[From Cumming, Rushen Castle, 1857]
IN the year 1848 I brought out an account of the Isle of Man, (published by John Van Voorst, London,) intended primarily for geological and scientific readers, but including partly in the body of the work, and partly, but more fully, in the Appendix the civil and ecclesiastical history of the Island, interspersed with some of those strange legends which linger still amongst the people of its mountains and valleys. Since that publication I have fallen in with a few records relating to the monastery of Rushen, (the last dissolved in the British Isles,) and also to the occupants of the castle of Rushen, amongst whom must more especially be named the famous James, seventh Earl of Derby, and his heroic Countess, Charlotte de Tremouille. As some of these records have not hitherto, as far as I am aware, been printed, and the rest are scattered about in books either too expensive or too rare to be got at by most people, I have thought it desirable to bring them together in a simple and connected Story, which may prove interesting and useful to general readers, and more particularly to those who, for the first time, are led to visit this very remarkable locality. It does indeed seem strange that, with all the facilities which steam navigation affords, the Isle of Man, presenting to us certainly some of the most beautiful scenery in the British Isles, and whose political status is of so singular a character, should continue to be so little known. How very few are aware, as I have found by repeated inquiries, of these facts following very worthy of note: That its climate is more equable than that of any country in Europe, and its mean annual temperature higher than that of any spot in the same parallel of latitude; that it has within itself more antiquities in the shape of cromlechs, stone circles, crosses, ruined churches and castles, than any area of like extent in the British Isles that it has been the possession in turn of the Scotch, Welsh, Danes, Norwegians, and English ; that its kings dictated terms to the Kings of Ireland; that it played a part in the struggle between Bruce and Baliol; that the land, the people, and their privileges, have been transferred from one party to another, by purchase, or by mortgage, on five separate occasions; that though in the midst of the British Isles, it is not in point of law a part of them; that though a possession of the British crown, it is not ruled by the British Parliament; that though its people have the rights of British subjects, it is no part of England, is not governed by the laws of England, and belongs not to England by colonization, or by conquest; that in all the various changes of hands, through which the Island has passed, it has maintained in its integrity its ancient and singular constitution, and presents the last solitary remains of the ancient Scandinavian Thing, or court of justice, which, for the protection of public liberty, was held in the open air, in the presence of the entire assembled people; that its bishopric is the most ancient of any in Great Britain and Ireland, and has preserved an unbroken succession of bishops from the first till now; that it contains no records of the Reformation; that its Bishop in the time of King Henry VIII. was also Bishop in the time of Elizabeth, and died in possession; that its ecclesiastical liberty is not encumbered with an Act of Uniformity, or an Act of Mortmain; that, for the better government of the Church, and for making such orders and constitutions as shall from time to time be found wanting, it is enjoined by law that there shall be a convocation of the whole clergy of the diocese, on Thursday in Whitsun week, every year; that canons drawn up in these synodal meetings of the Church have received the sanction of the legislature, and are actually the statute law of the Isle; that the Bishop can himself draw up public prayers to be used in the churches of his diocese, and that such prayers have been incorporated into the Liturgy of the Manx Church; that the Offertory has never been discontinued, but is in general practice once at least every week, in every parish in the Island. Most of these facts are noticed in different portions of the present work, but may be learnt more distinctly from the Author's larger work before referred to; with respect to them, however, strangers are almost entirely ignorant.
In drawing up this Story of Rushen Castle, and Rushen Abbey, I have made use of two of the chapters of my previous work on the Isle of Man; but by reference to a catalogue, in Latin, of the Kings of Man, which I found amongst the Harleian MSS. in the British Museum, I have been able to correct certain points in the civil and ecclesiastical history of the Island, and to rectify some errors in the dates; and from the same MSS., and the insular records, I have been enabled to add a few interesting details not hitherto published. I cannot but express here my deep obligations to my kind friend Mark Hildesly Quayle, Esq., the Clerk of the Rolls, for the use he has afforded me of several interesting family MSS., which have enabled me to present much matter not heretofore in print, connected both with Rushen Castle and Rushen Abbey. It is to him I owe the singular "Computus" of the revenues of the abbey at the time of its dissolution, which I have given in Appendix B. Yet my ability to present it in its present form is altogether due to the kindness of niv friend Albert Way, Esq., of Wonham Manor, Reigate, who, with his usual earnestness and devotion to all matters of antiquarian interest, undertook the task of extending the original law Latin abbreviations, collated this MS. with other rolls of a similar character in the Augmentation Office, at Carlton Ride, and conducted it through the press, adding some most valuable notes. To him I would tender my warmest acknowledgments. My thanks are also due to Mr. John McMeiken (agent for the branch at Castletown of Messrs. Dumbell's Douglas and Isle of Man Bank) for the fac-similes which I have given of the handwritings of various remarkable personages connected with the Isle of Man in times long gone by. Amongst them will be recognised those of James, the seventh Earl of Derby, and his no less illustrious Countess, of William Christian, Sacheverell, and Bishops Barrow, Hildesley, and Thomas Wilson. I would here express also my obligation to the Secretaries and Committee of the Cambrian Archaeological Association for the reprint of the Catalogue of the Kings of Man, which originally appeared, with a short memoir of mine on Manx History, in the Archaeologia Cambrensis, at the beginning of the present year. The labour of drawing up such a catalogue, as is well known by those who have been similarly occuplied, is not slight, and it will be found to give in very small compass all that is necessary to the general reader to know of the singular history of Ellan Vannin veg veen.
I have availed myself in the illustration of this work, as in my work on the Runic and other Monumental Remains of the Isle of Man, of the Anastastic process of Mr. Appel, of Gerrard Street, Soho. The very curious ancient map of the Island, and the views in the neighbourhood of Castletown of the same date, have in this way been copied from Chaloner's History of the Isle of Man, attached to King's Vale Royal of Cheshire.
The view of Castle Rushen in 1560 is an ideal restoration by myself, from an examination of alterations since made in it, and from historical accounts. In contrast with it, I have given a view of it in 1850, which includes the barbarous additions made six years before that time, and the bell turret which was probably added in 1729, which is the date on the bell included in it. The view of Rushen Abbey in 1800 is reduced from a drawing made at that time, which I obtained from a collector. It has recently been proposed to occupy the site of the abbey as a lunatic asylum for the whole Island, and overtures have been made by the Insular Government to the owner of it for that purpose.
The Roman altar, which is in the grounds of Lorn House, the residence of the Lieutenant-Governor, does not properly belong to the Isle of Man, having been more than a century ago brought to the Island from the Roman station of Ellenborough, near Maryport, in Cumberland. I have, however, given a sketch of it, as it was for many years preserved in Rushen Castle. For an account of the inscription I must refer to my work on The Runic and other Monumental Remains in the Isle of Man. The stone with D. I. C. (James and Charlotte Derby) on it is still in the castle, at the entrance to the Rolls Office.