The following was sent by Sir James Gell (1823-1905)to Lieut Governor Lord Henniker prompted by the death of Queen Victoria on the 2nd February. - Manx Museum MS1058C
CASTLETOWN, 4th FEBRUARY 1901.
My dear Governor.
Lest I should forget to speak to your Excellency on the subject, I think it best to explain in writing why on Thursday last I made an objection to the late QUEEN being designated "Lady of Man" and consequently to the KING being called "Lord of Man" as the official title of the Sovereign of the Island - a title which I. consider to be most incorrect. My remarks are intended to show that QUEEN VICTORIA'S proper title was "Queen of Man" or to follow a very ancient designation "Queen of Man and the Isles", and that KING EDWARD'S title is the same but substituting "King" for "Queen". The designation "Lord" or "Lady" is an inferior title.
I may say that from very ancient times, the Island has been a kingdom. From an early part of the 10th century and for about three centuries it seas governed by a Scandinavian race of Kings, the first of whom was ORRY who conquered the Island. It was afterwards acquired by the King of Scotland by conquest,, and subsequently it came into the hands of English subjects, the last being Sir WILLIAM SCROOPE, afterwards Earl of Wiltshire who seems to have purchased it.
The following is a translation of a record of the purchase as given: in histories : -
"William le Scroop buys of. Lord William Montacute, the Isle of Eubonia, that is, Man. It is forsooth the law of that Island, that whoever may be the Lord thereof shall be called King, to whom also appertains the right to be crowned with a golden crown"
King HENRY 4th of England, having acquired the Island, granted it to Henry de Percy Earl of Northumberland in 1,399 but subsequently it was seized to the same King's use for the treason of the Earl of Northumberland and granted to, Sir JOHN STANLEY . (1) in 1405 for life and (2) in 1406 in perpetuity, the latter grant being subject to "the homage and, allegiance of the service of rendering of two falcons" to King Henry 4th once, and to each successor of the King on the day of his coronation. The King of England acquired the Island as a Kingdom, and his grant was that of a Kingdom, but one feudatory to the Crown of England.; The King or Queen Regent of England was thus the Suzerain of the King of Man Sir JOHN STANLEY I the original grantee was succeeded by,
Sir. JOHN STANLEY II,
Sir THOMAS STANLEY I, (created first Baron Stanley),
THOMAS STANLEY II the second Baron Stanley (created 1st Earl of Derby)
THOMAS STANLEY III, the second :Earl of Derby
All these reigned in the Isle of Man as Kings thereof, and were so styled. But during the reign of the last THOMAS second Earl of Derby - he dropped the title of "King" and assumed that of "Lord." but the change did not affect his Sovereignty - he was the reigning Lord -: Two reasons have been alleged for his change of title :- (1) that as the grant of the Island was made by Henry 4th of England the Chief of the House of Lancaster, it was prudent and politic to drop a, title which might occasion jealousy and mistrust on the part of EDWARD IVth of England (the Successor of Henry IVth) the chief of the House of York, and (2) that although he was King of Man , he was the subject of the King of England, and that it is not fit for a King to be subject to any but the KING of KINGS, that it doth not please a: King that any of his subjects should affect that title, and that to be a great Lord is more honorable than to be a petty King. All his Successors adhered to the title of "Lord", the last Male Lord being JAMES MURRAY second DUKE of ATHOL who, was succeeded by his Daughter CHARLOTTE, Baroness STRANGE, who was styled "Lady of Man". She married her cousin JOHN third DUKE of ATHOL, who as to the Sovereignty of the Island was in the position of a. Prince Consort. In 1,765 the Duke and Duchess surrendered the Sovereignty of Man to KING GEORGE the 3rd of England their Sovereign. They surrendered a Kingdom, the Kingly title of which having been by the voluntary act of a Predecessor changed for the lesser title - but a title merely - the substance surrendered was a Kingdom.
Now when GEORGE the third accepted the surrender did he accept the inferior title of "Lord" voluntarily assumed by the inferior King ?. HENRY the 4th as King made the grant of a. feudatory Kingdom, surly who as the feudatory Sovereign surrendered to his Suzerain the grant, the Suzerain accepts the surrender as King, and he is Lord only in the sense in which it is used in the Book of Common Prayer - "Our Sovereign Lord the King". My opinion is that the rightful. title of QUEEN VICTORIA as regards this Isle was "QUEEN of MAN" or the full designation "QUEEN of MAN and the ISLES" and that of KING EDWARD "KING of. MAN or. "KING of MAN and the ISLES".
I think it would please Manx People if in Manx Official Documents where the Sovereign is described as "King of Great Britain and Ireland, Emperor of India", there were added "and King of Man and the Isles".
There is growing up here a fashion of designating the Sovereign as Lord or Lady (as the case may be). I do not like. it. I trust you will excuse my thus giving my views of the matter.
Yours sincerely, J Gell
The LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR.