[from Manx Notes & Queries, 1904]



While the more immediate descendants of Sumerled possessed the Sodorian Isle with a kind of royal jurisdiction, the Nordureys: or the Isles to the North of Ardnamurchar were governed by the viceroys sent thither by the Kings of Man. These viceroys or governors were generally the sons, or brothers, of kinsmen of the reigning princes. Of one of those lieutenants are descended the Mac Leod; a family once very powerful in the Northern division of the Ebudes. Their descent from the Kings of Man appears not only from tradition, and the genealogical tables of the Sennacbies, but likewise from the arms of the family; one branch of the two into which it has been divided, about five centuries back retaining the three united legs, and the other ship with its sails furled (page 306).

The promontory in Argyllshire, which is called the Point of Ardnavnurchan, was the boundary which separated the Sudereys and Nordureys of former times from each other.

To the South of that promontory lies Man Arran, Bute, Cumra, Avon, Gid, Fla, Colensa Fura, Scarba, Mull, Yona, Tiree, Coll, Ulva and many other isles of inferior note.

To the North of Ardnamurchan are Muck Egg, Rum, Canna, Sky, Rasay, Barra, South Uist, Benbicula, North Uist and the Lewis, including Harris, together with a vast number of small isles.

All these when joined together, and subject to the same Prince (Hakon), made up the whole kingdom of Man and the Isles.

The Southern division of the Ebudes was reckoned more considerable than the Northern The seat of empire was fixed in the former the kings kept their courts in the Isle of Man and sent deputies into the Nordureys, who resided either in Sky (Ealand Skianach, or the Cloudy Island; Sky in the Norse language signifying a cloud), or in the Lewis (Logos or Lodhus, i.e., a marshy country, more fit for pasturage than tillage) page 282-3.

(See Critical Dissertations an the origin, antiquities, language, government, manners and religion of the Ancient Caledonians, &c., by John Macpherson, D.D., Minister of Slate in the Isle of Skye.-4to, London, 1768.)



Before coming to the Bield and the Crook Inns, we pass the site of Oliver Castle, on the left bank of the stream (Talla), the foundations of which are now so much gone as to render it difficult to discover the precise site where it stood. This was the ancient seat of the Frasers of Lovat, who, coming originally from France, at a very early period of history, were thanes of the Isle of Man, and afterwards became possessed of large territories in the South of Scotland, especially in Tweeddale. They were high sheriffs of the County of Peebles, and in the reigns of Alexander the II. and III., and during the minority of the Queen, Sir Simon Fraser, Lord of Oliver Castle, with the assistance of the Cummin, and with an army of 10,000 Scots, in one day, gave three successive and complete defeats to different bodies of Edward the First's army, amounting in all to no less than 30,000 men, near Roslin, on the 27th February, 1303. This hero was the Wallace of his time; and as his heroism and patriotism were not inferior to those of that celebrated Scottish champion, so his services to his country met with the same reward, for be was given into the bands of Edward, and died a martyr to his country's wrongs.

(See Scottish -Rivers, by Sir Thomas Dick Lauder, Tait's Edbro' Mag., 1847, the Tweed, p. 339.)



If any woman in the Island was near her confinement they would be saying: " There will be bread and cheese in such a house in a short time"; and when a. man's wife that had no cow of his own was near the event. he bought a cheese for the occasion, and provided plenty of oaten bread. The confinement in Manx was called arran as caajey, and by some also merely caajey, it was likewise called ayns y cornaill (in the corner), or ayes ny straueyn (in the straws). The Manx cheese was made of milk with the whey squeezed out, and had plenty of salt in it.

It was customary from the birth of the child till after it was baptised, to keep in the room where the woman was confined a peck or wooden hoop (dollan), three or four inches deep, and 20 inches diameter, covered with a sheep skin, which was heaped with cakes and cheese, of which the gossips freely partook, and small pieces of bread and cheese, called blithe meat, was. scattered in and about the house for the fairies.

When the child was taken to church to be baptised, the woman who carried it also carried some bread and cheese, and the first person met (qualtagh) received of it likewise, in order to preserve her charge from evil influence.

In Scott's Gay Mannering, on occasion of the hero's birth, the groaning malt was brewed, and the ken-no, our Manx caajey, or the Highland kebbock, was presented after the good-wife's safe delivery, and Meg Merrilies descends to the kitchen to secure her share of it. The custom was universal in Scotland and England. In Lancashire we also meet with the lady in the straw, and it was also the habit for the husband to provide a large cheese and cake against the birth of the child. Here it was called the groaning cheese and cake, and the first cut of the sick wife's cheese was taken and laid under the pillow of young women to cause them to dream of their lovers. In a MS. Journal of 1706, we read : "John Leigh brought my wife a groaning cheese."*

In Fargher's Annals of the Isle of Man occurs the following interesting entry:

" 1730 Lying-in expenses of a natural baby. An ac. count of the costs and charges of Margaret Mylrea :

To the Midwife

0 5 10

To a man and horse . ...

0 2 4

To liquor when ill, and sugar,also ale

0 3 6

To pound of candles and 11b.of cheese

0 1 7

To dinner to gossips, and ale

0 5 0

To woman attending me night and day during a week

0 8 2

To clothes for child when born

0 3 6


1 9 11

* See Lancashire Folklore, by Harland and Wilkinson, 1867, pp. 260-261.


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