[From Land of Home Rule, 1893]




ON leaving the island in August 1651 to join Charles II, Lord Derby delegated his authority to his wife, Charlotte de la Tremouille. In language which seems almost too large for the little stage, on which she was to play the queen, he authorised her "to order and dispose of all and everie the forces of this island . . . to raise anie army or armyes by yourselfe or by your officers . . . with power to kill, imprison, or otherwise to punish enemies according to your good discretion, and likewise to pardon and forgive all such of them as you think worthie of itt . . to dispose of; place or displace, all officers of this island, spirituall or temporall, and free pardon of life, member, and goodes to all dellinquents (after judgment given), to give and grant at your will and pleasure." Even the Stuarts hardly claimed such powers as Lord Derby, confiding in her "known wisdom and courage," intrusted to Charlotte de la Tremouille.'

Signing and sealing this commission on the 6th August 1651, Lord Derby set sail on the fatal enterprise which was to end in defeat at Worcester and the headsman's axe at Bolton. But he did not leave Lady Derby without other assistance. Sir Philip Musgrave, a Royalist, the owner of Edenhall, succeeded Greenhalgh as Governor of the island, and the insular infantry was placed under the command of William Christian, a son of Deemster Ewan Christian, and a distant relative of the Edward Christian whom Lord Derby at one time had made Governor of the island, and whom he had later thrown into the prison in which he was still living.

At first Lord Derby was able to send his wife "comfortable lines;" but as weeks rolled on, and disaster and capture ensued, his letters were couched in a different tone; and at last, three days before his execution, he wrote to prepare her for his own fate and the coming invasion of the island.

"The governor of this place (Chester), Colonel Ducken field, is general of the forces which are going now against the Isle of Man, and however you might do for the present, in time it would be a grievous and troublesome business to resist, especi ally those that at this hour command three nations wherefore my advice, notwithstanding my great affection to that place, is that you would make conditions for yourself; children, servants, and people there, and such as came over with me, to the end you may go to some place of rest, where you may not be con cerned in war; and, taking thought of your poor children, you may in some sort provide for them; then prepare yourself to come to your friends above, in that blessed place where bliss is and no mingling of opinions." 1

Lady Derby, on receiving the affecting letter from which this paragraph is extracted, made an effort to save her Lord. She despatched one of her servants to England with a proposal for "the rendition of the island upon condition that the Earl might be released." But her messenger was too late. He only reached Colonel Duckenfield at the end of October, and a few days before the headsman had completed his fatal work at Bolton. In the meanwhile all had not gone too smoothly with Duckenfield. Leaving Chester on the 18th October, with a considerable force, he had been compelled by contrary winds to take shelter in Beaumaris, wherein — for the stout-hearted Puritans always saw the finger of God in their concerns — "wherein was marvellous Providence: for had we reacht the island with that wind, which set on us at Anglesey, the violence of the storm which arose within few hours would not only have hindered the landing of our men upon such rough shores, but have scattered us into severall countreys, to the disparaging and retarding, if not altogether frustrating, our intended attempts, at least for this winter."

And so from the 18th to the 24th October Duckenfleld lay quietly at Beaumaris. Early in the morning of the 25th he set sail, and in the afternoon of the same day had a clear view of the Manx coast. They saw "the country people in what numbers they could make (for they have no trees to hide them), both horse and foot, mustering up what strength they could engage, which for ought we knew was against us." A council of war was held, at which it was "controverted whether to summon the island, or to make a forcible entry first, and then afterward to scatter declarations more properly among them, and only summon the castles. The latter [course] was resolved upon, which probably, had it been attempted, would have cost the effusion of much blood; but it pleased God (whose ways and thoughts are above ours) that there suddenly arose a very great storme for a short time, that most of our vessels could not possibly come up to the foremost of us." These pious Puritans therefore, who, like the poor Indian, "saw God in storms and heard Him in the wind" abandoned their immediate intention, and steered to the north of the island. There, on the following morning, one Hugh More, an islander, came with a message from Receiver-General Christian to assure us that we should have no opposition in landing, and that only the two castles, Peel and Rushen, did yet stand out. Shortly afterwards " Dymster Christian, and with him three or four seemingly honest and sufficient men," con firmed the news; and accordingly on the 29th October, after the expedition had experienced another severe storm, in which one of the vessels composing it was run ashore and "spoiled, but the lives of the persons in her were preserved," the whole force was safely landed, and siege was laid "to both the castles at once, Colonel Duckenfleld himself lying about Rushen where the Countesse was."

On the evening of the day on which the siege began, an answer was at last given to Lady Derby's appeal for her unfor tunate husband, and she learned for the first time that he was beyond the reach of any help which human aid could give him. Colonel Duckenfield at the same time assured her that there was "no way left for your family of avoiding utter ruine but by a present surrendering the castles of Rushen and Peel to the State of England."

Poor Lady Derby, assured for the first time of her husband's death, was "extreamely passionately affected as in a kind of fury." She could hardly help perceiving that power of resistance she had none. The Parliamentary troops drawn up before the castle had traversed the whole length of the island without opposition; members of her Council, her Deemster and Receiver, had gone over to the enemy; her chaplain, Archdeacon Rutter, urged her to agree to terms; while almost alone her young daughter, inheriting her mother's spirit, wished that Master Rutter "and all such as he were out of the castle," 1 and would leave them alone, "who were resolved to sell their lives and blood at a dearer rate . . . and follow her noble father." Lady Derby, however, did not venture on adopting so bold a counsel, hut offered to surrender the castle on condition that she might be assured a safe-conduct for herself; her family, and her suite, through England to Holland, and that her own jointure and her servants' property might be assured to her. Duckenfield, instead of sending a direct answer to these proposals, busied himself in landing his artillery. While the work was still in progress, "news came that there was a discontent generally among [the] soldiers in the castle." Some of them succeeded in leaping from the battlements and joining the besiegers; others wrenched open a sally-port, and gave the enemy possession of the outer wall and tower; while the leaders, noticing the defection of their men, demanded a parley, and finally surrendered the fortress. It was agreed that the castle and all its stores should be delivered on Saturday the 1st November; that Peel should be surrendered on the following Monday; that the knights, gentlemen, and other persons should have passes to go to their several countries or habitations, with their wearing apparel and their private monies; and that Lady Derby, with her children and servants, have liberty to transport themselves for England, there to make what application to the Parliament she shall think fit." '

"Lady Derby " — so wrote Hume — " retained the glory of being the last person in the three kingdoms, and in all their dependent dominions, who submitted to the victorious Commonwealth." 2 And her resistance would evidently have been much protracted if she could have relied on her Manx sub jects and her insular garrison. Duckenfield, in fact, achieved a bloodless conquest, because the defection of the Christians enabled him to land unopposed and to secure Castle Rushen without a siege. And the conduct of Christian has been raised into literary and historical importance. For one person who is acquainted with the annals of the Isle of Man, a thousand are familiar with the adventures of "Peveril of the Peak," and Scott in the novel has allowed Lady Derby to frame her own charges against her Receiver.

"This Christian," she said, "had eat of my lord his sovereign's bread and drunk of his cup. . . . He himself had fought bravely by my husband's side, and enjoyed all his confidence; and, when my princely Earl was martyred by the rebels, he recommended to me amongst other instructions, communicated in the last message I received from him, to continue my con fidence in Christian's fidelity. I obeyed, although I never loved the man. He was cold and phlegmatic, and utterly devoid of that sacred fire which is the incentive to noble deeds, suspected too of leaning to the cold metaphysics of Calvinistic subtlety. But he was brave, wise, and experienced, and, as the event proved, possessed but too much interest with the islanders. When these rude people saw themselves with out hope of relief; and pressed by a blockade, which brought want and disease into the island, they began to fall off from the faith which they had hitherto shown. . . Do not blame them [continued the Countess]; the rude herd acted but according to their kind — in present distress they forgot former benefits, and, nursed in their earthen hovels, with spirits suited to their dwellings, they were incapable of feeling the glory which is attached to constancy in suffering. But that Christian should have headed their revolt — that he, born a gentleman, and nursed under my murdered Derby's own care in all that was chivalrous and noble — that he should have forgot a hundred benefits ! Why do I talk of benefits? That he should have forgotten that kindly intercourse which binds man to man far more than the reciprocity of obligation — that he should have beaded the ruffians who broke suddenly into my apartment — immured me with my infants in one of my own castles, and assumed or usurped the tyranny of the island — that this should have been done by William Christian, my vassal, my servant, my friend, was a deed of ungrateful treachery, which even this age of treason will scarcely parallel." 1

This description which Scott gave of Christian's conduct was not suffered to pass unchallenged. The then representative of the Christians forwarded to the novelist a memorandum entitled "Historical Notices," defending the Receiver, which may still be read in an appendix to the introduction of "Peveril of the Peak ;" while one of the few ballads in the Manx language which is still preserved sings the praises of Iliam Dhone.2 It is certain, too, that the language which Scott puts into Lady Derby's mouth is not quite reconcilable with the facts that have come down to us. The surrender of the island to the Commonwealth was not due to the pressure of blockade, bringing want and disease in its train. Duckentfield, like Caesar, might have boasted that he came, he saw, and he conquered. There is no evidence, moreover, that Lord Derby specially recommended his wife to trust in Christian. He certainly made no allusion to Christian in the last letter which he addressed to her, and it is not likely that he should have done so. For, whatever benefits the Earl may have conferred on the island, he had conferred no benefit on the Christians. On the contrary, William Christian's distant relative, the ex Governor, was still in gaol. Deemster Christian, William Christian's father, was one of those who had profited most from the old land tenure which Lord Derby had terminated, and was excluded from the commission which Lord Derby appointed in 1645, and which led to the introduction of leases ; in fact, there is every reason for supposing that it was this very policy of turning customary lands into lease holds which produced the rapid defection of 1651 ; and, according to the author of " Historical Notices," the only stipulation which the islanders made on surrendering the island was "that they might enjoy their lands and liberties as they formerly had."

News of the capture of the Island was at once sent to London, and the House of Commons rewarded the messenger who brought the tidings with a gratuity of £100, and directed its thanks to be conveyed by letter to Colonel Duckenfield and the officers and soldiers of the expedition "for their good and faithful service." A month afterwards it voted a guard of 240 men for the protection of the island, directed that two vessels should be provided "for its help and benefit, not being able to subsist without traffic or defend themselves from pirates without some such conveniency;" and it ordered "that the £400 which was the Bishop's yearly revenue, together with the profits of the sequestrable clergy, may make one purse to be allowed to so many and such ministers as the Council of State shall appoint to preach as Steueraries,' at least for a time; aird all scandalous and unfit ministers to be put out." It further decided that "the Isle of Man should be taken in as part of England, yet retaining such laws already established as are equitable and just, and more suitable to the condition of that people than any other that can be devised. To which end it will be convenient that Dymster Christian and his brother the Receiver,' two of the ablest and honestest gentlemen in the Island. may be commanded to attend the Council, by whom they may receive a full and true account touching their laws."

But, though Parliament determined that the Island should be taken in as part of England, it resolved to maintain its separate organisation. It granted the Island to one of its most distinguished generals, Thomas Lord Fairfax, "in as large and beneficial manner, to all intents and purposes, as the said James (Lord Derby) had or might have enjoyed the same;" and the earliest historian of the island, who himself acted as its Governor for a short time under Fairfax, added, "So that as his Lordship hath the jurisdiction of the Isles as the said Earl bath, so hath he also the title, namely, Lord of Man and of the Isles, and that most deservedly; for that as he, in virtue and nobility of blood, is not inferior to any of his predecessors, kings and lords of Man, so in high achievements in arms he far surmounteth them all." 1

Lord Fairfax continued in possession of the Island until the Restoration, but there is no very clear evidence that he ever visited his little dominion. The most important legislation passed during his tenure of it was confirmed and approved by him at Nun Appleton in England. During this period the island seems to have relapsed into a condition of chronic misery; for Chaloner, in concluding his description of it, declared that its poverty was "its greatest security." 2

The poverty of the island probably prepared the way for a fresh revolution. The people, who had obtained little or no benefit from the change to the Commonwealth, were ready on the first opportunity to revert to their old allegiance. The Restoration in England was consequently followed by a similar restoration in Man, and on the last four days of May 1660 Charles II. was proclaimed in each of the four towns of the island, "with shouting, shooting of muskets, and ordnance, drinking of beer, with great rejoicing." Oddly enough, the Governor, Chaloner, who owed his appointment to Fairfax, was present on each of these occasions, "attended with the officers, civil and spiritual, twenty-four Keys, the captains of parishes, and above sixty horse, besides the officers in each town afore said." 1

It is evident, therefore, that, easily as the island had lapsed from its customary allegiance in 1651, it returned with equal ease to its old allegiance in 1660. But it is worth observing that its first overt act of allegiance was paid, not to its own sovereign, but to the crown of England. Six weeks more elapsed before the eighth Earl did anything to assert his own authority as his father's heir. On the 14th July, however, he issued a commission in London appointing Roger Nowell and other gentlemen to be his commissioners in the island, and from that date he may be assumed to have entered on the government of the little dominion of which he was the here ditary lord.

In Man, as in England, the men who were in favour of the Restoration endeavoured both to efface and ignore the doings under the Commonwealth. Episcopacy was almost immediately restored, and the statutes which had been made since 1651 were solemnly re-enacted. But, while Lord Derby and his commissioners in Man were restoring Episcopacy and obliterating the remaining traces of rebellion, they were not forgetting those who had proved faithless to the seventh Earl's trust, anti who had negotiated the surrender of the island to the officers of the Commonwealth. Charles II., indeed, had sanctioned a general Act of indemnity for all acts or offences acted or done by virtue or colour of any authority of the existing Government of England, Scotland, and Ireland, and the dominions thereunto belonging, from the 1st January 1637 to the 24th June 1660, and relying on this amnesty, Iliam Dhone had returned to the island 2 in the summer of 1662. But Lord Derby at once decided on ignoring the indemnity, and writing from Lathom, directed Christian's arrest.

"Rebellion being a most heinous sinne against God, calling for justice here on earth, without which that place where it is committed may well be said to be polluted, and by a fitting sacrifice ought to be purified by the blood of the most heinously guilty . . . and withall, considering how much I am concerned soe far forth as I may to revenge a father's bloud, I take it to be a duty . . . to command you (which I doe by these presents) that forthwith upon sight hereof you proceed against William Christian of Ronasway (some times recedent of my island of Man), for all his illegal actions and rebellions, at or before the year of our Lord one thousand sixe hundred fifty and one, or at any time since, and that he be proceeded against according to the lawes of that my island."

The Lord's officers lost no time in carrying out his instructions. On the 3rd of October — the mandate was only dated 12th September — Christian was put on his trial at Castle Rushen. Depositions were made by various persons concerned in the rising, which show clearly enough that Christian had contemplated an insurrection, had intended to surprise the castle, and that he and his fellow-conspirators had been sworn to secrecy. The Governor referred these depositions to the Deemsters and Keys for their "advice and assistance, whether (upon the examinations taken an(l read before you) you find Mr. William Christian of Ronaldsway within compass of the statute of the year 1422,1 that is, to receive a sentance without quest, or to be tryed according to ordinarye course of tryall for life and death in this country." Deemsters and Keys replied that he should be tried by the course of trial for life and death by quest; and on the 26th November Christian was accordingly indicted before a court of general gaol delivery at Castle Rushen. As, however, he refused to abide his trial at bar according to the law and custom of the country, it was not thought necessary to impanel a jury. The Governor thereupon asked the Deemster, "who then sat in judication," what the law directed when a person refused to plead. The Deemster, before answering the question, craved the advice and assistance of the twenty-four Keys; artd Deemster and Keys replied that "the law in this case deemes such a person to be in ye mercy of ye lord for life and goods, as we find by ancient records."

This answer was only given by one of the Deemsters, Norris, Deemster Christian not unnaturally absenting himself from the court. But it is evident that even Deemster Norris and the Keys wished by this answer to absolve themselves from the unpopular duty of passing sentence on Christian, and to fling the whole responsibility on the Governor of the island. But Things had not gone well with William Christian during the Protectorate. he seems to have left the island in consequence of some defalcations in his eccounts with the Exchequer. His property was sequestered, and on reaching London he was thrown into the Fleet. He said himself, in his speech before his execution, "I was not long in London when I was arrested upon an action £20,000, and clapped up in the Fleet, unto which action I, being a stranger, could give no bail, but was there kept nearly a whole year.'

Lord Derby and his officers were too shrewd to fall into the snare which was thus laid for them: instead of ordering Christian's death on their own authority, they again summoned Deemster and Keys, and asked them whether an offender who had refused to plead, and who had been condemned to death, was entitled to the same benefit of tryal afterwards by a grand jury. If not, whether the Deemsters, or one of them, ought not to proceed to pass sentence; and, if the Deemster do not pronounce sen tence, then by whom is the same to be done, and in what manner. But, though their inquiries were referred to Deemster and Keys, the authorities seem to have found it necessary to pack a court for the purpose. Deemster Christian was removed and replaced by the Attorney-General, Hugh Cannell. Seven of the Keys were displaced by Lord Derby's own order, and seven other persons, who may be assumed to have been more submissive, were appointed in their room. Thus reconstittlted, Deemsters and Keys seem to have found no difficulty in replying that Christian had no right to a fresh trial, "except it bee by the spetiall favour of the Lord of this Isle;" and that "his doome and sentence for life or death, as pleaseth the Governor or Deputy-Governor . . . bee pronounced by the Deemsters, or the one of them in due obedience of such his honour's or Governor's or Deputy-Governor's pleasure, and that a sentence soe pronounced is authenticke and firme in law, in order to his honour's prerogatives in this isle."

Fortified by this clear opinion of a court specially constituted to return it, the Governor commanded the Deemsters to pronounce sentence of death unto and against him, the said prisoner. "And to lett him understand that hee stands guilty of most notorious treason, which demeritts in the strictness of law a most haynues and ignominious death. . . . Nevertheless, upon the earnest peticon of his wife, and consideracon of her very disconsolate condition, I have thought fitt, and so require and order you to pronounce for sentence (using such accustomed fforme as appertaynes to a sentence) that hee bee brought to the place of execution called Hango Hill, and there shott to death, that thereuppon his liffe may departe from his bodie."

The Deemsters could no longer disobey the Governor's order, and on the same day on which it was given, the last day of 1661, Christian was brought to the "publique barre with a guard of soldiers," and the senior Deemster, Norris, pronounced sentence in "a formall and patheticall speech." And two days later, on the second day of 1662, the tragedy was closed. According to the register of the parish in which he was executed, Christian "died most penitently and most curragiously, made a good end, prayed earnestly, made an excellent speech, and the next day was buried in the chancle of Malew." 16

The story of Christian's death has been told at length be cause, apart from the interest attaching to it through "Peveril of the Peak," it illustrates the constitution and practice of the early law courts in the Isle of Man. We have the satisfaction, moreover, of seeing that Charlotte de la Tremouille is herself saved from the reproach, which Scott's genius has cast on her memory, of compassing Christian's death, and that the responsibility for it attaches not to her, but to her son. But the full significance of the story does not end at this point. Before his conviction Christian appealed to the King in Council, saying that he was advised by his lawyers that the Act of Indemnity applied to him, and praying that he ntight have the benefit of, the laws of England, and that the King would order that he should be brought before him, and that, if anything were objected to him, he should have a fair trial according to the known laws of the kingdom. Before any action was taken on this petition Christian was beyond the reach of any aid which Charles II. could extend to him. But on the 12th January the petition was referred to the law officers; and on the 16th, on their report, Lord Derby was directed to bring his prisoner to London, "to be heard before us and our Councell, touching the matters wherewith he is charged." Lord Derby, writing to the Secretary of State on the 20th, regretted that he should have had any trouble "concerneinge one Christian who [had been] condemned and executed by the lawes of the Island of Mann." This Christian "rebelled and constrained my mother (who my Lord my father left Governesse), to surrender up the Isle to the Parliament, and for this hee had no commission, neither from any of the illegall powers which might render the Act of Indemnity beneficiall to him, if that place had been comprehended in the Act of Indempnity, which I conceive it is not, because the Act of Indempnity makes noe mention of that place." And Lord Derby, therefore, passing lightly over the transaction to matters of higher importance, asked the Secretary of State to approve the appointments of some deputy-lieutenants for Lancashire.

Possibly the matter might have been forgotten if some of Christian's sons had not appealed to the Privy Council for redress. The Council, on their appeal, directed Thomas Norris, the Deemster who pronounced sentence, Robert Calcott, the commander of Castle Rushen, and Hugh Cannell, the attorney-general, who had been promoted to the Deemstership, to appear before the Privy Council and give an account of their proceedings. The Governor, Henry Nowell,17 had the hardihood to obstruct the order, and the Council thereupon issued a warrant for the arrest of the Governor and the other offenders, and the bringing them to London. Lord Derby, hearing of the order, thought it useless to resist the power of the English crown, and undertook, if the warrant were suspended, that the persons charged should at once appear; and, finally, after a full hearing of the whole case, the Privy Council, assisted by the Lord Chief Justice, the Lord Chief Baron, and the King's counsel "learned in the lawes," decided "that ihe Act of general pardon and indempnity did and ought to be understood to extend into the Isle of Man, as well as into any other of His Majesty's dominions . . . and that being a publique general Act of Parliament, it ought to have been taken notice of by the Judges in the Isle of Man." In consequence it directed that full restitution should be made of William Christian's estate ; that the complainants should have all their charges and expenses paid; that the two Deemsters — Norris and Cannell — should he committed to the King's Bench and proceeded against "so to receive condign punishment according to the merit of so heinous a fact;" that Deemster Christian should at once be restored to his office; and that the Governor Nowell (" whose fault hath been the not complying with and yielding due obedience to the orders of His Majesty and this Board ") be discharged on giving security to appear before the Privy Council whenever summoned, being "strictly commanded to employ the power and authority which, by virtue of his commission, he hath in that island in performance of and obedience to all commands and orders of His Majesty and this Board in this whole business or any way relating thereto." 18

This decision emphasises the conclusion which has been more than once expressed in this volume that the little Island of Man, though a very ancient kingdom, could at no time of its history claim that it was an independent kingdom. As the Lord Chancellor of England said in deciding a famous case in 1751

"Several things are admitted on both sides — that the Isle of Man is not parcel of the realm, but of the possessions of the crown of Great Britain, long held as feudatory, first of the King of Norway, then of the King of Scotland, and afterwards of the King of England by liege homage. . . . It is grantable by the Great Seal of England, not as parcel of the realm, but of the possessions of the crown; it is held by liege homage rendering two falcons, to be presented to the King's heirs and successors upon the day of their coronation, which is a tenure in free socage." 19


1 Manx Soc. Pub., p. xx~'ii. or Seacome's House of Stanley, p. 128.

2 Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. p. io~.

3 Rutter, who had been chaplain to Lord Derby, and was now Archdeacon, and who subsequently became Bishop of the island, had been in Lathom during the famous siege, and had displayed dexterity and courage (Seacome's House of Stanley, p. 103). His advice to yield is a tolerable proof, therefore, that Castle Rushen was indefensible.

4 Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. pp. 16-74.

5 History of England, vol. vii. p. 205.

6 Peveril of the Peak, chap. v.

7 Iliam Dhone is literally William the Brown-Haired, and is the Manx name for William Christian.

8 According to the Historical Notices, Receiver Christian was the son, and not the brother, of Deemster Christian. Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. p. 92. For the extracts in the text, see ibid., p. 77, and Journal of the House of Commons.

9 Manx. Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. p. xxxv.

10 Chaloner in Manx Soc. Pub., vol. x, p. 28, The late Mr. Harrison says that the island had been conferred on Lord Fairfax by an Act of the Long Parliament passed on the 20th September 1649; but he admits that no trace can be found of the Act. Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. p. xxxiii. n,

11 Ibid., vol. x. p. 57.

12 Before accepting Chaloner's statement without reserve, the reader will do well to compare it with Blundell's account of the island, which will he found at the commencement of the next chapter.

13 12 Car. II., c. n.

14 Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. p. 37, and cf. Introduction, p. xxxvii.

15 The Statute of 1422 gave it for law "that whosoever riseth against the Lieutenant, he is a traytor by our law, for that is against the Lord's prerogative.

16 Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. pp. 1-40.

17 Henry Nowell appears to have been deputy to his father, Roger Newell ;Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xxvi. p. 34, note.

18 Manx. Pub vol p. 57.

19 Manx Soc. Pub., vol. xii. p. 68.


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