WILLIAM CAMDEN, the author of this work, was born in the Old Bailey, London, May 2, 1551; his father, Sampson Camden, was a painter, and his mother was one of the ancient family of the Curwens of Workington, in the county of Cumberland. He was appointed Clarencieux King-at-arms in 1597, and died 9th November 1623, in the seventy-third year of his age, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. His great work has been said to be, " the common sun, whereat our modern writers have all lighted their little torches."
The first edition, which had been more than ten years in preparation, appeared in 1586 in 8vo, and was dedicated to Sir William Cecil, Lord Burghley. It has passed through many editions; those of 1587 and 1590 are also in 8vo; 1594 and 1600 are in 4to, that of 1607 in folio, was the last edition corrected by the author, and embellished with various maps and plates. Each edition, as it appeared, contained numerous additions.
There are two editions in folio in 1610 and 1637, with a translation by Philemon Holland; and three by Bishop Gibson; one in 1695 in one volume folio, with large additions from Chaloner's treatise in King's Vale Royale, 1656; and in 1722 and 1772 in two volumes folio, with copies of Runic inscriptions, and an account of the island drawn up by Bishop Wilson. A translation from the edition of 1607, enlarged by the latest discoveries, by Richard Gough, in three volumes folio, London, 1789, with maps and copper plates; also a reprint of the three volumes, with additions to the first volume, in four volumes folio: London, 1806. In the Bodleian Library is a copy greatly augmented and illustrated with additional plates and drawings for a new edition, bequeathed to the library by Gough. A portion of the Britannia was translated by William Oldys, and printed in 4to without date A translation by Richard Knolles, a folio MS., is in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford.
The monks of Rushin Abbey wrote the first three sheets of the account of the Chronicle of Man and the Isles up to the year 1270, the time of the Scottish Conquest; this latter portion continues the history down to 1316 in another hand, probably by the monks of Furness Abbey. Bishop Merrick furnished to Camden a portion of the account of the Isle of Man; he was bishop from 1577 to 1599.
This reprint is from the translation of Bishop Gibson's edition of 1695: London, folio, " with large additions and improvements." The names of those who assisted him in the translation are given in the tenth volume of Cens~tra Literarqa, p. 335, from a MS. of the celebrated antiquarian, the Rev. William Clarke of Chichester, as also in the preface to the edition of 1695. Camden's abridgment of The Chronicle of Man appears to be taken from the same MS. as that published by Johnstone in his Antiquitates Celto Normanicae, 1786, which gives the portion of those bishops of Man omitted in Camden. This chronicle has been printed by the Manx Society in their fourth volume, 1860, from the copy in the Cottonian collection, British Museum, with a translation by Dr. Oliver; and for his description of this MS., see his Monumenta, vol. i. p. 222. The dates in some instances do not coincide in these two versions, and Dr. Oliver states that the Cottonian copy of the MS. " bears evidence of having been at one period in the possession of some person who had erased and falsified many of the earlier dates."
Professor Munch of Christiania published an edition of these chronicles in 1860, from the same MS., with historical notes in English, but with the Latin text of the chronicle. The Council of the Manx Society deem it unnecessary to reprint in this edition Camden's version of these chronicles, as the members can refer to them in the first volume of Dr. Oliver's Monumenta.
MONA (or Menavia), which Caesar mentions, situated, as he says, in the middle between Britain and Ireland. Ptolemy calls it Monoeda, or Moneitha, that is to say (if I may be allowed to conjecture), the more remote Mona, to distinguish it from the other Mona or Anglesey. Pliny* terms it Monabia; Orosius, Menavia; and Bede, Menavia Secunda; in whom Mona or Anglesey is called Menavia prior, and both British islands; yet I must note that this is falsely read Mevania in these writers. Nennius, who goes also by the name of Gildas, calls it Eubonia and Manaw. In a certain copy of Nennius it is called Manau Guotodin; the Britains call it Manaw, the inhabitants Maning, and the English the Isle of Man; lying stretched in the middle between the north parts of Ireland and Britain (says Giraldus Cambrensis), which raised no small stir among the ancients in deciding to which of the territories it most properly belonged. At last this difference was thus adjusted: For as much as the venomous worms would live here, that were brought over for experiment's sake, it was generally thought to belong to Britain, yet the inhabitants are very like the Irish, both in their speech and manners, and not without something of the Norwegians in them.
It lies out from north to south for about 30 Italian miles in length; but in the widest part of it it is hardly above 15 miles broad, nor above 8 in the narrowest. In Bede's time it contained 300 families, and Mona 960. But at present it can reckon 17 parish churches. Here flax and hemp grow in great plenty; and here are good pastures and corn-fields, which produce barley and wheat, but especially oats in great abundance; for this reason the people generally feed upon oat bread. Here are likewise great herds of cattle, and many hooks of sheep; but both the sheep and cattle are like those in their neighbour country Ireland, much less than in England, and not so well headed. The want of wood for fuel here is supplied by a bituminous kind of turf, in digging for which they often light upon trees lying buried underground. Towards the middle this isle is mountainous; the highest hill is Sceafell, from which they can see Scotland, England, and Ireland, in a clear day. The chief town is Russin, situated towards the south side of the island, which, from a castle and garrison in it, is commonly called Castletown, where, within a little isle, Pope Gregory IV * erected an Episcopal See, the bishop whereof, named Sodorensis (from the island, as it is believed), had formerly jurisdiction over all the Hebrides. But it is now limited to this island, and his metropolitan is the Archbishop of York. This bishop has neither seat nor vote among the Lords of Parliament in England. The most populous town is Duglas, for it has the best harbour, and the most easie entrance, and is frequented by the French and other foreigners, who come hither with their bay salt, and buy up leather, coarse wooll, and salt beef, to export with them. On the south side of the island stands Bala Curl, where the bishop generally resides, and the Pile, a fort erected in a small island, defended by a pretty good garrison. Before the south point there lies a little island, which they call the Calf of Man, where there are great store of those sea-fowl termed Puffins, and of those ducks and drakes said to breed in rotten wood, which the English call Bernacles, the Scots Clakes and Solan Geese.
What remains of the account of this island is here added out of a letter which I received from the most learned and reverend Father in God, John Meryk, bishop thereof* " This island not only supplies its own wants with its own cattle, fish, and corn, but exports great quantities into foreign countreys every year. Yet this plenty is rather to be ascribed to the pains and industry of the natives than to the goodness of the soiL However, the happiness of this isle is owing to nothing more than the government of the Earl of Derby, who at his own proper charges bath defended it with a body of regular and standing troops against its neighbouring enemies, and laid out the greatest part of his revenues upon it. All causes are decided betwixt man and man, without any expense or writing, by certain judges whom they choose among themselves, and called Deemsters. For the magistrate taketh up a stone, and after he has marked it, gives it to the plaintiff; by virtue whereof he summons in his witnesses and the defendant. If the case is difficult, and of great consequence, it is referred to the hearing of twelve men, whom they call the Keys: of the Island. They have also certain coroners; these they call Annos, who are instead of sheriffs, and execute their office. As for the Ecclesiastical Judge, he hears and determines all causes within eight days from the citation; and the party must either stand to his sentence or go to gaol. As their language is peculiar, so likewise are their laws and money, as I have heard, which are both signs of a distinct sovereignty. The ecclesiastical laws in force here, next after the canon law, come nearest to the civil. Neither the judge nor the clerks of court have any fees either for the process or instruments. As for those mischievous effects of witchcraft, of which English writers tell us, there's nothing in it. The richer sort, and those that have estates, imitate the gentry of Lancashire in splendid living and integrity. The women never stir abroad but with their winding-sheets about them, to put them in mind of mortality.* If a woman be tried and receives sentence of death, she is sow'd up in a sack, and thrown front a rock into the sea. Stealing, and begging from door to door, is universally detested. The people are wonderful religious, and all of them zealously conformable to the Church of England. They are likewise great enemies to the disorders, as well civil as ecclesiastical, of their neighbour countreys. And whereas the whole isle is divided into two parts, south and north, the inhabitants of this speak like the Scots, and those of the others like the Irish."
If I should here subjoin a short history of the affairs of this island, it would be worth my while; and truth itself seems to challenge it, that hereby I may preserve the memory of such actions as are, if not already buried in oblivion, yet next door to it. That this island, as well as Britain, was possessed by the Britains, is granted on all sides. But, when the northern nations broke in like a violent tempest upon these southern parts, it became subject to the Scots. In the time of Honorius and Arcadius, Orosius says that it was as much inhabited by the Scots as Ireland was; and Nennius tells us of one Binle, a certain Scot, by others Buile, that held it. Yet the same author observes that they were driven out of Britain and the isles belonging to it, by Cuneda the grandfather of Maglocunas, who, from the cruel ravages he made in this island, is called the " Dragon of the Isles " by Gildas. Afterwards this island, and likewise Anglesey aforesaid, was subjected to the English monarchy by Edwin, King of the Northumbrians, if we suppose them both to be signified by the word Menavice, as writers would have us think. At this time it was reputed a British island. At last, when the north, overewarming a second time, sent out another brood of Normans, Danes, and Norwegians, to seek their fortune in the world, the Norwegians, who most sadly infested this sea, by their piracies, possessed themselves of this island and the Hebrides, and set up petty princes over them, of whom I will here add this historical account, as it is word for word in an old manuscript, lest it should perish by some unlucky accident. The title it bears is " Chronicon Manniae," i.e., A Chronicle of Man. It seems to have been written by the Monks of Russin Abbey, the most eminent monastery that was in this island.
(This Chronicle is here omitted.)
ALEXANDER THE THIRD, King of Scots, having made himself master of the Western Islands, partly by his sword and partly by purchase from the King of Norway, at last invaded Man also, as one of that number; and, by the valliant conduct of Alexander Stewart, entirely subdued it, and set a king over the isle, upon this condition that he should be ready to assist him with ten ships in any of his wars by sea, whenever he demanded them.
However, Mary, the daughter of Reginald, lying of Man (who was the liege-man of John, King of England), addressed herself to the King of England for justice in this case. Answer was made that the lying of Scots was then possessed of the island, and she ought to apply herself to him. Her grandchild by a son, John Woldebeof (for Mary married into this family), notwithstanding this sued again for his right in Parliament, held the 33d of Edward I., urging it there before the King of England as Lord Paramount of Scotland.
Yet all the answer he could have was (as it is in the very record), " That he might prosecute his title before the Justices of the livings Bench; let it be heard there, and let justice be done." But what he could not effect by law his kinsman, William Montacute (for he was of the royal family of Man), soon did by force of arms. For, having raised a body of English, he drove the Scots out of the isle with these raw soldiers. But having plunged himself into debt by the great expense of this war, and become insolvent, he was forced to mortgage the island to Anthony Bee, Bishop of Durham, and Patriarch of Jerusalem, and make over all the profits thereof to him for seven years; and, quickly after, the king gave the island to the said Anthony for term of life.
Afterwards, King Edward II. gave it to his great favourite Peter de Gaveston, having made him Earl of Cornwall at the same time. He being cut off, the king gave it to Henry Beaumont, with all the demesne and royal jurisdiction thereunto belonging.
Soon after this the Scots recovered it again under the conduct of Robert Brus; and from that time Thomas Randolph, a warlike Scot, as also a long time after, Alexander, Duke of Albany, stiled themselves Lords of Man, and bore the same arms that the later kings of the island did-viz. three armed legs of a man linked together and bending in the hams, just like the three legs, naked, which were formerly stamped on the coins of Sicily, to signify the three promontories. But yet the ancient arms of the kings of Man was a ship with the sail hoised, with this inscription, Rex Manniae et Insularum,- " The King of Man and of the Islands," as I have seen in the seals they used.
Afterwards, about the year 1340, William Montacute the younger, Earl of Salisbury, rescued it by force of arms from the Scots, and, in the year of our Lord 1393, sold Man, and the crown thereof, to William Scrope for a great sum of money, as Walsingham tells us.
Scrope being beheaded afterwards, and his goods confescated for treason, it fell into Henry the IV.'s hands, who bestowed it upon Henry Percy, Earl of Northumberland (then triumphing over William Scrope, having himself, though only a private person, taken and beheaded him for aspiring to the crown), upon this condition, that he and his posterity, at the coronation of the likings of England, should carry the sword before him, which the said Henry wore by his side at his restoration or return from exile, commonly called the Lancaster sword.
But take the king's own words as they stand in the record.
"We, of our special grace have given and granted to Henry, Earl of Northumberland, the Isle, Castle, Pile, and Lordship of Man, with all such islands and seigniories thereunto belonging, as were Sir Wm. Le Scrope's, Kt., now deceased, whom in his life we conquered, and do declare to be conquered, and which by reason of this our conquest fell to us. Which very conquest and decree, as touching the person of the said William, and all the lands, tenements, goods, and chattels, as well within as without the Kingdom, belonging to him, are now, at the petition of the Commons of our Kingdom, and by the consent of the Lords Temporal now assembled in Parliament, ratified and confirmed, to have and to hold to the said Earl and his heirs, eta, by service of carrying at every Coronation day of us and our heirs, at the left shoulder of us and our heirs, either by himself in person or by some sufficient and honourable deputy, that sword naked (which we wore when we arrived at Holderness), called Lancastersword," etc.* However, this Henry Percy was banished four years after; and though it was not long before his attainder was taken off, yet he was deprived of Man, which was given first to William Stanley, and after that to John Stanley, together with the advowson of the Bishoprick, etc., whose posterity have been honored with the title of Earls of Derby, and commonly called Kings of Man.*
The extent and situation of this Island of Man, and the different names under which it is mentioned by the ancients, are faithfully related by Mr. Camden, which I shall not here repeat. The island is divided into seventeen parts, which are distinguished, not by the names of shires or counties, but of kirks, and are called the seventeen parish churches; every church or parish bearing the additional name of the saint to whom the parish church or chapel, in old time, was dedicated. Their names are:-
Kirk Christ of Rushin.
,, Christ of Ayre
,, Jorby, or St. Patrick of Jorby.
,, Patrick of Peel.
, from the last edition corrected by Camden, 1607.
These seventeen kirks or parishes are divided into six parts, which in the Manx language are called Sheedings, every sheeding comprehending three kirks or parishes, except one, which has only two.
There are three small islands which belong to the Isle of Man; the biggest of which is called the Calf of Man, and lies on the south side thereof, pointing westward. It is well stored with a sort of sea-fowl called puffins, which are of a very unctions constitution. They breed in the coney-holes (the coneys leaving their burrows for that time), and are never seen with their young but either very early in the morning or late in the evening, nourishing (as is conceived) their young with oyl, which, drawn from their own constitution, is dropped into their mouths. For, being open, there is found in their crops no other sustenance but a single sorrel-leaf, which the old give their young for digestion's sake, as is conjectured. The flesh of these birds is nothing pleasant, being of a rank fish-like taste, but pickled or salted they may be ranked with anchovies, caviare, or the like. They are profitable in their feathers and oyl, of which the inhabitants make great use about their woolL They have Likewise another sort of fowl in this little island, which the inhabitants call barnacles, commonly said to be the same with the soland geese of Scotland, but really the soland geese in that kingdom have no affinity to barnacles, being of quite another kind. The other Little isle is called St. Michael's Island, and lies in the south-east part of Man. The third is Peel Island, situated on the west side of Man; which, though it be the least, yet is it of the greatest consequence, because of a castle therein.
The island is not only environed with huge rocks round about, but likewise, at the mouth of every haven, there are a great many rocky stones, pointed like a pyramide above water, besides a great many ragged stones that Lie undiscovered under water, so that it is dangerous to enter any of the havens of this island without the assistance and conduct of some of the native mariners. The haven of Douglas is reckoned the best and securest of any in the island, but there are on both sides of the island divers other havens very commodious for trade.
The air of this island is sharp and cold in winter, but much more mild than in Wales. The frosts are short and seldom. The place is very wholesome to live in, for they never have any damps or venomous vapours arising out of the earth. The plague was never known to have been there in any of their ancestors' memory. The inhabitants are long-lived, they ordinarily living to fourscore, many to one hundred years and upwards. The women are very fruitful. The soil in the northern part of the island is for the most part heathy and gravelly ground, much resembling the mountainous parts of Wales; in the south they have very good meadow and pasture ground. All parts of the island yield store of all sorts of grain, both barly, wheat, rye, and oates, not only enough for its own inhabitants, but likewise for exportation to other places. They have oates in greatest plenty, of which the inhabitants generally make their bread. They have likewise good store of honey, flax, and hemp.
Their meat, for the most part, feed in heathy ground, and lye continually in the open fields both winter and summer, so that they are but small and poor, resembling those of Ireland, and much inferior to the English breed. Their horses are likewise poor and small, and very unsightly, because of the little care taken about them, for they are never housed or dressed, but exposed to wind and weather in the coldest season. They will endure a great deal of labour and hardship; being all of a sooty black colour, and their hair long and stragling. The sheep thrive very well in this island; they are fat and their flesh well tasted, but generally of a small bulk. The wooll of their sheep is very good, but they have a small quantity of a certain sort, which is remarkable, and far exceeds their other wooll in fineness. This sort the Manxmen call Laughton wooll, which in their language signifies wooll of a greyish colour, though according to my author it resembles rather a sandy or deer colour. The rarity of it is, that it is not to be found in any certain place of the island, but that one only sheep of a whole flock always has this coloured wooll, and they are observed never to impart the same to their lambs, so that there is but a small quantity of it to be had throughout the island. Here they have plenty of hogs of an ordinary bigness. There is also here great store of otters, badgers, foxes, hares, and conies. The hares of this island are very fat, which is a property in them not to be met with in many other countries. There are some deer in the mountains, but they belong to the Lord of the Island, and therefore none are permitted to hunt them without a licence from him, under the penalty of a fine of £3, besides imprisonment during the Lord's pleasure.
The hawks here are very good, and thought to equal if not exceed those of Ireland; and therefore it was that King Henry the Fourth, in his Letters Patents of the grant of this island to Sir John Stanley (the first King of Han of that name and race), obliged him, in lieu of all other services, upon the day of his and his successors' coronation, to present him with a cast of hawks.* They have here store of geese, hens, ducks, and wild-fowl, neither partridges nor farkers will live in this isle, though imported. The Isle of Man has this in common with Ireland, that it is free from toads, snakes, and all other such venomous creatures. I know Giraldus Cambrensist (and from him Mr. Camden) cloth say that this island being equally distant from England and Ireland, there arose anciently a controversie to which of the two kingdoms it should belong, which was decided by making experiment whether the soil thereof would foster any venomous creatures; and accordingly some toads and other venomous creatures being brought to make trial, and living upon the soil, the island was adjudged to belong to Britain, as participating more of the nature of its soil than that of Ireland; but it seems those that were brought to make the trial did not propagate their kind, for the Manxmen do at this day glory in their immunity from such noxious creatures; and my author does aver that, during his abode in the island, he neither did see nor heare of any such, except only spiders, which Ireland also hath, though without venom. But whether these spiders of the Isle of Man had that quality to be without venom, he made no experiment.
The island abounds with many little currents of fresh water, which, because of their smallness, may be more properly called rivulets than rivers. Their spring-water is of a pure pleasant taste. Here they have great store of salmon, cod, haddock, macrel, rate,' place, thornback, and other sorts of fish, but especially of herrings. There are few or no oysters or muscles; but of crabs, lobsters, and cockles, great abundance.
There are no woods in the island, although in former times they had them in great plenty, and many oaks are now often digged up under ground. There is not a tree to be seen anywhere in the island, except such as grow in gardens. There is no sea-coal as yet discovered in the island; so, their woods being destroyed, there would be a great scarcity of fewer were it not that they have sufficient store of sea-coal imported. The only fewer which the island naturally produces is gorse and heath (which they call ring), as also broom. They have plenty of a coarse sort of turf, but of turf that is good they have but a small quantity.
The Isle of Man is indifferently populous, neither wanting nor abounding with inhabitants; in former times it had more towns, and was better peopled than now. At present they have only four principal towns, which are Castletown, the Metropolis of the island (that went formerly by the name of Russin), Douglas, Ramsey, and Peel. They are all four situated in the maritime parts of the island; each of them has a harbour, and at every haven there is a castle and a sconce or block-house. The houses are all of one fashion, low-built and thatched, and only two stories high; the upper rooms (which they commonly let to strangers to lodge in) are ceiled over head and plaistered. They begin to improve in their building, for in Castletown and Douglas they build their houses three stories high, and cover them with tile instead of thatch. In these towns of the Isle of Man they have no mayors or aldermen, nor so much as a recorder, town-clerk, or any such officer. When any riots or disorders happen in the towns, either some of the Lord's officers, or the constable (which is the same as governor) of the next adjacent fort may apprehend the delinquent, and send him under a guard to Castletown, where he is brought before the governor of the island, and being examined, is either sentenced or dismissed, according as his innocence or his guilt appears. As for private injuries and injustices, which require a suit of law, they are decided according to their customary laws twice a-year in their sheeding courts.
The principal forts are the castle of Russin, where the Lord of the Island keeps his court, and Peel Castle, which Mr. Camden calleth only a block-house, but it is now acknowledged to be the second fortress of the island, and is of great importance. It is strongly fortified, both by nature and art, by the sea round about it, and by walls and ramparts within. It is the common prison for all offenders in the island.
The kings of England have frequently banished hither and confined to this prison several noble persons.*
This island seems to have been peopled from the Hebrides or Western Isles of Scotland, their language being the very same with the Scots-Irish. The people are styled Manksmen, and their language Manks. Many of their words are derived from the Latin and Greek, and some are pure English; such words for the most part signify things foreign, and which originally were not known to them, or in use amongst them. In their language they always put the substantive before the adjective, as man good, woman fair. The peasants of the island are tall in stature, but of a gross, heavy spirit, and surly temper, imposing upon others, and showing little respect to strangers. They live in little huts made up of small stones and clay instead of walls, and most commonly thatched with broom, which have only one room, and that without any ceiling. In this single room the whole family lyes; and, among the meaner sort, they are forced to place their cows in a corner of the room. They are very sparing and abstemious in their diet, their constant food being salt butter, herrings, and oatcakes. Their drink is either simple water, or water mixed with milk, or buttermilk. Their bedding is generally hay or straw, and they are much addicted to the music of the violin. The inhabitants are not mutinous or rebellious, but continue firm in their loyalty to the Lord of the Island, and detest all our commotions and divisions both in Church and State. Their gentry are very courteous and affable, and are more willing to discourse with one in English than their own language. In all their carriage, apparel, and housekeeping, they imitate the English gentry. They do not live in towns or villages, but in mansion-houses built upon their own lands in the country, which for the most part are high, well-built houses, after the English fashion.
There are but about six families of note in the whole island, yet some of these are of great antiquity, and especially those that bear the surname of Christian and Cannel. For out of these two families they ordinarily choose their Deemsters, who are their judges. In former times there were several noblemen of this island, but at present there are none, save the Lord of the Island. Not only the gentry, but likewise such of the peasants as live in the towns or frequent the town-markets, do both understand and speak the English language.
If any who is not a native desires to live in the island, he must have the leave of the Lord (or of the Governor in the Lord's absence), and then he enjoys all privileges as if he had been a native. When any strangers arrive in the island the Governor is presently acquainted with it, who sends the comptroller, or some other officer, to the town where the strangers land, to examine what they are, whence they come, and what their business is in the island.
Before this officer the stranger is to appear immediately after his landing, and, after satisfying him in these questions, is dismissed. It is expected of all strangers, of what quality soever, that after their arrival, the very same day, if it be not too late, they go and visit the Lord, and afterwards the Governor of the Island, who both reside in Castletown.
If they land at any of the other havens, and be unprovided of a horse, the comptroller, by his place, is to furnish them with a horse to carry them to Castletown, and this at the charges of the Lord of the Island. Upon their arrival at Castletown they are waited on by a gentleman of quality, who conducts them first to the palace of the Lord, and afterwards to the Governor's apartment, where, after some few general questions, they are civilly dismissed.
The method of trading and commerce which the inhabitants of this island use with foreigners is singular, and truly beneficial both to the natives and to strangers. The country, at a Tynwald, or their prime court, always chooses four merchants to buy the foreign commodities for the whole island; and they are sworn by the Deemsters to deal justly and fairly for the country's profit. When any ship arrives in the island with salt, iron, pitch, or tar, or any other foreign commodity, these four merchants (together with the foreign merchant) appear before the Governor of the Island, to treat about the prices of the commodities imported, and to make a bargain. Whatsoever bargain is made by these four the country is to stand to, and obliged to take the goods of the foreign merchant, and pay for them according to the rates agreed on. The people of the country are to bring in their native commodities of wooll, hides, tallow, or such like; and are to have for the same, according to the agreement made, their equal proportion of the salt, iron, or other commodities imported. If the commodities brought in by the country people will not extend to the value of the stranger's commodities, then the four merchants are to assess the rest of the commodities upon the country, every one his equal proportion, for which they are to pay ready money, according to the prices agreed on by the four merchants. By this means the foreign merchant is much encouraged to bring in things necessary for the island, and the people have, by the faithfulness of their four merchants, the full benefit of the commodities imported, which, otherwise, some private men of the country would certainly enhance for their own profit. The foreigners (viz. the English, Scotch, and Irish, and none almost of any other nation) drive the greatest trade in the towns,-the natives thereof being for the most part mariners or fishermen; although there are not at present above three or four in a town that have small little boats of their own, wherewith they trade, transporting and importing petty commodities. In former times this island was better stored with shipping, being able to equip a fleet of fourscore sail; * but at this day they have not any bark above forty tun.
In this island they had no use of money till the late troubles of England, during which many loyalists, flying thither for shelter, so plentifully supplied them with it, that many of the tenants were enabled to pay their rents in money, which formerly they paid in sheep, hogs, etc. The current coin of this island is the Scotch, English, and Irish: they neither have, nor never had, any proper coin of their own.*
Mr. Camden, in the account he gives of this island, has been misinformed as to some custom. He says, that the women of the Island of Man going abroad do gird themselves about with their winding-sheet that they purpose to be buried in, to show themselves mindful of their mortality. It is, indeed, customary here for the women that live in the country, when they walk abroad, to wrap themselves up in a blanket, but without any other design than to defend themselves from the cold, as they tell every one that asks them a reason. Besides, these blankets which they wear are quite of a different sort from winding-sheets-the blankets being generally made of woollen, whereas all shrouds are of linen. These blankets are only worn by the country-women, who generally have a better sort of blanket for Sundays, and another for working-days; but in towns they are hardly worn by any women, whether poor or rich. But, further, that this wearing of blankets was never designed by them for a me~ne'~to priory, is evident from an old customary law among them, by which it is ordained, that the Sunday blankets, viz. those of the better sort, be given to the next child, and those of the worse sort, which they wear upon work-days, be given for corbes, that is, be sold with the other goods of the deceased to pay debts, which is by no means consistent with their using them as winding-sheets to be buried in.
It is at this day a common custom in many places of Scotland for the country-women to wear these kind of blankets when they go abroad, but they are of no other use than to shelter them from the cold, and are of a quite different nature from what they use for winding-sheets. So that it is probable this custom of wearing blankets among the women of the Isle of Man is of the same nature and design with that of Scotland, and has been introduced into the isle by its first inhabitants, who, as I have already said, canoe probably from the western parts of Scotland, where this custom is, among the country-women, generally practised even to this very day.
Another mistake there is in the account which Mr. Camden had from Bishop Merrick of this island, " that the Isle of Man is free from thieves and beggars." As for theft, there is no robbing on the highways, but you may travel there securely in any part of the island; but the poorer sort of this isle, even of both sexes, are very much given to pilfering, which appears from the severe laws made against stealing of ring, hay, hens, etc. And as for beggars, there are divers of them in the island, both of natives and Irish. The Irish are more clamorous than the natives; the natives never cry and beg at the doors; but without knocking open the latch of the door, and, entering in, take a stool and sit down by the fire, and then ask an alms.
The laws and statutes of this island are such, as the Lord Cook saith* " the like of them are not to be found in any other place." But notwithstanding this island has continued a kingdom for many hundreds of years, yet there never was, nor is there at this day extant, any treatise to inform us of their laws, customs, and jurisdictions. In former times they were governed by a Jus non Scriptum, which was committed to the fidelity of their Deemsters, as a thing holy and sacred, and by them delivered to posterity by oral tradition only, so that whatever they pronounced was to be held for law. This custom, it is probable, they received from the Drnides, who, as Caesar saith,* would not by writing prostitute anything to the vulgar. And therefore from all antiquity, and even at this day, the Manksmen do call their laws breast-laws, as being deposited and locked up in the breasts of their Deemsters and Keys only. Thus was this island governed from the beginning, till it was given to Sir John Stanley and his heirs by King Henry the Fourth. He, at his coming hither, brought over with him one Michael Blondel, a very wise understanding gentleman of Lancashire, whom he made Governor of the Island; and he, observing the inconvenience of these breastlaws, ordered, that for the future, all law cases decided in their courts, or by their Deemsters, should be written down by the clerk of the rolls, and kept as a register of precedents, when the same or the like cases should chance to fall out again. These books of precedents none are admitted to peruse but the Lord's officers only, and of them, no one can have access to them alone. They are deposited in the treasury, and there locked up with three keys, which are kept by the Governor, the Receiver-general, and the Comptroller of the Island. These laws are acknowledged to be very just and equitable, and are executed with the greatest mildness; the most of them are very ancient, even above a thousand years. In former times the voice of the whole people was necessary to the making a new law, but now this custom is abrogated, and whatever is agreed upon by the Lord of the Island, the Governor, the two Deemsters, and twenty-four Keys, obtains the force of a law. Their new laws or statutes are always proclaimed in that court, which the Manksmen call a Tinwald. It is publically kept, sub duo, upon a little hill adjoining to a little chapel dedicated to St. John Baptist, two miles from Peeltown. The ancient manner of holding this Court was this:-
The Lord of the Island was to sit here in a chair of state, with a royal cloth or canopy over his head, with his face to the east, and his sword before him, holden with the point upward. His barrens-viz. the bishops and abbots, with the rest of their degrees-sat beside him; his beneficed men, or fee'd council and Deemsters, sat before him; his gentry and yeomanry in the third degree, and the twenty-four Keys in their order, and the commons stood without the circle, with three clerks in their surplices.
All possible care is taken in this island for the speedy execution of justice. For although the Sheeding Courts (which are, as it were, their Terms) do meet but twice a-year, yet, for the quicker despatch of justice, there is erected a Court of Chancery, wherein the governor sitteth sole judge as Chancellor, representing the Lord's person, and this Court the governor nuay keep every week, as occasion shall require. Besides, the customary laws do so empower the governor or any of the two Deemsters, as that in effect they are Courts of Record in themselves. If either of these be but riding or walking in the highway, and if any person have cause of complaint against another for debt or any extraordinary business, he may procure a token from the governor or Deemster to bring the party before him. And if the party do either confess the debt or matter, or it appear by the testimony of two witnesses, upon their oaths, that such a debt is due, either of the said officers may give their token for execution to the coroner or to his lockman. And this is as good and valid as if the matter had in Court received trial by verdict of the jury, or by a decree in Chancery.
The citations in the Courts of this island are not in the form of a writing, but after this manner.-The plaintiff cometh to the comptroller and entereth his complaint, and, taking a copy thereof, he sheweth it to the governor or Deemster; either of them takes up a piece of blue slate (which is common enough in any part of the island), and upon that slate scrapes what mark he pleases. This stone so marked is called a Token, which, being given to the plaintiff, he delivereth it to the Crowner of the place where the defendant resides, and the defendant having received it is bound to appear and answer. It has been an ancient custom in that island, that if the plaintiff find his adversary present in the Court while the Court is sitting, he may take him by the arm, and bring him before the governor, and set his foot upon his adversary's foot, and there plead his cause against him without the formality of summoning him with a token. In these Courts each party pleads his own cause viva voce, so that they have no occasion for any lawyers, proctors, or attorneys, which custom obtains but in few places of Europe, as in Sweden and Denmark. From these Courts there lies an appeal to the Lord of the Island, and from him to the King of England, but it seldom happens that they have any appeals. All causes, both in spiritual and temporal courts, are prosecuted and ended without one penny of charges.
They had here an old custom concerning debts, which is now abolished. When the debtor died, and was buried, and there remained no writings to prove the debt, the creditor came to the grave of the deceased, and laid himself all along with his back upon the grave, with his face towards heaven, and a Bible on his breast, and there he protested before God that is above him, and by the contents of the Bible on his breast, that the deceased there buried under him did owe him so much money; and then the executors were bound to pay him. But in the year 1609 this custom was abolished, and such controversies ordered to be tried according to the form of law, by witnesses or otherwise.
In this island there are several of those round hills which in the plains of Wiltshire are very frequent, and by the inhabitants termed barrowes. In the midland parts of England they are called [owes, and are commonly held to be places of sepulture. Mr. James Chaloner,* during his abode in the isle, caused one of these to be opened, in which were found fourteen rotten urns, or earthen pots, placed with their mouths downwards, and one more neatly than the rest in a bed of fine white sand, containing nothing but a few brittle bones (as having passed the fire), but no ashes left discernible. Some of these are environed with great stones, pitched end-ways in the earth, and some of the urns found enclosed in coffins of stone, one coffin containing divers of them.
The Isle of Man hath, ever since its first plantation, been reputed a monarchical state; and whoever is of right Lord of it, may not only use the title of king, but may cause himself to be crowned with a crown of gold, though it is not improbable that in their first and original installations they made use of a crown of iron, as has been heretofore done by the Kings of England, and as Charles IV., Emperor of Germany, was crowned at Milan, anno 1334.
The Kings of Man have now of a long time waved their title of king, and instead thereof assumed the title of Lord; but they still retain almost all the jura regalia they enjoyed heretofore. They have still power of life and death, to banish or condemn to perpetual imprisonment, to raise men and money, to place or displace any officer- in the island at their own pleasure; and all fines and forfeitures, in cases of treason, felony, and felo de se, do belong to them. The greatest difference betwixt a King and Lord of Man is that the kings were crowned, whereas the lords now are only publickly proclaimed and installed. The kings created barons, made knights and esquires; but the lords never confer any titles of honour. The Kings of Man in old times, according to the Manks tradition, claimed the whole island, and all the revenues thereof, as belonging to the crown inhabitants had no right to any inheritance in the island, but were only tenants-at-will, and held their lands of the king for the performance of certain duties and services; and this tenure they called " The holding by the straw," which was first changed into leases for three lives during the late civil wars, thereby to augment the lord's revenues,-the tenants being then obliged to pay yearly a quit-rent and a fine at renewing. The kings of this island have at different times been tributaries both to the Kings of England, Scotland, and Norway; and were obliged, in token of their subjection to these states, to pay a certain homage at the coronation of any of the princes of these kingdoms.
They have made many wars in attempts to enlarge their dominions beyond the confines of this little island, not only in Venedotia, against the King of North Wales (especially in Anglesey), but also in Ireland, where Godred,* son to Olave, King of Man, was crowned King of Dublin, and subdued a great part of Leinster, but left it not to his successors.
Likewise, for some years, by the favour and aid of Magnus, King of Norway, they had under their subjection some, if not all, the islands on the west part of Scotland,t which are called Hebrides; and upon this account stiled themselves Kings of Man and of the Islands. But Alexander, King of Scotland, anno 1266, not only recovered these islands, but reduced the Isle of Man itself to his subjection, and placed petty kings or princes therein.
The possession of this island did without any interruption continue in the name and family of the Stanleys for 246 years, the grant thereof, together with the patronage of the bishopric, having been given by Henry the Fourth, by letters patents, to Sir John Stanley and his heirs, in the year 1403. And during Our late civil wars, in the year 1649, the Lord Fairfax, Captaingeneral of the Parliament's Forces, obtained a grant of the said island from the Parliament of England, the then Earl of Derby's estate being confiscate for bearing arms for the King against the Parliament, and himself beheaded at Bolton. But it was afterwards restored to the family of Derby, who are the present lords of this island.
The supream and principal officers in this island are only five in number, and they constitute the Lord's Privy Council. They are the Governour of the Island, the two Deemsters, the Controller, and the Receiver-general. They all of them hold their offices detente bene placito, and are obliged to be constantly resident in Castletown, that they may be ready to advise and consult with the lord upon any emergent occasion. The governor has the whole command of the island under the lord. The Deemsters are their judges, both in civil and criminal cases. They are always chosen out of the natives by the lord,-it being necessary they should understand and speak the Manks language, that they may give sentences in courts and understand the pleadings of the plaintiffs and the defendants before them. They are only two in number, and divide the island betwixt them,-the one having jurisdiction over the north part, the other over the south.
The controller's office is to call the receiver-general to an account once every quarter. He is also clerk of the rolls, and has the pension belonging thereto. The receiver-general is by his place to receive all the rents due to the Lord of the Island from the inferior collectors.
To these are subordinate some other officers, as the twentyfour Keys of the island, a water-bailiff, the lord's attorneygeneral, the coroners, and the moors. The water-bailiff is, as it were, admiral of the island. His office is to seize on all wrecks at sea for the lord's use, and to take care of all business relating to the herring,-fishing.
The attorney-general is to plead all the causes in which the Lord of the Island is concerned, and all the causes of widows and infants.
The Keys of the island are so called because they are to lay open and discover the true ancient laws and customs of the island. They are chosen by the Lord himself out of the natives, and though they, together with the Deemsters, hold their offices but durante bene placito, yet are they seldom turned out during their lives. They are always assisting to the Deemsters in the determining of cases of great difficulty, and from the sentences of these there is commonly no appeal. No new law can be made, or custom introduced or abolished, but by the consent of the Deemsters and the twenty-four Keys of the island. These Keys write down all the customs and statutes of the island for the help of their memory, that they may be the better enabled to give sentence when called to consult on any of these matters. As to the number of the Keys Mr. Camden has been misinformed, for he says, "they are only twelve," whereas they are twenty-four in number. 'Tis true, that since the time of the antient Orrys, they have not been constantly this number-that depending on the pleasure of the Lord of the Island; but there is no ground to believe they were ever so few as twelve, and they have been for the most part twenty-four.
The coroners or crowners in Man (who in the Manks language are called annos) are the same as our sheriffs in England, and each of them has under him another officer, who is, as it were, under-sheriff, and is called a lockman, The number of the coroners is according to the number of the sheedings, which are six; every sheeding bath its coroner. The moors are the lord's bailiffs, to gather up his rents in that sheeding where they reside, and to pay the same to the receiver-general.
It is customary in this island, and that from all antiquity, that some of the clergy be present and assist at the court of gaol-delivery; the bishop himself being present there when in the island. The evidence against delinquents is first to be taken by spiritual officers, and by them testified to the temporal court. But they are obliged to remove when any sentence of death is to be pronounced. No person guilty of manslaughter is allowed the benefit of clergy, nor can be saved but by the Lord of the Island's pardon. No execution of any malefactor is to be in the Passion week. No merchant can transport money out of the island without license; neither without license can any native go out of the island. If any one do force or ravish a woman, if she be married he is to suffer death; but if a maid or single woman, the Deemster gives her a rope, a sword, and a ring, and she has it put in her choice, either to hang him with the rope, or to cut off his head with the sword, or to marry him with the ring. In former times women malefactors were put in a sack and sewed up, and so flung from a rock into the sea, as Mr. Camden says; but now the women are hanged as the men; only, witches are burnt. If any man have a child by a woman, and within two years after marries the woman, the child is legitimated by the customary laws. If a woman bring forth a dead child, the child is not to be buried in the churchyard except the mother take her oath that she has received the sacrament since the quickening of the child. All the swine, of what age soever, belonging to felons, are the Lord's; and all their goats do belong to the Queen of Man. No Act of Parliament made in England cloth bind the King's subjects in the Isle of Man, unless the said island be therein expressly named. The Isle of Man being within the fee of the King of England, the Manksmen are adjudged to be the King's natural subjects born, and are capable of inheriting lands in England.
The religion professed in this island is exactly the same with the Church of England. The Manksmen are generally very respectful to their clergy, and pay their tithes without the least grudging. They own St. Patrick for their apostle, and hold him in greatest veneration. Next to him they honour the memory of St. Maughold, one of their bishops, whose feast they never fail to celebrate twice a-year. The Bible was translated into the Manks tongue by Dr. Philips, Bishop of Man, but by reason of his death it never came to the press; so that the ministers read the Scriptures to the people in the Manks language out of the English.*
There have been three monasteries in this isle, the chief of which was the Monastery of Russin in Castletown, the common burying-place of the Kings of Man, which, by the ruins thereof, appears to have been a goodly fabrick. There was also the Priory of Douglas, and a house of the Friers Minors at Brinnaken. Besides these monasteries there were several others without the kingdom, upon which the Kings of this Isle conferred titles or lands within the island, as the Priory of St. Bees, or de Sancta Bega, in Cumberland; upon the Abbey of Whittern or Candida Casa in Galloway of Scotland; and upon the Abbey of Banchor in Ireland. For this cause the prior and abbots of these houses were barons of Man, and were obliged to give their attendance as such upon the kings and lords thereof when required.
As to the bishoprick of Man, Mr. Camden saith, " That it was founded by Pope Gregory the Fourth about the year 1140, and that the bishop thereof was named Sodorensis, from a little island near Castletown in the Isle of Man, where the Episcopal see was instituted." This error of Mr. Camden's is confuted by the authority not only of the Irish and Manks tradition concerning their first conversion to Christianity, but likewise of all the historians that have wrote the life of St. Patrick, who is generally believed to have converted that island to Christianity. They affirm* that St. Patrick, having converted the island about the year 447, left one Germanus bishop thereof; and after his death consecrated two other bishops to succeed him, whose names were Conindrius and Bomulus, fellow bishops; and to them succeeded one St. Maughold. This is confirmed by the testimony of the learned antiquary Bishop Usher.+
Besides these four, there is another Bishop of Man mentioned by Boethius+ and Hollinshed,§ whose name was Connanus, and who had been tutor to Eugenius the Fifth, King of Scotland, who began to reign A.D. 684, which was above 130 years before Gregory the Fourth sat in St. Peter's chair-so that this bishoprick appears to be near 400 years of greater antiquity than Mr. Camden makes it. These bishops above named were called Bishops of Man only, and not Bishops of Sodor, for that bishoprick was not founded till near 400 years after; and the Bishops of Man were never called Bishops of Sodor till after the union of the two bishopricks Sodor and Man. Mr. Camden's mistake may proceed from confounding the bishopricks of Sodor and Man, making them one and the same, whereas they were quite distinct. The bishoprick of Sodor was indeed first instituted by Pope Gregory the Fourth, about the time that Mr. Camden places the foundation of the bishoprick of Man. But it is placed in the Isle Iona, or St. Columb's Isle, corruptly called Colm-kill, a little island among the Hebrides, belonging to Scotland. This new erected title of Sodor the bishops of the Western Isles possessed solely until the year 1098, that King Magnus of Norway, conquering the Western Isles and the Island of Man, united the two bishopricks of Sodor and Man; which continued so united for the space of 235 years, till the English were fully possessed of the Isle of Man in 1333. During this union, the bishops always stiled themselves Bishops of Sodor and Man; but before the uniting of the bishopricks, the Bishops of Man were never stiled bishops of Sodor.
The Bishops of Man were heretofore locked upon as barons, and were always to assist at the inauguration of a new King or Lord of Man, and they are to pay their homage to him for the temporalities they enjoyed. The bishop hath his own particular court, where the Deemsters of the island sit judges. The bishop himself hath no hand in the assessment of the fines in his own court, yet has he all the fines and perquisites, after they are assessed by the Deemsters and other officers of the lord's that are present. This particular privilege the Bishop of Man has at this day: that if any of his tenants do commit felony, and be brought to the bar of the court of the gaol-delivery, with the rest of the felons, before the governor and Deemster, the bishop's steward may demand the prisoner from the bar, and he shall have him delivered to be tried at the bishop's court. The forfeitures of lands of any delinquent holding of the bishop do belong to him, but the delinquent's goods and person are at the lord's disposal. The abbots of this island were allowed the like privileges. The Bishop of Man keeps his residence in the village called Bal-curi. The bishoprick is under the jurisdiction of the Archbishop of York. During the Norwegian conquest they were under the jurisdiction of the Metropolitan of Norway, which is Drontheim. When the bishoprick falls void the Lord of the Island names a bishop, and presents him to the King of England for his royal assent, and then to the Archbishop of York for his consecration. This bishop has no voice in the upper House of Parliament, but is allowed to sit uppermost in the lower house of convocation in England.
The clergy here are generally natives, and have had their whole education in the island. They are not anyways taxed with ignorance or debauchery: they have all a competent maintenance-at least fifty or sixty pounds a-year. The ministers, who are natives, have always the addition of Sir (unless they be parsons of the parishes, which are but few, most of the parsonages being impropriated to the lord of the isle, or the bishop); as thus, Sir Thomas Parr, minister of Kirk Malew. But if they have the title of parson, then they are only called Mr., as Mr. Robert Parr, parson of St. Mary of Ballaugh
1: Lib.ii.c. 9.
2: See Bishop Gibson's remarks on this in his Additions.
3: Bishop Gibson corrects this in his Additions.
4: This letter is given at length in Latin, and an English translation by Dr. Oliver, in his Monumenta, vol. i. pp. 87~99; Manx Society,~vol. iv. 1860, from the COttOllian MSS. The letter is dated " Beaumaris, 22nd Octr. 1517," and signed " Jo. Meryck, Pastor Sodorensis."
5: Bishop Gibson corrects this in his Additions.
6: Bishop Gibson corrects this statement in his Additions,
7: Annals, Thom. Otterborn, An. 7, Hen. 4.
8: This continuation of the history is printed in Dr. Oliver's Monumenta, vol. i. pp. 101~103 (Manx Society, vol. iv. 1860)
9: A.D. 1407 + I'm. 11ib. cap. 15.
10: Thomas, Earl of Warwick, in the time of Richard II., A.D. 1397; also Eleanor Cotham, wife of Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, in 1443 (Henry Vl.) was confined here for fourteen years, where she died.
11;Chron. of Man.
12: John Murrey's penny was coined in 1668, and became a legal tender.
13 Cook's Instit., Part 4, p. 284.
14 There are a few Acts of Tynwald, printed by Joseph Briscoe in 1183
(Douglas, small 4to), being the first Acts printed.
15 Commeq~. Jib. vi.
16~ l~esc?. of the Isle of Man, P. 10.
17 The Bible was first printed in Manx in 1772.
18 Jocelin, Vita Pat., c. 92. ~ Usher, -4ntiq. Br., c. 6, p. 644.
19 Boethius, [list. Scot., p. 114. g Hollinshed, p. 144.
20: Chron. of Man, anno 1147. 21: Hollinshed, p. 293.