[From Wood's Accout of IoM, 1811]
The Arms of Man. Manks Fencibles. Religion.
THE old Arms of Man were a ship with the sails furled, and the motto, " Rex Manniae, et Insularum." At the Scottish .conquest they were changed to three legs, uniting at the upper part of the thigh, and clothed and spurred, with the motto, "Stabit quocunque jeceris." They resemble the ancient arms of Sicily, except in the covering and spurs, of which those were destitute.
In former times every man capable of bearing; arms was liable to be summoned by the lord, and obliged to serve in his militia. At present, the military establishment of the island consists of a regiment of fencibles, the individuals of which are inlisted voluntarily. The duty of an officer, or a soldier, is not considered incompatible with trade. The service is easy; and vacancies are readily filled up by the bounty of three guineas to a recruit. Their pay is the same as that of English regiments.
Formidable as the island used to be in its offensive operations, it does not now possess any naval establishment. A press-gang is usually stationed at Douglas to pick up seamen as they arrive.
The religion of the island is the established one of Britain. All sects are tolerated; but no marriage is legal, unless the ceremony be performed according to the custom of the Protestant Church.
The care of the church devolves upon the bishop, the arch deacon, the two vicars-general, and the episcopal registrar.
The act of revestment reserves in the Athol family all its former ecclesiastical patronage. The bishop, having been nominated by the Duke of Athol, and received his Majesty's approbation, is consecrated by the Archbishop of York. He enjoys all the pre-eminences and spiritual rights of other bishops; but, his see not being a barony, has no vote in the British house of peers. He has however, I suppose by courtesy, a seat in the house above the bar. The arms of the bishopric are, on three ascents, the Virgin Mary, her arms extended between two pillars; on the dexter, a church; in base, the ancient arms of Man. The bishop's domain is between three and four hundred acres; and the revenue of the see is supposed to be between twelve and fifteen hundred pounds a-year.
The bishopric of Sodor was first instituted by Pope Gregory the Fourth in the ninth century (1). It was erected in Sodor; a little village in the isle of Iona, or St. Columb's Isle, corruptly called Colmkill, a small island of the Hebrides, being only two miles long and one broad. Dr. Johnson says of it, " This island, which was once the metropolis of learning and piety, has now no school for education, nor temple for worship; out of three hundred inhabitants, only two that can speak English, and not one that can read or write." The title of Sodor the bishops of the western isles possessed solely, until the year 1098, when King Magnus, of Norway, conquering these islands, and the Isle of Man, united the two bishoprics of Sodor and Man; which continued so united till the English were possessed of the Isle of Man in 1333. Though, from this tine, the Bishop of Man had no claim to the bishopric of Sodor, the title is continued to the present day.
Beatson conjectures, that the word Sodor is a corruption of ( our Saviour), to whom the cathedral of Iona was dedicated; while others imagine that it is a corruption of Suder (southern ); the Norwegians being accustomed to call the most northern Hebrides Nordereys; and the southern, of which Iona is one, Sudereys. All the last mentioned islands were in the diocese of the Bishop of Sodor.
The derivations, already given, relate to Iona or the southern Hebrides: but a charter is still extant, dated 1505, wherein Thomas, Earl of Derby and Lord of Man, confirms to Huam Hesketh, bishop thereof, all the lands usually pertaining to the Bishoprick: and this charter would induce us to believe that the word Sodor was derived from the little island contiguous to Peel, on which is placed the cathedral of Man. It runs thus: " Ecclesiam cathedralem Sancti Germani in Holm, Sodor, vel Pele vocatam, ecclesiamque Sancti Patricii ibidem et locum praefatum in quo ecclesiae praefata, site sunt."
In most of the parishes of Man, the service is read on alternate Sundays in the Marks and in the English language. Immediately after the vords in the litany, "preserve to us the kindly fruits of the earth," are very properly added these, "restore and continue to us the blessings of the sea."
The ceremony of a funeral is similar to that practised in the north of England. The bellman goes about the streets inviting all persons to attend. The solitary bell at the top of the church is rather rung than tolled. A little way from the church-yard, the attendants of the corpse, with their hats off, commence a psalm which they terminate when met by the clergyman at the gateway. The coffins of the poor people are made of stained deal, and the mourners are not clad in mourning
Westley, with some associates, visited the island in 1777, and writes thus respecting it: "We have had no such circuit, either in England, Scotland, or Ireland: this island is shut up from the world: there are no disputers, no dissenters of any kind. The governor, bishop, clergy, oppose not. They did for a season, but they grew better acquainted with us." In the year 1797, William Savary, a Quaker of Philadelphia, with -- Farrel, of Liverpool, and two other companions of the same persuasion, paid a visit to the island. They travelled much about it; preached to the people as opportunity offered; and were treated with great attention and respect. The two former had made the tour of the greater part of Europe in the service of their master, Jesus Christ. They remarked, that in Man and at Berlin they had observed more than usual marks of religion among, the people. Methodism is much more likely than Quakerism to attract the vulgar. Of the former sect are, at least, a tenth part of the inhabitants: of the latter, though there were a few in. Bishop Wilson s time, there is not any at present.