[From Manx Soc vol 1 Sacheverell's Survey c.1692]


VARIOUS were the names the ancients gave this Island,

By Caesar it was called Mona, and still so stiled in our records, from all antiquity; by Ptolomy, Moneda, and by Pliny, Monabia, and it was likewise called Embonia.(22) Not to mention the variety of names it had, in the dark and ignorant ages of the world, it is called at present by the natives, Manning (23); by the English, Man; by the British, Menaw; by Gildas and Nennius, Manaw.

Its Length and Breadth.- The length of the Island lies from North North East, to South South West, and upon survey is more than thirty miles. Mr. Challoner says, it nowhere exceeds nine in breadth, and in some places not five, which is only true betwixt Derbyhaven and Port-Erin; but, generally speaking, it is betwixt eight and ten in breadth. It lies betwixt fifty-five and fifty-six degrees of northern latitude, and fifteen longitude, and Castletown seems to lie under the same parallel with York. My author says it is placed in the navel(24) of the sea,; and, in truth, it seems the centre of the king of Great Britain's dominions, almost equally distant in the north from Galloway, in the west from Ulster, in the east from Cumberland, and in the south from Anglesey, but something nearest to England; though some, from the doctrine of sympathies, will have it appertain to Ireland, because it harbours no venemous creatures, which they ascribe to the blessing of their common apostle St. Patrick.(25)

Its Divisions.-The whole Island is divided into the North and South, each of which has its Castle, Deemster or Judge, and Vicar-General; each Sheading or Subdivision, its Coroner; every Parish, its Captain and Minister, and every Fort its Constable.


The Sheading of Kirk Christ.Rushen, subdivided into the Parishes of


Kirk Christ Rushen

Kirk Arbory.

Kirk Malew. Castle Rushen.

The Middle Sheading


Kirk St. Ann

Kirk Marown.

Kirk Braddan.

The Garf Sheading


Kirk Maughold. Ramsey Town.

Kirk Lonnan

Kirk Conchan. Douglas Town.


The Sheading of Glenfaba,
subdivided into


Kirk Patrick. Peel Castle.

Kirk German

The Michael Sheading


Kirk Michael. Bishop's Court.

Kirk St. Mary Ballaugh.

Kirk Patrick of Jurby.

The Ayre Sheading


Kirk Christ Lezayre.

Kirk Andreas. The Archdeaconry.

Kirk Bride.

So that the Church is governed under a Bishop, by an Archdeacon, two Vicars-General(26), and sixteen Minsters. The Militia,, under the Governors by three Majors, and eighteen Captains of Parishes; the Towns, by four Constables; and the Civil Constitution, by two Deemsters, six Coroners, seventeen Moars (27) or Bailiffs, with several other inferior officers.

Air.-The Air by reason of its northerly situation is sharp and cold, much exposed to violent winds, having no shelter from woods or mountains, for the mountains fill the middle part of the country, so that the habitable part is exposed to the sea air; but especially those that lie to the south-west feel the dismal effects of a salt vapour, that point of the Island lying open to the chops of the channel, and consequently the air is more destructive than what comes from any other point, as being better secured by the neighbourhood of England or Ireland. The Island is likewise subject to mists and vapours, but they are not observed to be any way noxious, but rather allay the severity of the cold; for there is nothing hurtful in mists but when they are raised from unwholesome fens or a muddy shore, which corrupt the air they mix with: but the shore here is all either rock or sand, and consequently the vapours that mix with the air cannot be unwholesome, as being constantly agitated by the violence of the winds and contrary motions of the tide, which are very impetuous; and I think the long lives of the natives (some exceeding fourscore, without either physic or physician,) is a convincing demonstration of the truth of this proposition.

Soil.-As to the Soil, the middle part of the country is generally barren and full of mountains, of which the most considerable are the two Barrules, Skeyal(28), and the watch-hill of Knockalow, but above all Snaefield is the most famous for its unparalled prospect of England, Scotland, and Ireland. The north-west is a poor gravel and sand; the north-east has a large tract of meadow called the Curragh, which was formerly under water(29), but of late well drained and greatly improved; the south, and the south-east has a reasonable good soil, and produces moderate crops of corn when well husbanded, and has some tolerable pastures; and the whole has been of late years greatly improved by the late Governor Greenholfe(30), who taught them the art of liming their lands, which they likewise improve by sea weeds, and in many parts of the country there is marle; but the people have not the skill or the purses to lay it out on their grounds, and I do not doudt but turnips would be an admirable improvement on the northsite, were they able to enclose their lands, that they might secure them. The country affords all sorts of grain in reasonable plenty, some small quantity of hemp and flax, a little honey and wax, and some fish oil they export yearly. Their Cattle are generally small; the better sort improve their breed, as likewise that of their horses which are not yet arrived to any great perfection. They have also a reasonable quantity of Sheep, and some improve in their breed very much, but of these they have barely enough to answer the necessities of the country: they have a remarkable sort they call Laughtown-sheep(31), and the wool Laughtown-wool, which, when carefully dressed, makes a cloth near a hair colour, which is one of the greatest natural rarities of the country, especially since the Lambs seldom follow the colour of the sheep, though I suppose it is because they are not kept unmixed, which I have found true by experience. They have likewise Swine in abundance, of which those about their houses are reasonably large, but they have a small mountain kind called Purs which are admirable meat. They have also plenty of Goats. All swine of delinquents are the Lords, all goats of felons belong to the Queen of Man(32). They have likewise plenty of Rabbits at twopence the couple, a fat Goose for sixpence, Hens and Ducks at threepence a piece, and usually twelve Eggs a penny. My author says, there are Otters, Badgers,and Foxes,and others, Solan Geese but I hearof none; but Hares they have in abundance. There axe some small quantities of red Deer (33) in the mountains, and the Earl of Derby has lately sent over some Fallow Deer into the Calf, which is a very pleasant Island, near five miles in circuit, and has all the beauty and variety (trees excepted) of any park I ever saw. In the rocks of this Island are great quantities of all sorts of Sea Fowl, but above all the Puffin is most remarkable, which is not to be found in any other part of the Isle of Man; they breed in rabbit holes, and are never to be seen but in the months of June and July, which are the times of sitting. There is nothing ever found in the craw of the young but a sorrel-leaf, which is probably to correct their excessive fat. The Earl has likewise sent over Partridge, which thrive very well, though my author says his grand-father was not so fortunate in his experiment, I suppose the Hawks destroyed them, for there are some ayries of Mettled Falcons,, and in summer time we have a sort of small Hawks called Merlins which come out of Scotland and Ireland. We have yet no Pheasant or Heath Game, but Herns too many, as being protected by the laws. They have very little Timber at present, though it is certain, not only from Goddard Crownan's hiding three hundred men in a wood, and the Church called Kirk Arbory,(34) but from the timber found in their bogs, especially those large meadows called the Curragh, that they had formerly great quantities; their firing therefore is generally turf and peat, for they have not discovered any coal mines, though they have some good stone quarries, especially lime stone on the sea shore; and the rocks called the Mine-haugh (35) give very probable signs of other minerals, and I am informed they have found iron, lead, and copper.

Rivers.-This Island, says Mr. Challoner, (36) to a wonder in so small a tract, abounds in Springs of Water, by which they are supplied with many pleasant and useful Rivulets, but none that deserve the name of a river, though after any rain they are violent torrents: the principal are the Neb, entering the sea at Peel; Colby River in the north by Ramsey; the Black and Gray Water that make the Salmon River at Douglas, and that which fans into the sea at the foot of Castle Rushen. The water is generally good, and much recommended by strangers, who sometimes send for quantities to brew with, as imputing the goodness of our Ale to our water rather than our malt.

These Rivers afford Salmon, Trout, Ells, &c,, but the principal subsistence of the inhabitants is from the Sea, which has great variety of excellent Fish, as halybut, turbut, ling, cod, &c., and all sorts of shell-fish ; a large lobster for a penny, and very often a.dozen of crabs; the oysters are very large but scarce, I.suppose they have not yet hit upon the right bed; neither in truth is there near that quantity of fish they had in former ages; for since their herring fails, (of which formerly they had such quantities that five hundred have been sold for a groat, and. yet the fishery worth £3000 per annum,) all other fish declines, for herring is the universal prey, so that this only want has reduced the country to great extremities. and I think it demonstrations that though they want nothing, yet the cheapness of their provisions proceeds from scarcity of money and deadness of trade, rather than any real plenty among them.

Inhabitants.-What the number of the ancient inhabitants was is uncertain, at present the Militia consists of about two thousand men, reasonably well disciplined, besides the fee'd soldiers. The people in general are well bodied, and inured to labour; and it is observed that those who are refined by travel, prove men of parts and business. The common sort speak the native language, the gentry better English than in the north of England.

Language.-As for the Manks language, according to the best information I could get, it differs no more from Irish than Scotch from English, and both of them diferent idioms of the Erse, or Highland, though Bishop Philips, a native of North Wales, who translated the Common Prayer into the Manks tongue, observes most of the radixes to be Welch, and pretends he had never been able to perfect the work but by the assistance of his native language. For myself I observed many of their expressions to have some resemblance to the Latin, (though I cannot imagine how any footstep of that language should be found here) as Qui fer a tye for Qui vir Tecti, with an abbreviation common to the Irish; but as this was but my private opinion, so I am satisfied no positive judgnnent can be framed of it, unless the language were reduced to writing. for Bishop Philips's attempt is Scarce intelligible by the clergy themselves, who translate it offhand more to the understanding of the people(37). As for their utensils and terms of art, most of them are English with a Manks termination, as dorus for door; thus they say, jough a dorus for drink at the door, which is as religiously observed among them at parting, as a stirrup cup with us. In the northern part of the Island they speak a deeper Manks, as they call it, than in the south, which is nearer to the original Highland(38), as being least corrupted with English. Their original words are few, and adapted to mere necessity, but expressive, and often prettily, softened by their abbreviations.

Towns.-There are four Towns at present, of which the principal is Castletown, the capital of the Island, and the residence of the Governor. Mr. Challoner says the castle is the solidest piece he ever saw, and, by travellers, said to be like Elsinore (39) in Denmark. The building is ascribed by the Manks tradition to Guttred, the second of their Orrys, whose father they say was son to the king of Denmark, and is in truth a noble piece of antiquity. At the foot of this castle is a poor creek (where small Ships sometimes venture in) which opens into a large but foul bay, therefore very dangerous for shipping; but about a mile from the town is a reasonable good harbour, called Derbyhaven, which is secured by a fort built in a little island dedicated to St. Michael by the late Earl of Derby(40).

Douglas, or Dufglass, is the second town. It has upon the cast a very safe gullet in the heart of the town; the mouth of it is secured by a fort, so that there is no attempting either town or harbour from the seaward.

The third is Peeltown on the west, anciently called Holmtown; it has a little creek or harbour, secured by an island walled round very difficult of access, the foot of it being craggy rocks. The castle has a platform round it, well secured with cannon; in it stands the ancient cathedral dedicated to St. German, the first Bishop and repaired by the present Earl; likewise a ruinated church dedicated to St. Patrick their apostle; within this circuit is the lord's house repaired by the present Earl, ruinous lodgings of the Bishop, with many other turrets, store-houses, &c., which shew very noble remainders of antiquity.

Ramsey is the last town, upon a large but open bay to the north-east, defended by a block-house. built by the present Earl(41).

The whole Island is naturally secured by dangerous rocks and sands, and violent currents of tides, but when all is said, says Mr. Challoner, its poverty is its greatest security.


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