[from Manx Place-names, 1925]

The Sheading of Middle

IT has been surmised that Middle takes its name from the central valley between Douglas and Peel, and probably this is a correct interpretation of this name. The spelling shows but little variation in old documents. In the Man. Roll of 1511 It is written Medall, and in a Statute of 1532, Midle. Its Scand. form would be Miðdalr, 'mid-dale.' There is also a treen called Middle, q.v.

In Manx Norse names dal usually means a glen, as in Brandall, the old name of Glen Roy, Kirk Lonan ; but there occur several cases of its being used in a less restricted sense, as in Baldwin, anciently Baldall, where we have quite a distinct valley or dale.

The present Sheading of Middle consists of the parishes of Kirk Conchan, Kirk Braddan and Kirk Santan, but for the purpose of the present work, the sheading as constituted prior to 1796 — i.e. including the parishes of Kirk Santan, Kirk Marown and Kirk Braddan has been chosen, mainly for geographical reasons, as the mountain range was the ancient boundary between the three northern and three southern sheadings. Thus the sheadings and parishes will be found to correspond to those of the Manorial Roll of 1511-15, which will facilitate reference to both personal and place-names in the Roll.

The Sheading of Middle is bounded on the north by Garff, on the east by the sea, on the south by Rushen and on the west by Glenfaba.

The priory of Whithorn, Candida Casa, held lands in the parish of Kirk Marown, and the ruins of a church, dedicated to St. Ninian, called St. Trinian's Church, are still to be seen. In the year 1422, at a Tynwald Court "of all the Tennants and Commons of Man, holden at Kirk Michaell, upon the Hill of Reneurling," Sir John Stanley, King of Mann and the Isles, commanded the Prior of Whithorn in Galloway, along with the other barons, "to come to do his Faith and Fealtie unto the Lord," but the prior did not come, therefore he, and the other barons, "were deemed by the Deemsters, that they should come in their proper persons within xl days, and if they came not, then to lose all temporalties, to be seized into the Lord's Hands."

The Bishop of Mann and the Isles also held extensive lands in the parishes of Kirk Marown and Kirk Braddan, which are mentioned as early as 1231, under their respective names, in a Bull of Pope Gregory IX to Simon, Bishop of Sodor.

At the northern end of the parish of Braddan there formerly stood an ancient moot hill, and the nearby church of St. Luke stands upon the site of an older edifice dedicated to an Irish saint Abban. It was here where the Sheading Courts of Middle were held, of which we find a record in the Manx statutes for the year 1429. This Court is casually mentioned at another Tynwald Court held at St. John's, "upon Thursday next after the Feast of St. Mary." The latter date was Lady Day, or the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary. The extract reads as follows : "In the first Court of Tynwald, holden twise in the Yeare, for the Arrending of the Countrey and the Lord his Profit, and that Prowess be put down, saving in the Lord's Causes, as they were asked in the last Tynwald, holden at Killabane, before John Walton, Lieutenant of Mann, and that matters be determined by God and the Countrey instead of Prowess." St. Abban's Day was March 16th, and the Annunciation March 25th ; therefore the Tynwald Court in question was held on St. Abban's Day, and we may be quite certain that it was accompanied by the usual fair, and as a matter of fact this fair — latterly known as Baldwin Fair — was held down to the year 1834. After the Reformation many of the old Irish saints were displaced, and other Christian festivals, whose dates approximated, were substituted for the dedication dates of the displaced saints : We thus find that St. Abban's Fair was latterly held on Ash Wednesday.

In the sheading of Middle there are only about two dozen Norse place-names found, and its toponomy belongs to the later Gaelic period. During the last century a few English place-names have crept in, but as these are usually of a self-explanatory type, many of them have been omitted in the present work.


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