fell on both sides; but the assassin and his brothers unfortunately were the victors. Their triumph however was not of long duration. The youthful Godred returned from Norway to claim his murdered fathers throne; the Island submitted to his authority, and the sons of Harold were summarily punished Reginald was executed, and his brothers were deprived of their sight.
A naval engagement also occurred in Ramsey bay within the last century, of which Dr. Cumming gives a brief account in his work. Thurot, a native of Dunkirk, in France, a mere lad of fifteen, became a contrabandist, smuggling spirits from Man to Anglesea. During the war between England and France he engaged in the still more daring profession of privateering, and having got the command of a frigate and squadron of five ships, he had the temerity to descend upon the coast of Ireland, and to pillage Carrickfergus. Captain Elliot, of the Royal Navy, sailed in search of him with three frigates, and discovered his squadron at anchor in Luce Bay. Thurot perceiving this, immediately stood out to sea towards the Isle of Man, sixteen miles distant, but was overtaken by his pursuer in Ramsey bay. A sharp action ensued, in which Thurot fell, and was thrown overboard by his own men, who had suffered greatly, while the English reported a loss of only five killed and about fifteen wounded. The body of Thurot was afterwards cast ashore near the Mull of Galloway, and was there buried in the graveyard of Kirkmaiden. This action took place in 1760.
A place called the Lhen, in Kirk Andreas, is famous for the landing of King Orry, who having subjugated most of the Western Isles, determined to attempt the conquest of the Isle of Man. The inhabitants having observed his powerful fleet approaching their shores, assembled at some distance in great alarm, and sent a deputation to make inquiries as to their intention. The first question of the deputation was the very natural one, came you ?" King Orry, with regal dignity, raised his arm and pointed towards the milky way, then shining in full glory in the heavens, "that is the way to my country," he replied. His royal bearing produced the desired effect on the Manx people, who not only quietly submitted to his authority, but down to the present time designate the sideral galaxy as "the great highway of King Orry," or in the Manx dialect, "Raad rnooar Ree Gorree."
However ridiculous the pretensions of. this king might have been in the beginning, it is recorded that he afterwards made a wise and politic monarch, and a parallel has even been drawn between him and Alfred the Great of England. By him Man was divided into six sheadings, and to his astuteness it owes its legislative government, the ~taxiaxi, or House of Keys, having been instituted by him. His armorial ensign was a ship in full sail (though some authorities say with sails furled), he died in the year 947,
The Danish line of kings continued about a century and a half, and was superseded by a Norwegian, subject to the home-kings of Norway. This dynasty continued for two centuries. In 1266.70, Alexander III. of Scotland, obtained the Island, in form by purchase, in fact by conquest, he substituted, as his armorial device, three legs flexed in triangle, and spurred, having as the motto " Stabit quocunque jeceris," that is, " it will stand in whatever way you throw it." [fpc the motto came 4 centuries later !]
The house of Stanley came into possession of the Island in 1406, and as it appears to us essential to give a summary account of this little kingdom from the period of their accession, we shall proceed to do so in as concise a manner as the subject demands.
In the year 1493, the Earl of Salisbury, then King of the Island, sold it, with his crown and title of king, to Sir William Le Scroop. fhe deed of sale runs thus : "Sir William Le Scroop bought of William Montacute, Earl of Salisbury, the Isle of Man, with the title of King, and the right of being crowned with a golden crown." Sir Wm. Le Scroop, afterwards Earl of Wiltshire, was found guilty of high treason and beheaded, when Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland, was granted the Island by King Henry IV., and he also having been attainted, was deprived of it by act of Parliament, and the Island was ordered to be seized for the kings use; but seven years afterwards it was granted by the king to Sir John Stanley, his heirs and successors, under the title of King
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enthusiasm equal to her husband, and determined to defend Castle Rushen, to which she had returned, to the last extremity; but Colonel Birch and Duckenfleld having invaded the Island with a strong force, it was deemed advisable by Wm. Christian, who commanded her Manx forces, to capitulate. The parliament granted the Island to Lord Fairfax, but on the accession of Charles the Second, it was restored to the Derby family. Christian was arraigned at the instance of the Derbys for high treason in surrendering to Cromwells commanders, and was condemned to death, in pursu ance of which sentence he was shot on Hango Hill, near Castletown, on the 2nd of January, 1662.* There have been a variety of historical statements made respecting the condemnation of this unfortunate gentleman, but it .is the strong belief of every true Maniman that he faithfully served the house of Derby, and was unjustly put to death.
James the last Earl of Man died without issue in 1736, at an advanced age, and consequently the Lordship of the Island devolved, by the female line, on James Murray, second Duke of Atholl, in right of his grandmother, Lady Amelia Sophia Stanley, daughter of James the great Earl of Derby. The earldom of Derby, on the other hand, passed in the male line to Sir Edward Stanley, descended from Thomas the first earl, who placed the crown on the head of the Earl of Richmond in Bosworth field, and proclaimed him King of England by the title of Henry VII,
* The particulars of this tragedy are recorded more fully in the appendix of Sir Walter Scotts Peveril of the Peak." At the end of this chapter we give the lament over fair haired William,
From an early era of Scotch history the family of the Murrays possessed great feudal influence in Scotland. William, son of the Earl of Tullibardine, obtained the title of the Earl of Atholl in 1629, in right of his wife, Lady Dorothea Stewart, in whose father it had become extinct. John his son, the second Earl of Atholl, was a zealous royalist, and raised a body of two thousand men for Charles. In 1642 John was succeeded by his son, who added greatly to the power of the family by marrying Lady Amelia Sophia Stanley, third daughter of James Earl of Derby, who by her mother Charlotte de Tremouille, was related to most of the reigning families of Europe. He was created Marquis of Atholl by Charles II. and died in 1703, when his son John succeeded him, who in the same year was created Duke of Atholl. He died in 1724, and twelve years afterwards his third son James, in right of his grandmothers as we have previously observed, became entitled to the Sovereignty of Man, and thus terminated the dynasty of the Stanleys in the Island.
Soon after his accession to the Lordship of Man, the Duke visited the Island with a numerous suite of gentlemen, and was well received by the natives, He allowed many of the old laws to be revised, and gave his assent to many acts of Tynwald.
In 1764 the Duke died, leaving only one child, Charlotte, Baroness Strange, who was united in marriage with her cousin John, the male heir of the dukedom, who in right of his wife also became possessed of the Island. At this period the practice of smuggling was carried on to some considerable extent, and the British Government, in order to eradicate the evil, made proposals for the purchase of the Island from the Duke, and in 1765 the sale was effected, £70,000 being paid to him for the surrender of the Island, Castle and Peel of Man, but reserving to himself and his successors the lands, mines, waifs, estrays, together with the patronage of the bishoprick, &c.
John, Lord Duke of Atholl, died in 1774, and was succeeded by his son of the same name. He continued as Governor in Chief of the Island until 1824, when he came to the resolution of disposing of all his remaining interest therein, and having signified his intention to the British Government, they by an act empowered the Lords of the Treasury to purchase all the manorial rights of the Duke of Atholl in the Isle of Man. Valuators were accordingly dispatched by the ministers to the Island, and after long negotiations on the subject, the business finally terminated in 1829, when the Duke received for his possessions, four hundred and sixteen thousand one hundred and fourteen pounds.
Thus ended the interest of the Atholl family in the Isle of Man, and from thenceforth all the rights and privileges conveyed to the Stanleys by Henry IV. became inalienably vested in the British crown.
At the coronation of Geo. IV. in 1821, the Duke of Atholl, in fulfilment of the tenure by which the Island had been held, appeared in the station assigned to the kings or lords of Man, and presented two falcons at the close of the ceremony. His Grace died at Dunkeld in 1830.
A legend or two drawn from the repertory of the Monks of Rushen Abbey, may not be out of place. One relates a miracle performed on the occasion of the second visit of Somerled the Surly to the Island, when the people conveyed all their treasures to the sanctuary of St. Maugholds church, firmly believing that there they would be safe, an act of faith fully justified by the event. Soon afterwards a captain of Somerleds, Gil Colmn by name, proposed to surprise the church of St. Maughold, and to drive off the cattle that fed around the churchyard. The sacriligious captain, having received a reluctant permission from his chief, laid his plans accordingly, but was visited by the Saint on the night previous to the intended attempt, and thrice struck to the heart by his pastoral staff. Thereupon the wicked captain sent for the priests of the church, but they had no words of comfort to give him. One of them even prayed that St. Maughold would make an end of the impious man, who forthwith was attacked by a swarm of monstrous flies, and about six on the following morning expired in the utmost agony. This horrible death is said to have had such an effect on Somerled and his host, that they weighed anchor as soon as the tide would allow, and precipitately left the shores of heaven-guarded Mona. This is said to have occurred in time year 1158.
Another legend refers to a miracle performed on one of the small islands in lake Mycrscough, which we have already described as having existed at the base of the mountains in Lezayre. In the year 1249, one Donald, a chieftain having fled to avoid the persecution of Harold Godredson, took sanctuary in St. Marys monastery, at Itushen. He was induced to come forth under a promise of perfect safety; but the King, soon after forgetting his sacred engagement, had Donald seized and conveyed to the state prison on the principal island in Myers-cough. In his distress Donald prayed earnestly that he might be delivered, and his prayers were heard and answered. As he was one day sitting in his chamber, between two sentinels, the fetters dropped from his ankles, and he found himself free. He made the best of his way to Rushen Abbey, where he put up thanksgivings to God for his deliverance. This was recorded by the monkish chronicler, as well from the mouth of the man himself.
The following verses, on the death of William Christian, at Hango Hill, were originally composed in the Manx language, and translated for insertion in Sir Walter Scotts " Peveril of the Peak :"
In so shiftiug a scene who would confidence place
In family power, youth, or in personal grace?
No characters proof against enmity foul;
And thy fate, Illan Dhone, sickens our soul.
You are Derbys receiver of patriot zeal,
Replete with good sense, and reputed genteel,
Your justice applauded by the young and the old;
And thy fate, &c.
A kind, able patron both to church and to state
What roused their resentment but talents so great?
No characters proof against enmity foul
And thy fate, &c.
Thy pardon, tis rumourd, came over the main,
Nor late, but conceald by a villain in grain
Twas fear forced the jury to a sentence so foul
And thy fate, &c.
Triumphant stood Caleott, he wishd for no more,
When the pride of the Christians lay weltring in gore,
To malice a victim, though steady and bold
And thy fate, &c.
With adultery staind, and polluted with gore,
Re Ronaldsway eyed, a Loghnecolly before,
Twas the land sought the culprit, as Ahab before
And thy fate, &c.
Proceed to the once famed abode of the Nuns,
Call the Calcotts aloud till you torture your lungs,
Their short triumph s ended, extinct is the whole
And thy fate, &c.
For years could Robert lay crippled in bed,
Nor knew the worlds peace while he held up his head,
The neighbourhoods scourge in iniquity bold And thy fate, &c.
Not one s heard to grieve, seek the country all through,
Nor lament for the name that Bemacan once knew
The poor rather load it with curses untold And thy fate, &c.
Ballaclogh and the Criggans mark strongly their sin,
Not a soul of the name s there to welcome you in
In the power of the strangers is centred the whole And thy fate, &e.
The opulent Scarlett on which the sea flows,
Is peacemeal disposed of to whom the Lord knows
It is here without bread or defence from the cold And thy fate, &c.
They assert then in vain that the law sought thy blood,
For all aiding the massacre never did good
Like the rooted-up golding deprived of its gold,
They languished, were blasted, grew witherd and old.
When the shoots of a tree so corrupted remain,
Like the brier or thistle, they goad us with pain
Deep, dark, undermining, they mimic the mole And thy fate, &c.
Round the infamous wretches who spilt Caesars blood,
Dead spectres and conscience in sad array stood,
Not a man of the gang reachd lifes utmost goal And thy fate, &e.
Perdition, too, seized them who caused thee to bleed,
To decay fell their houses, their lands and their seed
Disappeard like thse vapour when morns tinged with gold And thy fate, &c.
From grief all corroding, to hope Ill repair,
That a branch of the Christians will soon grace the chair,
With royal instructions his foes to console And thy fate, &e.
With a book for my pillow I dreamt as I lay,
That a branch of the Christians would hold Ronaldsway
His conquest his topic with friends oer a bowl,
And thy fate, &e.
And now for a wish in concluding my song
May the Almighty withhold me from doing whats wrong
Protect every mortal from enmity foul,
For thy fate, Illiam Dhone, sickens our soul!
It is stated that a person named Calcott intercepted a pardon sent from England for William Christian. These verses are given through the medium of a meagre translation, and consequently are not equal to the original George Christian, son and heir of William, afterwards petitioned the British Government and recovered the confiscate property of his murdered father,