[From Manx Soc vol 11 - Waldron's History] 


[W. Harrison].

Notes 82 to 95

NOTE 82—page 54.

" The captured mermaid."—The notion of a land under the waves is very widely spread, and common to many nations. The Arabian Nights are full of stories about people who lived under the sea. It is told in old Scotch ballads where men fell in love with mermaids. In Crofton Croker's Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland, is related how Dick Fitzgerald married a mermaid. The people of Faroe say that the seal every ninth night puts off its skin and gets a human form, and then dances and sports like the human mortals, tin it resumes its skin and becomes a seal again. To secure one of these skins prevents the owner from returning to her proper element, and thus the finder may have a happy and beauteous partner for life, so long as he can keep the skin in concealment. An instance of a mermaid falling in love with a young man is related in page 65. And in Grimm's German Tales, translated by John Edward Taylor, is a similar one of a mermaid, " The Nix of the Millpond."

NOTE 83—page 56.

" Dwellings under the sea."—It is asserted that a splendid city with many towers and gilded minarets once stood near Langness in Castletown bay, on a place now covered by the sea, and which, in peculiar states of the atmosphere, may occasionally be seen in all its former magnificence.

Crofton Croker, in his "Researches in the South of Ireland," mentioner that it is believed the renowned chief O'Donoghue, onMay day, glided over the lake of Killarney on a milk-white horse, and on one occasion invited a farmer, who was riding along its banks, to partake of a bed, as night was approaching, and the town far off. The invitation being accepted, they rode a considerable distance and then descended to a delightful country under water, and slept that night in a house magnificently furnished.

NOTE 84—page 59.

" Bridges.—Proposal for building new ones."—The number of bridges existing in Waldron's time appears to be tolerably extensive, and is a proof of the internal commerce at that time. Some of these bridges were of an old date; that at Ballasalla, the crossag or monk's bridge, is the oldest, probably of the time of the neighbouring abbey; and some of them were no doubt requiring repair. An Act of Tynwald was passed in 1739 for fourteen years, and extended in 1753 to twenty-one years longer, levying a rate of one penny per annum on an the inhabitants, strangers as well as natives, between 16 and 60 years of age, for "the repair, in the first instance, of the old bridges now broken, decayed, or insecure ;" and also for the repair of " the chapel of St. John Baptist at the Tynwald"; afterwards, the following new bridges to be built; first, over the river of Sulty, parish of Lezayre; second, over the river called the great river in the parish of German, between St. John's Chapel and Peel town, third, over the river between Kirk Milled and Kirk St. Ann, between Castletown and Douglas; fourth, over that river between Ramsey and Kirk Bride and Kirk Andreas; and a fifth bridge over that river near Peel town, between Kirk German and Kirk Patrick.

NOTE 85—page 60.

" Banns of Matrimony."—This is now the exception, as banns are seldom published in the churches, the Manx candidates for matrimony prefer the more quiet mode of a licence, and yet conduct the marriage much in the same public manner as formerly. The Bishop has the right of granting special licences to marry at any convenient time or place, a power possessed only by the Archbishop of Canterbury in :England.

NOTE 86—page 60.

"Preceded by Music."—At the marriage of the Anglo-Saxons the parties were attended to church by music. The ringing of bells was also common. In Nicholson and Burns' " History of Westmoreland and Cumberland," it is stated that on thefifth bell at the church of Kendal, in Westmoreland, is the following inscription:—

In wedlock bands,
All ye who join with hands,
Your hearts unite,
So shall our tuneful tongues combine
To laud the nuptial rite.

In an old work of 1561, it is related that " a priest, whiche when any of his parishioners should be married, woulde take his backe-pype, and go fetche theym to the churche, playuge sweetelye afore them, and then would he laye his instrument handsomely upon the aultare tyll he had maryed them and sayd masse, which thyug being done, he would gentillye bringe them home Wayne with backe-pype."

"The Black and Gray" was a tune prevalent in the time of Charles II., and the dance continued popular at least until the middle of the last century. This country dance tune is to be found in " The Dancing Master, or directions for dancing country dances, with the tunes to each dance, for the treble violin," 7th edition, &c., London, 1686.

The figure, as there described, is:—" First and second couple take hands and go quite round, and then cast off: then second and third couple take hands and go quite round, and then cast off: the first couple are now in the third couples place, the first man turns the third woman and the first woman turns the third man with the right hand at the same time, and then each turn their own with the left hand: next the first man turns the second woman, and the first woman turns the second man with the right hand, and then turn their own with the left hand till they are in their places."


ADDITION TO NOTE 86 on pp. 133, 134.

The custom of "Music at Weddings" is mentioned in the early records of cities and towns, and waists or town minstrels were appointed by the proper authorities to act as town officers and night watchmen. They had to attend at weddings to conduct the bride and bridegroom to and from church, and to play lively music, dances, &e., at and after the wedding dinner. In the " Court Leet Records of the Manor of Manchester in the 16th century," edited by John Halland,Esq, F.S.A., and published in the 63rd and 65th volumes of the Chetham Society, 1864-5, will be found numerous orders of the Court regulating these officers, as also the wedding dinners, which were fixed at fourpence, afterwards raised to sixpence " the poll" or head. The town waists were often interfered with by strange minstrels and pipers, to discourage which the following order was made at the Court held 3rd October, 1588, 30th Elizabeth.— " The jury doth give their consents that James Burton shall have the wayte-shipp wholly to himself, keeping such number for the service of the town as he hath at this instant. And forasmuch as they, being four in number, cannot be maintained sufficiently without reasonable allowance of every inhabitant of Manchester. And whereas at weddings strange pipers or other minstrels come and sometimes play before weddings to the church, sometimes at the wedding dinner, by reason whereof they draw to themselves some gains which ought to redound to the waytes of this town. Therefore, in consideration it is a credit to the town to see them well maintained, the jury order that no piper or minstrel shall be allowed to play at any wedding dinner, or before any wedding, within the town, to the prejudice of the waytes."

For the particulars concerning the dance at Manx weddings, and the music of the "Black and Gray," I am indebted to William Chappell, Esq., of London, author of "Popular Music of the Olden Time; a Collection of Ancient Songs, Ballads, and Dance Tunes, illustrative of the National Music of England, with a short account of the Minstrels," 2 vols. 8vo. London, 1859.


NOTE 87—page 61.

" To funerals they give no invitation."—This custom is continued to the present time, with the exception of a notice to the nearest relatives :and most particular friends. The Manx consider it a duty to offer this last token of respect to the memory of a deceased relative or acquaintance by following the remains to their last resting place, and many will come a very considerable distance for that purpose. The poorest person is now interred in a coffin.

NOTE 88—page 62.

" College in Castletown."—This was built out of money arising from the Impropriate Fund. The Impropriate Tithes were leased by Charles, Earl of Derby, by indenture dated 1st November, 1666, to Bishop Barrow, among other things, " for or towards the erection of a Free School within the same Isle, or the maintenance of some schoolmaster or schoolmasters there." This School was by them fixed at Castletown, and Bishop Barrow on the 8th February, 1667, assigned the Impropriate Tithes of Kirk Christ Rushen to Richard Stephenson and others, on condition of their paying annually, in lieu of the said tithes, unto the master of the Free School of Castletown, £30. In 1782, the Chancellor decreed that " the master of the Free Grammar School of Castletown was entitled to the annual salary of £60, in lieu of the Impropriate Tithes of Kirk Christ Rushen"—the ascertained yearly value of the said tithes.—vice " Isle of Man Charities," 1831.

NOTE 89—page 63.

" Doors unbarred."—Bishop Wilson was well known to have no fastening to his house door at Bishop's Court, only a common latch. Many houses in the country still remain unfastened, and the same happy security is enjoyed by those who have occasion to travel in the Island, and instances are rare of highway robbery or housebreaking.

NOTE 90—page 65.

" The fairies' saddle."—The stone is yet to be seen in the side of a fence on the road leading from Ballaughton mill to Kirk Braddan church, and which from that circumstance is called the saddle road. Ballafletcher, the seat of Deemster Drinkwater, is now called Kirby, its ancient name.

NOTE 91—page 66.

" Beautiful mermaid."—An instance somewhat similar is mentioned in note 17, page 87, where not meeting with a requital of her love, she enveloped the Island in an impenetrable mist.

NOTE 92—page 71.

" Leather as current money "—Silver coins of William the Lion, who began his reign A.D. 1165, are said by Snelling to have been struck in the Isle of Man, but sufficient evidence has not been adduced to show that they were of Manx mintage. All copper coin was struck for the use of the Isle of Man, about 1338, when Martholine was governor of Man, with the king's, Robert Bruce, effigia on one side, and a crown on the other, with the inscription, " Crux est Christianorum gloria." According to Bishop Merrick's letter to Camden, there appears to have been; a coin then in circulation peculiar to the Island; and about this time, 1570, leather money was used for local purposes. In 1646, a base coinage was made here by certain men out of :England, caned ducketoons, " or of some other stampe in base mettle, as pewter or such like"; it was then made " high treason ' to counterfeit or bring false money into the Island, and punished with death. Ducketoons were current in Ireland, of the value of 6s., 3s., and 1s. 6d., about this time. In 1679, a quantity of base coin was in circulation called " butchers' brass money," brought from Dublin, where they were issued by Mic Wilson, of Dublin, in 1672. The circulation of this coin was stopped by an order of the Tynwald Court in that year, which enacted " that no copper or brass money called butchers' half-pennies and farthings, nor any other of that kind shall pass in the Island," and " provided that it shall not hinder the passing of the king's halfpence and farthings, set forth by authority, or the brass money caned ' Johnnie Murrey's' pennie." " John Murrey, 1668, his Penny, I.M.—Reverse arms, and Quocunque gesseres stabit." In 1710, upon the scarcity of " brass money and want of change within this Island" the Earl of Derby " sent over a considerable quantity of copper pence and halfpence," which were then ordered to be made current, and all counterfeits to be sent in to the captains of their respective parishes, under fine and other punishment. Waldron's remarks are applicable to this coinage. In 1733, a further want of change was felt, when the Earl of Derby sent over £300 in copper pence, and £200 in copper halfpence, which was ordered to be made current by the Tynwald Court, "and that from henceforth no person shah be obliged to take any other brass or copper money whatsoever." In 1757, the Earl sent over a further supply of copper coinage of £250 in pence and £150 in halfpence, when it was enacted that " the coinage of pence and halfpence established in 1733 shall be continued current." The usual clause was inserted to prevent counterfeits; all persons were ordered, once a year, to bring to the respective captains of their parishes, such copper money to be examined and counted, and the account thereof was returned by them to the Governor or ReceiverGeneral.

The coinage, since the revestment, has undergone different changes, at one time leading to serious disturbances in various parts of the Island. A history of the Manx coinage, with the card and paper money, would form a desirable volume, and is well worthy the consideration of the Manx Society.

Note.—Since the foregoing note was written, Dr. Charles Clay has read a paper at the first meeting of the Manchester Numismatic Society, in June, 1864, " On the Brass, Copper, and other Currency of the Isle of Man." This paper is printed in part i. of the Proceedings of the Society, 4to. Manchester, 1864, with numerous illustrations of the Manx coinage, and a list of the various coins and tokens. Also some additional notes on the same, in part ii. of the Proceedings, 1865.

NOTE 93—page 72.

" History of the Island."—The works published before Waldron's Description appeared, relating to the Isle of Man, and which he might have consulted with advantage if he had thought proper to refer to them, were Camden's Britannia, of which several editions had appeared before he wrote his History; Dugdale's Monasticon; Chaloner's "Discourse of the Island of Man," in 1656; and Sacheverell's " Account of the Isle of Man," in 1702. These two latter works have been republished by the Manx Society, accompanied by many valuable notes by the editor, the Rev. J. G. Cumming, ALA., F.G.S. An edition of Camden's Britannia, edited by Bishop Gibson, appeared in 1721, in one volume folio, in which was Bishop Wilson's Account of the Isle of Man, four years before Waldron's History first appeared.

NOTE 94—page 74.

" Veneration for salt."—In all ages salt has been considered an essential ingredient in all religious ceremonies, and many nations have held it in superstitious reverence. Many are the authorities that might be quoted in support of its use. The high priest of the Jews was enjoined to season all offerings with salt. It was an Egyptian hieroglyphical representation of life; was used in the sacrifices of the Romans as well as the Egyptians; was efficacious for averting demoniac influence; it is used by the Roman Catholic church in compounding holy water, for " salic seasoneth all things." In Abyssinia it is used largely as a medium for money in the present day. As a preventive from disease it is used in many ways, and the Manx put salt into the churn to prevent the fairies exercising undue influence over the butter, for whom they place a small portion in some convenient place. It forms the first article taken into their houses upon removal. The dread of spilling salt is known everywhere, and not to eat salt with you is considered in the East as tantamount to a declaration of hostility. In Dacier's Life of Pythagoras it is remarked that " salt was the emblem of justice: for as salt preserves all things and prevents corruption, so justice preserves whatever it animates, and without it, all is corrupted. He therefore ordered that a saltcellar should always be served on the table, to put men in mind of this virtue. And who knows but the superstition that was so ancient, and that reigns to this day, concerning the spilling of salt, came from the opinion of the Pythagoreans, who regarded it as a presage of some injustice ?"

NOTE 95—page 76.

" King William's sands."—About 12 miles N.~.E. of Ramsey are the sand banks called King William's Banks, from the circumstance that the Prince of Orange was nearly wrecked upon them in 1690, when proceeding to the battle of the Boyne. The Bahama bank lies about midway between, off which is a light ship.

Polydore Virgil states that, in former times, the Island was much more closely united with Great Britain than it was in his day. Troops are said to have passed over on foot. There is a legend that Reginald I. One of the Scandinavian kings of Man in the 10th century, attempted to build a bridge from the Point of Ayre to Burrow Head in Galloway.



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