[From Manx Soc vol 1 Sacheverell's Survey c.1692]
THE original inhabitants of the Isle of Man were undoubtedly the same with the rest of Britain, and their first Government a sort of Aristocracy, under the Druids. I could almost venture to call it a Theocracy, their notions of Divinity were so lively and perfect; their form of government so admirably adapted to the good of mankind; in short, such an excellent mixture of prince and priest, that religion and the state had but one united interest. All mistakes were ended by an amicable composition; the people had such a veneration for the integrity of their rulers, that their awards served instead of laws; the parties acquiesced, and cheerfully attended the magistrate from the tribunal to the altar(50). This was the true patriarchal government, which was not always due to birth, but virtue acquired a voluntary empire over the wills and affections of mankind; where no separate interests were to be found, no self-designs, but one public spirit inspired the whole community. How long they continued under this happy form is very uncertain (though undoubtedly its original was as early as nature itself), but generally it is supposed something longer than the rest of Britain, which the Romans, by reducing it to their own standard, had, as they termed it, civilized, but, in truth, corrupted the morality, and untaught the genuine rudiments of nature; and it is not improbable it might last till near the end of the fourth century (for I have no more faith in Capgrave's legend of Mordaius(51), which had put an end to it in the first, than in Boetius's fable of Amphibalus, by which it had determined in the third) ; about which time, we are informed by Mr. Camden, out of Nennius, that this Island was conquered by one Binley, a Scot. Here began rapine, war, and violence; the ancient form of government was overturned, the natives murdered, expelled, or, if any had so little sense of their former happiness as to survive it, opprest; the first easy, persuasive power was forgot, and the will of the conqueror supplied the want of laws, for as yet none were superinduced, but force was the common standard betwixt the leader and his followers, a people equally brutish with himself. But as it had been impossible for their government to have subsisted by methods so unequal, common necessity taught them to agree in some fundamentals as dividing the booty, sharing the lands, and giving the leader his proportion; and this original contract came to be the foundation of their laws, which the universal traditions of the Manks nation ascribe to.
Mannan-Mac-Lear, whom they believe the father, founder, and legislator of their country, and place him about the beg~inning of the fifth century; they pretend he was son of a King of Ulster, and brother to Fergus the Second, who restored the Kingdom of Scotland, A.D.. 422. As it is probable the Prince, by the rule laid down, had his share or proportion in lands, so, the tradition says, he exacted no tax or subsidy from his people, but only a quantity of rushes, which were brought him on Midsummer's day(52). This easy service, it is probable, made him greatly beloved and almost adored for his wisdom (for the subjects will always believe the prince wise that makes them rich), and because ex they could press it no better, reputed him a magician-a craft not uncommon in legislators (as Zoroaster and Numa), to make the people believe they act by some superior or supernatural power, that so their dictates may he received as oracles among the ignorant and vulgar. And, what seems to complete their happiness so, towards the latter end of his reign St. Patrick landed here, in his second voyage for Ireland, and was greatly opposed by one Melinus, a famous magician (says Jocelinus in Vita Patricii), who, in imitation of Simon Magus, attempting to fly in the air, was mortally bruised by a fall, but, upon his repentance and conversion, immediately restored to his health. Such wonders religion can do, or so much have the writers of ecclesiastical history deceived us. Whether Mannan and Melinus were the same we are not informed, nor what became of him; but the Manks tradition says that St. Patrick, proceeding on his voyage, left Germanus Bishop, and Jocelinus concurs with him in these words-" Ad regendum et erudiendum populum in fide Christi." This Germanus was canon of the Lateran, a prudent and holy man, one of the first assistants of St. Patrick in the conversion of Ireland, who, by his wisdom, conduct, and virtuous example, absolutely settled the Christian religion, whether by the death, conversion, or voluntary abdication of Mannan-Mac-Lear, is uncertain, for methinks expulsion sounds too harsh. Those were the saints of a later date who expelled the natives to enjoy their lands, and by respine and murder made room for what they call religion. How long this pious person filled the chair we know not; that he died before St. Patrick is evident. The Church celebrates his memory among the blessed, and the cathedral in Peel Castle is dedicated to him.
To supply this loss, St. Patrick sent over two bishops, Conindrius and Romulus, of whom their tradition says no more, but that during their government St. Maughold (53) was cast in here in a little leathern boat. his hands manacled, and bolts on his feet. The good bishop received him with admiration and pity, especially when he had informed them he had been a captain of robbers in Ireland, and that he voluntarily underwent this penance for his former course of life. The rest of the legend is so gross, I shall only say that after the death of the two bishops he was elected 'by the unanimous consent of the Manks nation, Anno 498, which was four years after the death of St. Patrick. It is not expressed whether he held the temporal government; my author is of opinion he did not, but that he retired into the mountainous tract called by his own name, where he led an austere and contemplative life; in which place the piety of succeeding ages built a city, though now scarce a village, except Ramsey, which is within the parish, were the place. An odd metamorphosis that changed a man, whose nature ought to be conversable, into a solitary animal, and afterwards that solitude into a city. In this retirement it was that St. Bridget, one of the Tutelar Saints of Ireland, came to receive the veil of virginity from his hands, as her nephew, Cogitosus, who wrote her life, informs us. He that hath more curiosity for the legend of this saint ought to read his life written by Lawrence Surius, a monk of Furness, who had either a larger invention or was better informed than the rest of mankind. How long he filled the chair is very uncertain, but the Manks tradition says the government continued successively in the hands of the Bishops until the coming of a King called Orry; but this contradicts all the legends and histories of that age, for the Antiquities of Glastonbury tell us that about the year 520 King Arthur conquered this Isle, which he generously restored to the native Prince, and afterwards admitted him among his Knights of the Round Table; for in those romantic ages honour was the sole object of their conquest, which the ambition of the world hath now learned to improve to interest and private advantage(54). Who this King was our legend-makers have not informed us, neither have we any named till about sixty years after; this was
Brennus (by Buchanan styled Brendinus Regulus Euboniae), sister's Son to Aydan, King of Scotland, a Prince enterprizing, active, and brave, who, hearing his uncle was hard beset by the Picts and their confederates, raised what forces he could for his assistance, in the year 594; was slain fighting in the head of his Manksmen, and, with a prodigious slaughter of the enemy, left a bloody victory to his uncle. Not long after Eugenius, the son of Aydan, obtained the crown of Scotland, and in memory of his education and the kind reception he had found here, sent his three sons Ferquard, Fiaere, and Donald to be educated under Conanus, Bishop of this Isle.
Ferquard obtained the crown of Scotland in 610, and not long after was murdered by a conspiracy, upon which the nobility, by a solemn deputation, offered the kingdom to his second brother, Fiaere, who (though in the heat of youth) rejected it with a greatness perhaps that never had a parallel, and afterwards became one of the most eminent instances of mortification and devotion which that age produced, and the crown devolved on the younger 'brother, Donald, who governed with great prudence, and as he was one of the most celebrated of all the Scottish Kings, has left it disputable to posterity which was the greatest, he that refused the crown, or he that wore it with so much honour and integrity. It is probable this island, after the death of Brennus, was annexed to Scotland, from which it is believed to have been wrested about twenty years after by Edwin, King of Northumberland, though how long he held it is very uncertain, and perhaps it might rather be a ravage than a conquest; neither do we find it met with any further disturbance till about 300 years after, so that it gave no occasion for history, which generally treats of nothing but the miseries and misfortunes of mankind, but rarely recounts their quiet and happiness. But during this long silence of the British historians the Manks tradition supplies us with a line of Kings, whom they term Orrys, and tell you they had a succession of twelve of them; of which the first was a son of a King of Denmark and Norway,a fortunate and enterprising Prince, who, they say, first conquered the Oreades, and then the Ebudes, and at last fixed his residence in the Isle of Eubonia. He reigned long and peaceably, and became the stem of their second race of Kings called Orrys(55), during whose government the Christian religion flourished, under the care of their bishops, successors to St. Patrick.
Guttred, his son, succeeded, to whom they ascribe the building of Castle Rushen about the year 960. He greatly laboured to civilize the people, and lies obscurely buried in the castle of his own foundation, and has left a noble monument to all succeeding ages of his virtue. The third of this line was Reginald, a Prince gay, amorous, inconstant, and reputed a magician. who having seduced a lady of quality by a certain magic, that is seldom wanting to the witty and the brave, had the ill fate to have his throat cut by her brothers, who were soldiers of fortune. He was succeeded by one
Olave, who, for assuming the crown without the King of Norway's consent, was civilly invited to his court, but at his landing was seized, arraigned, and executed.
Olain, his brother, succeeded him, who seized on this and some other islands; a Prince of great virtue and justice, who, after a government of three-and-twenty years, died of a flux in Ireland, and had for his successor
Allen, a cruel, libidinous, extravagant, intemperate Prince. He was poisoned, or bewitched, by a person that had been his governor. He was succeeded by his son, called
Fingall, who had for his successor his son
Goddard, of whom the Manks tradition gives us no character; and I doubt the whole number are no better than the invention of their monks, to amuse the people, especially since they have omitted almost the only real King that deserved that honour; his name was
Macon, or Macutus, who lived about the middle of the tenth century, and for refusing to do homage to our glorious monarch Edgar, lost his kingdom; he was afterwards not only restored, but made admiral of that prodigious fleet -which perhaps never had a parallel - of 4,800 sail of ships (if our historians have not added a cypher too much), with which twice in the year he sailed round the British Isles, to clear the seas from rovers, especially the Danes and Normans, who about that time miserably harassed the seacoasts of Europe. Sir Henry Spelman calls 'him" Totius Angliae Archipirata," which in another place he interprets "Prince of Seamen;" and from him, it is probable, the ancient bearing of the Island was a ship in her rough sables, with this inscription, "Rex Manniae et Insularum," which, my author says, was engraved on a seal, once in the custody of Mr. Cambden(56). It is certain that coats of arms came to be in use about that time, and this among the critics was supposed to be the seal of Macon; though how the coat came to be altered is uncertain, except this now in use was the proper bearing of Goddard Crownan and his descendants. Among other marks of honour paid to this Prince by King Edgar, his attendance on him in that solemn passage over the Dee is not the least, where he, accompanied by a vast number of his nobility in boats, was rowed over that river in a stately barge, prepared for that purpose, by eight of those kings, who paid homage to his sovereignty, he himself holding the rudder, to testify his superiority over them all; among whom Macon had the third oar, to give him precedence of the other five; and when that monarch made the memorable confirmation of the charter of Glastonbury, Macon subscribed to it immediately after the King of Scotland. How long this great man governed (who must always be reputed among the heroes) is uncertain, and likewise who succeeded him, though his name was probably (57)
Syrach, who held the kingdom about the beginning of the eleventh century; of whom neither Mr. Cambden nor the Manks tradition gives us any character, but both agree he was succeeded by his son
Goddard, towards the latter end of, whose reign, Anno 1065, Edward the Confessor died, and Harold, son of Earl Goodwin, was elected to the crown of England against whom Harfager, King of Norway, came with a mighty army, but Harold met him at Stamford, fought him, and routed him, and drove his Norwegians out of England; among whom Mr. Cambden, from the Monks of Rushen, and the Manks tradition tells us that Goddard Crownan, son of Harold the Black of Ireland. fled for protection into this Island, where he was kindly entertained by the people (who are naturally fond of strangers) ; but then greatly discontented with the ill conduct of their Prince, a man of no faith, no honour, treacherous, inconstant, timorous, and unjust; one, in short, that seemed peculiarly marked out by heaven to undo himself and people; of whose ill humours Goddard thinking to make advantage, returned into his native country, and raising a great fleet, came back with all speed to the Isle of Man, but found the King dead, and his son
Fingall in the throne; and, as the people naturally bury their grevances in their prince's grave, Goddard found all his measures broken; therefore, he resolved to attempt the Island by open force; but, receiving a notable repulse by the natives, returned back to reinforce his fleet and army; which done, he made a second attempt, but still with the same fortune; so that, despairing to effect this design by open violence, he had recourse to this stratagem. In a dark night he came upon the coast, and landed three hundred of his men, and lodged them in a wood under a hill, called Skeyall, near Ramsey, and the next morning landed the rest of his forces, was opposed by the Manksmen with their usual bravery; and when Goddard's men began to give ground, and the natives thought the field their own, the three hundred fresh men fell on them in the rear, and Goddard renewing the charge vigorously in the front, the poor Manksmen began to give ground, and at the same time the tide coming in rendered their retreat impossible, so that, reduced to the fatal necessity of dying by the enemy's sword or drowning in the river, they unanimously cried for quarter, which Goddard (remembering the kind reception he had found) willingly granted, and sounded a retreat to save any further bloodshed. What became of Fingall, we do not find, but probably he fell in battle. The next morning Goddard., assembling all his forces, gave them their choice of dividing their land, or booty, among them. The majority those the latter, and accordingly had it divided with great equality, and were civilly dismissed; and as for those that were willing to stay, Goddard granted them the south part of the Island, and the northern division to the original natives, but upon condition that no man for ever should claim any inheritance; so that to this day the whole Island became the demesne of the Crown.(58) Thus a discontented people, by changing masters, often run themselves into the slavery they thought to avoid.