[From Manx Soc vols 25+28 - Blundell's History]
FOR several respects the Island of Man hath several divisions, which I shall divide into several partitions, which is 3 for the reader's better understanding. 1. The general division of y e whole Island. 2. The subdivision of the general division, wch concerns the civil or political government thereof. 3. I call this the legal division, as only concerning the Deemsters ye Judges in the Isle. Concerning the division of the Island in general, ye whole Island is divided into 17 parts. Wm Harrison herein is much amiss informed, who nominates 19. Yea, you may observe that he makes Man to have near as many parts as they then had towns. But when and by whom this division was so made, neither con'd the Manks men or their papers inform me, nor can I the reader; where fore I am compelled to rove conjecturally (yet with great probability), and to believe yt St. Patrick, their apostle, returning out of England towards Ireland (and taking this Island of Man amongst the rest in his way) having 30 learned and grave priests with him, whereof Germanus was one, whom St. Patrick made Bishop of Man, and under him he might place 16 other clergymen, who might divide the Island into as many parts or parcels, each one in his part to teach, preach, and instruct these new converts in ye Christian religion. But whosoever he was yt settled this division, I confidently am persuaded (yet my opinion shall vail to any yt shall produce better demonstration) yt he was some Bishop or of ye Clergy in those days who had the sole government of the whole Island.
If we may give credit to the Manksmen's tradition, yt
cantonized it into 17 shares, which they did not call shires as we
do, but they called them Kirks as the Scots do their churches and
chapels, which indeed was a denomination befitting a clergyman, and
Mr. Chaloner seems to side with me, saying there were antiently a
multiplicity of chapels in this Island, which generally in all other
places as well as here were the original of parish churches. But at
ye first the word Kirk persuaded me to incline to conceive
he might be some Scotch clergyman yt made this division;
but I was quickly extricated out of this doubt; when I overlooked
ye names of these 17 Kirks, I found not one Scotch saint
(only St. Andrew). But ye generality inclines to St
Patrick, who hath 2 Kirks; Germanus the Bishop, who was instituted by
him; St~ Maughald, yt succeeded after Concha, St Patrick's
mother, and Bridget, etc. howsoever at this day they retain the old
y of the first division, and called the 17 parish churches, every church or parish bearing the additional name of ye saint to whom ye parish church or chapel in old time was dedicated, except one of them only, namely, Ballalough, etc.
And thus they ordered them
1. Kirk Christ of Rushin.
2. Kirk Arbery or Harberey.
3. Kirk Melue or Malew.
4. Kirk Santon or St. Ann.
5. Kirk Bradon or Bradan.
6. Kirk Marcom or Mortoun
7. Kirk Concan or Onken.
8. Kirk Konnon or Lannon.
9. Kirk Maghauld.
10. Kirk Christ of Ayre.
11. Kirk Bridgt or Bridget.
12. Kirk Andrew or Andres.
13. Kirk Jorby or Kk Patrick of Jorby.
14. Kirk Ballaugh, or St. Mary's of Ball or Ballaugh.
15. Kirk Michael
16. Kirk Jerman or German.
17. Kirk Patrick of Peel.
Wm. Harrison addeth two more, Kirk Lovel and Kirk Mary, which I found not in any Manks Key which I used, and there fore I omit them.
THE 2D DIVISION POLITICAL CONCERNING THE GOVERNMENT IN THE ISLAND.
As England generally is divided into shires, and every shire subdivided into hundreds, etc., so these 17 Kirks or parishes are subdivided into 6 parts, which in ye Manks speech are called Sheedings, and to every Sheeding they allot to comprehend 3 Kirks or parishes, only one Sheeding must have but two (for 6 times 3 makes 18), but because there are but 17 parishes, therefore 1 Sheeding cannot have power but in two parishes only, which is in the Sheeding of Glanfaba.
The 6 Sheedings are thus named
3. The Middle Sheeding.
4. Kirk Michael.
Rushin in ye parishes of . Kirk Malew. Arbery. Kirk Christ of Rushin.
2. Glanfaba hath Kirk German.Kirk Patrick of Peel
3. Middle Sheeding hath .Kirk Bradan. Kirk Santon.Kirk Maron.
4. Kirk Michael hath .Kirk Michael. Kirk Patrick, Jorby. Kirk Mary, Ballaugh.
5. Garfe hath Kirk Maghauld Kirk Concan. Kirk Lonan
6. Ayre hath . . . Kirk Christ of Ayre, Kirk Bride. Kirk
To every Sheeding there belongeth an officer comonly called ye Crowner or Coroner, but in the Manks language is called Annos. They are six in number, according to the number of the Sheedings, of whom I shall speak hereafter.
But not yt tho' ye Sheeding of Rushin be ever first named and accounted for the principle Coroner, and in divers places hath ye coffiand of the other Crowners, and of the Moors also, in these Sheedings, and in every parish also, there. is another officer called the Moor, of whom in ye 2 books following. Besides the Court for the Sheeding is first kept twice in the year at May and Michaelmas in Peeltown.
THE 3D DIVISION OF THE ISLAND.
The last (which I call the legal) division concerneth their Justices or Judges only, who there are called Deemsters, of whom I shall show you more in the 2d book hereafter. These judges are not many, for two only are sufficient to hear, determine, and end all causes, controversies, and cases in law which concerneth any man in any part of the Island. This Island being long and narrow, they therefore part into the north and south (in the midst overthward ye Island). The one Deemster hath jurisdiction from the midst northward, the other from the midst southward, so all controversies are presently ended in whatsoever part of the Island they happen.